Thursday, 12 August 2010

The Eucharist, the whole Eucharist and nothing but the Eucharist.

Domine, non sum dignus ut intres sub tectum meum!

I’m prompted to write this following a comment on the last post (please have a look at it, rather than me restating it here). Thanks to Gregory for his succinct presentation of the story. The concern is that, in an effort to encourage people to receive the Holy Eucharist under both species a priest appears to have given the impression that those who do not receive from the Chalice are not receiving the fullness of the Sacrament. If so, this is, of course, a condemned heresy. I might also say that the context in which it arose is also a little disturbing, in that it’s suggested that the extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion administering the Chalice were feeling “slighted” at being “ignored”. It may be that the priest in question found it difficult, as many of us do, to face full-on pressure from parishioners who are heavily involved in the parish and stand their ground but some things must be tackled, no matter what the fall-out. But not knowing the details, no-one else can make too much comment on the circumstances. The teaching of the Church is a different matter! Christ, whole and entire, is received under one species and all the grace necessary for salvation is received in that one species. The General Instruction to the Roman Missal (2003) will suffice to make this perfectly clear:

Sacred pastors should take care to ensure that the faithful who participate in the rite or are present at it are as fully aware as possible of the Catholic teaching on the form of Holy Communion as set forth by the Ecumenical Council of Trent. Above all, they should instruct the Christian faithful that the Catholic faith teaches that Christ, whole and entire, and the true Sacrament, is received even under only one species, and consequently that as far as the effects are concerned, those who receive under only one species are not deprived of any of the grace that is necessary for salvation. (No. 282)
If, especially after encouragement, the option to receive from the Chalice is not taken up and might seem to be causing a division, there is a clear instruction on what to do. Stop it.

The chalice should not be ministered to lay members of Christ’s faithful ...where a notable part of the people continues to prefer not to approach the chalice for various reasons, so that the sign of unity would in some sense be negated. [Redemptionis Sacramentum 102]

Redemptionis Sacramentum, directing us to the Second Vatican Council and the Council of Trent, gives a clear understanding of the principles involved:

[100.] So that the fullness of the sign may be made more clearly evident to the faithful in the course of the Eucharistic banquet, lay members of Christ’s faithful, too, are admitted to Communion under both kinds, in the cases set forth in the liturgical books, preceded and continually accompanied by proper catechesis regarding the dogmatic principles on this matter laid down by the Ecumenical Council of Trent. [Cf. Ecumenical Council of Trent, Session XXI, 16 July 1562, Decree on Eucharistic Communion, Chapters 1-3: DS 1725-1729; Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, Sacrosanctum Concilium, n. 55; Missale Romanum, Institutio Generalis, nn. 282-283.

Whilst there may be reasons for encouraging communion under both species, there may also be good, practical and theological reasons for not doing so. After all, the Council of Trent “induced by weighty and just reasons,- has approved of this custom of communicating under one species”. [Ecumenical Council of Trent, Session XXI, 16 July 1562, Decree on Eucharistic Communion, Chapter 2.]


GWAM said...

Thank-you Father (and forgive my tardiness in expressing this) for the prudent, sensitive but clear way you have presented this.

Whilst the unfolding circumstances may be particular to the parish anonymously referenced in this instance, I fear that the prevailing error is in-creeping in many others.

God bless you for your strength.

GWAM said...

...and whilst on the subject of the Eucharist...