Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Communion at Mass?

Q - Are there Bible verses that prompted the Church to have communion at each Mass and where are they? Thank you so much for your help!

A - Thanks for the question! Yes, there are Bible verses, but let us look a little deeper at your question first.

You can let me know if I am wrong here, but there seems to be there might be an expectation in the question that the answer to the question should explicitly be in the Bible. But, that isn't the way to answer everything that the Church teaches. Not everything the Church believes and teaches is explicitly in the Bible. Such things (e.g., the canon of the Bible, the two natures of Christ, the nature of the Trinity, etc.) may or may not be implicitly in Scripture.

Now, as to this particular question, the evidence is overwhelming that Communion should be celebrated at least every Sunday, preferably everyday. Why? Because if the Eucharist really is what the Church teaches it is, then we wouldn't want to do anything less. If the Eucharist is truly a partaking of union with God who made us, saves us, and wants to be with us, then we would expect to have communion with Him as often as possible. Catholics believe this is God, not just a symbol of Him (which I am sure you already know - but we need a reminder of this sometimes). The Bible echoes these sentiments:
On the first day of the week we came together to break bread. Paul spoke to the people and, because he intended to leave the next day, kept on talking until midnight. - Acts 20:7
We see here that the early Church met together to "break bread" in the Eucharist on "the first day of the week" which is Sunday. So, the practice is in the Bible. The author of Hebrews echoes this:
And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching. - Heb 10:24-25
The "meeting together" was primarily so the community could partake in the Eucharist.

Also, Paul tells us about the community in Corinth and how they celebrated Mass together.
I hear that when you come together as a church, there are divisions among you, and to some extent I believe it. No doubt there have to be differences among you to show which of you have God's approval. When you come together, it is not the Lord's Supper you eat - 1 Cor 11: 18-20
For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord's death until he comes. - 1 Cor 11:26
So, when the Church came together they did so by partaking of communion. The last evidence is from the book of Revelation where John says he saw a vision of heaven "on the Lord's day" = Sunday - Rev. 1:10.

Lastly, the early church in the first century believed the same thing. This can be found in early Church writings, such as the Didache which was written around 90 ad. In Ch. 14 is says:
But every Lord's day do ye gather yourselves together, and break bread, and give thanksgiving after having confessed your transgressions, that your sacrifice may be pure. But let no one that is at variance with his fellow come together with you, until they be reconciled, that your sacrifice may not be profaned. For this is that which was spoken by the Lord: In every place and time offer to me a pure sacrifice; for I am a great King, says the Lord, and my name is wonderful among the nations.
I hope that helps.

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