Saturday, November 6, 2010

THE POWER OF KNEELING FOR HOLY COMMUNION

Spanish Crown Prince Felipe, receives Holy Communion kneeling!

I've been watching the papal Mass in Spain. People are receiving Holy Communion. As is Pope Benedict's desire, communicants kneel to receive our Lord, the Bread of Life at the pope's station.

The first to receive Holy Communion was the prince and princess of Spain, the royal family. They knelt and what a powerful sight to see them do so. Standing conveys something else altogether. Kneeling, especially for royalty, keep them and all of us in our place before God!

23 comments:

Anonymous said...

All those Churches that removed their altar railings! It will cost a lot of money to replace them!

SqueekerLamb said...

I was watching the All Saints Day Mass at the National Basilica and noticed several people in line for Holy Communion dropped to their knees when their turn came; their were no kneelers-only the hard floor.

OpusVeritas said...

Regarding your comment - "As is Pope Benedict's desire, communicants kneel to receive our Lord, the Bread of Life at the pope's station."
Is this the Holy Father's desire for the Universal Church or just when Eucharist is received from the Pope? Also - how & when was this desire communicated? Our family has been to many Masses/Churches where this 'practice' has actually been discouraged & though we realize the practicality of this request, we have felt it as dishonoring to our Lord to merely stand & receive. Any clarification of this practice for the Laity would be appreciated.

Frajm said...

I have found some of the practices of the Holy Father interesting in the sense that he has not legislated them for the universal Church. For example, the altar arrangement facing the people with the six candle sticks and crucifix central is the traditional look of the altar when facing "east." But the General Instruction of the Roman Missal of 2002 allows for options which the 1962 missal does not.
In terms of kneeling for Holy Communion, this practice is certainly within our tradition but bishops' conferences have the authority to "legislate" the posture of the Mass within parameters allowed by the General Instruction. In the USA the "norm" is to stand. This was approved by the Vatican. Most countries kneel during the Eucharistic prayer, but stand after the Mystery of Faith through the Great Amen. Our country's legislation is to kneel through the Great Amen.
Americans in general and American Catholics in particular are law and order oriented and follow the letter of the law when it is legislated. This is not necessarily true of Europeans and Latins. There is flexiblity. I'm half Italian and see no purpose in forcing everyone to stand if there are some who would like to kneel. Standing or kneeling should be options. But that's my opinion, not the opinion of the USCCB. I would have no difficulty having a kneeler in front of those distributing Holy Communion to allow those who wish to kneel to do so and those to stand could do so also, it is not that far of a reach over the kneeler to give someone standing Holy Communion. But if I did this in my parish, I would be accused of encourging kneeling rather than simply being hospitable toward them. I'm not a "rebel," although I do live in the south.
As far as reverence is concerned, it is my opinion that it "looks" more reverent and more humble to kneel for Holy Communion, but looks can be deceptive. I know many people who stand for Holy Communion whose interior reverence is very profound. But looks have a great deal of power in communicating what the inward disposition should be. But with that said, standing for Holy Communion can be viewed as a "resurrection" posture, that we are raised up with Christ through His sacrifice on the Cross and His resurrection. I like that symbolism, but I still prefer kneeling and would like to offer that choice. Fr. McDonald

pinanv525 said...

Fr., Do you think any defining legislation regarding this and other issues will be forthcoming from the Vatican in the future?

Frajm said...

I think so, in the future, but a long way down the road. Of course any bishop in any diocese could require certain things, like the option of having a kneeler available for those who wish to kneel.

Anonymous said...

As it is, I get agitated when I see people go overboard at Mass, i.e. genuflecting before receiving communion, and women that not only wear chapel veils but those really long chapel veils. They seem to be telling others "I am better, holier, and more reverent than you."
Again, no universality in the Catholic Church. If I was told I had to wear a chapel veil, I would. If I was told to genuflect or kneel when receiving communion, I would. If I was told to kiss the body of Christ before placing Him on my tongue, I would. If I was told to cross by hands over my chest after receiving communion I would. Again, how about some communication on the actions for the people within the Church.

Frajm said...

I agree that there should be some common expectation and that we shouldn't stray too far from the norm or draw too much attention to ourselves. But with that said, there is flexibility, especially in head wear for women (men are not to cover their heads inside, especially Church). The prescribed reverence before receiving Holy Communion standing is a bow, not a genuflection, but I can't force people not to do this, I'm not a policeman. People do have a right, though, to kneel for Holy Communion if they desire, this is a part of our tradition. You may receive Holy Communion in the hand or on the tongue. You don't have to share the sign of peace if you don't want to. You may make the sign of the cross before or after or both when receiving Holy Communion, but it is not officially prescribed. There is room for some personal piety in Church and at Mass.

Anonymous said...

Frajm, Do you think going over what is required of the people in the pews during Mass would do any good? I know not leaving before the Mass is actually over is addressed every now and then.
What do you think?

Frajm said...

I think it is wise to speak about expectations concerning Mass, like coming late, leaving early, etc. But the problem is that on any given Sunday, people aren't there and the ones who need to hear it miss it!

