Page 6, 16th January 1953

16th January 1953
Page 6
Page 6, 16th January 1953 — HOLY OFFICE EXPLAINS

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Organisations: Church of Silence, Holy Office
Locations: Rome


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New rules for the Eucharistic fast and the evening Mass

BELOW is a translation, made by "The Catholic Herald," of the Instruction issued by the Supreme Sacred Congregation of the Holy Office with the Pope's historic new Constitution, "Christus Dominus," published last Saturday, revising the rules of the Eucharistic fast and permitting Ordinaries to authorise their clergy to celebrate Mass in the evening.

The Instruction—signed by Cardinal Pizzardo, Secretary of the Holy Office, and Mgr. Affredo Ottaviani, the Assessor, and approved by the Holy Father—lays down the rules to be observed in connection with the Eucharistic fast. It reads: T he Apostolic Constitution, Christus Dominus given this day by the Supreme Pontiff, Pius XII, happily reigning, grants many faculties and dispensations regarding the observance of the Eucharistic fast. But it also confirms for the most part in their substance most of the rules of Canon Law (Canons 808 and 858, 1) which priests and faithful are already bound to keep.

However, the first prescription of this Constitution—which lays down that drinking natural water (that is, water to which nothing has been added) no longer breaks the Eucharistic fast —applies to them also. (Constitution, Canon 1.)

As regards other concessions, these apply only to those priests and faithful who are governed by particular conditions noted in the Constitution, or who celebrate or receive Holy Communion at evening Masses authorised by Bishops in accordance with the new faculties.

Therefore, in order that the rules relating to the concessions may be kept uniform, to avoid various interpretations which enlarge them, and to prevent any abuses in this matter, this Supreme Congregation of the Holy Office, by the command of the Holy Father himself, has laid down the following :

FOR SICK PRIESTS AND LAYMEN (Constitution, Canon 2)

1Sick laymen, even those who are

. not bedridden, can take something to drink—provided it is nonalcoholic—if, owing to their illness, they cannot keep the Eucharistic fast

before receiving Holy Communion without grave inconvenience.

They may also take as medicine either liquid (excluding alcohol) or solid food—provided that it is germInc medicinal treatment—which has either been prescrihed by a doctor or which is commonly recognised in all cases as medicine. But it must he pointed out that any solid food taken as nourishment cannot be regarded as medicine.

The conditions under which any4,* one can obtain the dispensation from the Eucharistic fast, for which there is no prescribed time limit before receiving Communion, must be prudently considered by his confessor. Without his advice, nobody can make use of the concession.

The confessor will be able to give his advice either personally in the confessional or personally outside it. The permission will be once-and-foralways, as long as the conditions of the illness itself last.

Sick priests, even those who are J. not bedridden, can avail themselves of the dispensation in like manner, either for celebrating Mass or for receiving the Holy Eucharist.

FOR PRIESTS IN PARTICULAR CI RC U MSTANCES (Constitution, Canons 3 and 4) A Priests who are not sick may "T• break their fast by taking something to drink (alcoholic drinks excepted) before celebrating Mass in the following circumstances :

a. If they celebrate at a late hour (after 9 a.m.).

b. If they celebrate after performing heavy duties connected with their ministry which have lasted from early morning or for a long time.

C. If they celebrate after a lo journey that is, at least t kilometres [about a mile and a quart e r—Editor, "C.H.1 on foot or a correspondingly longer distance according to the vehicle. bearing in mind also the difficulties of the route or of the person making the journey).

< The above three cases cover all J. the circumstances for which the lawmaker intends to concede the above faculties, thereby avoiding all interpretations which might widen them.

4 Moreover, all priests who cele

U. Mass twice or three times in the day can, in the earlier Masses, take the two ablutions prescribed by the rubrics, but using water only, which under the new principle of the Constitution does not break the fast.

When one Mass is celebrated / . immediately after another, as at Christmas or on All Souls' Day, the rubrics regarding ablutions should be observed.

13 . If through inadvertence a priest who has to celebrate two or three Masses takes wine in the ablution, he is not thereby prevented from saying the second or third Mass.


The faithful, too, who are un-7• able to fast—not through illness but through any grave inconvenience —are allowed to receive Holy Communion after having taken something to drink up to one hour beforehand, provided they do not touch alcohol.

1 n Cases in which grave incon 1 n Cases in which grave incon

V. venience exists fall into three categories, without any further amplification:

a. Heavy labour carried out before Holy Communion.

