Unworthy Communion (Pt. 1)

 

Part I of II of a mediation on the horror of the sacrilege that is receiving Our Lord unworthily, in a state of mortal sin.  And to think this is what Catholic clerics are advocating today.  What horror!  Destruction of souls!  There is nothing more terrible than that.  Nothing more terrible than to return Our Lord’s death on the cross for us by crucifying Him again. They must know not what they do.

By Fr. Franz Hunolt, 1887:

And whilst they were eating, he said: Amen I say to you, that one of you is about to betray me. And they being very much troubled, began every one to say: Is it I, Lord? But he answering, said: He that dippeth his hand with me in the dish, he shall betray me. The Son of man indeed goeth, as it is written of him: but woe to that man by whom the Son of man shall be betrayed: it were better for him, if that man had not been born. And Judas that betrayed him, answering, said: Is it I, Rabbi? He saith to him: Thou hast said it.–Matth 26: 21-25

Subject: 1. To approach the Table of the Lord in the state of sin is to treat Jesus Christ most unjustly. 2. Yet there are many who treat Him thus–Preached on the second Sunday after Pentecost.

Dico autem vobis: Quad nemo vivorum illorum, qui vocati sunt, gustabit caenam meam.–Luke xiv. 24.

“But I say unto you, that none of those men that were invited shall taste of my supper.”

Introduction: What a futile excuse that; I have bought a farm! And what if you have? Does that prevent you from going to the Supper? Oh, I must go and see it! You should have done that before buying it, so as to see whether it suits you or not. I have bought five yoke of oxen. Well, does that prevent you from accepting the invitation? I must see them. What? In the evening, with the dark night coming on? I have married a wife. And if you have, do you not want food or drink any more? The fact is, you could all have excused yourselves in shorter terms, and more in accordance with truth, by saying, I will not come. My dear brethren, by the great Supper, we understand the Blessed Sacrament of the Altar, to which our Lord invites all men in the most friendly manner, that they may frequently receive His Flesh and Blood in the Holy Communion. But how many refusals He receives from most people, who approach this holy Table but very seldom! How many vain excuses are invented and put forward by people who try to persuade themselves that they cannot communicate frequently! On another occasion I will complain of this tepidity, when I shall exhort you to frequent Communion. Today I must complain still more bitterly of those Christians who communicate far too often and too readily, and who would do better by abstaining from Communion altogether. If I knew who they were, I should have just cause for crying-out to them when they approach the altar rails: Away with you! Keep away from here! This Table is not prepared for you! I tell you that not one of you shall partake of it. And who are they? I mean those alone who receive Holy Communion with an impure conscience, in the state of sin. What a fearful sin they commit! And how many Catholics there are who are guilty of it! As we shall now see.

Plan of Discourse: To approach the Table of the Lord in the state of sin, is to treat Jesus Christ most unjustly. This I will show in the first and longer part. Yet there are many who treat Him thus; as I shall complain in the second part. Sinners, either do penance, and amend your lives; or else abstain from Holy Communion: pious souls, continue to communicate all the more frequently: such will he the conclusion.

Help us all to this, O dearest Saviour, through the intercession of Thy Virgin Mother Mary, and our holy angels guardian.

As I have said on the former occasion, the greatest insult that a creature can offer to God, is blasphemy; and that, because it is a crime against the divine Majesty. The same truth is the foundation of my present subject, that to receive Holy Communion in the state of sin, is to treat Jesus Christ most unjustly; for amongst the crimes that attack the divine Majesty directly, it is one of the greatest, since by it Christ is shamefully ill-used. To speak insultingly of a king, especially in his presence, is a most intolerable crime against human majesty, and is punished with death; and yet it is committed only by words which are carried away by the wind, and inflict no wound. But to attack the king’s person, when he is seated on his throne, surrounded by his attendants and courtiers, or when he is passing in state through the streets, or when he is seated at a public banquet; to attack him then and plunge a dagger in his heart, would be a crime that no one but a madman would commit, or dream of. For where could a sovereign expect the reverence to be shown to him, to which he is entitled, when he is not sure of his life, even on his throne, or seated at his table?

