Holy Communion services mistaken to be “as good as Mass”

My friend Fr Ray Blake, parish priest in Brighton, has a good analysis of the phenomenon of lay people – lay women – leading Communion services in the absence of priests. Many of us have had the experience of hearing some ignorant but well-meaning person refer to “Sister’s Mass”, when talking about a Communion service led by a women religious parish employee.

Thus, Fr. Blake with my emphases and cuts:

There is a very interesting piece from the Irish Independent entitled “It’s Mass by any other name as women lead faithful in prayer”. It and the comments following it seem to show a very serious problem in Irish Catholicism. It is about a Sunday lay led Liturgy of the Word with the distribution of Holy Communion. Today too, the Archbishop of Liverpool commissioned some lay people to conduct funeral services in the absence of a priest.

Increasingly in the Europe we are going to be faced with not having enough priests to celebrate Mass on Sundays. There are it strikes me several possibilities.

What happened in this particular parish, a deacon or lay led Liturgy of the Word with the distribution of Holy Communion.
Some other liturgical action takes place such as the singing of the Divine Office, and people “fast” from the Eucharist because their community does not have a priest. [I like this idea.] Or some other liturgical action takes place such as the singing of the Divine Office, and Holy Communion is distributed.  [Perhaps simple Exposition without Communion?]
Nothing happens in a particular church and people are expected, if they can, to travel to the nearest Church where there is Mass.

The problem is well illustrated by this story, the deacon or lay led Liturgy of the Word celebrations with the distribution of Holy Communion are mistaken for something “as good as Mass” by both journalists and ordinary lay people. This underlines the serious implications of the loss of an understanding of a sacrificial understanding of the Mass, and consequently the priest as being no more than the compere or community leader, indeed someone whose place can be taken by a deacon or lay-person with little or no loss. [When priesthood is reduced to what one does, then why shouldn't anyone be able to do liturgical functions?  Find the person who can do them the best.  But, on the contrary, priesthood is about who a man is: sacramentally conformed by Christ to Christ to act as Christ in renewing the Sacrifice of the Cross and the forgiveness of sins.]
The form and structure of such lay led services, which mirror the Mass in everything but the Eucharistic Prayer, only seem to add to the confusion.
The use of women as leaders of such services circumvents the debate we should have, and which most Protestant communities have had, as to whether the Catholic and Apostolic faith actually allows for the oversight, the episkope, of lay women. It is not something which has ever happened in either the East or West, it is something new, we seem to be making a huge theological leap without much thought or debate.
Well, maybe that is not quite correct, I am sure that many liberal theologians have thought this through quite seriously and see it as indeed a way of introducing female priests through the back door. [Rem acu tetigisti.]

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48 Responses to Holy Communion services mistaken to be “as good as Mass”

  1. Imrahil says:

    There would be a very good possibility to get any “as good as Mass”-stuff out of people’s minds, even – if one wishes so – retaining the possibility for the people to Communicate.

    1. (less heavy measure): Forbid leading such an office to all laymen (excepting instituted acolytes and lectors) who receive payment from the Church. [Reason: The true division within the Church is between clergy and laymen. We should not foster the idea that it is really about a division between full-time employees and voluntaries.]

    2. (heaver, but actually appropriate measure): In addition, forbid this for all women wherever an adult, sufficiently healthy non-Church employed Catholic male within (according to fallible personal judgment and the usual public sin criteria) the state of grace is present. [Appropriate for the same reasons that the offices of lector and acolyte are reserved for men.]

  2. Salva reverentia Pater, but this kind of development was really inevitable given the long, long, separation of the Mass and Communion.

    In the Pre-Vatican-II period it was very, very rare for the Hosts distributed at Mass to be actually consecrated at that Mass. Rather hosts from the tabernacle were universally used. This abuse was reprobated by Vatican II, but clergy still find it *easier* to just consecrate a few hosts and use left-overs from the tabernacle for most of the Communions. The idea that stored Hosts are a suitable replacement for those consecrated at Mass underlies the idea that a “worship service” with a distribution of Hosts from the tabernacle is a “Mass.” The implication of tabernacle Common at Mass is that Mass is not necessary for Communion (save to replenish the tabernacle).

    Perhaps some day Rome will finally forbid the Communion from the reserved Sacrament except for taking Communion to the sick. But I doubt it–it will require too much work. But until this happens the faulty theology that underlies “Communion Services” will thrive.

  3. Johnno says:

    It’s an interesting phenomenon that ‘Priests aren’t necessary anymore’ also ties into the similar culturally vogue way of thinking that ‘Men, husbands and fathers aren’t needed anymore.’

    Just recently on the radio I was listening to a stupid debate, more of a back petting, that with today’s technological advances and all, men are unnecessary in the world and women can increasingly take care of themselves. The argument put forward was that all men had to do was plant the seed in a woman, and then they are out of the picture and women did all the rest themselves. Therefore men are largely unnecessary in today’s world. With means of artificial insemination etc. thanks to the holy gods of science, men are even less necessary than ever before.

