I know the following story is a couple of days old, but it is quite good.
VATICAN CITY (CNS) — The reverence and awe of Catholics who truly believe they are receiving Jesus in the Eucharist should lead them to kneel and receive Communion on their tongues, said a bishop writing in the Vatican newspaper."
If some nonbeliever arrived and observed such an act of adoration perhaps he, too, would ‘fall down and worship God, declaring, God is really in your midst,’" wrote Auxiliary Bishop Athanasius Schneider of Karaganda, Kazakhstan, quoting from the First Letter to the Corinthians.
… Bishop Schneider said that just as a baby opens his mouth to receive nourishment from his mother, so should Catholics open their mouths to receive nourishment from Jesus.
"Christ truly nourishes us with his body and blood in holy Communion and, in the patristic era, it was compared to maternal breastfeeding," he said.
"The awareness of the greatness of the eucharistic mystery is demonstrated in a special way by the manner in which the body of the Lord is distributed and received," the bishop wrote.
In addition to demonstrating true adoration by kneeling, he said, receiving Communion on the tongue also avoids concerns about people receiving the body of Christ with dirty hands or of losing particles of the Eucharist, concerns that make sense if people truly believe in the sacrament.
"Wouldn’t it correspond better to the deepest reality and truth about the consecrated bread if even today the faithful would kneel on the ground to receive it, opening their mouths like the prophet receiving the word of God and allowing themselves to be nourished like a child?" Bishop Schneider asked.
What the Bishop says totally resonates with me. Especially considering last weeks feast of Saint Elizabeth Ann Seaton whose path to conversion to the Catholic Church was in part sparked by seeing how people were receiving Communion. I idea of conversions because of Communion reverence observed in the majority of parishes seems quite unlikely.
Let me make a couple of clarifications first. Since I have come into the Church I have always received on the tongue, but don’t have any problem with people receiving in their hands if done correctly. This is a valid option, though most people probably don’t realize that Communion in the hand is not the ordinary means for receiving and required an indult in the United States and other countries. Receiving on the tongue is the ordinary form for receiving Communion. Receiving Communion in the hand though obviously goes back to the first Mass and is attested to specifically by some of the early Church fathers. Saying that though I much prefer receiving on the tongue and the practice of course pretty much preventing people from taking concentrated Communion hosts away from the Church.
As for kneeling when I first came into the Church this was my practice in receiving Communion until the Bishops conference changed the GIRM though an approved adaptation.
The norm for reception of Holy Communion in the dioceses of the United States is standing. Communicants should not be denied Holy Communion because they kneel. Rather, such instances should be addressed pastorally, by providing the faithful with proper catechesis on the reasons for this norm.|
When receiving Holy Communion, the communicant bows his or her head before the sacrament as a gesture of reverence and receives the Body of the Lord from the minister. The consecrated host may be received either on the tongue or in the hand at the discretion of each communicant. When Holy Communion is received under both kinds, the sign of reverence is also made before receiving the Precious Blood.
I realize that if I wouldn’t be denied Communion if I kneeled to receive, but what good is obedience if you are only obedient on what you like. I totally disagree with the USCCB limiting reception to only the norm of standing and I hope this is changed one day to allow the Communicant to choose. They had no problem with reception via the tongue or the hands, so why limit this? But if you are going to set a bow as the norm, then why not a profound bow instead of just the nod of the head?
Ideally I have a much better solution. Let’s bring back altar rails for reception of Communion. The Communion line has become so much like an assembly line with people shuffling to receive like they were in a fast food line. The times I have received Communion at a Communion rail during the TLM have been some of my better experiences receiving Communion. I can first kneel and prepare myself better before receiving Communion and then after receiving I can spend some time in joy and adoration before immediately moving back to the pew. Sure I can partly prepare myself in a Communion line and then spend time in adoration and thanksgiving once I return to the pew, but the find it not the same as receiving at a Communion rail. Postures help us and as I have said before we need those liturgical training wheels to help us. On a practical level the Communion rail is as fast if not faster as a method to giving Communion to everybody in a short period of time.
One of the reasons that Communion rail use after Vatican II went by the wayside is the use of Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion and the distribution of the Precious Blood. Though I think the use of Intinction at the Communion rail would be a great idea. Plus you could still use EMHC’s if actually required to help with one side of the Communion rail, but of course you would only need one.
I think the use of the Communion rail really enhances reverence and would make it much more apparent to others how Catholics view the Eucharist. I doubt though that I will see a return to the altar rail outside of the TLM in my lifetime, but I can hope.
