Because of all the events of the last few weeks, including our bishop’s letter that was in the bulletin last week, I would like to take a two week break from the meditations on preparing for Mass and participating fully (inwardly) in the Holy Mass to touch upon the meaning of being “in communion” with the Body of Christ, the Church.
Bishop Daly last week cited Canon Law. What is Canon Law? It is the law of the Church. It is the practical application, of what we believe, into the everyday running of the Church. It is called Canon Law because it is composed of numbered laws called ‘canons’, which unlike our American laws, cannot be changed by precedent, but are set firmly by formal declaration by the highest authority of the Church. In his letter explaining why Catholic politicians who support abortion cannot receive communion, Bishop Daly cited canon 915. It states: “Those who have been excommunicated or interdicted after the imposition or declaration of the penalty and others obstinately persevering in manifest grave sin are not to be admitted to Holy Communion.”
It is important to note that Bishop Daly did not quote the next canon, canon 916, which says anyone aware that they have committed a grave sin and have not gone to sacramental Confession must not receive Holy Communion (nor celebrate Mass if a priest) except in extreme grave cases. Such extreme cases, by the way, means things such as danger of death when there is no priest to hear a Confession - this is because it is very important for dying Catholics to receive Viaticum (the Eucharist just before dying) according to Canon 921. The bishop was making clear that it is not required that the person be aware that what they are doing is wrong. This is because of the great confusion Governor Cuomo has shown in thinking that he can continue to act as a ‘good Catholic’ while supporting abortion or other grave evils, such as contraception, as well as homosexual activity and ‘marriage.’
This point is very important for each of us to understand so that we do not lose the salvation God is constantly offering us. No one can continue in grave sin, nor support others in grave sin, and remain spiritually attached to Jesus Christ. As St Paul says, this is an attempt to mock God (Gal 6:7-8) and that anyone who “eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord unworthily shall be guilty... he eats and drinks judgement on himself” (1 Cor 11:27-30). Thus, Bishop Daly is not declaring this to be mean, but rather to help keep all of us from losing our salvation through thinking what is wrong is right and acting on that.
Next week I will go more into the meaning of being in a state of grace or a state of sin, so we can make better sense of the reality that Canon Law is practically expressing in these particular laws.
God bless you!