Services of Word and Communion in the absence of a priest.

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JW
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Services of Word and Communion in the absence of a priest.

Post by JW » Thu Nov 01, 2018 12:25 pm

In our parish, we have a service of the the Word and Communion, led by a Eucharistic Minister, on our priest's day off each week. The appropriate guidelines are contained in a Liturgy Office document entitled Celebrations of the Word and Communion on Sundays and weekdays in the absence of a priest. I am hearing that some dioceses are prohibiting such services.

Surely bishops are accountable to ensure provision of the Word and Communion for all who desire it? A shortage of priests isn't really a good enough excuse. What are our bishops doing to ensure that people have convenient access to a sacramental life?

Can anyone clarify what is going on here and the reasons for it?
JW

blackthorn fairy
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Re: Services of Word and Communion in the absence of a priest.

Post by blackthorn fairy » Thu Nov 01, 2018 12:44 pm

I don't understand - if the Service of Word and Communion is pukka (and guidelines from the Liturgy Office would seem to suggest this) why should any diocese want to prohibit its use?

alan29
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Re: Services of Word and Communion in the absence of a priest.

Post by alan29 » Thu Nov 01, 2018 3:36 pm

Something to do with protecting the uniqueness of the Mass and the dividing line between priests and the rest of us?

Southern Comfort
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Re: Services of Word and Communion in the absence of a priest.

Post by Southern Comfort » Thu Nov 01, 2018 4:29 pm

It's about differentiating between Mass and other services, and also about trying to maintain the iink between Communion and the action of the Eucharist (Mass). If you can always "get" Communion, why have Mass?

Some dioceses have banned services of Word and Communion on weekdays (I gather Clifton may be one of them); others have banned them on Sundays except in emergencies (that was the case in Portsmouth under the previous bishop; I don't know if it is still true).

Talking of Portsmouth, that diocese issued a very useful document in 2008 answering some of the questions that arise:

https://www.dropbox.com/s/5trl6c41hqtgp ... t.pdf?dl=0

From this it is clear that bishops are asked to think long and hard about whether, if such services are held, Communion ought to be distributed at them at all.

High Peak
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Re: Services of Word and Communion in the absence of a priest.

Post by High Peak » Fri Nov 02, 2018 12:42 pm

I am going to go out on a limb here and say that I have never been very comfortable with Services of Word and Communion during the week - they feel to me as being "Mass-light", following almost the precise pattern of the Mass but 'without the bit in the middle'.
For a great many Catholics, the only liturgy with which they are familiar is the Mass. While in no way wishing to relegate the importance and centrality of the Mass, the absence of a priest seems to me a wonderful opportunity to introduce to our communities other ways of praying, thus enriching the faith and vitality of our communities.

JW
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Re: Services of Word and Communion in the absence of a priest.

Post by JW » Fri Nov 02, 2018 4:50 pm

Thanks for all the interesting comments so far. SC I'm unable to access the link, perhaps because I'm in Android. In my view, the Church in Europe needs to make urgent plans for dioceses with only a dozen or so active priests. Heads are buried in the sand. The solution of merging or closing parishes tends to break up the community. An alternative solution seems to be the importation of priests and this has caused serious problems in some parishes as well.

Most churches put on additional celebrations e.g. Adoration, Rosary, Stations, Morning Prayer, but these are very poorly attended compared to Masses. I suspect that many just aren't interested in them.

Why are so many retired bishops challenging the status quo? Why didn't they speak up when in office? Uness some real leadership is provided, I believe we are hurtling towards oblivion, smug in the belief the 'the gates of hell shall not prevail'. The medieval Church never saw the Reformation and Counter Reformation coming. The establishment of Jesus time were secure in the promise of the everlasting Covenant and couldn't see what was about to happen to them.

From the cardinal's homily and comments on abuse at Adoremus, I suspect he is very aware that something has to change in the church. However, what will he actually do?

I hate to say it, but it looks to me as though clericalism is to blame again. A matter of denying people Communion unless a priest is present. And that priest must be celibate, male and have undergone 7 years or so of training.
JW

High Peak
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Re: Services of Word and Communion in the absence of a priest.