    As these feminist crazies continue to take over, the world increasingly takes away roles from men, and likewise the ‘lay involvement’ at Mass takes away the roles of the priest, including that most precious task of being the only one with hands consecrated to handle the Eucharist. Similarly liberals high on hilariously praising women as being the non-violent, less political, more easy going and getting-along, and superior counterparts of men, see the roles of boys, husbands and fathers as a relic.

    The results? Less men see any reason to marry, or to be in leadership roles, or to be responsible fathers and patriarchs, and are just made to feel bad about it. Similarly, men increasingly see no reason to even consider becoming priests. There’s nothing ‘special’ about it anymore, and there’s no reason to sacrifice so much when lay people are just as good at doing it. Just as boys see no need to be altar boys if the girls are happy enough to do it and look better in those ‘dresses’ anyways.

    Lay people in their desire to be more ‘involved’ with the Church have been inadvertently discouraging priestly vocations and dare I say it even making the priests that are around feel unnecessary, which is why many are all too often comfortable just sitting back and letting the lay people handle most of the mass, out of discouragement or even fear that they will be seen as demanding and evil patriarchal men. I fear for boys growing up these days…

  4. julie f says:

    Too many good, well-meaning people have no notion of what Communion is. How many of those who actually do come to Mass every week know that their obligation is to worship God in the Mass, and not actually to go up and receive Communion when it’s their pew’s turn? How many have any notion of preparing themselves to receive, or that in some cases they should not receive? Receiving Communion becomes the bare minimum of Catholicism rather than its crown; as long as the little bits of bread are being handed out… The suggestion of having Divine Office or Exposition instead is foreign: “but we’re supposed to be eating something…?”

    If I were a priest or a parish worker I would make this my Year of Faith campaign. Let’s encourage and enable people to prepare for Communion: through fasting, self-examination, confession, and prayer. If I were a Catholic school principal, I’d try to figure out a way to work preparation into the schedule on School Mass days. There’s so much that could be done, and in doing it we’d improve so much else.

  5. Legisperitus says:

    Fr. Augustine Thompson OP, I cannot follow your reasoning. In seeking the cause of some recent development, shouldn’t we focus on what has changed rather than what has stayed the same? If the practice of using Hosts from the tabernacle endured for a “long, long” time before Vatican II, why didn’t it confuse the preconciliar faithful into thinking a priest was unnecessary for Mass?

    It seems that the “faulty theology” we should blame is the postconciliar conceit which ignores the sacrificial nature of the Mass and calls it a banquet. The idea of the Holy Sacrifice cannot be reduced to a “community meal” without disastrous results.

  6. Giuseppe says:

    If one cannot get to a Sunday Mass because there are none being offered, then watch it on TV.

    I once attended a Sunday prayer service that turned out to be led a seminarian. It started out as Sunday mass. The priest took ill during the liturgy of the Word and left the sanctuary to vomit. He looked terrible. The seminarian took over. He summoned one of the older ladies to take Father back to the rectory and care for him. He proclaimed the gospel. He gave a short homily explaining that we would have a prayer service and distribution of communion but not consecration. The prayers he used were very similar to the Good Friday liturgy. This dude was good.

  7. asperges says:

    Pace, Fr Augustine, but I do not think that where the Blessed Sacrament is reserved is the root of the problem, although I appreciate the points you make.

    The problem stems essentially from the dumbing down of the priesthood itself by constant and relentless, misguided inclusion of the laity under the false label of “priesthood of the people” which has been absorbed by many largely in a Lutheran way, rather than in its proper context. The doctrine of Real Presence is likewise and inevitably challenged as a consequence backed by poor and ambiguous liturgy, catastrophic religious education and ignorance.

    Such terms as ‘president of the assembly’ instead of celebrant – as though anyone at all would suffice; Communion is the hand especially, where formerly no lay hand would dare touch the Blessed Sacrament, and above all the introduction of EMHC, intended originally as very exceptional and now become the norm.

    Add to that girl altar servers, born entirely out of disobedience, and you have another nail in the coffin of the priesthood. See also the casual and disrespectful reception of Communion which undermines the belief in the Real Presence, which, we are told, is almost a minority belief now even amongst practising Catholics.

    All these things have taken away from what essentially belongs to the role of the consecrated priesthood. No priest, no Mass. That is not to deny that there was (is) a definite role for the laity in the Church, but its role *cannot* be that of the priest and should never be seen to be. For the parish priest described in the article to allow such an abuse as lay-led Word/Eucharist services regularly is a gross abuse and just asking for trouble. It is a dereliction of duty.

    And then they wonder why there is a crisis of vocations. Why become a priest if any Tom, Dick or Harry (Harriette) can do their job? Pure Protestantism.

    I know this seems the regurgitation of pet dislikes and bias but I firmly believe these things have caused real damage, even if it was never intended as such. Worse, to reverse their effects will need a huge effort. Just read the comments to the original article on the Irish Independent site.

  8. jbosco88 says:

    This is one of my biggest fears.

