Friday, May 17, 2013

Pius X's Daily "Fix"



I encourage people to come to daily Mass, I celebrate Mass daily, I think going to Holy Communion daily is a good thing but it was not always thus.

St Pius X, that arch-innovator, not only changed the order of the sacraments placing First Confession and First Holy Communion before Confirmation but also made the daily celebration of Mass - and consequently the daily reception of Holy Communion - for priests a norm. Until then daily attendance at Mass was usual but the reception of Holy was not. There are older priests in my diocese who remember ancient priests in my diocese in the 1950s who only celebrated Mass on a Sunday, or when they were bound to do so by the Code of Canon Law because of piety not impiety, trusting in the judgement of the Church rather than their own feelings of worthiness or otherwise.

St Theresa of Lisieux was one of the few nuns in her convent who was given permission by her confessor to receive daily. Before the Reformation it was not unusual for a gap of several months to elapse between a priest's ordination and his first Mass, When some of early followers of Ignatius of the Loyola introduced the novelty in Rome of daily reception St Philip Neri introduced the (novelty) of daily Confession.

The Venetian Ambassador to Henry VIII's court remarked on the piety of the English, their attendance daily at Mass and Vespers but even so they seemed to receive Holy Communion only once a year. The Lateran Council of course had introduced the Paschal Precept of annual reception of Confession and Holy Communion but the emphasis was the reception of Holy Communion, Confession was always the preparation for Holy Communion.

I don't know how common Martin Luther's practise in his early days was (if it is correctly reported) that he would interrupt his Mass when he celebrated and go to Confession immediately before the Consecration, even if this a myth, the story illustrates that the expectation was that priest should be in a perfect state of Grace, with no attachment to sin, in order to celebrate, similarly there was the expectation that those who communicated were in a similar state.

Though the Lateran talks about an annual reception of Holy Communion: the ancient Tradition of the Church was that a once in a lifetime reception of Holy Communion was all that was necessary for salvation. In Spain until almost modern times and in the Orthodox world still, even in the Romanised Rites, Holy Communion is always giving as part of the Baptism, after Confirmation, in the case of infants. The pastoral presumption in many places is that although the child may attend the Liturgy all their life they will rarely, if ever Communicate.

Holy Communion does not "indelibly" mark the soul but initiation does, as does a single encounter with Christ in the scriptures, it is life changing.

As good and pious the practise of daily Communion is, it tends to set up a tendency where it almost becomes a necessity to have a daily "fix" to maintain a spiritual life, rather than understanding a single Communion is a life changing event. Pius X would have understood Holy Communion as signifying a state that already existed, of perfect Communion with Christ, we seem to have moved quite some distance from that and seem to be moving further away from it.

Expecting people to receive or to be able to receive daily and at every Mass has made the Church either a place for Saints - and consequently not for sinners or a place were Holy Communion is about ordinariness, and reception without thought or understanding, preparation or thanksgiving, and where attendance at Mass is meaningless without Holy Communion.

42 comments:

Lepanto said...

I am old enough to recall a time when only a minority (sometimes a small minority) would receive Holy Communion at Mass. It was usual for people only to receive if they had confessed a day or two previously. Many only received at the great feasts or perhaps only to fulfill 'Easter Duties'. Receiving Holy Communion was recognised as being something very special and not to be undertaken lightly or routinely. Perhaps things were better then.

Mike Hurcum said...

Was it not Pius X who in one encyclical wrote those who communicate daily should confess daily

Simon Reilly said...

Pius X merely echoed the words of St. Augustine: "Live in such a manner as to be able to receive every day."

GOR said...

Back in 1950s Ireland when 90+% of Catholics attended Mass on Sundays, most - but certainly not all – people went to Communion. In my parish (with 6 Curates!) some of the Curates were on hand at all Masses to help with distribution.

No one raised an eyebrow if others didn’t receive. Many wouldn’t if they had not been to confession recently. Also, the fast was from midnight and not everyone could make it – especially if you were going to one of the later Masses on Sunday morning.

Saturday confessions were well attended with all confessionals in use during the afternoon. As to frequency of confession, I recall reading that St. Ignatius confessed daily and sometimes more than once each day. That leads me to believe that he either had a very sensitive conscience or he suffered from scruples!

