Friday, October 13, 2006

Ambrose on daily communicants

I'm getting close to finishing Living the Mysteries: A Guide for Unfinished Christians and I have to say it's amazingly easy to see how reading the Fathers of the Church has brought so many to the bosom of Holy Mother Church. The constructs you often hear of as "modern" or "recent" inventions often have roots stretching back to the beginnings of the Church. One thing I had been told somewhere in my travels to the Church was that the concept of attending Daily Mass and daily reception of the Eucharist was a recent invention. It never bothered me if it were recent, but I should have known better - even the venerable St. Ambrose wrote about it (On the Sacraments 5.4):

The Latin, however, calls this bread "daily." But if it is "daily" bread, then why do you take it so infrequently? Take daily what will help you daily. And live so that you deserve to receive it daily. He who does not deserve to receive it daily, does not deserve to receive it once a year. Holy Job offered sacrifice daily for his sons, just in case they had sinned in heart or word (see Jb 1:5).

So if the great Church Fathers talk so well about traditions such as receiving the Eucharist daily, those traditions some would say were "recent inventions" that needed to be "modified" or "set aside" for a "modern" Church... If their label as "recent" is shown to be erroneous, would it not also cast doubt on their assessment of what should be done with it? Indeed, one must occasionally look back to know which direction is forward.