Sunday, February 5, 2017

Guidelines For Receiving Communion - What's Going On?

For as long as I can remember, whenever there was a Catholic Mass at which large numbers of non-Catholics or lapsed Catholics might be in attendance (such as weddings and funerals), within the programs for such events were published "Guidelines for Receiving Communion".  They clearly and politely pointed out that in order to receive Holy Communion, one must be a practicing Catholic, not conscious of mortal sin and have fasted for one hour.  The guidelines were reiterated from the pulpit.

Such was the case at my mother's funeral last June.  I cannot recall if they were mentioned from the pulpit but they were there in unmistakeable print in the funeral program.  Did something happen in the eight months between then and now?

Yesterday and the week before, I attended the 11:00 am Mass at Blessed Sacrament that sits just south of the MD-DC line east of Chevy Chase Circle.  Although I didn't know the deceased, I picked up the programs.  Neither one had the Guidelines for Receiving Communion.  Moreover, Father never mentioned them from the pulpit.  He seemed cognizant of the presence of non-Catholics for he was careful to guide them in standinng, sitting, kneeling, and he briefly explained parts of the Mass.

Non-Catholics who didn't know better might well have received Holy Communion.  I hardly think they can be faulted for such a gaffe.  However, we know better.  It could easily have been foreseen that non-Catholics might attempt to receive, yet nothing was done to prevent that.

Now I have a number of questions, and I invite responses from readers.
  • Both my mother's funeral and these two memorial services occurred within the Archdiocese of Washington.  Is anyone aware of any related policy that would have occurred within the past few months?
  • If anyone else recently attended a funeral, memorial or wedding within the ADW recently, what did you notice in the program?
  • If there was a policy change, what was the given reason for such change?
  • Have similar things been observed in other areas of the country?
  • Is anyone aware of any pertinent language on the USCCB site regarding this matter?
Thanks for any input.  Frankly, I am smelling the stench of Amoralis Lamentia all over this.


  1. here in Malaysia, just before communion,it will be projected on the screen that only practising catholic are allowed to come for communion and the rest are to pray

  2. It depends on who is doing the program for the funeral. I went to two funerals last week at the same parish in the Archdiocese of Washington. They were within two days of each other. One had the guidelines printed in the program and one did not. One family was more familiar with putting the guidelines in - the other was not. I frequently do programs for weddings and funerals as a free-lance musician working in this Archdiocese. I'm sad to say that I've never been instructed to put the guidelines in, as I always depend on the priest to instruct from the altar. I've worked in many different parishes - so as far as I can tell, this is not something the Archdiocese requires, but it should. You bring up an excellent point. I'm going to bring it up from now on.

    1. My family never specified that the guidelines be inserted. I just took it for granted that this would happen, and indeed it did. If this is left to individual discretion, we can easily see the wide potential for deliberate abuse.


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