A Pray Tell reader is writing an article with material on the requirement in liturgical law and tradition that the faithful who wish to receive Communion receive it from the Eucharistic celebration they are attending; celebrants should not automatically make recourse to the tabernacle. Every document from Mediator Dei to the GIRM to Taft references Certiores Effecti of Benedict XIV (1742 A.D.). Our reader is not able to lay hands on the Latin original or on an English translation. Many on-line sites give an Italian translation, which is translated into English below.
Any PT readers have suggestions to improve the translation? Does anyone have the Latin original? Your help is appreciated!
* * * * *
Having been made aware that in some Dioceses of Italy controversy is being spread about the obligation through which the Priests who celebrate Masses are bound, between one and another function, to administer the Eucharist to those faithful who present themselves prepared to receive it, and ask to be made participants in the Sacrifice to which they are attending. Consequently and following our conscience we have decided it proper to confront a growing evil with the teaching of this Apostolic letter, so that that evil will not progress any further and may not be a motive of scandal for the faithful. Therefore, Venerable Brothers, to You we address Our discourse so that also in this case you do not overlook any part of your Pastoral duties.
1. First We must state that none of the faithful can hold that private Masses, in which the priest alone receives holy communion, are therefore unlawful and do not fulfill the idea of the true, perfect and complete unbloody sacrifice instituted by Christ our Lord. For the faithful know quite well, or at least can easily be taught, that the Council of Trent, supported by the doctrine which the uninterrupted tradition of the Church has preserved, condemned the new and false opinion of Luther as opposed to this tradition: “if anyone says that Masses in which the priest alone communicates sacramentally are illicit and are therefore to be abrogated, let him be anathema” (Council of Trent, Session 22, Chapter 6, Canon 8 in H. J. Schroeder, The Canons and Decrees of the Council of Trent, (Rockford, IL: Tan, 1978), 152).
2. However, since the ancient practice and discipline of the Church, according to which the faithful present at Masses used to participate without distinction between the different groups gathered [i.e. between those who receive Communion and those that don’t] at the Most Holy Sacrifice, are completely in accordance to the teaching and to example of Christ the Lord, we repeat the words of that same Council with that spirit with which they pronounced: “the holy council wishes indeed that at each mass the faithful who are present should communicate, not only in spiritual desire but also by sacramental partaking of the Eucharist, that thereby they may derive from this most holy sacrifice a more abundant fruit” (Council of Trent, Session 22, Chapter 6 in ibid., 149).
And would that Heaven allow that people of our time would also be inflamed with the same zeal of Christian piety with which the faithful of the first centuries burned, and would eagerly hurry to the public Holy Table and not only be present at the solemnity of the Holy Mysteries, but that they also yearn to participate devoutly. Surely there is no one single act with which the Bishops, Pastors and Confessors should dedicate their every waking moment but that of stimulating the faithful in cultivating that purity of mind with which they are deemed worthy to frequently access the Sacraments and the Sacrifice which the Priest, as a public Minister of the Church, offers not only for himself but at the same time for them and in their name.
3. 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.
4. But since it is necessary that in the Christian Church everything be in order and conveniently arranged, Pastors should pay attention and be vigilant to make sure that, on one hand, the devotion of the faithful not be defrauded of such faculties to go and to participate in the Sacrifice; on the other hand, they have to make sure that this and the other faculties be arranged in such a way that disorder does not arise in other praiseworthy things, and, moreover, that confusion or, even worse scandal, does not arise. Therefore the Pastors should admonish the faithful: those that wish to participate in the Holy Mass (and this must be warmly approved, as we said) try to find the time, the place and the circumstances in which they can fulfill their duties without being an obstacle to rites of piety. The faithful, showing themselves to be docile to these requests from their Pastors, should try to avoid complaining, as if they had been injured, if at times, given the moment, the place and the people, the Bishop not judge it opportune that the presiding Priest distribute Communion to those that are attending; and who certainly at the same time can easily go to a simultaneous Mass celebrated for all in many other places.
5. Bishops and Pastors will easily persuade the faithful of these things, helping them to understand that the discipline of the Church that is now being given, will not hinder the participation which they desire but will, rather, facilitate it.
In fact the ancient custom demanded that in every Church only one Mass be celebrated, to which the faithful attended and participated (and furthermore they desired to receive the Eucharist and the other Sacraments only from their Pastor), in these times, though, given the great number of officiating Priests, of places and Altars where the rite is celebrated publicly, it is easy for anyone to have access to the Holy Mass and admission to the Holy Banquet. If then these same faithful, despite the admonitions, would insist in an inopportune way to receive the Eucharist in place, time or personal circumstance which the Bishop contested, basing himself on the authority of the Roman Ritual, at that point their request, neither just, nor reasonable, would reveal an indocile and stubborn spirit, yearning for disorder and therefore not at all prepared to receive the Eucharist with due devotion.
6. Undoubtedly, as long as Pastors behave like this toward the faithful and the faithful listen attentively to the words of the Pastors, a perfect peace and harmony that firmly unites head and the members will be born; and this will exhaust those inopportune controversies which tend to only cause turbulence and scandal, to the determent of the true fruit of the souls, of which nothing should be more important to the Pastor. We remind you therefore of the words of the Apostle Paul to the Corinthians: “Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all speak the same thing and that there be no schisms among you: but that you be perfect in the same mind and in the same judgment” (1 Cor 1:10 DR version). Venerable Brothers, we wish these words join us to you through this Apostolic letter, as we desire happiness for you and, as a token paternal affection, We impart to you the Apostolic Blessing.
Given in Rome, in Santa Maria Maggiore, November 13, 1742, the third year of Our Pontificate.
(Parts of Paragraph 1 and 3 taken from Vatican translation of Mediator Dei)
Italian original: + Benedetto XIV Certiores effecti