02 May 2010

Shut-in Communions

Question to my fellow bloggers and responders:

Do you commune with your shut-ins sometimes, all the time, never? Is there any historical or theological argument for against communion with shut-ins?

Some history. In my previous parish, I had very few shut-ins. I communed with them every time. If I saw three shut-ins in one day, I received the Lord's Supper three times. It never really entered my mind not to commune with them. Christ was present, offering His body and blood, and I thought that it would have been strange not to commune when Christ was present with his Church, offering his body and blood for the forgiveness of sins.

I now have several more shut-ins where I currently serve, and the question has come up in my mind several times, "Should I commune with them every time?" I see no law against it, yet my conscience (or something) is telling me, "This is too often, you really should (or could) wait until Sunday." What I have started to do is this: if I have multiple shut-in Communion visits, I commune at the first one of the day, and then not at the others. My fear is not "having too much forgiveness," but treating as common what is holy and sacred.

I'm curious as to what others do, why, and if I need to modify my practice to reflect a more Biblical and Confessional mindset. Does anyone else struggle with this?


Pr. H. R. said...

I commune with them every time, no matter how many masses I end up saying in a day.

They deserve to see the communion of saints, to share communion with their pastor.


Father Hollywood said...

Dear Paul:

I've always communed with every shut-in visit. I think the Lord in His mercy provides pastors with this benefit of more frequent communion to help him fortify himself. I think it also benefits the parishioners, as their communion is then communal. They are sharing the Holy Meal with their pastor - as does every Sunday communicant. It would seem almost like a private Mass to consecrate elements for only one person and then abstain from communing.

I guess I don't understand your issue with it, Paul. I would say take all the sacraments you can get. They are a gift. What is the benefit in refusing the gift?

Rev. Paul Beisel said...

I don't know Fr. Hollywood. I don't quite understand it either. That's why I put the question out there. Like I said, I never really thought about it before. Of course I understand our daily need for Christ and His Supper. Perhaps my problem is that when I am receiving it I am not always thinking about it's benefits, or considering the depth and magnitude of my sins. I was just curious as to what others did.

Rev. Eric J Brown said...

I commune every time - so long as I am prepared. And what is required for preparation? Not the depth of my thoughts or the wonders of my particular self-examination, but that I discern the Body and Blood of Christ and that I have faith in these words, "Given and Shed for you."

Don't worry about "amounts" or depth -- that's the way of Satan's temptation... have you done enough, have you thought enough. Of course you haven't, but Christ has done all, cling to Him.

David Jay Webber said...

I would have no objection to the idea of a pastor's communing with his shut-ins as opposed to waiting until Sunday. But for myself I follow the traditional discipline of not communing more than once in a day. On the days I commune, Communion in a sense defines my day. My day is measured in terms of what happens before Communion - in preparation for the Sacrament - and what happens after Communion - as the fruit of the Sacrament in my life. The Confessions speak of daily Communion, but - at least in terms of reception - they do not speak of something more frequent than this. The canons of the Eastern Church do not even allow a priest to celebrate the Sacrament more than once in a day - let alone receive it. As a pastor to two congregations I usually do celebrate the Sacrament more than once on any given Sunday - which the canons of the Western Church do allow. But I personally do not receive the sacrament more than once.

In an essay on Communion Frequency that I wrote several years ago, I summarized Luther's views on this in this way:

"As a matter of principle, Luther refuses to get specific in telling believers how often they should receive the Lord's Supper. If pressed he would probably say, no more than 'daily,' and no less than 'three or four times a year,' but he would not go beyond that."

Sean said...

"Do not you call common what God has called clean..."

Pr. Lehmann said...

I have moved in the opposite direction.

When I was first ordained, I was always worried I'd run out of elements in the car, need them for an emergency, and then not have them. (Yes, I know this is a ridiculous fear.)

Occasionally I'd commune when a shut-in with dementia would refuse or spit out the host.

Finally, I realized a couple of things. I was already communing in one kind as I abluted the silver. Also, I was jealous of my shut-ins. I needed the Sacrament too.

