Catholic, Orthodox Communion

You mentioned in the January/February issue of The Catholic Answer that Catholics can receive Eastern Orthodox Communion (“Eucharist and the Orthodox,” Page 16). As a former Orthodox, now Catholic, that is a true and false statement. The Catholic Church allows Catholics to partake of holy Communion from those churches that have valid apostolic succession and thus valid sacraments, but the Eastern Orthodox Churches do not accept Catholics to their holy Communion. Usually, an Orthodox priest, if he does not recognize the communicant, will ask him “what church do you belong to?,” and when the Catholic says “the Catholic Church,” he will be refused holy Communion, and it will cause an uncomfortable, confusing situation. Please, make sure you inform the readers that just because the Catholic Church says it is OK, that is not what the Eastern Orthodox Churches say. 

However, a Catholic Christian may partake openly/freely of Communion from an SSPX chapel or a Polish National Catholic church, since they have no problems giving holy Communion to otherwise communicable Catholics — not needing holy Confession first. 

Daniel Joseph Barton, a Byzantine Catholic 

Father Francis Hoffman replies: What our reader writes is true, and we thank him for his clarification. Before a Catholic presents himself to receive holy Communion in an Orthodox church, he should speak to the Orthodox priest first. Even though the Catholic Church allows such intercommunion in special cases because we recognize the validity of both the sacrament and the Orthodox apostolic succession, the Orthodox Church remains very reserved about ecumenical overtures. 

The answers we provide at The Catholic Answer only attempt to answer the questions from a Catholic perspective. After all, this is “The Catholic Answer” magazine, and not the “Eastern Orthodox Answer,” nor even less the schismatic “SSPX or Polish National Catholic Answer” magazine.

Additions to the Mass?

I am writing in reply to your answer given to the question in the July/August 2011 issue entitled “Additions to the Mass?” The question was concerning whether it was a sin to insert the Psalms of Christian Prayers before the readings and the Gospel. May I point out that the reader may have been referring to the book “Christian Prayer: the Liturgy of the Hours”? In this case, the norms of the General Instruction of the Liturgy of the Hours do provide for the combination of one of the hours with Mass — that is, the insertion of the psalms before the reading and the Gospel: 

“Chapter II-VII. Combining the Hours With Mass or With Each Other 

“93. In particular cases, if circumstances require, it is possible to link an hour more closely with Mass when there is a celebration of the liturgy of the hours in public or in common, according to the norms that follow, provided the Mass and the hour belong to one and the same office. Care must be taken, however, that this does not result in harm to pastoral work, especially on Sundays. 

“94. When morning prayer, celebrated in choir or in common, comes immediately before Mass, the whole celebration may begin either with the introductory verse and hymn of morning prayer, especially on weekdays, or with the entrance song, procession, and celebrant’s greeting, especially on Sundays and holy days; one of the introductory rites is thus omitted. 

“The psalmody of morning prayer follows as usual, up to, but excluding, the reading. After the psalmody the penitential rite is omitted and, as circumstances suggest, the Kyrie; the Gloria then follows, if required by the rubrics, and the celebrant says the opening prayer of the Mass. The liturgy of the word follows as usual. 

“The general intercessions are made in the place and form customary at Mass. But on weekdays, at Mass in the morning, the intercessions of morning prayer may replace the daily form of the general intercessions at Mass. 

“After the Communion with its communion song the Canticle of Zechariah, Blessed be the Lord, with its antiphon from morning prayer, is sung. Then follow the prayer after Communion and the rest as usual.” 

Father Christopher Gaffrey, O.F.M., St. Thomas Aquinas Church, Derry, N.H.  

Father Hoffman replies: He’s absolutely right. What he points out (Nos. 93-95 in GILH) would normally not be appropriate for the parish Mass on Sunday, but more likely at the weekday conventual Mass at a monastery. I have seen that done in my hometown.