Father Kenneth Doyle

Father Kenneth Doyle

Q. I know that people can receive holy Communion twice in one day if they are present at those Masses for particular circumstances. But how about a lector or church musician who might be on duty for three or four Masses on the same day? Can they take Communion at each of those Masses? (York, South Carolina)

A. You are correct in saying that a person may receive Communion more than once a day. However, No. 917 of the church’s Code of Canon Law specifies that one may do so only when present for, and participating in, the Mass itself. (The church does not want troubled people popping in for a couple of minutes solely for the Eucharist at several different Masses in a single day.)

This canon is really meant for someone who might be at two Masses in one day for different reasons, such as a funeral Mass on a Saturday morning and a Sunday vigil Mass that same afternoon. With regard to lectors or church musicians: In 1984, the Pontifical Council for the Interpretation of Legislative Texts told several bishops that twice a day is the limit for Communion (except in danger of death).

I would counsel your organist or lector to make just one of the Masses their “special” Mass, and receive Communion at that Mass only. This way, I would think, the gift of the Eucharist is not taken for granted and recognized for its uniqueness.

Q. My son, who was recently ordained a priest, has been estranged from me for the past several years. He chooses not to respond to my letters, birthday cards, emails and phone calls — for reasons he has never explained to me. His mother and I were divorced when he was a young child. When he was in high school and college, my son had issues with alcohol and drug abuse and also with anger management. After college, he lived with me for a brief time but because his behavioral problems continued, I had to use “tough love” tactics and ask him to leave, whereupon he was welcomed back to his mother with open arms. Sometime later, he entered the seminary.

My questions are twofold. First, before he was accepted into the seminary, wouldn’t they have investigated his behavioral past? And second, since Jesus taught us to forgive one another and also to love our parents, shouldn’t my son’s attitude toward me be different — especially since he’s a priest — or should I not judge him?

My new wife and I were not invited to his ordination or first Mass, although we decided to attend anyway. I have been under a doctor’s care for depression for the past 20 years, and this situation with my son has not helped. Please give me some guidance as to how I might understand the church and my faith in all of this. (City of origin withheld)

A. Your situation saddens me, and I will pray that God’s love will take root and bring healing to your relationship. To start with, let me assure you that your son would have been thoroughly “vetted” before admission to the seminary. Especially since the tragedy of clergy sex abuse began to unfold some 15 years ago, candidates for the priesthood have undergone rigorous psychological evaluation. So your son’s behavioral past, including any struggles with anger or addiction, would have been subject to severe scrutiny in order to guarantee, so far as possible, that he could withstand the pressures of priestly life.

As to your current standoff with your son, surely — as you say — forgiveness and love of parents are biblical mandates. I have no idea, though, of the entire history and family dynamics and can offer only limited guidance. It may be, for example, that your son has been advised by a counselor to forgo contact with you lest old wounds be reopened — for you, for him or for both of you.

Why not take one more try at writing to him? Tell him how thrilled you were to be at his ordination, how proud that he has chosen the priesthood and how much you are praying for his happiness and the success of his work. If he chooses to respond, good. If not, perhaps God’s plan is for the healing to take more time.


Questions may be sent to Father Kenneth Doyle at askfatherdoyle@gmail.com and 40 Hopewell St. Albany, N.Y. 12208.