Wednesday, March 21, 2018



At the Wednesday audience Pope Francis continued His Holiness' catechesis on the Mass with a focus on receiving Holy Communion.

This is what His Holiness said in part with my opinion in red:

Catechesis of the Holy Father

Dear brothers and sisters, good morning!

...And let us continue now with the catechesis on the Holy Mass. The celebration of Mass, the various moments of which we are going through, is ordered to Communion, that is, uniting with Jesus. Sacramental communion: not spiritual communion, which you can do at home by saying, “Jesus, I would like to receive you spiritually”. No, sacramental communion, with the body and blood of Christ. We celebrate the Eucharist to nourish ourselves with Christ, Who gives us Himself both in the Word and in the Sacrament of the altar, to confirm us to Him. (Actually, Holy Mother Church nourishes us.) The Lord Himself says so: “Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in them” (Jn 6: 56). Indeed, the gesture of Jesus ,Who gave to the disciples His Body and Blood in the Last Supper, still continues today through the ministry of the priest and the deacon, ordinary ministers of the distribution to their brothers of the Bread of life and the Chalice of salvation.

In the Mass, after breaking the consecrated Bread, that is, the body of Jesus, the priest shows it to the faithful, inviting them to participate in the Eucharistic banquet. We know the words that resound from the holy altar: “Blessed are those called to the supper of the Lamb: Behold the Lamb of God, behold Him Who takes away the sins of the world”. Inspired by a passage of the Book of Revelation – “Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb” (Rev 19: 9), “marriage” because Jesus is the Spouse of the Church – this invitation calls us to experience the intimate union with Christ, source of joy and of holiness. It is an invitation that causes us to rejoice and at the same time urges an examination of conscience illuminated by faith. If on the one hand, indeed, we see the distance that separates us from Christ’s holiness, on the other we believe that His Blood is “shed … for the remission of sins”. We were all forgiven in baptism, and all of us are forgiven or will be forgiven each time we partake of the Sacrament of Reconciliation. And do not forget: Jesus always forgives. Jesus never tires of forgiving. It is we who tire of asking for forgiveness. Considering the salvific value of this Blood, Saint Ambrose exclaims: “I who sin always, am always in need of medicine” (De sacramentis, 4, 28: PL 16, 446A). In this faith, we too turn our gaze to the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world and invoke Him: “Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof, but only say the word and my soul shall be healed”. We say this in every Mass.

Although it is we who move in procession to receive Communion, we go towards the altar in procession to receive Communion, it is actually Christ Who comes to us to assimilate us to Him. (Thank you Holy Father, our Lord processes to us to assimilate us to Him!)

There is an encounter with Jesus! To be nourished by the Eucharist means to allow oneself be changed as we receive. Saint Augustine helps us to understand it, when he tells us about the light received in hearing Christ say: “I am the food of strong men; grow, and you shall feed upon me; nor shall you convert me, like the food of your flesh, into you, but you shall be converted into me” (Confessions VII, 10, 16: PL 32, 742). Each time we receive Communion, we resemble Jesus more, we transform more into Jesus. Just as the bread and wine are converted into the Body and Blood of Christ, those who receive them with faith are transformed into a living Eucharist. To the priest who, distributing the Eucharist, says to you, “The Body of Christ”; you answer, “Amen”, or rather, you acknowledge the grace and commitment that leads to becoming the Body of Christ. Because when you receive the Eucharist, you become the Body of Christ. This is beautiful, very beautiful. While it unites us with Christ, tearing us from our selfishness, Communion opens us and unites us to all those who are one in Him. This is the prodigy of Communion: we become what we receive!

