Answers to your Questions
Did not the older Catholic idea of infrequent Holy Communion show greater reverence? And is it right to regiment school children into frequent Holy Communion, even though they themselves do not feel fit for it?
THE "older" (but not oldest!) idea was intended as reverence, but it was based on misunderstanding. Christ gave Himself in the Blessed Sacrament to be the source, not the reward, of holiness. We must be in a state nf grace to eat this Bread, because to a soul in mortal sin it would be death. not life. But for a Christian, it should be simply normal to be in a state of grace: our normal state should be one in which we are fit to go to Holy Communion (or to die). Holy Communion should be a constant part of our normal life as Christians: the Church tells us that "give us this day our daily bread" is, more than a prayer for all other necessities, a prayer for the Eucharistic Bread.
It is certainly wrong to regiment children. or anyone else, to the sacraments. When the urgent invitation to frequent Holy Communion was issued, it was accompanied by stringent regulations against bringing any pressure whatever to bear on individuals. Full opportunity must be given but scruples must be respected and left unquestioned.
What justifies Holy Communion apart from Mass? Does it not resemble the Protestant custom?
THE Holy Father has given us an 1 Encyclical Letter-Mediator Dei -on the liturgy which treats of this question in its place. It ought to be read.
Holy Communion apart from Mass is the very opposite of the (extreme) Protestant custom, being based on faith in the real. abidin.; Presence of Christ in the Blessed Sacrament: without that .ith. Holy Communion only has a meaning as a part of the whole ceremony commemorating the Lord's Supper. But, as we know, Our Lord is truly and abidingly present, and hence is truly received even apart from Mass.
But this does not mean that the Church likes separating Holy Communion from Mass. She permits it, in order to make more Holy Communions possible than would otherwise be so. What she desires is that our receiving of Christ in the Blessed Sacrament shall be the fulfilment of our participation in the offering of Him in the Sacrifice.