Anonymous said...

Amen to your last comment Frajm. I know I have been at Masses where the Pastor got up at the end of Mass and really gave it to those who leave early, unfortunately they were already gone.

Anonymous said...

When I was young, during the 50's and 60's, people lined up, knelt down at the communion railing, and received communion, without touching the body of Christexcept with their tongue. If that is what it will take for everyone to receive communion in the same way, I would say, yes, finally, and pay for the railing in my church to be replaced. Also, tell all the women to wear something on their heads'. That would take care of many of the inconsistencies from church to church during communion.

SqueekerLamb said...

Anonymous,
Why do you get agitated when you see people go overboard at Mass? I ask honestly, not sarcastically.
Are you able to read their minds and hearts?
How do you know whether they are showing off their piety or if they summoned up great interior courage to stand out amongst the crowd so as to display their reverence in a way they feel called to do?
Should folks hold back so as to avoid offending others like yourself?
What are your thought, anonymous? Again, I ask honestly, not sarcasitcally.

I was inches away from dropping to my knees at Communion today, but was held back by not wanting to look odd in front of everyone. One of these days I'll get the courage to kneel before Jesus.

Since we do not have uniform directives for the laity, the laity now have to go through this mental torture that never existed pre-Vatican II.

SqueekerLamb said...

Anonymous,
another thought...

Are you willing to go up to a few of those women who wear chapel veils (mantillas) and ask them why they do, do they feel awkward wearing one when only few women do, have they thought about the fact that others may think they consider themselves as holier than thou?

Again, I ask honestly, not sarcastically.

Anonymous said...

SqueekerLamb, Frankly, I believe people have a right to do what they think is RIGHT, although I am not a liberal. I do not like to stand out in a crowd, especially in Church. I think the people that do things in Church that is different from the norm, want to stand out and be recognized. In Church, it should be all about God, Jesus, His death, Resurrection, and receiving the Body of Christ in Communion, like EVERYBODY else.
There should be uniformity in Church, so that it is the Mass that is important. It should not be about the people receiving our Lord in communion. Anybody that does something differently from the norm is directing attention to themselves. It's a distraction. I guess it would not be a distraction if my face was buried in my hands and I was thanking The Dear LORD for all that I have. However, I digress.
I would never go up to someone and ask them why they wear a chapel veil. Frankly, I hope I never have to wear a hat or a chapel veil ever again. A hat wrecks my hair and I do not like chapel veils.

Anonymous said...

SqueekerLamb, I wrote another comment that has not been published yet, but I had other thoughts.
The Mass is not about the participants. It is about the Mass. Those of us in the pews are there to listen to the word of God and receive the body (and sometimes the blood) of Christ in Holy Communion. Those that stand out in church, either by the way they dress, (or by only a couple of women wearing chapel veils) draw attention to themselves. It would be like someone dressing up as a clown.
I would like to see the Church come up with very specific legisture, if you will, as to how people should come to Mass. I have heard it said that people should come to Mass as if they were attending a wedding. Based on weddings I have been to, it is anywhere from shorts to formal gowns.
If the Church wants the women to wear skirts or dresses and chapel veils, great, I will do that. Men will probably have to wear jackets. But right now, women do not have to wear anything on their heads. Any woman that does so stands out, especially those with looooooong chapel veils.
You can call me names or whatever, but I am very confused as to what the Catholic Church wants of its flock in terms of attending Mass. I try not to wear jeans on the weekend, but during the week it seems to be not such a problem.
I think people can be holier than thou, if that is what turns them on, but for Mass, where there are so many people present that do not know each other, it would be nice to see universality in the Church.
Going to Mass in the Catholic Church in America should be like going to Mass in Munich. It should all be the same.

Anonymous said...

SqueekerLamb, Again I have written other comments that have not as yet been posted, but there were a couple of questions you had that I thought I should answer.
One question was, why do I get agitated. As far as the Mass is concerned, I want to follow the legislature of the Church, and those that do not follow the directives for those of us in the pews are noticeable. They may be more reverant in their own eyes, but they are a distraction to me.
I am an Extraordinary Eucharistic minister. The congregation has been told to cross their hands and make a pillow for the Body of Christ. Many people put their hands out and "pop" the body of Christ into their mouths like it was oxycontin that they were taking, rather than grasping the wafer between two fingers and reverently placing the wafer into their mouth.
I just want to do what the Church tells me to do. I feel like I am being "upstaged" by those that go overboard. Now I know you are thinking I want to be on stage. On the contrary, I just want to do the right thing without being noticed.

pinanv525 said...

