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No Minister ought to keep a faithful Person from the Communion, that does desire and ask it, whilst he doth not know his Conscience defiled with mortal Sin.
The Council of Trent, treating of the Preparation which Priests and Layman ought to make for the worthy Receiving of the Holy Eucharist, hath these following words, (Sess. 13, Cap. 17.) The Custom of the Church makes it clear, that Examination and Proof is necessary in order to the Communion; that no man, knowing himself guilty of mortal Sin, though he may seem Contrite to himself, come to the Sacrament, unless he have before been at Sacramental Confession. Which comprehends all Christians, and even Priests, who are bound by their Office to Celebrate it: from whence ‘tis clearly to be inferred, that the Council makes no other disposition necessary for the Communicating of Laymen, and the Priest’s saying Mass, than not to have any mortal Sin. Why then should the Ministers be a hindrance to those which have that disposition?
The Ministers will not say that their Authority is greater than that of the Council; nor that they are more Learned than all those Fathers of the Church that came to it; nor will they say, less, that they have a greater light from God, than that which he then communicated to his Spouse, the Church: Therefore the Ministers ought not to require a greater disposition, than being without mortal Sin, whilst the Council requires no more.
Either the Ministers and Priests, which say Mass daily, have this Holiness and Perfection themselves, which they require in Laymen, or else they have it not: they will not say they have it, because it would then be pride in ‘em: If they have it not, and yet Celebrate Mass every day, why do they require it from Laymen, in order to the granting ‘em the Communion daily? ‘Tis good to advise ‘em to this Perfection, but if they should not have it, it will not be reasonable to deprive ‘em of so great a good, because they may have reason to fear that Christ our Lord may say to ‘em as he did to the Pharisees, (St. Matthew 23.24) That they bind heavy burthens upon men, and they themselves will not touch ‘em with one of their fingers. And that also is verified which David said, (Psalm 61. 10) That men are deceitful in the weight. Mendaces filii hominum in stateris; Since they have one weight for themselves and another for Laymen.
If the Council judges that not being in mortal Sin, is a worthy disposition towards saying Mass daily, consecrating and offering Sacrifice, which is the holiest Service, how much more worthy will such a disposition be for only the receiving the Communion?
If Councils, the Church, Popes, Saints, and Doctors tequire no greater disposition to receive fruit from this Sacrament, than not being in mortal Sin, why must the Ministers require a greater?
The Council of Trent hath the following words: (Sess. 28. Cap. 6.) Optaret quidem Sancta Synodus ut in singulis missis fideles adstantes, non solum spirituali affectu, sed Sacramentali etiam Eucharistiæ preceptione Communicarent, quo ad eos hujus sacrificii fructus uberior perveniret: That is, the holy Council would look upon it as a very good thing that in every days Mass, the Faithful who assist at it, would be Communicated, not only Spiritually and in their desires, but also Sacramentally by receiving the Holy Eucharist, that they might thus obtain the more abundant benefit by this most Holy Sacrament. The Council therefore desires that the Faithful would communicate every day that they hear Mass, with the disposition of having no mortal Sin, as it signified Sess. 13. chap. 7. Will any Ministers say, that this is not well, and so openly set themselves in opposition to the desires of the Church?
The Congregation of the Council declared it an Errour that any Bishops in a Capriccio should limit and hinder Daily Communion from being taken by Merchants and House-keepers: The holy Rota reports it in the year 1587 (Barbos. in Council. Trid. Sup. c. 22.) and after it had Decreed that all Laymen might be communicated, even every day, though they should be Merchants and House-keepers, it adds the following words: — Qua propter exhortandi sunt fideles, ut sicut quotidie peccant, ita quotidie medicinam accipient: That is, wherefore the Faithful are to be exohorted, that as they Sin daily, so they daily receive this Medicine of the Sacrament of the Eucharist. And the same Coucil of Trent says. (Sess. 13. c. 2. de Instit. Sanctiss. Sacr.) Qui manducat me, ipse vivet propter me, & tanquam antidotum, quo liberemur a culpis quotidianis & a peccatis mortalibus præfervemur: ---- The Communion is as an Antidote to free us from daily Sins, and preserve us from mortal Sins. If the Council and its Decree speaks here, not of the Basils and Antonies, nor of the Catharines and Clares, as some say it is required for ‘em to be, but of those that Sin daily; why should they be kept from the Medicine, that they may not Sin?