    Perhaps I am out of line in saying this, but surely to avoid these problems, Father should simply consecrate enough hosts for ONE Mass, leaving one for adoration in the tabernacle? Sort of limits what can be done then…

  9. Choirmaster says:

    Legisperitus, I agree. If the most important aspect of “Sunday worship”, for Catholics, is the concept of a “community meal”, then it would make sense that so-called lay-led communion services would be just as good. After all, you can easily eat a meal, even a “community” meal, if the chef cooked the food last night, or at a remote location and brought it in by truck.

    And I disagree with the good Fr. Augustine Thompson, OP, for whom I have a great respect, that “faulty theology” about consuming a host from another Mass, other than the one you are attending, is the cause of this confusion. After all, it really makes no difference for the communicant, or for the graces received, at what point the host was consecrated. Indeed, this line of thinking leads to even more faulty theological positions, such as I’ve heard in the past where a priest insisted (in his homily) that distributing any presanctified hosts at Mass was comparable to serving guests “leftover mashed-potatoes”.

    The real root of this problem stems from the practice of using EMHCs to distribute communion. Since we are all so used–in the Novus Ordo–to receiving the Lord from the hands laymen and women, there is no automatic negative reaction to it outside of Mass. In such a milieu, there are no plausible arguments that you could put forward against lay-led “Communion Services” to anyone not familiar with the theology of the Mass, or not Church-nerds like all of us here!

    And I do not think that every Catholic need be familiar with theology, or be Church-nerds, to have a basic, practical grasp of our sacramental system.

  10. Giuseppe says:

    I love the idea of a Divine Office service. Who is allowed to lead that? Either a Sunday morning lauds or a late afternoon vespers with hymns and sung psalms would be lovely.
    In a community where there were no other masses, would an office service ‘count’ for Sunday Mass obligation, or would the person still have to watch Mass on TV?

  11. Choirmaster says:

    Just to be clear, Fr. Augustine Thompson, I am not arguing whether or not it is good or bad to distribute exclusively, or only partially, or not at all from the reserved Blessed Sacrament to communicants at Mass, or what the mind of the Church may be on this subject, as I do not know. My only point is that I think the problem highlighted in this post is due to the prevalence–even the possibility–of laymen and women touching and distributing Communion.

  12. Choirmaster says:

    Giuseppe, I can tell you from reading this blog, that watching Mass on TV, while it may be a nice devotional activity, could not “count” for the obligation to assist at Mass. However, if you cannot go to Mass, your culpability for failing to meet that obligation is mitigated due to impossibility. Moreover, the law makes several explicit waivers of that obligation for the most common insurmountable obstacles.

    As for the Divine Office, I believe that anyone could “lead” those prayers in a group setting, but, similar to watching televised or recorded Masses, it would never fulfill the obligation to assist at Mass.

  13. VexillaRegis says:

    Fr. Augustine: You hit the head on the nail! This has been bothering me for years, but I couldn’t put my finger on exactly why. (I’m not a theologian, just an organist.) While our very orthodox and traditional pastor would never permit a communion service in case of his absence, he ALWAYS gives us left-overs from the tabernacle. Despite having been to mass during different weekdays (and every sunday), I have never been able to figure out when he consecrates those hundred and fifty + hosts, that are distributed every week . The bishop’s guidelines are clear – we should have fresh hosts at mass. But I don’t dare to ask Fr. why, even supernicely, he would just be angry at me.

    FYI, we have just one priest and he says the mass publicly every day. This is in Western Europe, BTW.

  14. Timothy Mulligan says:

    “Let women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted them to speak, but to be subject, as also the law saith.” 1 Corinthians 14:34.

  15. Joseph-Mary says:

    I think many Catholics are just fine with ‘communion services’ as they do not understand the theology of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. In far too many places, it has been the horizontal gathering of the assembly with just a presider there to oversee things and even daily communicants have said this about communion services: I got what I came for.

  16. Yeah, sing Divine Office if you can’t attend Mass, but I don’t buy the idea of “fasting” from Holy Communion. This is a liberal buzz word. It is one thing to endure in sorrow and in patience the privation of Communion because there is no priest, or to refrain from receiving Communion because one is not properly disposed; but “fasting” from the Eucharist is a notion popular with liberals who despise authentic penances, and who like a priest shortage because they think it’ll force the Church to ordain women and married men. It’s the kind of thinking that ultimately turns into an excuse for avoiding the Sacraments even when they are available. The devil wants us to “fast” from the Sacraments. (Also from sacramentals; hence the kookburger notion of removing holy water during Lent.)

  17. jasoncpetty says:

    This is ridiculous. Bishops of the world–those of you not ideologically committed to undermining the priesthood, instituted by Jesus Christ, whose fullness rests in you–if you have a real priestly shortage, and you don’t want to rob the Indians and Africans of their priests, take your twenty best retired, lay men–maybe even clerics such as your best permanent deacons–and ordain them to the priesthood as Simplex Priests or Mass Priests. They won’t preach (except to read something you’ve written in advance), they won’t hear confessions (except in emergencies). Rather, they will simply offer the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass in those places where it is lacking.

    Don’t want to do something so drastic as that?

    Then, your excellency, you really don’t have a priestly shortage problem that warrants foisting “Sister’s Mass” off onto us poor faithful. Don’t do it to please, for the love of God.

