From a reader…
As a recently baptized Catholic (2016, entirely in the traditional form), I am used to attending the TLM or a NO mass at a monastery (and so without EMHCs). I occasionally sing in a choir at a Sunday afternoon mass (NO) at the cathedral near my home. I was just “called out” by one of my fellow singers (who is a friar from a new community in the area) for not receiving communion during the mass. He claimed that all faithful rightfully disposed are obliged to receive communion at each mass they attend. While I know this is not entirely correct, and I was quite bothered by his intrusion into my personal life (“Did you not go to confession?”, etc.), upon reflection, I did realize that, besides other “normal” reasons like not having gone to confession, already attending mass with my family in the morning, etc., I have not received communion while singing in the choir because it is distributed by a friar, who is not a priest, from a choir loft tabernacle. I have also been bothered by the speed of communion and the audible crunching noises as everyone has “chomped down” on the host in order to sing the next piece of music. Also, with all the singing (since I am a professional musician), I sometimes feel that I’m fulfilling a role as a singer at that moment, more than participating in the mass as a member of the faithful, especially since the cathedral mass isn’t the mass I attend with my family. Am I within my bounds here, Father? These are events that troubled my soul at the moment of communion, but should I have been looking past them, especially my “concerns” about the person handling the host? I would appreciate any clarification you could offer on this manner.
There are a lot of issues in what you wrote. Certainly the manner of reception of Communion by others, when irreverent, is off-putting. You wonder if they believe in the Eucharist. Then again, you wonder if they have ever seen anything else, from their parents or parishioners or co-religionists (of whatever religion it is that they think they belong to).
However, let’s make this part clear. You are obliged by the Church’s law to receive Holy Communion once a year, at Easter or in the Easter season (can. 920). You are obliged to confess and receive sacramental absolution once a year (can. 989). The two obligations are logically connected, if not formally connected.
That is what your obligation is. You are not obliged to receive Communion at any other Mass during the rest of the year.
You are obliged to attend Mass on all days of obligations (i.e., all Sundays and some of the great feasts, etc.). You are not obliged to receive Communion at all Masses of obligation. As a matter of fact there are times when you may be obliged not to receive, as when you know you are not in the state of grace or properly disposed by a fast to which you are bound.
Many people find it beneficial to receive Communion more than once a year. The Eucharist has been described as the “source and the summit” of the Church’s activity. If that is so, then our own activity as Catholics is bound to the Eucharist and to the Eucharist’s celebration, which is Holy Mass.
Receiving Communion in the state of grace is the apex of our “active participation” at Mass.
Friar Buttinsky should mind his own business. Similarly, perhaps you would also do well to take less note of how others may be receiving. Barring actual nefarious sacrileges, you should mind your own manner of receiving.