The Council of Milan (3 de Euch.) and that of Cabilon (Cant. 46.) are of the same mind.
The blessed Pius Quintus says, (Catech. Rom. 2. p. c. 4. §. 60.) The Curates are bound to exhort the Faithful often, that as they hold it necessary to feed the Body daily, so they hold it also necessary to feed the Soul as often with this Sacrament: because the Children of Israel did eat Manna in the wilderness daily; and that Manna was the Figure of this sacred Food; And that sentence [Thou sinnest every day, be communicated also every day.] is not only St. Augustine’s, but the saying of all the Saints.
St. Ignatius, Bishop and Martyr, (Epist. ad Eph.) exhorts that we often come and receive the Eucharist; because the frequency of it weakens the power of Satan. The Council of Alexandria says, (De Euch.c. 5.) That without this frequency, it will be a hard matter to preserve Grace. St. John Chrisostome (In Epist. S. Paul ad Tim.) says, It is no rashness for a Christian to come often to the Sacrament: he that remembers not a great fault of himself, may come to it every day.
Theophylact (In Prim. S. Paul ad Corinth. II.) says, To know whether thou mayest Communicate, be thou the Judge, and having examined thy self, thou mayest do it, without staying for a Festival., unless thou findest thy self burthened with a great fault.
St. Cyprian (In Orat. Dom. Serm. 6.) says, Let us ask this daily Bread, being in no great fault let us receive this Bread every day, which gives us Life Eternal; and let us beg that our Bread, which is Christ our Lord, may be daily given us, to keep us in his Grace: No small loss it is, to forbear Communicating every day.
St. Hilary says, (De Consectrat. dist. 2. cap. 51.) If thy Sins are not so greivous as to deserve Excommunication, not being mortal, if they should be mortal, after Confession, as Suarez expounds it, Disp. 60.Sess. 3) never keep off from the daily Medicine, which is the Body and Blood of the Lord.
St. Ambrose says, (5 de Sacram. c. 4.) Receive daily, that which is to help thee daily: he that does not deserve to receive it every day, doth not deserve to receive it in a whole year: Sins are daily committed, and therefore this Divine Bread is for every day. Thou offendest every day, wash thy self therefore of thy Sin every day in the Fountain of Repentance; and if thou comest every day to this Divine Sacrament, thou wilt find wholesome Medicine, and not the Poison of Judgment.
St. Jerom says, (In Apol. Cont. Jovin.) We should always receive the Holy Eucharist, that we may be without mortal Sin: And in his time, which was the Year 470, he says, the holy Custom of Communicating every day, continued in Rome and in Spain.
St. Augustine says, (Tract. 26. in Johan.) If thou comest without Sin, come and welcome; ‘tis Bread and not Poyson;
Again, (Ep. de ver. Dom. Ser. 28.) ‘Tis better to Communicate for Devotion, than let it alone for Reverence. And in another place, This is the daily Bread, receive it daily, because it will daily do thee good, and thou mayest receive it every day.
Some ascribe that sentence to the same Father, Quotidie Eucharistiæ Communionem percipere, nec laudo nec reprehendo. With which a Bishop reproved S. Catharine of Siena, because she took the Sacrament every day: and the Saint replied to him, how he durst reprove in her, that which St. Austine durst not reprove? Bellarmine therefore (De Script. Eccles. in the Year 420.) says that this sentence is not S. Austine’s, but Gennadius’s of Marseilles; and so many other Authors assure us.
S. Gregory (De Confeor d. 2. c. Quid sit Sanguis.) says, The Lord gave us this Salutary Sacrament to pardon our daily sins; let us receive it every day.
St. Bernard (In Serm. de Cæna Dom.) says, The wounded man seeks Medicine: we are all of us wounded, when we have Sinned; our Medicine is the Divine Sacrament: receive it daily and thou wilt recover daily.
St. Apollonius (In vitis Patrum ejus vita.) advised his Monks to be communicated every day, that they might be preserved in Grace.
