Did the reformers change the way Catholics hold Mass?

Receiving the Holy Eucharist on a weekly basis is not a universal event that happens among all Catholics. Those who have unconffesed mortal sins are not to commune until after they have absolution.

You are correct, people did receive Holy Communion less often in the past, and church law still teaches it is only mandatory to commune once a year during the Paschal season.

So then attendance has always been mandetory but Communion has not?


The article you cited didn’t substantiate its claims. Someone else posted evidence that in fact attendance was mandatory from the early Church on. The article is right, however, that Mass attendance looked very different from the way it does today and would have involved a lot of “milling around,” not people sitting in pews quietly.

And the Eucharist wasn’t given weekly but sometimes annually.

The Eucharist was celebrated daily. Most of the time, only the priest received communion. Laypeople had to receive annually, and might receive several times a year if they were devout.

The distinction between celebration and reception is hard for Protestants, and Catholics get confused too because they receive quite frequently nowadays. People also get confused about Protestantism, thinking erroneously that Protestants began celebrating the Eucharist less frequently because they didn’t think it was very important. On the contrary, they insisted that whenever it was celebrated at least some in the congregation should receive. So pastors would only celebrate when they knew there were people ready to receive, which wasn’t very often–usually quarterly, which was a bit more often than most laypeople had been receiving.


My hunch is that holy Communion is celebrated more than in the past in Lutheran and Anglican churches. Weekly is the norm pretty much.

The Mass is still celebrated daily in the Catholic Church, wherever possible. A Mass is still the Mass, even if no one else is present besides the priest.
Posters are using terms such as celebration and reception, but a crucial element to Catholic Mass is the Consecration. Catholics consider it spiritually significant to join in with our prayer during the Consecration, even if we don’t happen to receive communion at that particular Mass, for whatever reason. There is an Act of Spiritual Communion we can make at that time, but even if we don’t say that particular prayer it is a deeply special time, the most important part of our day, not to de emphasize the other parts of the Mass. None of this has changed, nor has the moral consequence of missing Mass.

When I can’t make daily Mass, I try to be aware of that time wherever I am. From my point of view, the Mass is our participation in the ongoing, timeless liturgy of Heaven. To put it another way, it is Heaven’s participation in this particular time, in this particular place - with us.

Couldn’t agree more! :thumbsup:

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