Wednesday 22 June 2011

Pope Benedict's intention - BEYOND INDULTS AND PERMISSIONS - that kneeling for Communion remains universal

A stroll after breakfast in the beautiful grounds of the Salesianum.

Mgr Guido Marini, the Papal MC, addressing the Conference on "Celebrating the Feast of Corpus Christi.

Mgr Marini after his talk.

Among other things, the papal Master of Ceremonies spoke of the ancient tradition of focusing on Christ in a physical way in the sacred liturgy, either though the eastwards orientation of the Eucharistic Prayer or where the crucifix or other image of Christ (the great panto-creator images on the apse of ancient churches) stood in for the eastward orientation. He thought that recently we have been in danger of losing this and that this is not a small detail but something of central importance, for in the past everyone (including the priest) prayed towards the same point - showing that the Lord was coming and that together we all looked towards Him.

Mgr Marini also posited that kneeling before the presence of the Lord makes it all the clearer that it really is Jesus and implies our adoration of Him. Not that we just receive Him but that we kneel before Him. To kneel accomplishes the truth of our relationship with Him - we adore. This is true freedom because man submits to slavery to many other earthly things - we bow down before these false gods - but to kneel before Christ expressses the truth and therefore reveals the dignity of man before the Lord of Life. Kneeling is the TYPICAL sign of offering our hearts and lives. The Church that kneels in the body will adore in the heart.


Of the Holy Father's example in the Papal liturgies where Holy Communion is now always administered by Pope Benedict on the tongue to kneeling communicants he said that it was the Holy Father's practice and intention - BEYOND INDULTS AND PERMISSIONS - that this remains a law of universal character. That Holy Communion received on the tongue and kneeling was more than just the Pope's personal desire. The Holy Father's intention is that people and priests follow his example. I could not help thinking of the recent request made by the Bishops' Conference in England and Wales and how this fitted in with the Holy Father's example?

Holy Mass was offered by Cardinal Piacenza, Prefect of the Congregation for Clergy. It was much commented upon that at the canon of the Mass he dropped his voice considerably (even though microphones were used) and so the canon was not actually silent but sotto voce. It had a very dramatic effect on concentrating the mind and heart and bringing about a tangible sense of reverence and prayer.

Bishop Athanasius Schneider greets partcipants at the conference.

Another of yestedays talks was given by Bishop Athanasius Schnieder (author of "Dominus Est" in which he calls for a fullsome return to receiving HolyCommunion kneeling and on the tongue).

The Bishop posited that there were some outward signs that the more ancient form of the Mass and the new Mass shared and although some of these are not always seen in the new Mass they could fruitfully be used more frequently. These are:

Eastward orientation during the Eucharistic Prayer
Kneeling at altar rails for Holy Communion
Communion received on the tongue

Of eastward facing the said that the shared orientation of priest and people is a "great gift" leading us together towards the Lord. He also suggested that the more frequent genuflections found in the Extraordinary Form of the Mass could most helpfully be incoporated into the Ordinary Form.

He spoke of innovations that moved away from an attitude of adoration, silence and wonder as examples of a liturgy that had abandoned the meaning of the psalmist when he said, "Not to us Lord, not to us, but to your Name give the glory" and moved to an attitude of "To our name give the glory!"

He spoke of the example of the Holy Father and implored us TO THINK AND ACT WITH PETER.

When asked what we should do when people, priests and even bishops refuse to do this he said that we should see it as a call to make expiation for them and to console Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament by our acts of prayer, love and adoration. He said that he saw it as a loss of fidelity to the Holy Father by people, priests and even bishops. WHERE PETER IS, THERE IS THE CHURCH. That is why we should follow the Holy Father's example.

How I wish there were more than ten clergy from England here!


Fr Francis Marsden said...

Dear Fr Simon
Very good article. Thank you.
I was at a school Mass in a different parish recently, where the children came up to receive the Precious Blood from the chalice. Most of them received quite reverently, but one boy (about 9-10) wiped his lips with the back of his hand afterwards, as if he had just taken a swig from a pint of beer. Another boy, same age, finished off the entire chalice when there was enough left for about 10 communicants.

In my parish, we don't give the chalice at school Masses, or it is just for the adults. But there seem to be no rules about such matters - at what age can children receive from the chalice. Or another point - at a weekday Mass, how late can someone come in and still be admitted to Holy Communion - if they just walk in at the Agnus Dei?? The parish clergy have been left without rules or guidelines by the higher authorities in the Church.

The only way to return to some reverence is for Rome to revoke the indult for Holy Communion in the hand. With 90% of communicants, no problem, they are very reverent. But you get the infrequently practising who just don't know how to receive, or take the host out of your fingers, or walk off with it. Distributing Holy Communion at such funerals or First Communion Masses becomes a cross between a surveillance operation and a nightmare of impiety.
Basically we are in a mess, and Rome is as much to blame as anyone. The parish clergy have been dealt a rotten hand of cards with which to try to maintain order and reverence for the Blessed Sacrament.

