Many Bishops have sent out pastoral letters about how we should receive the sacrament of Holy Communion in this season of social distancing. The consensus of the bishops at this time is that we cannot provide the sacrament “virtually” by consecration over the internet, with the clergy consecrating bread and wine remotely. So, here are a few alternatives that we have already reported and posted:
- Spiritual Communion: Archbishop emeritus Robert Duncan has produced an outstanding short video on “Spiritual Communion” which we published a week ago—its origins and rationale for times such as this. The bottom line is that “the sacrament of desire” to be united with Christ spiritually in elements consecrated elsewhere is the equivalent of full communion. What this means is that clergy can live-stream the consecration of the elements and people watching can receive spiritual communion/full communion in accordance with prayer 106 at BCP 2019 (at p. 677).
- Communion from the reserved sacrament: We reported two weeks ago about the Rector at St. John’s Americus GA celebrating Holy Communion over the radio and then standing on the steps of the church for 90 minutes following, distributing to no more than two congregants at a time who drive to the church, walk up and receive, and then drive home. We would recommend both clergy and congregants to wear masks and for the clergy person to use gloves in the distribution. **If you are in need of masks, may I recommend my dear friend Rev. Clancy Nixon and the ministry of Holy Spirit Anglican in Leesburg, VA, “Maskmaker, Maskmaker make me a mask!” who can make those masks for you. This would seem to address some of the concerns by local authorities who are beginning to limit “drive in” communion.
- Pre-Consecrated bread: A number of clergy and congreations like Holy Cross Cathedral, Loganville GA are consecrating the bread, placing it in plastic bags (enough for each congregant or family) and asking them to consume the bread (communion in one kind) when the clergy do so following the live stream communion. Of course, this requires either the church to go out and deliver the bread safely, or the congregants to come to the church and pick up. Also, since pre-consecrated bread is usually set apart in a sacred space, such as a tabernacle, we would encourage people to find such a place in their homes.
– Canon Phil
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