THE FREQUENT COMMUNION
Mgr John, bishop of Saint-Denis
The frequent communion, same daily, is true to the teaching of Fathers of the Church and to the Holyed “Canons”…
The primitive Church, as well as the majority of Fathers of the Church, called believers to the same and frequent communion daily. Fathers of the Church, such that Tertullien, Clement and Origène of Alexandrie, holy Cyprien, holy Cyrille of Jerusalem, holy Ambroise, saint Hilaire of Poitiers, Chromacé of Aquilée, Augustin, Cassien… saw in speeches of the prayer dominicale : – ” Gives – we today our substantial bread ” -, in more of the terrestrial bread the bread eucharistique of each day.
All Fathers of the first centuries counseled the daily communion :
– Tertullien: – ” hands of the Christian touch each day the Body of the Lord ” – (P.L.t.1; collar. 669).
– Holy Cyprien: – ” Christians commune each day, safe serious mistake ” -.
– Clement Saint and Origène of Alexandrie talk in the even feel (P.G.t. IX; collar. 628 and T. XII; collar. 218).
– Holy Basile us told that believers – ” commune Thursday, Friday and Sunday and all days of Saint memory ” -. It prefers the daily communion and quotes the case of believers and monks that, the day where they can not render to the church, commune their clean hands, at them (93ème epistle, P.G.t.XXXII; collar. 484).
– Saint John Chrysostome, talking the daily Sacrifice, regrets that one does not commune each day (P.G.t.LX II; collar. 2889).
But already to the IVE`ME century the communion rarefies. Saint John Chrysostorne observes that some Christians commune only to the Epiphanie, Lent and Easter. If the majority of monks, according to the testimony of Rufin, Holy Barsanuphe (IVe) and holy Théodore Studite, communes daily, the practice of the communion at believers varies between the daily communion, frequent, three time per year or once the year. Thus, Fathers of the Church, while sloting as ideal the daily communion, tolerate variations.
Canonical Rules do not oblige to the daily communion, but 8ème and 9ème apostolic rules grade the communion to priests and believers assisting to the liturgy and disapprove these that, without valid cause, steal there, because that that does not commune is an excommunicated and is found out the Church. Apostolic Rules reflect the life of the three firsts siecles, but they remain in vigor until our period, because the orthodox canonical right has sloted them above of the seven ecumenical councils. The first ecumenical council has taken several decisions only in submitting them to the apostolic Gun authority. Thus, the no priests or believer communion assisting to the liturgy remains a jaggy attitude. But the IVE`ME century, by economy, softens this rule and requests the communion to less all three Sundays.
Periods succeed and the communion degenerates in Orient as well as in Occident to fall finally in the tragic decadence of XV and XVIemes centuries where even bishops did not celebrated neither do not commune during years, preferring the shooting and banquets to the eucharistie and preparing thus the atheism.
Happily, this deplorable record was combatted by illuminated spirits – high, in Orient as well as in Occident.
Guided by the Saint-Spirit, the Patriarch Athénagoras of Constantinople has canonisé recently holy Nicodème the Hagiorite, spiritual master that preached in time and against – time among believers and monks the daily communion. This saint was accused, allieurs, by blinded monks, to be an agent of Jesuits that extolled them also the frequent communion; canoniste eminent, intimate of the thought patristique, holy Nicodème drew in reality its doctrine in the orthodox source. Holy Seraph, Flame of the Spirit, John of Crondstadt, this thaumaturge to the virtue of Elects, and so others masters and undisputed spiritual guides, call to the frequent communion, because it obtains an incomparable spiritual force, inputs the chastity of morals, fortifies souls in their struggles, unveils ruses of the demon.
One of the Russian theologians tells, to just heading, that the normal regime of a believer is the communion to the liturgy and that some that it differs from a catéchumène, a penitent or a schismatic. Thus, currently, according to its thought, the Church is composed of the celebrant priest that holds the place of the believer and the mass of the people that does not commune, similar to the catéchumènes, penitents and schismatic.
Fathers of l’Eglise – ” matches to apostles and doctors of the universe ” -, are the – ” guns of the faith ” -. By imitating them, we call to the frequent communion and do not dare to request the daily communion, safe in exceptional very case.
We have to enter that the ancient catholic orthodox become Romans are deeply shocked by the rarity of the communion at the orthodox orientals, particularly at Greeks. When the French delegation, for example, rendered to Constantinople, it was the alone to commune, to the large joy of the Patriarch Athénagoras.
Some orientals can surprise, given their habit, the frequent westerner communion. While desiring the propagation of the frequent communion in the universal Church, we think that it is necessary to fit some to the spirit of tolerance, telling with the apostle Paul – ” do not judge these that eat or these that do not eat ” -.
Holy precise Photius this attitude : – ” As usages differ according to places, that nobody, if it wants to judge with equity, informs to blame these that observe them not more than these that do not observe them when they them have not reçus, provided that one does not touch the faith neither to schedule them plugs a common agreement ” -.
But it is holy Augustin that expresses the clearest manner: – ” some commune each day, others to some determined days only. Here, no day passages without that one celebrating the Holy Sacrifice; there, one celebrates Mysteries only Saturdays and Sundays, or Sunday only. Customs of this gender are freely observed and, for a prudent and serious Christian, the better is to make what it sees to make there where it is found. Because it is necessary to look as indifferent what is not against the faith or morals, and to judge things of the viewpoint of the middle where one lives ” -.
Thus, in accordance with the orthodox spirit, that Westerners that pray in oriental Churches respect their discipline and that Orientals that pray at make us similarly, because holy Augustin adds: – ” As the centurion and Zachée honored all two the Rescuer, although variously, here and there, one honors the sacrament here, by not daring by respect to receive it each day, there, by not ignoring to receive it each day to honor it ” -.
That our tolerance testifies the – ” interior child liberty of God ” -, but rejoice – we what the hunger and the thirst of the Christ have reappeared lately. If masses are not again gotten the daily communion, Christians advance increasingly to the frequent communion and souls wake up, the devil weakens, sins are combatted, a divine life breath covers the Christian people.
What spiritual joy circulates when all the community participates in the Banquet Divin !
Mgr John, bishop of Holy Denis