Question from Christian on 2/5/2008:
I am Lutheran but my girlfriend is Catholic. I have been told by numerous people, including a priest, that Lutherans cannot receive Communion in a Catholic church because the beliefs are different. Growing up Lutheran, I was taught that we are receiving the actual body and blood of Christ when we receive communion.
The people I spoke with were under the impression that Lutherans receive a "representation" of the body and blood of Christ, which is incorrect. The spoken words at both masses, Lutheran and Catholic, are identical as well. Can I receive Commmunion at a Catholic church? If not, why?
Answer by Catholic Answers on 2/5/2008:
Although there are extraordinary circumstances in which a Lutheran may receive Catholic Communion, under ordinary circumstances he may not. Receiving Catholic Communion indicates by his action that the communicant believes and accepts all that the Catholic Church teaches and is in full communion with the Church. In other words, that he is a Catholic. Generally speaking then, to receive Catholic Communion when one is not in full communion with the Catholic Church is to deceive with your body.
Some Lutherans may believe that their communion is the actual body and blood of Christ, but, objectively speaking, Lutheran communion is not a valid Eucharist. It is not really Christ's body and blood because the celebrant does not have the valid holy orders necessary to confect the bread and wine into Christ's body and blood. Thus, despite surface similarities between the services, a Lutheran communion service is not the same thing as a Catholic Mass.
If you would like to receive Catholic Communion, I encourage you to consider studying Catholicism to see if you could in conscience become a Catholic. Jesus Christ longs to be sacramentally one with all those who believe in him; he simply asks that we approach him on his terms and not our own. God bless.
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