In nearly 50 years of marriage, much has changed in our lives and attitudes, but a constant has been my allegiance to my Catholic faith and my almost daily reception of the Eucharist. While this has been a source of personal strength, it has also caused much sorrow and hurt for my husband and me, especially as prior to our meeting, he had decided to leave the church in which he had been brought up and been a faithful and active member, because Eucharist was not part of regular worship. He felt it was essential to a true Christian life and so he became a committed member of the Presbyterian, later the Uniting Church.
Neither of us wanted to change our manner of worship, so each week we would go in different directions although for special occasions such as our children’s First Communion, Confirmation and so on, he would attend the Catholic service but was never able to participate in the family meal of the Eucharist. Having grown up in an era when what the Church said was right, we never questioned that he was considered unacceptable in the eyes of the Catholic Church, despite our personal belief that we worshipped the one God. However over time, I matured enough in my faith to be guided by my conscience and started attending services with him at various times, and even participating in the Eucharist at other churches if it seemed appropriate.
Our relationship has always been strong in spite of our differing ways of worship, and shared prayer and Bible reading have played an important part in this. Gradually, and perhaps influenced by our inter-church and ecumenical involvement, we have been able to receive the Eucharist together without feelings of guilt but with great joy in the knowledge that we are united at the table of the Lord where all people are welcome. We are careful not to do this in my parish church as we do not wish to offend those who might feel we are breaking the Church’s law.
So until a time comes when the Catholic hierarchy will acknowledge that all Christians of good faith are worthy to partake of the Eucharist in a Catholic Church, we will continue as we have been carrying this burden of separation which we feel in our hearts is not as God wants it to be.
Last Sunday at Mass we sang the hymn ‘One bread, one body – one Lord of all, one cup of blessing which we bless – And we though many, throughout the earth, we are one body in this one Lord’ – and this seemed to sum it up for me.