I had already converted when I saw someone kneel for communion…had never seen it before and it moved me so much I came home and emailed my friends…and began blogging soon after. I later found out that the man I saw kneel was a new convert from the Baptist church next door. I was told he realized from bible study there that he HAD to become a Catholic. This is the post:
Our priest is a canon lawyer and when the GIRM about standing was mandated by our bishop, he knew that there would be widespread rebellion in our parish where kneeling is the norm (we still have our altar rail too). He scoured over the document and, then when announcing the changes at Mass, he said that as far as he could tell nothing prohibited kneeling. His main concern was that no one should criticize either kneeling or standing as both were allowed and both largely dependent on the internal disposition of the recipient.
Our parish has a communion rail and I wish it was used! It takes so long for the EMHCs to receive communion, that I don’t understand the necessity for them. One or two priests could distribute communion to at least half the church in the time it takes to make the rounds to the EMHCs! The communion real allows some time for reflection while waiting to receive.
The priest at our church told us just to bow so that the line would move faster (there are about 30,000 families in our parishes and only seven masses you do the math). Well I did not hear him say this during his sermon (I think we had to stand that Sunday so I was probably holding my wiggly little sister). Anyways when I went to receive Holy Communion, I genuflected (as I had heard the part about required standing). Well, the priest after Holy Communion said, “Well, we all did very good bows, but one young lady decided that my request was below her so she decided to genuflect.” That was horrible.
Another story I would like to tell is that the priest at another church we belonged to at a different time refused to allow my brother to receive his First Holy Communion on the tongue. He outright refused and when the bishop was told he said he would look into it. Meanwhile my brother’s class received on the hand (never having been taught about their tongues.) My parents did not let my brother receive with his class. As it happened, we were going to Florida for two weeks soon after so instead of flying home from Florida, we drove all the way to Birmingham, AL where some old friends helped us. If you have never heard of the Sister Servants you need to look them up. They are less than five minutes from the old EWTN monastery. Anyways when we lived there, oh, 7 year ago (feel old) we became very good friends with all the nuns and their old priest. He was once the editor for some really well known Vatican newspaper I cannot remember the name. Anyways the good priest and the sisters really made my brother’s FHC a very special event. Although it had been hard dealing with the weak/bad/whatever word you want to use priest and bishop, we were rewarded for our strength.
Just a side note, the priest was found a year later to have been stealing money from the church and the principal of that school was found to be gay. We had written the bishop about both of them a year before the stories hit the newspapers. We could have saved him allot of trouble. Since that, priest and principal have moved another priest came in and he was found to have had an affair with one of the cantors and for beating her. He ran and was caught near the Mexican border. Another priest here in Vegas was found to have stolen an old woman’s millions. She did not trust banks so the priest told her he would keep her money safe.
It is all these old priests that are evil and we need many more young ones. I think all these bad priests should have to go to monastery prisons. That way the church could punish its own priests without government intervention. We could have monk prison guards and everything. A life of fasting and penance. That is what the bad men need. The same goes for bad nuns and bishops.
I have tried receiving Communion on the tongue, but my knees knock so much on the way to the altar (because I am convinced-to-the-bone that I will be making a spectacle of myself and will be offending the celebrant) that it is too distracting. If I am visiting a parish where people receive on the tongue, however, or attending a TLM (:)) there is no conflict or distraction.
Kneeling certainly feels more appropriate than standing. But when I consider that my hands are much “cleaner” than my mouth, i’m not unhappy about receiving in the hand.
If I had to receive Communion directly by my brain or my heart it would take more courage and faith than by any other means! I might never make it up the aisle unless I went to confession every hour of every day. 🙁
I was taught in RCIA to receive in the hand, and never questioned this until I attended a Tridentine Mass. Since that Mass, which was I guess sometime in June, I have not received in the hand. It just seems slovenly and beggardly to me now, in comparison. I wish I had known!
Anyway, I thoroughly agree about the Communion rail, which it seems to anyone who doesn’t realize what they are really for, are so many “barriers” between the people and the sanctuary. It took a while for it to register, even in my mind, that the rail is not so much a border fence as it is a communal kneeler.
I am right there with you, Curt Jester, right on down to the intinction. 100%. Thank you so much – I’m so glad I’m not the only one who feels this way!!!
I guess Our Lady of Peace in Santa Clara hasn’t quite gotten the memo yet– the rail remains, and everybody kneels. It is both a speedier way to distribute communion AND provides a little more reflect/pray/kneel time before actually receiving, while the priests make their way up and down. No intinction, and that’s fine by me. This is all vernacular NO, by the way. Just with full attention and reverence paid to the rubrics.