  18. Giuseppe: If one cannot get to a Sunday Mass because there are none being offered, then watch it on TV.

    Well, don’t just watch it in couch potato fashion (as, unfortunately actually some present at Mass may do).

    Prepare in advance by studying the propers and offering your personal prayers of preparation for Holy Mass. Then with missal in hand, actively participate by praying the Mass in union with the priest (as recommended by Pius X), and make an act of spiritual communion as Holy Communion is being distributed. Of course, if no Sunday Mass whatsoever is available for you to attend, then you are dispensed of your Sunday obligation. But in this manner you may (according to some theologians) receive a spiritual benefit as great as some physically present might receive from actual sacramental communion.

    The fact that so many Catholics may never have even heard of spiritual communion is another depressing index of the current situation. In the “old days” one present at Sunday Mass, who (for whatever reason) could not receive sacramentally, would often receive spiritually.

  19. Imrahil says:

    Dear @jasoncpetty,

    the problem is that many an episcopate (at least I have the feeling) would ordain simplex priests about two weeks after having been allowed to do so. And I bet they wouldn’t be simple priests either. They would preach; they would get high-ranking diocesan offices (maybe with the exception of Vocations Director); in so far as the locals are concerned they would even soon be bishops.

    Only they wouldn’t be celibate. And those that do think the old notion that there is an intrinsical notion of priesthood and celibacy (I think there is, and so did Pius XI; but without one it is indeed hard to defend the celibacy) and that the fight for celibacy against a world that despises it are not to have been in vain, if they still want parishes to be kept up and with local pastors, may face a quite realistic priest shortage.

  20. Joy says:

    There were years when we were not guaranteed to have a priest available for Sunday Liturgy, so several men were trained as “lay leaders” (I was asked, but declined). It was very difficult (sometimes impossible) to attend Mass elsewhere, since the absences were typically not planned in advance – so these “Word and Communion Services” were held. I remember one stretch of about 6 months where we only had a priest about 25% of the time. Several in the parish commented (or agreed with the comment) that we didn’t need a priest – we were doing just fine without one. Yikes! Even now that we have a priest regularly one can sense that same thinking, as many here just “tolerate” the Pastor and still continue to do things on their own without his approval.

  21. Joan M says:

    One of the biggest problems with lay led Communion Services, in my opinion, is how it was designed. Essentially, what is (I presume) officially approved is the Mass without the Eucharistic Prayer. If it was deemed good to have a lay led Communion Service, then it should have been designed to be very different from Mass, so that there could be no possible way of confusing the two.

  22. Joan M says: One of the biggest problems with lay led Communion Services, in my opinion, is how it was designed. Essentially, what is (I presume) officially approved is the Mass without the Eucharistic Prayer. If it was deemed good to have a lay led Communion Service, then it should have been designed to be very different from Mass, so that there could be no possible way of confusing the two.

    A Communion service IS very different from Mass… Mass in the Extraordinary Form. Reason no. 1,234,343 for Summorum Pontificum.

    I have it on good authority that when he was in charge of the Baker Diocese, Bishop Robert Vasa forbade Communion services. HE gets it.

  23. HeatherPA says:

    Our parish does “communion services” during the weekday daily Mass time if our priest is away. I refrain from going and offer a sincere spiritual Communion. I don’t feel comfortable with these services, but that is just my personal feeling.

  24. Glen M says:

    I’m becoming convinced the Communion Service Without Priest is at least an acceptable option or perhaps even the goal of some bishops.

    It’s very easy to find out which dioceses have strong vocations and those who don’t. It’s also easy to figure out why. Dioceses and Orders who attract more young men to enter the priesthood are usually orthodox/traditional. So then why don’t the dioceses and orders struggling with a priest shortage implement some of the measures found in the more successful ones?

    There exists in the Church both clergy and laity who sincerely believe the ‘spirit of Vatican II’ has yet to be fully implemented. Their vision is a Church changed even more than has occurred these past fifty years. Communion Service Without Priest would be one way to further enhance the priesthood of the laity perhaps even lead to female ordination.

    In far too many parishes the priest is becoming unnecessary, possibly by design. If the “Sunday Eucharist” or “Parish Liturgy” can be performed without a priest, if no one goes to Confession, if Mrs Smith takes Communion to the home bound, Dr Dave leads the RCIA, the funeral director leads prayer vigils and Last Unction is considered “Tridentine Spirituality” then why not have a roving priest pop into the Sanctuary to Consecrate a month’s supply of Hosts as the norm?

    Of course I’m not suggesting every diocese with a poor vocations record has a sinister bishop. However, I’m baffled at the lack of basic understanding of cause and effect shown. If a business operated this way it would be bankrupt in no time. If the Church was a business the CEO or President would take charge and fix the problem.

  25. acardnal says:

    I am aware of parishes who have “communion services” on weekdays even though there is a priest or two assigned to the parish! Why??? Bp. Morlino has reportedly asked his priests to stop doing this. God bless him.

