Sacrosanctum Concilium 55

This first paragraph drives the concern of many liturgists. It’s still ignored in many places:

That more perfect form of participation in the Mass whereby the faithful, after the priest’s communion, receive the Lord’s body from the same sacrifice, is strongly commended.

We have the germ of the notion of communion under both forms laid down here:

The dogmatic principles which were laid down by the Council of Trent remaining intact (Session XXI, July 16, 1562. Doctrine on Communion under Both Species, chap. 1-3: Condlium Tridentinum. Diariorum, Actorum, Epistolarum, Tractatuum nova collectio ed. Soc. Goerresiana, tome VIII (Freiburg in Br., 1919), 698-699.), communion under both kinds may be granted when the bishops think fit, not only to clerics and religious, but also to the laity, in cases to be determined by the Apostolic See, as, for instance, to the newly ordained in the Mass of their sacred ordination, to the newly professed in the Mass of their religious profession, and to the newly baptized in the Mass which follows their baptism.

The former point if often overlooked in parishes. Maybe people don’t think it would have all that great an impact, but it serves to underscore receiving Communion as a ritual or devotional act distinct from the celebration of Mass. And on the latter, you wouldn’t expect me to disagree, would you?

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Todd and his family live in Ames, Iowa. He serves a Catholic parish of both Iowa State students and town residents.
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6 Responses to Sacrosanctum Concilium 55

  1. Let me say this as someone who has earnestly tried to implement this: it’s not easy!

    We have Mass on Saturday evening; we know to expect a certain number; however, that number can easily vary by a hundred or more, for any number of reasons, including some unknown to me. Last Saturday, for example, the Ohio State game meant a drop in Saturday attendance.

    In addition, even where I can anticipate the right number of folks receiving communion, it is not practical to consecrate a number of hosts too close to that number: because when I’m distributing hosts to several bowls, for those assisting me, it’s awkward when I have to get hosts from them, or they, from me. Especially at my one parish, where we have two people distributing the host from the back of church (I know, I could change that; but not this week).

    So–I aim to consecrate enough extra for (a) those extra folks I don’t anticipate coming to Mass and (b) to assure that those distributing the hosts don’t run out until we’re nearly finished distributing the Eucharist.

    That means, most of the time, I’ll be putting a significant remainder of the Blessed Sacrament into the tabernacle, on Saturday evening. There will, of course, already be some hosts there; a parish can’t afford to let the reserved sacrament go too low. If there was a wedding or funeral that day, or a day or two earlier, then the reserved Sacrament will be even more plentiful.

    And the same will happen at the 7 am Mass; and the 10:30 . . .

    And if I do that all week long?

    You see the problem.

    The solution I’ve hit upon is to plan for more than needed at the first two Masses, and then adjust at the last Mass, by intending to go to the tabernacle as needed.

    At one parish, we only have one weekday Mass in the church (the school Mass); at the other parish, every weekday Mass is in church. At weekday Masses, I generally don’t consecrate enough for that Mass, because otherwise, when would the Eucharist consecrated at Sunday Mass be consumed? (The idea of the priest consuming the excess at the end of Mass is simply crazy when you are talking about 100+ hosts after each Sunday Mass!)

    By the way, there are other, practical considerations, dealing with more than one priest and their preferences and habits, dealing with volunteer sacristans and not wanting to throw them too many variations so that they never know what’s “usual,” etc.

    Finally, I have spent a fair amount of energy on this — and at some point, I have to say, this’ll do, and give energy to 100 other things.

  2. Fr Fox, I hear you on this. We have sacristans who perform a count of every Sunday Mass. The only concession is that when we do go to the tabernacle, we do it during the Communion procession–tabernacle ciboria never make it to the altar.

  3. Anne says:

    Just curious Todd, do you (EM’s) go to the tabernacle right away when the communion procession begins or, if needed, do you wait until you run out of hosts?

  4. The sacristan, who does not distribute Communion, monitors, and brings the reserved Eucharist from the tabernacle if needed.

  5. Tony says:

    Does having a tabernacle in the sanctuary facilitate the logistics of this?

  6. Todd says:

    I don’t think it matters, unless you have an enormous church.

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