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At the World Meeting of Families: How do you give communion to a million people?

Deacon Greg Kandra - published on 08/29/15

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Here’s an interesting glimpse behind the scenes, from—including a detail that has lately been making the rounds on social media: that the pope is expected to say Mass in Latin.Read on: 

When more than 1,500 priests and deacons descend from Pope Francis’ altar on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway next month to distribute Communion, some of the wafers they carry will have been made by the Poor Clares, a group of cloistered nuns in Langhorne who’ve been baking altar breads for 98 years. “You never think: ‘Who produces these things? Where do they get them?’ They just appear magically,” says Sister Anne. “So it’s a very humble way to participate, which is part of our life, to sort of be hidden.” The Rev. G. Dennis Gill, rector of the Cathedral Basilica of Ss. Peter and Paul and chairman of the World Meeting of Families liturgy committee, said he has fielded many questions about how Communion will be distributed during the papal Mass, where crowd estimates range from 1 to 2 million. “It’s so different than what people know on a Sunday in a small crowd of 500,” Gill said. “They’re just asking ‘How will this ever work out?’ ” Gill said about 500,000 communion wafers have been ordered for the papal Mass from various religious communities and wholesale manufacturers. The Poor Clares said they were asked to make 100,000 wafers for the Mass. “We want to make Holy Communion as widely available as possible,” Gill said. “You may have a million people there but . . . not everyone who’s coming is a Catholic and not everyone who is coming is able to receive.” As is practice in the church, all altar breads will be consecrated during the Mass. Once Pope Francis transubstantiates the altar bread into the body and blood of Christ, as Catholics believe priests have the power to do, more than 1,500 priests and deacons will receive their Communion before fanning out along the parkway to distribute to others, Gill said. The priests and deacons, both those from the Archdiocese of Philadelphia and those from around the world, each will be accompanied by an usher carrying a white-and-gold umbrella, to protect the Holy Communion and to signal where the Communion stations are, Gill said. Pope Francis, who is expected to say the Mass in Latin, typically does not distribute Communion himself, Gill said.

Read the rest. 

The article also notes the Mass will not include distribution of the Precious Blood.

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