Is Communion now “we get the white thing in our hands and then we sing the song”?

There is a virus-like fixation pandemic in the Church today that everyone has to go to Communion at every Mass.  Therefore, even if there are people present manifestly in living in a state of mortal sin, spectacular contortions of doctrine and law are pretzeled together to justify what has NEVER been justified in the history of the Church: saying openly that the unconfessed Catholic in the state of mortal sin who does not have a firm purpose of amendment can be admitted to the sacraments.  If there is a mega-Mass, such as a papal Mass, astonishing lengths are attempted to get a Host out there to every single sincere and pious communicant, as well as the reacher-grabber and souvenir collector.

Of all the words I can think of to describe this, “reverent” isn’t one of them.

I don’t blame the unquestioning organizers… much.  They are infected with this aforementioned virus.  No… I guess I do blame them.  They should know better.

Today I reminded that The Great One, His Eminence Robert Card. Sarah, Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and Discipline of the Sacraments (which covers how Mass should be celebrated, how to preserve its reverent character, its holiness, its power to communicate what the Perfect Communicator wants to give to the world) has remarked on mega-Masses.

From InfoVaticana comes this with my usual treatment (not my translation but touched up):

Cardinal Sarah denounces mega-masses “with thousands of attendees”

“Men and women in adultery and unbaptized tourists who participate in eucharistic celebrations of anonymous crowds can receive without distinction the Body and Blood of Christ.” This is the situation that warns Cardinal Robert Sarah, prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, in his book The Force of Silence.  [Also in SPANISH – HERE]

Cardinal Sarah emphasizes the need for the Church to study with urgency “the ecclesial and pastoral suitability of these multitudinous eucharistic celebrations with thousands of attendees.” For the Guinean cardinal, today there is an immense danger of converting the Eucharist “into a vulgar verbena [open-air dance]” and of desecrating the Body and Blood of Christ.

“The priests who distribute the sacred species without knowing anyone and give the body of Jesus to anyone, without distinguishing Christians from non-Christians, participate in the profanation of the Holy Eucharistic Sacrifice,” says in his book The Force of Silence.  [The priest in large parishes can’t know every person who comes to Communion, but in that context it is often easy to tell who isn’t Catholic (by their behavior).  But the situation of mega-Masses… well.  Also, I note that Eastern congregations are often small enough that the priest can say people’s names as they present themselves for Communion.]

The prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship warns that “with some voluntary complicity,” those who exercise authority in the church are guilty of permitting the sacrilege and desecration of the Body of Christ “in those gigantic and ridiculous self-celebrations, where there are very few who realize that the death of the Lord is announced until he comes.”

Sarah also regrets that some “priests unfaithful to the memory of Jesus” insist more on the festive aspect of the Mass than on the bloody sacrifice of Christ on the Cross. [ANAXIOS!] “The importance of the interior dispositions and the necessity to reconcile with God accepting to allow us to be purified by the sacrament of the confession are no longer in fashion,” concludes the prelate.

I’m afraid that, for many – even for many priests and even bishops – Communion is now the moment we get the white thing in our hands and then we sing the song.

The “White Thing” is a sign that people like me here.  Hence, if I can’t have the “White Thing” before we sing the song, I don’t feel good about myself in this setting… and that’s bad.  The “White Thing” in the hand is the token that this is a “safe space”.

The moderation queue is ON.

Just as a reminder, here’s Communion at a mega-Mass in Manila in 2015 during Pope Francis’ visit.


Distribution from plastic cups at Rio for Pope Francis’s World Youth Day Mass 2013.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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  1. Dave N. says:

    “Cardinal Sarah emphasizes the need for the Church to study with urgency ‘the ecclesial and pastoral suitability of these multitudinous eucharistic [sic] celebrations with thousands of attendees.'”

    Bravo. I recall one Paris WYD Mass (1997) were two “youth” had to interrupt their marijuana smoking in order to receive Holy Communion.

    Since the Sacraments are Cardinal Sarah’s bailiwick, I’d be very curious to find out what actual actions the Cardinal has undertaken to direct such a study, since it’s urgently needed.

  2. jgrigorian says:

    Everyone should read this excellent book. Take it to Eucharistic adoration and meditate. It is an antidote to our civilization’s idolatry.

  3. HelenBrigid says:

    That video is chilling. I also know of a situation where a priest told the congregation to pass the ciborium around to “help themselves” so they could avoid queuing. So many offences against the sacred Body and Blood of Our Lord.

  4. Nan says:

    jgrigorian, already am.

  5. SundaySilence says:

    Father, how can you post such a disturbing video without some sort of warning? Watching them “body surf” Our Lord made me physically ill.

  6. bibi1003 says:

    Music and singing during Communion are distractions for me. I have heard that there are certain prayers to pray before and after Communion, but they weren’t taught to us in RCIA 8 years ago. Do any of you say these prayers?

  7. ThePapalCount says:

    What took place in Manila was obscene.
    It should never happen again….but it does, again and again at these mega Masses.

