13 January 2010


Are there any reasons of principle why you couldn't have a church in which a non-communicating Mass was celebrated by an Ordinariate priest; and then, after Mass, Communion was given from the two different tabernacles by two different priests to two ecclesially separated congregations, one belonging to the Ordinariate and one to the Church of England?


Kiran said...

There is something odd about ordinarily communicating people outside of Mass. I can't think of a canonical reason off the top of my head, but theologically, it does seem odd even if it has happened in the past. Benedict XIV, I think, insisted that communion preferably be from the hosts at the Mass where the Eucharist is effected:

"And although in addition to those to whom the celebrant gives a portion of the Victim he himself has offered in the Mass, they also participate in the same sacrifice to whom a priest distributes the Blessed Sacrament that has been reserved; however, the Church has not for this reason ever forbidden, nor does she now forbid, a celebrant to satisfy the piety and just request of those who, when present at Mass, want to become partakers of the same sacrifice, because they likewise offer it after their own manner, nay more, she approves of it and desires that it should not be omitted and would reprehend those priests through whose fault and negligence this participation would be denied to the faithful."(Encyclical Letter Certiores effecti, par. 3.)

Pius XII interprets this with a bit of latitude, however:

""that as many of us, as, at this altar, shall partake of and receive the most holy body and blood of thy Son, may be filled with every heavenly blessing and grace."
. Still sometimes there may be a reason, and that not infrequently, why holy communion should be distributed before or after Mass and even immediately after the priest receives the sacred species - and even though hosts consecrated at a previous Mass should be used. In these circumstances - as we have stated above - the people duly take part in the eucharistic sacrifice and not seldom they can in this way more conveniently receive holy communion. Still, though the Church with the kind heart of a mother strives to meet the spiritual needs of her children, they, for their part, should not readily neglect the directions of the liturgy and, as often as there is no reasonable difficulty, should aim that all their actions at the altar manifest more clearly the living unity of the Mystical Body."

This notwithstanding, I think that it is odd for it to be common practice for communion to be distributed understood apart from the particular Mass. It would go too far in the direction of obscuring the difference between one Mass and another. Admittedly, all of this is in justification of a gut-feeling that something would indeed be wrong...

Fr. Fraser said...

There is just such a church in Virginia Beach, VA. Except it is a RC/Episcopal parish. Rather on the liberal side too. All is done together unitl the Eucharistic Prayer then they go to seperate sides of the nave with two different altars and rejoin for the prayer of thanksgiving.

Gideon Ertner said...

Er... two words: 'Grave scandal'?

Implying that the two things are equal? Which there is at least reasonable reason to doubt given the continued non-acceptance by the Catholic Church of Anglican Orders.

Or implying that the schism is not real, or at least does not carry any consequence other than a slight inconvenience?

Christian Year said...

It all sounds rather Heath Robinson.

Dane said...

At All Saints Convent In Catonsville, MD, the 2 sisters who are still Episcopalians recieve communion from an Episcopal preist in the Lady Chapel.

Michael McDonough said...

At the level of principle, I think Gideon's response (leaving aside particular reasons) is on track -- the danger of "objective scandal" of simulation of communion where real communion is not the case. (The "omigosh!, look what they're doing!" type of scandal is not what I mean.)

Dane's note about the nuns at All Souls is interesting, and depending on the topology of the location, might provide a "solution", of some sort. Two tabernacles, visible simulataneously, seems to get us back into the "objective scandal" area; so, reception of Holy Communion in two different, though connected sites, might be permissible. There are complications, though. Is the Sacrament reserved in a Tabernacle on the main altar there? Or are there separate chapels for reservation?

Fr. Fraser's "two different altars" seems problematic to me. I would avoid that parish like the plague. Eastern Catholics and the Orthodox only allow one Sacrifice per day per altar, and they only have one altar of Sacrifice per temple. I would fear serious cognitive dissonance, i.e., destruction of the sacramental sign of Christ's one Sacrifice on the Cross. [Yes, I am aware of how in the old days when there was a "surplus" of priests, some would offer Mass at side-chapels, even during the "main Mass", and laity were allowed to participate. But, since all were Catholics, "scandal" was not an issue.]

Kiran's sense of suitability is not misplaced, but I think the quotes he provides hint at the underlying principle: receiving from the Victim consecrated at the particular Mass one has attended is more psychologically appropriate, much as receiving Christ under both Species is more psychologically appropriate, but neither is strictly necessary. Both Catholics and Orthodox have long had Liturgies of the Presanctified Gifts (to use the Orthodox term), at which the Sacrament, previously offered and reserved, is received.

Derek Christenson said...

Leaving aside the questions of scandal (already well answered by others) and law (much the same), I would like to comment on the question of practicality. That is to say, I don't think it would be practical at all. In this sense, I'm thinking of the future, say five or ten years from now, when the Ordinariates have been established are are settled into normal operation. By then, I would imagine that pretty nearly all of those who are now considering joining their local ordinariate (either as an individual or a group) will have already done so, and those left in the local C of E, Episcopal, etc. Angligan church will be there because they are not interested in being part of the (Roman) Catholic Church in any way. They might be latitudinarians, they might be evangelicals, but they won't be traditional anglo-catholics. There might be some fairly traditional anglo-catholics in one of the continuing churches that doesn't take the pope up on his offer, sure, but not in the C of E.

