Catholic Diocese of Spokane, Washington
Official News Magazine of the Diocese of Spokane
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 21, 2009 edition of the Inland Register)
Q. I miss reading marriage banns in our parish announcements. We always knew who was getting married to whom and we could plan ahead. I suppose banns were terminated as they were not needed so I donít suppose they will ever come back. But they were nice.
A. Youíre right on all points. There may have been a time, during the migration of settlers, when banns may have been a necessary point of canon law, but those days are long gone. Banns were meant to notify the public that Sam and Sally would soon be married and if anyone was aware of any impediment to please speak up now. The Q.B. author, with years of experience, has never had that happen.
Q. Down South we saw some people take the Body of Christ host and dip it in the chalice with the Blood of Christ then hold it close and put it into their mouths. A few communicants did that but no one in Fatherís line. That way avoids drinking from the same cup but is it okay?
A. Definitely no. If a priest is aware that some Eucharistic ministers are violating the liturgy he should tell them to cease and desist.
Intinction is a method of sharing the sacrament that began in the early church and is still practiced by our Eastern Catholic cousins. We picked it up again after Vatican II.
We observe two sensible guidelines.
People receiving the Host in their hands may not take it to the chalice to dip it into the chalice themselves. That defeats the clear principle of giving and receiving, not helping ourselves
If the Host is dipped into the chalice it should be placed on the recipientís tongue, not in the hand for obvious reasons.
Q. What is the obligation of a priest or Eucharistic Minister as the best way to go about this? Two family members have clearly left the Catholic faith to join other denominations. They come to all family affairs, weddings and funerals and line up for Communion. Once I pointed out Catholic policy that Catholic Communion is a sign of Catholic faith which they no longer share. That created an enormous tension. But one Catholic relative thinks I should wade into the issue again. Any wise advice?
A. By all means, wade into that heresy suavely and diligently. Our Catholic doctrine about our Eucharist has been clearly defined and observed with great clarity for 20 centuries. Itís the centerpiece of our faith. Itís the reason we are Catholic. Itís not negotiable.
Catholic doctrine is not going to change to accommodate a pair of former Catholic visitors. If youíre asking whether this Q.B. writer, knowing the facts you presented, would withhold Eucharist from those two visitors, the answer is yes. He has done it, suavely and diligently.
Approach this conflicted issue as a matter of courtesy. Those two family members left the Catholic faith willfully to profess a different faith, voluntarily. Itís their decision. They create an obvious conflict of belief if they return to Catholic Communion as though they havenít changed. But they have changed, willfully and knowingly.
It can be simply a point of courtesy. When they are visiting guests in our house we just assume they will observe ďhouse rules.Ē
To profess faith in both doctrines equally is to be faithful to neither and unfaithful to both. To say itís all the same is an open admission of ignorance.
Thereís a fine little story about this in the life of writer Flannery OíConnor. After her lecture she joined members of the faculty and other visitors for a gathering. The conversation in her group somehow centered around Eucharist. Some people thought it was a fine reminder of Jesus. Some said it was a nice gesture. Others liked it as a pious thought. When Flannery, a devout Catholic who went to Mass every time she could, heard enough such nonsense, she remarked ďWell, if itís not the Body of Christ, to hell with it.Ē Thatís our position precisely.