St. Bonaventure, (De Pracept. Relig. Proces. 7. c. 21.) Though thou shouldst find thy self lukewarm, with little Fervour in thee, yet trusting in the Mercy of God, thou mayst safely come to the Communion: if thou think’st thy self unworthy, (so that thou remembrest no mortal Sin of thine own) come; because the weaker thou art, the greater need hast thou of the Physitian. Thou do’st not receive Christ to sanctify Him, but that he may sanctify thee.
The Council of Alexandria (Cap. 5. de Euchar.) says, Without this frequency, ‘tis hard to keep in Grace.
S. Antony of Florence (Par. 3. lib. 14. cap. 12. § 5. & 6.) says, Those that live well must be sure to be advised to receive this most holy Sacrament frequently; because as long abstinence from bodily Food, weakens the Body, and disposes it for Death, so the much abstaining from this spiritual Food, weakens the Soul, spends the fervour, and by degrees inclines it to mortal Sin.
Pope Adrian (In 4 Sent. Tract. de Euchar.) says, When once the preparation is made according to Humane frailty, ‘tis safer to receive than keep from the most Holy Sacrament.
St. Thomas Aquinas (3 Par. quæst. 80. art. 10.) asks, If it be lawful to Communicate every day? And answers with St. Austine, This is daily Bread: receive it every day, that thou mayest every day be profited by it.
St. Isidore (Lib. 3. de Eccles. Offic.) hath this, Some say, that if there be no Sin, the Communion ought to be taken daily; and they say well, if they receive it with Veneration and Humility.
St. Anaclete, Pope, (De Conscer. dist. I & 2. ca. Peracta.) perceiving Daily Communion grow into disuse, brought it up again, ordering, that after Consecration all those that were present should be communicated, because this Custom (as he says in a Decree of his) was established by the Apostles and kept hy the Roman Church: and those that did not communicate, were turn’d out of the Church.
Innocent the Third (in tract. Miss. lib. 4. cap. 44.) says, He may communicate who has his conscience free from mortal sin, and is grieved for that which is venial.
St. Athanasius, (I ad Cor. probit autem) having examined thy Conscience, always come to the Communion, without staying for a holy day.
Henriquez relates it, (lib. 8. de Euchar. cap. 88. n. 2.) that St. Austin, St. Ambrose, and St. Jerome, do commend those who communicate daily, without fail. Those that the Confessor shall judge worthy of absolution, may be advised by him to receive the Communion, though they fear an easie relapse. ‘Tis not necessary to make an experiment of frequent Communion from a man’s good and profit by it: because spiritual profit (which is insensible) is much less found than corporal profit.
Thomas a Kempis (lib. 4. de imit. Christi) says, If I am luke-warm when I do communicate, what should I be, if I should not communicate? I would add, if I am naughty when I do communicate, by not communicating I should offend the whole world and damn my self.
The following Doctors defend Daily Communion with very strong reasons, which for brevity sake are omitted.
Innocent the Third, tract. de Missa, lib. 4. cap. 44.
St. Athanasius, I Cor. II. probit autem
Heneriquez, lib. 8. de Euchar. c. 88. n. 2.
Thomas a Kempis, lib. 4. de imit. Christi, cap. 3.
Alexander of Hales, 4 part. quæst. 51. art. 10.
Gerson, in opere tripart. cap 19.
The Patriach of Jerusalem, in 4. dist. 12. quæst. 2.
John Colaya, in 4. sent dist. 12. q. 2
Ranier of Pisa, I part.tract. Euchar. cap. 26.
Martin of Ledesma, p. I. q. 4. art 10.
Nider, in præcept. 3. cap. 12. n. 12.
Astensis, in sum. 2. par. lib. 4. tit. 27.
Father Salmeron, tom. 9. tract. 41.
Father Francis Suarez, tom. 3. disp. 63. sect. 3.
Durandin 4, dist. 12. qu. 5.
Victoria, in Sum. quæst.
John of Friburg, sum lib. 3. de Euchar. tit. 24.
John Altestaing, lib. 4. cap. 5.
Gabriel Mayor, in sum.tract. 3. de Euch.
Raimond, in sum. tract. 3. de Euchar.
Peter de Soto, in 4 dist. 22. qu. I. art. 10.
Lewis Blois, dialog. Suson.
