Tuesday 14 June 2011

"A liturgy no longer familiar with kneeling would be sick at the core." - Card. Ratzinger

Even in his last days of suffering and frailty, Pope John Paul fell to his knees to receive Holy Communion. Shouldn't the able-bodied do likewise? One of the purposes of holding people up as saints is that we follow their example.

"There are groups, of no small influence, who are trying to talk us out of kneeling. "It doesn't suit our culture", they say (which culture?) "It's not right for a grown man to do this -- he should face God on his feet". Or again: "It's not appropriate for redeemed man -- he has been set free by Christ and doesn't need to kneel any more".
"It may well be that kneeling is alien to modern culture -- insofar as it is a culture, for this culture has turned away from the faith and no longer knows the one before whom kneeling is the right, indeed the intrinsically necessary gesture. The man who learns to believe learns also to kneel, and a faith or a liturgy no longer familiar with kneeling would be sick at the core. Where it has been lost, kneeling must be rediscovered, so that, in our prayer, we remain in fellowship with the apostles and martyrs, in fellowship with the whole cosmos, indeed in union with Jesus Christ Himself."
Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger - 'The Spirit of the Liturgy'

According to Fr Tim Finigan the Bishops' Conference of England and Wales has made a request to the Congregation for Divine Worship to have a norm inserted into the England and Wales edition of the General Instruction of the Roman Missal (GIRM) regarding the reception of Holy Communion by the faithful. The text reads as follows:

"In the Dioceses of England and Wales Holy Communion is to be received standing, though individual members of the faithful may choose to receive Communion while kneeling. However, when they communicate standing, it is recommended that the faithful bow in reverence before receiving the sacrament."

Apparently the Congregation has given its recognitio to this.


While the points Fr Finigan makes are valid - that this norm does state that people may receiving Holy Communion kneeling - it makes it the exception, the oddity. This is how it will be portrayed. I am fed up to the back teeth with perfectly good and devout Catholic practices being made out to be odd and eccentric by the liberal 'elite' of the Church in this country. This will be used to bully people into believing that standing is what you are 'supposed to do' and if people want to kneel they will have to mark themselves out. Not that kneeling will be facilitated by liberal types who will use this to further vandalise our heritage by ripping out whatever altar rails are still left.

Why the Congregation agreed to it, we will never know. There is a history of making England & Wales out to be a "special case" to the Vatican Congregations that seems to bypass what applies for the rest of the Church. I am sometimes advised to be more democratic and consultative in running the parish but I can't recall being asked about this by the Bishops' Conference - it is presented to us as a fait accompli, done in secret and too late to do anything about it now.

This flies in the face of what the Holy Father himself has written and his Master of Ceremonies, Mgr. Marini, has publicly stated that the Holy Father now ALWAYS administers Holy Communion to kneeling communicants in order to foster and point out the value of that practice. When asked about this in an interview Mgr. Marini replied:

One could perhaps even see a preference for using this manner of distribution [kneeling and on the tongue] which, without taking away anything from the other [manner], better highlights the truth of the Real Presence in the Eucharist, helps the devotion of the faithful, and introduces [them] more easily to the sense of the mystery. These are aspects which, in our time, pastorally speaking, it is urgent to stress and recover.
As this is a norm for England and Wales, it is obviously not so for the rest of the Church, so we must be different. But, hey, who really wants to better highlight the truth of the Real Presence? Not us here in England and Wales, it seems. Are we in line with the mind of the Church as expressed by the successor of St Peter? It seems not.


A desire to protestantise our worship and remove it from any sense of sacrality? To make it banal and equate a sign of reverence for the Blessed Sacrament with a queue at the supermarket? (which, as Fr Finigan points out, has not been allowed by the Congregation for Divine Worship). But how many clergy will instruct people to bow before receiving standing? Even when you do, it is not very practical. Certainly, in my twenty years of ordination, I've had very little success when encouraging people to do this.

One astute comment on Fr Tim's blog points out that this will hardly facilitate the older and newer forms of the Roman Rite influencing one another. Kneeling for Holy Communion has been common to both of them but now this point of contact will be lost.

One further point comes to mind. This is being done at a time when we are welcoming significant numbers of former Anglicans into the Church in this country - nearly all of whom will bring with them the tradition of kneeling of receive Holy Communion. What does this say to them?

The Devil is depicted in art as having no knees.

Because he refuses to bend the knee at the name of Jesus.

Laurence England points out the absurdity of this strange mindset when taken to its (il)logical conclusions...

I don't know how much good it will do but I intend to write to the Congregation for the Doctrine for Divine Worship and tell them there was no consultation and it is not something I desire. I urge anyone who kneels for Holy Communion to do likewise, or anyone who feels they might like to kneel, or anyone who doesn't kneel themselves but doesn't like secretive bullying tactics that this little norm will no doubt be used for.

The congregation's address is:

The Congregation for Divine Worship
Palazzo delle Congregazioni
Piazza Pio XII, 10


Richard Collins said...

Excellent post and sentiments, Father.

Patrick Fahey said...

