Open/Closed Communion

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I had opportunity this week, as many of you know to spend time at St. Meinrad Archabbey in St. Meinrad, Indiana. The place is absolutely beautiful. If I think to, I’ll attach a few pictures of the Abbey later. I haven’t taken any this trip, but I might be able to find a few from previous trips. Or, I”m sure you could find it online through a simple Google search.

Anyhoo… when we attended the “Mass” today it struck me how the Catholic church truly reveres the Lord’s Supper. It is, of course, much more than a memorial for them, it is a celebration of the actual presence of Jesus Christ. According to Catholic tradition in the process of a Lord’s supper the bread actually becomes the “host” of the body of Jesus Christ. It is a process that they call “transubstantiation.” It is, as they understand it, an actual change of substance from the bread to the body.

It also struck me how they practice closed communion. One must be (in theory) a Catholic to partake of the Lord’s Supper in a Catholic Church. When I went to Mass this very morning it struck me that I don’t really enjoy feeling like an outsider. I don’t wish I was Catholic, nor do I have any aspirations to do so, but I do wish I could share communion with these good folks.

My good friend and co-worker Daren Lugafet was saying this morning how being here helps us in two ways. It helps us to see how we could do a better job revering Jesus Christ through the Lord’s Supper. It also shows, by contrast, the fantastic gift of being able to share an open communion with all those who believe in Jesus and who claim him as Savior. For that reason, I have appreciated our time here at St. Meinrad as well.

I pray that the church will continue to grow in its willingness to share communion with other believers. The very church In attend has, as her history, a great desire for Christian unity. The America Restoration movement, from which the Christian Church, the Disciples of Christ, and the churches of Christ were “birthed” (so to speak) was at the onset, a unity movement. I wonder what the unity of the church will look like as we move into the future? The challenge will be to maintain deep spiritual and theological convictions on a personal and congregational level even as we move toward a greater and much needed ecumenicism.

May God continue to bless his church with knowledge of Jesus Christ and the magnitude of his love for all the saints.

(The picture below is actually a picture of the chapel at Ferdinand where the “Sisters of St. Benedict” do their work and worship.) But the idea is the same. Notice how, on their “altar” the “host” or “eucharist” is encapsulated and given special place and reverence. I believe that God’s exaltation of his body today is not in the “host” that is the bread, but in his “church” that is the living and active body of Christ in the world).