At weddings, funerals, first Communions . . .

At weddings, funerals, first Communions and Confirmations, many priests will try to give some guidance on who may present themselves for Holy Communion. A while back, I made a passing remark that I found to be surprisingly effective. After explaining that it is practising Catholics, living in accord with the teaching of the Church and attending Sunday Mass every week who go to Communion, I added that there are always plenty of people who, for various reasons, cannot receive Communion and so there is no need to be embarrassed about remaining in the bench. My hunch was correct: at those public occasions, if you do not explain that there are required dispositions for Holy Communion, people will come up simply to be polite, in case it might be rude not to. Such is the result of our failing to educate the faithful on the proper dispositions for Holy Communion.


—Fr Timothy Finigan

9 thoughts on “At weddings, funerals, first Communions . . .

  1. Great advice. That is a very good line for any priest to recite to the visitors who might otherwise draft behind a practicing Catholic to exercise the old “When in Rome” Doctrine. Good also to remind us that their goal is generally not to insult The Lord, but rather, to avoid being impolite at someone’s special ocassion. We can, and likely do, periodically overlook this simple fact when we observe this all-too-common phenomenon (Perhaps to a point where we, ourselves, can suddenly become questionable communicants…)

  2. This point might be good to make even more generally, in one way or another: I have gotten the impression from things I have read elsewhere that many practicing Catholics seem to feel some kind of circumstantial ‘pressure’ to communucate, even when they in fact have good reason not to do so!

    • Precisely, the point, David. Many Catholics fear that family, friends or fellow parishioners will think they have done something terrible. This is especially true when the custom of the parish is to file up to communion row by row with the assistance of ushers. Those who remain behind are made obvious.

  3. Please prayerfully consider doing this at every Mass, Father. People’s knowledge of the faith is so poor today, it could really help!


  4. Our parish does a great job of relaying this information verbally and printed in the worship aid if applicable. Additionally some parishes will invite non-Catholic Christians to come forward for a blessing. I think it is nice but if they are not aware that not all parishes do this and come up for a blessing perhaps in another parish that doesn’t, it could cause confusion and hurt feelings.
    Would a priest refuse anyone asking to receive a blessing even if it is not a common practice in their particular parish? I have read about the objections for doing this, but can a person receive too many blessings?
    In Christ,

    • As a Catholic who sometimes strays and can’t always make it to confession prior to the next mass, I really wish more parishes offered a blessing. It is, especially in small towns where everyone knows you, very obvious and the foder of gossip & ridicule (which is actually not very christian either) to stay in the pew during communion.

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