October 21, 2009 // Uncategorized

The whole Christ comes to us when we receive Communion

About holy Communion: Some history
The first time I drank from the chalice and received the most precious blood of the Lord was on Feb. 3, 1957, at the Chapel at St. Clement’s Hall, which was then the college seminary, or more accurately, Philosophy House, where I had served one year as deacon prefect. I was ordained a priest the previous day.

That is not a mistake. In the old ritual, all of us who were ordained the previous day at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross concelebrated; that is, we recited the words of the Eucharistic Prayer with the Cardinal Archbishop Richard Cushing, who had ordained us. It was the only relic of the ancient rite of concelebration. But even on that day, we did not receive from the cup. It was always clear, and it should remain clear, during this interim period that when we received under the species of bread, we received the fullness of Christ, body and blood, soul and divinity. The liturgical renewal was ongoing. In my parish of St. Mary’s, Beverly, we had a dialogue Mass (in Latin, of course) every Saturday morning. How encouraging to hear the people make the simple Latin responses. Liturgical Weeks were held all over the country, very much influenced by the great monasteries of Europe. But it was only from the Second Vatican Council that the renewal of the church’s liturgy truly took root. The central document was the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy: “Sacrosanctum Concilium.” This document still lights our path. Buried deep in that document, we read that “Communion under both kinds may be granted when the bishops think ‘fit’ and a few instances are enumerated: to the newly ordained at the Mass of their ordination; to the newly professed at their religious profession; to the newly baptized at the Mass, which follows their baptism.” So only in a few cases.

Seven years later, on the feast of Ss. Peter and Paul, June 29, 1970, the church expanded the faculty through which people could receive holy Communion under both kinds. Once again we read, that the church, “leaves intact the dogmatic principals recognized in the Council of Trent, by which it is taught that Christ, whole and entire, and the true Sacrament are also received under one species alone.” But here again, the times when one could receive under two species remained quite limited.

Another document in 1980 made clear that bishops were not to extend the reception under two kinds beyond what was laid down by the Holy See.
I can recall in my early days as a bishop that the decision was made by the bishops in this country about expanding three exceptions under two kinds. Later, as I recall, it was realized that we had gone beyond our jurisdiction and Pope John Paul II, in kindness, gave a special indult, which approved what had been incorrectly expanded. That is now the situation in this diocese and in this country. I am sure with the recent suspension, which was done for reasons of health, many people may be tempted to believe that something is missing; but nothing of the substance of the sacrament is missing.

An opportunity
I think that this moment gives to us, priests and bishop and deacons and catechists, an opportunity to open our hearts more fully in faith, so we can accept with more ardor and intensity the truth that holy Communion is, indeed, a full participation in the sacrifice of Christ, and in his death and resurrection, and that every holy Communion is not only a call to intimacy, but that intimacy is granted as a gift.

Another reminder
I recall the first visit of Pope John Paul II when all the bishops met with him in Chicago. He commended us on the large numbers coming to holy Communion. He wondered and hoped that we were not losing a sense of the majesty of the One whom we are receiving. This is the responsibility we all have. Let us use this interim when we receive under one species, for the renewal of our faith and of our acceptance, that indeed, it is the whole Christ who comes to us when we receive holy Communion. We have not lost anything. True, a beautiful sign; namely, the drinking from the cup, has been taken from us for the good of the whole community. Above all, let us make the reception of holy Communion an act of love. And when the second part of the sign, the drinking of the cup is restored to us, let us accept it with humility and as a gift and let us accept that only the church alone has the authority to regulate these things.

A joyous moment
What can be said, except a prayer of joyful thanksgiving for two young men, in the fullness of youth, offering themselves to Christ as priests. They are ordained, not for themselves, but for others, for all of us.

Deacon Jake is a member of the famed Tippmann clan. The oldest of 11, he saw the first glimmer of priesthood at the age of 15, when he was with Pope John Paul II for World Youth Day in Denver. He was also influenced by a youth program at St. Patrick’s Parish under Father Glenn Kohrman, and while accompanying a relative to RCIA at the same parish.

Deacon Fernando comes to us from Mexico, but has lived many years at St. Patrick’s Parish. Like Deacon Jake, he is influenced by a strong religious family.

Both are fluent in Spanish — Fernando from his family, and Jake from a summer in Mexico. Please pray for them.

St. Vincent, Elkhart
What a joyful Sunday at the mother parish of Elkhart. This parish has 300 baptisms and over 200 for first holy Communion. Putting the two weekend days together, Saturday and Sunday, there are eight Masses. The church was packed for the 11:30 a.m. Mass, and I was very impressed with the singing — both the large choir and the congregation. The enthusiasm of the people and their appreciation of Father Glenn Kohrman and Father Kevin Bauman, both fluent in two languages, was evident. In fact, the Mass included hymns in English, Latin, Spanish and even Greek with the Kyrie. Father Glenn was officially installed as pastor. First in English, and later in Spanish. The evident joy of the two priests and of the congregation was everywhere. Some of Father Glenn’s family came all the way from Fort Wayne. Elkhart is a great industrial town, so many of the people we met at the reception at the Knights of Columbus Hall were out of work or family members were unemployed. This community is hurting. Let us keep them in our prayers.

In younger days, I would go to three or four football games a year
Saturday was the first one and it was exciting and I thought the Irish played very well and almost pulled it off. I have to admit, despite a beautiful sunny day, it was pretty exhausting. Hopefully, a better result this weekend against the Boston College Eagles, but it will not be easy.
See you all next week.

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