I was recently pleased to come across a decree issued by the Archbishop of Ferrara, Italy, Most Rev. Luigi Negri, who is an impressive leader in the Italian church. This bishop takes seriously his duty to safeguard the Holy Eucharist in his local church, and so, in this decree, summarizes the relevant norms from the various sources of Church law and also issues some norms of his own. This document impressed me so much that I translated the entire thing and share it with you here. (My source for the original Italian doc.)
Just take a look at this. The archbishop directs that in all the churches of his archdiocese, the following statement should be read before the distribution of Holy Communion:
THOSE WHO RECEIVE THE LORD IN THE HAND SHOULD DO SO WITH DEVOTION, THEY SHOULD BE CAREFUL NOT TO LOSE ANY PARTICLE, AND THEY SHOULD CONSUME THE HOST RIGHT AWAY IN FRONT OF THE MINISTER.
THE FAITHFUL ARE REMINDED THAT COMMUNION IS RECEIVED KNEELING OR STANDING; IN THIS LAST CASE IT IS RECOMMENDED THAT, BEFORE RECEIVING THE SACRAMENT, THE FAITHFUL SHOULD MAKE THE APPROPRIATE GESTURE OF REVERENCE, AT LEAST BOWING THE HEAD.
REMEMBER ALSO THAT THOSE WHO INTEND TO RECEIVE THE BODY AND BLOOD OF CHRIST IN COMMUNION MUST BE IN THE PROPER CONDITION TO BE ABLE TO DO SO:
– THEY MUST KNOW THAT THEY ARE RECEIVING THE LORD JESUS, WHO IS PRESENT BODY, BLOOD, SOUL, AND DIVINITY;
– THEY MUST NOT BE IMPEDED BY CANON LAW;
– THEY MUST NOT BE IN THE STATE OF MORTAL SIN, SINCE, IN SUCH A CASE, IT IS NECESSARY TO RECEIVE ABSOLUTION BEFOREHAND IN THE SACRAMENT OF CONFESSION.
The decree also covers things like the use of the communion plate (paten) and altar bells – and more. There’s at least one thing that might not make sense to American readers (the thing about additional tables for First Communion – this may be more of an “Italian problem”), but overall I think that much of this decree will be inspiring and edifying. Click the following icon to download it:
While it has no binding force outside the Archdiocese of Ferrara-Comacchio, in any case it may instruct some, edify others, and perhaps even inspire some priests and/or bishops to exercise similar leadership on a parish or diocesan level.
The Most Holy Eucharist is the Church’s greatest treasure, and in times like these when belief in the Real Presence seems to be quite weak in some areas, and where shocking abuses of the Blessed Sacrament seem to be occurring with a startling regularity, such episcopal leadership is most opportune and, indeed, very inspiring.
Thank you, Archbishop Negri!
English translation of the decree by Rev. Bryan W. Jerabek, J.C.L.