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Making Communion "Common"

Some passages of Scripture are challenging. 1 Corinthians chapter 11 is high on that list. It is not the "hard to understand" kind of challenging; it is challenging because it is so straight forward that many do not want to understand it. Right after St. Paul writes about the practice of women wearing veils and men removing any kind of head covering (hats, etc.) during the Mass (see 1 Corinthians 11:1-16), he writes about the Eucharist (1 Corinthians 11:17-34).

What he says has to be taken with its full gravity. He makes it clear that what he is speaking about is "from the Lord" (vs. 23) and therefore not optional. The first thing he points out is that when the Church in ancient Corinth came together it was "for the worse" (vs. 17) because they were treating the Eucharist as though it were an ordinary meal (can you imagine a Saint telling you that your observance of the Mass does more harm than good?). He shames them for doing this because they were not following the traditions that he handed down to them from the Lord.

Some were drunk, while others apparently did not receive the Eucharist at all. It is known that in some places the early tried to combine the Eucharist with an ordinary meal, and that is likely what St. Paul is condemning here. Either way, they were treating the Blessed Sacrament like it was any other food, and not "discerning the body" (vs. 29) of Christ. This is why, St. Paul says, that some of them had been punished by the Lord; some had even died for it.

The Eucharist should never be treated like an ordinary "supper" or "fellowship meal". To do so is--according to St. Paul--to be "profaning the body and blood of the Lord" (vs. 27). There is nothing "ordinary" about the Eucharist. It is the most "extraordinary" food that anyone could ever possibly partake of, and so the event in which it is received should never be treated as "ordinary" either. For someone to fail to recognize this will lead to "judgment upon himself" (vs. 29).

There are some today (even some priests) who want to make the celebration of Communion to be more casual and relaxed. They have implanted this idea so well in the minds of many that some laity even think that reverence toward the Eucharist in the Mass is a bad thing (!). They even say that they want the altar to be more of a table than an altar. They want the Churches to be shaped in a circle so that everyone can feel that they are around the table where they are having a "special meal". This meal, according to them, is just a family event that does not need so many fussy rules. It is bad enough when people have this attitude in their hearts, but even worse when it is encouraged from the clergy.

To turn the celebration of the Sacrifice of our Lord and Savior into a common and ordinary meal is, if not actually so, at least tantamount to blasphemy. It is to receive the Body and Blood of Christ unworthily. You do not have to do the exact same thing that the Corinthians did in the first century, to be breaking the rules; God has made it clear in them that making Communion like a common meal is always wrong. There will be consequences to behavior like this because you should never play around with the holiest gift God ever gave us, and (according to St. Paul) the consequences can be deadly.


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