Letter to a frequent communicant
THERE has been much comment in the press recently about inter-communion between Roman Catholics and Anglicans, or rather the lack of it. I am sure we all know people who break the rules and I think I can understand the pain felt by mixed marriage couples. The most sensible comment I have heard was made by a Roman Catholic friend of mine. She keeps the rules and is involved with ecumenical work. She said that she thought any pain she felt at not being able to receive Holy Communion in an Anglican church was surely negligible compared to the pain Our Lord must feel. After all St Paul warned us that we must make up in our lives what is wanting in the sufferings of Christ.
If, however, we concentrate on what is happening on the altar and not on ourselves, need there really be so much pain? If, like me, you like a few weekday masses as well as Sunday’s great celebration, you may well have to go to a Roman Catholic mass if you are away from home. I find that these masses, at which I cannot communicate, enormously enrich my devotional life and certainly the next Eucharist at which I can receive Our
Lord, truly present under the forms of bread and wine. If one cannot receive, then the emphasis of one’s prayer surely becomes one of total self-offering. And there is the excitement too. After all it is enormously exciting when Our Lord becomes present on the altar. I certainly support the current encouragement to frequent communion but there is a danger of course that we can start to take the Blessed Sacrament too much for granted.
I hope we all pray and work for unity among Christians and when that day comes there will be great rejoicing, both in heaven and on earth. I can’t see it happening for a few years yet, not least because of the divisions within the Church of England. And let’s pray too for more emphasis in the Church and in the world on God and the search in humility and patience to discern his will for his Church and less on our own desires and supposed needs, even when the desire is to receive Holy Communion in a Church from which we are sadly separated.
Jane Gore-Booth is married with two children and a member of General Synod.