A Liturgical Stinginess

Father Paul Gunter has an unimpressive liturgical essay up on Zenit. A few key paragraphs:

Not infrequently, essential lack of Eucharistic awareness is revealed when, for want of formation, commissioned extraordinary ministers make reference to “giving out the wine.” This very terminology suggests that, as part of their proper training, the dogmatic principle of Trent was not absorbed.

I agree that terminology is important. I’m not so sure that in more relaxed and informal circumstances, that people simply don’t match their words to their faith or their theological understanding. Every Communion Minister I’ve ever worked with is certainly aware of the nature of the Eucharist with which they are entrusted. But sometimes words fail. It’s also probably more suggestive of a pragmatism. I hear clergy use casual terms in casual circumstances.

The real problem would be if a CM presented the chalice and said, “Here’s the wine.” More usual is “The Blood of Christ.” Coupled with a reverent awareness, that is most satisfactory to me. I would no more suggest that lay people be denied Communion under both forms than I would suggest it for a priest. And heaven knows I’ve heard enough over the years to merit that, and more.

It sounds restrictive to suggest that Holy Communion received fervently under one species is more fruitful than a tepid Communion received under both species when concrete objectives aimed at doctrinal formation, care and reverence in the liturgical celebration and organizational forethought could do so much to acknowledge and address the challenges that have arisen.

And yes, this sounds needlessly restrictive.

It is best when Holy Communion is received fervently, reverently under both species. It is even required for celebrating priests. It’s not that the grace is more abundant under both forms or within Holy Orders, but that the incarnate Christ presents a more full experience to the believer. And God knows we need all the grace we are offered.

Tepid practice or understanding is best corrected by the excellent example of clergy and other Communion ministers–whoever is part of the ordinary experience of believers in a faith community.

Frankly, I don’t see the significance of Trent in Fr Gunter’s discussion. The institution narrative of the Eucharistic Prayer, derived from the Last Supper Gospels are the most relevant texts. Really, considering the good example of clergy and others, coupled with faith, and added to the very texts of the liturgy, the grace Christ offers will be substantive enough. That the liturgy itself speaks of bread and a cup–the ordinary accidents of what we know is a true reality–should not be a cause for alarm. Neither do I think manufactured rumors of abuses merit too much attention.


About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in the Pacific Northwest, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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