CNS picks up this story as today’s headliner, that Bishop William F. Murphy of Rockville Centre (Long Island) has ordered an end to Communion services that replace daily Mass on a parish schedule. Liturgy that brings Communion to the sick is still permitted. Deadline: July 1st.
I’ve agreed with this position for years. Communion services are a modern invention. I’m not convinced they are worthy to be added to an ordinary schedule in a parish. Even liturgies in which communion is distributed to the sick are rooted, in theory, in the community’s celebration of Eucharist.
Many bishops are reticent about ending a practice that contributes to the devotion (or the attendance) of lay people at parish daily prayer. Bishop Murphy will have some complainers, no doubt. His clergy will field a lot of that. I was a little bothered by some of the clergy comments reported:
Father Lawrence Duncklee, pastor of Our Lady of Good Counsel Church in Inwood, N.Y., had prepared a statement for the parish staff in anticipation of the letter. He said he had observed “a great disrespect for the Eucharist” in some parts of the diocese.
“What I’ve taught for the 28 years I’ve been a priest is that the Mass is the celebration of the community,” he said. “So the body of Christ which we consecrate is the body of Christ which we become.”
Father Charles M. Ehrhart:
“It’s extremely timely,” he said. “It’s very, very apropos in the attempt to avoid abuses of the sacrament.”
I think it’s one thing to examine a practice begun with good intentions for the spiritual benefit of the Church and make a serious discernment twenty, thirty years out. It’s another to cloud the issue by lobbing unwarranted criticism. A few non-clergy opinions would have been a welcome inclusion to the story.
The bishop had a proper sense of gratitude:
This new policy must not be seen as ‘taking something away’ from the laity. Those persons, lay and religious, who have led such celebrations in their parishes are to be thanked for the reverent way they have conducted these services.
What’s the alternative? Liturgy of the Hours.