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.