Friday 15 July 2011

Best way to follow Bishops Conference instruction on Holy Communion is to install altar rails

Fr Michael Brown over at Forest Murmurs has posted about what he is hoping to do (and already doing) in regard to introducing the new translation of the Mass and how to use the opportunity as a time of catechises to carry out the Holy Father's desire for a re-sacralised liturgy. Many priests must be in the same position. One of the things he is wondering how to tackle is the new instruction regarding Holy Communion introduced by the Bishop's Conference of England and Wales:

"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."

I have been giving this matter some thought and it seems to me that the best way to accomplish this choice - for choice it certainly remains - is to install altar rails and organise communion so that people can align themselves along them, either standing or kneeling according to their choice. We might more accurately call them communion rails and they need not be very elaborate, nor have gates, simply an opening in the centre (and perhaps at the sides to allow servers ingress and egress from the sanctuary). This is what already happens in my own parish and while the majority exercise their choice and kneel, many stand to receive (although I cannot get them to make a bow - nor could I in times past when they came up in the 'sacred queue'). Those who want to kneel can do so with ease and without discomfort (health and safety alert) and those who want to stand can also do so. I found that the altar boys very quickly got used to holding the communion plate (required by Redemptionis Sacramentum) at the different levels as I walk along the row of people at the rails.

So get down to your local salvage yard or to the church basement and dust off those rails to facilitate the new instruction from the Bishop's Conference!


Richard Collins said...

Absolutely right Father. For anyone interested here is a website of a company that specialises in secondhand church furniture (much of it Anglican).
I have no financial or other interest in this business.

Pete said...

Archbishop Laud would approve!

I would imagine that communion rails would also speed up the distribution (an excuse often used for the regiments of Extraordinaries employed) and also allow a less hurried reception as one could pause awhile aftern reception rather than having to move to one's side lest there should be a further delay to others.

annmarie said...

I miss that moment or two of quiet - although these days I have to use a mobility scooter, so don't have a choice as to kneeling or not.