“The Church Kalendar reminds us of the rhythm of feast and fast. Observe that the Rule bids us to participate in the liturgical celebration of the Eucharist, without specifically enjoining us to receiving Holy Communion. Prayerfully to refrain from receiving the Blessed Sacrament during Lent or Advent might be a fruitful spiritual devotion”.
When is it appropriate to abstain from receiving Holy Communion? Both the Anglican and Roman Catholic traditions seem to suggest that consciousness of a grave sin, or having failed to make the necessary preparations, are the only reasons why one might attend a celebration of the Eucharist and not receive the Sacrament (assuming that one is in Communion with the Priest celebrating and the Bishop on whose behalf he is presiding). In the Orthodox Church the Liturgy includes the dismissal of the Catechumens (those not yet admitted to Eucharistic fellowship) after the Liturgy of the Word and there is some suggestion that, in years past, those not intending to receive Communion at an Anglican celebration according to the 1662 Prayer Book would absent themselves after the Ante-Communion (though I understand that this was frowned upon).
It was public knowledge that those who were preparing for reception into the Roman Catholic Church via the Ordinariate were asked to attend Mass after the Rite of Election but not to partake of the Sacrament before being received into full Communion with the See of Rome, but this is standard for adults undergoing the RCIA. In the Church of England, the Prayer Book allows for those who are ‘desirest’ to be Confirmed to receive Holy Communion (assuming that they have been Baptised) and it is well known that Cranmer favoured, and sought to encourage, more frequent Communion. Non-communicating High Masses disappeared with the advent of the Parish Communion movement so why the sudden interest in Eucharistic Fasting? After a quick flick through the Catechism of the (Roman) Catholic Church, all I could find was the following…
1388 It is in keeping with the very meaning of the Eucharist that the faithful, if they have the required dispositions,221 receive communion when they participate in the Mass.222 As the Second Vatican Council says: “That more perfect form of participation in the Mass whereby the faithful, after the priest’s communion, receive the Lord’s Body from the same sacrifice, is warmly recommended.”223
1389 The Church obliges the faithful to take part in the Divine Liturgy on Sundays and feast days and, prepared by the sacrament of Reconciliation, to receive the Eucharist at least once a year, if possible during the Easter season.224 But the Church strongly encourages the faithful to receive the holy Eucharist on Sundays and feast days, or more often still, even daily.
Am I missing something here? Apart from the reasons stated above, is it appropriate that we should attend Mass and not recieve the physical and spiritual nourishment that is Christ’s gift to us of himself in the Eucharist?