Post by High Peak » Fri Nov 02, 2018 10:56 pm

JW wrote:
Fri Nov 02, 2018 4:50 pm
I hate to say it, but it looks to me as though clericalism is to blame again. A matter of denying people Communion unless a priest is present. And that priest must be celibate, male and have undergone 7 years or so of training.
Clericalism and the damage it is doing to the Church is something that I have become increasing aware of in recent years.

Keraulophon
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Re: Services of Word and Communion in the absence of a priest.

Post by Keraulophon » Sat Nov 03, 2018 9:17 am

Some months ago, I discovered by chance that - after taking place for a decade or more - weekday services with distribution of Communion had ceased in my parish, even when a neighbouring deacon was available to preside. Regular attendees are of the opinion that this ban had followed the arrival of a message from the Archbishop.

Wondering about this, I found information that was disseminated by a USA bishop earlier this year, quoting from an Instruction on the Eucharist issued by the Congregation for Divine Worship and Discipline of the Sacraments on March 25, 2004:

"It is necessary to avoid any sort of confusion between this type of gathering (Communion Service without Mass) and the celebration of the Eucharist. The diocesan Bishops, therefore, should prudently discern whether Holy Communion ought to be distributed in these gatherings."
"Likewise, especially if Holy Communion is distributed during such celebrations, the diocesan Bishop, to whose exclusive competence this matter pertains, must not easily grant permission for such celebrations to be held on weekdays, especially in places where it was possible or would be possible to have the celebration of Mass on the preceding or the following Sunday. Priests are therefore earnestly requested to celebrate Mass daily for the people in one of the churches entrusted to their care."

Apparently it is believed that we lay folk are very easily confused!

alan29
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Re: Services of Word and Communion in the absence of a priest.

Post by alan29 » Sat Nov 03, 2018 11:10 am

Keraulophon wrote:
Sat Nov 03, 2018 9:17 am
Some months ago, I discovered by chance that - after taking place for a decade or more - weekday services with distribution of Communion had ceased in my parish, even when a neighbouring deacon was available to preside. Regular attendees are of the opinion that this ban had followed the arrival of a message from the Archbishop.

Wondering about this, I found information that was disseminated by a USA bishop earlier this year, quoting from an Instruction on the Eucharist issued by the Congregation for Divine Worship and Discipline of the Sacraments on March 25, 2004:

"It is necessary to avoid any sort of confusion between this type of gathering (Communion Service without Mass) and the celebration of the Eucharist. The diocesan Bishops, therefore, should prudently discern whether Holy Communion ought to be distributed in these gatherings."
"Likewise, especially if Holy Communion is distributed during such celebrations, the diocesan Bishop, to whose exclusive competence this matter pertains, must not easily grant permission for such celebrations to be held on weekdays, especially in places where it was possible or would be possible to have the celebration of Mass on the preceding or the following Sunday. Priests are therefore earnestly requested to celebrate Mass daily for the people in one of the churches entrusted to their care."

Apparently it is believed that we lay folk are very easily confused!
"These gatherings" is so very dismissive. Quite a put-down.

Southern Comfort
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Re: Services of Word and Communion in the absence of a priest.

Post by Southern Comfort » Sat Nov 03, 2018 4:12 pm

Here is the full text at the link:
Celebrations in the Absence of a Priest

Many people are familiar with what used to be called “Eucharistic Services”, today more often (and more accurately) known as “Services of Word and Communion”. These first started around the time of the 1973 Rite of Distributing Holy Communion outside Mass, which for the first time included a Liturgy of the Word as an integral part of the normal celebration. Many different types of services have flourished on an unofficial basis ever since, as a substitute for weekday Mass. This 1973 rite was envisaged for use in occasional circumstances, “when Mass is not celebrated or when communion is not distributed at scheduled times”.