The Church strongly desires that the faithful also receive the Body of the Lord with consecrated hosts in the same Mass; and the sign of the Eucharistic banquet is expressed with greater fullness if Holy Communion is made in the two forms, even though Catholic doctrine teaches that one whole Christ is received in one form (cf. General Order of the Roman Missal, 85; 281-282). (Good clarification!) According to the ecclesial practice, the faithful approach the Eucharist normally in a processional form, as we have said, and, standing with devotion or kneeling, as established by the Episcopal Conference, receive the sacrament in the mouth or, where permitted, in the hand, as preferred (cf. General Order of the Roman Missal, 160-161). (Thank God His Holiness doesn't rule out kneeling for Holy Communion and on the tongue!) After Communion, to keep the gift received in our hearts, we are helped by silence, silent prayer. Prolong a little that moment of silence, speaking with Jesus in the heart helps us greatly, as does singing a psalm or a hymn of praise (cf. General Order of the Roman Missal, 88) that helps us to be with the Lord.(I am glad too that the Holy Father doesn't make "singing while receivng Holy Communion the thing that unites us! It is Jesus of course. And the Holy Father rightly states that sacred silence can be even more beneficial as the means to help us to be with the Lord!!!!! Thank you Holy Father! Of course His Holiness doesn't rule out singing, either by a schola or the congregation, but it isn't turned into a liturgical mandate as Praytell and other modern liturgists are prone to do!)

The Eucharistic Liturgy is concluded by the oration after Communion. In this, on behalf of everyone, the priest turns to God to thank Him for making us His guests and to ask that what has been received may transform our life. The Eucharist makes us strong to bear the fruits of good works for living as Christians. Today’s prayer is significant, in which we ask the Lord “May the mysteries we have received, O Lord, bring us heavenly medicine, that they may purge all evil from our heart and strengthen us with eternal protection” (Roman Missal, Wednesday of the Fifth week of Lent). Let us partake of the Eucharist: receiving Jesus Who transforms us into Him makes us stronger. Very good and very great is the Lord!


Fr. Michael J. Kavanaugh said...

It's no more "heretical" than:

"Brethren (brothers and sisters), let us acknowledge our sins,
and so prepare ourselves to celebrate the sacred mysteries."

"Prepare OURSELVES"???!!!

You see, when one cherry-picks one sentence or one portion of one sentence, one can conclude all sorts of foolish things as there is no context.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

Mixing apples and oranges. We prepare ourselves to celebrate, but we don't transform ourselves by our preparation--God transforms us, we don't do it ourselves.

We prepare ourselves to receive Holy Communion by acknowledging our unworthiness, but that doesn't transform us or forgive us, only God does that. We don't transform ourselves by forgiving ourselves.

Fr. Michael J. Kavanaugh said...

We do not prepare ourselves to celebrate; we are prepared by God's grace. The only way we can acknowledge our unworthiness is that we are moved and enabled to do so by God's grace.

In this and all things, God's grace is the initiator.

CCC 1998: This vocation to eternal life is supernatural. It depends entirely on God's gratuitous initiative, for he alone can reveal and give himself. It surpasses the power of human intellect and will, as that of every other creature.

CCC 2001: The preparation of man for the reception of grace is already a work of grace. This latter is needed to arouse and sustain our collaboration in justification through faith, and in sanctification through charity. God brings to completion in us what he has begun, "since he who completes his work by cooperating with our will began by working so that we might will it."

When one takes words out of context, one can find any silly and erroneous meaning in them.

Anonymous said...

Is it "episcopal conference" or (big E and big C) "Episcopal Conference?" Some might think Episcopal with "big E" as the Episcopal Church Conference House of Bishops.

John Nolan said...

We do not 'go in procession' to receive Holy Communion; we approach the rails as individuals, assuming that we are in a state of grace. We may have to stand in line if there are people in front of us and wait our turn. In England this is known as 'queueing'.

One of my objections to the Novus Ordo is that it tries to justify rank innovations by referring to bogus traditions. It fools no-one with a modicum of liturgical knowledge. The so-called Universal Prayer? A Novus Ordo conceit (there's nothing 'universal' about it). The homily as part of the liturgy? Another Novus Ordo conceit.

'Fratres, agnoscamus peccata nostra, ut apti simus ad sacra mysteria celebranda.' Sounds very Pelagian to me. Where is the reference to God's grace, Fr K? Oh, it doesn't have to be explicit, don't y'know, we can supply it for ourselves. We don't say anything that is actually heretical, so what we leave out doesn't count. 'Cogitatione, verbo, opere et omissione' The last-named might apply a corrective to this particular conceit.

rcg said...

FrMJK: is humility an act of preparation?

Victor said...

I have to thank Fr K. for pointing out how Pelagian the Novus Ordo Mass is, right from the beginning. Indeed, we should be asking God for grace to help us prepare for the mysteries.

