Wednesday, October 17, 1973

Dope le Publicazione (Note Interpreting "In Quibus Rerum Circumstantiis")

Note Interpreting the

"Instruction on Admitting Other Christians to

Eucharistic Communion in the Catholic Church"

Secretariat for Christian Unity

17 October, 1973

1. After the publication of the "Instruction on Admitting Other Christians to Eucharistic Communion in the Catholic Church"[1] on 1 June 1972, various interpretations of it were given, some of which depart from the letter and the spirit of the document. To prevent the spread of such inaccurate interpretations and their consequences, we think it useful to recall to mind a few points.

2. With this Instruction, pastoral in character, the Secretariat for Promotion of the Unity of Christians had no intention of changing the rules laid down by the Vatican Council's Decree on Ecumenism and further explained by the Ecumenical Directory.[2] The intention was to explain that the existing discipline derives from the requirements of the faith and so retains its full vigor.

3. The basic principles of the Instruction are:

(a) There is an indissoluble link between the mystery of the Church and the mystery of the Eucharist or between ecclesial and Eucharistic communion; the celebration of the Eucharist of itself signifies the fullness of profession of faith and ecclesial communion.[3]

(b) The Eucharist is for the baptized a spiritual food which enables them to live with Christ's own life, to be incorporated more profoundly in him and share more intensely in the whole economy of the Mystery of Christ.[4]

4. Within the full communion of faith, Eucharistic communion is the expression of this full communion and therefore of the unity of the faithful; at the same time it is the means of maintaining and reinforcing this unity. But Eucharistic communion practiced by those who are not in full ecclesial communion with each other cannot be the expression of that full unity which the Eucharist of its nature signifies and which in this case does not exist; for this reason such communion cannot be regarded as a means to be used to lead to full ecclesial communion.

5. All the same, both the Ecumenical Directory and the Instruction, on the strength of what has already been said in the Vatican Council's Decree on Ecumenism, allow the possibility of exceptions insofar as the Eucharist is necessary spiritual nourishment for the Christian life.

6. It is the local ordinary's responsibility to examine these exceptional cases and make concrete decisions. The Instruction[5] recalls that the Ecumenical Directory gives the episcopal authority power to decide whether in these rare cases the required conditions are present or not. The episcopal authority's faculty of examining and deciding is governed by criteria laid down in the Ecumenical Directory[6] and further explained in the Instruction: "...admission to Catholic Eucharistic communion is confined to particular cases of those Christians who have a faith in the sacrament in conformity with that of the Church, who experience a serious spiritual need for the Eucharistic sustenance, who for a prolonged period are unable to have recourse to a minister of their own community, and who ask for the sacrament of their own accord all this provided that they have proper dispositions and lead lives worthy of a Christian."[7]

This criterion is observed if all the required conditions are verified. An objective, pastorally responsible examination does not allow any of the conditions to be ignored.

It must also be noted that the Instruction speaks of particular cases, which are to be examined individually. Hence a general regulation cannot be issued which makes a category out of an exceptional case, nor is it possible to legitimize on the basis of epikeia by turning this latter into a general rule.

Nevertheless, the bishop can in the various situations decide what are the needs that make exceptions applicable, that is to say, what constitutes a special case, and they can determine the manner of verifying whether all the required conditions are fulfilled in such a particular case. When particular cases present themselves fairly often in one region, following a recurrent pattern, episcopal conferences can issue some guiding principles for ascertaining that all the conditions are verified in particular cases. Normally however it will be within the competence of the local ordinary to judge such cases.

7. For other Christians to be admitted to the Eucharist in the Catholic Church the Instruction requires that they manifest a faith in the sacrament in conformity with that of the Catholic Church. This faith is not limited to a mere affirmation of the "real presence" in the Eucharist, but implies the doctrine of the Eucharist as taught in the Catholic Church.

8. It is to be noted that the Instruction[8] calls to mind the fact that the Directorium Oecumenicum provides for the Orientals not in full communion with the Catholic Church[9] rules different from those regarding other Christians.[10] For example:

(a) since they belong to a community whose Eucharistic faith is in conformity with that of the Catholic Church, a personal declaration of faith in the sacrament will not be required of them when they are admitted: in an Orthodox Christian this faith is taken for granted;

(b) since the Orthodox Churches have true sacraments and, above all, by virtue of apostolic succession, the priesthood and the Eucharist, concessions for sacramental communion must take account of legitimate reciprocity;[11]

(c) justifiable reasons for advising sacramental sharing are considerably more extensive.

