Redemptionis Sacramentum 92-95

How do ordinary lay people receive Communion? In the hand or on the tongue, with a caution:

[92.] Although each of the faithful always has the right to receive Holy Communion on the tongue, at his choice,[Cf. GIRM 161] if any communicant should wish to receive the Sacrament in the hand, in areas where the Bishops’ Conference with the recognitio of the Apostolic See has given permission, the sacred host is to be administered to him or her. However, special care should be taken to ensure that the host is consumed by the communicant in the presence of the minister, so that no one goes away carrying the Eucharistic species in his hand. If there is a risk of profanation, then Holy Communion should not be given in the hand to the faithful.[Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, Dubium: Notitiae 35 (1999) pp. 160-161]

The judgment of risk is always difficult. Taking Communion in the mouth is no guarantee if a person had a strong intent for sacrilege or other similar purpose. But it tends to rule out a casual or accidental point of inappropriateness.

I was unaware of the suggestion of the plate:

[93.] The Communion-plate for the Communion of the faithful should be retained, so as to avoid the danger of the sacred host or some fragment of it falling.[Cf. GIRM 118]

Communion ministers in my parishes have always been oriented as to what to do should something fall, spill, or be dropped. There’s not much of a difference if something lands on the floor or on a plate. Most plates I’ve seen are small and shiny, and there’s more of a danger, perhaps, of a host sliding off. It would require an additional number of lay ministers, in some places a number beyond the available altar servers. This sort of thing is really best left for a parish to determine.

[94.] It is not licit for the faithful “to take . . . by themselves . . . and, still less, to hand . . . from one to another” the sacred host or the sacred chalice. [Cf. GIRM 160] Moreover, in this regard, the abuse is to be set aside whereby spouses administer Holy Communion to each other at a Nuptial Mass.

Spouses giving one another Communion: I’ve seen it, but not too often. It strikes me as possibly a poor idea, and not quite to the level of “abuse.”

The question comes up often for Saturday worshipers, and the occasional liturgical minister:

[95.] A lay member of Christ’s faithful “who has already received the Most Holy Eucharist may receive it again on the same day only within a Eucharistic Celebration in which he or she is participating, with due regard for the prescriptions of can. 921 § 2.” [Cf. Code of Canon Law 917; Pontifical Commission for the Authentic Interpretation of the Code of Canon Law, Response to Dubium, 11 July 1984: AAS 76 (1984) p. 746]

Twice in a day is acceptable, provided one is “participating” in the second Mass. I would interpret that as being at Mass in the assembly, and not necessarily in a serving role. A Saturday wedding or funeral, plus the Saturday night Mass comes to mind as the most common example. A music minister on duty at two weekend Masses, another.


About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in Minnesota, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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4 Responses to Redemptionis Sacramentum 92-95

  1. Spouses giving one another Communion: I’ve seen it, but not too often. It strikes me as possibly a poor idea, and not quite to the level of “abuse.”

    It strikes me as an apt liturgical enactment of both :
    – the marriage as the domestic church, and
    – the ultimate end of sacramental marriage: all sacraments are ordered towards deepening union with Christ, and sacramental marriage is particularly ordered towards deepening one’s union with Christ by means of one’s union with one’s spouse.

    As the bride and groom have administered the sacrament of marriage to each other, it seems theologically coherent to me that they might also serve as extraordinary ministers of communion to each other. And, perhaps, also to the assembly, as a liturgical enactment, sign, and symbol, of the fruitfulness of marital love and service flowing into outwardly-directed love and service to the church and world.

  2. Liam says:

    The communion plate has been making a comeback in some places over the last decade. I had noticed that when RS was issued. My mother, whose physical needs regarding communion have varied over the last decade, would be relieved to have someone with a communion plate at the ready, for she would be mortified beyond belief if she dropped the host from either her hand or even tongue (it can happen either way). Having listened to others on this point, I realize she’s not alone, so I find the paten should not be viewed only through the lens of scrupulosity but also through another layer of hospitality, out of left field as that might seem on first impression.

  3. Abel says:

    #93 regarding the plate is not a suggestion.

    You have to look at the Latin to see that it is not “should be retained” but “must be retained”

    The English translators softened the meaning of the word

    [93.] Patina pro Communione fidelium oportet retineatur, ad vitandum periculum ut hostia sacra vel quoddam eius fragmentum cadat.

    • Todd says:

      A reminder that the English translation of this (and every) document has been Vatican-approved. The English “should” is an authorized communication from Rome. In places where servers or seminarians need busy work, I suppose when we’re done with the pandemic, why not. But I don’t anticipate this piece that lies between a directive and a suggestion getting much attention.

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