  26. acardnal says:

    I should add, that priests deserve a day off but that doesn’t mean a “communion service” led my a layman or consecrated religious should be held instead of Mass. The Bishop said that parishioners can go to Mass elsewhere that day. Makes sense to me.

  27. HeatherPA says:

    I agree with you, ACardnal. Alas, I don’t know why they have them. We have a wonderful priest who is orthodox and holy, and he even has Holy Hour every single day before Daily Mass and every week on monday evenings. An almost unheard of practice today with the overworking of parish priests.

  28. Supertradmum says:

    Thank you, Father for this post. I have been writing about the need to omit such services as these are confusing to people. But what is worse, is that the priesthood itself is undermined, as well as apostolic succession and the male hierarchy established by Christ, the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity. Many, many years ago, Bishop Henry of Calgary was very concerned about the proliferation of lay lead Communion services, explaining how these took away both from the sacredness and sacrament of Holy Orders, but also, interestingly enough, the sacredness of Communion Himself. Jesus in the Eucharist is abused and not worshipped as He should be in these services, as there is no distinction between the sacred and the profane-a lost concept in our Church.

    The separation of the sacred and profane has happened in the Mass, in Communion services, in marriage, in the approach to the Scriptures, the Teaching Magisterium of the Church, in bearing and raising children and in all aspects of morality. Catholics are confused on these issues because sacramental theology has not been taught from the pulpit for years and years in most places.

    May I quote from Humani Generis on this point–

    2. It is not surprising that such discord and error should always have existed outside the fold of Christ. For though, absolutely speaking, human reason by its own natural force and light can arrive at a true and certain knowledge of the one personal God, Who by His providence watches over and governs the world, and also the natural law, which the Creator has written in our hearts, still there are not a few obstacles to prevent reason from making efficient and fruitful use of its natural ability. The truths that have to do with God and the relations between God and men, completely surpass the sensible order and demand self-surrender and self-abnegation in order to be put into practice and to influence practical life. Now the human intellect, in gaining the knowledge of such truths is hampered both by the activity of the senses and the imagination, and by evil passions arising from original sin. Hence men easily persuade themselves in such matters that what they do not wish to believe is false or at least doubtful.

    3. It is for this reason that divine revelation must be considered morally necessary so that those religious and moral truths which are not of their nature beyond the reach of reason in the present condition of the human race, may be known by all men readily with a firm certainty and with freedom from all error.[1]

    4. Furthermore the human intelligence sometimes experiences difficulties in forming a judgment about the credibility of the Catholic faith, notwithstanding the many wonderful external signs God has given, which are sufficient to prove with certitude by the natural light of reason alone the divine origin of the Christian religion. For man can, whether from prejudice or passion or bad faith, refuse and resist not only the evidence of the external proofs that are available, but also the impulses of actual grace.

    This document applies to modern ideas of creation of man and the soul, and atheism, but can also apply to the lack of modern understanding as to God’s ways being different than ours. When we do not understand how to think and act like a Catholic, we fall into serious errors, such as thinking that the lay life is the same as that of the alter Christus.

    Catholics believe in hierarchies, and the democratization of the Church has led to doubt as to the Real Presence. Without a true understanding of the priesthood, as given to us through the Revelation and Tradition, we think and act like our separated brothers and sisters in Christ. Some of this protestantization of the Church has happened on purpose through seminary training. It must be clarified.

    A priest is set aside by God. He is another Christ. I am not as a lay person.

  29. Dave N. says:

    As HeatherPA correctly observes, these Communion Services (aka “Sister’s Mass”) are often substituted for Daily Mass when the parish priest is absent. However, at least to my understanding, the provision in these situations is granted only for SUNDAYS when no priest is available:

    E.g.: http://www.usccbpublishing.org/productdetails.cfm?PC=737

    If there is no priest available for daily mass, matins would substitute nicely, imo.

  30. According to the Instruction Redemptionis Sacramentum: On certain matters to be observed or to be avoided regarding the Most Holy Eucharist (2004), communion services should not be held on weekdays when Mass is available on the preceding or following Sunday:

    [166.] Likewise, especially if Holy Communion is distributed during such celebrations, the diocesan Bishop, to whose exclusive competence this matter pertains, must not easily grant permission for such celebrations to be held on weekdays, especially in places where it was possible or would be possible to have the celebration of Mass on the preceding or the following Sunday. Priests are therefore earnestly requested to celebrate Mass daily for the people in one of the churches entrusted to their care.

  31. Dave N. says:

    Thanks, Henry Edwards. Your quote well confirms what I thought to be the case.

  32. David Homoney says:

    These are the fruits of the Novus Ordo. The near complete lack of the idea of the sacrifice of the Mass. Not only are people not taught the faith outside of the Mass, but the Novus Ordo is a complete an utter failure of catechetics inside the Mass. The dumbing down of the Mass has dumbed down the laity. Just look at the Offertory Prayer from the EF:

    Latin:

    Suscipe, sancte Pater, omnipotens aeterne Deus, hanc immaculatam hostiam, quam ego indignus famulus tuus offero tibi Deo meo vivo et vero, pro innumerabilibus peccatis, et offensionibus, et negligentiis meis, et pro omnibus circumstantibus, sed et pro omnibus fidelibus christianis vivis atque defunctis: ut mihi, et illis proficiat ad salutem in vitam aeternam. Amen.

