I announced last week, since many people are sick, we will not be having Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion giving out the Precious Blood during Mass. I would like to take the opportunity to write a few words on reception of the Holy Eucharist under one kind. The Holy Eucharist is a sacrifice, the sacrifice of Jesus Christ Himself to the Father. Therefore, communion under both kind by the priest offering the sacrifice in persona christi (in the person of Christ as per his ordination) is of paramount importance for the integrity and, according to some theologians, the essence, of the sacrificial rite. Therefore the priest can never omit receiving from both kinds because of the sacrificial precept of Christ: "Do this in commemoration of me" (Luke 22:19). This is taught implicitly by the Council of Trent (XXI,c.i; XXII,c.i).
However, there is no Divine precept binding the laity or non-celebrating priests to receive the sacrament under both kinds (Trent, XXI,c.i.). This is because through the hypostatic union (the uniting of the human and Divine natures of Jesus Christ) and the indivisibility of His glorified humanity, Christ is really present, and so, if one receives either the Precious Blood, or the Sacred Host, or both, one receives the fullness of Jesus Christ. All the graces of the sacrament are therefore fully present, including those necessary for salvation (Trent, XXI,c.,iii).
I’d also like to note that only having communion for the faithful under one kind is not going back to the ‘old ways.’ In fact, it may be good here to explain why for centuries it wasn’t allowed to have the precious blood for anyone other than the priest celebrant. It is good to note as well here that on account of the “keys” given to St Peter by Our Lord Jesus Christ (Matt 16:19), that the Church has authority to determine or modify the rites and usages employed in administration of all the Sacraments (excepting the substance of the sacraments which has been strictly determined by Jesus’ Divine institution or precept) for the good of the faithful and to protect the sacraments themselves against irreverence . Therefore the Council of Trent stated that not only is Communion under both kinds not obligatory on the faithful, but at that time the chalice was strictly forbidden to any but the celebrating priest. This was because the Protestant Reformers of the sixteenth century denied the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist and denounced the Sacrifice of the Mass. These Reformers said Jesus’ words obliged the faithful to receive under both kinds and claimed that it was simply wine and bread that reminded us of Jesus or that He was there in spirit. The Church therefore mandated communion under one species primarily to reinforce the belief that Jesus is truly present, Body, Blood, Soul and DIvinity in every particle, no matter what kind one receives.
So, receiving from only one kind should actually increase our faith in the True Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist! I pray that we all increase in our faith and love for our Eucharistic Lord!
I’d like to continue to look at composure, which really is the act of being present because it is so important for each of us in celebrating the Liturgy.
June 27-29 of 2014 was a whirlwind of a weekend for me, but it was so wonderful because it was that Friday that I was ordained a priest of Jesus Christ. I was exceedingly thankful to God for all the graces poured out. I had been given so many personal graces of peace and joy that it was easy (and a magnification of these graces) to be present to each person who I spent time with that weekend. This included being present to each of the hundreds of people who lined up to receive a personal blessing from me.
So many waited in line for my blessing because of the beautiful Catholic tradition to receive a personal blessing and kiss the hands of the priest while the you can still smell the Chrism on them. Most certainly there is a special grace received in receiving this blessing and it is also a wonderful way to thank God that He continues to make himself present to us through the Sacraments at the hands of His priests.
It was wonderful to speak for a moment with each person followed by the blessing. Being present to that moment made each of our joy overflow and made us aware of God’s presence in that time immediately after my ordination. I, and each of those people, was really present to God and therefore to each other.
This stands in juxtaposition to a conversation I had at my new parish. They told me that when a certain prelate visited the parish, he was shaking everyone’s hand after Mass while looking and talking to someone else. In other words, he was NOT present to those he was greeting! He was doing an act that is supposed to say, “I am present to you,” but clearly, he was just going through the motions. Even though he was a priest and bishop, he was not present, did not have composure.
It is very tempting for us to enter into Mass the same way. We forget to be present to the King of the Universe, who makes Himself humbly present in the tabernacle and in the Holy Mass. We are thinking about other things then where we are and what we are doing.
We need to make a conscious choice to be present to God, to have composure. To genuflect purposefully, the make the sign of the cross thoughtfully and prayerfully, to kneel reverently, to unite our prayers inwardly to Christ’s and the Church’s during the Eucharistic Prayer. To recognize inwardly that we are in the presence of Almighty God, whom we love. It is only then that we can really begin to assist at Holy Mass, that we can reap the joy and life God wants desperately (to the point of dying!) to pour out on us.
God bless you!