Sunday, January 24, 2010
My advice to the Pope's MC
When I was in Rome I had lunch with a couple of priests who were going to see Mgr Guido Marini, the Papal Master of Ceremonies. I was very tempted to get them to suggest that at Papal liturgies, at the very least, not only the Pope but everyone should distribute Holy Communion to the faithful kneeling and on the tongue. The Holy Father's present practice is absurd and nonsensical, he gives Holy Communion in this way and every other bishop, priest, deacon and extraordinary minister of Holy Communion around him gives the Lord to people standing and however the recipient wishes. The Pope's current practice seems to be about reverence for his distribution of Holy Communion rather than Holy Communion itself. As the Pope constantly reminds us, the liturgy is not about us, it is about God.
I must confess, I always feel angry at Christmas and Easter, often at funerals too, when so many people come to receive the Most Holy with apparently no outward understanding whatsoever. I feel on those occassions I am obliged to take part in a mass act of sacrilege and profanation. To be honest it scandalises me and shakes my faith.
In England and Wales, the rules of our bishops, ratified by the Holy See, are that people should form a queue and receive Holy Communion standing, there is no reference in the bishop's instructions to show the sign of reverence that is called for in the General Instruction of the Roman Missal, indeed the GIRM doesn't identify what thisn of reverence is.
I know that some places have restored altar rails and some priests "invite" people to kneel, but this actually contrary to local law. Obviously the people may choose to receive in this way, the norm in the Universal Church is to receive kneeling and on the tongue, but in England and Wales the priest has no right to require them to do so.
My problem is that a lack of external reverence both indicates and causes a lack of interior reverence. I was pleased that the parents of our First Communion children asked, unprompted by me, for their children to receive Holy Communion on the tongue, despite their peers at our school receiving in the hand, the children prepared by us still receive with reverence on the tongue.
That really brings me to my main point, if we loose a sense of reverence for Holy Communion then we rob the Lord of His power to "... only say the word and my soul shall be healed".
Returning to Papal Liturgies, I pray that none of the huge jambourees happens near me, I dread the prospect of some priest, or possibly nowadays an EMHC, turning up on my front door asking me to take a polythene sack full of consecrated hosts. That happened during Pope John Paul's visit here.
Below is a link to a video of Bishop Schneider speaking about reverence in receiving Holy Communion from a post on Te Deum Laudamus.
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