Fully support your views Father, what is happening to the Church in this country?

GOR said...

Yes Father, very frustrating. It’s hard not to think of this as an attempt to sabotage Summorum Pontificum - making the NO even more removed from the TLM. Not quite what the Holy Father had in mind about one informing the other!

The bow before receiving when done standing has been recommended here in the US for some time. Many, but not all, do it. But it doesn’t replace the humility of ‘going on one’s knees’… I think part of what the Holy Father meant in regard to the ‘culture’ of today is that we have lost a sense of humility – even when it comes to God.

Shades of Lucifer indeed!

When Will it End? said...

Unfortunately, in my diocese of H and N it is almost impossible to kneel anywhere for holy Communion and everyone (well, almost everyone) automatically shuffles forward to stick out their hands. I make no apology for saying that whenever I am obliged to attend the new Mass I never go to Communion because I am not in the correct frame of mind (except in a very small number of orthodox parishes). Even if I were to shuffle forward I would go to the priest and NEVER to a lay person. The idea of bowing before receiving would look as if the communicant is bowing to the minister (of whatever hue) and there is no way I would do this. What is the Church in this country coming to when our spiritual leaders, who are responsible for our education in the faith, are determined that we shall not kneel before our Lord and God. Even Jesus Himself, fell on Hs face in the garden of Gethsemane when imploring God to let the chalice pass Him by. Perhaps our bishops need a refresher course in the Scriptures?

Fr Dickson said...

That our Bishops have been allowed by Rome to deviate from the universal norm of kneeling to the local norm of standing does not thereby make that local deviation superior to the universal norm, hence the injunction by the DCDW that we may still receive kneeling. This is in keeping with Redemptionis sacramentum No. 92.
It seems that we are obsessed with the dignity of man in the celebration of the Novus Ordo, not the dignity of God and our necessary humility before Him. I venture to suggest that obedience to the Church’s moral norms in accord with the natural law (in order to give God humble adoration by the way we live) is never going to happen if we cannot even be obedient to a rubric which seeks humble adoration in liturgy. Those who cannot remain sinless (and who can?) or without pride (and who can?) could at least give obedient, humble adoration to God in the liturgy.

Parate Viam Domini said...

Those of us of a traditional 'hue' will all tear our hair out (if we have any left to tear out!) BUT WHY? There's nothing new here. It's simply the E&W Hierarchy getting their own back for SP and the recent instruction UE.

The chinese water torture that is the Bishops' Conference of E&W has done nothing to assist the Faith. Their drip-drip agenda with decisions such as this are only what we should expect.

Over the years they have dripped poison into the very living body of the Church in this country and bit by bit they have slowly killed off/starved most of the vital organs required for daily, healthy spiritual living.

They take away Holydays then some years later discuss putting them back in place. IF/when they do - just exactly WHO will go to Mass?

Friday abstinence rears its head again and from some day in September the Catholic population will mysteriously resume the ancient practice! What a laugh. Will Joe and Mary Pew-Sitter take any notice? Will they heck as like.

With reference to kneeling, the Parish I attend is mainly NO but the priest has tried to get people to kneel - in the main quite successfully but this intervention by the Bully Boy Bishops is not helpful at all - nor was it intended to be and therein lies the problem - the Devil IS in the detail! We really are dealing with a group of bullies here and I'm getting to the stage where I could resort to the playground mentality and really give one of them a 'good hiding'! Kyrie eleison.

In many a way the Bishops' Conference intervention, like most of the previous ones emanating from their small minds and twisted mouths, can also be seen in the BBC's liberalising agenda-setting techniques. They keep showing pro-euthanisia propaganda - it eventually loses its shock factor and begins to become mainstream. Like keep putting Professor Tina Beattie on Radio 4's T4TDay and suddenly that is what all Catholics believe. Sadly - it most probably is. There are millions of little popes out there.

I know that despair is a sin BUT I'm with Private Fraser on this one - you the know the one - where we are all doomed!

Tom said...

A number of us in our parish always genuflect before receiving Holy Communion. That practice will not change simply because this perverse instruction has been enshrined as a local norm - one which is trumped by the universal norm, as Fr Dickson indicates.

The devil, surely, is in the detail. Jesu, convert England!

torchofthefaith said...

The desert father Abba Apollo was attacked by the devil.

He noticed that the devil had no knees - for he cannot adore, cannot worship, cannot kneel...

Thank you for continuing to uphold the truth Father - both in season and out!

In Christ
Alan and Angeline

John Kearney said...

A few years ago when in Rome I found myself kneeling at the Consecratin while the rest of the congregation were standing. This is a sign I am told of an `adult` faith. They do not want devotions and adoration in England and Wales because such things are out of date in the `21st century. We `wlk in procession` do we" What a load of rubbish. I have been walking in procession since I was 7 and I never knew. I am now 73. The poor blind bishops are trying to make `community` fout of everything.

Fr Kenny said...

Totally agree Simon. have a young girl in the parish she is only twenty who always kneels to receive Holy Communion. A great example to the rest of the parish. The young lady in question is considering a vocation hope she is not put off!!!