Monday, August 22, 2011

Kneeling or standing?

September is a time of significant change in the way in which we worship in England and Wales.
It is not just the new translations to be introduced the Sunday after next and meatless Fridays from September 16th .
The Bishops have also made adjustments to the manner in which we receive Holy Communion. A new Instruction has been published as follows:
"In the Diocese of England and Wales, Holy Communion is to be received standing, though individual members of the faithful may choose to receive Comrecommended that the faithful bow in reverence before receiving the Sacrament".
munion while kneeling. However, when they communicate standing, it is Some might suggest there is no change here, on the contrary there is a significant change; first of all the Bishops acknowledge the “right to choose” of individual communicants, to follow the special “English indult”, which is the norm in England and Wales or to opt to follow the traditional practice of the Universal Church.

Up until recently our bishops expressed the opinion that to join the Communion “procession”, or queue, was a sufficient sign of reverence, now the “recommend” the faithful to “bow”, as this is just a recommendation, presumably other signs of reverence such as a genuflection or even a prostration are not outlawed, and therefore an acceptable alternative. A bow of reverence in the liturgy is different, deeper, more profound than a bow of acknowledgement, the bow of the head that is expected at the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary, or to the server at the incensation is different and has a different meaning to the bow to an altar, the former is a bow of the head the latter a bow of the body. Some bishops and priests might of course just ignore a "recommendation" but would certainly not being acting in the spirit of the Liturgy.

This particular instruction should be seen as part of the trend towards a deeper and more reverent liturgy. It cannot be taken out of the context of the hermeneutic of continuity. The Pope opts not to give Holy Communion according to the “indult”, according to Mgr Guido Marini we are supposed to “observe and learn” from what the Pope does. Though the Pope has “universal jurisdiction” no one has claimed this is what the Pope is exercising when he gives communion kneeling and on the tongue, therefore, presumably, it is the right of every priest, and individual, to do as the Pope does, to take very seriously what the local Conference of Bishops decides, but nevertheless to choose to act according to the Universal norms. The Pope is too gracious a guest, too obedient a son of the Church to defy legitimate local law.

Similarly the recommendation of Cardinal Antonio Canizares Llovera, Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, that Communion should be received kneeling and on the tongue, is presumably a statement that his dicastery would look favourably on any bishop or priest who, with due pastoral sensitivity, chose to follow the Pope’s example. It is either that or he is just being plain unhelpful.

Summorum Pontificum would suggest a bishops’ role is not micromanage the liturgy, a priest has a right to choose the usage in his own parish, for example. So presumably he has the right to decide how communion is distributed in his parish, whether it is appropriate to give it by intinction, under one kind or both.

What is obvious about our bishops’ statement is that it should be seen as movement along with the new translations and the re-introduction of Friday abstinence to express and develop a deeper sense of the Mystery of the Eucharist. No bishop would want to lessen a sense of the Real Presence.

Today, having learnt from the example of the Pope, many priests, especially younger ones, would want to teach people to do what the Pope instructs his communicants to do. Would they be wrong? I suspect many Bishops would think so, it would certainly cause problems between a priest and his bishop.

What a priest has a duty to do is to teach people to receive with proper reverence whether standing or kneeling, in the hand or on the tongue. He should also teach, why Eastern or Byzantine Catholics and why we, in some parts of the West from the 3rd /4th century up until the 70s had a difficulty with any idea of taking communion in the hand: “what previous generations held holy” cannot be easily disregarded or treated with contempt.

It seems to me that both the Pope and the Cardinal Prefect are attempting to create a movement of reverence. Rarely am I critical of the Pope but as far as Holy Communion is concerned it would be helpful if “Rome” did more than signal.

At 1.53.00 the Pope distributes Holy Communion to deacons kneeling, and presumably on the tongue, then proceeds to give communion to ithers in the same manner - concelebrating priests interestingly receive by intinction.


Kneeling Catholic said...

Thanks, Father!!

Another Kneeling Catholic said...

The problem with genuflecting or bowing just before receiving holy Communion at the head of the slow shuffle is that it looks as if the communicant is genuflecting, or bowing, towards the priest or extraordinary minister. Quite frankly, if I cannot kneel to receive then I do not join the slow shuffle; I remain in the pew. What is one supposed to do if he/she also wishes to receive from the chalice? Do we genuflect or bow again, or is one genuflection/bow sufficient? Just imagine how long the process would take if everyone, on reaching the head of the queue, genuflected, received the Host, then walked to the side, genuflected again, received from the Chalice, and then returned to their place in the pews. This would cause chaos. There are hold-ups occurring now when people move to the side to receive from the chalice and impede those who do not wish to do so, and are held up. Why can our bishops and priests not see (or, admit) that the ideal method is to restore the rails and let people kneel or stand as they wish and the priest moves along the rail quickly and efficiently. Of course, many extraordinary ministers (of both Host and Chalice) would become redundant but this also would be an improvement and in conformity with the instructions that have emanated from Rome in the past 20 years.

