I attended Mass today and didn’t take Communion. I am writing a brief note about this because I experienced what I would call judgment from those around me. I was nearest the aisle and as the Deacon approached saying, “Body of Christ”, I stayed in the pew, praying. I confess (pun intended) that I didn’t feel worthy of Communion today and definitely not in a state of grace. I went to pray for my family, myself, and the world. I prayed for forgiveness. As I stayed there I noticed that the people beside me needed to get out for Communion. I asked if they needed to get by and the nice woman said yes and that he was giving Communion there. It felt odd because it was as if there was an implication in what she said, that I should also take Communion, or perhaps, what’s wrong with you don’t you know there’s Communion there?
I guess what irks me is the way people looked at me as they passed by. I also felt as though they felt inconvenienced by my staying in the pew. I know I’m not wrong in what I did, but I did feel judged. I am sorry to say that I think this happens a lot in Catholic churches.
In my defense, from catholic.com:
Out of habit and out of fear of what those around them will think if they do not receive Communion, some Catholics, in a state of mortal sin, choose to go forward and offend God rather than stay in the pew while others receive the Eucharist. The Church’s ancient teaching on this particular matter is expressed in the Didache, an early Christian document written around A.D. 70, which states: “Whosoever is holy [i.e., in a state of sanctifying grace], let him approach. Whosoever is not, let him repent” (Didache 10).
At any rate, I hope those who attend Mass may be a little more judgment free towards their fellow brothers and sisters. Judge not lest ye be judged, and all that.
Finally, a happy belated birthday to W.H. Auden!
*An aside and update: I was attending a Catholic Church as the Anglican Church I attend was closed due to bad weather. So, there were other factors influencing my not taking communion there, one of which being that I’m not Catholic.