While we should adequately prepare ourselves for Holy Communion, we are not expected to be perfect – just free of Mortal Sin and consequently in the State of Sanctifying Grace. I doubt that anyone believes they have achieved perfection – or if they do, they obviously haven’t!

Anita Moore said...

What seems to me more harmful to our attitude toward Holy Communion than daily Communion is the fact that we now line up for it as for a buffet table, receive the host standing instead of on our knees, and can handle It with our unconsecrated hands and pop It into our mouths as if It were an hors d'oerve. Perhaps if we put an end to a manner of receiving that fosters irreverence, and also brought the tabernacle out of hiding and put it back squarely front and center, where it belongs, we would start to see a change.

And speaking of sacramental disciplines, the unholy pressures exerted on children even by their teachers convinces me that children should receive the Sacrament of Confirmation at an earlier age. Confirmation confers precisely the grace to resist things that could ruin our faith, and children need that now more than ever. Plus, deferring the Sacrament makes it all the easier never to receive it at all. Perhaps the Church should consider confirming all children in infancy, right after Baptism, as it is done in the eastern rites.

David O'Neill said...

I too am old enough (75 on 19th May) to recall as a chorister that our main Mass was at 11am & I still remember the first time that someone presented themselves at the altar rails for Communion at that Mass.
Referring to Pope St Pius X; Cardinal Merry del Val presented a cassock belonging to St Pius to Ushaw College (then our diocesan seminary). Sadly, on enquiring whether we might borrow it for an exhibition, I was told it had been stolen. Anyone knowing its whereabouts please contact me at; david-oneill3@sky.com

Amfortas said...

I've never approved of First Communion before Confirmation but then I'm not the Pope. If we take St Paul's admonitions about not receiving Holy Communion unworthily then the pressure always to receive can be difficult to handle. The idea of spiritual communion is alien to most people these days.

servusmariaen said...

I have in the past few years often been compelled to assist at irreverent Masses where handcommunion is the norm. I normally do not receive at such liturgies in order not to be partisan to possible sacrilege (particles on the church floor) or acquiescence. I rather make a spiritual communion. While a spiritual communion does not equal the reception of Our Lord in Holy Communion it is nevertheless a great source of graces.

Sadie Vacantist said...

Could the last paragraph be clarified please as I don't follow the logic?

Confusion exists around the issue of daily Mass. The modern liturgy is too noisy for those of us who work. We need something less interactive to off set the daily round of conference calls, instant messages, emails and goodness knows what?

Catholic Coffee said...

Fr., your blog says that weekday Masses at your church are at 10.00 a.m. (usually). So who should receive daily? The retired? Those who are rich enough not to have to work? Now, of course, if I left my job and got one that would allow me to fit earning a living around the 10.00 a.m. Mass, that would work. For example if I became a sex worker...

I did use to be a daily communicant. In Communist Eastern Europe. Until I came to the UK. The country where it's either daily communion or a job.

Mike, the Church teaches that the only time you must go to confession before communion is if you are in mortal sin. (And once a year otherwise.) So no, you can receive every day and you don't have to go to confession other than once a year - unless you want to. Venial sins are pardoned in holy communion anyway.

Fr Ray Blake said...

CC
We have experimented with evening Masses and early morning, it is still the retired, disabled, students, holidaymakers and unemployed who come.

During school holidays and on bank holidays, we don't get extras.

Our EF Mass on a Friday certainly attracts more people than an OF form Mass on an evening.

Jacobi said...

Father, may I suggest that there is a simple answer to this, namely, for priests to remind congregations, from the pulpit, from time to time, no need to get too obsessive about it, that to receive Holy Communion, it is a requirement of the Church that they be in a state of Grace, that is free from mortal sin, such as for example, missing Mass without reason, contraception, the use of aborticides, sex out of Church-lawful wedlock etc., indeed all of the deadly sins, and perhaps, most importantly, that they truly believe in the Real Presence.

Amfortas said...

I am lucky enough to work a few minutes from Westminster Cathedral where the two lunchtime masses are well attended. Many parishes have daily mass at 1000. Why not 1230?

Catholic Coffee said...

