Today's Punto
Today's Punto
State of sin
By Bong Lacson

Mar 01, 2018

NO PALL of gloom yet as the Holy Week is still a month away but a sobering of the spirit has always wafted in the Lenten season to me.

It is that time when the religious prism spots on even the most secular, acts of state not excluded, in fact most considered.

There was this piece of news in the web yesterday of the bishop of Springfield, Illinois barring a senator, US of course, from receiving Holy Communion for his pro-abortion vote.

Senator Dick Durbin voted against the “Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act” which sought to prohibit all abortion procedures occurring 20 weeks after conception.

Declared Bishop Thomas J. Paprocki: “Canon Law states that those ‘who obstinately persist in manifest grave sin are not to be admitted to Holy Communion.’ Failing to protect the lives of innocent and defenseless members of the human race is to sin against justice. Because his voting record in support of abortion over many years constitutes ‘obstinate persistence in manifest grave sin,’ the determination continues that Senator Durbin is not to be admitted to Holy Communion until he repents of this sin.”

Closer to home under a not-so-different setting is the Divorce Law that recently passed in the House. Is not divorce falling within the ambit of “manifest grave sin,” given the injunction set by Christ Himself that “what God hath joined together, let no man put asunder”?

So, should we soon expect any sanction from the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines or any prelate barring those who voted for the Divorce Law from the communion rails?

I remember though an instance when a Filipino bishop dared issue a pastoral letter depriving politicians pushing for an abortion law from receiving the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist. A discussion of that issue here ended with my own rumination of the sacrament and the acknowledgment of my own sinfulness. Aye, serving as yet another Lenten reflection is this piece from July 2018 tagged Sinner.

CANON LAW 915 specifies that “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.”

“In the case of an (automatic) penalty of excommunication attached on an offense, accomplices, even though not mentioned in the law or precept, incur the same penalty if, without their assistance, the crime would not have been committed.” So states yet another provision – No. 1329.2 – in the Canon Law.

A most esteemed friend in the clergy who has a degree in Canon Law cited me these precepts as the premises upon which the Most Rev. Jesus Dosado, archbishop of Ozamiz, grounded his pastoral letter seeking to refuse Holy Communion to politicians pushing for abortion.

On the issue of abortion, Canon Law 1398 specifies that “a person who actually performs an abortion may be summarily excommunicated from Mother Church.” My friend emphasized.

“I know you are not into abortion and have been consistently pro-life given the number of children you sired with my comare. So, no need for you to fear being refused Holy Communion,” he told me over the phone before he ended our short conversation with a blessing.

I did not have the heart to tell him that the last time I received the Eucharist was from him, as co-celebrant at the renewal of my marital vows on my silver wedding anniversary five years ago. And before that, was eons back.
It is not that I have lost my faith in the Eucharist.

It is that I find myself too deep “in a situation of sin” that I would just have to make do with a paraphrase of that centurion in Capernaum: “Lord, I am not worthy to receive you. Speak but the word and my soul shall be healed.”

Worthiness. That is the elemental issue in the reception of the Holy Eucharist. And it does not take a study of the Canon Law to see that. That is pounded in catechism class.

Item 1324 in Article 3 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church (definitive edition) states that : “The Eucharist is ‘the source and summit of Christian life.”…For in the blessed Eucharist is contained the whole spiritual good of the Church, namely Christ himself, our Pasch.”

Item 1325 furthered: “The Eucharist is the efficacious sign and sublime cause of that communion in the divine life and that unity of the People of God by which the Church is kept in being. It is the culmination both of God’s action sanctifying the world in Christ and of the worship men off er to Christ and through him to the Father in the Holy Spirit.”

The very Body and Blood of Christ is that which the faithful receive at Holy Communion. That, everyone is reminded at the communion line. And to that everyone amens. To be worthy of the Lord, one has to be in a state of grace. How many of those taking Holy Communion are really in that state? So how many of them have gone through the sacrament of reconciliation, beat their breasts in true remorse in their Act of Contrition and vowed to do their darndest best to sin no more before rambling those five Our Fathers, five Hail Marys and five Glory Bes for their penance?

One thing my dearly departed grandmother whose whole life was spent between home and church made me ever remember: Woe unto him, in mortal sin, who dares take the Eucharist!

Item 2120 in the Catechism had this provision: “Sacrilege consists in profaning or treating unworthily the sacraments and other liturgical actions, as well as persons, things or places consecrated to God. Sacrilege is a grave sin especially when committed against the Eucharist, for in this sacrament the true Body of Christ is made substantially present to us.”

Alas, a large segment of the Catholic faithful left their catechism lessons back in their kindergarten classes.

No, I mean not only the honorable congressmen now raving and ranting against Most Reverend Dosado’s pastoral letter. Go to Mass, and see:

The politician co-habiting with a woman other than his wedded wife, the fruits of their unblessed union all in their Sunday best.

Another politician who made the public coffers his own private piggy bank.

The town usurer that feeds off  the misery of the daily wage-earner. The entertainment impresario whose club is famous for shows that go all-the-way.

The entrepreneur whose laborers get starvation pay. All – and more of their kind of public sinners – happily trooping the aisle at communion, singing “I receive the living God, and my heart is full of joy…”

With the celebrant, known to have fathered three children, beatifically beaming at the holiness of the congregation.

Oh, my good God. Have mercy on me, a sinner.

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