Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Early origins of liturgical practices

I am amazed to read how early we have written records of things such as daily celebration of the Eucharist and multiple Masses in a day.

From St. Augustine, on daily Mass:
I promised you, who have now been baptized, a sermon in which I would explain the Sacrament of the Lord's Table, which you now look upon and of which you last night were made participants. You ought to know what you have received, what you are going to receive, and what you ought to receive daily. (Sermon 227)

Thus [Christ] is both the Priest who offers and the Sacrifice offered. And He designed that there should be a daily sign of this in the sacrifice of the Church, which, being His body, learns to offer herself through Him. (City of God X, 20)

There are other things, however, which are different in different places and countries: e.g., some fast on Saturday, others do not; some partake daily of the body and blood of Christ, others receive it on stated days: in some places no day passes without the sacrifice being offered; in others it is only on Saturday and the Lord’s day, or it may be only on the Lord’s day. (Epistle LIV, 2)

Some one may say, “The Eucharist ought not to be taken every day.” You ask, “On what grounds?” He answers, “Because, in order that a man may approach worthily to so great a sacrament, he ought to choose those days upon which he lives in more special purity and self-restraint; for ‘whosoever eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh judgment to himself.’” ... If, however, his sins are not so great as to bring him justly under sentence of excommunication, he ought not to withdraw himself from the daily use of the Lord’s body for the healing of his soul.” (Epistle LIV, 4)

For the wolf will come — not man, but the devil, who has very often perverted to apostasy believers to whom the daily ministry of the Lord’s body was wanting... (Epistle CCXXVIII, 6)

The sacrament of this thing, namely, of the unity of the body and blood of Christ, is prepared on the Lord’s table in some places daily, in some places at certain intervals of days, and from the Lord’s table it is taken, by some to life, by some to destruction: but the thing itself, of which it is the sacrament, is for every man to life, for no man to destruction, whosoever shall have been a partaker thereof. (Tractates on the Gospels of John XXVI, 15)

From Pope St. Gregory the Great, on multiple Masses in a day:
Because [by the Lord's bounty] I am going to celebrate the eucharist three times today, I can comment only briefly on the Gospel lesson. But [our Redeemer's] birthday compels me to say something, however short. (Homily 7, in Forty Gospel Homilies)

(H/T to Fr. Daren Zehnle)


Andrew K said...

Hi there,
I'm Bayernfan from CAF, and I got banned because I dared to not roll over to the moderator's (wrong, I think) demands, and at CAF they wield their position like a power hungry...

Anyways, you sent me a PM. I can't read it because I've been banned (CAF's forum is dumb that way, imho).

Can you post it here? Or, message me via this?

Jeffrey Pinyan said...

Andrew, I'll post my message to you here later today. Check back this evening, please.

Jeffrey Pinyan said...

Here's the text of the message:

The thread is closed pending review, but I thought I would share the following comments with you:

In comment 25, you wrote that "the norm, universally, in the Latin Rite, is for reception of the Eucharist to be done on the tongue, and kneeling, whereas the standing and in the hand is the exception (it is given through an indult)."

While receiving in the hand is permitted via indult, receiving standing is not. In 1967, the Instruction Eucharisticum Mysterium from the Sacred Congregation of Rites allowed bishops' conferences to decide on the posture to be used for reception of Holy Communion:

34. a) In accordance with the custom of the Church, Communion may be received by the faithful either kneeling or standing. One or the other way is to be chosen, according to the decision of the episcopal conference, bearing in mind all the circumstances, above all the number of the faithful and the arrangement of the churches. The faithful should willingly adopt the method indicated by their pastors, so that Communion may truly be a sign of the brotherly union of all those who share in the same table of the Lord.

Second, in comment 29, you wrote: "For centuries, up until 1973, the Church regarded the Eucharist as worthy for the ministers of the Church (deacon, priest) to handle and distribute the Eucharist. Why this constant practice changed all of a sudden is beyond me."

While Immensae Caritatis (from 1973) is generally identified as the document which permits extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion, the practice was already being permitted on a smaller scale during the 1960's after Vatican II in certain communities (such as women's religious orders). I can provide you some documentation for this later today.

Have a merry and blessed Christmas, and may God keep you close in the new year!

Jeffrey Pinyan said...

Supporting documentation from the "Documents on the Liturgy" (DOL):

1. DOL 253, Rescript authorizing certain women religious to give Communion in Brazil (24 April 1965)

2. DOL 255, Rescript to the Vicar Apostolic of Grouard, Alberta, on the rite to be followed by women religious authorized to give Communion (31 May 1966)

3. DOL 256, Rescript to the Bishop of Hauterive, Quebec, allowing religious to give Communion (11 November 1966)

4. DOL 257, Rescript to the conference of bishops in West Germany, on distribution of Communion by laypersons (28 November 1967 and 14 February 1968)

5. DOL 258, Rescript to the Archbishop of Kingston, Jamaica, allowing laypersons to give Communion (28 November 1968)

6. DOL 259, Instruction Fidei Custos on special ministers to administer Communion (30 April 1969)

7. DOL 262, Rescript to the Bishop of Duluth, Minnesota, authorizing lay people to give Communion (25 June 1969)

8. DOL 263, Rescript to the conference of bishops in the US, authorizing lay people to give Communion (9 March 1971)

9. DOL 264, Instruction Immensae Caritatis on facilitating reception of Communion in certain circumstances (29 January 1973)