From a reader:
During the Agnus Dei at Mass this morning, two unfamiliar teenage
girls and a man, who I suspect to be their father, entered our rather
small church and made their way to a pew.
I was saddened to see as I returned to my seat after receiving Holy
Communion that the aforesaid trio were presenting themselves to
recieve, and that even though our priest knew they’d arrived late, he
went ahead and distributed the Eucharist to them.
So my question is this: Should the priest have quietly explained to
them that they couldn’t receive as they reached the front of the
“queue,” or should he have distributed HC, and sought them out
immediately after Mass with a view to correcting them in private?
How do you see the laity’s role in all this?
There are several points here to consider.
Many people are poorly catechized. The don’t realize that they should not receive if they are not properly disposed. They are not receiving in a sense of defiance of the Church’s good order.
We have to balance our desire to pursue the perfect with a need in prudence to achieve slowly but surely what it possible, always with an eye on the restrictions of fraternal correction.
What is the role of the laity in this regard?
I would say pretty close to ZERO.
If a person is well-known, doing this often, and is a friend, then perhaps bring it up. Otherwise, leave this sort of thing to the priest and the person involved. We usually can’t make a good guess at the individual’s disposition to receive. Normally, people complete their preparation for reception by their participation during Mass. But, that isn’t always the only way.