26 July 2006

Closed Communion: The Unspoken Truth

As is my usual custom, I celebrated Holy Mass this morning. It is the Feast of St Anne and, not unexpectedly, few were in attendance. The few there I know very well--in fact, it was my family.

With small and intimate participants, it is easy to believe that this is all one is in communion with at that particular time. That belief can simultaneously generate despair ("Where are the others") and hope ("There is no doubt about these"). However, the belief is false.

The faith is that, regardless of the number, whenever Holy Eucharist is offered, the angels, archangels and all the company of heaven is also present. Unseen, but truly present. This few deny.

The truth that is often overlooked or even denied is that, regardless of the number, whenever Holy Mass is celebrated, fellowship is announced and consumated with that assembly and all those of that particular communion. This truth obtains despite all objections--vociferous, academic or otherwise. That is the unspoken truth of those who (rightly) practice "closed communion."

Admittedly, this unspoken truth doesn't sit well among those who, holding to the false primacy of the invisible church, wish to practice (or, in fact, do practice) some form of "selective fellowship" (whether the selection exceeds or restricts the agreed upon boundaries.) Such a bane this beast is to catholic ecclesiology! It effectively constitutes every pastor as a bishop by his own design, and every congregation its own synod.

The unspoken truth of "closed communion" also does not sit well with those who are convinced that, at every Divine Liturgy, they declare communion with heretics and heterodox. At some point, they must admit that they violate their conscience every time they celebrate (or even receive) Holy Communion.

For such, however, the last oration in today's Mass must be their fervent prayer:

We beseech Thee, O Lord our God, that by the intercession of blessed Anne, whom Thou didst choose to bring forth the Mother of Thy Son: we, whom Thou hast quickened with these heavenly sacraments, may be found worthy to attain to everlasting salvation, through the same Jesus Christ, Thy Son Our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with Thee, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end.

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