Saturday, 15 September 2012
Mass without Holy Communion?
A lady recently told me her son does not come to Mass because being in a civil marriage, he cannot receive Holy Communion. This set me thinking: how many Catholics have developed the idea that Mass is given to us only as a means of providing us with Holy Communion? Is that also the reason why so many are happy to have a Service of the word with distribution of Holy Communion when Father is away? Is it the reason why many Catholics –not only the lapsed- never appear at weekday Mass unless it is being offered for their loved one? I think it is; I think we have promoted reception of Holy Communion in such a way that we have diminished a right understanding of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.
Holy Mass is not simply a fraternal banquet, nor is it simply the ceremony by which Holy Communion is made available to us; it is the re-present-ing of the Act by which was gained the world’s redemption. Holy Mass is the source of every good thing that we possess, from the talents we rejoice in as our gifts and graces to the people we cherish for their gifts and graces, since it is through the Sacrifice contained in the Mass that every grace which has come into the world has come. All the graces made available to us through the Sacraments and the Life of Christian Faith, as well as every grace of Salvation History -to Abraham, Moses et al, and to Our Lady (her Immaculate Conception) are given in view of the infinite and eternal merits of Christ Jesus our Lord. perhaps we need to remind ourselves that to stand at the foot of the altar is to stand at the foot of Calvary and place ourselves in the stream of blood and water which flowed from the Lord’s pierced side. I remind myself of this every day when I pray before each offering of Holy Mass that the Precious Blood of Christ will wash away my sins, and that the water which flowed from His side will fill me with His grace to heal my sinfulness (my concupiscence), that I may stand before Lord without offence to His glory, scandal to His people or the loss of my own soul.
I think it is time we re-educated Catholics on the value of the Mass per se; to remind them that the Church does not oblige us to receive Holy Communion every Sunday but to attend Mass every Sunday, whether or not we receive Holy Communion. While reception of Holy Communion is the most perfect form of participation in the Mass, to ‘miss Mass’ because we have broken the fast, because we are in need of Confession or because we are in an irregular situation, is to do more harm than good. It is, as a lay friend of mine says, ‘to side with the wrong side in eternity’. I make no apologies for reminding my parishioners in homilies and Newsletters that since Holy Mass contains the Sacrifice by which we are saved and the Real Presence of the Saviour Himself surrounded by His angels and saints, that we do not need to die to go to heaven; we need only come to Holy Mass.