The Pain of Separation in Interchurch Families: My Lutheran Daughter's First Communion

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.

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2 Responses to The Pain of Separation in Interchurch Families: My Lutheran Daughter's First Communion

  1. malleebull says:


    It is a poignant photo…and as you say…a sad one, in some respects.

    We sometimes have the neighbouring Anglican minister join us once a year for Mass at Henley Beach.

    I find it sad, infuriating and frustrating when it comes to Eucharist he can not partake in proceedings…and stands to the side.

    It’s a tough one, isn’t it?


  2. Schütz says:

    Hold onto that sadness, that fury and that frustration, Matt–and don’t by-pass it with easy solutions. The road to unity has no shortcuts; it is a hard journey, and must be walked by those who truly believe in the destination.

    [Reader: Gosh. That’s getting a little poetic, isn’t it?
    Schutz: Go away.]

    Today, the roles were reversed. My wife was away for the weekend, so the kids came with me to Mass. I received communion, but my daughter crossed her arms over her chest as a sign for a blessing.

    It would have been easy for me to say: go on, take it, it doesn’t matter.

    But it does matter, and if I want her to take either her Lutheran-ness or her Catholicity (and she has both in her heart) seriously, we can’t gloss over this glaring barrier to our unity.

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