Tuesday, July 06, 2010

PCED: no communion in the Hand at the Traditional Mass

The question of communion in the hand at the Traditional Mass has long been unclear. It was not permitted in 1962; it is permitted now (albeit with great reluctance, as a concession to a condemned abuse). Is it permitted now for all forms and rites? Or should those using the 1962 Missal be bound by the rules in force in 1962?

The latter has long seemed the more sensible opinion to the Latin Mass Society, and to most people attached to the 'earlier liturgical traditions'. To adopt into the 1962 Mass customs permitted in the context of the 1970 Mass undermines the integrity of the rite. Each Missal has its own liturgical law, both written and unwritten.

Not all issues are on the same level, however. The question of when Catholics are obliged to go to Mass, and how long they must fast before Communion, are set by canon law (in the first case in the context of decisions made by ordinaries). What is obligatory under the latest Code of Canon Law is obligatory for all Catholics subject to that Code, ie the Code for the Latin Church covers the whole Latin Church. By contrast, liturgical law is specific to the form or Rite.

The common view has been confirmed by the Pontifical Council Ecclesia Dei, as this letter makes clear. These clarifications are to be welcomed.

One may ask: what should a priest do faced with someone insisting on receiving in the hand? The clarification itself, and priests' explanation of the situation, should make this a less frequent occurance. But as with all attempts at inappropitiate behaviour at Mass, priests must respond in a sane way with pastoral sensitivity. There is no legislating for such such cases.


"Dear Mr. XXXX

In reference to your letter of 15. June, this papal commission would like to point out that the celebration of Holy Mass in the extraordinary form envisages the reception of Holy Communion while kneeling, as the Holy Host is laid directly on the tongue of the communicant. There is no provision for the distribution of Holy Communion on the hand in this form of the Holy Mass.

With blessings,"

See Fr John Zuhlsdorf: http://bit.ly/ddgzIb

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