    English:

    Accept, O holy Father, almighty and eternal God, this unspotted host, which I, Thine unworthy servant, offer to Thee, my living and true God, for my innumerable sins, offences, and negligences, and for all here present: as also for all faithful Christians, both living and dead; that it may be of avail for salvation both to me and to them unto life everlasting. Amen.

    In the Novus Ordo though this incredibly rich and beautiful prayer has been reduced to this:

    Blessed are you, Lord God of all creation, for through your goodness we have received the bread we offer you, fruit of the earth and work of human hands, it will become for us the bread of life.

    Blessed are you, Lord God of all creation, for through your goodness we have received the wine we offer you: fruit of the vine and work of human hands, it will become our spiritual drink.

    Where is the sacrifice? Where is the humility? And this is from the 3rd edition of the Missale Romanum, the one hailed and lauded by Novus Ordo orthodox Catholics. Yeah, the language is better, not nearly as banal, but compared to the richness, the deep penetrating beauty of the Mass of the Saints, the EF, it is still banal, just a little less so. Sadly, until the inorganic, hermeneutic of rupture Mass concocted by Msgr. Bugnini nothing much will change. The Holy Father was right, we will become a small Church again like in the beginning.

  33. mike cliffson says:

    Cars, automobiles, vehicles, trucks, pickups, and buses, + picking up neighbours, ought to work in Ireland

  34. Supertradmum says:

    Thank you, Henry Edwards.

  35. Matt R says:

    I’m intrigued that His Excellency banned Communion services while Bishop of Baker. I support that decision, but it surprises me because it works against the notion that a diocese with few priests must resort to services other than Mass to meet the needs of the faithful. Lincoln, represent!
    By the way doesn’t the name ‘Communion service’ just smack of Protestantism, especially of the Lutheran and Anglican varieties?

  36. David Homoney says:

    Matt R. – reference the excitement of an Anglican observer of the Novus Ordo.

  37. Michelle F says:

    I agree with those who said the problem in Ireland and elsewhere has nothing to do with distributing reserved Hosts at Mass, and everything to do with allowing laymen, especially women, to distribute Holy Communion within and outside the Mass, emphasizing the “banquet” aspect of Communion to the point of completely ignoring the sacrificial aspect, and allowing women to perform “official” functions inside the Sanctuary (female lectors, female altar boys, etc.).

    Based on what is happening in most of our Sanctuaries on any given day, there is nothing to distinguish the Catholic Church from Protestant denominations – nothing except “getting Communion” on a daily or weekly basis. Most Catholics in the pews seem to think “getting Communion” is the whole point of going to Mass, so of course they would think a “Communion service” is just as good as the Mass.

    One thing I did not see anyone mention above is the unrelenting emphasis in the Church on “Communion,” which is then coupled with the “We Are One” mantra. The distribution of Communion during Mass has become the high point of the Mass. Everyone gets in the Sanctuary, everyone gets huggy-feely, we all hold hands and sing, and go up en masse to receive our party favor (the Host, and a sip from the communal cup). It has become the whole reason for going to Mass.

    I think the Church needs to de-emphasize the distribution of Communion, and shift the emphasis to the moment that the priest performs the Sacrifice of the Mass. The Sacrifice should be the high point of the Mass, and seen as the whole reason for going. (Sacrifice is so integral to the worship of anything, including the Living God, that without a sacrifice, no worship takes place.)

    I also think the Church should, at the same time, emphasize going to the Sacrament of Confession as the highlight of Christian life. It is Confession which puts us in Communion with God and the Church; the reception of the consecrated Host at Mass simply reinforces and strengthens the Communion established with Confession.

    Of course I think that “Communion services” should be abolished, and I think that the Church should not offer anything officially as a substitute for Mass (e.g., The Divine Office or Benediction). If a priest is not available to offer a Mass, just leave the Church building unlocked so laymen can come in and say a group Rosary or pray the Stations of the Cross. If no priest will be available for a long time, leave one Host locked in the tabernacle so the people won’t be deprived of the Lord’s Presence between Masses. There is no substitute for the Mass, and none should be offered. Period.

  38. jflare says:

    “Increasingly in the Europe we are going to be faced with not having enough priests to celebrate Mass on Sundays. ”

    Um, this already HAPPENS here in the US.
    Before I took a vacation this year, I grew curious and reviewed the web site for my old home parish. I wished to know when and where I could arrange to attend Mass. I learned that my old diocese currently has 71 priests, 25 retired. The remaining 46 priests now address “36 parishes, 40 missions, 2 Newman Apostolates, 2 Catholic hospitals, 10 Catholic schools and 54,000 Catholics”. Looking further, I discerned that that many priests had not only a parish, but also a mission church to oversee, several had TWO mission churches.

    Granted, these priests tend to be stationed such that the churches where they need to offer Mass likely sit within 30 miles or so of each other. Even so, try to imagine having a requirement to drive a minimum of 40 miles EACH WEEKEND merely to fulfill your role as a priest.
    No wonder they get worn out!