In 1988 the Church provided further guidance on such services, which had started to take place occasionally on Sundays. The Directory on Sunday Celebrations in the Absence of a Priest, which in some respects supersedes and changes the provisions of the 1973 document, gave general guidelines, but left the details to be determined by local bishops (para 24) and Bishops’ Conferences (para 7). However, the Directory is quite clear on the value of communities gathering together on the Lord’s Day, even when Mass cannot be celebrated. If Communion is to be distributed, it should be brought from another Mass celebrated elsewhere in the locality on the same Sunday (para 47). This is in line with the General Instruction on the Roman Missal, which since 1969 has strongly recommended that Communion should not be distributed from the tabernacle but that everyone should receive from bread consecrated at the Mass at which they are present, so that it stands out more clearly as a participation in the sacrifice actually being celebrated (GIRM 1969, para 56h = GIRM 2002, para 85).
The Directory does not provide a complete rite, and does not refer to celebrations on weekdays.

Since 1988 there has been much debate throughout the worldwide Church about the wisdom of such services. There are two principal areas for concern:
(a) These services can tend to diminish or even remove in the minds of some people the connection between receiving Communion and the eucharistic action of the Mass itself. When Communion is available separately from Mass on a large scale, it risks no longer being seen as a culmination of the celebration of the sacrifice of the Mass, but simply as something to be obtained separately. Receiving Communion may become personal, rather than an act of the whole community.
Theologically, the graces we receive from Communion outside Mass are not the same as the graces we receive from Communion as part of the celebration of Mass, though most people are unaware of this.
(b) These services can look very similar to Mass, and so cause confusion in the minds of some people. The 1988 Directory had already warned the Church about this (para 22). Our temporary diocesan version (2002) of an interim draft national rite (1996) encouraged people to make a real distinction between these services and the celebration of Mass.

The most recent Roman instruction on the subject, Redemptionis Sacramentum (2004), says the following:
(1) “If participation at the celebration of the Eucharist is impossible on account of the absence of a sacred minister or for some other grave cause, then it is the Christian people’s right that the diocesan Bishop should provide as far as he is able for some celebration to be held on Sundays for that community under his authority and according to the Church’s norms. Sunday celebrations of this specific kind, however, are to be considered altogether extraordinary.” (para 164)
[The nature of such “extraordinary” Sunday celebrations is not specified.]
(2) “It is necessary to avoid any sort of confusion between this type of gathering and the celebration of the Eucharist. The diocesan Bishops, therefore, should prudently discern whether Holy Communion ought to be distributed in these gatherings.” (para 165)
[Therefore it cannot be said that anyone has the “right” to receive Communion at these services.]
(3) “Likewise, especially if Holy Communion is distributed during such celebrations, the diocesan Bishop, to whose exclusive competence this matter pertains, must not easily grant permission for such celebrations to be held on weekdays, especially in places where it was possible or would be possible to have the celebration of Mass on the preceding or the following Sunday.” (para 166)
[This points us once again towards the centrality of Sunday Eucharist, rather than simply obtaining Communion outside Mass.]

JW
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Re: Services of Word and Communion in the absence of a priest.

Post by JW » Sat Nov 03, 2018 7:52 pm

Southern Comfort, thank you for that.
JW

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Nick Baty
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Re: Services of Word and Communion in the absence of a priest.

Post by Nick Baty » Sat Nov 03, 2018 8:35 pm

On a slight tangent, I have never really understood the distribution of communion on Good Friday – again, outside Mass.

Southern Comfort
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Re: Services of Word and Communion in the absence of a priest.

Post by Southern Comfort » Sat Nov 03, 2018 10:48 pm

Nick Baty wrote:
Sat Nov 03, 2018 8:35 pm
On a slight tangent, I have never really understood the distribution of communion on Good Friday – again, outside Mass.
Historically, Communion for hundreds of years was not distributed on Good Friday until the recent reforms of the Holy Week rites. For many centuries, the only person who received on Good Friday was the presiding priest. No one else.

Now we have a situation where in some places, because people have become used to receiving Communion on Good Friday during the past 60-something years, they see it almost as a right, because it is provided for in the liturgical books. They protest if anyone suggests that this might not be a good idea.

In other parishes, however, they have thought and reflected about this and taken a longer view. In the light of the extraordinary nature of the day and its history, those parishes (i.e. the people themselves, not just the clergy) have decided to "give up" receiving Communion as act of self-sacrifice and penance on this day, and their liturgies therefore end after the veneration of the Cross, without a Communion Rite.