See, oh Christian, such is the insolence, or rather madness you are guilty of, when you dare to receive Holy Communion in the state of sin. You pierce with a sword of sorrow the Heart of Jesus, your Lord, the King of kings, when you receive His most sacred Flesh and Blood with a heart and conscience defiled by sin. “‘ Therefore,” says St. Paul to the Corinthians, “whosoever shall eat this bread, or drink the chalice of the Lord unworthily, shall be guilty of the Body and of the Blood of the Lord (Cor. xi. 27).” That is, as the Gloss says: “He shall be punished as if he had actually killed our Lord.” It is the living bread as our Lord says in the Gospel of St. John: “I am the living bread, which came down from Heaven. If any man eat of this bread, he shall live forever: and the bread that I will give, is my Flesh for the life of the world (John vi. 51, 52).” “This life you destroy by an unworthy Communion; for you cause its efficacy to be destroyed in you, and you make it kill your soul, instead of causing it to live. It is true, according to St. Paul, that every mortal sin crucifies and slays again the Son of God: “Crucifying again to themselves the Son of God (Heb. vi. 6); ” still that is done in a moral sense by disgracing His image impressed on the human soul, which dies by sin; but in an unworthy Communion the Prototype Himself has to suffer; since He is present in His own sacred and divine person under the appearance of bread and wine; as St. Peter Damian says: “In other things we offend God in His creatures, but in this, we offend Him in His own person,” and that too, while He is seated at His own table, where He offers Himself to His dear friends as their food and drink; on His throne of glory, surrounded by angels, who wait on Him; and in His public triumph in which He shows Himself to receive the adoration of all.

According to the Holy Fathers, the chief end our Lord had in view in instituting the Blessed Sacrament, was, that He might be repaid on earth for all the labor and trouble, the frequent hunger and thirst, the watching and fasting, the pains and torments, the insults and injuries, that His sacred Body had to endure during His thirty-three years’ life on earth; and that all the members of the true Church should henceforth show Him all the more humble homage and all the greater honor, in proportion to the insults and contumely He endured for their sake. From the very beginning up to the present time, the Catholic Church has distinguished herself by paying the greatest honor to the Blessed Sacrament; therefore we build churches, and have them consecrated, because the hidden God, really and bodily present, takes up His abode in them. Altars are erected and adorned, because every day the bread and wine are changed on them into the Body and Blood of Christ; day and night, candles and lamps burn before the tabernacle; all who enter the church, bend the knee in profound adoration before Him; the people follow Him with uncovered heads in public processions; when He is carried through the streets to the sick, all good Christians, who happen to pass by, show Him honor by accompanying Him, and even princes, kings and emperors have not hesitated to do the same. (Good Christians, I say; for they who, having the opportunity, do not show our Lord that much respect, give sufficient proof, either that they have little faith in the great Lord who is present in the Blessed Sacrament, or that they are ignorant of the proper mode of behaving towards Him.) In a word, as the learned and pious Duns Scotus says: “Nearly every devotion of the Church is directed to the Blessed Sacrament,” in order to show honor to it. See now, wicked Christian, what you do, when you dare to receive Holy Communion in the state of sin; you attack the King and Lord of Hosts when He is publicly seated on His throne of, honor and glory; you cast Him into the mire of sin, and thus cause Him a moral suffering and death, which He feels far more acutely, than that He had to suffer long ago at the hands of the Jews and the executioners; and therefore the holy Fathers call an unworthy Communion a renewing and increasing of the Passion and death of Jesus Christ.

One of the bitterest pangs our Lord felt in His Passion was caused by the treason of His Apostle Judas; and that, because the traitor kissed his Master under the appearance of friendship. This was the only complaint that our Lord made to His murderers. “Judas,” said He, “dost thou betray the Son of man with a kiss (Luke xxii. 48)?” As if He wished to add: My friend, the kiss I give thee comes from a heart that loves thee truly; but it is not so with thy kiss. If thou desirest to deliver Me into the hands of My enemies, why didst thou not do so in another way? Thou couldst have given them another sign, and said: There is He whom you wish to capture; go and seize Him, and drag Him away. It would Have caused Me less pain, than to betray Me to My sworn enemies by means of a sign of friendship and love. How couldst thou be so wicked as to betray Me by a kiss?

