This following section on receiving communion deserves some attention. As with many documents, even Sacrosanctum Concilium, this section represents an evolving approach to liturgical ministry. Unlike the snapshot quotes bandied about by both traditionalists and progressives, we have to view these developments as … well … part of an organic development in pastoral ministry. We should remember that some post-conciliar liturgical experiments bore fruit and merited further movement.
6. In its sacramental sign value communion under both kinds expresses a more complete sharing by the faithful. (See GIRM 240. a.-e. ) Its concession has as limits the determinations of the General Instruction of the Roman Missal (242) and the norm of the Instruction of the Congregation for Divine Worship, Sacramentali Communione, on the extension of the faculty for administering communion under both kinds, 29 June 1970.
a. Ordinaries are not to grant blanket permission but, within the limits set by the conference of bishops, are to specify the instances and celebrations for this form of communion. To be excluded are occasions when the number of communicants is great. The permission should be for specific, structured, and homogeneous assemblies.
b. A thorough catechesis is to precede admittance to communion under both kinds so that the people will fully perceive its significance. c. Priests, deacons, or acolytes who have received institution should be present to offer communion from the chalice. If there are none of these present, the rite is to be carried out by the celebrant as it is set out in the General Instruction of the Roman Missal 245.
c. The method of having the communicants pass the chalice from one to another or having them go directly to the chalice to receive the precious blood does not seem advisable. Instead of this, communion should be by intinction.
d. The first minister of communion is the priest celebrant, next deacons, then acolytes, in particular cases to be determined by the competent authority. The Holy See has the power to permit the appointment of other known and worthy persons as ministers, if they have received a mandate. Those lacking this mandate cannot distribute communion or carry the vessels containing the blessed sacrament.
The manner of distributing communion is to conform to the directives of the General Instruction of the Roman Missal (244-252) and of the 29 June 1970 Instruction of this Congregation. Should there be any concession of a manner of distribution differing from the usual, the conditions the Apostolic See lays down are to be observed.
e. Wherever, for want of priests, other persons—for example, catechists in mission areas—receive from the bishop, with the concurrence of the Apostolic See, the right to celebrate the liturgy of the word and distribute communion, they are to refrain absolutely from reciting the eucharistic prayer. Should it seem desirable to read the institution narrative, they should make it a reading in the liturgy of the word. In the kind of assemblies in question, then, the recitation of the Lord’s Prayer and the distribution of holy communion with the prescribed rite immediately follow the liturgy of the word.
f. Whatever the manner of distributing, great care is to be taken for its dignified, devout, and decorous administration and for forestalling any danger of irreverence. There is to be due regard for the character of the liturgical assembly and for the age, circumstances, and degree of preparation of the recipients. (See Instruction Sacra communione, 29 June 1970, 6.)
Note that all GIRM references are to the 1969 edition: I didn’t bother to update them here.
How to sum it up? What about this:
- Receiving Communion under the form of both bread and wine is a more complete sharing. In later years, it will be described as a “more perfect” expression.
- National conferences and individual bishops, not pastors, will set the boundaries.
- Proper catechesis is essential.
- Intinction preferred over drinking.
- Provisions are made for extraordinary ministers, but at Word services with Communion, the institution narrative is only permitted as a reading.
- Caution against irreverence