Thursday, April 22, 2010

The Joys of the Closed Eucharist

My daughters' outcry of injustice against the closed Catholic Eucharist was an echo of my own years ago. The arrogance, the elitist attitude--how DARE the Catholic Church tell me, a saved, baptized, mature Christian that I cannot partake in their Communion service. Why tattooed, lip-ringed, liberal, homosexuals were walking up there--big as you please--partaking in their Eucharist! NANCY PELOSI--the baby-killing, Jezebel of all Catholicism, bats her demonic eyes with her plastic-surgeon enhanced smile, and walks up the aisle to receive the Eucharist from the hands of a priest. And they refuse to allow me! Why I have been more Catholic than Nancy Pelosi as a Protestant than she ever was.... 
It is hard to understand the Church’s decision to be exclusive in the Lord’s Supper. 
Only..... it never was the church’s decision not to allow anyone to partake in the Eucharist. Yes, yes, I read the Didache (an assembly of church rituals that supposedly was written during the Apostolic age) that said only those baptized could come to the “breaking of the bread” and that it had to be an anointed bishop that presided, all others who had a similar Eucharist were outside of the church. But again, I just thought that was a man-made imposition on the faithful. 
What I didn’t realize was the Jesus himself instigated a closed Lord’s Supper. The Catholic Church was not innovative, it was not their command but Jesus’. The Protestants will cry foul! To which the Catholics will say they have the complete teachings of Christ--those passed down orally as well as written and they will claim Jesus commanded a Eucharist that was presided by an ordained apostle to only those who have been baptized into the valid kingdom of heaven and not some unorthodox break off sect lead by a false shepherd.
I have heard this debate back and forth, ad nauseum. There is no answer to satisfy the hurt Protestant who feels excluded. 
Then something dawned on me as I was praying yesterday.
There IS Biblical proof of a closed Lord’s Supper. Remember that Jesus had many followers, many disciples. He also had seventy that he chose to go out and spread the gospel of the Kingdom of Heaven. He even gave these seventy the power to heal and cast out demons! 
Were any of these invited to the Last Supper, the Supper in which Christ shared his body through the breaking of the bread and His blood through the cup which he shared?  

No! The only ones who were invited to this communion--this sacred closed communion were the Twelve Apostles. And even one of these--Judas the Betrayer--left before the Eucharist was instituted. 
Jesus Christ did not specifically exclude his other followers because they weren’t good enough, weren’t Christian enough. He had a very specific reason, Jesus was inaugurating His Kingdom on earth, His literal church which would be His Beloved Bride. This one and only love, would become united with Him and be part of His very body, she in Him and He in her. 
There could be no mistaking the Bride, for false shepherds would try and sneak in and deceive the flock. The sheep had to KNOW their true shepherd and they could know because He would make plain who they were. Only the TRUE shepherds were to lead and feed the flock.
Jesus made that plain at the Last Supper. He chose only His Apostles as clear representatives of His Shepherds. They alone would have the authority to continue the Eucharist. Remember, Jesus had not given the bread and fish directly to the multitude, but gave it to the Apostles to distribute. Jesus was setting up an authority for his kingdom that could not be mistaken or usurped---be fed spiritually through the hands of the chosen Apostles. The Eucharist is through the hands of the Apostles. They alone have God’s blessing to distribute His body and blood, soul and divinity to His beloved Church.
When we go up to receive the Catholic Eucharist, we are acknowledging the Priest’s God-given authority to distribute to us His body and blood. We are submitting and pledging our soul, spirit, body, loyalty and love to His Catholic church. The Catholics simply ask that those who receive this understand thoroughly what they are doing, for if they don’t, they will be liable for the very body and blood of Christ. They will be hurting both His body and His Bride's body. And in fact, Paul says, that is why many are sick and die. 
The closed Communion is distributed by God’s chosen because it is not a symbol, but the real presence of God. It is the most sacred moment of Christianity and Jesus---NOT the Catholic church commanded it to be for those who have pledged a lifetime of service to His Kingdom, led by the pope.  To open this up for anyone--- to encourage them go through the motions of the deepest pledge, the most intimate commitment and oath to the Catholic church without their realizing it, that would be a treacherous trick. 
Our honor and fidelity to God’s anointed in the Catholic church must come from a full understanding of what pledge we are making. 
The Catholic closed Eucharist was instituted by Christ at the Last Supper so we can know just exactly who we are to go to and submit to and be fed by. It was not an open--all followers invited---communion. Jesus made it exclusive, not the Catholic Church. I am thankful for that, and hope that one day my beloved daughter can understand this as I have.