As Pray Tell reported, Bishop Olmsted of Phoenix has drastically reduced permission for Communion under both forms in his diocese. (Our earlier report, since updated, was of a complete ban.) Church law does not require the bishop to limit both forms and would have permitted him to allow pastors to administer both forms as they see fit. But now Communion under both forms is virtually prohibited at Sunday Mass. The diocesan website gives Q&A – here are some excerpts with my comments. – awr

What is legally permitted:

The number of instances [of both forms] … is now reduced to three, but now the new GIRM states that the diocesan bishop may establish additional norms and, further, the diocesan bishop ‘is given the faculty to permit Communion under both kinds whenever it may seem appropriate to the priest to whom a community has been entrusted as its own shepherd, provided that the faithful have been well instructed and that there is no danger of profanation of the Sacrament…’.

AWR: The diocese is admitting that the bishop could have allowed priests to continue giving Communion under both forms at every Mass, but chose not to do so.

Why the practice of both forms is limited:

To protect the Sacred Species from profanation (careless treatment, spillage, swilling, etc.

AWR: How do you suppose the western Church managed to give Communion exclusively under both forms for a millennium and more? How do Eastern Orthodox and Protestants manage to this day? Are Roman Catholics somehow given more to profanation than all other Christians?

Bread, symbols, role of priest:

Catholics believe that the appearance (or “species”) of bread or wine is merely symbolic; after the priest’s prayer of consecration at Mass, there is neither bread nor wine on the altar, only their appearances; for Christ is now present.

AWR:Merely symbolic”?? Developments in Catholic sacramental theology going back at least to the 1940s, anyone? “The priest’s prayer of consecration”?? The Eucharistic Prayer is everyone’s prayer, and the laity have a role in exercising their baptismal priesthood, under the leadership of the ordained priest, in participating actively in the Eucharistic Prayer.

Christ’s presence:

After the priest’s prayer of consecration at Mass, there is neither bread nor wine on the altar, only their appearances; for Christ is now present.

AWR: If Christ is now present, after the consecration, this suggests that Christ wasn’t present in the liturgy before the consecration. But the Catholic Church teaches otherwise. I bet they mean “sacramentally present.”

Didn’t Jesus say, “Take this all of you and drink from it”?

Whenever someone receives Holy Communion under either the form of bread or the form of wine, he or she receives Christ, whole and entire. There is one Jesus Christ — and He is received really, truly, and substantially under either or the two “disguises” of the form of bread or the form of wine.

AWR: All true, none of it answering the question. The kicker here is “drink.”

Why both forms:

Reception of Holy Communion does not constitute the reception of any greater reality.

AWR: I’m pretty sure they mean “Reception of Holy Communion under both forms does not constitute the reception of any great reality.” Unless they wish to claim that sacraments such as the Eucharist do nothing, which I doubt.

Not obscuring the role of the priest and deacon:

The practical need to avoid obscuring the role of the priest and the deacon as the ordinary ministers of Holy Communion by an excessive use of extraordinary (or lay) ministers might in some circumstances constitute a reason for limiting the distribution of Holy Communion under both species.

AWR: Have you ever managed to miss which one is the priest or deacon at Mass? Is it possible for a man in the 21st century to wear alb, stole, and chausible/dalmatic and blend into the crowd?

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See the Arizona Republic story here.