Before his banishment from Geneva in 1538, Calvin (and the other ministers) presented the magistrates of Geneva with an argument for monthly communion in “Articles concerning the Organization of the Church and of Worship at Geneva proposed by the Ministers at the Council” (Jan. 16, 1537). His often quoted statement about weekly communion is taken from this same document:
It would be well to require that the Communion of the Holy Supper of Jesus Christ be held every Sunday at least as a rule.
Yet, after arguing that the Lord’s Supper was instituted by Jesus for “a frequent exercise of our faith,” and disparaging the RCC for her perversion of the ordinance which led the people into superstition, he writes,
But because the frailty of the people is still so great, there is danger that this sacred and so excellent mystery be misunderstood if it be celebrated so often. In view of this, it seemed good to us, while hoping that the people who are still so infirm will be the more strengthened, that use be made of this sacred Supper once a month in one of three places where now preaching takes place, viz., St. Pierre, Riue or St. Gervais, in such a way that once a month it take place at St. Pierre, once at Riue, and once at St. Gervais, and then return in this order, having gone the round.
So, his actual proposal is for monthly communion—not weekly—based upon the weakness of the people. He goes on to write,
So that there be no cause for contempt, but this high mystery be treated with the greatest dignity possible, it has seemed to us the more advisable course, that the ministers of the Word, on whom the office of administering all that pertains to the mysteries of God properly belongs, distribute the bread and the wine, the form and sacrament of the body and blood of the Lord. And so that this take place with fitness and without confusion or impropriety, we have proposed to make it our duty to show and indicate such order as the people ought to observe; to advocate one that avoids confusion, and will supply you with means that will be found expedient, that things be well conducted and we come with such particular reverence as Paul commands us.
More important than frequency of communion was the reverent approach to the Table. As we argued in February (at the Shepherds’ Conference on worship), it seems clear that the weakness of the people and their inability to handle or even tolerate the lengthy service necessary for the reverent fencing of the Table led Calvin led the pastors of Geneva to this argument for monthly communion.
Then, after his return to Geneva in 1541, the Ecclesiastical Ordinances were put in place…and here’s its statement on frequency of communion:
Since the Supper was instituted by our Lord to be more often observed by us and also since this was the case in the early Church until such time as the devil upset everything by setting up the mass in its place, the defect ought to be remedied by celebrating it a little more frequently. All the same, for the time being we have agreed and ordained that it should be administered four times a year, i.e. at Christmas, Easter, Pentecost and the first Sunday in September in the autumn.
If you follow the link, it claims that edits and additions made by the magistrates of Geneva are bracketed. No bracket appears in the above section so it must have been Calvin’s direction that communion take place quarterly. I take it that the “we” of the above statement is the pastors of Geneva.
Not exactly the impression we get when reading moderns write about Geneva, her pastors, and the frequency they proposed for celebrating the Lord’s Table.