Anon, I think you are worrying about this too much. I do not disagree about it being inappropriate to try to call attention to oneself, but that is often a difficult call to make. Given today's standards of dress, I may be considered calling attention to myself because I wear a suit to Mass! I like to get there early and say the Rosary sometime...I don't see anyone else doing it. Is that inappropriate? I like to see women wearing mantilla at Mass. I see much mor
e of this at Latin Mass, which I find interesting. Could it be they feel a greater sense of reverence at the EF? I believe so. I believe, as you pretty much imply, that as long as your behavior is not outside the bounds permitted by the Church, any outward sign of reverence and devotion enhances the atmosphere of reverence at Mass. Our behavior and decorum should indicate that Mass is something Holy before which we feel reverence and awe and, therefore, adopt postures and deportment that diminish us and exalt Christ. To me, veils, mantilla, kneeling, etc. enhance an atmosphere of reverence and humility...if done with a right heart.

Teresa M. said...

Maybe if enough people begin kneeling to receive Communion or wearing mantillas or hats, those things will become the norm again. If I'm not mistaken, the behavior of the majority of parishioners is the reason why these things were changed in the first place.

Women stopped wearing mantillas and people began receiving Communion in the hand and those things became so widespread, they became acceptable in all of our churches.

Personally, I like to see women wearing mantillas. I have one, but I haven't worn it yet because I don't want to people to think I'm trying to look "holier than thou" as that is not at all my motivation for wanting to wear it.

As for kneeling to receive Communion if I could gracefully get up off the floor after kneeling I would do so, but I am beyond the age where that is possible without having something to hold onto.

At my parish many people either genuflect or kneel on the floor to receive Communion. It probably does startle visitors, but most of are accustomed to seeing it and we keep a close eye on the person in line in front of us in case they choose to do so.

SqueekerLamb said...

Getting rid of the free-for-all would certainly be helpful!
Anonymous, you come across as so judgemental...Do like everyone else, or else.
If the tide back toward reverence is going to move, someone has to start it...and risk standing out.
Within the Mass should be one safe place where one can be dripping with Catholicism.
People say I stand out because of my hair. People in the choir loft can spot me because of my hair.
I wear my hair the same way 7 days a week...so perhaps with a mantilla I'd stand out less...I long since would prefer a less showy one than the flowery ones..so as to stand out less...'cause I'm a chicken.
Anon, you make me braver..I almost bought a mantilla on Sunday and almost knelt for Communion...
It would be more comfortable to do neither and just blend in with the crowd..but then I'd be saying'no' to what I feel I need to do.

I receive Communion on the tongue...does that bother you as an EMC? Some EMC's don't like it when the communicants 'lick their fingers'.

Anon, Mantillas (chapel veils) are Uniquely Catholic and it is the Catholic Church that Jesus started. How about a little more Catholic-isity inside the Catholic churches?

I agree that I should not be about ME and wanting to stand out. That I join the whole Body at Mass. Yet, we all are still individuals also and this is also each individuals personal time at the Most Holy Sacrifice. Both are true.

When I see someone do a reverent act that I didn't know about before, I often assimilate it into my repertiore...I allow others to show me how to do better.

How about a more charitble attitude on your part, instead of assuming others want to stand out.
Who are you to look sown on any pious act done by others?
Is Jesus pleased that you seem to know what's in the hearts and minds of others?
You are free to blend in, and be reverent in your unnoticeable way. No one will think ill of you.
Those that have the guts to allow themselves to stand out so as to be reverent in their very Cathoic way should be admired, not condemned.

A little hard marble under your knees might do you a bit of good...and me too.

C. Jung said...

"Piety" isn't always pious. Sometimes it is the result of psychosis. The "Dangerously Devout" are among us . . .

Mackja said...

Before I attended my first EF Mass I never gave any thought about how I received communion. The EF hit me hard right between the eyes, about the reverence due to our Lord, from then on I no longer receive our Lord in the hand, and I have a strong desire to kneel down on the hard marble floor, but have been hesitant to do so. For me it is expressing my relationship with our Lord, to openly acknowledge my unworthiness, and recognizing outwardly who my Lord is. Standing says to me that I am on equal footing, with our Lord, and receiving in the hand seem to say give it to me I deserve it. I strongly feel that kneeling is the correct posture and sends the right message to our children and the faithful as a whole. I do understand your position and how people in the parish would start grumbling, why I don't know, that is something I just can't wrap my brain around, why in the world would anyone get in a thither about kneeling to receive our Lord. (Physical limitations aside) So if in the near future you do decide to offer it as an option, I would be most grateful.

pinanv525 said...

My grandmother was a devout TULIP Presbyterian. Some of my early memories are of her having me kneel on the floor by her bed with her to say our prayers. Through grammar school, when I was at my grandparents' house, we knelt to pray at night. It was matter of fact to her (Grandpa would grumble but comply). She was in the hospital once for some surgery and the next night after her operation, she crawled out of the bed, IV's in place, to kneel and pray. She lived to be 97, and one of my last memories of her, a week before her death, is of her struggling to kneel on the hard tile floor of the hospital to say her prayers at night. The last line of her prayer was, invariably, "work in us the purpose of your good and perfect will through Jesus Christ our Lord, Amen." Indeed, may it be so. So, I haven't much patience with those who complain about kneeling. I mean, do you want to be shown up by a 97 year old Calvinist? For shame...