I am a member of a women’s religious community. We have been privileged over the past 60 years to have a resident chaplain making it possible for us to celebrate the Liturgy of the Eucharist each day. Our current chaplain will be retiring in a few months, after which we will lose the opportunity to celebrate daily Liturgy of the Eucharist, hoping to at least celebrate Sunday Eucharist here in the monastery.
My question is related to the appropriate frequency of Communion Services, if any at all, during the week. Now we have a Communion Service once a month when our chaplain takes a day off, and guest priests when he is away longer. In a very recent post, you affirmed the appropriateness of a once-per-week Communion Service in a parish, especially for daily Mass-goers who appreciate receiving Communion each day. This sentiment would apply to our sisters as well.
In your article “Should Communion Services Substitute for Mass?” you discuss your concern about people understanding Communion Services as a substitute for Mass. I understand, agree, and will share your explanation with our sisters, that with a Communion Service, we don’t “participat[e] in the sacrifice of Christ” and all that we then miss out on. We would not want to make this a habit. Plus, there would be the whole logistical and theological issue of consecrating enough hosts for multiple Communion Services each week.
Is there anything else you might suggest that my community consider regarding the appropriateness and frequency of Communion Services? Of course we pray the Liturgy of the Hours (Morning, Noon, Evening) together each day. Should we leave it at this for the daily? At one level, we would be in solidarity with many Catholics who are now unable to celebrate the Eucharist daily due to the merging of parishes, parish collaboratives and fewer priests to serve them.
Thank you so much for your help.
A: I’m sorry to hear about the loss of your priest and all that this means for your religious community. You have the right principles in mind for a meaningful celebration of a communion service in relationship to the Mass.
I direct you to Holy Communion and Worship of the Eucharist Outside Mass, the liturgical book that describes this ceremony in the first chapter. It says that those who are sick or in danger of death should be refreshed by the Eucharist frequently, and insofar as possible, daily, especially during Easter Time (14).
To me, that indicates that those who are healthier may not have communion services available daily. But if one community has both the sick and the healthy, then an argument can be made in favor of daily communion in support of those who are physically weakened by their condition.
Be assured of my prayers as you discern a path forward.