Monday, May 12, 2008


That phrase is making headlines over Catholic pro-abortion politicians who continue to receive. I haven't found any indication that bishops are actually using it. Rather they are talking to pols about the need to "refrain from receiving", a different matter altogether.

Fr. John Flader responded to a question about the use of this phrase in The Catholic Weekly out of Australia. His comments are a refresher course on what we are actually doing when we walk up to the communion station at Mass. Some key passages:

Sometimes subtle changes of terminology, when they become widespread, gradually change people’s way of looking at and understanding reality. Words, after all, do have meanings. Heretics throughout the history of the Church have introduced new expressions which at the time seemed relatively harmless but, over time, changed people’s whole way of understanding the truths of the Faith. So words and expressions do have their importance....

[T]he priest or other minister is always to offer the host or the chalice with the Precious Blood to the communicant, who receives it. The communicant is not to take it on his or her own.

The 2004 Instruction Redemptionis Sacramentum of the Sacred Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments states in this regard: “It is not licit for the faithful to take … by themselves … and, still less, to hand … from one to another the sacred host or the sacred chalice.” (RS 94)

We "take" what is rightfully ours. We "receive" that which is given but for which we have no inherent right. Once Eucharist passes into the realm of "rights" all sorts of abuses are possible. The terminology is important, and I do so wish the reporters would get it right!

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