SrR,—Tb.e following extract from "The Catholic Magazine for Brighton, Hove and District," Vol. V, No. 10, October, 1921, pp. vi, vii, seems to have considerable value in the present discussion and I think
you might well reprint it. I quote it verbatim.
Communion out of Mass.—We have been asked several times lately about the propriety and lawfulness of receiving Holy Communion immediately before Low Mass. To set at rest all doubts and scruples we need only remind our readers that the Sacred Conception of Rites (whose business it is to settle such questions) by the Decree of 17th July, 1894, n. 3832-3, has ruled once for all that " it is not forbidden to distribute the Most Holy Eucharist to the Faithful, for a just cause, immediately before or after Mass."
See Vander Stappen (Sacra Liturgia, Vol. iv, p, 215) who also quotes the commentary of the Official Review of the Liturgical Academy in Rome, viz., Ephemerides Liturgicae (ix. 1895, p. 710) on the above-mentioned Rescript of the Sacred Congregation of Rites: " Taking into full consideration the conditions of the present day, a reasonable or just cause frequently occurs; and it is practically always considered as existing, when Communion is asked for. To give Communion to those who ask for it immediately after Mass and also before Mass is the common and laudable practise of the City. This is the mind of the Church (hic est Erclesiae sensus). This practise should be kept to universally, etc. (hoc °nutlet° tenendum atque ita segerendron)." The practise is also provided for by Canon Law (C.I.C. Can. 846, 1).
Here endeth the quotation. May I add these reflections? (1) That the question seems to be a closed one. (2) We can't individually be wiser than the Church. (3) It would seem to follow that no priest has the right normally and, as is sometimes said, " on principle " (what " principle "?) to refuse to give Holy Communion out of Mesa when a " just cause " (as defined above) exists?
R. G. WEBB. St. Thomas More, Seaford.
Organs and Choirs
S.—Fr. Martindale has ,done well to remind us that our official "collective worship " is the chief Sunday Mass, especially when it is sung; also that the wish of the Holy See is for the laity to participate in the vocal offering. Many of us would be delighted to do so. Indeed, we are sometimes permitted by, I presume, organists and choirmasters, to have a small part.
The Credo is generally the portion conceded. But even here we are not encouraged, for most organists seem to mistake leading for accompanying, and are too loud and too fast.
1 hold that the collective-worship idea is often completely destroyed by organs and choirs in many of our parish churches. How often one feels, that up there in the loft at the back, something quite unconnected with the Mass is being performed! Strange, sentimental solos accompanied (perfectly, even tenderly in this case) by organ with the revolting " vox humane" out, seem utterly divorced from the simple, sturdy, unritual.istic Roman rite which is being enacted at the Altar.
Sometimes even the majestic flow of the Canon of the Mass is held up by sublime words set to banal music and repeated with the vexatiousness of a Victorian wall-paper design.
Sunday after Sunday this is what happens at our " official collective worship." And when one considers the self-sacrifice of the people who often devote much of, their time to practising these hideous " masses " and " motets " one becomes overeehelmed with depression. Only a minority, I imagine, would vote for an entire Mass of plain chant, but there are many of us, who, with a little encouragement could manage to sing any simple Kyrie, Gloria, Credo and Sanctus if we were promised that all those bad compositions of another day would be destroyed.
After the offertory has been sung, if only the organ would be quiet, we could hear the merry jingle of coins going to God and follow in silence the prayers at the censing of the Oblations accompanied by the pleasing crashes of the thurible, which
I hold to be more in the spirit of the Liturgy than any organ piece, be it never so cleverly manipulated. The impressive silence of the Secret, prelude to the sublime Preface, is too often broken by unnecessary sounds from the organ.
And it would be well if organists and others could believe that .there is no earthly music worthy to surround the awful Words of Consecration except perhaps that of silver trumpets under Michaelangelo's Dome.
The Doctrine of Spiritual Communion
Sta.—I write as an Anglican priest, seeking the courtesy of your columns to say, first of all how profoundly interesting to "non-Catholics" as well as to Catholics this discussion of Communion and liturgy is.
