Eucharist
Part 2 History

Chapter e28 Before Vatican II [1900-1959]

Note:  The information on the Eucharist during this period has been moved to
Chapter d28 Before Vatican II

 

Summary

Dates

 

Summary

Before Vatican II [1900-1959] Creed Code Cult. Gueranger. Odo Casel. Jungmann. 1905 Pius X frequent Communion; 1910 lowered age for first Communion. 1947 Pius XII Mediator Dei. Church = Us.  Participation of "us" = talk (dialogue Mass) and eat (frequent [=more than 4 times] Communion).

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Dates

1905 Pius X encourages frequent Communion

 In 1905 Pope St. Pius X (1835-1914) encourages the frequent reception of Holy Communion.   Since the early middle ages, the "good" Christians went to Communion at most, four times a year.  Ordinary Christians went once a year for their Easter Duty [note the theology expressed in the phrases  "Easter Duty" and "go to" Communion].  Some Christians received once a year; others did not receive Communion at all.   [St. Clare of Assisi, in her Holy Rule of 1250, instructs her sisters to receive Holy Communion seven times a year!  This was exceptionally frequent for her time, nearly twice what good people did!] 

In the early 1960's, the 1905 papal directive begins to take effect. The Church waited about 50 years after the pope said to do it see if he really meant it; but actually 50 years is not all that long.   Benedict XIV in Certiores effecti (promulgated from Saint Mary Major in Rome on November 13, 1742)  directed that the faithful "be nourished by hosts consecrated during the Mass" and not from previously consecrated hosts taken from the tabernacle.  Today, over 250 years later, many pastors are still waiting to see if he meant it!   "There is no mention made in post-Conciliar liturgical norms of reservation of the eucharist for distribution at later Masses."  BCL Newsletter XXV (May 1989) p 19 [corrected by rk 10/1002].

1910 Pius X lowered age for first Communion

 In 1910 Pope St. Pius X (1835-1914) lowered the age for First Communion.  Children can henceforth receive communion at the age of reason when they can tell the eucharist is not "ordinary bread" (Note the emphasis on the "object" In 1910 we are on the Noun Island, not the Verb Island.)  

The Sacrament of Reconciliation (First Confession) tags along and is moved earlier also. (Note: the amount and kind of sinning one might do between Baptism and 21 years of age is perhaps different from the amount and kind of sinning one might do between Baptism and 7 years of age.) 

Confirmation stays in the same place (i.e. as soon as the bishop comes to the parish after baptism.) However, this now means that it might be after First Eucharist.  Eucharist had always followed Confirmation and was seen as the completion and culmination of Christian Initiation.  This is once again the position of the current Catechism of the Catholic Church:  "The holy Eucharist completes Christian initiation" (CCC 1322).  The Eucharist is the source and summit of the Christian life" (SC 47, CCC 1324). 

Following the lowering of the age for First Communion in 1910 we now have children being fully initiated and admitted to Table Fellowship whose Baptism is not yet confirmed.  This was a major change in the initiatory process.  Pius X's compassion to let the little innocent children receive the Love of God in the Spotless Host is great for the little children but doesn't do much for the sequence of the rites of initiation.  Confirmation is left behind, searching for a theology for itself.  Confirmation grows and becomes more of a parish event than Baptism.  Following the principle Lex Orandi we will probably never understand Baptism well until the celebration of Baptism regains its due solemnity; e.g. a person's Baptism Day is a bigger day than his or her Confirmation Day, Ordination Day, Wedding Day, etc.  This should be clear from the liturgies on the two occasions.

 

1947 Pius XII Mediator Dei

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Copyright: Tom Richstatter.  All Rights Reserved.  This page was created by Fr. Thomas Richstatter, O.F.M.  Every effort has been, and is being made to acknowledge sources when the ideas are not my own.  Any failure to comply with the United States Copyright Act (Title 17, United States Code) will be corrected immediately should I become aware of it.  This site was updated on 02/20/15.  Your comments on this site are welcome at trichstatter@franciscan.org