As Catholics, We are in Communion with One Another
Welcome back to church! At the end of May, we celebrated the final Mass at St. Michael Catholic Church in Flint. That had been the Mother Church of Genesee County and even many of the other counties around it. After over 175 years of ministry, that parish is no more. However, the facility will continue to be an expression of our Catholic love since it will be used by Catholic Charities of Genesee and Shiawassee Counties for the care of the poor. Those who work for Catholic Charities are exercising our own love for the poor, and so thank you all for the support you give to Catholic Charities, especially through our Diocesan Services Appeal.
As we celebrated that Mass, the church was packed to the gills! And very few people were wearing masks. I had other ceremonies a week later in Washtenaw County and the opposite was the case, with many precautions continuing to take place to avoid the spread of the virus.
I note these differences simply to share the great disparity which exists among all our brothers and sisters in this 10-county diocese. It has really been up to each parish to determine what might be best for the folks in that parish. And, as a result, there have been some differences, especially in recent months, regarding the applications of the health guidelines. Yes, we are quite diverse, and yet we are all invited back to the one Church where we share communion with one another.
These many different views should not hinder us in giving a solid and unified witness to our faith as Catholics. This is one of the great blessings of our universal, that is to say Catholic, Church. As I write this text, we are looking ahead to the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ virtual meeting in mid-June. One of the more controversial topics will be on “Eucharistic Coherence,” that is, that this sacrament is a sacrament of unity and that those receiving the body and blood of our Lord and Savior should not be in a state of mortal sin when they receive him. The catechism (#1385) notes: “Anyone conscious of a grave sin must receive the sacrament of Reconciliation before coming to Communion.”
In 2006, the U.S. Bishops issued a statement, “Happy Are Those Who Are Called to His Supper.” In this text, the bishops stated: “Because our sin has separated us from God and from our brothers and sisters in Christ, we have forfeited our right to receive Holy Communion, for the Eucharist, by its very nature, expresses and nurtures this life-giving unity that the sinner has now lost.” (page 8) This same text, following the Ten Commandments, lists examples of such serious sin: worship of a false god; swearing a false oath while invoking God’s name; missing Mass without a serious reason; committing murder, including abortion and euthanasia; sexual activity outside of a valid marriage; maliciously slandering someone; etc. The beautiful sacrament of penance is available to all of us to restore this broken communion and again share in the Lord’s Supper. Again, welcome back to Church, but even more, welcome back to the forgiving and healing love of our Lord.