Fr., thank you for your response. The situation still remains though that working peoople are excluded from your 10 a.m. Mass by default (and there are more working-age than non-working age people in society, and therefore, presumably, amongst Catholics). If the retired, students, etc. still go to the early morning or late evening Mass, as you say, why not keep Mass at those times to give working people at least a chance?

gemoftheocean said...

Lepanto -- Jansenism at its finest.

gemoftheocean said...

Anita, how parochial. The eastern rite have always stood "aright and in awe" -- and westerners used to do so until the late middle ages. [And they received in the hand until about then too.] I'm all for putting rails back in and having the norm be kneeling, but there is more than one way to skin a cat.

akp5401 said...

I am a daily Mass goer, as far as possible, and usually have no reason not to receive Holy Communion - one day last week, just around the Our Father, I realised I had taken a capsule, without thinking just before leaving for Mass - it wasn't medicine or anything necessary at that point, so I realised I had broken the (so short) fast, so would make a spiritual communion instead of receiving Our Lord. It was initially strange not to go forward, but I soon forgot it (the strangeness) as I prayed and during the day I felt that the experience had taught me something - not that it doesn't matter if you don't recieve Holy Communion - but the value of the Mass even if you are unable to receive. It seemed like a moment of grace in a way.

Fr Ray Blake said...

CC
Most priests offer Mass for those who attend not for the absent, so 10 am suits most people.
Our congregation does have the retired but also a few students.

Physiocrat said...

In the EF Mass the Presence is often palpable from the moment of consecration, thus the need for reception of communion is so much less. In the OF Mass, there is such a constant chatter and racket, and then everyone joins in the Our Father and the sign of piece is exchanged, then there is often a hymn afterwords. Of course Christ is still really present but you often have to search for Him as if it was a cocktail party.

The Novus Ordo needs to be gently phased out. Having got used to the EF, I have come to the conclusion that whilst the NO is a valid and approved Mass, it is ultimately toxic to faith. I am avoiding it if there is the opportunity of an EF.

Anita Moore said...

Gemoftheocean, it's not parochial to take kneeling and standing and Communion in the hand in their context. The fact is that in the Latin Rite, we went from what had been an immemorial custom of kneeling to standing, which, in our culture, is inherently not as reverent as kneeling. And we gave up receiving on the tongue as a mark of respect for both the Eucharist and the consecrated hands of a priest. Regardless of what the practice is in other rites, the fact is that to go from what are considered more reverent practices to less reverent ones sends a message. And it hasn't proved to be a good one.

By the way, in his Dialogue Concerning Heresies, St. Thomas More (who lived at the end of the Late Middle Ages) includes this in his syllabus of Luther's errors: "He teaches that every man and woman should take the Holy Sacrament, and not refrain from touching It and handling It as much as they please."

Mike Hurcum said...

The Pope in an encyclical wrote communicate daily confess daily, is that not church teaching and infallibly given. In the church I was brought up in venial sins were forgiven by the Idulgentiam absolutem. When this blessing was taken out of the mass in the novus ordo some way had to be found to make up for the missing words. read any of the early theological books and you will find that what I have written was the norm. What have these missing words caused. A priest told me when He says the words of consecration of the Blood everybodies' sins in the Church are forgiven. Another very charismatic woman told me that when we leave our gift at the altar and give the sign of peace our sins are forgiven. The Church teaches through the ruibrics of indulgences and the conditions for plenary indulgences we should not expect to stay mortal sinless for an octave before and an octave after that is 16 days from charitably the time of one's last confession. Have you read Jesus revelation to Jacinta about the first Saturday reparations He is very strongly suggesting that sins are not forgiven without going to a priest in the sacrament of penance or confession. The Council of Trent also tells us and they are the basic definition of the Sacraments, that it is almost impossible for a perfect act of contrition to be made by anyone if there is not extra ordinary reason or emergency that moves us.

Physiocrat said...

"We" in St Mary Magdalens did not give up receiving communion kneeling and on the tongue. A new priest arrived in the parish in 1990 and was very firm in insisting that we stood in a queue and received it standing and on the hand. Heaven help anyone who had continued with the tradition. Just to make sure that nobody was unduly reverent, the priest took away the communion rails and gates and kneelers on the altar step. Also, to minimise undue reverence, he got members of the parish trained as Extraordinary Ministers and they handed out communion, and we also got extra chalices so that everyone was meant to take the Blood as well as the Body, at all Masses.