Secondly to protest, though with amusement, at the attempt of " One of the Workers " to apportion blame for " professionalism that revels in elaboration for its own sake " to High Anglican converts. We are fanailiar, of course, with the theory that all the faults of English religion are due to the poisonous work of the Anglican Church, but it is news indeed that all the faults of the Roman Church in England, or even some of them, are due to the same source! As a matter of fact, such of my friends who have " gone over," are far more Protestant within the fold than ever they were in the Anglican schism! They have the substance why should they worry now about the shadow?
Thirdly, to invite Fr. Martindale, if he will be so courteous, to elaborate the official attitude with regard to acts of " Spiritual Communion," 1. Is there any official doctrine about this?
2. As the whole nature of this sacrifice is surely Sacramental, how can anyone feast on this sacrifice in a non-sacramental way?
3. Is not an act of spiritual Communion in reality a mystical devotion necessarily not directly connected with the Sacrament, qua Sacrament, and therefore out of place in the Mass?
The whole idea of "Spiritual Communion " though excellent outside the Mass has always seemed to me a contradiction in terms inside it.
But perhaps Fr. Martindale will just answer this by saying, " Anglicans can never understand this until they are converted "! However—meliora spero.
P. M. GEDGE. Charterho use Missioner. 63, Long Lane, SE].
The Example of Benediction
SIR,—Having been a country doctor 1 arn full of sympathy for our agriculturist correspondent (" One of the Workers "): but have we not got off the track?
We know how large a proportion of the congregation sing or say (without book), their part at Benediction. Why? Because it is the custom that they should, and con sequently it is familiar. As I understand the situation, it is that the Holy Father wills that the laity should take their part vocally in the saying of Low Mass or the singing of High Mass; so that, knowing the words of the Holy Mass, they the better understand what they do.
The people's part is all in the " common," and would soon be as familiar to them as their part in Benediction already is. All that is needed is that the priest be audible and that he tell his flock that he wishes them to " answer Mass " as the server does.
For singing the people's part of the plain chant, instruction is needed; but those priests who have done it will, I think, say that it is not very difficult.
As to the Proper may I submit that the layman who finds distraction by the turning of pages on those days when cornmemorations occur, does sufficient if he finds the prayers and readings of the Mass being celebrated.
I would like " One of the Workers " to read Fr. Martindale's "The Mind of the Missal." He will be so glad when he has: and he will know what it is we are all talking about.
Use of the Missal SIR,—As an educated Catholic who has lived much in Catholic countries abroad, may 1, with all deference, be allowed to demur to Fr. Martindale's insistent advocacy of the Missal as the universal prayer-hook of the laity at Mass. Obviously it is the best vehicle for taking part in the Holy Sacrifice, and its general, if not universal, adoption by Catholic laymen a consummation devoutly to be hoped for— eventually.
It is regrettable that immediate insistence upon its wholesale use seems to tend to divide congregations into two categories: that portion capable of following the Missal with some degree of intelligence, and that which cannot. The latter would generally include the majority of the very poor; the illiterate, the ignorant, the unintelligent and the simple-minded — in a word that very section of society (since the word " class " has nowadays dangerous associations) to which the Church has a duty most carefully to appeal.
The best is not always practicable, nor is it exacted from us; otherwise the Sacrament of Penance would insist on Perfect Contrition as a sine qua non of Absolution, thereby eliminating Purgatory and Indulgences. Simply to pray with our whole hearts and souls (whatever the form ueed) is for many no easy achievement.
Surely it would be sufficient to unite oneself at the outset with the intention of the priest at the altar, and then to use any form of devotion experience has shown roost effectual in concentrating one's mind upon the essence of the matter.
When I was a hoy in Germany (in the Catholic Rhineland) our churches used to be so crowded at Mass on Sunday that there was a notable overflow into the street outside. One and all we joined in accompanying the principal parts of the Mass by simple, but appropriate hymns in the vernaculai —hymns familiar to all from childhood. 1 suppose we had a choir, but if so we made no bones about drowning it, and. but of sight of the altar no one was in any doubt as to the stage in progress.
I may claim to be a Latin scholar with a sound knowledge of several languages, but my experience is that even to convey to the very ignorant a proper sense of the meaning of their own language is not always child's play.
FRANCIS M. KELLY. 37, Hollywood Road, S.W.10.