Spiritually Stressed: Caught Between Two Communities

Just Be God’s: A Call to Continuing Conversion is a series of blog posts. You might want to start reading it from the beginning: Here.

October 8

I was told I can get on the preaching rotation in January. Okay. Hmmm. About that.

As expected, I’ve become spiritually stressed. This is understandable considering I go to Mass at least four times a week, RCIA, and Church of Christ. Soon into RCIA, I have felt pretty strongly that I do want to just do it. Get confirmed. Be, technically, Catholic. I just can’t imagine my life, going to Mass, and not, technically, be a part of it.

This morning at Mass, I remembered Jesus saying to, “become like a child” (Matthew 18:3). Now, Paul has something opposite to say about this, what whatevs (1 Corinthians 13:11). Anyway, children in the Catholic church usually get baptized first thing (babies), then do confession and communion (elementary), then do confirmation last (middle school/high school). It’s not fair to us adults. These kids get to take Eucharist for years before ever being confirmed! I don’t get it. Well, they have to do confession along with it, i.e. acknowledging their (elementary) sins, so okay.

I guess if I sneak into a first confession, then technically, I’m a-okay to take communion. But this whole “closed-communion” thing is dumb, and killing me.

The whole inconsistency of the Catholic community makes me feel less bad about a) taking eucharist sometimes (though I have largely stopped), and b) well, becoming Catholic. They are not perfect like everyone, and I like them, and they make sense (sometimes), and I want to share in this obviously broken and inconsistent community.

I am caught between two communities, and some days I’m being pulled towards one, and another day, another…

I was reading a little bit about Catholic communion, i.e. Googling “Can Catholics take communion in Protestant churches?” and “Can Protestants take communion in Catholic churches?” As usual, the answer from the Catholic church is, “No, but…” There is always an exception in the Catholic church. Which is hilarious. Writers who were holding hard and fast to the “Absolutely not,” seem to like to make gross and archaic generalizations about Protestants that are totally untrue. For example, “Why in the world would you ever share in communion with those super wrong Christians who all think that all Catholics are wrong and going to Hell?” Or, “All Protestants reject transubstantiation! So, obviously stay away!

I think while many Protestants have moved on from the schism, many Catholics are still holding fast. Seriously, I don’t understand how we hold onto 500 year old grudges and think they still apply today. Admittedly, I love how, even as old as some Canon law is, there is always an exception. And protestants? Well, we don’t really have canon law so much, so it doesn’t really work the same (at least in the evangelical tradition).

I know it’s not true of all Protestant churches, but to assume that a person in a Protestant church agrees with everything that church says, is not the case. But in canon law, and with more conservative Catholic writers, they do paint Protestants with extremely broad strokes. To Catholics it makes sense because Catholics are supposed to all think the same (I kid).

Then, in Evangelical world, it’s all about my personal relationship with God. Luckily, there isn’t any creed, or canon law from evangelicals saying I can’t do what the Catholics do, or believe what the Catholics believe. If my relationship with God takes me there, then amen, I guess.

The biggest problem between Protestants and Catholics seem to be Catholics thinking that all Protestants all think the same, and Protestants thinking that all Catholics think the same. People in these Christian institutions aren’t robots! I guess that’s why the exceptions and loopholes exist…

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Author: Paige

Explorer. Healer. Eater. School counselor, teacher, party planner. Personal passions are holistic healthcare education, spirituality, food, and writing.

3 thoughts on “Spiritually Stressed: Caught Between Two Communities”

  1. Hey Paige,

    I just want to address Holy Communion in the Church to help you out here a little. You know we believe we are receiving the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Jesus in The Eucharist. That is our belief.

    So for those who do not believe this, when they participate in Holy Communion in the Church are actually telling Jesus more or less, “I am doing this but I really do not believe You there.” One cannot do this when it comes to our Lord. One cannot do/believe something as a Christian and then profess something else. It just does not work that way. The Eucharist is extremely precious and Sacramental to us.