  8. aliceinstpaul says:

    Yes, I have a small prayer book called Handbook of Prayers from Midwest Theological Press. It lists basic prayers, prayers before mass, order of the mass, prefaces, prayers after the mass, a good examination of conscience, and a variety of devotions. My children also have prayer books in English that explain the parts of the mass, and list prayers before and after communion that are appropriate for children as well as various devotions. They are simplified versions of common prayers.

    Before communion we say:
    A prayer of St. Thomas Aquinas (…I draw near to the sacrament..Sick to the physician of life, unclean to the fountain of mercy…)
    We have the children make an act of faith, (I believe I am about to receive thy body and blood..)
    An act of humility (I am poor sinner, on account of my sins I’m not fit to review thee)
    An act of sorrow (I hate my sins..Help me never o commit any great sin..)
    An act of love.

    After communion we say:
    Another prayer of St. Thomas Aquinas (…For though I am an unprofitable sinner you have fed me…)

    The Anima Christi
    The prayer before a crucifix (look down upon me, good and sweetest Jesus…)
    And a self dedication to Jesus.

    As well as Pater Noster, Ave Maria and Gloria.

  9. Fr. Vincent Fitzpatrick says:

    Just to be fair, Hosts-in-the-mud have been a feature of EVERY WYD mega-Mass since the first one over 25 years ago.

  10. Moro says:

    This reminded me of two things:

    1. Once while I was still a student at my Jesuit High School, I remember vividly seeing the priests taking handfuls of hosts and placing them into plain glass bowls that one might serve fruit or a salad in. In fact, I remember thinking that same bowls my mother served our salads on on an ordinary evening were far nicer than that those used for the Eucharist. Not only did these Jesuits treat Christ like an ordinary cracker but they also lacked good taste.

    2. Years ago, in a Novus Ordo parish I was asked spur of the moment to distribute Communion (Hosts) to the faithful. Person after person came up. Many of them appeared to absent minded. Virtually all dressed for a picnic outside rather than for Holy Mass and not a single one received on the tongue. After that experience I found myself wondering how priests do it these days.

    Fathers, it is important to impress on the minds of the faithful what they are receiving, what Transubstantiation is, why it matters, and how to show respect to the Eucharist. If people aren’t reminded of the deep value of this sacrament, in some sense it loses it’s power to impact our lives.

  11. hwriggles4 says:

    At these mega Masses, I am sure no one has the front of a Missal that explains proper reception for communion. I would say that some priests are afraid to mention at Christmas and Easter about communion when the “C and E” variety are present.

    Years ago when I was a kid (circa 1980) my mother mentioned that divorced people could not receive communion, I asked, “how is the priest going to know?” She couldn’t give me a straight answer. 70% of parishioners barely even speak to the priest at most parishes, so I don’t think he would know their family. Besides, the priest at the parish across town probably won’t know the person either.

  12. Absit invidia says:

    Liberals in the Catholic Church have turned the worshipper into the worshipped – as if we are the center of attention.

  13. aliceinstpaul says:

    A priest wouldn’t “need” to know every specific family if priests routinely spoke during their homily about our faith, including its duties and responsibilities, in direct terms. If parishioners routinely heard that the danger of mortal sin is real, and it means you are in grave danger of hell, and even before that, deadens your conscience; that holy matrimony is forever on earth, and civil divorce does not change the sacrament of matrimony; that we must cleanse our soul through confession of any mortal sin before presenting ourselves to communion; that the Eucharist is the body, blood, soul, and Divinity of our Lord, present to us because of His Passion, etc. etc. then many parishioners would know they should not present themselves for communion. Of course there may be some difficult cases, and cases where still a priest does not know, but the clarity would enlighten minds, hearts, and consciences.

    And if priests could be sure that other priests had done that, they too could worry less about the visitor.

    And if those basically tenets of our faith were widely known, then how much easier it would be for a priest to speak even more deeply to his flock, to get to the personal specific needs of his parish, to help those in difficult situations, to have them trust him to provide spiritual guidance beyond being white-thing dispensing machines.

  14. Imrahil says:

    Well… I have to disagree with Cardinal Sarah.

    That is, if the remedy is

    1. reminding people that Mass attendance without receiving Holy Communion is still fully valid Mass attendance and there is such a thing as “spiritual Communion” which you don’t even need to be in a state of grace for,

    2. having, in larger Masses and such with a conflux of foreigners, the “Communion reminder” known to traditional folk, about who can and who cannot receive Holy Communion (it’s not rocket science to see whether conditions apply),

    then of course I am all for it.


    Holy Communion quite apart from any Need to accuse partakers of denying the Transsubstantiation is, while the required conclusion (conclusion in the sense of: what it concludes to) of Mass for the celebrant priest, still the normal conclusion of Mass for the Catholic worshipper, if we happen to be unconscious of mortal sin since the last Confession and abstinent from food for an hour.

    In addition, you can’t get a plenary indulgence on a spiritual Communion.

