The recent vote by the United States Bishops to move forward on writing a document on “The Meaning of the Eucharist in the Life of the Church” was a bit disturbing. It seems that now is bad timing and politically fueled, to say the least. I feel that I should write something concerning this but also realize it will be months before we see the final result so I am trying to have some restraint in my comments and want to have a chance to read the final result before ranting away.
In some ways, a good document defining the Eucharist in the life of the Church might be something we need. On the other hand, a document that is legalistic and lays out who should and shouldn’t receive the Eucharist would be a big step backward from the understanding of the formation of conscience that came out of Vatican II. It would also ignore what Pope Francis has mentioned that the Church’s job is to provide information for people to make an informed decision in issues of morals not making the decision for them. Also, a legalistic document about who has the moral high road would ignore the Church’s lack of ability to walk a moralistic road as of late with the sexual abuse crisis and other issues.
This document would have to address many issues of morals and the Eucharist. For example, should politicians who vote against funding basic human needs such as food, education, health care, and other needs be barred from receiving the Eucharist for grave sin in upholding the dignity of life? What about politicians that vote for our country to be involved in immoral wars, or that vote for the death penalty? What about Bishops that have covered up the sexual abuse of innocent children, should they be barred from receiving the Eucharist let alone celebrating Mass?
I would hope this document would reflect Pope Francis’ recent preaching that the Eucharist “is not the reward of saints, but the bread of sinners.” Such a document should be one of encouraging people to increase their reception of the Eucharist and to realize as I like to say about who should receive the Eucharist: “Jesus can take care of Jesus” and “I do not want to stand in the presence of Jesus at the end my life and have to answer why I refused the Eucharist to somebody that was starting their journey back into a relationship with Jesus”.
So for now, I will wait and see what the final result is before I comment more.
Peace, Love, and Blessings,