Stephen Boluser, lib. 4. dist. 12. qu. 14.
Rosela, sum. tract. 3. de Euchar.
Father Christopher of Madrid, de frequent. Commun. cap. I.
Reynalds, de prudent. Conf. c. I I.
Francis de Lavata, verb. Euchar. propof. 18.
Dionysius Carthusianus, de Euch. cap. 5.
John Mayor, in 4 dist. 9. qu. 1.
Venantius Fortunatus, in Orat. Dominic.
Cardinal Hosias, de Cerem. sol. 371
Bishop Perez, de Sacram. qu. 80. ar. 9.
Vivaldus, de Euch, n. 139.
Christopher Morenus, lib. Claredad de simples.
James Baius, de instit. relig. Christ. lib. 2. cap. 19.
The illumniate Father John Thaulerus, Serm. I. Dom. 7 post Trin.
Alphonse Rodriguez, 2. p. treat. 8. cap. 10.
Antony Molina, tract. 7. pag. 870
Lewis Fandone, tract. de divin. Sacram. p. 2. cap. II.
Father Joseph of St. Mary, tract. de Com.
Raimund Sebunde, dial 7. cap. 17.
Mauras Antonius, de Euch. cap. 5.
Peter Marsilia, Memor. Compost. fol. 62.
Father Antony de Alvarado, in his Guide of Slaves, fol. 414.
Alphonse of Chinchilla, tract. Commun. document. 3.
Father Lewis of Granada, tract. 3. cap. 8. sect. 2.
Villalobos, I part. tract. 3. dif. 4. n. 3.
Almai, in 4 dist. 26.
John Sanchez, dist. 23. n. 13
Palao, in 4 dist. 31. disc. 2.
Basil, lib. I Matrim. cap. 12. n. 6.
Veracruz, 3. par. spec. art. 16.
Sa. de verb, Euchar. n. 12
Henry Henriquez, in sum. lib. 8 de Euchar. cap. 48
Ferrer, Art of knowing Jesus, 3 part. dial. 5.
Escobar, lib. 2. sess. 4. de notat. san.
Mendoza, par. 3. tract. de Sacr. instr. 32.
Cassian, in Vitis Patrum.
Medini, lib. I. cap. 14.
Jerom Perez, in sum. Theolog.
Adrian, in 4 sent. tract. de Euchar.
Finally, the illuminate Thauler says, that to receive the most holy Sacrament without mortal sin, as has been said, does more good than to hear a hundred Masses, or a hundred Sermons: and so say many Authors, as Jerom Perez relates (insum. Theolog. de Euch.) that he does but once receive the most holy Sacrament without mortal sin, gets more grace by it, than if he should go thrice in Pilgrimage to the holy Sepulcher at Jerusalem; and that never did any body communicate, without obtaining particular Grace thereby, and a singular degree of Charity which he had not before, though he were never so lukewarm and dry.
A grave religious man adds this consideration, That if all the Charity should be put together, which all man have had or shall have, which have been, are, or shall be, and the merits of ‘em all, and the praises that have been given and shall be given, and all the good works which have been done and shall be done, and the torments of Martyrs, the Fastings, Disciplines, and Hair-cloaths of all the Saints, Confessors, Patriarchs, Virgins and Prophets, with whatever else that shall be done as long as the World indures; put it all together, and it doth not please God so much, as the receiving of this Divine Sacrament.
Others say, as the abovesaid Author relates, that if all the Quires of Angels, all the Courtiers of Heaven, and the most holy Virgin (Mistress of ‘em all, who incomparably exceed ‘em all) should meet together, it is not in their power to do a more pleasing Sacrifice to God, nor a more acceptable Offering, than Saying of Mass, or, when men communicate, to offer to his Majesty that Divine Sacrament.
St. Cyril (in S. Johan, c. 37. & lib. 4. c. 17.) affirms, that the only delaying of it never creates a better disposition to it; and it commonly happens, that those who are slowest to come to the Communion, come less prepared: and further, these following Reasons do make it evident. To communicate worthily without mortal sin is good of it self; to forbear it, is not so: To go often to the Sacrament is a product of Charity: to delay it, comes from negligence or fear: better is the work of Charity than that of Fear. He that communicates gets the better of him that lets it alone in the good he receives by the Sacrament Ex opere operato: and at the most may easily be equal to him, since the desire of communicating worthily, is no less good, than keeping from it out of reverence. If it be sometimes good to abstain, it ought to be for the obtaining or preserving the reverence and devotion of it: and for this reason the frequency of the most holy Sacrament is not of less advantage, since thereby the Soul gets cleansed of those evil habits and affections and natural imperfections that we have.
