In our examination of Eucharisticum Mysterium, we now look at part II-3, treating the “Communion of the Faithful,” which will run from sections 31 through 41.
31. The faithful share more fully in the celebration of the eucharist through the sacramental communion. It is strongly recommended that they should receive it as a rule in the Mass itself and at that point in the celebration which is prescribed by the rite, that is, right after the communion of the priest celebrant. [See Sacrosanctum Concilium art. 55.]
We read of a repeated affirmation for lay people to receive hosts consecrated at the Mass they are celebrating:
In order that the communion may stand out more clearly even through signs as a participation in the sacrifice actually being celebrated, steps should be taken that enable the faithful to receive hosts consecrated at that Mass. [See Sacrosanctum Concilium art. 55. Sacred Congregation of Rites Missale Romanum, Ritus servandus in celebratione Missae, 27 Jan. 1965, no. 7.]
The practice of continuing the Mass even when people are still receiving Communion is criticized. I’ve seen this principle violated sometimes at Reconciliation form II, concluding the liturgy while penitents are still confessing.
It is proper for the priest celebrant especially to be the minister of communion; nor should he continue the Mass until the communion of the faithful has been completed. Other priests or deacons may, if need be, assist the priest celebrant. [Sacred Congregation of Rites, Rubricae Breviarii et Missalis Romani, 26 July 1960, no. 502: Acta Apostolicae Sedis 52 (1960) 680.]
I remember the childhood practice of my home parish: the deacon and other priests arriving in time to distribute Communion at our Sunday Masses. I used to wonder if they just hung out in the back till it was time. Years later I discovered they had the sound system output wired into the rectory.