In retrospect, it looked like a deliberate attempt to Protestantise the liturgy. Those of us who stayed went along with the change uneasily out of loyalty to the Parish Priest but that was the time when numbers began to fall drastically. "We" were made to give up the traditions. It was a top-down imposition, not a spontaneous change. This needs to be remembered when the history is written.

Amfortas said...

St Cyril of Jerusalem, that great teacher of catachumens writing in the fourth century, instructs the faithful to 'make your left hand a throne for the right, as if to receive a King. Then hollow your palm, and receive the body of Christ, saying over it, "Amen". Then after carefully blessing your eyes by the touch of the holy body, consume it, careful not to lose any small particle...not to lose a crumb of what is more precious than gold or jewels...then, after partaking of the body of Christ, draw near to the cup of his blood...bowing and reverently saying, "Amen"...and while the moisture is still on your lips, touch it with your hands, and bless your eyes and forehead and other organs of sense...and give thanks unto God, who has counted you worthy of such mysteries'. - Mystagogical Lecture 5.

So the Church has adopted different practices at different times in relation to receiving Holy Communion. We know this and we shouldn't fetishise the way things were done in the early Church or, indeed, the high Middle Ages.

My preference is to receive kneeling and on the tongue. The point I am trying to make here is that it's not so much the posture that matters as the disposition of the communicant and his understanding of what he is receiving. Having said this perhaps we need a radical change to bring this about. So, despite the beautiful quotation, I say bring back the altar rails and educate the faithful about the profound mystery we are privileged to witness every time mass is celebrated.

Fr Ray Blake said...

Amfortas,
You are right! The problem is that Cyril was writing about the practice in one particular Church in the 4th Century.
We know nothing about the practice in Rome or anywhere else at the time, or earlier.

Perhaps what the Cyril quote suggests is the high degree of rubricism about receiving Communion.

What is worthwhile looking at is the development of the almost universal practice (E & W) in the mouth.

nickbris said...

We used to have a daily Mass at 7am for workers and I can remember a lot of nurses used to come in uniform

Terry Nelson said...

Dear Father - Pardon me, but I would offer just a small point here. Little Therese was not permitted daily communion in the monastery, the Prioress was against it. Therese prophesied things would change after her death, and daily communion was permitted soon after Therese died - to everyones surprise, M. Gonzague changed her mind.

Fr Ray Blake said...

Nickbris,
How long ago?

John Nolan said...

Actually, Pius X, by his liturgical fiddling (not least with the calendar) kick-started the movement which has left us in the mess we are today - something that SSPX should be reminded of.

Merry del Val did a sterling job - his Prayer for England (his native land) is still a favourite - but his influence on a strong-willed Pontiff was perforce limited.

JARay said...

Where I live it is possible to attend Mass at 7-00 am, at 9-00 am and at 12-10pm but not all at the same church. The majority of us have cars, although some no longer drive, and they miss out. I would consider Mass at 10-00 am as being a strange time because I would see that time as messing up whatever else was planned for the morning.
As for reception of Communion, I can see the argument in favour of it being on the tongue as it would lessen the chance of people walking away with the Host and doing strange things with it, but I prefer reception in the hand. There is one lady at my church who barely opens her mouth at all and certainly never displays her tongue. I am always more than a bit concerned when she comes to me when I am distributing Holy Communion. She sort of just bites at the Host. Others of course display a very wet tongue and I try not to get my fingers wet with their saliva when I deposit the Host on their tongues.

Hughie said...

At the 19th Eucharistic Congress in London in 1908, a talk was given by Fr, (later Monsignor) Thomas N (later Canon) Taylor, PP of St Francis Xavier, Carfin, Diocese of Motherwell. My understanding (apologies, my old computer crashed and I lost most of my notes on this) is that a paper was supposed to be delivered at a meeting but the scheduled speaker had to cancel at the last minute and Fr Taylor was asked to fill the space in the schedule. Already a devotee of Saint Bernadette, he had become one of the first, and arguably the greatest, devotee of St Therese of Lisieux amongst his generation of British and Irish priests, and later ones. He was a great believer in frequent, preferably daily, communion. He had, therefore, been ecstatic upon the promulgation of “Sacra Tridentina: On Frequent and Daily Reception of Holy Communion”, Pope Pius X, December 20, 1905. And this apparently was the starting point of his talk.