If the Scripture therefore in many places, if the Apostles, Councils, Popes, and the Saints and Doctors do advise us to daily communion, without limitation or laxing, and if there be no Law divine or humane to forbid it to him that has no mortal sin to hinder him, what is the reason that the Ministers should forbid or limit that which neither Christ nor the Church nor any Law does limit? ‘Twill be prudence therefore not to oppose the Sayings of Doctors, Saints, Popes and Councils, to get free from the punishment given to many Ministers for forbidding of it.
Father Bernadino of Villagas, in the Life of St. Lutgard, chap. 25. says, that among other persons that thought ill of the frequent communion of that Saint, the Abbess was one, who being led by an indiscreet zeal, ordered her not to communicate so often: to whom the humble Virgin returned this Answer, with great reverence, That she was ready and prepared to obey her order with content, but she knew for certain, that this disfavour she did her, would displease Jesus Christ, and that in the punishment which would follow, she would quickly understand how ill she did, in depriving her of the Communion. The Saint obeyed, and in recompence of her obedience, it seems, the Lord making good the Voice of her Prophecy, sent the Abbess a great fit of sickness, which afflicted her much with continual and sharp pains, till acknowledging her fault, and that this chastisement befel her for her indiscreet zeal used to the Saint, she sent for her and gave her leave to follow her holy custom, and so the fault ending, the punishment ended also, and the disease which had brought her to a very sad condition. Other persons also who in like manner used to keep a pother with the Saint about her often Communions, repenting of what they had done, askt her pardon. And other of their complices in their prate and gossippings, because they never laid to heart what they had said of her, were punished of God with a sudden death.
In the third Book of St. Gertrudes Life chap. 23. ‘tis told, that a certain Preacher or Confessor, being a little warm’d with the zeal of God’s Honour, took a pet at some religious Women, thinking that they were often communicated: At this the Saint made a Prayer, and askt the Lord, Whether this were acceptable to him, or no? The Lord make her this answer; it being my delight to be with the children of men, and I having, of infinite love, left this Sacrament to be often received in remembrance of me, and being in it to the faithful to the World’s end, whosoever shall, with words or other ways of perswasion, to go about to hinder any from taking it, who are free from mortal sin, doth in a certain manner hinder me, and rob me of my pleasure and delight, which I might have with ‘em. Some Ministers there are who have had a mind to restrain this matter too much: as if the Sacrament were not instituted for Laymen, or as if they had no right to ask it as often as they are disposed to receive it. O, as if Christ our Lord had instituted it with a limitation or precept, that is should not be taken but by such and such men, and on such and such days.
Expert Teachers do strangely wonder to see the scruple and cautiousness, with which some Confessors speak about this matter, as if the Communion were a very dangerous thing for Souls, or through the too much frequenting of it, the Honour of God or the Vertue of the Sacraments must need be lost or lessened: whereas the frequency of it is the very remedy and health of Souls and the work in which there is the greatest honour done to God and which they ought most to endeavour, who desire his glory.
And if the Minister should at any time find himself dissatisfied at this, let him peruse that holy Appointment of the Church, (De Consecr. dist. 2. Aug. in Ps. 48.) Non prohibeat dispensator manducare pingues terra in mensa Domini. And if the dispenser himself cannot hinder this, much less can they hinder it, who have nothing to do to dispense it: and if this which has been said is not enough, let him be afraid of those infinite Punishments which God has rised upon those Ministers which have forbid it.
But for all this, the Communion should always be used at the spiritual Father’s order, who neither ought to hinder nor delay it, when he knows the Soul, that desires it and reaps good of it, to be so disposed as the Council requires. And if another Confessor should order him the quite contrary, let him follow the judgment of that ghostly Father, who knows better than any other, how his Conscience is, and by whose Counsel he goes and acts safely.
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