This hypocrisy the traitor was guilty of, while our Lord was still on earth, in the garb of poverty, and when He offered Himself freely to His Father, as a sacrifice for our sins. How much more keenly must not His heart feel the pang caused by the hypocrisy of some Christians, His own beloved children, who, while He is actually seated on His throne of honor and glory, approach Him with down-cast eyes, modest and humble demeanor, and folded hands, not merely to give Him a kiss, but to receive Him into their breasts, that they may treacherously stab Him to the heart, and imbue their hands in His Sacred Blood (for, as our faith teaches, that is what unworthy communicants do)? How much more bitterly our Lord could complain of such traitors! “Judas, dost thou betray the Son of man with a kiss?” Treacherous and perjured Christians, what are you thinking of, that you dare to receive Me in that manner? Do you wish to offend Me publicly? Do you wish to treat Me as your enemy, although I have never given you the least cause to do so? If so, then do not come to Me in the guise of friendship; do not give Me any signs of love; dishonor Me if you are wicked and ungrateful enough to do so; but do it in such a way, that all may see what you mean, and what your feelings are towards Me. Remain away from My Table altogether, and you will cause Me less pain, than by burying Me in your polluted conscience, and thus committing a twofold sin.

The next insult that, in my opinion, must have caused our Lord great pain during His Passion, was the mockery with which the soldiers and executioners treated Him, when they publicly scorned Him as a mock-king. Jesus is the King of glory; but then He was a Teacher of humility, clad in an old purple garment, with a crown of thorns on His head, and a reed in His hands as sceptre, with a hard stone for a throne; in that guise He was surrounded by a crowd of soldiers and executioners, who, amidst bursts of derisive laughter, frequently smote Him on the cheek, and bending the knee before Him in mockery, cried out: “Hail King of the Jews!” Ye heavens, how could you bear that spectacle! And yet, presumptuous Christian, do you not ill-treat in the same manner your glorified Saviour, who is now reigning in triumph as King of Heaven, when you receive Holy Communion in the state of sin? You bend the knee, and bow the head before His altar, you humble yourself and beat your breast, and adore Him with folded hands, and thus you outwardly show Him all reverence; but what is it all, but mocking and laughing at your God as a mock-king; for your heart is still embittered against Him, and you buffet Him anew by the fearful sacrilege you are committing?

Finally, the Jews nailed our Lord to the Cross, and thus put Him to death. But you, false Christians, nail Him to a far more painful and disgraceful cross than the sinless tree was. For you shut Him up in a foul prison, where He must put up with sin, than which nothing is more intolerable to Him, as his companion. They who crucified Him in former times, knew Him not, and looked upon Him as a poor, lowly mortal, who was condemned to a shameful death by the judge’s sentence; “for” as St. Paul says: “if they had known it, they would never have crucified the Lord of glory (I. Cor. ii. 8).”But you, when you approach the holy Table, and receive Holy Communion, know well and believe that He whom you are receiving, is your God, your Saviour, your future Judge, and your greatest Benefactor, for you know and believe that this Sacrament, which you so shamefully abuse with your impure conscience, is the most noble gift of God, a gift that man would never have thought of expecting, if God Himself, the Infallible Truth, had not told us that He had really conferred it on us.  On the Cross Christ readily fulfilled the will of His heavenly Father, redeemed the world by His Blood, and restrained the power of the devil; that sweetened the bitterness of His painful death, so that He longed for it, and had no rest until His desire for death was satisfied. But in your sacrilegious Communion He is tortured against His will; on the cross to which you nail Him, He finds nothing but ingratitude, inhuman malice, and everything that can deserve His hatred, His curse, and His reprobation.