9. The question of reciprocity arises only with these Churches which have preserved the substance of the Eucharist, the Sacrament of Orders and apostolic succession. Hence a Catholic cannot ask for the Eucharist except from a minister who has been validly ordained.[12]

10. The desire to share the Eucharist fundamentally expresses the desire of the perfect ecclesial unity of all Christians which Christ willed. Inter-confessional dialogue on the theology of the Eucharist (as sacrament and sacrifice), on the theology of ministry and of the Church is pursuing its course within the ambit of the ecumenical movement, supported by the promises and prayer of our Lord; it is stimulated and enlivened by the charity, poured into our hearts by the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. We express the hope that the ecumenical movement will lead to a common profession of faith among Christians, and so allow us to celebrate the Eucharist in ecclesial unity, giving fulfillment to the words "Because there is one bread, we who are many are one body".[13]

[1] In quibus rerum circumstantiis

[2] D. 37 and 40

[3] Cf. In quibus, II, 1, 2, 3

[4] Cf. ibid, II

[5] Cf. ibid, VI

[6] Cf. Ecumenical Directory, n. 55

[7] In quibus, IV, 2

[8] Cf. ibid, V

[9] Cf. Ecumenical Directory, nos. 34-54

[10] Cf. ibid, nos. 55-63

[11] Cf. ibid, no. 43

[12] Cf. ibid, no. 55

[13] 1 Cor 10:17

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Thursday, June 21, 1973

Eucharistiae Sacramentum (Promulgating the Rites for Holy Communion and Worship of the Eucharist Outside Mass)


Sacred Congregation for Divine Worship

21 June 1973

Promulgating the editio typica of rites for Holy Communion

and worship of the Eucharist outside Mass

The sacrament of the Eucharist was entrusted by Christ to his Bride the Church, as spiritual nourishment and as a pledge of eternal life. The Church continues to receive this gift with faith and love.

The celebration of the Eucharist in the sacrifice of the Mass is the true origin and purpose of the worship shown to the Eucharist outside Mass. The principal reason for reserving the sacrament after Mass is to unite, through sacramental communion, the faithful unable to participate in the Mass, especially the sick and the aged, with Christ and the offering of his sacrifice.

In turn, Eucharistic reservation, which became customary in order to permit the reception of communion, led to the practice of adoring this sacrament and offering to it the worship of latria that is due to God. This cult of adoration is based on valid and solid principles; furthermore, the Church itself has instituted public and communal forms of this worship.

The rite of Mass has already been revised. The Instruction Eucharisticum Mysterium, published 25 May 1967, has set out the norms "on the practical arrangement of the worship of this sacrament even after Mass and on its correlation with the proper arrangement of the Mass in conformity with the directives of Vatican Council II and other pertinent documents of the Apostolic See." [1] Now the Congregation for Divine Worship has revised the rites that bear the title Holy Communion and Worship of the Eucharist outside Mass.

These rites, approved by Pope Paul VI, are now published in this edition, which is declared to be the editio typica. They are to replace the rites that appear in the Roman Ritual at the present time. They may be used at once in Latin; they may be used in the vernacular from the day set by the conferences of bishops for their territory, after the conferences have prepared a vernacular version and have obtained the confirmation of the Holy See.

Anything to the contrary notwithstanding.


I. Relationship Between Eucharistic Worship Outside Mass And The Eucharistic Celebration

1. The celebration of the Eucharist is the center of the entire Christian life, both for the universal Church and for the local congregations of the Church. "The other sacraments, like every other ministry of the Church and every work of the apostolate, are linked with the holy Eucharist and have it as their end. For the Eucharist contains the Church's entire spiritual wealth, that is, Christ himself. He is our Passover and living bread; through his flesh, made living and life-giving by the Holy Spirit, he is bringing life to people and in this way inviting and leading them to offer themselves together with him, as well as their labors and all created things." [2]