    May our Church discern the best means to attract more men to serve God. Our rural areas have already begun to suffer.

  39. jflare says:

    I think I should clarify something:
    In my previous post, I might’ve implied that every church has Mass at least once each week. I regret, such is not the case.
    For the best of my knowledge, there are several parishes/missions for which the faithful may only attend Mass in their own town twice per month. On the off weeks, they simply can’t attend Mass. Or they must drive to another town.
    ..And for what it’s worth, this assumes roads remain passable.
    If a blizzard strikes on the week they’re intended to have Mass, they may be out of luck regardless.

  40. Paulus1988 says:

    Fr. Bertrand de Margerie, s.j., the author of “Daily Communion and Frequent Confession”, reminds us that it is the earnest desire of Holy Mother the Church, and of our Divine Lord Himself, that we receive Holy Communion worthily and frequently, even every day. Now given that “one worthy Holy Communion is worth more than the whole visible universe”, he argues for the multiplication of opportunities to receive the Bread of Life. Since priests may only celebrate a maximum of two masses a day, then…

    Also, a note especially for confessors: he argues that having just absolved a “big fish”, we should offer them Holy Communion *immediately* so that they may be perfectly reconciled to God, nourished and strengthened, protected from the Evil One, etc. I’ve done it, and seen tears of joy.

    I think, with respect, that the infinite value of one worthy Holy Communion trumps the reasons given against distributing Holy Communion outside of Mass, which reasons however should be attended to, to remove all danger of confusion in the Faith and irreverence to the Holy of holies.

    Fr. Paul J. McDonald,
    Diocese of St. Catharines, in Ontario, Canada

  41. Volanges says:

    I remember when these services started being allowed that the Bishops of Western Canada published a rite for it and the pastoral notes at the beginning said that it was important for the parish to come together to worship on Sundays as a family and that they shouldn’t be going to Mass in neighbouring parishes!! Luckily that thinking changed when the CCCB published “Sunday Celebration of the Word and Hours” which made it clear that the obligation to attend Mass was not met by this type of service if Mass could be attended elsewhere. Our parish has these services more often than I’d like but only on Sundays and there are truly no other Masses available to us.

    The rite in Canada is different from “Mass without the EP”. We first start out by praying for a time when we can again celebrate the Eucharist as a parish. Four of us have been trained to lead these services, 2 men, 2 women. I often find myself correcting two of them who refer to it as ‘Mass’.

    Overhearing the parishioners comparing what they’ve just experienced to Mass can be a saddening experience because Mass usually comes out the loser. They like the fact that there is more involvement by the laity than in Mass and in general they seem to have no concept of the vast difference between the two or of the reason we are there in the first place. When we were a year without a Pastor and these services occurred fairly often, I even heard someone say that we didn’t really need a priest, since we could have these services. In fact, I know of one community were they didn’t have a priest for months on end but had a Deacon and consecrated Hosts were sent in by mail so the parishioners would have a reason to gather on Sundays because worshipping God wasn’t enough and ‘if they don’t get Communion they don’t come’.

    In the past I’ve voiced my opinion that Communion shouldn’t be offered at these services but have been roundly condemned. “What would be the point of going?” from the choir director who thinks nothing of mentioning that the reason there was no singing at last Sunday’s Masss was because most of the choir, herself included, stayed home after a party and never bothered to attend Mass at all. The idea of ‘Sunday obligation’ is totally foreigh to all but a handful in these parts and they seem to think that the only reason to attend Mass is to receive Communion. They seem to forget, if they’ve ever known, that it is our duty to thank and praise God the Father, through and with his Son, Jesus Christ.

    One question though, wasn’t it a fact that Communion outside of Mass was done long before we had these services and long before Vatican II? Granted it was given by a priest so he was still necessary.

  42. heway says:

    When our prayer group meets, the EMHC is part of it and we include a communion service. I don’t recall having one otherwise. The parish that our pastor is assigned to(we are its ‘mission’) has a communion service on Father’s day off. For me, receiving the Body of Christ cannot be compared to a tv Mass……….We always have extra consecrated hosts in case Father becomes ill and we have a SCAP with deacon and for emergency ‘sick’ calls.

