I got this today via e-mail. This is pretty interesting.
Take a look at this story from Newsday about what is going on in the Diocese of Rockville Centre with my emphases and comments:
Bishop calls end to some non-Mass Communion offerings
BY BART JONES | firstname.lastname@example.org
May 9, 2008
For three decades, students at elite Chaminade High School in Mineola could receive Communion during a 15-minute "Communion Service" just before lunch.
But that practice will end following a pastoral letter Bishop William Murphy [hurray!] is releasing today prohibiting Catholic schools, parishes and other institutions from distributing Holy Communion at most non-Mass events.
Several schools and parishes who take part in the practice said yesterday they would abide by the bishop’s order. Some said they were nonetheless disappointed, while some church analysts [hmmmm] such as papal biographer David Gibson suggested it was a move by Murphy to "tighten up" and crack down on nontraditional practices. [Note the language: "crack down". Make it sound like Myanmar.]
But others saw it as an opportunity to reflect on the sacrament of Holy Communion and head off what may be a trend among some Catholics to take it too casually.
"I think it’s positive and something to be embraced," said the Rev. James Williams, president of Chaminade. "The bishop is the teaching arm of the church." [Not to mention governing and sanctifying, and while the bishop is not himself the Magisterium, he is the one who presents it in his diocese.]
In his eight-page pastoral letter, his seventh since becoming the spiritual leader of Long Island’s 1.4 million Catholics in 2001, Murphy said he was ordering the Communion service practice to end by July 1.
That, he said, would bring the Diocese of Rockville Centre "into conformity with the liturgical norms of the Church." The order will not affect practices such as nonpriests’ giving Communion to sick people at home or in hospitals.
"The Eucharist is the greatest gift Jesus left us," Murphy wrote. "The celebration of the Eucharist gives us our identity as well as our life." [YES! This bishop gets it. What just jumped into my mind was the phrase uttered by ancient Christian martyrs just before they were killed for the Faith: "sine dominico non possumus – without the Eucharist (Its Sunday celebration and the Blessed Sacrament Itself) we cannot endure, we cannot bear to live." He made absolutely the right connection with Catholic identity. This is one of the reasons why Summorum Pontificum is so very important. The Holy Father has reintroduced, in a powerful way, a new discussion of who we are as Catholics.]
During the Communion services, Communion hosts previously consecrated by a priest and stored in a tabernacle are distributed, often by deacons, nuns or eucharistic ministers. The services do not include the Liturgy of the Eucharist, [i.e., Mass] during which a priest consecrates bread and wine and, according to Catholic belief, turns them into the body and blood of Christ though a process known as transubstantiation.
The services originally were intended for use on Sundays only in remote, missionary parishes where priests could rarely visit, and has since been inappropriately adopted to other uses, said Julia Upton, a theology professor at St. John’s University.
Schools such as Chaminade and Kellenberg Memorial High School in Uniondale say they conduct the brief Communion services because they lack the time to celebrate a Mass amid classes. [What does that say?] Some schools also lack priests to celebrate Mass. [A tougher problem.]
At local parishes, church workers often hold the services on weekday mornings because no priest is available for Mass. Catholics are not obligated to attend Mass on weekdays. [But this isn’t just a matter of obligation, for younger people, is it! We have to help them understand who they are in relation to the Eucharist, Its celebration and the Sacrament, for the sake of their identity and salvation.]
The Rev. Bill Brisotti of Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal in Wyandanch said the service allows him to take off Sunday night and spend at least one night away from the parish without having to return early Monday. [I can understand this, but… ]
"People liked" the service, he said. "I’m disappointed but we’ll follow the regulations of the diocese."
WDTPRS high kudos to Bishop Murphy!
Let us pray that the priests of the area will be touched with concern for these young people and perhaps be more available in the next school year.
UPDATE: 11 May 0150 GMT
It seems the German Section of Vatican Radio picked up on this:
Außerhalb der Messe darf in einem amerikanischen Bistum im Bundesstaat New York keine Kommunion mehr gespendet werden. Das hat der Bischof von Rockville Centre, William F. Murphy, entschieden. Grundlage seien entsprechende Richtlinien im römischen Meßbuch, heißt es in einem Hirtenbrief vom Freitag. Mit der Abschaffung von Kommunionfeiern wolle er die Diözese in Einklang mit geltenden liturgischen Normen bringen. Die Spendung der Krankenkommunion sei davon allerdings nicht betroffen. In einem Schreiben wendet sich der Bischof auch an die Laien; diese sollten sich durch das Verbot nicht in ihren Rechten beschnitten fühlen. In Wortgottesdiensten werden die bereits konsekrierten Hostien in der Regel von Ordensfrauen oder beauftragten Laien verteilt. (cns)