Now I commune ever time I offer the Sacrament, no matter how many times this is in one day, and I just make sure I have plenty of element in the car. I need it. More frequent communion is perhaps the greatest blessing of the pastoral office.

Rev. Paul Beisel said...

Thank you Pastor Webber for that link. I'll check it out. Maybe it would be better to just have one shut-in communion call per day.

Father Hollywood said...

I guess I'm a little confused. What is the benefit of abstaining from the Sacrament?

The pro-abstention argument is sometimes made in support of less-than-weekly communion. The argument seems to be that "absence makes the heart grow fonder" or that frequent communion makes it less "special."

Again, I'm just not sure what good comes to anyone in having the opportunity to take the Holy Sacrament and saying "No thanks" - whether the question involves communing at the mid-week service, every Sunday, or at every shut-in visit.

Obviously, I think this is each pastor's call, but I'm just not seeing the downside to communing at each shut-in visit aside from the practical matter of making sure to bring enough elements.

Rev. Paul Beisel said...


It is not about "absence makes the heart grow fonder," in the case of shut-ins, at least for me. I fully realize that absence does not make the heart grow fonder. I think that my issue is not so much communing with them every time, but the way we go about communion for shut-ins in the first place.

If there were a public gathering of the Church every day, with the Communion celebrated, or even twice a day, I would have no problem communing as often as it was being celebrated. It's this private communion, this "between me and one other member" that bothers me a bit. I realize that they need to be able to receive the Lord's Supper some how, but sometimes I wonder about this whole "shut-in" thing. Some of the people that are "shut-in" are perfectly capable of being brought to church by another member. I think it makes more sense to bring the Sacrament to the sick and hospitalized than to those who could be in church, if someone would just bring them.

I'm just thinking out loud here, and am genuinely interested in what people have to say.

Uncle Rod said...

This is a great discussion! I wish there were more practical discussions for everyday pastoral care on blogs.
My two cents worth... In determining what is common verses sacred, it is the Words of Christ and the promise contained in them that take the common and make it sacred. We don't change that fact simply because we participate x number of times in a day. I have several shut-ins and often visit two or three or more in a day. I commune with each of them.
Again, thanks for the discussion.

Father Hollywood said...

Dear Paul:

You write:

"Some of the people that are 'shut-in' are perfectly capable of being brought to church by another member. I think it makes more sense to bring the Sacrament to the sick and hospitalized than to those who could be in church, if someone would just bring them."

This is a great point, and I was just dealing with this yesterday.

Some of my shut-ins are even on the go so much that it is difficult to schedule time with them. Irony anyone?

There was a time when family members would bring their parents and grandparents to church - some of whom are able-bodied for the most part, and yet unable to drive. But now, the younger people have often forsaken the church, and though they will bring their relatives to the doctor, they will not give them a ride to meet the Great Physician.

It is a dilemma, and one that taxes the pastor - both in terms of time and in (for lack of a better term) "spiritual energy."

It seems that we have less and less a sense of community. Shut-ins don't want to impose on others, and the younger folks are so busy that a weekly trip to give a ride to someone would be the straw that breaks the camel's back.

People's lives have grown overly complicated and crowded with activity, work, commute times, activities for the children (including shuttling children between mothers' and fathers' homes), etc. that in a sense, we're becoming an entire church of "shut-ins."

I'm reminded of the dystopic and almost prophetic Simon and Garfunkel song "The Sounds of Silence" as community and the social fabric continue to fray and shred.

But, of course, what breaks through the silence is the Word Made Flesh that Satan can never silence.

Bibliophile said...

I would have to agree with Fr. Hollywood. I commune with my shut-ins whenever I visit them. No matter how many times I commune in a day. Take the blessing our Lord has given to you to strengthen you in your work as a pastor.
Fr. Benjamin Pollock

Pr. H. R. said...

On the matter of the traditional canons.

