This Christmas Eve, once again there will be many people coming to Mass who are currently outside of Catholic practice for one reason or another.
Most people are aware of Catholic sacramental discipline and wish to observe it.
But in many parishes, ushers make observation of sacramental discipline almost impossible. They come alongside of the pew and invite, if not coerce, every single person in the pew to join the Communion line.
Between the coats and the kneelers and the fancy dress, it is difficult to just sit in one’s place and pray for a better future in which all will join together in the great Feast. But when an officially designated parish bouncer impels cooperation with the general flow, it would be an act of almost astounding courage to resist the tide.
We would be asking those without the benefit of grace to be much more concerned with the truth about the Eucharist than the jovial priest who invites everyone–everyone!–to come forward to the altar. More than the Music Director who programs All Are Welcome as the “gathering hymn” every. single. week. And more than this burly fellow in his suit and nametag who is standing there in this moment of decision at the end of the pew awaiting your compliance.
The problem with the programme that many professional liturgists call “Eucharistic Hospitality” is that it is really dangerously bad. It is hurtful. The Blessed Sacrament, true Food, true foretaste, which is the Bread of Life to those who are in Communion with the Lord in the Church, is judgment and condemnation to those who have chosen, for now, to be outside of that Communion. This is not a decision that canon lawyers make, but revealed truth in the Scriptures.
Who is the mother concerned for the life of her child? The mother who lets her child run into the street, or the one who holds her fast on the sidewalk until the way is safe?
Who is the Pharisee, and who is concerned with rules? It is the one who believes that the economy of salvation can be changed by personal judgment and fiat, rather than trusting the Lord, the Author and Revealer of scriptural truth.