Sunday, December 15, 2013


Relative to the challenges posed by the practices of the Neocatechumenal Way, I am often asked "What can we do?"

I have long wanted to answer as I am going to answer now. In fact, I've tried, but my words have usually been met with a shrug. Perhaps, now though, more will be willing to give this some consideration. 

My answer is not directed to what we can do about the NCW, but what we can do about ourselves, specifically, our own practices as regards the Eucharistic celebration. For the NCW has only taken our own abuses and expanded upon them. 

Here are two practices that were allowed by the Church, only as concessions, but through our ignorance or disobedience, have become unofficial norms which were then expanded upon by the NCW.

Saturday Night Mass
As we know, the NCW holds their Mass  (they don't like to call it that) exclusively on Saturday night. Individual members may also attend with the parish on a Sunday morning, but that attendance is more of a gesture since their "Sunday obligation" has already been fulfilled at their private liturgy. (Yes, I know they are not technically private, but in practice they are.)

This "Saturday only" practice seems strange to us. But all they've done is take something we were already abusing and carried it to the next level. What do I mean by that? Saturday evening Masses were first permitted in 1967 as a "concession". In other words, it was not to be the norm. Here is what the Church said:

Where permission has been granted by the Apostolic See to fulfill the Sunday obligation on the preceding Saturday evening, pastors should explain the meaning of this permission carefully to the faithful and should ensure that the significance of Sunday is not thereby obscured. The purpose of this concession is in fact to enable the Christians of today to celebrate more easily the day of the resurrection of the Lord. (Eucharisticum Mysterium, Sacred Congregation of Rites, May 25, 1967)

The key to understanding why this is called a "concession" is the phrase "Christians of today." The Church recognizes that the modern world no longer respects Sunday as a day of rest and worship and that often people must work on Sunday. Thus there is a "concession" for the Sunday obligation to be fulfilled the previous evening. 

The Church is anxious for us not to see Saturday night worship as a norm which is why the instruction calls on pastors to "explain the meaning of this permission…to ensure that this significance of Sunday is not thereby obscured." 

And while the Church has always recognized that the liturgical day begins with First Vespers (at sundown of the previous day) - which in fact facilitated the allowance for the Saturday night Mass, it has also recognized that Sunday morning, because of the hour of Christ's resurrection, is the most appropriate time to celebrate Mass. 

Celebrating Mass early Sunday morning was a practice already established before the end of the first century. In a letter to the Emperor Trajan (98 to 117 A.D.), the Roman governor, Pliny the Younger writes:

“They were in the habit of meeting on a certain fixed day before it was light, when they sang in alternate verses a hymn to Christ, as to a god, and bound themselves by a solemn oath, not to any wicked deeds, but never to commit any fraud, theft or adultery, never to falsify their word, nor deny a trust when they should be called upon to deliver it up; after which it was their custom to separate, and then reassemble to partake of food--but food of an ordinary and innocent kind.”

The "fixed day" is of course the "first day of the week" as we read in Acts 20:7, and "before it was light" tells us that the "meeting" occurred in the pre-dawn hours. So, for nearly 20 centuries the church, while beginning the liturgical day at sundown of the day before, celebrated Mass at sunrise, or near it, thus: the necessity of a permission or a concession to celebrate a Mass on Saturday which fulfilled the Sunday obligation. 

In short, Sunday morning Mass is the norm, Saturday (and even Sunday evening) Mass is not the norm, but a concession. Of course we don't treat it that way. Many people attend Saturday night Mass so they can sleep in on Sunday morning or so they don't have to break up their Sunday plans. In other words, Saturday evening (and even sometimes, afternoon!) Mass has become a "Mass of Convenience."  This is an abuse of the permission. 

So rather than complain about the NCW practice of celebrating Mass exclusively on Saturday evenings, STOP going to Saturday night Mass (and even Sunday night Mass) unless you have a serious reason, and start attending Sunday morning Mass, and the earlier the better since it more nearly approximates the hour of Christ's resurrection

Communion in the Hand
The other practice that began as a concession, became an unofficial norm, and which the NCW simply took to the next level, is communion in the hand. Pope Paul VI allowed communion in the hand in 1969 with the document Memoriale Domini. To say that he allowed it "grudgingly" is not an understatement. 

In the document, the pope demands that the traditional practice of receiving the host on the tongue BE RETAINED, and ONLY allows for communion in the hand as an exception in dioceses where there is already a "contrary usage", in other words, where communion in the hand was already being practiced without permission.

As an aside, this was an unfortunate decision by the pope since, though attempting to be compassionate and pastoral, he, in effect, rewards disobedience. We can now see why the NCW leaders believe their disobedience will one day be rewarded as well. They believe that by continuing to do things their way, Rome will one day SEE things their way. Unfortunately, there is precedent for that. But the disobedience has grave consequences nonetheless.

