Sunday, 8 February 2015

Regular Reception of Holy Communion

I have been putting a few things together recently. For example, I have just finished re-reading St Therese's autobiography (in the Knox translation, of course!).  I was struck by many things - indeed I found the whole book as moving this time as I found it dry the last time I read it, but that is another story.

One of the things that struck me was her being given permission by her confessor to receive Holy Communion. How alien that seems to the modern Church (both having a regular confessor, and not receiving Holy Communion as a matter of course at every Mass one attends).

Which reminded me of my old (Extraordinary Form) missal. The priest's communion is an indispensable part of the Mass (to the extent that if a priest dies between the consecration and the priest's communion, another priest must be found to finish the Sacrifice).  However with regard to the peoples' communion, my Missal says: Here Holy Communion is administered, should there be any of the Faithful desirous of receiving it, and should the Mass be one in which Holy Communion can conveniently be given. Again, how alien to our experience!

And then I reflected on the recent Papal Masses and the scandal of the Blessed Sacrament being passed from hand to hand.

I reflected on the clamour to admit the divorced and 're-married' to Communion.

I reflected on my own practice, receiving Communion as casually as any other activity in my life.

I reflected on the fact that I rarely have to queue for confession.

And I wonder if somewhere along the line, we have lost sight of why, traditionally,  receiving Holy Communion was not such a regular occurrence.  That is not to say that I am not in favour of regular reception; but I do think that we should think rather more about what we are doing, our unworthiness to approach the altar, and the need for preparation before (including regular sacramental confession) and thanksgiving afterwards.

Or it could just be that our Faith, individually and collectively, is weakened; that our vocations start to dry up; that our young people start to drift away; that our older people lose the fervour of Faith and start to embrace ever more flakey ideas...  Of course, it couldn't happen, could it...

1 comment:

Lazarus said...

I offer the following not as good theology but simply as psychological observation. I quite regularly attend weekday Masses without taking communion (usually because, distracted, I've gulped down a coffee and won't meet the hour's fast!). In some ways, I find spiritual communion a relief: there is something so terrifying about approaching Christ that there is a relief in not having to screw one's courage up...

Now, I know there's a lot wrong with that attitude, and I'm not trying to defend it. (And frankly I don't always feel it.) But abstaining from communion (on good grounds) does allow sometimes the space for something of the awe-fulness of the act of communion to become manifest.