2. "The celebration of the Eucharist in the sacrifice of the Mass," moreover, "is truly the origin and the purpose of the worship that is shown to the Eucharist outside Mass." [3] Christ the Lord "is offered in the sacrifice of the Mass when he begins to be sacramentally present as the spiritual food of the faithful under the appearance of bread and wine"; "after the sacrifice has been offered . . . as long as the Eucharist is reserved in churches and oratories, Christ is truly the Emmanuel, that is, 'God with us.' Day and night he is in our midst; full of grace and truth. He dwells among us." [4]

3. No one therefore may doubt "that all the faithful show this holy sacrament the veneration and adoration that is due to God himself, as has always been the practice recognized in the Catholic Church. Nor is the sacrament to be less the object of adoration on the grounds that it was instituted by Christ the Lord to be received as food." [5]

4. In order to give right direction and encouragement to devotion to the sacrament of the Eucharist, the Eucharistic mystery must be considered in all its fullness, both in the celebration of Mass and in the worship of the sacrament reserved after Mass in order to extend the grace of the sacrifice. [6]

II. Purpose Of Eucharistic Reservation

5. The primary and original reason for reservation of the Eucharist outside Mass is the administration of viaticum. The secondary ends are the giving of communion and the adoration of our Lord Jesus Christ present in the sacrament. The reservation of the sacrament for the sick led to the praiseworthy practice of adoring this heavenly food that is reserved in churches. This cult of adoration has a sound and firm foundation, especially since faith in the real presence of the Lord has as its natural consequence the outward, public manifestation of that belief. [7]

6. In the celebration of Mass the chief ways in which Christ is present in his Church emerge clearly one after the other. First, he is present in the very assembly of the faithful, gathered together in his name; next, he is present in his word, with the reading and explanation of Scripture in the church; also in the person of the minister; finally, and above all, in the Eucharistic elements. In a way that is completely unique, the whole and entire Christ, God and man, is substantially and permanently present in the sacrament. This presence of Christ under the appearance of bread and wine "is called real, not to exclude the other kinds of presence as though they were not real, but because it is real par excellence." [8]

Consequently, on the grounds of the sign value, it is more in keeping with the nature of the celebration that, through reservation of the sacrament in the tabernacle, Christ not be present Eucharistically from the beginning on the altar where Mass is celebrated. That presence is the effect of the consecration and should appear as such. [9]

7. The consecrated hosts are to be frequently renewed and reserved in a ciborium or other vessel, in a number sufficient for the communion of the sick and of others outside Mass. [10]

8. Pastors should see that churches and public oratories where, in conformity with the law, the holy Eucharist is reserved, are open every day for at least several hours, at a convenient time, so that the faithful may easily pray in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament. [11]

III. Place Of Eucharistic Reservation

9. The place for the reservation of the Eucharist should be truly preeminent. It is highly recommended that the place be suitable also for private adoration and prayer so that the faithful may readily and fruitfully continue to honor the Lord, present in the sacrament, through personal worship.

This will be achieved more easily if the chapel is separate from the body of the church, especially in churches where marriages and funerals are celebrated frequently and in churches where there are many visitors because of pilgrimages or the artistic and historical treasures.

10. The holy Eucharist is to be reserved in a solid tabernacle. It must be opaque and unbreakable. Ordinarily there should be only one tabernacle in a church; this may be placed on an altar or if not on an altar, at the discretion of the local Ordinary, in some other noble and properly ornamented part of the church. [12]

The key to the tabernacle where the Eucharist is reserved must be kept most carefully by the priest in charge of the church or oratory or by a special minister who has received the faculty to give communion.

11. The presence of the Eucharist in the tabernacle is to be shown by a veil or in another suitable way determined by the competent authority.

According to traditional usage, an oil lamp or lamp with a wax candle is to burn constantly near the tabernacle as a sign of the honor shown to the Lord. [13]

IV. Competence Of The Conferences Of Bishops

12. It is for the conferences of bishops, in the preparation of particular rituals in accord with the Constitution on the Liturgy (art. 63, b), to accommodate this title of the Roman Ritual to the needs of individual regions so that, once the acta of the conferences have been confirmed by the Apostolic See, the ritual may be followed in the respective regions.

