Franciscan tradition or liturgical abuse?

I had the pleasure of going to Mass at a Franciscan friary the other day. The priest gave a fantastic homily. :slight_smile:

One thing hapenned that puzzled me - and I daresay raised warning flags. After the Agnus Dei, a friar (not a priest - I double-checked this), went to the tabernacle to get the reserved Hosts. He then took a Host from the paten, then passed the paten to a second friar, who took the Host for himself, and then to the priest who was concelebrating, who took a Host for himself before putting the paten on the altar. They held the Hosts in their hands until after the priest received.

Is this a Franciscan thing or a liturgical abuse? I always thought you had to receive communion, that you could not take it for yourself.


:heart: Love is Patient

I used the convenient contact function at to ask a friar about that. In my own opinion, I would think that religious, by their very natur, would be allowed to touch the Host, but besides that, I’m pretty sure the Church allows receiving in the hand- my church does it, as does every parish I’ve been to.

It would seem that they were concelebrating.

Concelebrating priests should take the Host themselves. Friars who are not priests should receive from the hands of a priest, deacon, or EMHC.

We are all allowed to touch the Host when we receive Communion. The issue is not touching the Host; the issue is self-communication (“taking” Communion rather than “receving”), which is forbidden for the laity.

I would surmise that if only friars tasked with assisting with the distribution of Holy Communion are “taking” Communion, and none of the other congregants, that this is an “overlookable” abuse if the friars in question have not been ordained into the presbyterial order.

Were lay congregants allowed to do this I would be inclined to encourage the OP to address the issue with the appropriate people. Since it’s limited to the friars, I’d leave it be.

Yes, they do that at my church, too. The EMs take a piece, eat it, pass the cup, then the musicians take a piece and eat it, etc, then the priest and EMs distribute to us.

I think only concelebrating ordained priests or bishops can take instead of receiving. I remember deacons receiving as well when ever I see them.

The EMHCs are supposed to receive Communion from the priest, both the Host and the Cup. They are not supposed to pass it to each other.

Oh. Well that’s how it’s done at the churches I’ve been to.

Yes this is a Franciscan tradition for masses celebrated in a friary. It’s not done for masses celebrated in a parish. If there were seculars there, the reason should have been explained to avoid questions such as this.

In the Franciscan family, our priests have never enjoyed a place of “primacy”. I can’t find a better word right now. The idea is this:

  1. We love and respect our priests becaues only through them do we receive and see any visble sign of Christ’s presence and through them we also receive absolution from our sins.

  2. A priest who becomes a brother is one among many brothers.

  3. We are a community of brothers, not priests. Priests who join the Franciscan family do so to be brothers and join for the salvation of their souls.

  4. A the liturgy, all of the brothers are led by a brother priest who proclaims the Gospel and offers the sacrifice (we rarely have deacons, since they are banned by the constitution).

  5. In order to emphasize the lay character of the Franciscan Order, the brothers may not make distinctions between the ordained and the lay brothers.

  6. To emphasize the unity of the brothers as sons of St. Francis all of the brothers must celebrate the liturgy as a fraternity.

Now, given these core values of Franciscan spirituality, it became a common practice for the brother who is celebrating the mass to walk around the sanctuary and hold out the patten or hand the host to each brother just before communion and for all the brothers to receive communion seconds after the brother who is celebrating the mass.

Usually, the onlly brothers who open the tabernacle during a mass is either the brother priest who is celebrating the mass or the superior of the house, who may be a lay brother. He outranks all the other brothers. He is the canonical successor fo our holy Father Francis and our Mother St. Clare. It was common practice for Francis and Clare to open the tabernacle to bring communion to the sick brothers or sisters or to expose the Blessed Sacrament, even though both Francis and Clare were lay.

Do not confuse lay with secular. They were were religious, not seculars. But they were lay, not ordaiend.

But again, this should have been explained or maybe it was explained at some point. This may not be done at a parish mass. Parishes are not the property of the Order. They are the property of the diocese and they must follow the rules of the diocese, unless the bishop gives them special permission. For example, in a parish you can have a priest who is the parish adminsitrator, but not a pastor, because he’s not the superior. When the superior is a lay brother, the priest responsible for the parish cannot be a pastor. That creates two authorities that can easily come into conflict.


Br. JR, OSF :slight_smile:

Maybe I misunderstood the OP, does the OP know that they are not ordained priests? I assumed they were called “Friars” which by itself does not necessarly mean that they are not priests. In many Franciscan parishes even the priests are called “Brother (First name)”.

You’re right. I forgot to ask if they were wearing vestments or habits. That would have been the telling point.

