Sunday, May 1, 2011

Is the Eucharist a Symbol? Why Can't Non-Catholics Receive It? Why Can't I Receive the Eucharist If I'm in a State of Mortal Sin?

Because you can't get it all in in at once, there are some follow up points that should be made.

Although the Orthodox Church and Anglicans have the same theology of the Eucharist, we do not receive the Eucharist from them. We as Catholics do not receive the Orthodox Eucharist because they do not believe in the Papacy - although in an emergency we are able to receive the Eucharist from them. The reason for this exception is simple - they have a valid priesthood, they just don't like the Pope. Since they have a valid priesthood, the Eucharist is valid. The Anglicans, on the other hand, are not considered by the Catholic Church to have a valid Eucharist because their priesthood is not valid. The Anglican Church was founded by Henry VIII, and thus the priesthood that sprung up from his new religion was not valid, so Catholics, even in an emergency, can not receive the Eucharist from the Anglicans. What I was pointing out is that the Orthodox and Anglicans both believe in transubstantiation - that the bread and wine become a completely new substance in an irrevocable way.

Finally, it should also be mentioned that not only do non-Catholics not receive Catholic Communion, and not only should Catholics in a state of mortal sin not receive the Eucharist, but also Catholics should never receive any other form of communion from non-Catholic communities, even if in those communities the bread and wine simply function as symbols. The Church believes this might be seen by outsiders to suggest that the Church considers the communion of those non-Catholic communities to be valid.

Have further questions about the Eucharist? If so, please drop it in the comment box below. God bless!


  1. Wonderful, Father! Why can't most homilies be longer than 5 minutes, like yours are? I've heard that new priests are sometimes pressured to give SHORT homilies in order to keep parishioners happy. :-(
    Keep educating us!

  2. This was terrific! You're an excellent teacher-- I only wish I could hear this from a priest where I live.
    God bless you!

  3. Thank you for having the courage to address the difficult issues. You are truly a gifted priest, and we are fortunate to have you at St. Malachy.

  4. Just to clarify, the Anglicans did not lose valid orders because that ecclesial community was founded by Henry VIII. After the death of Henry VIII, the Ordinal of 1552 (that is, the ordination rite) was changed such that it was apparent that the Anglican Church no longer intended to do what the Catholic Church does when ordaining men (technically, they changed the "essential form"). This is the basis of the Catholic Church's decision that Anglican orders are not valid, although they were during the reign of Henry VIII.

  5. Thanks again for another awesome homily Father. Prior to my wife going through the RCIA program and joining the Church, every Sunday we would both go to a service at a United Methodist Church followed by Mass at St. Malachy. Even though I was clearly invited/encouraged, I never joined them in their communion...just didn't seem right. Because of my laziness, I didn't know the correct reason but I am glad I made the right choice.

  6. I do have a question about the Eucharist...
    In scripture, it says " this in MEMORY of me". Protestants would debate that is why it's a symbol. How would I debate someone on that?
    Thank you Father!

  7. @Agena

    I'm (quite obviously) not Fr. Hallowell, but decided to chime in. I am the Anonymous commenter from May 2, 2011 1:13pm.

    The word "memory" is also translated as "commemoration" (Douay-Rheims) or "remembrance" (KJV).
    The Greek word is "Anamnesis". Some have argued that it means "to make present that which is commemorated". Others have argued that it has sacrificial overtones. I am not a greek scholar and thus cannot vouch for these translations. I merely reference them to point out that it is silly to build or tear down a theology on the basis of a single translated word.

    Every argument with Protestants will eventually reduce to this: their 'church' came from the Bible, but the Bible came from the Church.

    Pax Tecum