The Downhill Run of Roman Catholicism

As documented by Thomas Aquinas about the frequent reception of the Eucharist, in Summa Theologiae, 3, q. 80, a. 10 (I have added the papal dates):

In the primitive Church, when the devotion of the Christian faith was more flourishing, it was enacted that the faithful should communicate daily: hence Pope Anaclete (76-88) says (Ep. i): “When the consecration is finished, let all communicate who do not wish to cut themselves off from the Church; for so the apostles have ordained, and the holy Roman Church holds.” Later on, when the fervor of faith relaxed, Pope Fabian (236-50) (Third Council of Tours, Canon 1) gave permission “that all should communicate, if not more frequently, at least three times in the year, namely, at Easter, Pentecost, and Christmas.” Pope Soter (166-175) likewise (Second Council of Chalon, Canon xlvii) declares that Communion should be received “on Holy Thursday,” as is set forth in the Decretals (De Consecratione, dist. 2). Later on, when “iniquity abounded and charity grew cold” (Matthew 24:12), Pope Innocent III (1198-1216) commanded that the faithful should communicate “at least once a year,” namely, “at Easter.” However, in De Eccles. Dogmat. xxiii, the faithful are counseled “to communicate on all Sundays.”

I’ve said earlier that, contrary to most of my evangelical counterparts, I don’t think that the current organisational state of Christianity is God’s “Plan A” but that the original churches, having made their downhill run, left it open for the “Plan B” that is so common today.

And I don’t think that the Reformation, the first subsequent major reaction to this state of affairs, is the end all either.  The combination of state support and a decidedly fatalistic theology swapped one form of cultural Christianity for another.

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