Here's a story from my friend and neighbor, Pr. Weedon. He once asked Pres. Mueller for permission to celebrate more than one Mass in a day. The tradition in the Western canons is that you need the bishop's permission for this.

Pres. Mueller, showing himself to be a rare DP who is a student of the Confessions, responded that the Confessions themselves already gave Pr. Weedon the permission, indeed the duty to do so: for we offer the Sacrament on every Lord's Day - and "at other times when the people ask for it."

Now that's an evangelical canon. The Roman deformation of the Mass into a work is why they have to limit it: otherwise, the priests would just be springing people from purgatory all day. I do not know the thinking behind the East's canon - probably that he could get nothing else done since the Eastern Mass takes so long to sing.

But for evangelical catholics of the Augsburg Confession, there is no impediment at all to saying multiple Masses on a given day and communing at each one.


Rev. Paul Beisel said...

Extremely helpful comment Heath. Maybe I am struggling with the fact that these unusual situations in the home are not done in the church, with the usual pomp and circumstance. I am open to learning on this. I think that it is good to struggle with these kinds of questions, and to learn from wiser brethren. Thank you.

Mike Keith said...

Great discussion and it has been carried out in a coridal and brotherly way.

I commune with the shut-ins I visit. When I first got to the parish I didn't. Then an older pastor asked me why I didn't and I couldn't think of an answer.

However, I have a question and I hope I am able to communicate it well. I wonder - do we not get into a strange way of thinking in this may if we think "more is better." Is it better for me and the forgiveness of my sins and the strengthening of my faith if I have the Holy Sacrament three times a day and not one? What about five times a day? Ten?

I believe in frequent reception of the Lord's Supper. I believe we ought to have the Lord's Supper on every Sunday. I believe we should offer the Sacrament more often if asked. I am just uncertain how to understand the benefits of quanitity of reception? Does it strengthen me more in the Faith if I receive it 25 times per week?

And just to be absolutely clear: I am not trying to make a point. I am simply trying to put words to a confusion I have had for some time.

David Ramirez said...

Commune with them.

Pr. H. R. said...

I hear what you are saying about the lack of pomp and circumstance and the odd feeling of celebrating in a dingy home or a sterile hospital room.

I try to combat that with with a nice mass kit, a stole, and observing all the ceremonies that can fit that setting (hands in the proper position, stole, deeply bowing where you can't genuflect, etc.) That helps some. The simple act of putting on the stole and taking it off at the end, is a visual signal to the person that this time and space is set aside, is holy.

But what I try to keep before my minds eye is the fact that if the Temple could sanctify the gold, then surely the Lord's Body and Blood can sanctify this home or hospital.


David Jay Webber said...

Of course, no one here has questioned whether Communion is "holy" or "common." Obviously is it "holy," and it is always holy, because of who the gift and giver of Communion is. My comments were about something totally different, namely about developing a sense of discipline and rhythm in one's sacramental piety. If a pastor does not have a sense of such discipline in his own sacramental devotion, what would prevent him from talking himself into a practice of celebrating the Sacrament for himself and his wife, morning, noon, and night, seven days a week? His wife is a member of the church, after all. So, if she wants the Sacrament, and if he wants it too, why not? I think that Luther's discipline - rooted in ancient practice - of "no more than once a day," and "no less thah three times a year," would help us to avoid going down such a road.

Rev. Paul Beisel said...

David, that was one of my thoughts as well. These non-parochial communions should be the exception, not the rule. I'm a little uncomfortable with statements that would suggest that the pastor "must" commune with his shut-ins, or that if he is not doing so, he is doing something wrong. My vicarage supervisor, as far as I know, did not commune himself when making shut-in calls. Was he wrong in this? Shouldn't one be free in this regard? Does the very availability of the Sacrament demand that one receive it? Ought one to feel compelled or forced to do so? Surely not. A pastor is not despising the Sacrament by refraining, since he is not staying away from the Sacrament for a long time. Luther says that what should compel a person is the command of Christ and his own pressing need. If one does not feel such a need, then Luther of course directs him to check his flesh, remember the devil, and remember that he is in the world. But can one issue any kind of "law" about how often a pastor should partake of the Sacrament when he offers it to his shut-ins? I think this would be unevangelical. Correct me if I'm wrong.

