School of Theology and Seminary Graduate Papers/Theses

Date of Award


Document Type

Graduate Paper

Degree Name

Master of Arts in Theology


School of Theology and Seminary

First Advisor

Anthony Ruff, OSB

Subject Categories

Liturgy and Worship


The Sunday Celebration in the Absence of a Priest (SCAP) has become a common part of the American Catholic experience as dioceses continue to struggle with ways to deal with the shortage of available ordained priests to celebrate Eucharist. In this paper, I look at early church history (in the pre-Nicaean church as well as the Middle Ages) to find historical and theological justification of the rite. I examine relevant background information data from American history on the availability of Eucharist and Eucharistic piety, and then outline the 20th-century movement which restored frequent reception of Communion to the laity, to explain how the current situation developed in the USA. I trace the development of the SCAP rite, from 1973’s Holy Communion Outside of Mass to the 2007 revision of the SCAP rite. I then consider a number of the most pressing criticisms of the SCAP from a variety of vantage points, including sacramental, ecclesiological, theological, and sociological.



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