Why did they tell St. Teresa of Avila to stop


taking communion so much?

If you saw the movie - the Spanish mini series - one of the priests she confessed to advised her to stop taking communion so much. Later, when she took on Fr. Gracia (Sp?) as her guide or whatever you would call it - and promised to be obedient to him, he refused her communion once. So apparently he too believed she took communion too much.

Does anyone know why? I saw in another post where someone said that Canon law used to say that you were only supposed to take it once a day. So I"m not sure if that was the reason why they told St. Teresa this or if there was some other reason.



At that time it was very rare for laypeople to receive communion more than three or four times a year. The norm was once a year for laypeople. If you tried to do it more often than once a quarter you would meet with resistance, even though no church teaching forbade it and the Council of Trent had encouraged frequent communion (but of course “frequent” was vague–it could mean once a quarter instead of once a year!) I think that basically more frequent communion was seen as a form of presumption–claiming that you were worthy to receive more often than other people. It may also have been seen as blurring the laity/clergy distinction, but I think the “worthiness” concern was the main one.

This concern was in fact ecumenical–it’s the main reason Protestants stopped celebrating communion frequently. Contrary to what many people claim (or what would be true later), early Protestants considered the Eucharist extremely important, but they agreed with Catholics that proper preparation was essential. And of course, Protestant theology didn’t allow for the Eucharist to be celebrated without congregational reception of communion.



This is true. In her book,* The* *Foundations, *she cautioned her prioresses not to pay heed to nuns who wanted communion so ardently that they would not obey the rules. She taught them to disregard such pleas for frequent communion, saying that it was excessive and actually called it a temptation. :eek:

In one chapter of her Life, she related the advice she received from her spiritual director whom she said gave her a number of counsels. One of them was to receive holy communion at least once a “fortnight.” A fortnight was every two weeks. Apparently, she had not even been communicating that often prior to the visit with him.


[quote="Sirach2, post:3, topic:347305"]
This is true. In her book,* The* *Foundations, *she cautioned her prioresses not to pay heed to nuns who wanted communion so ardently .


Did you mean to say this is NOT true? This was in the movie. Surprised they would have turned it around like that.


I was not very clear with my answer. It may or may not be true about the priest telling her that. I also saw the mini series a few times, but I don’t remember that incident.

What I meant about it being true is that she and the nuns of her day did not receive holy communion very often. In St. Teresa’s case, she did not even receive it as often as every two weeks (a fortnight) and her spiritual advisor, Dominican Fr. Baron, recommended that she begin to communicate more often … at least once a fortnight. You can verify this here. Scroll down about 1/3 of the page. I tried to find it in my book, her Life, but it doesn’t have an index in the back, so I couldn’t put my finger on it. It may also have been mentioned in Way of Perfection. Again, I couldn’t find the precise reference, but I remember thinking how odd it was when I read it.

Ah, I found it, in her Life, as I suspected. After getting the Father’s name from EWTN’s article, I realized I should have looked much earlier in her book. It is in Chapter VII, where she says:

  1. This Dominican father, who was a very good man, fearing God, did me a very great service; for I confessed to him. He took upon himself the task of helping my soul in earnest, and of making me see the perilous state I was in. He sent me to Communion once a fortnight; [The Spanish editor calls attention to this as a proof of great laxity in those days—that a nun like St. Teresa should be urged to communicate as often as once in a fortnight.] and I, by degrees beginning to speak to him, told him about my prayer. He charged me never to omit it: that, anyhow, it could not do me anything but good.


Forgot the link: ccel.org/ccel/teresa/life.viii.viii.html


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