I have two wonderful daughter, the oldest of whom (Maddy, aged 7) has just received her first holy communion in her parish, St Paul’s Lutheran Church in Box Hill. As you can see from the picture, she is receiving communion and I am not.
That’s the pain of separation, the pain which increases in us the true longing for unity. It is a reality that we dare not trivialise by premature inter-communion, but which must spur us on to find authentic unity in faith. Pope John Paul II wrote in his letter Mane Nobiscum Domine:
21. The Eucharist is both the source of ecclesial unity and its greatest manifestation. The Eucharist is an epiphany of communion. For this reason the Church sets conditions for full participation in the celebration of the Eucharist. These various limitations ought to make us ever more conscious of the demands made by the communion which Jesus asks of us.
And in Ecclesia de Eucharistia:
44. Any such concelebration [of the Eucharist between separated Christians] would not be a valid means, and might well prove instead to be an obstacle, to the attainment of full communion, by weakening the sense of how far we remain from this goal and by introducing or exacerbating ambiguities with regard to one or another truth of the faith. The path towards full unity can only be undertaken in truth.