In this matter it will be up to the conferences:

a. to consider carefully what elements, if any, from the traditions of individual peoples may be retained or introduced, provided they are compatible with the spirit of the liturgy; the conferences are then to propose to the Apostolic See adaptations considered useful or necessary that will be introduced with its consent;

b. to prepare translations of texts that are truly accommodated to the character of various languages and the mentality of various cultures; they may add texts, especially for singing with appropriate melodies.

CHAPTER III. Forms Of Worship Of The Eucharist

79. The Eucharistic sacrifice is the source and culmination of the whole Christian life. Therefore devotion, both private and public, toward the Eucharist even outside Mass that conforms to the norms laid down by lawful authority is strongly advocated.

In structuring these devotional exercises account should be taken of the liturgical seasons so that they accord with the liturgy, are in some way derived from it, and lead the people back to it. [14]

80. When the faithful adore Christ present in the sacrament, they should remember that this presence derives from the sacrifice and has as its purpose both sacramental and spiritual communion.

Therefore, the devotion prompting the faithful to visit the Blessed Sacrament draws them into an ever deeper share in the paschal mystery and leads them to respond gratefully to the gift of him who through his humanity constantly pours divine life into the members of his Body. Abiding with Christ the Lord, they enjoy his intimate friendship and pour out their hearts before him for themselves and for those dear to them and they pray for the peace and salvation of the world. Offering their entire lives with Christ to the Father in the Holy Spirit, they derive from this sublime colloquy an increase of faith, hope, and charity. Thus they foster those right dispositions that enable them with due devotion to celebrate the memorial of the Lord and receive frequently the bread given us by the Father.

Therefore, the faithful should strive to worship Christ the Lord in the Blessed Sacrament in a manner fitting in with their own way of life. Pastors should show the way by example and by word encourage their people. [15]

81. Prayer before Christ the Lord sacramentally present extends the union with Christ that the faithful have reached in communion. It renews the covenant that in turn moves them to maintain by the way they live what they have received through faith and the sacrament. They should strive to lead their whole lives in the strength of this heavenly food, as sharers in the death and resurrection of the Lord. All should be eager to do good works and to please God, so that they may seek to imbue the world with the Christian spirit and, in all things, even in the midst of human affairs, to become witnesses of Christ. [16]

1. Exposition Of The Holy Eucharist

I. Relationship Between Exposition And Mass


82. Exposition of the holy Eucharist, either in a ciborium or in a monstrance, leads us to acknowledge Christ's marvelous presence in the sacrament and invites us to the spiritual union with him that culminates in sacramental communion. Therefore it is a strong encouragement toward the worship owed to Christ in spirit and in truth.

In such exposition care must be taken that everything clearly brings out the meaning of Eucharistic worship in its correlation with the Mass. There must be nothing about the appointments used for exposition that could in any way obscure Christ's intention of instituting the Eucharist above all to be near us to feed, to heal, and to comfort Us. [17]

83. During the exposition of the Blessed Sacrament, celebration of Mass in the body of the Church is prohibited.

In addition to the reasons given in no. 6, the celebration of the Eucharistic mystery includes in a higher way that inner communion to which exposition is meant to lead the faithful.

If exposition of the Blessed Sacrament goes on for a day or for several successive days, it should be interrupted during the celebration of Mass, unless it is celebrated in a chapel separate from the area of exposition and at least some of the faithful remain in adoration. [18]

II. Regulations For Exposition

84. Genuflection in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament, whether reserved in the tabernacle or exposed for public adoration, is on one knee.

85. For exposition of the Blessed Sacrament in the monstrance, four to six candles are lighted, as at Mass, and incense is used. For exposition of the Blessed Sacrament in the ciborium, at least two candles should be lighted and incense may be used.

Lengthy Exposition

86. In churches where the Eucharist is regularly reserved, it is recommended that solemn exposition of the Blessed Sacrament for an extended period of time should take place once a year, even though this period is not strictly continuous. In this way the local community may meditate on this mystery more deeply and adore.

This kind of exposition, however, may take place, with the consent of the local Ordinary, only if there is assurance of the participation of a reasonable number of the faithful. [19]

87. For any serious and general need, the local Ordinary is empowered to order prayer before the Blessed Sacrament exposed for a more extended period of time in those churches to which the faithful come in large numbers. [20]

88. Where there cannot be uninterrupted exposition because there is not a sufficient number of worshipers, it is permissible to replace the Blessed Sacrament in the tabernacle at fixed hours that are announced ahead of time. But this may not be done more than twice a day, for example, at midday and at night.