Father Hollywood said...

Dear David:

I've actually never heard of such a practice (husband and wife communing three times a day). I'm sure it happens in some places. And one can only imagine how horrible that would be. Thank God such abominations are as rare as they are... ;-)

I think pastors should give pastoral care to *all* of their parishioners, and if some of them need to partake of the Sacrament more often (for example, in cases of illness or when someone is dying), then I think that is responsible pastoral care.

People hungering and thirsting for the sacrament to the point of demanding it multiple times a day would be a great problem to have. The real world is a little different, as we all know.

Of course, Paul is right that we're talking about the exception, not the rule. Saying Mass outside of the parochial church setting is extraordinary in the sense that it is private pastoral care. What makes this *not* a private Mass that is condemned in our confessions is that we're not talking about a person communing alone. "Where two or three..."

And note the flexibility in the Augsburg Confession:

"It is observed among us in the following manner: On holy days *and at other times* when communicants are present, Mass is held and *those who desire it are communicated.*" (AC 24:34)

I'm not aware of anything in our symbols that would either 1) discourage a pastor from bringing the sacrament to the sick and shut-in apart from the parochial weekly Mass, or 2) Discourage a pastor from taking communion with the shut-in, or 3) Set a limit to the number of receptions of the Most Holy Sacrament per any given block of time, whether for celebrant or communicant.

I guess I still have no idea why this is an issue at all. Our Lord, after all, says: "As *often* as you drink it..." not "as often as you *abstain* from it" nor "as *infrequently* as you drink it."

When giving private pastoral care, the Lord gives us the opportunity to commune even more frequently, to fortify us for battle. Why look a gift sacrament in the mouth?

Besides, eating is a *communal* activity (as is *communion*). To refuse to share the table with someone is, well, kind of rude. And I'm still not seeing the benefit of making a shut-in eat and drink alone while we watch, nor the spiritual benefit of pastoral eucharistic abstinence. In fact, that (having the shut-in commune alone) is pushing the envelope a little in the direction of privatizing the Mass.

(And yes, I know we're never truly alone when we commune - but this is still not a loophole against private Masses). :-)

Rev. Paul Beisel said...

It is only recently that I have even begun asking myself whether or not I should commune with my shut-ins each time. As I said, I always did before. I was just looking for anything either in the form of historical practice, precedent, or confessional writings that would actually discourage the practice, or encourage it. Is there a reason that there is no description of such practice in the histories, or in the Confessional writings or church orders of our forefathers? What did they do? Maybe I'll do some research on this historically and write a paper on it. I'm just very interested in the topic.

David Jay Webber said...

Luther was actually against the practice of shut-in or sick Communion - or more specifically in his case, death-bed Communion - unless the person had not been able to get to church for the public Liturgy at least 3 or 4 times a year. So I suppose that would mean that he would recommend that a genuine shut-in be visited and Communed at home only about 3 or 4 times a year. Of course, Luther's own opinions are not binding on us, but for what it is worth, that was his opinion.

Also, Luther himself followed a sacramental piety whereby he communed every two or three weeks. It was his custom usually (but not always) to go to private confession in preparation for each time. I don't think that Reformation-era Lutheran pastors would have communed when they celebrated Communion for people on their sick bed or death bed. It was understood that home Communion was in a sense an extension of the public Liturgy, and the pastor, if he was going to commune that week, had already done so in church.

David Jay Webber said...

