When I first started going to the Catholic Church I was very put off by the fact that, although I had been baptized a Christian, I could not partake of communion in the Catholic Church unless I was Catholic. I felt that they were turning people away and being non-inclusive. They were the curmudgeon church. Grouchy, old, not accepting of outsiders, etc. Now that I have attended Catholic Church for about 8 years and have done a little more research on religion I have a new appreciation for the rituals of a faith.
I wondered if I would you feel the same if visiting a Mosque or a Jewish Temple and were not allowed to partake in some ritual? No, of course not, I would agree that these religions have certain rituals that are considered quite sacred and therefore reserved for the truly faithful of that faith. Well, that’s how communion is for the Catholics. This is a BIG deal for them. They believe that when the priest performs the Eucharist the bread actually transforms into the body of Christ. This is not minor. I feel that they have every right to politely request (because I’ve never seen any non-Catholic actually called out for taking communion in a Catholic church) that this ritual be reserved for those who truly believe.
If you think that because you are a Protestant and therefore a Christian you are should be able to take communion in the Catholic Church, you really need to brush up on your history. The Protestant Reformation was a big deal and there are huge differences between Martin Luther’s interpretation of religion and how one should practice it and the Catholic Church’s. I won’t go into the history lesson here but there’s a great course on the subject. [See Luther: Gospel, Law, and Reformation on the Course List page.]
I’ve also come to believe that it’s okay, even preferable to be selective. Going to church and participating in the traditions of that church is not something to be taken lightly. There should be activities reserved for those who have gone through a process that has brought them closer to their faith. This isn’t just a place to hang out on Sunday morning (or whenever you might go) and get a free drink. Someone told me once that although, he wasn’t personally devote he gave $20 to the church every week when he went with this family because he felt he should pay for the seat. My response, Stay Home! I would hate the idea of sitting in church with a group of people who just had nothing better to do. If you don’t want to get anything out of it then do the rest of us a favor and don’t come in the first place. God doesn’t need people to pay for their seats. He doesn’t need pity.
Then there’s the contrast the non-Catholic churches I’ve attended that latch on to any breathing thing. I feel suffocated at times with so many people pressuring me to attend a certain church because I went once. Religion, as I’ve said before, isn’t easy and if you think it is you’re doing something wrong. It’s okay to be confused and unsure and to struggle with the concepts – it’s deep stuff! I like that the Catholics require courses and have age specific rights of passage (so to speak) to help people along the path. This won’t ensure that they are Catholic forever, but they will most likely give religion a lot more thought than people who just join a church because everyone else is doing it.
So, every week at church when it’s time for communion I politely sit in my seat or go to the back of the church to wait for my kids. I don’t feel self conscious about it, I don’t feel embarrassed about it. I’m more than happy to acknowledge how important it is for them. And I’m secure enough in my own faith to feel no doubts about not converting to Catholicism.