St. Pius X had directed that the Eucharistic Congress of the previous year (1907) held at Metz be devoted entirely to the questions relating to frequent Holy Communion. Fr Taylor outlined the themes discussed and expanded upon them. It has been argued on Mgr Taylor’s behalf that it was subsequent to, and as a direct result of, this talk that the hierarchies of Great Britain and Ireland at last began to become more enthusiastic about frequent, and even daily, reception of Holy Communion.

Fifteen years later, Mgr Taylor opened Carfin Grotto.

PS: Is it just me, or do others also have problems deciphering the two words that are supposed to ensure that I am not a robot?

nickbris said...

40's & 50's Father We had 7am 8am 9am childrens Mass 10am low 11am high singing and noon for Polish

But we did have several priests in those days

Amfortas said...

Hughie, you're not the only one who has trouble deciphering the 'prove you're not a robot' words. Sometimes they're clear and other times fuzzy. Other similar blogs do not utilise this facility. Perhaps Father would consider a change although I'm not sure how difficult this would be.

Genty said...

If memory serves me correctly, St. Mary Magdalen had a 6.0am weekday Low Mass in the 1950s. The parish also had three priests.
It's too much to expect a priest working on his own to offer an early morning Mass when he may have had several late nights ministering to the sick and the dying.

Sue Sims said...

I converted in 1998, and from then to 2011 was a daily communicant: there was always an early Mass somewhere in Bournemouth. In 2011, the last church to offer an early Mass each weekday (it was at 7.30 am) stopped, and now there's nothing apart from 9 am and 10 am. Since I'm a teacher, and have to be at school by 8.20, that's no good.

Obviously this is no one's fault: the priest shortage means that Masses have to be reduced in number, and Fr Blake is quite right in noting that the early Masses were never as well attended as the mid-morning ones (in my parish, there'd generally be between 7 and 15 people at the early one, and 30 or so at the mid-morning). But I know my spiritual life has suffered.

JARay said...

I would like to agree with Hughie that indeed the fuzzy scrambled word does take some figuring out. He obviously did succeed, as did I, but it isn't always easy!

Fr Ray Blake said...

I am not sure how to change anti-robot code, it is what blogger supplies, perhaps the best thing is to scroll through until you find smomething readable.

Supertradmum said...

Thank you for posting this, as the daily Masses are hardly attended. The Catholics will be shocked when parishes begin to close owing to the lack of vocations within my life-time. Taking advantage of the Eucharistic Presence in one's life should be a priority.

Sadly, some of the Mass schedules do not allow people going to work to attend. However, there are so many retired Catholics, the churches could be at least half-full.

St. Pius X, pray for us.

Physiocrat said...

I am told that one half of the robot code is just used by Google to digitise things from pictures eg addresses and texts.

I think we are now in the final stages of disintegration, the process set in train by the Second Vatican Council and completed by the clerical abuse scandals.

Here is Sweden is an illusion of a flourishing church because of immigration from Catholic countries and conversions from Lutheranism, but that source has now almost dried up.

The good news here is that where the Tridentine Mass is celebrated regularly, and where orthodoxy survives, there is a steady trickle of conversions and vocations here, not a few from atheism.

The church will have to grow itself back from this core of survivors.

Matthew said...

I was very interested to note Fr Blake's observation about the relative novelty of the custom of every priest celebrating Mass every day, a point which so far as I can see has not attracted any comments.

Jacobi said...

Physiocrat, I agree. The Church will have to grow again from a small core. The post-Vatican II new Mass has metamorphosed from the Redemptive Sacrifice of Calvary into a quasi-Protestant mandatory communion service.

ps the scrambled fussy words are easy - but then I'm a robot!

Edward P. Walton said...

The fact is , the local church has sent the message, thru omission, that one doesn't have to be in the state of grace to receive holy Communion.

At any Sunday Mass almost the entire congregation goes up to receive Communion.

Gratias said...

The only good thing I can say about Vatican II is that now one may take communion without confession. Before 1964 only few received the Host, for the priest knew exactly who had been to confession. It is much better now because taking communion becomes an essential habit for Catholics.