Recently in one of the groups on a social website, someone asked why a person who appears to be faithful to Our Lord would not go to communion. It stirred my emotions because I see how innocent this question might be and how easily one can judge. Nevertheless, it bothered me because there are so many reasons why someone would not go to communion. I think of the person who is not going to communion and the feelings they may be going through. The reason they may not partake in Holy Communion may have nothing to do with a mortal sin. It could be due to other reasons. It could be as simple as supreme reverence.
In the early years of the Church, fasting and abstinence were meant to foster “supreme reverence”. Saint Augustine states, “It has pleased the Holy Ghost that, to honor so great a Sacrament, the Lord’s Body should enter the mouth of the Christian before other food. Not only does the Eucharistic fast pay due honor to our Divine Redeemer, it fosters piety also; and hence it can help to increase in us those most salutary fruits of holiness which Christ, the Source and Author of all good, wishes us who are enriched by His Grace to bring forth.” (As quoted from EWTN…) Saint John the Baptist fasted and did penance to make a home for our Lord in his mind, body, and soul, as we should.
In March 2004, the Congregation of Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments issued a statement. The Congregation declared, “The Mystery of the Eucharist ‘is too great for anyone to permit himself to treat it according to his own whim, so that its sacredness and its universal ordering would be obscured’. The sacrament of the Eucharist is to be treated with the upmost respect.
First Corinthians 11: 27-29 states, “This means that whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord unworthily sins against the body and blood of the Lord. A Man should examine himself first, only then should he eat of the bread and drink of the cup. He who eats and drinks without recognizing the body eats and drinks a judgment on himself. If someone feels unworthy, would he/she not take the time to mortify their senses until they became more worthy?
Could it not be that this person has chosen not to go for any other reason than to express supreme reverence or to become more reverent? Some saints who practiced mortification in order to gain mastery over their senses are:
- Saint Alphonsus De Ligouri
- Saint Teresa of Avila
- Saint Francis of Assisi
- Saint Benedict
- Saint John of the Cross
Mortification of our senses does not have to go to the extreme. It can be a matter of giving up a candy bar, or something much greater. The main purpose is to gain control of your senses so that you can give your all to Our Lord. The focus should be giving up our being for and to Our Lord.
Since I do not know this person, nor do I pretend to know his/her soul, I can honestly say that he/she is making the right choice for him/herself because of him/herself. What we see on the outside is not always, what is on the inside. If someone leads you to be concerned about their soul, my advice would be to accept and pray with them and for them. Please do not judge me.