With reference to your question concerning the communication of the sick, I think that you have been sufficiently instructed by the custom of our Church [in Wittenberg], with which you have been conversant for such a long time. Yet I wish and am of the opinion that private Communion should be abolished everywhere - namely, that the people should be told in sermons to receive Communion three or four times a year in order that, strengthened by the Word, they may afterward fall asleep, no matter what the cause of death may be. For private Communion will increasingly impose an intolerable and impossible burden, especially in time of pestilence. And it is not right that the Church should be required to peddle the Sacraments, particularly in the case of those who have despised them for a long time and who then expect the Church to be ready to be of service to them, although they never rendered it a service of any kind. However, since this practice has not yet been established, you must do what you can. Meanwhile, as you have done, you should administer Communion to the sick alone when it does not please you to receive Communion with them, but you should explain that you are doing this as a temporary expedient and that you will not continue to do this for them forever inasmuch as something will certainly be decided about this matter. (Martin Luther, Letter to Anthony Lauterbach [Nov. 26, 1539], Luther: Letters of Spiritual Counsel, p. 305)

David Jay Webber said...

If the papists were to argue on behalf of the retention of their private Masses: that a priest might well communicate his own self or give himself communion, just as one communicates individuals who are sick in their homes, but then one must answer: First, it is not enough to speak thus or to undertake [such a thing], but they ought to have a clear Word and command of God, that this is proper and should be done; for without God's Word one ought not undertake anything in God's service and in the things of God. Secondly, it is a perversion of the priestly office which God has instituted, for the Sacraments are to be distributed through a common public office in the stead of Christ and of Christendom [so ist's ein Verkehrung des priesterlichen Ampts, das Gott eingesetzt hat; denn die Sacrament sollen durchs offentlich gemein Ampt gereicht werden an Statt Christi und der Christenheit]. Now a single individual cannot have or exercise a common public office all by himself in opposition to Christendom. However, when one gives the Sacrament to the sick, this comes from the instituted office [das geschieht aus dem ordenlichen Ampt], just as if one took the Sacrament from the altar otherwise and brought it to someone in a corner or behind the church door; and so the office should remain unperverted here in its function [Werk]. (Martin Luther, Letter to George Spalatin, July 27, 1530 [WA Br. V, 504]; quoted in Edward Frederick Peters, The Origin and meaning of the Axiom: "Nothing Has the Character of a Sacrament Outside of the Use," in Sixteenth-Century and Seventeenth-Century Lutheran Theology, p. 184)

David Jay Webber said...

...Christ...did not want to permit believers to use Communion arbitrarily, so that it would make no difference whether they used it occasionally or not at all or when they pleased, as one does in matters indifferent. For He does not say: "When it pleases you," as in indifferent matters, but says: "As often as you do this." It is not the same as with Baptism; we are baptized only once, but it is not sufficient to use the Lord's Supper only once. For He says: "As often as," in order that we may eat of that bread and drink of that cup as often as we recognize and feel that that medicine and remedy which our Good Samaritan pours into our wounds is useful and necessary to us, so long only as we examine ourselves lest we receive it to judgment. For the rule about when and how often one should go to Communion must be taken: I. From the teaching about the fruit and power of the Eucharist, namely, when and as often as we recognize that we have need of this power; II. From the teaching about self-examination, lest we receive it unworthily. On this basis people are to be taught, admonished, and exhorted to more diligent and frequent use of the Eucharist. For because Christ says: "As often as you do this," it is wholly His will that those who are His disciples should do this frequently. Therefore those are not true and faithful ministers of Christ who in any manner whatever lead or frighten people away from more frequent use and reception of the Eucharist. There are beautiful examples of frequent use of the Eucharist from the true antiquity. Some had the custom of receiving the Eucharist daily, some twice a week, some on the Lord's day, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday, some only on the Lord's Day. Testimonies to this are found with Jerome, in the epistle to Lucinius; with Ambrose, on 1 Tim. 2; with Augustine, Letter No. 118; De fide ad Petrum, ch. 19; De ecclesiasticis dogmatibus, ch. 53; with Socrates, Bk. 5, ch. 22. (Martin Chemnitz, Examination of the Council of Trent, Part II, pp. 330-31)

David Jay Webber said...

The preceding three posts are just direct quotations from Luther and Chemnitz, in case anyone is wondering.

Father Hollywood said...

