Anna, this is a good example of the oh-so-sensitive thinking common in America today that completely ignores the reality — according to the Apostle — that communing unworthily is actually bad for such people. Recognizing that reality, the Church has historically practiced excommunication for those who, in your words, "are living in blatant sin," without worrying much about their fagility. Following your thinking, the Church should rather commune more and more such sinners and have less and less to say to them about their sin.
...in which there is no doubt about the public defiance of those being knowingly communed.
There are two issues that I see at stake here. One the issue of those who are living in defiant sin. One of the things I was attempting with my other post was to say that it can be difficult for us to judge what is defiant, and unrepentant sin, and in what cases people may be struggling with their sin in private. But if we assume defiant sin, then I think that Nina and Kosta have more then adequately addressed this above. BUT in these cases nowhere is the admonition given to the priest to stop communing these people, rather the people are warned to stop communing.
Maybe what is needed here are specifically quotes on excommunication and the reasons for it and under what circumstances and why priests are specifically asked to take this action. It seems to me that excommunication is a different issue then God's judgment on those partaking of the Eucharist unworthily.
The Holy Gifts do not change their nature when partaken unworthily, but the effect on unworthy partakers is destructive to their souls instead of salvific. How can this be?
but our agreement presumes the Eucharist is good for some people and bad for others.
The other issue is whether and in what manner it is proper to speak of the Eucharist as bad, or destructive. I do not see in the patristic quotes we have looked at so far any mention of this. I think that the nature of God's judgment is being misunderstood. In these quotes by Dcn Patrick it sounds as if God's judgment is always seen as being harmful. As if people have to be protected from a merciless God who either cannot protect people from His own holiness or does not choose to do so.
To me it sounds like the Eucharist is being viewed kind of like an electrical outlet where if one is in the right spiritual shape then one gets recharged, and if one is in the wrong spiritual state then one gets short-circuited. As if what one partakes of is not from the personal will of Christ but rather according to impersonal mechanical natural laws. It was to address this issue that I brought up the fact that there are modern elders who have talked about people partaking of nothing but bread and wine.
Also it sounds kind of presumptuous to me to think of needing to protect sinners from God's judgment as if God does not know what He is doing. Maybe this is not what Dcn Patrick is saying, but this is how it is coming across. There may be reasons to bar people from the Eucharist, either to bring them to repentance, or to protect the community, but worrying about the harm that partaking might cause to the sinner seems to me an issue that is exclusively on the head of the one partaking and soley between them and God.
If people are suffering because of partaking, this is not necessarily, nor even usually to the person's ultimate harm. It is meant to humble the insensitive, bring repentance, and turn people back to God. Certainly the judgments of God against Israel in the book of Hosea are severe and in a material sense harmful, but consider these verses from Hosea 213
I will punish her for the days
she burned incense to the Baals;
she decked herself with rings and jewelry,
and went after her lovers,
but me she forgot,”
declares the LORD. 14
“Therefore I am now going to allure her;
I will lead her into the wilderness (desolation) and speak tenderly to her. 15
There I will give her back her vineyards,
and will make the Valley of Achor (Trouble) a door of hope.
There she will respond as in the days of her youth,
as in the day she came up out of Egypt.... (And it goes on how God will restore them)
and Hosea 514
For I will be
like a lion to Ephraim
And like a young lion to the house of Judah.
I, even I, will tear to pieces and go away,
I will carry away, and there will be none to deliver. 15
I will go away and
return to My place
Until they acknowledge their guilt and seek My face;
In their affliction they will earnestly seek Me.
Obviously this presupposes that those people will be humbled and repent under this treatment and will not be like those in Revelation who when all the plagues came upon them continued to blaspheme God. But the real point is that simply because someone is in blatant sin - and both Israel here and those in Revelation are in blatant sin- does not automatically mean that God's judgment is destructive in an ultimate sense.
Edited by Anna Stickles, 14 July 2011 - 10:28 AM.