Redemptionis Sacramentum 88-91

RS 88-96 addresses “The distribution of Holy Communion.” The first section is problematic on a few fronts, so let’s start here:

[88.] The faithful should normally receive sacramental Communion of the Eucharist during Mass itself, at the moment laid down by the rite of celebration, that is to say, just after the Priest celebrant’s Communion.[Cf. Sacrosanctum Concilium 55] It is the Priest celebrant’s responsibility to minister Communion, perhaps assisted by other Priests or Deacons; and he should not resume the Mass until after the Communion of the faithful is concluded. Only when there is a necessity may extraordinary ministers assist the Priest celebrant in accordance with the norm of law. [Cf. Eucharisticum mysterium 31; Pontifical Commission for the  Authentic  Interpretation of  the Code of Canon Law, Response to dubium, 1 June 1988]

The distribution of the Eucharist is part of the celebration of Mass. The suggestion that it is not, that somehow a liturgy must be “resumed” is a grave theological error. It is likely more an awkward phrase than an outright error, but theologians have been called out on more stickler points.

Institutional nervousness on lay Communion Ministers is well known, and has been endlessly commented on here and in many other places. The parish pastor is the ideal cleric to determine the necessity of lay ministers. Not the CDWDS.

On the other hand, this is a good matter to state as a “preference.”

[89.] “So that even by means of the signs Communion may stand out more clearly as a participation in the Sacrifice being celebrated”,[GIRM 85] it is preferable that the faithful be able to receive hosts consecrated in the same Mass.[Cf. Sacrosanctum Concilium 55; Eucharisticum Mysterium 31; GIRM 85, 157, 243]

RS 90 is also a good reminder, but it must be said that the reception of Communion, standing, kneeling, sitting, or prone should always be reverential. And meaningful.

[90.] “The faithful should receive Communion kneeling or standing, as the Conference of Bishops will have determined”, with its acts having received the recognitio of the Apostolic See. “However, if they receive Communion standing, it is recommended that they give due reverence before the reception of the Sacrament, as set forth in the same norms”.[Cf. GIRM 160]

A good reminder:

[91.] In distributing Holy Communion it is to be remembered that “sacred ministers may not deny the sacraments to those who seek them in a reasonable manner, are rightly disposed, and are not prohibited by law from receiving them”.[Code of Canon Law 843 § 1; cf. 915.] Hence any baptized Catholic who is not prevented by law must be admitted to Holy Communion. Therefore, it is not licit to deny Holy Communion to any of Christ’s faithful solely on the grounds, for example, that the person wishes to receive the Eucharist kneeling or standing.

Denying Communion based on posture is petty, regardless of the circumstances. Generally, it should be left to the communicant to determine, and on that point, I agree with the CDWDS.

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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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