    In addition, it is a sort of sacrifice to give time to God, notwithstanding that it makes us happy. Now you can go for a weekday Mass and get Holy Communion in scarcely more than half an hour, or in a novus Ordo Sunday Mass in scarely more, and perhaps less, than an hour., Those who go to a mega-Mass to demonstrate their faith and come together on a more larger scale as the mystical Body of Christ and spend two hours and more for it should at least be likewise rewarded with Holy Communion.

    Hence, if it is advisable to have mega-masses, and let’s face it: in this age, for eminent psychological reasons it is, then it’s also advisable to find a way to give Communion there.

  15. Frank H says:

    I recall reading that at the big Mass Pope Paul VI celebrated in Yankee Stadium, only a dozen children – representing all those assembled – received Holy Communion, while the rest of the thousands were led in a spiritual communion. Let’s turn back the clock to those more innocent, and reverent, days!

  16. Adaquano says:

    At what point did we gain the mentality that we our affirmation of ourselves was tied into whether we lined up for Communion or not? Because if we treat it that way, than it does become cookie worship.

    I recall watching the Mass at Fatima in May and seeing some people just shove their hands out to the priest in the middle of a crowd of people, so shameful.

    I admit for myself as reverent as I always tried to be, I realized after having my son and carrying in his car seat to Communion and extending my hand how casually I was approaching my Lord

  17. Thorfinn says:


    Most or all of the prayers aliceinstpaul mentions are printed in the ‘red book’, the unofficial standard booklet missal for the Traditional Latin Mass. I use a different mini-missal (for dummies, as I like to think) but I typically pick up one of the loaner red books just to pray those before Mass.

  18. Jonathan Marshall says:

    It doesn’t have to be like the Manila rugby scrum. I participate in the Chartres Pilgrimage every year, and 10,000 people at an open air Mass receive Communion (on the tongue and kneeling) in a quiet and reverent way – but then, we’re all full-on Traddies and not CINOs

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  20. jaykay says:

    Absolutely, Jonathan, and as you know during the Pilgrimage, on the Sunday where the Mass is in the open at lunch-time, they make many announcements reminding that one should be conscious of the one-hour fast, so that those in Chapters at the tail-end that have barely arrived before Mass starts either don’t eat until after Mass or don’t receive. I’ve seen people kneeling, not having received but clearly making a spiritual communion. I thought this year was particularly good: and I could understand every word of Cdl. Burke’s homily in French, whereas I’d usually struggle to get 25% of a native French speaker’s :)

  21. hwriggles4 says:

    When EWTN televised the Papal Mass from Philadelphia in late September 2015, a downtown parish secured permission to set up a screen at a city park a few blocks away. It was well attended (I was there) and like many present, I had gone to Sunday Mass earlier that morning. Before the television was turned on, the priest from the downtown parish made an announcement:

    “While this is a televised Mass, it does not fulfill your Sunday obligation. I know many of you went to Mass earlier today (or attended the Saturday evening Mass) but for those who have not yet been to Mass, I am having Mass this evening following this Papal broadcast from Philadelphia.”

    I thanked the priest for making such an announcement. There were several hundred Catholics in attendance at this city park on that Sunday in September 2015.

  22. TitanTom says:

    I’m a second grade Catechist at my parish. Every year I have parents in the back of my class that are amazed to find out the Eucharist is the “Actual Body and Blood of Christ!” If you want to make a difference, and you think it may be your calling, call your parish and volunteer as a Catechist. You are needed, and it will be a rewarding experience for you. Guaranteed.

  23. Ylonila del Mar says:

    I just so happened to be around during the Papal Mass in Manila, although circumstances forced me and the relatives I was with to stay somewhere along Roxas Boulevard. We only had the giant telescreens to refer to. Thankfully, they hadn’t had Extraordinary Ministers assigned to search out the whole environs of Ermita and Pasay to give Communion willy-nilly to anyone, although it still saddens me nonetheless how our Lord was abused here. Oh, and I’m not sure if you’re aware Father, but consecrated Hosts were found dropped on the ground after.

    Mega Masses are quite common around here, particularly in Manila. The last one I attended at the behest of some friends was at the Araneta Coliseum wherein the Archbishop of Manila, Antonio Cardinal Tagle, held an Easter recollection with a known leftie and pro-choicer as a guest musician.

    As a Filipino, I cannot begin to describe at length at how appalling the state of liturgy is here! You oughta check this character named Fr. Genaro Diwa, the Chief Liturgist of the Archdiocese of Manila, who is tirelessly campaigning against the practice of the TLM and for this aberration known as the Misa ng Bayang Pilipino (Eng. Mass of the Filipino People), which employs “liturgical” dance and indigenous hullabaloo. Oh, and this, which the particular Facebook page this was posted in had already removed for the flack it took:

  24. scottygal says:

    The Sunday Missal has prayers for before and after Communion. I read them with great determination (sometimes with lips moving!) to help me block out the noise, erroneously referred to as music, that is relentless before, during, and after reception of the Eucharist.

  25. Deac says:

    I pray that Cardinal Sarah remains in his role and not get sacked like Cardinal Mueller.

  26. CFS says:

    I was so sad to see that video and could only think it would have been better not to have given Communion in those circumstances.

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