The following form of simple reposition may be observed: the priest or deacon, vested in an alb, or a surplice over a cassock, and a stole, replaces the Blessed Sacrament in the tabernacle after a brief period of adoration and a prayer said with those present. The exposition of the Blessed Sacrament may take place again, in the same manner and at a scheduled time. [21]

Brief Period Of Exposition

89. Shorter expositions of the Eucharist are to be arranged in such a way that the blessing with the Eucharist is preceded by a reasonable time for readings of the word of God, songs, prayers, and a period for silent prayer. [22]

Exposition merely for the purpose of giving benediction is prohibited.

Adoration In Religious Communities

90. According to the constitutions and regulations of their institute, some religious communities and other groups have the practice of perpetual Eucharistic adoration or adoration over extended periods of time. It is strongly recommended that they pattern this holy practice in harmony with the spirit of the liturgy. Then, with the whole community taking part, the adoration before Christ the Lord, will consist of readings, songs, and religious silence to foster effectively the spiritual life of the community. This promotes between the members of the religious house the spirit of unity and mutual love that the Eucharist signifies and effects, and gives the worship due to the sacrament a more sublime expression.

The form of adoration in which one or two members of the community take turns before the Blessed Sacrament is also to be maintained and is highly commended. Through it, in accordance with the nature of the institute as approved by the Church, the worshipers adore Christ the Lord in the sacrament and pray to him in the name of the entire community and Church.

III. Minister Of Exposition

91. The ordinary minister for exposition of the Eucharist is a priest or deacon. At the end of the period of adoration, before the reposition, he blesses the congregation with the sacrament.

In the absence of a priest or deacon or if they are lawfully impeded, the following persons may publicly expose and later repose the Eucharist for the adoration of the faithful:

a. an acolyte or special minister of communion;

b. upon appointment by the local Ordinary, a member of a religious community or of a pious association of laymen or laywomen which is devoted to Eucharistic adoration.

Such ministers may open the tabernacle and also, as required, place the ciborium on the altar or place the host in the monstrance. At the end of the period of adoration, they replace the Blessed Sacrament in the tabernacle. It is not lawful, however, for them to give the blessing with the sacrament.

92. The minister, if he is a priest or deacon, should vest in an alb, or a surplice over a cassock, and a stole. Other ministers should wear either the liturgical vestments that are used in the region or the vesture that is befitting this ministry and is approved by the Ordinary.

The priest or deacon should wear a white cope and humeral veil to give the blessing at the end of adoration, when the exposition takes place with the monstrance; in the case of exposition in the ciborium, he should put on the humeral veil.

2. Eucharistic Processions

101. In processions in which the Eucharist is carried through the streets solemnly with singing, the Christian people give public witness to faith and to their devotion toward this sacrament.

But it is for the local Ordinary to decide on both the advisability of such processions in today's conditions and on the time, place, and plan for them that will ensure their being carried out with decorum and without any loss of reverence toward this sacrament. [23]

102. The annual procession on the solemnity of Corpus Christi, or on a convenient day near this feast, has a special importance and meaning for the pastoral life of the parish or city. It is therefore desirable to continue this procession, in accordance with the law, when today's circumstances permit and when it can truly be a sign of common faith and adoration.

In the principal districts of large cities there may be additional Eucharistic processions for pastoral reasons at the discretion of the local Ordinary. If the procession cannot be held on the solemnity of Corpus Christi, it is fitting to hold some kind of public celebration for the entire city or its principal districts in the cathedral church or other convenient places.

103. It is fitting that a Eucharistic procession begin after the Mass and the host to be carried in the procession is consecrated at this Mass. A procession may also take place, however, at the end of a lengthy period of public adoration that has been held after Mass.

104. Eucharistic processions should be arranged in accordance with local customs in regard to the decoration of the streets and the order followed by the participants. In the course of the procession there may be stations where the Eucharistic blessing is given, if there is such a custom and some pastoral advantage recommends it. Songs and prayers should be planned with the purpose of expressing the faith of the participants and the centering of their attention on the Lord alone. [. . .]