The indult was later offered to the rest of the Church, but still with great reservation and a grave warning to the bishops to prevent abuses. 

Read the document and you will see just how beautiful and respectful it is to receive communion on the tongue. And then, instead of complaining about the Neos and how they receive - which is to hold it in their hands and to not immediately consume, a practice bordering on the forbidden practice of "self-communicating" - begin receiving communion on the tongue which is what the Church desires. In fact, kneel when you can, for "at the name of Jesus every knee shall bend", so how much more so should we bend the knee upon receiving his actual Body and Blood. 

We might stand for presidents and governors, but we kneel for kings...especially ours. 


  1. Tim, in my Jesuit church in the mainland I was encouraged to receive communion in the hand. One Jesuit was even annoyed that I liked to receive communion on the tongue. He said since I was an extraordinary minister of the eucharist I should be an example and receive communion in my hand. Perhaps it is a bit childish but receiving communion on the tongue makes me think of a mother bird feeding her baby bird. Jesus feeds me; I am not his equal.

    1. Nicely said. Regarding extraordinary ministers, have you read:

  2. The letter to the Emperor Trajan confirms the goodness instead of celebrating before dawn: before it was light. This is the Vigil Mass. I'll make a suggestion, let's all celebrate before dawn, how many would we be? I am convinced that there would be only neocats. Usually we celebrate the Mass of the Easter vigil from 2 to 6 in the morning.

  3. The words "fixed day" designate the weekly celebration of the Eucharist, not an annual Easter vigil. "Before it was light" designates morning, not the evening before, otherwise it would have said "after dark" or "after sunset". Pliny points this out specifically in his description to Trajan because it was an oddity. The Romans were already well familiar with the practices of the Jews. He wanted to point out how this "new" sect differed otherwise there would have been no need to point out the time of the meeting. Nice try though.

  4. Holy See gives guidelines to Neocatechumenate in the celebration of the mass. Found in Please pay attention to the las sentence.

    Regarding the manner of receiving Communion, the letter \"grants the Neocatechumenal Way a time of transition (not to exceed two years) to go from the present way of receiving Holy Communion in their communities (seated, around a table prepared in the center of the Church instead of the altar dedicated in the presbytery) to the normal way for the whole Church of receiving Holy Communion.\"

  5. So here is Diana's response again to receiving communion...receive the host standing up, the sit and consume it.

    Dear Anonymous,

    I accidentally deleted your comment, so I will post it here. You stated:

    "If consuming the body of Christ sitting down is ok, why do your Statutes say: 'Regarding the distribution of Holy Communion under the two species, he neocatechumens receive it STANDING, remaining at their place,'?"

    This is my answer:
    The Statues said that we are to RECEIVE it standing. It did not say we are to CONSUME it standing. We are following the Statutes. As I said, we RECEIVE the Body of Christ by hand standing up, then we sit down and later CONSUME it sitting down.

  6. The Eucharist celebrated is considered a feast, the feast of the Body and Blood of Christ. For example, you go for fine dining at a restaurant, you are served your meal sitting down. At a buffet, you line up get your food, sit and eat. IT IS A FEAST...AFTER YOU EAT AND DRINK, THE JOY CONTINUES WITH DANCING. HOW MUCH MORE SIMPLY CAN ONE EXPLAIN THIS.

    1. Yes, we know that that is what Kiko teaches you. However, the Catholic Church teaches that the Eucharistic celebration is the "divine sacrifice of the Eucharist (Sacrosanctum Concilium, par. 2), and "The memorial of the Lord's Passion and Resurrection" and "The Holy Sacrifice" (CCC 1330). In fact, it never uses the word "feast" in connection to the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass other than to note that the earthly liturgy is a "foretaste" of the heavenly liturgy wherein we one day hope to share in the wedding feast of the lamb." (CCC 1090). Thus, the Catholic Church teaches us that our disposition when we attend Mass must be one of WORSHIP. This is why we kneel and bow and reverence the tabernacle and the altar when you don't even have one, which is why you say you belong to a different church.

    2. We sit as the apostles did at the Last Supper. Is it a sin? Did they apostles consume individually?

    3. Yes it is. It is a sin against the authority of the church, given it by Jesus. It is by the authority of the church that you are instructed to received and consume the eucharist in a certain manner. Kiko does not have the authority to change that no matter what he thinks.

    4. State where I can find this to be a sin? We have not been disobedient to God? We have not broken His Commandments? I

    5. Clearly, the neos don't have any understanding of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass! Read the Catechism folks!

    6. 12:27. You haven't, your leaders have. You were just doing what they told you to do. But now you know. No priest or even a bishop is authorized to change a single jot or tittle in the words or the rubrics of the Mass without Rome's permission. To do so without permission is a serious act of disobedience and a source of scandal. Both are sins.