Communion is strikingly redolent of the defective thinking on the sacraments to be found in the Church's recent, and not so recent, past. The rule itself, dating in its present form from the Fourth General Lateran Council of 1215, is now rapidly becoming an anachronistic museum-piece.
By contrast with the mistaken ideas held even at the. beginning of the present century, the view is now widespread among Catholics that the reception of Holy Communion is an integral part of devout attendance at Mass. For a steadily decreasing minority of slackers, the annual reminder about "Easter duties" is doubtless a useful psychological prod but most of us assume that we ought to receive Holy Communion much more often than once a year.
While on the subject of these annual Easter observances, I would like to add a footnote to what I said last month on possible alternatives to Friday abstinence. In the issue for February 21 I mentioned various agencies, none of them specifically Catholic, but
through forgetfulness I did not include the two Catholic organisations to which we might properly send our Lenten alms. Their names are the Catholic Fund for Overseas Development (with an office at 14 Howick Place, London, S.W.1) and the Scottish Catholic International Aid Fund (whose treasurer is the Bishop of Aberdeen).
As I have often mentioned these Catholic agencies in sermons, the moral is quite clear that, if I myself forget the content of my own preaching, I can hardly expect the congregation to do any better! Several correspondents wrote to chide me for my forgetfulness in not mentioning these Catholic agencies. All but one of the letters were extremely kind. To all the writers, including the rude one, my sincere thanks.