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Catholic Dictionary




The practice, dating from the first centuries of the Church, of receiving Holy Communion often, as a means of growing in union with God. Weekly reception was customary already in apostolic times. From the end of the second century many priests and laity received every day. By the thirteenth century the practice had so declined that the Fourth Lateran Council had to legislate at least annual Communion at Easter time. In the sixteenth century the Council of Trent urged the reception of Holy Communion at every Mass attended. During the centuries of Jansenist influence, Communion, as a thing most earnestly desired by Christ our Lord and by the Catholic Church should be open to all the faithful" (Denzinger 3375-83). The only conditions required were the state of grace and the right intention.