Sunday, January 25, 2009

Communion from the Tabernacle

Acceptance and adoption of new directives such as the Australian bishops promulgation of the new GIRM, tend to take on some strange twists and emphases.

One such instruction that has been interpreted literally by local priests is the instruction that Holy Communion MUST be from hosts consecrated at that particular Mass that the communicant is attending. If this does not happen some liturgists or priests who feel that they are liturgical authorities get very angry. In their view people MUST receive communion from bread and wine consecrated at that Mass. We will take a trip through history to see where this has come from.

The earliest reference to the desirability comes from Pius XII in his encyclical Mediator Dei. He in turn quotes from Pope Benedict XIV (reigned 1740-1758).

"And although in addition to those to whom the celebrant gives a portion of the Victim he himself has offered in the Mass, they also participate in the same sacrifice to whom a priest distributes the Blessed Sacrament that has been reserved; however, the Church has not for this reason ever forbidden, nor does she now forbid, a celebrant to satisfy the piety and just request of those who, when present at Mass, want to become partakers of the same sacrifice, because they likewise offer it after their own manner, nay more, she approves of it and desires that it should not be omitted and would reprehend those priests through whose fault and negligence this participation would be denied to the faithful."(Encyclical Letter Certiores effecti, par. 3.)

Furthermore Pius XII states that :

Now it is very fitting, as the liturgy otherwise lays down, that the people receive holy communion after the priest has partaken of the divine repast upon the altar; and, as we have written above, they should be commended who, when present at Mass, receive hosts consecrated at the same Mass, so that it is actually verified, "that as many of us, as, at this altar, shall partake of and receive the most holy body and blood of thy Son, may be filled with every heavenly blessing and grace."[Mediator Dei para 121].

The constitution on the sacred liturgy Sacrosanctum Concilium states that:
That more perfect form of participation in the Mass whereby the faithful, after the priest's communion, receive the Lord's body from the same sacrifice, is strongly commended. (n55)
which really is a repeat of Mediator Dei.
The may 2007 edition of the GIRM states it again:
It is most desirable that the faithful, just as the priest himself is bound to do, receive the Lord’s
Body from hosts consecrated at the same Mass and that, in the instances when it is permitted, they partake of the chalice (cf. no. 283), so that even by means of the signs Communion will stand out more clearly as a participation in the sacrifice actually being celebrated (n85)
Note that the terms over the centuries are desirable, strongly commended, fitting, desires.
However, it is not something to get totally our liturgical nickers in a knot about if not everyone can receive from the hosts consecrated at Mass. It is good practice to provide as much as possible by estimating as accurately as one can, as to how many hosts are needed. What we need to wipe out is the remaining practices where all the hosts are got from the tabernacle.

1 comment:

Summa Theologica said...

It's funny how in some things they fall over themselves to be obedient even to the point of distortion.