Jesus Would Not Have Denied Me Communion

My husband Paul and I have been married for more than 47 years! We are as alike as jelly and jam and as different as whole wheat and rye. He grew up in the northern United States; I grew up in the South. He’s Catholic and I’m Baptist; for the most part that distinction has never been an issue. Although, some of my extended relatives in those early years were convinced I was going down a dark path.

The only time the difference in our religious faith has ever been an issue was a couple of years ago when a priest elected to address the subject of Communion in his sermon and inadvertently challenged the sincerity of Protestant faith. While I know it was never his intention to offend, the subject is a very sensitive one. Communion is truly such a holy, personal experience. I always long to participate whenever the opportunity presents itself, so much so that I had begun to ponder the possibility of becoming a member of the Catholic church while maintaining my Baptist membership for the sole purpose of being allowed to participate in Communion alongside my husband during Mass, rather than receive only a blessing. In recent years, this subject has become so important to me that I have written letters to the Pope requesting a reconsideration of the practice of prohibiting baptized non-Catholic Christians from participating in Communion.

I have never defined myself by the denomination of my religion: I am a child of God, no matter the label. Nothing comes above that or changes it. My point is simply this: Christ would not deny me Communion. As a baptized Christian, what right does anyone else have to deny me Communion if Christ would not?

And when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, “This is my body that is for[a] you. Do this in remembrance of me.” In the same way he took the cup also, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.”
—1 Corinthians 11:24-25

“In remembrance of me.” From personal observation, both denominations are remembering in their services, and both do so with great honor and respect. The difference I understand is that Protestants see the Holy Eucharist as a symbol of the body and blood of Christ whereas Catholics interpret the Holy Eucharist as the actual body and blood of Christ, and I am told that Episcopalians take a more median approach with their “open table” policy. Regardless, both denominations of baptized Christians are remembering, but doing so somewhat differently. While an appropriate response to these differences a few years ago might have been to ask, “What would Jesus do?” I would be more inclined to respond: Blessed are the pure in heart: for they will see God. —Matthew 5:8 (NRSV).

By no means is this meant to disparage Catholics or the Catholic faith. I have great respect for the faith, as I do all Christian faiths. However, at a time when Christians are being persecuted around the world and our numbers appear to be decreasing, would we not be stronger and better served with fewer barriers separating us?

Then sings my soul my Savior God to Thee.
How great Thou art,
How great Thou art.

(“How Great Thou Art,” Stuart K. Hine)

Sandra Jones Cropsey is a playwright, novelist, and children’s writer. Her novel Who’s There was a finalist for the 2008 “Georgia Book of the Year” and was produced as a play in 2010 by the Main Street Players. In 2009, she received a grant to produce her children’s story, Tinker’s Christmas, as a radio drama. Presently, she is working on scheduling a reading of her new play, “All My Trials, Lord.”

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