    I am a convert to the Church going on 13 years now. All I can say is, “It has been one of the greatest blessings of my life.” I wish you all the blessings on your journey. If you ever have any questions I will try and help you as best as I can. I was “once” you, and I know how hard it is. Love and God Bless, SR

    1. I think I understand the issue of a Catholic deciding to receive Eucharist in a (some) Protestant churches. Because the Catholic believes in the full presence, but at some other church they believe it is a “symbol” (not full presence), why would that Catholic even bother. Additionally, there is the Mass and all the things that need to happen to officially “turn” the host into the the host, Jesus. So, if you’re in a Protestant church, and those things don’t happen, AND no one believes Jesus is there in the elements, then, I think, I understand a Catholic not taking Protestant Eucharist. Then again, there are Protestants [churches] that do like/believe in Transubstantiation (like any Catholic that became Protestant).

      It almost sounds like a Catholic is not allowed to believe that Transubstantiation can take place in any other context (except in, like, extreme circumstances, because there is always an extreme circumstances clause in canon law, right?)

      But as far as a Protestant receiving Holy Communion in a Catholic church: if believing the full presence is the only criteria, then I’m pretty sure there are tons of Protestants who would meet it. I was definitely one of them. I think that my struggle is that anyone would believe that Jesus is MORE in one place than another, Protestant or Catholic, and that is what keeps us divided or closed off from genuine communion.

      How did you handle this seemingly exclusive Eucharist club in your journey?

      1. How did I handle it? Well first off I felt very uncomfortable in a Protestant Church whenever they had Holy Communion and I would not participate. The thing that really did it for me Paige was the Scripture in 1 Corinthians 11:27. “Whoever therefore eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of profaning the body and blood of the Lord. Let a man examine himself and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For many who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment upon himself. That is why many of you are weak, and ill, and some have died.”

        So…. from this I begin to understand this was an extremely serious matter. It was one I was either going to have follow Church teachings on, or get out. I knew it could not be “symbolic” if people were dying? Well, we know what I decided to do.

        Now on the Host becoming all of Jesus: I think it truly takes a Priest to Consecrate the Host. I do not believe any of us can just get out here and do this, and obtain the same results. I believe this because at the time all of this started it was handed to the Apostles and taken from there on. There was no other Church at that time doing this, except for the Catholic Church. Other Churches did not come into play here until 1500 years later. What I found Paige, when I became a Catholic, is that I was missing 1500 years of teachings. For eight years I did nothing but studied as much of it as I could. I still do.

        I came across a book called “The Mass of the Early Christians.” When I looked at the dates in that book, and saw it was taking place in the Roman Empire, that is when I knew Mass was for the Catholic. I knew this because the Catholic Church still does the same thing today. It even has the last Mass of John the Apostle in there. This is where I also came across the Didaches, which are the earliest Christian writings known to man, and guess what I found? Mass. (You can Google the Didaches) When you do look at dates on that. It is just too close to Christ not to be true. Another is St. Ignatius of Antioch. He is believed to have been an Apostle of John. There were just too many things coming together for me, from way-way back when.

        Anyways, when I begin to piece all of this together, I knew the Catholic Church was the Church Jesus began, on the night of the Lord’s Supper. You have to understand this all goes back to the 4 cups of the Hebrews and the Lord’s Supper, was on the 3rd cup. That “cup” is what we celebrate in Mass. The “cups” have a great significance in it all, that is why Jesus said, “Take this “cup” from me.”

        I cannot explain it all without writing a book here. Let me suggest two other books for you. “A Father Who Keeps His Promises,” by Scott Hahn “Biblical Reasons for the Catholic Faith” by John Salza. These three books pieced it all together for me.

        I don’t have the right Paige, to just get out here and do it “my way,” when it comes to God. This includes everything in my life, even in worshipping Him. God from Moses and Aaron always had a way to be worshipped, and that is what Mass goes back to is the days of Moses and Aaron. But get these books and you will understand it all a lot better, and most of your questions will be answered.

        None of this is easy Paige. It is because God is pulling us out of our “comfort zone.” I fought it for a year. I fought it hard. I did not want to be a Catholic but I really did not have a lot of choice. Go read my Conversion Story on my blog, http://livingtherealityofjesus.wordpress.com It is at the top of the page.

        Believe it or not I really feel for you. I know the struggle you are having, and no I do not receive Holy Communion outside of the Church. It is not that I think I am better than anyone else, it is just I know what I believe, why I believe it, and the choice had to be made. God Bless, SR

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