Toby said...

10 of you is better than none of you and if you all convince 10 and then they convince 10....!

To Fr Francis I don't think removing the indult is the answer. With adequate catechesis I think the practice would fall away. I speak as somebody who as I have grown in my formation has stopped receiving in the hand. Start with the catechists themselves and then it will be passed on the first communicants. I fear a removal of the indult would create great hurt amongst those who don't know any better (through a failure in the Church to provide adquate catechesis).

Anonymous said...

The good bishop has some valid ideas. I think the real issue is reverence. Some observations:
1. A genuflection of some duration after per ipsum....would be a good Catholic statement. Silence after Amen is also hellpful for reverence.
2. Most priests cannot celebrate Oram Populo and so some things ad orientem would be good. I would add to the listthe preparation of the chalice, lavabo and cleansing after communion. Care needs to be taken that this does not lead to an elite clericalism. I approve of lowering the tone but not inaudibility in the Canon.
3. As far as Communion standing or kneeling goes, we cannot condemn standing since it is current in the East and ancient in the West. The emphasis should be on an orderly Communion procession with clergy and people being reverent from pew to station or rail and back again.
s3. As an Anglican who has always received in the hand according to Patristic injunction, I find Roman practice terrible. The custom of picking the host up and readministering to oneself is counter-symbolic. Only celebrants receive by self communication and I have seen reception in the left hand alone to facilitate this practice. Our only Patristic evidence says that the left hand supports the right hand which becomes a throne for the King of Glory. It is easy to place the host in the mouth fro the open right palm without picking up the host, thus avoiding self - communication.
The Rev. Michael P. Forbes Minnesota, USA

P. S. I hate administering on the tongue. I have poor eyesight in that range and do not want to do it by touch. I generally miss and touch the tongue.

Fr kenny Hyde said...

Dear Fr Simon it was an excellent piece. I was once celebrating a first communion Mass when an elderly man came forward he had a very sinister grin on his face and tried to grab a handful of hosts out of the ciboriam. At the same Mass a girl took gum out of her mouth and then put her other hand out to receive, I refused.We have adoration here twice a week with Benediction it has made a huge difference to my own life as a priest and to many parishioners, my next step would be to get them all receiving on the tongue. I pray that communion in the hand will one day be banned in this Diocese.

Chris said...

Regarding kneeling to receive Communion people need to remember that there are other Catholics than those of the Latin Rite.

Eastern Rite Catholics (and our Orthodox brethren) always "stand in awe" to receive the Body and Blood of the Savior. It is our ancient tradition and is how we show respect and honor. Standing is how I will receive Communion when I attend the Liturgy at a nearby Latin Rite church this evening.

I dare anyone - including the cardinal - to say that the Eastern Rite practise is less respectful than that of the Latin Church.

Anonymous said...

Tomorrow, the Feast of Corpus Christi, I am going to ask my pastor before Mass if he would mind if I knelt to receive Holy Communion.

Thank you for this article. For someone who is struggling to stay safely within the bosom of Holy Mother Church after two decades of attending schismatic chapels, it spoke very much to my heart.

God bless you!


Fr Simon Henry said...

Veronica, Keep the Faith and persevere. In Domino.

Kneeling Catholic said...

Chris said......Eastern Rite Catholics (and our Orthodox brethren) always "stand in awe" to receive the Body and Blood of the Savior. It is our ancient tradition and is how we show respect and honor. Standing is how I will receive Communion when I attend the Liturgy at a nearby Latin Rite church this evening.

....I dare anyone - including the cardinal - to say that the Eastern Rite practise is less respectful than that of the Latin Church. ....

Chris, many of us are accustomed to hand Communion 'scholars' pointing to the Eastern Rite to defend that practice. Perhaps you realize the irony of such a defense...since zero Orthodox and zero Eastern Rite Catholics do hand Communion.

The tone of your 'dare' implies that being asked to kneel would greatly offend you. I personally have seen Eastern Rite Catholics who spontaneously kneel for Communion, even though it is not a custom for them.

Is it not beautiful for someone, voluntarily, naturally, out of sheer sentiment, to kneel before the King of Kings?

Was it not beautiful for the only grateful leper to kneel before Jesus?

Maybe you should adjust your attitude?

Православный физик said...

Prelates like Cardinal Ranjith are encouraging, it seems the best students of our Holy Father are in central Asia and Shri Lanka.

I don't think anyone is condemning the Eastern tradition, but this is the Western Church we're talking about.

I pray that CITH will be banned, and that more prelates will follow the Holy Father's example.