“Ask a Priest: Can I Receive Methodist Communion?”

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Q: I was having a discussion with a friend that is non-Catholic. I was informed as a Catholic that it was a sin not to go to church every Sunday, that you must confess your sins to a priest and receive the sacrament of Holy Communion. Protestants don’t have to confess their sins to a minister or go to church every Sunday. I, for years, have prayed to God directly to confess my sins, and I watch the Catholic Mass on “Heart of the Nation.” I started watching it about a month ago and have also gone to a Methodist church where I was recently told that I could receive communion there if I choose even though I was baptized Catholic. Any comments would be greatly appreciated! – B.

Answered by Fr. Edward McIlmail, LC

A: I’ll try to address your questions briefly.

First, one of the key precepts of the Church is that we attend Mass on Sundays and holy days. The Church has the authority to issue this precept. “Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven” (Matthew 18:18).

Christ wants to gather us together as we worship the Almighty. This is one reason why he established a Church. If he wanted us to go off and do our own thing, he would have said so. But he didn’t.

And watching Mass on Internet or TV doesn’t substitute attendance at the Eucharistic celebration. Part of the value of Mass is being present when Christ comes in our midst at the consecration. The Eucharist is one way Jesus fulfills his promise, “I am with you always, until the end of the age” (Matthew 28:20).

Moreover, the U.S. bishop’s conference guidelines on televising the liturgy recognize the tendency of television “with its inherent lack of physical interaction, to lead people to more passive roles as spectators.”

As for confession: True, in one sense we can always confess to God. But Christ was the one who established the sacrament of confession. “Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained” (John 20:23).

So the sacrament of confession is the ordinary means by which Jesus wants us to seek forgiveness.

As for receiving the Eucharist: Catholics are obliged to receive it at least once a year. They have to be in a state of grace (no mortal sin). People with mortal sin need to go to confession first. (Catholics should go to confession once a year in any case.)

Methodists don’t have the Eucharist since they don’t have a valid priesthood. What they call “communion” is mere bread and wine. It’s not the true Presence of Christ.

Catholics aren’t allowed to receive Protestant communion. To do so is akin to publicly denying one’s Catholic faith.

You might want to step back and rethink how you are living your faith as a Catholic. If you have questions, seek answers. The Catholic Answers site has a lot of helpful material.

I hope some of this helps. Count on my prayers.

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