The newly released issue of the journal Liturgy, has at its theme, “The Lord’s Table in a Changing World,” to which my invited contribution is entitled, “Good Table Manners?” Back in early September I posted a request for input from Pray Tell readers to help me get a sense of actual, current popular practices of ministry to individuals who join in the Communion Procession without the intention of receiving Holy Communion. I was grateful to the more than 50 readers who joined the conversation, whose input helped me craft the latter part of the article.
The publisher has encouraged us authors to post a link to the article on social media and blog sites we use, and so I’m happy to share it here:
The symbol of the table in practical, popular contemporary Roman Catholicism shapes the inquiry of the article:
“The fact that by the end of Vatican II the church’s dogmatic teaching treated the Mass in terms not of propitiatory sacrifice but of table—the one table of Christ, both Word and Body—cannot be overestimated in relation to the reform of the Mass that followed. The popular, practical import over the ensuing half-century in the United States is evident in the way the vast majority of the Catholic laity have developed a highly open, forgiving, and inclusive view of who is welcomed not only to take part as members of the liturgical assembly but also to join in Holy Communion.”
While the journal’s audience is primarily Protestant, perhaps the sorts of questions I discuss in the article might prove of interest also to Roman Catholics and other Christians, such as:
- the ongoing impact of the post-Vatican II Lectionary’s three-year cycle of gospel readings nourishing the faithful’s love of the Jesus who practice open, forgiving table fellowship,
- the contemporary pastoral challenges of intercommunion for married couples, one of whom is Roman Catholic and the other, a member of another denomination,
- why and how the code of canon law (1983) sheds light on the Church’s liturgical regulations concerning reception of Holy Communion,
- what the US Catholic bishops’ guidelines state and, yet, how popular practices in US parishes have evolved in ways those guidelines apparently did not foresee.
With a word limit of 4000 words, I could only move quickly through each of those points. Perhaps Pray Tell readers would like to add their own insights, observations, or concerns.