I have a friend who is not Catholic, but who attends Mass every Sunday. He does so for all the wrong reasons, really; he won’t stay if he doesn’t see one of his special friends there. But that’s not the point I want to make here.
My friend goes to a different Mass than I do, so I didn’t witness his interaction with another parishioner, but he tells me that “a person offered me some of their bread” after receiving the Host in her hand at Communion. He says it is the second time this has happened.
I was appalled. Scandalized. Horrified. Etc.
My friend, as I said, is not Catholic, but I spent a year or so catechizing him, hoping he would come into the Church. He is stubborn, though, and won’t accept some crucial teachings (like the Real Presence and Mary’s perpetual virginity!!). Still, he knows something about the faith, and he knows that he is not supposed to receive Holy Communion. He doesn’t agree with that, but he respects the teachings of the Church on that point. I also discouraged him from going forward to “receive a blessing”, and he remains in the pew during Communion.
He told me that he declined to accept the portion of the Host offered to him by the parishioner. Thanks be to God.
But I am left with horrifying images in my head. The parishioner apparently does not know her faith, and was willing to walk away with the Host, break it, and offer Christ’s Body to a non-Catholic.
When I told him this, my friend replied via email, “We disagree (God is love). I thought it was truly wonderful that someone actually cared enough about me to want me to have some.”
Well…I explained it to my non-Catholic friend in this way:
In breaking the Host, little particles fly out. They go on the floor, on the person's hands, etc. That is like tearing apart the Body of Christ, and is an insult to Him, and a sacrilege. It is as if the person committed the murder of Christ all over again, and blood is dripping from his or her hands. The little pieces go unnoticed, but they cause intense pain to Our Lord as He suffers through yet another abuse at Mass.
The person who did this is endangering his or her own soul. If they do not know that what they are doing is wrong, they may have some excuse, but chances are they know it's wrong and just "disagree". Well, then, they should not be receiving Holy Communion either. By refusing to accept it, you are showing a greater awareness of and respect for the teachings of the Church than that alleged Catholic is. By offering you the Host, the person is giving you a chance to receive inappropriately, and that is NOT love. That is disrespecting (and not loving) God. God's love is shown by offering you the fullness of the Truth of the Roman Catholic Church, and that's what I have offered you, time and again. The person offering you a portion of the Host offers you not love, but condemnation. They offer you a small "piece" of the Church, and it is not even a true piece. It is a damaged piece that carries with it the sins of the ages. It carries misinformation, and that is called scandal. It implies to you that the Church is wrong that that the person offering you some of their "bread" is right. It sets that person up as God, in a sense. And that, my friend, is not, NOT, NOT love!
I have been praying especially to Our Lady of Sorrows recently, and remember each of the seven sorrows every day. Yesterday, as I prayed 3 Ave’s in honor of Her tears, I could only picture her at the foot of the Cross, watching in pain and sorrow as someone reached up and tore away a portion of Our Lord’s already mangled and bloody flesh, then turned away with the blood dripping from their hands, but with a casual smile on their lips. It brought to mind those horrifying photos of aborted babies who have been dismembered and mutilated.
I wish my friend and the parishioner who offered him the fragment of the Host could understand the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist. I wish they could experience one of the Eucharistic miracles where the Host actually takes on the physical attributes of bloody flesh, or a beating heart.
But I suppose for many doubters, even a miracle of that nature would not convince them.
Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me.