I find myself drawn to participate in a daily Eucharistic celebration as it helps me cultivate a more meaningful sacramental worldview. However, the only opportunity I have to do this is through attending daily mass at a local Roman Catholic parish. As an Anglican, I am unsure if it is appropriate to participate fully through receiving communion. Do you have any thoughts on this? I am also curious why daily Eucharist is not common among Lutheran and Anglican churches.
Daily Eucharist has been a practice of the church since its early days. Acts 2:46 gives us a picture of the early Christians in Jerusalem “day by day” spending time together in the Temple and breaking bread at home (or “from house to house”). “The breaking of bread” was a term for the Eucharist in the Acts of the Apostles. Receiving communion daily was not always easy when the church depended on having someone’s house or a rented inn to meet in. The need for a meeting place for the congregation undoubtedly contributed to the custom of members turning the titles of houses over the church. But once the church moved into basilicas in the 4th century daily communion became possible and it was a devotion many Christians practiced. In Eastern Orthodox Churches the Divine Liturgy was replaced on fast days by the Liturgy of the Pre-Sanctified just so the faithful could receive communion on days when the Eucharist would not be celebrated. The Pre-Sanctified Liturgy was celebrated at the end of the fasting day and before the next liturgical day began (e.g. at Vespers). Daily Masses became a regular feature of the Catholic Church of the West whether it was fasting day or not.
At the time of the Reformation Protestant reformers abolished daily masses. Many of these were votive masses offered for special intentions on behalf of the living and the dead. Most of these votive masses didn’t include communicants and were therefore regarded as “private masses.” Martin Luther was OK with daily masses as long as there were communicants. The Reformed believed that the whole congregation needed to be prepared to receive communion together and offered Communion services four times a year or monthly. But basically Lutherans and Anglicans have no problem with daily masses as long as there are communicants. Unfortunately, in spite of the Eucharistic renewal of the last century there are still many Lutheran congregations and some Anglican parishes that don’t even have the Eucharist every Sunday. Many Lutheran and Anglican parishes that have the Eucharist every Sunday also have at least one Eucharist during the week, often a spoken service in a chapel early in the morning.
There’s a good chance that Episcopal cathedrals in the U.S. have daily Eucharists, such as St. John the Divine in New York City, St. James in Chicago, and Grace in San Francisco. Parishes styled Anglo-Catholic are likely to have daily Mass. Here is a de facto list of US Episcopal parishes that may well have daily Mass—because they are Anglo-Catholic. This list is not exhaustive, and some of these parishes don’t or no longer have it; but it’s a good starting guide (scroll down to United States): https://en.m.wikipedia.org/…/List_of_Anglo-Catholic…
Also, a number of large, urban parishes that are not Anglo-Catholic (but may be High Church) have daily Eucharist—for example, St. John’s Lafayette Square in Washington, DC and Trinity Wall Street in New York City.
Lutheran congregations with daily Eucharist are relatively few. I know of St. Peter’s in New York City (Manhattan) and First English in downtown Pittsburgh. If readers know of others with daily Eucharist, please post.
There could be many reasons why Lutheran and Anglican parishes don’t have daily Eucharists. Perhaps the pastors don’t think they have the time, or don’t think people would attend, or don’t think enough people would attend to make it worth while, or just lack a commitment to such a practice. Remember that many of the Lutheran and Anglican clergy are married and have family responsibilities, like getting kids off to school in the morning.
As for receiving communion as an Anglican in a Roman Catholic parish, you need to remember that the basic condition for receiving Communion in the Roman Catholic Church is being in communion with a local bishop who is in communion with the bishop of Rome (and, of course, not being in a spiritual condition that excommunicates you—like being divorced from a marriage that has not been annulled). So if you receive communion in a Catholic parish it is either by being in the good graces of the priest-celebrant or just being an interloper presuming on the Eucharistic hospitality of the Catholic Church.
The way I see it, you have two choices. You could work with your rector to see how the Eucharist might be provided daily in your parish (and maybe convince some fellow parishioners to make a commitment to attend). Or you could speak with the Catholic pastor and receive his permission to receive communion. I think the first option is the better one because it doesn’t present a conflicted conscience. You might succeed in getting a Eucharist scheduled at least once or twice a week. That would be a start.
If we took seriously the fact that, as the materialist philosopher Friedrich Feuerbach said, “we are what we eat,” and we believe that Christ is really present body and blood in, with, and under the bread and wine, then we need to receive Christ into our bodies for daily spiritual nourishment and to keep ourselves in union with him. There is good reason why the early Christians broke bread daily.
Pastor Frank Senn
Saint John Neumann Catholic Church (Sunbury, Ohio) – daily Mass chapel