Very often I find people who are not Catholic who are offended at the tradition in the Churches of the Apostles, whether they be in the East or in the West, whereby, they are refused the privilege of receiving the Most Holy Sacrament. Their reasoning goes something like this:
"I'm a Christian and therefore I should be allowed to receive."
So, for all of you outside of the Churches of the Apostles, holding a different opinion than the tradition handed down from the Apostles, I'm going to put forth the sound reasons for your exclusion from the Feast.
In the first place, many of you do not share the belief held by the Apostolic Churches that the Eucharist is a sacrifice. Many of you are of the different opinion that communion is merely a sign and an ordinance. That is, you think the communion is a sign to remind you of Jesus Christ's Passion so that it initiates you in a spiritual and intellectual manner into a deeper love and reverence of God. You think that it is an ordinance, that is, something ordered to be done amongst believers by Christ and on those grounds you execute what you have effectively reduced to a mere ordinance. You have the bread to "remember" His body, and you have the grape juice to "remember" his blood.
For the Catholic and Orthodox Christian, however, we believe that the fullness of Christ's body, blood, soul, and divinity mystically abide under the species of bread and wine. We confess that in a great mystery Christ is substantially present in the Eucharist. The wine no longer being wine, but blood. The bread no longer being purest wheat, but flesh. We believe this so much so, we profess that the Communion, as you prefer to call it, is the source and summit of our faith, because it is God and our revelation of God. We will kneel down and worship what were once mere elements of bread and wine, knowing and confessing that they have mysteriously through the power of the Holy Spirit, at the good pleasure of the Eternal Father, become the Body and Blood of our King and our God, Jesus Christ.
For us, it is a sacrament, something which literally and truly initiates us in an ontological sense into the mystery of becoming One with God. We hold the Eucharist to be a symbol to the eye and a sacrifice in fact. To those of you who would level the accusation that we mean to "re-sacrifice" Christ, that is another evidence that you are not in communion with us. God 'IS,' because He is outside of time and, therefore, completely in all time. So, whatever happened to Christ in His life as a human 'IS' being, right now. His Passion has taken on the same infinite attribute that is unique to His essence, because only God is infinite and He is God. By this we know and have no need to debate with anyone, that the Eucharist is not "re-sacrificing" Christ, but only the reality of what 'IS.' So, we make a good profession of these truths.
Hitherto, some of you say you agree with us. Others of you say that you don't agree with us. To those of you who agree, how can you partake of communion if you are not in communion? The Eucharist requires participation of the whole person, body and soul. The Body of Christ is the Church and the Body exists because of the common faith, because without the common faith in common things, there is no body. How can you then say that you discern the body of Christ in the Eucharist, but can not discern the Body of Christ, which is the Church, all around you? St. Paul commands that everyone discern the Body, lest they eat and drink unto condemnation. If you say you do discern, then why aren't you in the Church of the Apostles? You testify against yourselves! And will you continue to think that we have done something arrogant and rude to you, because we did not enable you to eat and to drink unto condemnation of yourselves?
To those of you who had disagreed, I say much the same. To your sensibilities we have become idolaters and cannibals. Will you partake of a feast of idols? Will you become a cannibal? I don't speak as though you are of the right opinion, but in such a manner which is not at all incongruent with your beliefs and in such a way as should be fitting to your conscience if you have these heterodox opinions. Take measure of what you believe; and will you still act so offended as though we did something evil to you, when it was our tradition which prevented your imprudence from making you a cannibal or making you in communion with the cup of idols? Again, I am only speaking in accordance with your opinions and not those of the Church.
Further, to each of you, no Catholic or Orthodox may receive while being in a state of mortal sin. This is so that Christ is not offended. Also, no one being stubbornly anathema in their denial of the dogmas of the Church should ever receive, because they are ipso facto out of communion with the Body of Christ. Again, this is so that Christ is not offended. Will any of you deny that Christ is offended? St. Paul said that some had died and fallen ill and become weak because of eating unworthily. Do you think that happened for no reason, or does not your reason lead you to the perfect knowledge that Christ is truly offended by those who partake unworthily? If so, why then are you compelling us, those who you are not even in communion with, to assist you in offending God? Why should we take you at your word that you are receiving worthily without any evidence of it? Confession, baptism and confirmation would be sufficient signs to the Body of Christ, which is the Church that you are receiving worthily. Why should we do as you do, giving the communion indiscriminately to any and all who enter through the doors of your places of gathering, whether they be Christians or otherwise, in opposition to the sacred scriptures?
Again, on the other hand, why are you compelling us to be complicit in your own harm? Why should we who have been given the sacred task of being Light in the world, be the same people who lead you to punishment? Why are you compelling us to get you into trouble? You are like a boy telling another boy to push him up over a fence; and if you fall and break your arm will you not both be in trouble?! Stop being offended then and know that no one has deprived you the privilege to receive because of hatred, arrogance, or elitism. It is prudence and integrity that deprives you.
Speaking even more plainly, as stated before, no Catholic or Orthodox may receive without being confessed, unless they are without mortal sin. Not even the children of the Church may do this; no bishop, no Pope, no priest, no deacon, and no laity may receive in this state. In fact, it has always been the tradition and teaching of the Apostles that no one is to ever receive without having made a first confession and being chrismated. How can you, who have never been confessed and who have not made a public profession of faith in the Body of Christ, which is the Church, receive the Eucharist? You are accusing us of arrogance, but here you think that you should be allowed to do what we do not even allow ourselves to do! You declare you have the right to circumvent us? You declare you have a right to our most Holy Treasure, without first giving a sign that you are worthy? You scorn everything that we are and have, but this, our Most Holy Sacrament, you demand?
Truly, none of us would come to you to receive what you call an ordinance, which is your own concept of communion. Never! The one who does such a thing would betray his faith, communing with those who are of a different opinion. Also, Christ said to partake of the Eucharist as often as you come together, yet you are not. You only quarterly take your wafer and juice packets, some more frequently. However, we come together so that we may receive the Eucharist, because it is the source and summit of our faith. We do this everyday, not only on Sundays and Wednesday which are your choice days of meeting. We do this throughout the whole earth, reading the same readings, partaking of the same body and blood. You come together to partake in scripture which is the center of your worship; we come together for the Eucharist, which is the center of our worship. We are different men.
Yet, some of you think that it is your right to take communion, because you are called by the name Christian. How can this be sufficient? If five sisters marry five brothers can any sister have any brother she desires? All of them have the same last name, all of them are equally married. However, they are not all equally bound in the sacrament of marriage, because one is wed to another and another is wed to another. Many of you are married, but you are not married to everyone, you may not have your neighbors wife, but only your own. There is schism in the Church between the East and the West, but one Church in essence and these may legitimately receive from one another, being Churches of the Apostles; however, this excludes separated brethren which are the Protestants and heretics, whom we trust will attain the Mercy and Grace of Christ in an extraordinary way in the resurrection.
The Church is the Bride of Christ and you profess to be the Body of Christ. Why then are you attempting to have two spouses? Why are you turning the matter into an affair of adultery? Why are you going to the places of Protestants who are separated and then to those whom they are separated from? It would be better for you to pick one or the other instead of engaging in adultery. Think about what you are doing with the temple of Christ, which is your body. Will you try to enter into two women? Why are you trying to enter into two fundamentally different bodies of faith? Take account of what it is precisely you are trying to do.
"Every art and every inquiry, and similarly every action and choice, is thought to aim at some good; and for this reason the good has rightly been declared to be that at which all things aim." ~Aristotle~