Q. Recently a close non-Catholic family friend was married in a Protestant church which included a communion service. I very much wanted to show my solidarity with the person being married and receive communion, but I wasn’t sure what to do. As a Catholic, could I have received communion in the Protestant church?
A. No. Nor can Protestants receive the Eucharist in a Catholic Church.
Unfortunately, because of the difficult divisions caused largely by the Protestant Reformation started by Martin Luther in 1517, a Catholic cannot and should not receive communion in any Protestant service. We believe the Eucharist is the very Body and Blood of Jesus Christ. How do we know this? Because He told us directly and convincingly. He gave the apostles and their successors the ability and the mandate to celebrate the Eucharist in his memory.
I strongly recommend that you read the Gospel of John, chapter 6. This is not Jesus speaking figuratively or metaphorically, but literally. To accept such a radical, transformational life-changing belief such as the Eucharist requires study, intensive and ongoing prayer, preparedness (not conscious of mortal sin) and acceptance of this belief through a profession of faith – that the Eucharist truly is Jesus’ Body and Blood.
Interestingly, the Scriptures and church history do not provide us with anything that Jesus put down in writing. However, as Catholics, we do believe that of all of the things that Jesus said that the words of consecration at Mass, “this is my Body” and “this is my Blood,” are His very words.
With the schism (break in Church unity) that was caused by the Protestant Reformation, the apostolic succession necessary for celebrating the Eucharist was broken. Thus, to receive communion in the Protestant church would be to say we believe their communion is the same reality as what the Catholic Eucharist is. This simply is not true.
Just a footnote – people who tally numbers say there are up to 40,000 different Christian denominations in the United States alone. Most of these are man-made religions that have no history with or are part of any mainline Protestant church and contribute to the splintering of Christian unity.
This question was answered by a priest of the Diocese of Lincoln. Write to Ask the Register using our online form, or write to 3700 Sheridan Blvd., Suite 10, Lincoln NE 68506-6100. All questions are subject to editing. Editors decide which questions to publish. Personal questions cannot be answered. People with such questions are urged to take them to their nearest Catholic priest.