Yes, the term Father is gradually disappearing with the John Paul generation of friars. There is a strong desire and effort to return to our roots and the title Brother or Friar is replacing Father. This is a good thing. The friars should be indistinguishable. I know that in the Capuchin tradition Brother is coming back and among the Conventual tradition, Friar is coming back. I don’t know which one the Observant tradition is using.

Even among the Secular Franciscans, Brother and Sister is coming back.


Br. JR, OSF :slight_smile:

That’s really not allowed.

[quote=GIRM #160]… The faithful are not permitted to take the consecrated bread or the sacred chalice by themselves and, still less, to hand them from one to another…

AFAIK, the EMHCs must receive communion from the celebrant, and they must also receive the chalice or the Hosts directly from the celebrant.

You might want to mention this to your pastor so he can correct it.


This is not usually allowed at a parish mass. Masses in an exempt religious house, such as a friary, monastery or abbey is a different story. Notice I said “exempt”. There are not that many religoius orders that are exempt. Each has its own customs. That’s a better word than tradition. For example, if a priest is a Carmelite, he may not concelebrate in a Carmelite house. In a Carmelite house all priests are treated as lay men when it comes to mass. Only one can celbrate the mass. Every friars, ordained and lay, must be part of the congregation. They may not celebrate mass in private to make up for it. The focus is on the fraternity.

In Carhusian houses no one may celebrate mass in the presence of the laity without permission of the Abbot. The laity are not allowed to see a hermit celebrate mass. Sometimes they have a guest house and an ordained hermit will come to celebrate the mass for the guest. But that’s rare that they have guests.

In a Benedictine house, everyone is welcome to the mass and all the ordained monks may concelebrate, unless the monastery is an EF monastery.

In a Dominican house they follow the Dominican rite in their own houses, but they use the EF or OF in the parish. They may not use the EF or OF in their houses.

Each religious order has its customs. This only applies to orders. Not to congregations, societies, fraternities or institutes. They have more flexibility in some areas and less in others. But that does not depend on Rome. It depends on the founder.

All this being the case, parishes are supposed to followt he standards for the OF or the EF. They are not expected to deviate too much from it.


Br. JR, OSF :slight_smile:

One would think that my pastor would know the right thing. But I will not say anything. He sometimes tells us that he doesn’t like ‘liturgical police’ that complain every time he does something different. Like one time he wanted us all to sign a card for someone, and he had us pass it around during communion, but before he did he said that he didn’t want to hear any complaining because he knew some people would since it was during communion.

St. Francis was a deacon. In fact, the calendar on EWTN’s website lists him as:
Sunday, October 4, 2009
St. Francis of Assisi, Deacon, Religious, Founder of the Three Order (Solemnity) **

Deacons are in orders. Therefore, wasn’t he was ordained not lay?

Where could I read more about this?

My feelings on this are very mixed. Rome has repeatedly affirmed that Catholics have the right to assist at Mass that is said in accordance with the rubrics that Rome has promulgated, and that they have the right to complain (charitably and appropriately) to the appropriate level of the chain of command.

But then, I always have to wonder if people who know a little bit about the rubrics aren’t just looking for trouble when they complain. There may very well be people out there just waiting for the priest to do something that is not correct so they can pounce.

But we can also come back to the slippery slope argument. If Father X makes such and such change and I say nothing, it’s going to be a lot harder to fix things when he goes on to make another such and such change.

So I try to be more understanding of things and evaluate whether or not something needs to be addressed.

My pastor has a habit of omitting the Gloria when the rubrics proscribe its recitation. We’ve talked and I let this go. Were he to have a woman vest in an alb and assist at the altar in the manner of a Deacon, I’d start up the chain of command and go all the way to the Nuncio if my pastor and our Bishop did nothing. (And this particular priest is not going to ever allow such a thing)

As far as the “taking” of Communion versus the “receiving,” this is a matter I’d pounce on too, although I don’t know how far I’d take it. As a parish musician, however, I would let my own witness be an example. I would demand that I be allowed to receive, and at the very least make one of the choir members commune me.

So, you see that sometimes we have a spectrum of how to handle things. You’ve made a choice to not address this matter, and that is your prerogative, and I commend your being rational about it.

St. Francis became a deacon in 1223. He founded the order in 1209.


Br. JR, OSF :slight_smile:

You would have to read the ancient biographer such as Celano or Esser. I don’t think that the constitutions are a public document. I really don’t Our copy is published in-house, meaning at the generalate in Rome.


Br. JR, OSF :slight_smile:

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