Of course, it was also a little more inconvenient in the 16th century to visit one's shut-ins. I suspect they are visited more often by pastors today considering that we have cars.

I don't see the value in visiting a shut-in and withholding communion from them based on something Luther wrote in the 16th century. I don't even know how I would explain such a thing.

Can you just imagine saying this to a shut-in: "Nice to see you. We will pray and hear the Word together today, but since Luther thinks you should only get the Supper quarterly, I'm going to deprive you of the Sacrament for a few weeks."

Again, I'm just not seeing the benefit of infrequent reception by either parishioner or pastor.

David Jay Webber said...

In one of the Luther quotes I do, however, note this: "...you should administer Communion to the sick alone when it does not please you to receive Communion with them..." So, maybe I should revise my thought that a Lutheran pastor back then would probably not have communed with his shut-in. It would seem from this comment that perhaps he might have done so sometimes.

David Jay Webber said...

Again, I'm just not seeing the benefit of infrequent reception by either parishioner or pastor.

Now you're sounding like Chemnitz. But when he described what he meant by "frequent" reception, he said this: "Some had the custom of receiving the Eucharist daily, some twice a week, some on the Lord's day, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday, some only on the Lord's Day." More often than "daily" was off his radar screen.

Rev. Paul Beisel said...

Interesting quotes--thanks for providing them David. I was wondering if Luther had written anything concerning this. I do know that Chemnitz has written about taking communion to the sick, and holds that it is better to consecrate in the presence of the sick person than to take from the altar. Bjarne Teigen, "the Lord's Supper in the Theology of Martin Chemnitz" (pp. 126-127).

Rev. Paul Beisel said...

I think Luther would say: commune as often as you recognize your need for the Sacrament, and don't stay away from it for long periods of time. Also, if you do not feel such a hunger and thirst, then you ought to examine yourself, and see if you still have flesh and blood, etc.

I don't think Luther would say that a minister *must* commune with the sick or shut-in everytime he sees them. Luther does not say that preparation has no value, only that it is not essential for one to receive the Sacrament worthily.

I think what got me started thinking about this whole thing was that I found myself having sort've a casual spirit towards the Sacrament when receiving it multiple times in a day. That is not a good thing. I realize this is not the fault of the Sacrament, but with myself. If I am going to receive Holy Communion, in faith, I should do so each and every time because I hunger and thirst for righteousness. Luther says that the best preparation for the Sacrmament is a soul that is troubled by sin and hungers and thirsts for righteousness. I wonder if it is not possible fall into a sort've "ex opere operato" attitude about the Sacrament when receiving it multiple times in a day, that merely by doing the work I am receiving its benefits. I'm not saying that is true of any of my brothers in office, I am just wondering if that can be a danger. I have sensed that attitude in myself.

David Jay Webber said...

"I don't think Luther would say that a minister must commune with the sick or shut-in everytime he sees them."

He said this: "...you should administer Communion to the sick alone when it does not please you to receive Communion with them..." That would mean that when it does please you to receive Communion with them, then you should.

But no more than once a day. ;-)

Father Hollywood said...

"But no more than once a day. ;-)"

Of course, if we're going to have a rule, we need to (and the president of the United States might say) "be clear."

Is a day a 24-hour period beginning at the moment of communion, and would that be at consecration or reception? Does the day begin at midnight (according to modern timekeeping? Does it begin at Sundown according to the Jewish model? Or should we follow the Greco-Roman standard of the first hour beginning at sunrise?

And should the pastor abstain if there are two parochial Masses on Sunday?

And what about a guy who has a dual parish on either side of the time zone boundary? And it really gets complicated for missionaries in the South Pacific who may be near to the International Date Line.

This sounds like an opportunity for a Ph.D. dissertation. ;-)

Pr. Lehmann said...


I love you, man.

Rev. Paul Beisel said...

I agree with Larry that it would be a great problem to have if people hungered and thirsted for the Sacrament that they requested it very frequently. That would indeed be a great problem to have!

