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Avoid woolly thinking on Communion

SIR – Elizabeth Price (Letter, April 20) suggests that “Protestant denominations have it right in opening their communion table to any who wish to receive and are communicant members in their own churches,” citing Jesus: “Other sheep have I not of this fold.” She adds that “sheep of other flocks can be loved enough by the Lord for Him to wish them to be ‘one fold and one shepherd’ ”, asking if “any shepherd, purporting to act in Christ’s name”, is “really right in turning away a hungry sheep owned by the same landlord, but who usually grazes in another field?”.

And yet viewing Communion as a sign of fellowship that does not actually exist shows how little it is truly valued. Anyone could take Communion in such parishes; indeed, a Catholic concealing a mortal sin could take Communion in their own parish – but only if they believed that it doesn’t matter; in which case, why bother?

The Eucharist was not instituted so that people could err in comfort. Any human could think up the idea of a fellowship meal, but the Eucharist is a sacrament God-given but also God, divinely instituted by Jesus, who told His disciples that unless they ate His flesh and drank His blood they could not be His followers (John 6:51-58). Like “the word of God”, the “Word made flesh” given up for our salvation is “living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and spirit, of joints and marrow, and discerning the thought and intentions of the heart” (Hebrews 4:12).

Jesus came not to bring peace but a sword (Matthew 10:34; Luke 12:51), but this does not mean that we want to wield the sword against dissenters, or “view other denominations as heretics” – we simply wish to maintain our belief in the Eucharist as the sacrificed flesh and blood of God on which our very faith is built. We should demonstrate our belief by our reverence, in the knowledge that thousands of men and women have sacrificed their lives for this belief. If we give the impression that it doesn’t matter, we suggest that they died in vain. The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence, but if non-Catholics really believe in the Eucharist they would do better to join us in the same fold rather than trying to snatch a mouthful through the fence. The Church must tell the truth rather than resorting to comforting but woolly phrases that merely succeed in muffling the word of God.

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