This Week’s Ask Alice: Should a doubtful (but otherwise practicing) Catholic receive Holy Communion?



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Yaron asks: I am a Jew I wanted to ask two questions about your faith: 1. If there is a Catholic that was baptized as a baby in the Catholic church and he comes every week to the church and gives money to the church, however he does not believe that Jesus is God, can he take from the bread and wine in the church? 2. Will this Catholic enter paradise after he dies? I appreciate your reply.

Alice answers: You’ve asked two worthwhile questions which merit complicated answers. It’s interesting that a Jewish person like yourself, seems to have a clearer understanding of Catholic teachings than your Catholic friend does.

To licitly receive the Body (bread) and Blood (wine) of Christ a Catholic must: 1) Be in the state of grace, (i.e. have no unconfessed mortal sins); 2) Believe in the Real Presence of Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament; and 3) Observe the Eucharistic fast.

If a baptized Catholic does not believe that Jesus is God, there would be no point to his receiving the Body and Blood of Christ, since that person would receive Holy Communion unworthily.

However, no human being fully understands how Jesus can be both God and man. This mystery is called the Incarnation. Faith means believing what we cannot see. If your friend struggles with doubts about Jesus being God he is like many other Catholics, even some saints, who suffer from what St. John of the Cross dubbed, “the dark night of the soul.” As long as your friend believes in God, prays, attends weekly Mass, and financially supports his church, we must be wary of judging his heart. That’s God’s job.

Just as the Incarnation remains a mystery to all of humanity, an even greater mystery is Divine Mercy. No one can guarantee exactly where your friend will spend eternity because God’s mercy is “astonishment for Angels, incomprehensible for Saints” (Diary of St. Maria Faustina Kowalska: 949) Although you friend’s heart is riddled with doubts, God in His infinite mercy, can choose to forgive him and admit him to Paradise. That’s God’s choice.

“He says to Moses, ‘I will show mercy to whomever I choose; I will have pity on whomever I wish.’ So it is not a question of man’s willing or doing, but of God’s mercy……In other words, God has mercy on whom He wishes, and whom He wishes He makes obdurate.” (Romans 9:15)

Please pray for your Catholic friend, that God will enlighten his heart and increase his faith.

In Christ’s Love,

Alice

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2 Comments

  1. Hello

    This is Yaron again

    Thank you for your reply.

    Let’s say that he insists that Jesus is not God and that it is not only a doubt

    Will you tell him that God will accept him to heaven anyway?

    Regards
    Yaron

  2. Dear Yaron,

    Alice is away for a week, so I will answer your follow up question.

    Alice touched on several key points in her original answer. I suggest you go back and read it more carefully … but I’ll add a few more things here, in the hope of greater clarity.

    Catholics become so through the sacrament of baptism, where all their sins are forgiven, they (literally) become temples of the Holy Spirit, adopted children of God, co-heirs (with Jesus Christ) to the Kingdom of Heaven, and members of the church.

    The souls of baptized persons are literally “marked” for divine salvation, and neither God nor man lightly treats such a thing.

    This is not to say that Catholics cannot end up in hell, but it does permit us to rightly infer that God will not carelessly waste souls by consigning them to hell, when salvation might somehow still be possible.

    Many Catholics spend a lifetime attempting to deal with their personal doubts and/or questions about various church doctrines and dogmas … many of which are not particularly easy to accept or understand.

    Such doubts are typically not in themselves sinful or capable of disqualifying one from heaven … but a determined lack of faith … spiritual laziness … or an outright lack of concern for one’s eternal destiny … may be.

    If your friend currently believes that Jesus is not God, he likely suffers from a lack of both faith and reason. As a remedy for this, a course of regular Catholic prayer and study would be highly recommended.

    If your friend is not in a state of serious sin, and he decides to make a good faith effort to resolve his doubts and reconcile his views with those of the church, he would be well advised to continue to regularly receive holy communion. His parish priest could likely provide the best advice on this matter.

    Since divine judgment occurs only after death, he has the rest of his life to arrive at the truth and finally see the light … however long that may turn out to be.The church will be there to help, throughout.

    Should such a positive resolution eventually occur, we Catholics believe it is only because 1) God freely supplied the grace necessary for the change of heart and mind; and 2) Your friend freely chose to cooperate with that grace.

    If neither of the above occurs before he dies, then Jesus Christ will judge your friend, who is already an adopted child of God, by virtue of his baptism … according to standards that only God fully comprehends.

    That righteous judgment will (hopefully) be tempered with divine mercy, since we know that God is on record stating his desire that all be saved, and come to the knowledge of his truth.

    God is the only judge of these things, since he alone can see what is truly in a person’s heart, and he alone is qualified to properly take into account the many subtle and hidden things that are totally unknown (and probably unknowable) to mere humans.

    In short … God is love. Love is another word for charity … and anyone (Christian or not) who departs this earthly existence with at least a modicum of charity remaining in his/her soul, is not likely to experience eternal damnation.

    It is not possible for us to speculate any further!

    That said, anyone God decides to invite into heaven will only be able to enter therein by the power of the grace that Jesus Christ obtained for us on the cross, at Calvary.

    I hope my explanation has been useful. Feel free to write again, any time.

    God bless you,

    Doug


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