When Advent season began there was once again a bitter feeling of disappointment with evangelical ecclesiology. Rather than share the season with the church catholic my local assembly decided to use late November through early December to teach on the identity, vision, and mission of our particular group. There was something hyper-individualistic about this gesture that bothered me deeply. I continue to wrestle with what it means to be “catholic” although I am not “Catholic”. I want to be part of the church global during this season, and it seems my local place of worship has no such desire.
On Christmas Eve I went with my wife and mother-in-law to see the annual ‘Festival of Lights‘ at a local Catholic perish known as The Grotto. That evening we went to the 10PM mass. While I have roots in Roman Catholicism, and I even have a great Uncle who is a priest, I have been to mass only once. It was an amazing experience watching the faithful squeeze against the entry way before pouring into the building to find a seat. There was an upper deck as well, and it was full. We sang Christmas hymns, we recited the Nicene-Constantinopolation Creed, the priest gave a homily (which included more Scripture than many so-called “Bible churches”), and we saw the Eucharist being prepared. I watched in awe as they paraded the crucifix down the middle isle at the beginning acknowledging the paradox, as they burned beautiful smelling incense which created a physicality to the worship, and as they kissed the Scriptures before lifting it toward the pulpit. It felt holy.
My wife was not feeling well so we left before actually participating in the Eucharist. As I understand it one ought to be a confessing Big-“C” Catholic to join in the ceremony. I thought about participating even though I am not Catholic, because I am catholic. I wasn’t sure if that would be disrespectful, or if it is something I should do, whether Protestants and/or Catholics approved, because it symbolically would say that I consider myself in communion with the Catholics, even if they did not see themselves in communion with me.
I want to be catholic though I am not Catholic.
What do you say? If you are a Catholic do you welcome other Christians in celebrating Eucharist or do you think our differing understanding of the rite demands that we do not do it together? If you are Protestant/Anglican-Episcopalian/Reformed/Evangelical, et al., what do you think of sharing communion with Catholics?