Sacra Tridentina 6-8: A Post-Tridentine Back-and-Forth

Just a reminder to those following this document: the paragraphs are not numbered in the text on the EWTN site. The document is not long, however. I hope you’re able to follow along.

In yesterday’s post, the threat of jansenism is described. But jansenism did not have the only word in the debate:

Some, however, went over to the opposite view. They held that daily Communion was prescribed by divine law and that no day should pass without communicating, and besides other practices not in accord with the approved usage of the Church, they determined that the Eucharist must be received even on Good Friday and in fact so administered it.

And this view regarding Good Friday is with us today.

Toward these conditions, the Holy See did not fail in its duty. A Decree of this Sacred Congregation which begins with the words Cum ad aures, issued on February 12, 1679, with the approbation of Pope Innocent XI, condemned these errors, and put a stop to such abuses; at the same time it declared that all the faithful of whatsoever class, merchants or married persons not at all excepted, could be admitted to frequent Communion according to the devotion of each one and the judgment of his confessor. Then on December 7, 1690, by the Decree of Pope Alexander VIII, Sanctissimus Dominus noster, the proposition of Baius was condemned, requiring a most pure love of God, without any admixture of defect, on the part of those who wished to approach the Holy Table.

The poison of Jansenism, however, which, under the pretext of showing due honor and reverence to the Eucharist, had infected the minds even of good men, was by no means a thing of the past. The question as to the dispositions for the proper and licit reception of Holy Communion survived the declarations of the Holy See, and it was a fact that certain theologians of good repute were of the opinion that daily Communion could be permitted to the faithful only rarely and subject to many conditions.

This is a careful and prudent assessment. It serves the present-day Church little good to ferret out the whiff of heresy or lesser errors at the cost of a historical reputation. In the same way, infrequent Communion cannot and should not be defended by protesting, “Saint so-and-so advocated it.” Best to recognize the promotion of infrequent Communion as a spiritual error and focus on the needs of the present age, allowing for bishops, pastors, spiritual directors, and parents to promote the reception of the sacraments as best as they/we are able.

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About catholicsensibility

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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