Communion: Reward or Grace, II

A Christian’s lifelong question – rarely answered to our satisfaction – but eternally inquired about: How does God participate in my life? What do I do in my life in relation to God. The Catholic Church has all kinds of debatable prayers that that causes us to think that we’re a little more in charge of our faith than we are. Indulgences is one example. We need to be careful to remember who the Creator is and who the created are. Clay cannot make itself. Clay needs a skillful Potter, a well built pottery wheel and a durable kiln…and heaps load of patience.

June’s special Sunday is Corpus Christi, honoring the body and blood of Christ.  But is receiving communion a reward or is it grace?  Is it about our past behavior or about our future actions and deeds? Is communion intended to be a type of treat for those who are doing a good job or is it intended to be a source of efficacious grace.  (I love the word efficacious although there are not many opportunities to use in daily conversation.) Although saying, “efficacious grace” is redundant.

Grace only produces the desired holy result that defines efficacious. Grace is the Potter’s wheel.Careful, wet hands creating a holy person and assisting those who wish to be holy. The Potter’s kiln is the spiritual heat that shapes the grace deeply inside the clay.

I offer this to you today for your personal reflection. Sinners and those slightly off the path need the Eucharist more than anyone. Instead of denying politicians communion, the bishops should be saying “You need to receive communion much more frequently than you presently are.  You need the grace of the sacrament to help you in your discernment and judgments.” That’s why, in second grade, confessions precedes communion. (Seven years old is still the age of reason. I don’t know about you but I’ve never talked to a reasonable seven year old? I hold out for thirty years old.)

Is it our attitude and preparation toward the Eucharist that makes it grace-filled or is it the reception that prompts better behavior and closer links to God, Jesus and Spirit? In other words, is it God working within us or is receiving the eucharist a bonus, a reward?
Receiving communion once a day was intended to make it special and not abused by hoping from the church to church. Again, the focus was on our thinking, that we can do something, like somehow blacktopping our way to eternal life, when that is solely reserved for the Potter.

It’s Tuesday and this is what happens. We receive communion at a morning Mass for that occasion. You then attend a funeral at Noon and receive communion honoring a good friend. The evening wedding reception of communion wishes the newlywed blessings in patience and perseverance. Three special occasions in one day asking God to bless each with that redundant efficacious grace.

Before receiving we admit that we are not worthy and then pray that the Potter continues to spin that grace within and through us.

We enter church and humbly admit that we are clay. We gather, as the Body of Christ receiving the Body of Christ, to honor the Potter. We open our hands or mouth and receive the Potter’s Son filling us up with all the graces we need to be the people the Potter created and hoped we would be.

And, if you have your Pick N’ Save card handy, you get three hours off of purgatory. (I’m kidding.)

About Rev. Joe Jagodensky, SDS.

A Roman Catholic priest since 1980 and a member of the Society of the Divine Savior (Salvatorians). Six books on the Catholic church and U.S. culture are available on
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