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Different churches celebrate the Eucharist (Communion, Lord's Supper, ...) with different frequency. At one extreme, Catholic and high Anglican churches tend to celebrate it at least daily. Many Protestant churches offer it only once a month, though they will have a Sunday service each week. Some churches have Communion even less often - quarterly or annually.

What factors have caused the divergence in practice (between Catholics and Protestants) and how does each modern model compare to the frequency of its celebration in the early Church?

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In orthodox monasteries it is also celebrated daily –  deps_stats Sep 5 '11 at 18:14
    
some churches celebrate as infrequently as quarterly (4x/yr) –  wax eagle Sep 5 '11 at 19:06
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Jehovah's Witnesses celebrate communion once a year, and most of them don't partake in it (as it's reserved for the 144,000 chosen, only). –  dancek Sep 5 '11 at 20:25
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The questioner starts by saying that different Christian communities do different things, and then goes on to ask which is right. This is by definition off topic on this site, since it amounts to asking which kind of Christian is right. –  DJClayworth Jun 18 '12 at 18:16
    
I agree that my old question is not very well-posed. I was trying to get at factors leading to the differences in frequency, but I mistakenly phrased it in a way that asks which is correct. I will try to edit. –  James T Jun 18 '12 at 21:37
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As you note, there are lots of different traditions here. My ancestry is Scottish and some old Scottish churches only celebrate communion once a year. I've looked through the some liturgies for these services that basically run all day, and it's quite an affair. I have even heard it advocated that once in a life-time ought to do the job, sort of like baptism. I don't think this is at all the spirit of the thing we find in the NT.

On the other end of the spectrum are those who say that every meal we eat together as believers counts, so basically we do it a couple times a day. For several reasons I don't think this argument holds much water.

By personal background growing up was the "traditional" once a month celebrations. I wouldn't argue that this practice is inherently wrong or sinful, but I think it is arbitrary and not the best representation of what the Lord's Supper is supposed to be about.

I believe the best representation and celebration of the Lords Supper is to do it once a week during the normal Sunday gatherings. This is consistent with the description we have of the early church gathering together (we know they did this specifically in celebration of the resurrection on the first day of each week) and the description we have of them celebrating the sacrament whenever they were gathered together.

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The reason for the different traditions of frequency of communion is that there are a wide variety of views within Christianity about what communion actually is. It is so widely disagreed over that Christians often can't agree over what name to call it. The different theologies give rise to different practices of communion, including different frequencies.

It would be far too long and complicated to discuss in detail the different views of communion here. This Wikipedia article gives a reasonable overview, and I will attempt to pull out some salient points.

The Catholic view of Mass (which differs slightly in a technical way from communion, but which we will treat as the same thing for this answer) is that in the Mass the body and blood of Jesus become actually present. Moreover the Mass is an actual sacrifice by the participants, by which the benefits of the sacrifice of Jesus on the Cross are made available to the participants. (I will state here, because of common misconceptions, that this does not imply that the sacrifice of the Mass either adds to or replaces the ultimate sacrifice of Jesus). While the details are complex, the implication of this is that participation in the Mass is beneficial in and of itself. This explains the Catholic practice of attending Mass frequently - once a week for normal members and even more frequently for priests and other religious. Each attendance brings with it benefits, and the more frequently it is done the better.

At the other end of our oversimplified spectrum is the view that communion is simply a memorial - a ritual in which each person remembers the sacrifice and death of Jesus. This was the view espoused by Zwingli, and is generally held by Baptists and similar churches. It is usually referred to as Memorialism. The benefit of participating in this memorial is limited to the extent to which it is helpful to the individual, producing thoughts and feelings that assist the participant's spiritual life. Because there is no intrinsic benefit to attending a service of communion, frequency of attendance is much less. It was thought that since the effects were dependent on the state of the participant's mind, then over-frequent attendance was counter-productive and seen as idolatory by the reformers.

Many churches hold different views to those, and they can roughly be arranged on a line from 'real presence' to 'entirely symbolic'. Frequency of attendance is typically reasonably correlated with being close to the 'real presence' end. Anglicans and Lutherans typically believe in the 'real presence' without necessarily endorsing the doctrine of transubstantiation, and typically celebrate weekly, with celebrations more frequent than daily being discouraged for everyone.

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Strictly speaking, it is not just that they are present but that the substance of the wine and the bread are transformed into the blood and body. –  Ignatius Theophorus Jun 19 '12 at 18:12
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As DJClayworth said, there is some correlation to the position between "real presence" and "entirely symbolic", but that's not everything. "Entirely symbolic" understanding of Eucharist usually lead to lower communion frequency, but this doesn't have to be the case - the consequence of lower importance of the communion is especially that it's more arbitrary. This can lead to extremes remembered by Caleb, but usually it just means that "we are used to celebrate Lord's Supper once per month and we see no reason to change it". "Once a month" probably has some historical roots.

On the other hand, in Catholic Church in 21st and big portion of 20th century frequent communion is the norm. But it wasn't always like this! There were times when "once a week" was most usual (especially in the earliest times), when daily communion was normal like today, but also when it was hard to get to communion more often than once a month or once a year. There were theological reasons for all the practices - they were usually closely tied to views of God's love and mercy and of how much is man sinful. Jansenists, who focused on sinfulness and unworthiness of man, proposed rare communion ("People are not worthy of receiving such a gift ever. Well, we can allow then to go to communion once a year, if the do proper repentance."). On the other hand, Catholic theology today focuses more on God's love for us and His willingness to give Himself to us, and frequent communion is a logical consequence.

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