Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Comments on: "Question about Communion in two kinds"

Archived comments from the post: "Question about Communion in two kinds" (Musings, April 12, 2007):

In November of 1978, in defiance of Pope John Paul II, the Bishops of the USA authorized the distribution of Holy Communion under both kinds to the laity at Sunday Mass. This rebellion resulted in a partial surrender by the Vatican in 1984-giving permission for limited and regulated usage of Communion under both kinds. These developments, everything between 1978 and 1984 and up to the present, are documented by Davies in this edition. The history of Communion under one kind in the Latin Church and the resultant complaints of Protestants is also well documented. (from Michael Davies book, Communion in Both Kinds)

Question about Communion in two kinds

I would research this if I had the time, but at the moment I am in the midst of death and taxes, as it were. So here is my question, if any of you can answer it for me: What is the official Vatican instruction on Communion in two kinds? The reason I ask this is that the Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion generally required for this practice would seem to stand in some tension with -- if not effectively trump -- the demands of the Instruction, Redemptionis Sacramentum:
[157.] If there is usually present a sufficient number of sacred ministers [priests and deacons] for the distribution of Holy Communion, extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion may not be appointed. Indeed, in such circumstances, those who may have already been appointed to this ministry should not exercise it....

[158.] Indeed, the extraordinary minister of Holy Communion may administer Communion only when the Priest and Deacon are lacking, when the Priest is prevented by weakness or advanced age or some other genuine reason, or when the number of faithful coming to Communion is so great that the very celebration of Mass would be unduly prolonged. This, however, is to be understood in such a way that a brief prolongation, considering the circumstances and culture of the place, is not at all a sufficient reason....
Addendum 4/14/2007:
The "Norms for the Distribution and Reception of Holy Communion Under Both Kinds in the Dioceses of the United States of America" (approved by the USCCB on June 14, 2001) are posted on the USCCB website. What I find particularly noteworthy under "PART II -- Norms for the Distribution of Holy Communion Under Both Kinds," is the restrictive nature of these norms. That is, Communion under both species appears to be granted by way of indult, as an exception to the universal rule. To those who have studied the last four decades of liturgical changes, of course, this is will not come as a surprise. This is the way most of the post-conciliar changes have been introduced, from Communion in the hand to female altar servers.

Note the way in which this section is introduced under the heading: "When Communion Under Both Kinds May Be Given." Although the proceeding paragraph goes on to state that opportunities for offering Communion under both species have been significantly expanded in the revised Missal Romanum, the significant point is restrictive provisio under which the permission is extended. No carte blanche is offered here. The Norms go on to state the conditions under which the General Instruction of the Roman Missal (GIRM) permit Communion under both kinds:
a. for priests who are not able to celebrate or concelebrate
b. for the deacon and others who perform some role at Mass
c. for community members at their conventual Mass or what in some places is known as the "community" Mass, for seminarians, [and] for all who are on retreat or are participating in a spiritual or pastoral gathering
Of course, there are the standard equivocations that may be played for loopholes as well:
The General Instruction [GIRM] then indicates that the diocesan Bishop may lay down norms for the distribution of Communion under both kinds for his own diocese, which must be observed. . . . The diocesan Bishop also has the faculty to allow Communion under both kinds, whenever it seems appropriate to the priest to whom charge of a given community has been entrusted as [its] own pastor, provided that the faithful have been well instructed and there is no danger of the profanation of the Sacrament or that the rite would be difficult to carry out on account of the number of participants or for some other reason.
Yet whether even such equivocations can be abused to the tune of bevies of Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion that are regularly found in most AmChurch parish variety shows today (in violation of Redemptionis Sacramentum 157-159, cited above) is doubtful in view of such explicit statements as the following:
In practice, the need to avoid obscuring the role of the priest and the deacon as the ordinary ministers of Holy Communion by an excessive use of extraordinary minister might in some circumstances constitute a reason either for limiting the distribution of Holy Communion under both species or for using intinction instead of distributing the Precious Blood from the chalice.

PP, This is from the CDW document, "Norms for the Distribution and Reception of Holy Communion
Under Both Kinds in the Dioceses of the United States of America", Approved [with great enthusiasm, I’ll wager] by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops on June 14, 2001:

15. The communicant makes this act of faith in the total presence of the Lord Jesus Christ whether in Communion under one form or in Communion under both kinds. It should never be construed, therefore, that Communion under the form of bread alone or Communion under the form of wine alone is somehow an incomplete act or that Christ is not fully present to the communicant. The Church's unchanging teaching from the time of the Fathers through the ages--notably in the ecumenical councils of Lateran IV, Constance, Florence, Trent, and Vatican II--has witnessed to a constant unity of faith in the presence of Christ in both elements. Clearly there are some pastoral circumstances that require eucharistic sharing in one species only, such as when Communion is brought to the sick or when one is unable to receive either the Body of the Lord or the Precious Blood due to an illness. Even in the earliest days of the Church's life, when Communion under both species was the norm, there were always instances when the Eucharist was received under only the form of bread or wine. Those who received Holy Communion at home or who were sick would usually receive under only one species, as would the whole Church during the Good Friday Liturgy. Thus, the Church has always taught the doctrine of concomitance, by which we know that under each species alone, the whole Christ is sacramentally present and we "receive all the fruit of Eucharistic grace.

16. At the same time an appreciation for reception of "the whole Christ" through one species should not diminish in any way the fuller sign value of reception of Holy Communion under both kinds. For just as Christ offered his whole self, body and blood, as a sacrifice for our sins, so too is our reception of his Body and Blood under both kinds an especially fitting participation in his memorial of eternal life. 20Species.htm

The CDW document offers six of one and half dozen of the other. On the one hand, it asserts unmistakably that the reception of even one species only ensures the full presence of Christ to the communicant. On the other, the usual rhetoric of communal behavior is there-- reception of both species being a "fuller sign value of reception" -- and a somewhat vague notion of it being "an especially fitting participation in [H]is memorial of eternal life". There is also plenty of antiquarian emphasis on the early church, where it is said that reception of both species was the norm up until the 12th century. The impression is thereby created that reception of both species is somehow better or more meaningful, even though it is said specificall
Ralph Roister-Doister | 04.15.07 - 5:37 pm | #

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