communion20110118 by J976r4


									18 January 2011

Dear Pastors, Pastoral Animators and Parishioners,

        As I am sure you are all aware, there is a new Missal (Sacramentary) being
prepared for the English-language dioceses of the world. The implementation date for
this in Canada will not be set until we get final approval from the Holy See. When this
does happen, then the Archdiocese of Grouard-McLennan will begin preparation for
making the transitions that will be called for in the new texts of the Mass.

        I am encouraged by reading what officials say in this matter, which is that the
introduction of the new Missal will be the occasion for a new catechesis on the Eucharist.
In a number of ways, I feel there has arisen some doubt and confusion even among
faithfully practicing Catholics about the very nature of the Eucharist, and how we should
understand this sacrament in our lives.

       As we await the final approval of texts from Rome and the beginning of teaching
sessions, I would like to share with you some concerns that have recently been brought to
my attention. This has to do with the manner in which we receive Communion at Mass.

        In order to appreciate these concerns, let me state very simply the Church’s belief
about the Eucharist: that it is indeed the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ. How the
transformation of ordinary bread and wine becomes Christ’s Body and Blood is a
profound mystery, and theologians over the centuries have reflected on the mystery that it
is. St. Thomas Aquinas spoke of this mystery as “transubstantiation” – that the physical
attributes of bread and wine (appearance, taste, smell, texture) remain the same, while the
deeper essence (or substance) has changed. If we personally believe what the Church
teaches on this matter, then the way we approach, receive and treat the Eucharist must be
with deep reverence and respect.

       Keeping this always in mind, let me address the matters that have been brought to
my attention:
   1. Some individuals come up in the communion line with little attention to what they
       are about to receive. Even though they have just shared the sign of peace at the
       appropriate moment, they “greet” others in their pews or offer a subtle “high five”
       to other communicants. This is very distracting for others, and displays a lack of
       focus on the Eucharist that is being received.
   2. Some engage in the practice of “intinction” or “dipping” of the sacred bread into
       the chalice before consuming it. Though this practice became popular in some

                         P.O. Box 388, McLennan AB T0H 2L0
        Phone 780 324 3002 Fax 780 324 3952     Email
      places, it is clearly no longer to be done. According to the new Instruction,
      Communion by intinction is possible, but where it becomes the custom, it must be
      done only by the minister of Communion, and everyone then receives communion
      in this same way.
   3. There is always the difficult question of who may (or may not) receive
      Communion. It is my feeling that the minister of Communion cannot be expected
      to decide whom to give or deny Communion to as they present themselves. In the
      Catholic Church’s tradition, Communion in the Body and Blood of Jesus reflects
      not only faith in Him, but also full “communion” with the Catholic Church. With
      some few and extraordinary exceptions, only those who are bona fide Catholics,
      and whose lifestyle is consistent with Church teaching and practice should seek to
      receive Communion. All others are (and should be made to feel) warmly
      welcome at our celebrations of the Eucharist, but they should refrain from
      receiving Communion. It has become customary for such persons to present
      themselves in the Communion line with their arms folded over their chest, so as to
      receive an expression of God’s love for them from the Eucharistic minister.
   4. Those receiving Communion should not have chewing gum or cough drops or any
      candies in their mouth as they receive the Body and Blood of Christ.
   5. Those receiving Communion on the hand are to place one opened palm on top of
      the other, for the minister of Communion to place the host on the top opened
      palm. The communicant then steps to one side, and uses the bottom hand to place
      the Eucharistic bread into his/her mouth. Only then should the communicant
      move to receive Communion from the chalice, or return to his/her seat.

        I remind pastors that, consistent with the motu proprio Immensae Caritatis of
Pope Paul VI dated 29 January 1973, the bishop is to appoint by name those who are
designated as Extraordinary Ministers of the Eucharist, either for a set period of time or
permanently. I ask pastors who have not done so to submit the names of such
parishioners to my office in McLennan.

        Thank you for your attention to this instruction. I realize that these directions
may strike some as being very detailed, but I believe that the observance of these
directives will maintain the solemnity and intimacy that is proper to the reception of the
Body and Blood of Christ.

Yours sincerely in Christ the Redeemer,

+ Gerard Pettipas, C.Ss.R.
Archbishop of Grouard-McLennan

                         P.O. Box 388, McLennan AB T0H 2L0
        Phone 780 324 3002 Fax 780 324 3952     Email

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