  43. Fr. Thomas Kocik says:

    I agree with Fr. Augustine Thompson. The practice of “tabernacle Communion” compromises the sign value of the Eucharist as the sacrificial banquet of the New Covenant, a communal partaking of that which by its nature is meant to be broken and distributed to those present. The Mass is essentially a re-presentation of the sacrificial offering of Christ the eternal Priest, at which Christians are given the opportunity of uniting their worship in a visible way with that of Christ, and so prepare themselves for the reception of the graces bestowed especially through the reception of the Lord’s Body and Blood. Granted, one receives the whole Christ sacramentally, regardless of when the Host was consecrated. But the habitual use of Hosts consecrated at a previous Mass obscures the fact that Holy Communion is the sacrificial sacrament of the sacramental sacrifice, precisely by breaking the symbolic connection between gifts offered and gifts received. When the unity of the two essential elements of the Eucharist—the offering of the covenant sacrifice and the communion in the sacrificial food—is lost, distortions arise, including a mistaken understanding of the role of all the baptized as well as that of the ordained priest in offering the Eucharistic Sacrifice. As I see it, the question has everything to do with orthopraxis — and obedience to the consistent teaching of the Church on the subject: see Pope Benedict XIV, Certiores effecti (1742); Pope Pius XII, Mediator Dei (1947) nos. 113, 118; Vatican Council II, Sacrosanctum concilium (1963), no. 55; Sacred Congregation of Rites, Eucharisticum mysterium (1967), nos. 31, 32; GIRM (1970) no. 56h; GIRM (2002) no. 85. One final thought: Were the ordinary-form Mass to be routinely celebrated ad orientem, people would be less likely to confuse the Holy Sacrifice with a Communion service, since the latter would naturally be conducted facing the people.

  44. I agree with the genial Father Augustine in part, but have some reservations (pardon the pun).

    First, he makes an excellent point about the long shadows of older practices prior to Vatican II. It’s so easy to pin the blame for what’s wrong on the Council or its implementation; yet in many cases, the origins of things lies long before the Council. The reliance on hymns at Mass is an example; and Father Augustine gives another.

    But I think others have a point as well–there are other things contributing to this problem.

    My other objection to Father’s counsel is simply that I spent the first two years of my priesthood trying very sincerely to do as he suggests, and I finally gave up. I was in a fairly large parish, and was trying to minimize the number of hosts that would remain after each Mass–precisely to have most folks receiving hosts that are the fruit of the very Mass they attended. I found no way to do it; and frequently, we erred too much the other way, and almost had too few hosts for those receiving.

    I’m sure Father knows this, but maybe some readers haven’t thought about this. If at every Mass, the priest consecrates enough for everyone’s communion–plus a little more, so as not to run out, because who knows the exact number who will come?–then he will always be adding to the tabernacle. Come Sunday, when the numbers attending is much larger, he must have a larger margin of error. Result: several hundred hosts added every week. It would be wonderful if he visited that many home- and hospital-bound each week, but let’s be realistic.

    My solution is that pastors should avoid recourse to the tabernacle at two or three Sunday Masses, but perhaps for one Sunday Mass they even things out; and then do the same at weekday Masses. (Oh and funerals and weddings! You always consecrate too much, how can you help it? There’s no predicting how many won’t come to communion.)

    Finally, someone suggested that you just don’t ever leave many hosts in the tabernacle. That won’t work, given not only the need for the sick, but also emergencies. Or would you not allow distribution of communion on a Sunday in the event a priest takes ill during Mass, or fails to show up? That’s rather hard on folks, don’t you think?

  45. drforjc says:

    The habitual use of EMHC’s is a bigger factor than using previously consecrated hosts. The latter is a contributing factor but comparatively less of a factor.

  46. Choirmaster says:

    I would also like to point out, vis. a vis. communion from the reserved Sacrament, that it is rather difficult for us laymen in the pews to know whether we are receiving the reserved or the newly-consecrated hosts. Moreover, at a TLM or an ad orientem NO, it would even be difficult for us to see how many hosts were taken from the tabernacle for distribution. So, while the issue of the quantity of the reserved Sacrament has deep theological and practical significance,

    All this furthers my suspicion that the “good as a Mass” philosophy is best attributed to the abuse of EMHCs and the general watering-down of the specific role and function of the ordained clergy. Indeed, do not the use of laymen and women as “readers”, compounded by the lay “pastoral associates” and “administrators”, also contribute to this watering-down?

    I mention this because these are the things that I find most visible and telling as a layman in the pews.

  47. VexillaRegis says:

    Choirmaster: I think you are right, in most cases, however our chapel is small and I can count the hosts on the paten from the pew on weekday masses. On sundays the priest consumes the Body and the Blood of Christ, leaves the altar(table), fetches the ciborium from the tabernacle and starts distributing the hosts to us. I decided early on not to let this bother me personally – I accept the decisions of my pastor – but other people and guests sometimes ask me why this is. It’s also sort of difficult to explain to my children why Fr. has his own host on the paten and we get ours from “the holy cupboard” :-) “It’s a mystery” I once said, when they asked. Well, well. We are lucky enough not to have a single EMHC, never a communion service and no altar girls.

  48. robtbrown says:

    I agree with Fr Augustine Thompson’s comments, but I would like to expand them a bit. Most of what is objectionable now in Eucharistic celebration is an extension of Counter Reformation Eucharistic theology minus the previous legal supports. The foundation of which was the de facto suppression of Christ the Priest as the principal celebrant at every celebration of the Eucharist–in fact, at every celebration of every Sacrament.

    This CR concept of Eucharistic theology, which leaves the status of Christ the Victim intact but minimizes the action of Christ the Priest (first, His historical death; subsequently, the Eucharist) makes the celebrant be seen more as a one who consecrates rather than one who offers the sacrifice. Once the Eucharistic notion of Christ the Priest is undermined, it is understandable why the celebrant would then be referred to as a Presider.

    The new catechism attempts to correct this.