Only variation from this I recollect was the Confirmation Mass last year, with the Bishop. I know, at least, that the confirmandi were offered the opportunity to receive from the chalice, which is not the norm in that parish. I do not remember now if they were instructed to shuffle up the aisle rather than kneel at the rail. I kind of think they were…
I found it interesting that at the TLM High Mass in Raleigh this past Sunday it took less time to distribute Communion to the over-packed cathedral than an ordinary NO parish using EEMs. There is the time spent gathering all the EEMs, giving them all Communion, spreading out, and then doing the big cleanup. Instead at the TLM the priest walks over with the server and starts right away- the communicants line up at the rail, so all the priest has to do is go right down the other side.
No fuss, no muss, no wasted time.
One of the many beauties of attending mass at St. John Cantius in Chicago is that when the Missa Normative is celebrated on Sundays (alternating somewhat with the Tridentine masses), the reception of the Holy Eucharist is allowed both ways–standing and kneeling at the altar rail.
At local parishes, reception in the hand is quite often done in the most casual way–that is not to say that many people are not also reverent, but it allows for nonchalance among those poor souls who do not comprehend the utter sacred mystery of what is occurring.
I feel the same way on all accounts. Have to admit, though, that I wouldn’t mind reciting the common Mass prayers in Latin as VII actually endorsed. I like the idea of praying some of our prayers in the same language many of our great Saints did through the millenia. I love the added Scripture readings, and will like it when our translation is updated closer to the Latin, if it ever is!
In Christ’s peace and joy,
My parish has an altar rail, and we use it at both the tridentine and the latin novus ordo. there were some talks about reinstating it’s use at the english novus ordo too, but they are still going on. When I came into the church,I always planned to receive kneeling on the tongue, and the RCIA instructor and my parish priest commended me.In fact, they teach the children at my parish that’s it’s more reverent to receive on the tongue, and that they should, even though they have the option to receive in the hands.
And using the communion rail is much faster, I’ve timed it. The attendance of the two novus ordo sunday masses are about the same, but distribution goes faster at the one which uses the communion rail,on average, five to ten minutes faster.
You did it again Jeff, totally on par with what I beliee and have been stressing for the longest time as a teacher. The altar rails represent the divide between Heaven and Earth as well (CCC 1186). Bring back the altar rails take away Communion on the hand, and watch the increase in Faith.
Our church was built sans altar rail in the mid 80’s. We do however have a step and Father has encouraged people to form up alonog the step thus allowing people to choose whether to stand or kneel (about 50/50)and whether to receive on the tongue or hand (about 40/60). Communion goes very smoothly with no pressure on individuals to rush their communion. We have also this year brought back the communion plate for both tongue and hand. A point of interest – the Australian GIRM allows both a bow or genuflection.
Our parish allows reception on the tongue, I don’t take it because there’s no paten there to catch the Host if it falls. Though I could be wrong, I doubt any of the EEM’s would know not to just scoop it up and pocket it. I’ll echo what others have said and hope that the rails AND reception on the tongue return as the norm.
You don’t need a rail – as someone has already pointed out – though without it some people may have difficulty kneeling down or standing up – my parish doesn’t, everyone kneels along the sanctuary.
At my Parish, most of us knell, and all of go to a communion line.
I love a Communion rail and when I travel and a parish uses it, I am very happy. I always receive on the tongue. I genuflect in the way up and in all the years I have done this, no accident has yet occurred.
Our irreverence has long been a scandal. As St, Maximilian Kolbe said, we need to prove inour behavior that we truly believe that the Holy Eucharist IS the Body of Christ.
Nota bene: when this document came out about it being the “norm” to receive standing, etc., people of my parish wrote the Vatican and got back a letter confirming that it is *not* disobedience to kneel!
Subvet– every parish “allows” communion on the tongue because it is the universal norm. No permission is ever required. Patens are never seen in my neck of the woods (except OLOP) but I’ve never had an issue of EMHCs missing the mouth. Occasionally they get confused, but if you stand long enough, mouth open, tongue slightly extended, and hands firmly clasped in prayer somewhere at or beneath waist level, they figure it out eventually. 🙂
I always feel rushed going up to communion. It seems like people are kind of slow getting out of the pew and then sprint up to the front so as not to keep Father or the EMHC waiting (especially since each line has two ministers of communion). It almost moves too fast and I don’t have adequate time to think about what I am doing/Who I am receiving. Maybe the altar rail would help; it sounds like it gives you time to collect yourself both before and after reception of Communion.
The paten does need to come back.
Mary, you said there are 30,000 families in your parish. Are you sure this is correct? If there are just 3 people per family, that is 90,000 people. If they are all coming to one of 7 Masses, that is 12,857 people per Mass. This would require a small stadium for a church.
We have a communion rail but we don’t use it.
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