Another Lent is upon us already, and I am once again reminded of the need to explain my personal practices at Luther Seminary. Ordinarily I participate in sharing communion during the Wednesday chapel services where we celebrate in that way. But during Lent I refrain from participating.
This practice is my way of feeling deeply the brokenness and lack of communion that exists amongst the Christian community. It often is very hard for me to sit still and pray while everyone around me is going to share in this glorious table. But that difficulty reminds me of the painful ruptures in the Christian community.
It also gives me room to continue to study and ponder the Pope's encyclical, "Ecclesia Eucharistia," which was published at Easter in 2003. The Pope writes that: "The Catholic faithful, therefore, while respecting the religious convictions of these separated brethren, must refrain from receiving the communion distributed in their celebrations, so as not to condone an ambiguity about the nature of the Eucharist and, consequently, to fail in their duty to bear clear witness to the truth." Most of the year I dissent from this teaching, but during Lent I pause to reexamine the issue and consider whether my conscience still urges me to dissent.
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