I'm sure I don't hunger and thirst for it like I ought. So, my question is: is it a proper use of the Sacrament to receive *simply because it is availabe*, even though one feels no hunger and thirst for it, or is not aware at that moment of his great need for it? Doesn't that border, just a bit, or at least open the door for an ex opere operato understanding of the Sacrament? I'm just not sure that is a proper use of the Sacrament. If one desires it for the forgiveness of his sins, then by all means, do not abstain from it! But at the same time, shouldn't we be cautious, and guard ourselves against a casual or flippant attitude towards it, or an attitude that takes it just because I can? These are serious questions I think. I don't know, I guess I just want to be sure that I myself am not abusing the gift, but having it with the proper attitude and spirit.

The issue, as I see it, is not so much how often one offers and receives it with homebound people per day or per week or per minute or per hour, but with what spirit and attitude one has towards it when it is being received. I want to make sure that I am not abusing this gift, but using it in the way that the Lord desires. I think there have been times when I didn't give full attention to the fact that this was for the forgiveness of my sins, and I was doing it more because it was available than because I truly hungered and thirsted for it. Do you see my point?

Father Hollywood said...

"Do you see my point?"

Dear Paul:

Absolutely. And I think laypeople think the same thing as their minds wander during communion. I think we're all in the same boat.

Dear Charles:

You're not just trying to get my beer, are you? ;-)

Sean said...

This "hunger & thirst" notion sounds a lot like contritionism, that we must make sure we are sorry enough for our sins, feel them deep enough, acknowledge them.... sincerely enough? And if we've accomplished that [enough] then really we've won the battle, and the sacrament is just a sort of reward or cherry-on-top to our well worked-out contrition.

Are we saying that when your mind wanders, you are receiving it unworthily?

Rev. Paul Beisel said...

Sean--definitely not saying that, but simply that we surely want to avoid approaching the Sacrament without faith, as Luther speaks in vol. 53 of the people in the Roman church who "seek only to communicate; but the faith, the comfort, the use and benefit of the Supper are not even mentioned or considered."

So long as one is always receiving the Sacrament for the forgiveness of their sins, and not simply for the sake of "doing it," I guess I see no problem with it.

Father Hollywood said...

"This "hunger & thirst" notion sounds a lot like contritionism, that we must make sure we are sorry enough for our sins, feel them deep enough, acknowledge them.... sincerely enough? And if we've accomplished that [enough] then really we've won the battle, and the sacrament is just a sort of reward or cherry-on-top to our well worked-out contrition."

Dear Sean:

I don't think anyone is saying anything like that. Our Lord uses the "hunger and thirst" metaphor (Matt 5:6) as does Blessed Martin Luther (SC, LSB 330 Question 20).

David Ramirez said...

Further upstream, Curtis talked about how to make a communion service look/smell/sound like church. I second his advice and would add one more thing.

If you don't already, and assuming you can, chant and sing the service, preach a short sermon, do the liturgy that the vast majority of Missourians know- p. 15/ D III, so that they can follow and sing along.

In certain situations this may not work, but I assume that they know it and want to praise God and receive His gifts the way they did when they could come on Sunday, and so I go in singing. 9/10 they follow right along.

I wouldn't say that the pastor must commune, but given the setting I would find it odd not for him.

Follow Nike's advice: "Just do it!"

Rev. Paul Beisel said...

David, that's good advice and is what I have been doing for the almost eight years that I have been serving congregations. I agree with you that it is good thing to do as much as possible given the surroundings. Today I gathered about five of my shut-ins at one Nursing home into their "chapel" and said mass with all of them at once...and communed, all within about an hour. Now that's the way to "just do it!"

Brad said...

I'm curious about whether anyone here dons anything more than a clerical when communing their shut-ins?

Fallhiker said...

1 Corinthians 11:25

mlorfeld said...

I have few shut ins... so this isn't really much of an issue... but I always commune with them. My thought on this is "how much Jesus is too much Jesus?" The answer for me is obvious... Jesus says "This is My body given for you," etc. His own Word says it is for me and in my simple faith I trust that He means it.