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John Ring wrote:

Dear Mike —

A candidate in our RCIA program is an Episcopalian. His family is staunchly Episcopalian, yet will support his conversion to the Catholic Church. His daughter is currently preparing for confirmation in the Episcopal church.

  • He wants to know why, since he believes that their rite of the Lord's Supper also results in transubstantiation, he can't receive communion at their service?

I hope that you can come up with an answer that will be sensitive to his family situation.

God Bless,

John

  { If he believes in the Real Presence, why can't he receive communion at their communion service? }

Mike replied:

Hi John,

Thanks for the question.

You wrote:
His daughter is currently preparing for confirmation in the Episcopal church.
He wants to know why, since he believes that their rite of the Lord's Supper also results in transubstantiation, he can't receive communion at their service?

The short answer is:

  1. Because what the Catholic candidate (father) believes, and what his Episcopalian daughter believes about the Eucharist are two different things, and,

  2. the father can't receive the Real Presence (the Eucharist) in any Episcopalian church.

From a Catholic view, when one receives the Eucharist in the Catholic Church, it is also an acknowledgement that [he/she] believes in all that the Roman Catholic Church teaches and believes — that the recipient is in a Common Union with the Church. You don't hear this as much from the pulpit these days, but you should. Believing in all that the Catholic Church teaches, yet going to another church on a regular basis, would be a contradiction between what a person "says" and "does".

I found a related question and answer on the Catholic Answers web site at www.catholic.com, which may help explain things from our view:

Question:

Do any other faiths believe in transubstantiation? ... Episcopalians, for example?

Answer:

The Eastern non-Catholic Churches, including the Eastern Orthodox, also share the Church's faith in transubstantiation, though they do not call it that.

Typically, Episcopalians do not believe in transubstantiation, but in a concept of the Real Presence that would best be termed consubstantiation (though they don't use this term), since they hold that both Christ, [the] bread and wine are present.

In addition to what my colleagues at Catholic Answers have said, I would add the following two points:

First point:

Roman Catholics believe that after transubstantiation, 100% of the substance of the bread and wine are transubstantiated into the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Christ, our God-Man Himself. There is no substance of bread, nor wine remaining.

Philosophically, what is called the accident's of bread and wine remain:

  • the taste
  • touch
  • smell, and
  • sight of the [bread|wine].

Nevertheless Jesus is really and 100% sacramentally present in the
Blessed Sacrament; there remain no substance of either the bread or wine.

Second point:

A sad result of the Protestant Reformation was that Thomas Cranmer under
Henry VIII, rewrote what was a valid form (or words) for the Sacrament of
Holy Orders. These are important words used in the Sacrament that make a man,
a priest.

The result is that the Episcopalian churches do not have a valid Eucharist, nor can their ministers absolve their flock of their sins, because they do not have valid
Holy Orders; one through which Jesus can act "in the person of Christ" or
(in the place of the priest), and consecrate the Eucharist in a valid manner.

Episcopalians who do receive the Eucharist at their church, do receive actual graces, because they are striving to follow Our Lord's command to:

  • Do this in memory of me, and
  • eat his body and drink his blood, so they will live in Jesus and allow Jesus to live in them. (John 6:56)

    • but they don't receive Our Lord really, or sacramentally.

This may seem a little insensitive, but if given a choice between the truth and sensitivity,
I'll choose truth.

Hope this helps,

Mike Humphrey

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