Food for thought from one of my favorite local blogs, The Recovering Dissident Catholic.
At Communion you may exclude YOURSELF. It's popular these days to think the big, bad, Church excludes me. The Church excludes me because I'm sleeping with my boyfriend. The Church excludes me because I masturbate. The Church excludes me because I aided an abortion. The Church excludes me because I'm a practicing homosexual. The Church excludes me because I use contraceptives. No, beloved, the Church does not exclude you. You exclude yourself...
A lot of Catholics know and accept that what I said above is Truth. However, a lot of people have a major problem with publicly identifying themselves as someone who may have done something wrong. If I remain in my pew, EVERYONE is going to know I did something wrong ...
I believe that publicly acknowledging to your fellow Catholics that you may have done something wrong is just about the single greatest act of individual courage in our time. Which is probably another reason that so few are willing to do it. Too many of us have no backbone whatsoever.
At the end of the day, it's no one's freakin' business what you may or may not have done that keeps you in the pew.
I have this dream that someday I'm going to go to church and the homily is going to be about proper reception of Communion, and the priest is going to say:
"OK, everyone. We all know that I can't see into anyone's heart. I've never refused communion to anyone, because I've always trusted my congregation to know whether they should or shouldn't receive. Today I am still not going to refuse anyone communion, but I want to try an experiment in trust. Just one little experiment. Just for today --- no rationalizing. Today I want all of you to scrupulously follow the Communion reception guidelines. I only want you to come up and approach me if you know that you can under the Church's rules. For once, today, I'm hoping that I see fewer people come up to receive the Lord's body and blood.
"Everyone -- everyone -- who has been thinking, 'Gee, I ought to go to confession, and I will just as soon as I get around to it' -- if you're thinking that because you're conscious of mortal sin that you haven't confessed, I want you to stay in the pew today. If you haven't been to confession in a long long time, for whatever reason, and you think you might have a mortal sin on your soul -- stay sitting.
"If you know there's something the Catholic Church teaches that you deny, something that you completely disagree with -- I'm not saying something that you don't understand or that you're not sure about or even something you're struggling to believe, but something you know that you cannot abide right now -- I want you to stay sitting. It's nothing personal. We're just going to follow the rules today.
"If you haven't done the penance from your last confession -- stay sitting. If you're contagious -- stay right where you are, we don't want to catch it. If you're a Christian from another denomination, let me stress that you're as welcome as anybody else here. But even if you've been quietly receiving here all along, I want you to stay in your seat today.
"And anybody here who wasn't done eating breakfast by --- let me check my watch --- eight-thirty-three this morning -- you all stay sitting too. What? Yes, that includes coffee. I know, I know, there went at least ten or twenty percent of you right there.
"Those of you who are going to receive --- I want you to make an extra effort to keep custody of your eyes while you're moving forward to receive the Lord. Some people are going to feel a bit nervous and exposed staying back -- it takes some getting used to. Oh, and by the way, if you're feeling pleased with yourself that you 'qualified' -- better put a lid on it. Pride's a sin.
"Those of you who now know you should stay back --- don't worry, you may think everyone's looking at you, but believe me, they're not. Almost nobody is going to be thinking about anyone but themselves and, I hope, the Lord. And I suspect there will be plenty of people to keep you company. By the way, you'll find a little card in the pew in front of you with the words to the Prayer for Spiritual Communion. Now's a good time to take a look at it. Now is a great time to think about what you're missing out on here today --- even if it's just for today --- and why."