SIX VOLUMES IN ONE
BY THE DISTINGUISHED EXPONENTS OF CATHOLICISM
REV. HENRY DODRIDGE, D. D.
REV. HENRY EDWARD MANNING, D. D.
REV. F. LEWIS, of Granada
REV. STEPHEN KEENAN
REV. BERNARD VAUGHAN, S. J.
REV. THOMAS N. BURKE, O. P.
A. It concerns the time when persons ought to communicate, or receive the blessed sacrament.
Q. What is the precept of the church concerning communion ?
A. In the primitive ages Christians received it every day; by degrees, they were ordered to receive upon several great feasts; at last, the fourth general council of Lateran, Can. xxi. decreed, under pope Innocent the Hid that all of both sexes were obliged to communicate once a year, at the time of Easter, and that within their own parish church ; and this decree is ratified by the council of Trent.
Q. How do you compute the time of Easter, when people are obliged to communicate ?
A. From Palm-Sunday, until Low-Sunday, inclusively, by a decree of Eugenius the IVth.
Q. Are there no exceptions, as to the decree of Innocent III. in the Lateran council ?
A. Yes; by a license from the pope, our bishop, or pastor, persons may communicate out of their parish church. Again, it is left to the discretion of the confessor, if there is occasion to defer communion, until after Easter.
Q. Are people obliged to receive the blessed sacrament at any other time of the year?
A. Yes, when persons are in danger of death, which is an ecclesiastical custom all over the church, and has the force of a law; and several national councils do expressly command it. Hence, several divines hold, there is a divine precept for it, grounding themselves on the council of Nice, where it is called a necessary viaticum. Besides, it is to be observed, that though the church only obliges us to communicate once a year; yet she exhorts us to a frequent communion, provided we come with the necessary dispositions; and the reason is, because great fruit is reaped from this heavenly nourishment. Matt. xi. 28. And that it is to be feared, that those who make use of the food of eternal life, but once or twice a year, make no great account of their salvation.
Q. At what age are we obliged to receive the holy communion ?
A. When we come to sense and understanding, so as to be capable to discern the greatness of this mystery, which is conceived ordinarily to be at about twelve years of age; but it is first requisite, that we be well instructed in the catechism or Christian doctrine.
Q. What punishment does the church inflict on those who comply not with this precept, and that which we spoke on last ?
A. She orders them to be banished from the communion of the faithful, and deprived of Christian burial : but this excommunication does not fall upon those whom the pastor puts off for a time, in order that they should do penance, and duly prepare themselves.
Q. Is there any divine precept of receiving the blessed sacrament incumbent upon all, and is it necessary for salvation ?
A. It is not absolutely necessary to salvation, as baptism is for infants, and penance for sinners: yet there is a divine precept of receiving, one time or other, either actually or in desire, founded in these words of our Saviour Christ: " Unless you eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, you shall not have life in you." John vi. 54.
Q. What do you say concerning infants receiving the blessed sacrament ?
A. There is no divine precept for infants receiving the holy sacrament, for they cannot prove themselves, as St. Paul requires; 1 Cor. xi. 28, and they have a right to heaven by baptism alone.