Redemptionis Sacramentum 165

Picking up on yesterday’s discussion of Sunday celebrations in the absence of a priest:

[165.] It is necessary to avoid any sort of confusion between this type of gathering and the celebration of the Eucharist.[Cf. Congregation for Divine Worship, Directory for Sunday Celebrations in the Absence of a Priest, Christi Ecclesia, n. 22] The diocesan Bishops, therefore, should prudently discern whether Holy Communion ought to be distributed in these gatherings. The matter would appropriately be determined in view of a more ample co-ordination in the Bishops’ Conference, to be put into effect after the recognitio of the acts by the Apostolic See through the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments. It will be preferable, moreover, when both a Priest and a Deacon are absent, that the various parts be distributed among several faithful rather than having a single lay member of the faithful direct the whole celebration alone. Nor is it ever appropriate to refer to any member of the lay faithful as “presiding” over the celebration.

Confusion–that’s an interesting point to avoid. When people have the focus on being “serviced” by the clergy, of expecting Communion to be distributed, then a Word & Communion Sunday liturgy compares favorably to Mass: no Eucharistic Prayer, and perhaps no homily. American minimalism gives a somewhat attractive sheen to this liturgy. Sometimes a Sunday liturgy led by a deacon or lay person is more attractive in the sense of more attention to liturgy, welcome, and preaching. And better quality than some priests are able to provide.

Is this a cause for jealousy, for theological concern? One would think we ordain the very best of preachers, liturgists, and pastoral people. If this were true, perhaps there would be fewer concerns about lay leadership being compared favorably to priests.

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About catholicsensibility

Todd and his family live in Ames, Iowa. He serves a Catholic parish of both Iowa State students and town residents.
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