Friday, 16 May 2008

Archbishop Coleridge on reception of communion

Over at Creative Minority Report, Patrick Archibold has picked up his pet peeve addressed in Archbishop Coleridge's letter, namely use of Extraordinary Ministers, particularly when priests, deacons or religious are available (and either sitting in the pews or just doing other things):

Now personally, I really liked what the Archbishop had to say about the priest receiving first (failure to observe this being a fairly common liturgical abuse). And if he doesn't quite rule out extraordinary ministers altogether, I took that as consistent with the general tone of tact in regard to what he describes earlier as entrenched liturgical 'bad habits'.

Mr Archibold would have liked something stronger though, and urges priests to make attending masses a priority in order to distribute communion.

I certainly agree that there is something seriously wrong if there are priests (or deacons) sitting around while extraordinary ministers do thier thing. The reality though is that most priests these days are celebrating two or even three masses on Sunday, so expecting them to rush back to distribute communion at yet another one seems pretty tough.

I think the bigger issue is reception under both kinds. In my observation, it is this practice that most often provides the excuse for the use of extraordinary ministers

Just how did we get from the provisions of Sacrosanctum Concilium, which suggested communion under both kinds might be granted when bishops think fit, on special occasions - like just being ordained, making solemn profession as a religious or newly baptised (SC57) - to the virtually universal provision that exists in Australia at least anyway? I can't think of a novus ordo mass I've attended in recent times when it hasn't been offered!

It will certainly be interesting to watch how Archbishop Coleridge's reforms impact on what happens in parishes (Canberra readers, please feel free to keep us informed!).

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