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Should Someone Say Something?
Q. Many people in our parish who receive the Eucharist have been divorced and are remarried. I’m sure not all of them have received an annulment. Is it just between them and God, or should the priest or someone say something to them?
N.N., via email
A. Here’s a reply from TCA columnist Father Francis Hoffman, J.C.D.:
Is it just between them and God? Not exactly, because marriage is one of two sacraments at the service of communion in the Church, the other being holy orders. For that reason, those sacraments take on a public character. That is why witnesses are required for a valid marriage ceremony.
If people are divorced civilly, they must have an annulment before they can contract a valid second marriage in the Church. If their second marriage is irregular, they should not receive holy Communion. If their behavior confuses and scandalizes the other faithful in the parish, someone should say something to them — preferably the priest.
This is not being “judgmental,” since you are not judging their intentions. It’s simply following Our Lord’s exhortation to practice fraternal correction.
Must I Send Money?
Q. Am I obligated to send money for the rosary beads that show up in my mailbox unsolicited? The Post Office advised that even though I mark “return to sender” on envelop, the mail is actually discarded. I hate to hear that the merchandise is trashed, but I’ve got more than an ample supply of rosaries and have not asked for a multitude of religious items to be sent to me. I prefer to contribute to local Catholic organizations and a few national charities. I’ve even resorted to placing the rosary into another stamped envelope and returning it, but more keep arriving. Meanwhile, when one gives to an organization, they in turn sell your name and address to others.
N.N., via email
A. In my opinion, you have no obligation to send money for unsolicited merchandise of any kind, religious or otherwise.
Since you are understandably reluctant to have rosaries and other religious items simply discarded (even though they have most likely not been blessed), you might try doing what my wife and I do: Collect the items (rosaries, prayer cards, and the like) in a box. Then donate them to a group that can use them, such as a parish vacation Bible school, religious education class, home or international mission, or other charity. You could also include one in children’s birthday cards.
As for the problem of having your name and mailing address sold by one charity to another, take a look at an earlier response to a similar question, click here. (Q&A for 5-27-09).
Knights of the Holy Eucharist?
Q. I recently heard a reference to the “Knights of the Holy Eucharist.” Who exactly are they?
G.K., via email
A. You may have heard a reference to this Catholic men’s association on EWTN. Here’s a description of the organization from their website:
“The Knights of the Holy Eucharist are a branch of the Heralds of the Gospel, an International Association of Pontifical Right. The Knights are located at the Shrine of the Most Blessed Sacrament, Hanceville, Alabama, home of Mother Angelica and the Poor Clare Nuns of perpetual Adoration. The Knights serve all the liturgical functions of the Shrine and strive to provide protection and foster reverent devotion to Our Lord in the Most Blessed Sacrament. The Knights currently have four men studying for the holy priesthood and hope to send more men in the near future.”
For more information on the Knights of the Holy Eucharist, click here and here.
Must I Receive the Cup?
Q. Is it a sin to receive Holy Communion without receiving the cup? Someone recently told me that, but I have never heard it before. I have never received the cup, and I attend Mass every day. Please explain.
A.K., via email
A. The person you spoke with was misinformed. The Church recognizes that there are various legitimate reasons why a person might choose to receive only the consecrated Host. So you are by no means obligated by Church law to receive the cup in Communion, and it is no sin if you choose not to do so.
The Church teaches that when you receive Our Lord in the consecrated Host, even in the tiniest fragment, you receive all of Him: Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity. In that light, it’s not surprising that for centuries it was actually the standard practice in the Church for lay people to receive only the Host. And even today, in many churches at weekday Masses and in other settings, the Cup is not offered to the congregation.
Q. It’s a common notion that “one religion is as good as another, so long as you are a good person.” This refers of course to the teaching known as “indifferentism.”
I know that one religion is not as good as another. But I have family members who have left the Catholic Church, and other Catholic family members say, “Well, at least they believe in God and are going to church.”
Would you please elaborate on how I can charitably respond to this error in conversation with both my Catholic and non-Catholic family members?
A. Here’s a reply from TCA columnist Father Ray Ryland, Ph.D., J.D.:
Many of our readers face the problem you describe. They will be grateful to you for raising this question. Several points need to be made in your conversations about and with lapsed family members.
One, you can agree that it is good that they believe in God and are worshiping Him somewhere.
Two, you can express regret that they have greatly impoverished themselves by abandoning the grace Christ gives through His sacraments, especially through the Eucharist. You could also mention the grace of the Sacrament of Penance, which is no longer available to them.
Three, you can say you have to assume they did not truly understand the Catholic faith that they deserted. You can explain that the Church teaches that there are dire consequences for persons who know what the Church is and yet refuse to join her or to remain with her. The reason: To reject the Church, knowing that she is Christ’s own true Church, is to reject Christ himself.
Four — and most important— you should assure family members, including those who have lapsed, that you are praying earnestly for their return to their true home. And do all this very lovingly.
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