Rorate Caeli

Communion handling: the gravest problem


Translation problems? Mass celebrated towards the people? Altar girls? Postures?

No, the greatest and gravest problem of the liturgy of the Latin Church - that is, of the "Ordinary form", or Mass of Paul VI - is one that transcends all this, even it is related to all of them: it is the way the Body of Christ is treated. That must be the very first issued tackled by an eventual true "reform of the reform", one that is set not by fleeting example, but by hard law.

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(1) Any human being who has ever had any experience with any edible object based on a milled product knows that crumbling is a natural part of the process of consuming it: loaves, wafers, cookies, biscuits, crackers, tortillas, nachos - it does not matter, fragmentation takes place. 

(2) Catholics believe that the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Our Lord Jesus Christ are truly present in each of the Consecrated Species, and completely in every single and minute fragment of it.

Because of (1) and (2), the Church was traditionally extremely careful regarding the distribution of Holy Communion. That meant reducing to the minimal imaginable level the possibility that any Fragment of the Body of Christ, even the smallest one, might be profaned or lost - which meant only the celebrant himself touched the Body of Christ, that all Fragments could be held under control on the Altar, and that all gestures in the distribution of Holy Communion by the Priest (or Deacon) to the servers and faithful would mean that no Fragment could ever go unaccounted. (And that same process also took place with the distribution under both Species in the East, in a slightly different evolution, but with the same end result: consecrated hands distributing Holy Communion in such a way to make any loss or spillage unlikely and under strict control.)

What the liturgical innovations following the Council did was to inculcate Catholics with the notion that the Fragments of the Body of Christ do not matter - and it would be absurd to limit that only to the abhorrent practice of Communion in the hand; no, it is not just a matter of respect, but of Belief that God Himself is entirely present in each single Fragment of the Consecrated species; and Communion in the hand is only one aspect of this. In fact, all those allowances for distribution by people other than those with consecrated hands that are not purified before and after the Distribution of Holy Communion, the use of all kinds of "vessels", and all related matters - happening thousands upon thousands of times every single day around the world - also necessarily lead to abuse. Or, rather, they ARE the abuse. 

All other problems with the New Mass are intimately related with this gravest of problems. If the Sacred Liturgy is the "summit toward which the activity of the Church is directed" (SC, 10), the handling of the Body of Christ by the non-ordained is the pit from which all and every single liturgical abuse ontologically flows. Because if God present in the Most Holy Sacrament is treated as "crumbs" and "dust", then reality vanishes and all that remains, in appearance, are empty and ridiculous symbolisms - and no wonder people do not respect these, change them at will, and expect them to adapt to one's own preferences.