3. Eucharistic Congresses

109. Eucharistic congresses have been introduced into the life of the Church in recent years as a special manifestation of Eucharistic worship. They should be considered as a kind of "station" to which a particular community invites an entire local Church or to which an individual local Church invites other Churches of a single region or nation or even of the entire world. The purpose is that together the members of the Church join in the deepest profession of some aspect of the Eucharistic mystery and express their worship publicly in the bond of charity and unity.

Such congresses should be a genuine sign of faith and charity by reason of the total participation of the local Church and the association with it of the other Churches.

110. Both the local Church and other Churches should undertake studies beforehand concerning the place, theme, and program of the congress. These studies are meant to lead to the consideration of genuine needs and to foster the progress of theological studies and the good of the local Church. Specialists in theological, biblical, liturgical, pastoral, and humane studies should help in this research.

111. In preparation for a Eucharistic congress, the concentration should be on the following:

a. a thorough catechesis, accommodated to the capacity of different groups, concerning the Eucharist, especially as the mystery of Christ living and working in the Church;

b. more active participation in the liturgy in order to encourage a reverent hearing of the word of God and the spirit of mutual love and community; [24]

c. research into the means and the pursuit of social action for human development and the just distribution of goods, including the temporal, following the example of the primitive Christian community. [25] The goal is that every Eucharistic table may be a center from which the leaven of the Gospel spreads as a force in the growth of contemporary society and as the pledge of the future kingdom. [26]

112. The celebration of the congress should be planned on the basis of the following criteria. [27]

a. The celebration of the Eucharist should be the true center and high point of the congress, to which all the programs and the various devotional services should be directed.

b. Celebrations of the word of God, catechetical meetings, and public conferences should be planned to investigate thoroughly the theme of the congress and to set out more clearly the ways for carrying out its practical implications.

c. There should be an opportunity for common prayers and extended adoration in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament exposed at designated churches that are especially suited to this form of piety.

d. The regulations concerning Eucharistic processions[28] should be observed for the procession in which the Blessed Sacrament is carried through the streets of the city to the accompaniment of public hymns and prayers, taking into account local, social, and religious conditions.

[1] Sacred Congregation of Rites, Instr. Eucharisticum Mysterium no. 3 g. "Holy Communion And Worship Of The Eucharist Outside Mass", General Introduction, Chapter 1 and Chapter 3, Introductions, June 21, 1973: Vatican Polyglot Press, 1973, Sacred Congregation for Divine Worship.

[2] Presbyterorum ordinis no. 5.

[3] Sacred Congregation of Rites, Instr. Eucharisticum Mysterium no. 3 e.

[4] Ibid. No. 3b and Paul VI, Encycl. Mysterium fidei no. 67.

[5] Sacred Congregation of Rites, Instr. Eucharisticum Mysterium no. 3 f.

[6] See ibid. No. 3 g.

[7] See ibid. no. 49.

[8] Paul VI, Encycl. Mysterium fidei no. 39.

[9] See Sacred Congregation of Rites, Instr. Eucharisticum Mysterium no. 55.

[10] See GIRM nos. 285, 292.

[11] See Sacred Congregation of Rites, Instr. Eucharisticum Mysterium no. 51.

[12] See ibid. nos. 52-53.

[13] See Sacred Congregation of Rites, Instr. Eucharisticum Mysterium no. 57.

[14] See Sacred Congregation of Rites, Instr. Eucharisticum Mysterium no. 58.

[15] See ibid. no 50.

[16] See ibid. no. 13.

[17] See ibid. no. 60.

[18] See ibid. no. 61.

[19] See ibid. no. 63.

[20] See ibid. no. 64.

[21] See ibid. no. 65.

[22] See ibid. no. 66.

[23] See Sacred Congregation of Rites, Instr. Eucharisticum Mysterium no. 59.

[24] See Sacrosanctum Concilium art. 41-52.

[25] See Acts 4:32.

[26] See Sacrosanctum Concilium art. 47; Unitatis redintegratio no. 15.

[27] See Sacred Congregation of Rites, Instr. Eucharisticum Mysterium no. 67.

[28] See nos. 101-108 of this document.

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