Fr. Michael J. Kavanaugh said...

Victor, you make the same error Fr. McDonald makes, taking one portion of one sentence out of context. The introduction to the Penitential Rite is not Pelagian.

John Nolan said...

Victor and Fr Mcdonald have a point (see my comment above, where I quote the entire sentence in context).

As for grace, the 1974 ICEL prayers (which Fr K used happily for decades) removed all references to divine grace. A good example of this is the Collect for Advent 4 (NO) which is a very familiar prayer in another context.

Fr K is once again in denial, his default mode.

Gene said...

So, nothing really matters.

TJM said...

John Nolan 1
Kavanaugh 0

So nothing really changes

Fr. Michael J. Kavanaugh said...

The context is broader than one sentence.

I imagine one could find a sentence in St Thomas Aquinas, Theodore of Mopsuestia, Minucius Felix, or Pope Benedict XVI that, by its lonesome, could be read as Pelagian.

Confirmation bias is at work - I am looking for "X," therefore, I will find "X" even if it does not exist.

TJM said...


Have you found or stopped looking for that section of Sacrosanctum Concilium which requires a pastor to teach his congregation to chant, in Latin, the parts of the Mass proper to them or are you engaging in confirmation bias?

John Nolan said...

Actually, Fr K. shoots himself in the foot. 'I am looking for X, therefore I will find X, even if does not exist' So if I am looking for a reference to God's grace, and do not find it, then the idea of God's grace does not exist.

For some years now I have been engaging on this blog with Fr Kavanaugh. I don't doubt his orthodoxy, since I am in no position to do so. Yet he, on his own admission, has no knowledge of, nor respect for, the liturgy prior to 1964. This is in spite of his claiming a knowledge of, and competence in, liturgical music.

As to translation, I have quoted him chapter and verse as to how it is impossible to render Latin syntax literally into English - one is a highly inflected language, the other is not - yet he has maintained his prejudice. My English is better than his, my Latin is better than his, and my logic is better than his.

No doubt he will want to have the last word ...

TJM said...

John Nolan,

You just had the last word. But if he is anything like Mark Thomas he will run back to be spanked again.

Fr. Michael J. Kavanaugh said...

John - I have never admitted that I have "no respect for the liturgy prior to 1964." That is as untrue as a statement gets.

By the way, your confirmation bias (the tendency to interpret evidence as confirmation of one's existing beliefs or theories) is showing in that false statement.

While it is, "impossible to render Latin syntax literally into English" that doesn't mean we should not do the best possible job when making translations. The perfect should not become the enemy of the good.

And it does not mean that we should stop making translations, since the People of God have a right to hear and understand what the Church's prayers mean and offer.

No doubt John, via TJM, will want to have the last word.

John Nolan said...

'People of God'. That post-V2 expression irked Cardinal Heenan, who irritably asked 'who are the people not of God?'

A few years ago I asked, out of curiosity, what the music programme was for Easter Sunday at the principal Mass in Fr Kavanaugh's church. Mass I (Lux et Origo) or perhaps a polyphonic setting of the Ordinary? The plainchant setting of the Vidi Aquam and the Sequence? The Haec Dies and the Alleluia 'Pascha Nostrum', the latter being one of the greatest chants in existence?

He did not rise to the challenge. So I shall ask again, since Easter is little more than a week away. Since he has the greatest respect for the liturgy prior to 1964 and a great love of liturgical music, surely he can come clean? As a matter of fact, I shall probably be attending a Novus Ordo Mass at the Oxford Oratory, so perhaps we could compare notes.

Fr. Michael J. Kavanaugh said...

John Nolan - No, I will not "rise to the challenge" as you have not risen to the challenge of admitting you made false statements about what I have said and what I think about the liturgy prior to 1964.

Remember the wise words of someone: Comparisons are odious. Or, as Dogberry puts it, Comparisons are odorous.

TJM said...

John Nolan,

Hell, I can't even get Kavanaugh to admit that he defies Sacrosanctum Concilium by not adhering to its mandate to teach his congregation how to chant in Latin the parts of the Mass proper to them. He is a law unto himself and could care less what the Church requires. In other words, a typical malformed clergyman, the breed of which is dying off, thanks be to God.