So, strictly speaking, who in the C of E would WANT to regularly attend an "ordinariate" mass? Doubtless, there will be a continuing trickle of inquirers, quietly taking seats in the back, trying to see if the Catholic church has something that "official" Anglicanism has lost, but as for an entire C of E parish regularly attending a mass (with preaching!) by a Catholic priest, especially a conservative one (very likely in an ordinariate parish), I don't see it.

Likewise, if the parish is "shared" in this way, one might assume that the C of E half would expect one of their own priests to celebrate this "shared mass" once in awhile, if not every other week. What would members of the ordinariate half of the congregation think of that? Especially if the local C of E vic was a woman? No, I don't think that would fly, not even with the Eucharist reserved and waiting in the tabernacle from the previous week.

A more practical suggestion for a shared church, and one mentioned by many others elsewhere on the interwebs already, is one that is confined to sharing the building. C of E mass at 9, ordinariate mass at 11, perhaps open to all for quiet prayer, etc, the rest of the time. In this case, it would be sharing of building costs so that small congregations could survive on modest financial means, and nothing else. No sharing of services, nor of vessels, and perhaps not even altar cloth. Considering the hostility of liberals to much of Catholic teaching and continuing suspicion by many evangelicals that we're idolaters in some way, I just don't see how any other type of sharing could work in the future (as a regular practice -- some rare ecumenical meeting might make use of such a practice, I suppose), all other questions aside.

Kiran said...

Michael, while I agree it is indeed more psychologically appropriate, I don't think it is only psychologically appropriate. I think it is also semiotically and sacramentally appropriate.

I am not a theologian, but I offer the following under correction: Each Mass (or at least each Mass of a given liturgical day) is a particular act of anamnesis of the Sacrifice of the Cross, a particular participation in it.

Thus, one is not allowed to recieve communion at one Mass, though one is allowed to receive from the same Mass twice as pastorally appropriate. Thus, I think the Popes' point is that preferably (though not exclusively), people receive within and from one Mass.

I would think that Masses of the pre-sanctified actually prove my point. There is an entire liturgy around them. I would think that in a sense, they correspond to the Office as (in effect) extensions of the Mass, the central liturgical Act. Whereas what is being asked about here is actually separating as a matter of normal practice, communion from Mass.

Kiran said...


I suppose in such cases, neither party would reserve the sacrament?

Derek Christenson said...

In reply to Kiran: "I suppose in such cases, neither party would reserve the sacrament?"

Yes, that was my thought. Although, I imagine that in the case of a parish built by one church, for its use, and then extended to use by both churches, one might imagine that the original builder of the building (probably C of E, in the case of England) could continue to reserve the sacrament, if they were already doing so. If the tabernacle were on the main altar, though, I can imagine that causing some issues. As I believe that there are some parishes that already have a practice like this (I remember one in Bristol, although the name escapes me at the moment), there are doubtless precedents that could be examined and used as guides for such church-sharing.

In a small Catholic parish, I would think it relatively easy for the priest to estimate the number of hosts needed for a given mass, such that those left over would be few in number, and perhaps could be reserved in a private chapel in the rectory for the sick, etc, and not enough to warrant being brought out at the next mass.

On the flip-side of the question, I wouldn't imagine many (any) evangelical parishes even desiring to reserve the sacrament (I remember hearing of one that used to use the extra "communion" to make sandwiches to go with the tea afterwards), and I'm not sure that liberal parishes would either, although who knows what they might go for.

In the end, I think that arrangements could be made to equitably share the property for mutual benefit, without diminishing the significance of the masses celebrated there. In lesser-populated areas (fewer Christians, anyway) it might even be the only way to prevent the local parish church from being sold for secular use.

Kiran said...

(I remember hearing of one that used to use the extra "communion" to make sandwiches to go with the tea afterwards)

Derek, a truly horrid thought occurs to me: Does the Dutch touch extend to evangelicals as well?

Here at least, Evangelicals can be quite lax as to Baptism, though I do think they would make sure a clerical candidate...

Christian Year said...


It is most unlikely that any Anglican congregation (or diocese) would agree to an arrangement such as that described for receiving Communion outside the Mass which they were attending.

Anyone with memories of doing so is very likely already to be Roman Catholic, or huddled in some tiny pocket of ultra traditionalism, or departed.

It is equally unlikely that they would wish to share their church with a group which insisted on creating a cordon sanitaire to the extent of changing the altar cloths.

Sir Watkin said...

In this sense, I'm thinking of the future, say five or ten years from now, when the Ordinariates have been established are are settled into normal operation. By then, I would imagine that pretty nearly all of those who are now considering joining their local ordinariate (either as an individual or a group) will have already done so,

I think not. Indeed, precisely the opposite.

As the Church of England descends into ever greater liturgical and doctrinal chaos, all sorts of people will gradually find the ordinariates an attractive option - especially if the ordinariates have maintained close and cordial relations with those remaining as "Canterbury Anglicans".

The ordinariates are not primarily about the Anglo-Catholics who may join them now (or even in ten years' time), but about those who over the coming decades (faced by a new Anglicanism that has the liturgical sensibility of the evangelicals and the doctrinal rigour of the liberals) come to realise that the only place to find the best of classical Anglicanism is in the ordinariates, reunited to the Holy See.

berenike said...