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June 17, 2022 Our Catholic Faith No Comments

Q. A recent Mass reading from chapter 15 of the Acts of the Apostles talked about the decision of the Apostles at the Council of Jerusalem not to require Gentile converts to become Jews before becoming Christians. They decided to send a letter to Gentile converts telling them “to avoid pollution from idols, unlawful marriage, the meat of strangled animals, and blood” (15:20). Can you explain these conditions? — P.H., via e-mail.
A. Avoiding pollution from idols referred to eating meat that had been sacrificed to pagan gods. Unlawful marriage meant engaging in any kind of sexual immorality, including incest, adultery, homosexuality, and bestiality. The meat of strangled animals meant meat that had not been properly drained of blood. And the prohibition of blood meant consuming anything with blood in it since, from the time of Moses, blood was seen as the seat of life, as something sacred. The converts were expected to break away from these pagan practices and observe a minimal code of religious purity.
According to the Council of Florence in 1442, the food restrictions were only a temporary measure to facilitate unity between Jews and Gentiles in the early Church. Once the circumstances that made those rules necessary had passed, the restrictions were relaxed.

Q. A new priest in our parish loudly exclaims during his homilies, “God is good!” and the congregation is expected to reply, “All the time!” On Easter Sunday, he did this five times in his homily. I find this difficult to accept and wonder if such exclamations are permitted during the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. Can you shed some light on this? — J.B., Washington State.
A. There is no liturgical rule against what your priest is doing and, in charismatic circles, it is commonplace, particularly at retreats or conferences. While there is nothing wrong with these exclamations, and they do express an important truth, we can understand why they would seem out of place at a regular Sunday Mass. Perhaps you could speak to the priest and tell him of your concerns and ask him to reduce the number of exclamations.

Q. While attending a Mass in the Philadelphia Archdiocese, the priest omitted the words “which will be” from the formula for consecration of the Host. He did the same thing with the consecration of the wine and also omitted the words “and for many.” I believe sacraments have a necessary form and matter to be valid and wonder if those were valid consecrations. — T.M., via e-mail.
A. The essential words for a valid consecration of the Holy Eucharist are “This is my Body” over the bread and “This is the chalice of my Blood” over the wine. If any of these words are omitted or changed, no transubstantiation of the substances has taken place. So, since the priest in question included those words, the consecration was valid. However, it was gravely illicit for him to omit certain words from the formula, and you should bring this to the attention of his bishop. The 2004 Vatican document Redemptionis Sacramentum explains why:
“The mystery of the Eucharist ‘is too great for anyone to permit himself to treat it according to his own whim, so that its sacredness and its universal ordering would be obscured.’ On the contrary, anyone who acts thus by giving free rein to his own inclinations, even if he is a priest, injures the substantial unity of the Roman rite, which ought to be vigorously preserved, and becomes responsible for actions that are in no way consistent with the hunger and thirst for the living God that is experienced by the people today. Nor do such actions serve authentic pastoral care or proper liturgical renewal; instead, they deprive Christ’s faithful of their patrimony and their heritage.
“For arbitrary actions are not conducive to true renewal, but are detrimental to the right of Christ’s faithful to a liturgical celebration that is an expression of the Church’s life in accordance with her tradition and discipline. In the end, they introduce elements of distortion and disharmony into the very celebration of the Eucharist, which is oriented in its own lofty way and by its very nature to signifying and wondrously bringing about the communion of divine life and the unity of the people of God and, almost as a necessary consequence, vigorous opposition, all of which greatly confuse and sadden many of Christ’s faithful in this age of ours when Christian life is often particularly difficult on account of the inroads of ‘secularization’ as well” (n. 11).
The document says that “it is the right of all of Christ’s faithful that the liturgy and in particular the celebration of Holy Mass should truly be as the Church wishes, according to her stipulations as prescribed in the liturgical books and in the other laws and norms….Finally, it is the Catholic community’s right that the celebration of the Most Holy Eucharist should be carried out for it in such a manner that it truly stands out as a sacrament of unity, to the exclusion of all blemishes and actions that might engender division and factions in the Church” (n. 12).

Q. I was wondering when and how it was decided that receiving the Eucharist under one species was sufficient to receive both the Body and Blood of Christ. I assume this was not the practice in the earliest days of the Church. Receiving under both species did become more common recently, at least until the coming of the pandemic. – K.B., Pennsylvania.
A. “In the early Church,” says Jimmy Akin in his book Mass Confusion (p. 194), “it was common for the faithful to receive the Eucharist under the form of wine as well as under the form of bread (i.e., ‘under both kinds’). For example, St. Cyril of Jerusalem [died 386] states:
“ ‘Then, after thou hast partaken of the body of Christ, draw near also to the cup of his blood; not stretching forth thine hands, but bending, and saying with an air of worship and reverence, Amen, hallow thyself by partaking also of the blood of Christ’.”
Communion only under the form of bread was also common in those centuries, Akin says, because “it was often hard to hold celebrations of the liturgy” and “receiving Communion under the form of bread allowed Christians to reserve the Host in their houses and receive daily Communion even when celebrations of the liturgy were not possible on a daily basis” (p. 195).
Communion under one species was the normal practice until the sixteenth century when the Protestant reformers objected to reception only under the form of bread. In 1562, the Council of Trent stated that Christ was completely present under only one species. According to the General Instruction of the Roman Missal (n. 282), the Council said that the Church’s pastors “should instruct the Christian faithful that the Catholic Faith teaches that Christ, whole and entire, and the true Sacrament, is received even under only one species, and hence that as regards the resulting fruits, those who receive under only one species are not deprived of any grace that is necessary for salvation.”
In its 1963 Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, the Second Vatican Council said that “Communion under both kinds may be granted when the bishops think fit, not only to clerics and religious, but also to the laity, in cases to be determined by the Holy See” (n. 55). The cases were limited at first, but then were expanded by the U.S. ishops first in 1970, then in 1984, and again in 2002, when the General Instruction (n. 283) said that “the Diocesan Bishop is also given the faculty to permit Communion under both kinds whenever it may seem appropriate to the Priest to whom a community has been entrusted to its own shepherd, provided that the faithful have been well instructed and that there is no danger of profanation of the Sacrament or of the rite’s becoming difficult because of the large number of participants or for some other cause.”

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