BY CHRISTINA FARRELL
THE BISHOP of Menevia has banned the taking of communion at services of the Word in his diocese insisting that it detracts from the central importance of Sunday Mass.
Bishop Mark Jabale gave the instruction in a pastoral letter in February and has reiterated his concerns in an article this month in the diocesan newspaper Menevia News.
He stated that in the minds of some people such services diminished the connection between receiving Holy Communion and the "Eucharistic action of the Mass itself', Communion risks no longer being seen as a culmination of the celebration of the sacrifice of the Mass but simply as something that can be received in its own right.
"Receiving Communion may become a personal event rather than an act of the whole community," he said.
The ban came into force on March 1 and is in line with the recommendations of Redemptionis Sacramentum,a Vatican instruction which states that even where Sunday Mass is not available, alternative services should not necessarily include the distribution of Holy Communion.
Bishop Jabal& whose diocese covers the south west of Wales, says that, where possible, people should try to attend another church where Mass is being celebrated.
"It is good to meet and worship with our Catholic brothers and sisters of other parishes," he said.
In place of Holy Communion, the bishop recommended that adoration of the Blessed Sacrament in a monstrance or pyx may be appropriate.
He said: "Such services... should be seen as spiritual preparation for receiving Holy Communion ever more fruitfully when God's family next gathers to celebrate the mysteries of the Holy Mass."
He. added: "Many of our greatest Saints received Christ in Holy Communion only rarely. We are very privileged to have so many more opportunities than they enjoyed, but we must be careful always to reverence Holy Communion as a Sacred Gift of which we are totally unworthy, and not as a private devotion to which we are entitled."
Fr Christopher Fuse of St Joseph's, Neath, told The Catholic Herald that the instruction was timely.
"In our parish the numbers attending the Eucharistic Service were diminishing anyway, so perhaps it will not make a great deal of difference," he said.
"We aim to offer a weekday Mass, but have to serve three Mass centres. Certainly here we are finding that people want adoration of the Blessed Sacrament more than a service of the Word."