This covers the cases of workers in factories, transport, shipping or other public services who have to perform their duties in dayand night-shifts; those who, from duty or charity, are up all night, for example, nurses and night-watchmen; pregnant women and the mothers of families who, before they can go to church, must spend a long time on domestic duties, etc.

b. The late hour at which they receive Holy Communion.

There are many members of the faithful who can only go late to church for Mass; there are many children who might find it too much to go to church, receive Communion, and then return home for breakfast before going on to school, etc.

C. A long journey to get to church. This must be at least two kilometres covered on foot. or a proportionately greater distance by vehicle, taking into account the difficulties of the route and the condition of the person.

11 The reasons for the "grave 1. inconvenience" must be prudently weighed by the confessor, either personally in the confessional or personally outside it. Without his advice, the faithful cannot receive Holy Communion non-fasting. Such advice can also be given once for always. so long as the cause of the grave inconvenience lasts.


(Constitution, Canon 6)

THE Constitution grants to Ordin aries (see Canon 198) the faculty of allowing the celebration of evening Masses in the dioceses, when this is necessary because of circumstances, despite what is laid down in Canon 821, I. For the common good sometimes demands the celebration of the Sacred Mysteries after noon, for example, for the workers of certain industries in which there is shift-work on Sundays and days of obligation; for certain classes of workers who are engaged in the mornings, f or example, port labourers; and on the occasion of religious or social reunions. when a great multitude of the faithful taking part in them come from far away.

[Canon VI of the A postolic Constitution reads : Si rerum adjuncia id necessario postulant, locorum Ordinariis concedimus . . . etc.—Editor, 1 I Such Masses may be cele

• brated only after 4 o'clock in the afternoon, and the Ordinary will be able to allow it only on certain days laid down as follows: a. Existing days of obligation in accordance with Canon 1247, 1.

b. Suppressed feasts [days of devotion] in accordance with the Index published by the Sacred Congregation of the Council on December 28. 1919.

C. The first Fridays of the month.

d. Other feasts which are attended by a great number of people.

e. One day of the week, in addition to those listed above, whenever it is necessary for a certain class of people.

e/ Priests who celebrate Mass after noon, in the same way as the faithful who can receive Communion in these circumstances, may take during their meal. which is permitted up to three hours before the start of the Mats or the time they go to Communion, the alcoholic drinks they are accustomed to take during such meals; for example, wine, beer, etc., always excluding spirits. Before or after their meal. they may also take something to drink—excluding alcohol of every kind—up to an hour before Mass or Communion.

A Priests cannot celebrate Mass

"1'. in the morning and afternoon of the same day if they have no explicit p2rmission to celebrate twice or three times in accordance with Canon 806.

The faithful likewise cannot go to Communion twice on the same day, in accordance with Canon 857.

< All the faithful, even if they

J. do not belong to the category for which evening Mass has been instituted, can freely go to Holy Communion during the Mass. immediately before or immediately after it, providing they observe the Eucharistic fast in accordance with the rules givenabove.

4 In territories where the ius U. commune does not apply but the ins missionum does, Ordinaries can permit evening Masses every day of the week under the same conditions.


Ordinaries should irreverence care

1. I

• that all abuses and towards the Most Blessed Sacrament shall be avoided.

18 They should likewise take

• care that the new Instruction shall be uniformly observed by all of their subjects, and they should make known to them that all the special faculties and dispensations, whether territorial or persona 1, hitherto granted by the Holy See have been abrogated.

]n The Constitution and the pre. 7, sent Instruction should be interpreted faithfully, so that the concessions granted will in no way be widened. As regards customs which differ from what is laid down in the new Instruction, this abrogative clause must be noted: "Despite all dispositions to the contrary, it is most particularly worthy of mention."

20 Ordinaries and priests should . avail themselves of the gracious concession of the Holy See to exhort the faithful to assist frequently at Holy Mass, and to approach Holy Communion. They should promote with timely measures. especially preaching, that spiritual good for which the Holy Father, Pius XII, has promulgated the Constitution.

From the Palace of the Holy Office, January 6, 1953.

(Signed) +G. Cardinal Pizzardo, Secretary. A. Ottaviani, Assessor.

Prayer _for the persecuted

Catholics in many parts of the world will pray on Sunday for the "Church of Silence"—Catholics suffering persecution in Communist. dominated countries.

The crusade of prayers was urged by the Holy Father in his recent Encyclical Letter to the Catholics of the Eastern Rites.

The prayers will be initiated in Rome at the Basilica of St. Mary Major. Many Cardinals arc expected to take ty”-t

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