PP said...

Bishops and priests who concelebrate at public Holy Masses in the Vatican Basilica receive Holy Communion by (self) intinction.

After explaining the whys and wherefores, I now have about half a dozen parishioners who bow reverently before receiving Holy Communion. I must try again. I have a feeling that meatless Fridays will be embraced with similar enthusiasm.

Someone did suggest recently that a communion rail be installed so that the less mobile and frail would have something solid to steady themselves upon when receiving standing - or kneeling. Some of our older parishioners do find it difficult to balance unsupported when their turn comes in the 'holy queue'. Unfortunately, the wreckovations that have taken place in the past would mean a complete rebuilding of the sanctuary area to introduce such a rail - something we can't afford to do.

John Fisher said...

This is not my religion. Those white hats..the sign of peaceeeeeeeeee...who are we kidding. Deceiving ourselves when we cannot compare ourselves with the past and see how banal we are!

Robert said...

Without communion rails, you will still look like an odd ball. It's easier getting up from kneeling using an altar rail, than kneeling in the floor. Especially for those who do have medical problems. But the Bishops will never address this. So things will go on as always. And the liberals will get what they want, and it will be the norm. While traditional Catholics, will always get a permission, that is not the norm.

rachel said...

in my parish the ONLY person who kneels waits untuill all of us have recieved Holy Communion.we have no rails but would prefer to kneel,as i feel it is more reverential,in the current spirit of change would it be possible???

Anonymous said...

I had occasion to visit my local seminary earlier in the year and noticed that the seminarians would queue for communion and the first in line would genuflect then walk forward to receive. As he did so the next would genuflect and so on and so forth. It may have added about a minute to communion for 30 or so people - not an unreasonable time I am sure.

I must admit that I now try to do the same wherever I am. If the aisle is crowded I will begin to bow as the person in front recieves (rather than genuflecting and risking knocking into someone) which ensures I am at my lowest at the point there is nothing between me and the priest. It doesn't cause anyone to wait excessively and the priests I have recieved from seem to understand what I am doing and be happy to go along with it.

They also seem happy to allow me to receive on the tongue after bowing. For me this is partly about reverance and partly a practical thing in that I ride a motorcycle and because of having to chain it outside the church etc I do not consider my hands to be clean to receive our Lord nine times out of ten.

John Nolan said...

Where Communion is received kneeling it is normally in one kind only and there are no EMs. Since reception in both kinds also seems to be the norm in E&W, standing makes more sense. Do you really want to see lay people of either sex, in lay dress, following the priest down the other side of the rail? And what if you prefer to decline the Chalice?

EditorCT said...

I think the bishops of England and Wales have made this tiny change of emphasis out of fear that the Pope will do what he should do and insist that everyone return to kneeling/tongue. Sorry to seem to be "negative" again but facing the facts these days, seems to have that effect.

As for Fr Blake's comment that he wishes Rome would do more than signal, well, I fully agree, because the signal the Holy See sent over the question of SSPX confessions is unmistakeable, yet it doesn't seem to have made any difference to the anti-SSPX views of Fr Z. Some days ago, I sent him the following article from the archives of The Remnant but he has still failed to correct his false claim that the SSPX priests cannot hear confessions and absolve. I emailed it to him because, tellingly, there is no way of posting comments on that blog.

I think, though, that the signal that the Pope is sending about mode of receiving Communion could not be clearer and for all the blether there is in the blogs from modern Catholics pledging undying loyalty to the Pope, the refusal to follow his example in this crucial area is very revealing. For, if the old adage that "actions speak louder than words" means anything at all, it means that the faithful should,receive in the traditional manner and that SSPX priests do, in fact, have the authority to absolve.

Evagrius Ponticus said...

Nothing wrong with criticising the Pope, Fr. We aren't ultramontanists, after all!

mikesview said...

SSPX orders are valid but not licit, or so I was told by a very good and orthodox priest in full communion with Rome. I have known him for years and he is respected by other good priests.

EditorCT said...


I think if you visit the link I posted earlier, you will have a very different perspective on this claim that the SSPX ordinations are "valid but not licit." That article points out several facts that contradict this popular view.

What is "licit" in normal times and what is "licit" in times of war and chaos, are two very different kinds of "licit".

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