Cardinal Martini on really open communion

Here is what he had to say about the sacraments in general, and specifically about communion (with great thanks to Episcopal Cafe and National Catholic Reporter):

"The sacraments are not an instrument of discipline, but a help for people in their journey and in the weaknesses of their life. Are we carrying the sacraments to the people who need new strength."

There has been a lot of discussion about the idea of "open communion," meaning inviting all people to come to the table. Everything has been focused on the unbaptized who might come forward to receive. Very little has been said about the rejected, dejected, cast aside and otherwise mangled by church in its effort to "order" and "discipline" the community.  The Lead, the banner column of Episcopal Cafe, rightly points to Cardinal Martini's comments on sacraments as "a help for people on their journey."

The remarks are a reminder that open communion is not only about communion for the unbaptized person who wants to participate, receiving bread for the journey, but for those not permitted to receive for a whole range of reasons having mostly to do with the difficulties of their particular journey.

The thing is, the sacrament of communion is of such healing and strength that even people who are at the edge of the crowd or even edged out know when they see the real thing. In the weaknesses of our lives this bread is life and baptized or not, in favor with the church discipline or not, at peace or not, broken or not, we know it.  The unbaptized person who comes forward to receive and the divorced person who would otherwise be at her home church and the gay person who was rebuffed by good church people, and you and me.... we all are the army of the weak, and Jesus is strength.

Precious Lord, take my hand...

Mahalia Jackson Take My Hand, Precious Lord by mouche45

1 comment:

  1. I think Christianity is a faith of both/and, not either/or. You mentioned the Orthodox below. In their prayers before communion, you will find a similar pleading: that the Holy Mysteries be for "purification and sanctification and as a pledge of the life and kingdom to come, as a protection and help" (First Prayer of St. John Damascene). There are similar sentiments in several other prayers.

    Yet, the faithful also pray, "For I have sinned, O Lord, I have sinned against heaven and before Thee, and I am not worthy to gaze on the height of Thy glory; for I have provoked Thy goodness by transgressing Thy commandments and not obeying Thy orders" (First Prayer of St. Basil the Great). And, again, "Lord Jesus Christ my God, remit, forgive, absolve and pardon the sins, offences and transgressions which I, Thy sinful, useless and unworthy servant have committed from my youth, up to the present day and hour..." (Third Prayer of St. John Chrysostom).

    There is a recognition of the benefits of the sacrament, which, after all, are the reason Christ instituted them; but there is also a recognition that it it a fearful thing to approach for communion unworthily, as St. Paul taught.

    In discussing open communion, it seems the emphasis is on the benefits, and not the discipline, the humility, the repentance. Both are part of the Church's Tradition from the beginning and are necessary for a good communion. And, it should be said, both can undoubtedly be present in the unbaptized just as they can be absent in the Christian, as we learn from the story of the publican and the Pharisee.


OK... Comments, gripes, etc welcomed, but with some cautions and one rule:
Cautions: Calling people fools, idiots, etc, will be reason to bounce your comment. Keeping in mind that in the struggles it is difficult enough to try to respect opponents, we should at least try.