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SUNDAY EUCHARIST: COMMUNION FROM THE TABERNACLE

Should it happen?

  • 24 May 2019
  • Author: Benedict
  • Number of views: 217
  • 0 Comments

 

           At the Sunday Eucharist in many parishes, during the singing of the Lamb of God, a minister (ordinary or sometimes extraordinary) goes to the tabernacle and brings to the altar Hosts that were consecrated at one or more previous Masses.  This is a troublesome practice when it is done on a regular basis.

           The website of the USCCB is blunt:  “Only in rare circumstances of necessity should the assembly at Mass communicate from the reserved sacrament in the tabernacle.”

            If the tabernacle is not to be used for Communion at a Sunday Mass, what is the purpose of the tabernacle?  The reason the Church reserves the Eucharist outside of Mass is primarily, for the administration of the Viaticum to the dying, and secondarily, Communion of the Sick, Communion outside of Mass, and adoration of Christ present in the Sacrament (see Holy Communion and Worship of the Eucharist Outside of Mass, no.5).  The reserved Sacrament is not to provide a supply of Hosts to service several Masses.

            Sacrosanctum Concilium says ‘The more perfect form of participation in the Mass whereby the faithful, after the priest’s communion receive the Lord’s Body from the same sacrifice, is warmly recommended (article 55).”

            “It is most desirable that the faithful, just as the Priest himself is obliged to do, receive the Lord’s Body from hosts consecrated at the same Mass and that, in the case where this is foreseen, they partake of the chalice (cf. no. 283), so that even by means of the signs Communion may stand out more clearly as a participation in the sacrifice actually being celebrated (GIRM, no. 85).”

            Liturgy Lines, an online column from the Diocese of Brisbane, Australia, also comments on Communion from the tabernacle.  “The dynamic of the Eucharist is one continuous movement.  In the procession of gifts, the faithful present the bread and wine for the sacrifice, along with the gift of their lives, to be blessed by God and then received back as the Body and Blood of Christ when they come forward for Holy Communion.  To be fed with the Body of Christ from the tabernacle and not from what was consecrated at the Mass being celebrated breaks the connection between sacrifice and Communion.  There can be no Communion without sacrifice, and this is symbolised most clearly when we receive Communion from what we ourselves have offered (17 August 2014).”

            Liturgy Lines quotes Robert Taft, SJ.  “Distributing Holy Communion from hosts already consecrated at a previous Eucharist was totally unthinkable in the early Christian East and West.  The reason for the disapproval is obvious to anyone with Eucharistic theology.  The dynamic of the Eucharist is one continuous movement, in which the community gifts are offered, accepted by God and returned to the community to be shared as God’s gift to us, a sharing of something we receive from God and give to one another—in short, a communion.”

            Think of the dynamics of feasting.  Does the consumption of left overs from the refrigerator have the same meaning as when everyone sat at the table, offered thanks, and then ate what was on the table?  Leftovers are nutritious and filling, however they are not the same as sitting down, giving thanks, and eating together that which is prepared for that meal. 

            Communion from the tabernacle is what happens on Good Friday, when Mass is never celebrated, and on those occasions outlined earlier in this blog.  At the Sunday Eucharist, the Hosts consecrated at that Mass should be distributed.  This will help everyone see the connection between sacrifice and communion.

             Only if there is a shortage could the minister go to the tabernacle to get Hosts to distribute at Mass.  This should not be done on a regular basis otherwise the Mass could be perceived as a communion service rather than the celebration of the Eucharist.

Fr. Leo

 

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