Catholic Diocese of Spokane, Washington

From the

Official News Magazine of the Diocese of Spokane

Deacon Eric Meisfjord, Editor
P.O. Box 48, Spokane WA 99210
(509) 358-7340; FAX: (509) 358-7302

The Question Box

by Father I.J. Mikulski

(From the May 22, 2008 edition of the Inland Register)

Father I.J. Mikulski Q. Help me understand how a person can receive Communion twice in one day at two different Masses. I was taught that only a priest could receive more than once at his own Masses. Is that true?

A. Yes to both situations. There are some occasions when receiving Communion at two Masses on the same day is reasonable.

Special events Masses. Weddings, funerals, anniversaries, and anointings of the sick often include Masses as integral parts of the liturgy. If you’re invited to the celebration, you’re invited to receive Eucharist. But it’s Saturday. Yes, you may receive again when you attend the Saturday evening Mass.

Here’s another. If you have received Communion at a morning Mass and you’re a regularly scheduled Reader at the evening Mass, yes, you may receive Communion again at the evening Mass.

There’s also the possibility of “calendar overlap” when one of our holy days – let’s say All Saints, Nov. 1 – happens on Saturday. You could receive at the morning All Saints Mass and again at the usual Saturday evening Mass.

Canon Law has a few short lines about this. Canon 917 simply points out that a person may receive Eucharist again on the same day provided the second time is during a Eucharistic celebration.

The law prevents us from developing a “more is better” mentality where twice is twice as good, three times is superb and four times is positively magnificent for a head start to heaven.

Q. Our grandson was one of three children baptized recently by young priest who just dipped his hand into some water and rubbed it on the babies’ heads while saying “I baptize you ...” etc. Shouldn’t he have poured running water over those babies? Was that a valid baptism?

A. Surely the water shortage doesn’t restrict the proper rite of baptism that calls for pouring water, moving water, spilling water, even a small trickle, but still moving water.

“Baptism is to be conferred either by immersion or by pouring” water, says Canon 854. The ceremony you witnessed must be as far removed as possible from the essential valid requirement of the sacrament.

We must assume the priest used the proper Trinitarian formula: “I baptize you in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Sprit.” If that phrase was also abetted, we would have reason to doubt the validity.

There’s a little-known theological principle called “Ecclesia supplet,” meaning “Let the church supply” whatever seems to be missing in the administration of a sacrament. Let the church fill in whatever may be lacking through carelessness.

Q. The priest said Jesus knew who he was when he heard the Father say “This is my beloved son.” I do not agree. I believe Jesus was, is and always will be Jesus as God, who never had a beginning. It was only when he took on human flesh that Jesus became visible as a man. But Jesus as God never had a beginning. That’s right, isn’t it?

A. You’re both right, of course. You just start from different premises.

Whether you approach the supreme mystery of the incarnation by taking little baby steps from the human nature side of Jesus Christ and lead up to the fully developed mature human being who “grew in wisdom, in stature and in favor with God and men” (Luke 2:52), or you begin with the divine nature side of Jesus Christ as the second person of the ineffable Trinity who has always been and always will continue to be totally God, it’s clear to this Q.B. scrivener that you and the priest are on the same page.

That response may seem a bit simplistic, and it is, but let’s not attempt a full disclosure of the greatest mystery in human experience, the incarnation. What did we expect? That a thorough understanding of God’s intimate nature would descend on us like gently falling snow?

Rejoice and be glad that we are beneficiaries of this mystery.

(Father Mikulski welcomes your comments and questions. Write to him at 7718 Westwood Dr., Oscoda, Mich. 48750.)

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