Monday, 10 October 2011

Under One Kind...

A few weeks ago I was cheering because the bishop of Phoenix was restricting the number of occasions on which the laity could receive Holy Communion under both kinds (in accordance with Canon Law).

But I didn't make it clear why I was cheering.

There are several reasons I object to the change whereby communion under both kinds became common amongst the laity in Europe and the USA, and prefer the traditional practice in the Western Church to the modern practice. (Let's leave the East out of this - beyond saying I think interfering with their time-honoured practice would be a bad idea too!)

Here are some:

The reasons I have been given for the change from the traditional practice strike me as largely bogus;

The change also seems to me to be part of a larger agenda, with a trend (towards less reverence) that I think has been profoundly damaging;

The change has been used to engineer a number of other changes I dislike (eg queuing and standing for Holy Communion, proliferation of Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion);

The change has resulted in all the faithful (or at least all who receive under both kinds) handling the Sacred Vessels - and these are now treated, more often than not, as merely some more cups to wash after Mass;

The change is a huge part of the hermeneutic of discontinuity: jettisoning whatever our forefathers did in favour of any novelty dreamed up by a liturgist;

I have seen no positive benefits resulting from the change;

I believe that under the old dispensation, the average Catholic was much clearer about the fundamental truth that we receive the entire Christ: Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity under either kind - now I fear many think that you only receive the Body if you only receive under the appearance of bread. (I also think many think you receive bread and wine, to hear them talk, but that's another matter...)

But, but, but... the Well-Informed Liturgist splutters, at the Last Supper, Our Lord [except he wouldn't call Him that, he'd bandy the Holy Name around as though it were a brand of washing powder he was trying to flog] gave the Cup to everyone!

Indeed He did. But who was there: only men! Is that an example you wish to emulate, W-I Liturgist? Further, everyone there was a bishop: shall we extend Holy Communion only to the episcopate?

Let us look a little further into the example of Our Lord: take the great Eucharistic Miracle, the feeding of the 5,000, which is clearly preparatory catechesis for the Blessed Sacrament. All were given... bread.

And all the pre-figurement in the Old Testament: You gave your people bread from heaven and so on. The form of Bread is clearly the universal symbol.

And then there is the small matter of the practice of the Church (in the West) for centuries. As usual, my assumption is that that has not been defective...

What will be interesting to see is whether the Holy Father and the Bishops reverse this change. One bishop is showing that it can be done - but also that it needs a lot of catechesis. But given some of the other changes that are being rolled back, I am hopeful that in time we will get there.


Ttony said...

As with so many of your recent posts, my not commenting is because I have absolutely nothing to add to an excellent summary of what's what! Keep on persevering.

Ben Trovato said...

Thanks, Ttony.

I felt the same reading your latest, but did not comment; will do so now, as it's always encouraging to know someone out there is reading - and even appreciating - what one writes!

Rusticus said...

Well said, Ben.

Another excellent reason to limit the distribution of communion under both kinds is that it prevents people from self-intincting, which is something I utterly abhor (and is,of course, forbidden).
I travel upcountry to visit my father (in sheltered accommodation) five or six times a year, and in the nearest Catholic church the practice is widespread. I try to avert my eyes, but if one's standing in the (ahem) "reverential queue" one can't help but notice - and it arouses very uncharitable thoughts just when such thoughts are least welcome.

Genty said...

Many of the innovations - Holy Communion under both kinds, EMHCs "purifying" the vessels, procession of gifts up the nave, children's liturgy - seem designed specifically to give the laity something to do (usually the same dozen).

Ben Trovato said...


We had an outbreak of self-intinction in the parish, and after some heart-searching I had a word with our PP, who had been unaware of it. The EMHCs had said nothing, of course. He let people know that intinction is allowed only if done by the priest, invited those who wanted to receive in that way to come up first - and none did. But the self-intinction stopped.


Yes, I agree they are designed in part for that facile, or even fatuous, purpose (as though that's what participation means), but I think they also serve a darker purpose of stripping us of 'popular piety' - ie the devotional practices of our forefathers. - which is loathed by liturgical professionals.