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Friday, April 25, 2003

Closed Communion.

Anything that gives offense to the Church of Marty Haugen has to be a good thing.
I recently received another reminder to never sing his music again. Not that it would take much at this point, given how consistently awful his oeuvre is, but... "Gather us in, the twee and the trendy... Gather us in, the dull and the stale...Give us the courage to endure this song!"

Apparently Marty the mainline Lutheran has a problem with closed communion:

He talked about a liturgy planning meeting they had at a college chapel one year. The chapel was at a seminary up in Minnesota, and many of the students were planning the music. There was a student at that seminary, taking graduate courses, who was a protestant minister. She, the minister, had come to feel really close to this community and she wanted to receive communion as a sign of feelings of closeness she had with this community of worshippers. The priest, sadly, explained to her that, as much as he'd like to, he wasn't permitted to open communion up like that. So as the liturgy planners were picking songs, one of them said, "Hey, let's sing Marty's song, 'All Are Welcome.'" Several people agreed cheerfully that it was the perfect song for this particular liturgy. Then someone said, "No, we can't do that song. All are NOT welcome here." And, as Marty tells the story, with great sadness, everyone sighed loudly and picked another song because they realized that not everyone is welcome at the Lord's table in the Catholic Church. He shook his head dramatically and continued to the next verse of the song.

My response to this "horror"? Good. No: Excellent! God bless that priest! Give us about 10,000 more like him.

The first reason the complaint is ridiculous: the condescending, tsk-tsk sadness, exemplified by a dramatic head shake during the middle of his Velveeta-gobbler of a hymn, is way over the top. Please. Catholics are getting butchered in the Sudan. A Protestant seminary student didn't get communion at Mass. Waaah. Try saving the drama queen posturing for something non-trivial.

Second, the notion of the "open" communion table is one of the great myths of the Progressive sectarians. I guess the idea is that way back at the beginning of the Jesus Community, the early Christians, unencumbered by denominational and doctrinal hangups, chucked the crackers from the Big Agape Table at put near everybody in the Mediterranean basin: fully initiated Christians, catechumens, the curious, and even cultic prostitutes passing by on their way home from a hard day's night at the Temple of Diana. After all, the Early Christians™ were inclusive folks--just like Jesus! Come get your Wheat Thin! Well, if
"all" are welcome, it truly means "all," doesn't it?

Nevermind that it is unsupported by Scripture, Tradition or history, but it is irresistably appealing to our era in which Tolerance is the only absolute virtue.

Third, and what really frosts my shorts about the open communion crowd, is that it makes a lie of what the Sacrament means: union with and in Christ, through His Very Body and Blood. What precisely did the female seminarian believe? Well, it seems pretty obvious she disputes the Church's stance on ordination of women. Who did she think Jesus was/is? Sadly, there's no longer any guarantee that a mainline Protestant minister will believe in the divinity of Christ or the Resurrection. What about other hot buttons, like abortion, for example? What were her beliefs about the very nature of the Sacrament she wanted: "This is my body," with all that scandalously entails? Or merely "This represents my body"? Or some slushy place in the middle? Her thoughts on Humanae Vitae? What was the state of her soul? Did any of this matter?

Nope. None of that matters to the Open Tablers. It was her feelings that were paramount, not truth. In so doing, Haugen and the rest were trying to make a comforting lie of what the sacrament is. It also slaps Catholics in the face, especially those (like your grouchy webhost) who were forced to wrestle with the teachings of the Church (with no little difficulty and a lot of prayer) and make a binding Profession of Faith before being permitted to receive the Eucharist. What the Open Tablers are saying is that none of that mattered, either. Nah--legalism! Protestant Seminarian, go to the head of the line!

What a colossal insult.

Besides, the notion that Catholic communion is closed is fundamentally false: it's open to all who choose to walk through the right door.

Instead of trying to rappel through the stained glass.

[Haugen link via Mark Sullivan]

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