Bishop Walkowiak has issued new regulations on the care, handling, and distribution of the Most Blessed Sacrament. These changes have the force of “particular law” in our Diocese and will take effect this fall. Most of these represent little or no change from our current practices at Sacred Heart. However, the most significant change will be the Bishop’s prohibition of any blessing for those unable to receive Holy Communion.
The Bishop’s decree states: “Ministers of Holy Communion may not impart special blessings, (e.g. for children or non- Catholics) while distributing Communion.”
You might wonder what the reason for this norm is. The reception of Communion is the reception of Jesus Himself, whole and entire, and ALIVE. It has always been the tradition of the Church that priests, who make Jesus present in a lesser way (“in persona Christi”), do not bless anyone or anything else while Christ, the One Who blesses, is truly present before them in the Blessed Sacrament. The custom of blessing that has popped up in the last forty years or so, largely for sentimental reasons, never really made theological sense since it distracts from the purpose of the moment, namely union with the One Who blesses. As the Bishop reminds us, after Communion is received, “all members of the assembly, including those who have not received the Eucharist, are blessed at the end of Mass” by the priest.
Starting this fall, we ask that if you are unable to receive Communion for any reason, you should stay in your pew, making way for those approaching the altar and asking the Lord to make a spiritual communion. To facilitate this, please be flexible with your seating at Communion time. Remember, if there is a free space at the altar rail, please take it without drawing attention to those ahead of you who, for whatever reason, are not ready to approach the altar. Parents of small children are, of course, still welcome to bring their children with them if necessary so long as it is understood that they will be blessed at the end of Mass.
Here is an act of Spiritual Communion:
I believe that You are present in the Most Holy Sacrament. I love You above all things,
And I desire to receive You into my soul.
Since I cannot at this moment receive You sacramentally, Come at least spiritually into my heart.
I embrace You as if You were already there
And unite myself wholly to You.
Never permit me to be separated from You. Amen