It Would make one’s hair stand on end to hear of the fearful profanations that Christ has had to suffer in the most Holy Sacrament of the Altar, from heretics. Jews, sorcerers and other impious people. The contemptuous names that they have for Him in their writings, as a God of bread, as a blind and ignorant God, are the least virulent expressions of their blaspliemons malice. How often have they not plundered consecrated churches, trampled the sacred Host underfoot, and given it to the dogs and cats to be devoured by them? How often have not the Jews pierced the sacred Host with knives, until the blood poured miraculously from it, burned it, cooked it, hung it up in their chimneys, and buried it in their secret chambers. What shall I say of those sorcerers and witches who used the Flesh and Blood of Christ, under the appearance of bread, for purposes of witchcraft, sacrificed it to a foul he-goat, that is, to the devil, on their sabbaths, and desecrated it in various ways? There are many such crimes on record, which are enough to make the demons themselves tremble with horror; much more must I shudder at the bare thought of them. And yet, what is it all, when compared to the insult offered to the Son of God by an unworthy Communion? With the exception of the profanations of those unnatural people, which are grievous enough as far as the malice of the will is concerned (although heretics and Jews thus ill-treated the Blessed Sacrament, more out of contempt for Catholics, than through hatred of Christ), all the other profanations are not so intolerable to our Lord’s Person, as to be received in the Holy Communion in the state of mortal sin. To be torn to pieces, burnt, and thrown into filthy cesspools is bad enough; but still those places have not any moral wickedness in themselves; they are clean in the eyes of God, compared to the conscience that is defiled by mortal sin; for that is the only thing that is really repulsive in the sight of God, and if our Lord had to make the choice, He would certainly prefer to be thrown on a dunghill, rather than be buried in the heart of a sinner.

I will prove this by a short example taken from the Annals of our Society. In the year 1601, in the Philippine Islands, there was a young man who had committed a secret sin, that he was ashamed to confess; he went to Communion, but hardly had he swallowed the Sacred Host, when he felt such violent pains, that he had to crawl rather than walk out of the church. As soon as he got outside he was attacked by a fit of vomiting, and rejected the Sacred Species, which were still intact; when he was immediately freed from the pain. Evidently our Lord wished to show thereby, that it was more tolerable for Him to be thrown into a filthy corner, than to remain any longer in a heart defiled by mortal sin. Yet, that is not saying half enough; for, as a certain author remarks: “Hell is a more suitable place for the Almighty God, than the house of a sinner. And why? Because in hell He is a Lord of vengeance and a just Judge, who punishes His wicked enemies with deserved torments; whereas in the heart of the sinner, He is compelled to lie, like a prisoner, in a loathsome dungeon, where He is kept, so to speak, only for the purpose of being tortured. Oh man, see how shamefully you ill-treat your Saviour, when you receive Holy Communion in the state of sin! What in the name of God can you be thinking of, as you kneel at the altar rails, with your conscience reproaching you, as it must do, with mortal sin? What does your heart feel, I ask you, when you see the priest coming towards you with the Sacred Host in his hand, and you open your mouth to receive it, into your sinful bosom? Are you not afraid of your Judge? Do you not tremble before the Almighty, in whose presence the purest spirits of Heaven are penetrated with a reverential awe? Do you not fear that the lightning will fall from Heaven, and strike you dead on the spot, or that the earth will open to swallow you up? Do you not dread the fate that happened to many, that you will be struck blind at the altar rails, or become possessed by the devil?

Ah Christians, is it possible that, among Catholics, any one can be found so presumptuous as to dare to receive Holy Communion in the state of mortal sin? What do you think, pious souls? I suppose you can hardly believe that Christians are guilty of such wickedness? Ah, would to God that such were the case! For, only too often, as I fear, is that fearful sin committed by Catholics.

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One thought on “Unworthy Communion (Pt. 1)

  1. newenglandsun

    Judas is a warning to us. His guilt in betrayal of our Lord receiving communion in this state of sin betraying our Lord. He could not tolerate the presence of holiness within leading to his suicide.

    Indeed, no one is truly worthy to receive Communion as it is only the body and blood of Christ that can make us holy and worthy to begin with but this requires that we be able to tolerate the presence of holiness first and foremost being purified by the waters of baptism and/or restored to this baptismal grace by the sacrament of penance. It is by these sacraments that God enables us to be partakers of his body and therefore able to receive it on our tongues.

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