It may seem a little quirky for a guy who writes a blog titled, “excatholic4christ,” to regularly listen to Catholic talk radio but that’s what I do. It’s part of my daily routine. I listen to podcasts of a daily talk show called “Calling All Catholics,” which is broadcast out of nearby Buffalo, New York on WLOF 101.7 FM and features Catholic priests responding to questions from listeners. It’s sadly entertaining to me. The priests give out information that is mostly unscriptural but it keeps me on my toes and periodically gives me fodder for this blog.
My favorite priest to listen to by a large margin is Rick Poblocki who appears on the show Tuesdays and Thursdays. Rick is an old-fashioned, blustering priest who sticks to the rule book and makes the proverbial bull in a china shop look like a graceful ballerina.
A couple of weeks ago Rick took a call from a mother who was very concerned about her daughter receiving communion. Just to give you a little background, when I was a young Catholic we were taught that we had to fast from all food and drink, with the exception of water, beginning at midnight prior to receiving communion on Sunday morning. For Catholics who went to 11 a.m. or 12 noon mass on Sunday, that was a long stretch and more than a few people became weak-kneed or even fainted during mass. Catholics are taught that the priest changes the bread wafers into the literal body, blood, soul, and divinity of Jesus Christ and they didn’t want people eating the Jesus wafer and making him swim in a pool of masticated bacon, eggs, toast, and orange juice in their stomachs. We were taught that it was a “mortal” sin to eat anything after midnight before receiving communion.
On November 21, 1964, pope Paul VI changed the fast period from midnight to only one hour before receiving communion. But what about all the people who went to hell prior to 1964 because they had violated the midnight fast? Did they all receive a “Get Out of Hell Free” card from the pope? Yes, I’m being slightly facetious but, seriously, how does one explain the far-reaching consequences of such a change? How could one infallible pope abrogate the binding law of previous infallible popes in a matter of eternal significance?
On several of his shows, I’ve heard father Rick talk about the 60-minute fast prior to receiving communion. According to Rick’s brand of strident Catholicism, 60 minutes means exactly 60 minutes. Unscrupulous Catholics who try to cut corners and eat something 50 or 55 minutes before receiving communion commit “mortal” sin and are doomed to hell unless they confess their sin to a priest. Stopwatch anyone? What about 59 minutes? Can 59 minutes be rounded up, Rick?
Okay, now let’s return back to the anxious mother who called the show. The poor woman was distressed because her daughter was a nail-biter and she was worried the nail fragments her daughter swallowed less than one hour prior to receiving communion were a violation of the 60-minute fast resulting in “mortal” sin. Rick assured the woman that finger nail fragments were not digestible and were not classified as food so her daughter was okay. As another example of this ritualistic legalism, there are Catholics who think chewing gum before receiving communion is allowable since you don’t actually swallow it. Not so fast! The church specifies that, “Chewing gum as such would not break the fast but swallowing the juices and flavors released by the chewing process would do so.” Got that?
I am so grateful to my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, for freeing me from the chains of Catholic legalism and saving me. Repent of your sins and accept Christ as your Savior by faith. The religious treadmill does not save.
“For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.” – Galatians 5:1