Returning to the main discussion of services of Word and Communion when Mass is not possible, one commentator has said that we have moved from being a Eucharist-centred Church to being a Eucharist-fixated Church ! There is certainly some truth in this. "Getting Communion" has now assumed a greater importance for some than was formerly the case. They do not see that receiving an "anonymous Jesus" in the form of bread consecrated at some previous unidentified Mass that you probably weren't even present at is less than ideal.

And yet the Church, in some of the documents cited above, makes it very clear that if we are going to "get Communion" it should be visibly linked to an identifiable celebration. That's why the 1988 document stipulates that on a Sunday Communion should be brought from another Mass taking place somewhere else, not just fetched from a tabernacle. (I don't know of anywhere that has ever observed that.) And it's why Redemptionis Sacramentum in 2004 suggests that if you could have got to a Mass the Sunday before, or can get to one on the following Sunday, you should probably not be just "getting Communion" on a weekday.

I hope this will help to set JW's mind at rest.

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Re: Services of Word and Communion in the absence of a priest.

Post by AGM » Tue Nov 13, 2018 8:28 pm

Some extracts from the 1973 liturgical book “Holy Communion and the Worship of the Eucharist Outside of Mass”:

“14. The faithful should be encouraged to receive communion during the eucharistic celebration itself.
Priests, however, are not to refuse to give communion to the faithful who ask for it even outside Mass. [Footnote 2: See Congregation of Rites, instruction Eucharisticum mysterium, no. 33a: AAS 59 (1967) 559–560.]”
In fact it is proper that those who are prevented from being present at the community’s celebration should be refreshed with the eucharist. …”

“16. Communion may be given outside of Mass on any day and at any hour. It is proper, however, to determine the hours for giving communion, with a view to the convenience of the faithful, so that the celebration may take place in a fuller form and with greater spiritual benefit. …”

“17. It is, first of all, the office of the priest and the deacon to minister holy communion to the faithful who ask to receive it. [Footnote 6: See Congregation of Rites, instruction Eucharisticum mysterium, no. 31: AAS 59 (1967).]” It is most fitting, therefore, that they give a suitable part of their time to this ministry of their order, depending on the needs of the faithful. …”

“18. The place where communion outside Mass is ordinarily given is a church or oratory in which the eucharist is regularly celebrated or reserved or a church, oratory, or other place where the local community regularly gathers for the liturgical assembly on Sundays or other days. Communion may be given, however, in other places, including private homes, when it is a question of the sick, prisoners, or others who cannot leave the place without danger or serious difficulty.”

[Excerpts from the English translation of Holy Communion and the Worship of the Eucharist Outside Mass. Copyright © 1974, International Committee on English in the Liturgy, Inc. All rights reserved.]

Southern Comfort
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Re: Services of Word and Communion in the absence of a priest.

Post by Southern Comfort » Wed Nov 14, 2018 7:48 pm

AGM wrote:
Tue Nov 13, 2018 8:28 pm
Some extracts from the 1973 liturgical book “Holy Communion and the Worship of the Eucharist Outside of Mass”:
...some of which have been superseded by the more recent (2004) legislation I quoted, which also supersedes some provisions of the Code of Canon Law.

First of all, it is important to realise that in the period up to the Council Holy Communion could always be distributed outside Mass, and in fact frequently was, certainly up to the beginning of the 1960s.

The 1973 document continues that tradition (in para 16), but it is quite clear that the principal (but not exclusive) thrust of the other paragraphs is to say that the normal context for receiving Communion is the celebration of Mass, but in the cases of those who are housebound, sick at home or in hospital, in prison, etc, special provisions are naturally made.

Para 16 also makes the point that if you are going to distribute Communion outside Mass, you should make a proper service out of it, unlike the previous practice which was distribution pure and simple, normally before or after Mass, primarily for the benefit of those (such as office workers) who could not attend for the entire Mass. The 2004 document now questions even that wisdom, suggesting that proper services are fine but that distributing Communion outside the celebration of Mass is probably not a good idea.

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