No need for debate on the matter of receiving Holy Communion
— By Bishop Joseph Toal
I have noticed in the pages of the Scottish Catholic Observer recently a dispute has opened up over how Holy Communion is to be received.
I would like to draw peoples’ attention to the words in the General Instruction to the Roman Missal, Number 160, with its specific adaptation for the dioceses of Scotland given by the Congregation for Divine Worship and for the Discipline of the Sacraments. It reads as follows: “The priest then
takes the paten or ciborium and approaches the communuicants, who usually come up in procession.
“It is not permitted for the Faithful to take the Consecrated Bread or the Sacred Chalice by themselves and, still less, to hand them on from one to another among themselves.
“In the dioceses of Scotland Holy Communion is to be received standing, although individual members of the Faithful may choose to receive Communion while kneeling. However, when they communuicate standing, it is recommended that the Faithful bow in reverence before receiving the Sacrament.”
The words, in heavy print, are as given by the Congregation, whose Prefect, Cardinal Cañizares Lllovera, sent an accompanying letter—dated March 17 2011—to Cardinal Keith O’Brien explaining this adaptation. It reads: “In particular, the congregation would like to point out the changes to paragraph Number 160, which concerns the proper manner of receiving Holy Communion.
“The formulation has been coordinated among the various English speaking conferences, and is intended to take into account the experience gained in these past several years and to accommodate the stipulations of the Instruction Redemptionis Sacramentum.”
Number 161 from the General Instruction reads as follows: “If Communion is given only under the species of bread, the priest raises the host slightly and shows it to each, saying: Corpus Christi—The Body of Christ. the communicant replies ‘Amen,’ and receives the Sacrament either on the tongue or, where this is allowed and if the communicant so chooses, in the hand. As soon as the communicant receives the host, he or she consumes it entirely.
“If however, Communion is given under both kinds, the rite prescribed in numbers 284-287 is followed.”
I think these instructions are clear, as are the choices permitted. There is no need, therefore, for further arguments over what is or is not allowed, nor suggestions that local bishops are acting against the wishes of the Holy Father.
I recommend that when the New Missal is ready and introduced in our parishes we start at the beginning and read or re-read The General Instruction.
With all my prayers and best wishes.
— Bishop Joseph Toal is Bishop of Argyll and the Isles Diocese