Bishop Robert Vasa: “The practice, while popular, is not consistent with the Instructions from the Holy See”
August 6, 2018
The following is a message from Bishop Vasa of Santa Rosa:
I use my space in the North Coast Catholic this month to communicate to all the people of God a Directive already shared with the priests of the Diocese regarding “Communion Services”. In the Instruction on the Eucharist issued by the Congregation for Divine Worship and Discipline of the Sacraments on March 25, 2004, we read:
It is necessary to avoid any sort of confusion between this type of gathering (Communion Service without Mass) and the celebration of the Eucharist. The diocesan Bishops, therefore, should prudently discern whether Holy Communion ought to be distributed in these gatherings.
Likewise, especially if Holy Communion is distributed during such celebrations, the diocesan Bishop, to whose exclusive competence this matter pertains, must not easily grant permission for such celebrations to be held on weekdays, especially in places where it was possible or would be possible to have the celebration of Mass on the preceding or the following Sunday. Priests are therefore earnestly requested to celebrate Mass daily for the people in one of the churches entrusted to their care.
It has become common in a number of Parishes and Institutions in the Diocese of Santa Rosa for Deacons and Laity to hold Communion Services in the Absence of a Priest on both Sundays and weekdays whenever a priest is not available for the celebration of Holy Mass. Often these Services are held on scheduled days, sometimes weekly, sometimes several times each week. The practice, while popular, is not consistent with the Instructions from the Holy See, cited above. Our respect for the Most Holy Eucharist requires that we take very seriously the Directives of the Church. Opinions about what should be done in our Parishes will certainly vary but what surrounds the Eucharist demands of us a deep fidelity to the Church and her Instructions.
Therefore, I have explained to the priests of the Diocese that the following is to be observed:
As a general policy, Communion Services instead of Mass are not allowed either on Sundays or on weekdays. Those who have been asked to do them in the past may no longer do so.
Information about the times for Masses at nearby Parishes and Chapels is to be published regularly in Parishes of the Diocese so that those who are able may travel to other sites for Mass.
Pastors are encouraged to make arrangements, when they are unable to celebrate Mass, for a Parish Leader to be instructed to lead the Community in Prayer according to the Approved Rites. The Rites include leading Morning Prayer, Evening Prayer or a Celebration of the Liturgy of the Word. A lay person leading the Service may read a text prepared by the Pastor. Only a Deacon may preach. These Services are to be conducted without the Distribution of Holy Communion.
Deacons may also expose the Blessed Sacrament for a period of adoration followed by Benediction. Distribution of Holy Communion is not permitted in conjunction with Benediction.
This policy is not intended to impede those persons charged with the important duty of bringing Holy Communion to the Sick and to Shut-ins.
Under no circumstances are those charged with the duty of bringing Holy Communion to others to reserve the Blessed Sacrament in their own homes.
These Regulations become effective on August 1, 2018.
+Robert F. Vasa, Bishop of Santa Rosa