Catholic Trends earlier reported that Most Catholic Churches in the Archdiocese of Accra, Ghana are expected to have Communion Services instead of Masses this week due to the absence of priests.
The report indicates that Diocesan priests of the Archdiocese of Accra are currently on their annual canonical retreat at St. Paul’s Catholic Seminary, Sowutuom.
Following that report, many have been asking to know the differences between Holy Mass and a Communion Service.
In the Catholic Church, there are significant differences between Holy Mass and a Communion Service. These differences can be observed in various aspects, including their liturgical structure, the presence of a priest, and the overall nature of the celebrations. Here are some key distinctions.
Celebration of the Eucharistic Sacrifice
Holy Mass is a celebration of the Eucharistic sacrifice, where the bread and wine are consecrated and transformed into the body and blood of Jesus Christ. This consecration is performed by a validly ordained priest who acts in the person of Christ (in persona Christi). A Communion service, on the other hand, does not involve the offering of the Eucharistic sacrifice. Instead, the already consecrated hosts are distributed to the faithful.
Holy Mass follows a structured liturgical format that includes various elements such as the Introductory Rites, Liturgy of the Word, Liturgy of the Eucharist, and Concluding Rites. It encompasses prayers, scripture readings, homily, creed, intercessions, and the offering of the Eucharistic sacrifice. A Communion service, while still containing elements like prayers and readings, is simpler in structure and lacks the full liturgical components found in Mass.
Role of the Priest
In Holy Mass, the priest acts as the presider and main celebrant, offering the Eucharistic sacrifice on behalf of the faithful. He consecrates the bread and wine, leading the congregation in worship and administering Communion. In a Communion service, a priest is not required, and the celebration can be led by a deacon, religious brother or sister, or a trained layperson. The person leading the service retrieves the already consecrated hosts from the tabernacle and distributes them to the faithful.
The Nature of the Celebration
Holy Mass is the highest form of worship in the Catholic Church, where the faithful actively participate in the offering of the Eucharistic sacrifice and receive the body and blood of Christ. It is a complete and full celebration of the entire Catholic liturgy.
A Communion Service, while providing an opportunity to receive Holy Communion, does not involve the full celebration of Mass. It is a simpler gathering focused primarily on the reception of already consecrated hosts.
It is important to note that Holy Mass is the preferred and normative way of worship in the Catholic Church, as it encompasses the fullness of the liturgy, including the Eucharistic sacrifice.
Communion Services are usually reserved for exceptional circumstances when Mass cannot be celebrated, such as in situations where a priest is unavailable or when the faithful are unable to attend Mass due to illness or other reasons.