Monday, June 11, 2012


One of the few homilies I recall from my childhood is one given by Father Nicholas Quinlan our pastor at St. Joseph Church in Augusta and this was in pre-Vatican II times so I must have been about 10 years old. He said that we should be hospitable to people when they enter our homes. (I don't recall the religious purpose for this assertion though.) The example he used was that if a household did not have any smokers, if someone visited who did smoke the hospitable thing was to provide an ashtray for them and allow them to smoke in your house. This seems so unhealthy now and archaic too! But in fact I can remember how rude one would be if one did not allow a passenger in one's car to smoke--thank God those good old days are gone. My Honda Accord doesn't even have an ashtray!

Well on Sunday I did the most hospitable thing I know to make it possible and comfortable for those who prefer to kneel for Holy Communion, I provided kneelers at all our Host stations.

This is what I wrote in my bulletin letter and reiterated in my Corpus Christi Homily at each and every one of the five masses I had this past weekend:

"Some people prefer kneeling for Holy Communion and Church law does not prevent this. Kneelers will now be available for those who wish to kneel. But the norm in the USA remains standing. The choice to stand (the norm) or to kneel (the exception) is yours."

And here is my casual observation of what happened by Mass breakdown:

The highest number who chose to kneel were at the 4:30 PM Saturday Anticipated Mass and the 9:30 AM Mass. The least number was at our 5:00 PM Sunday Mass. 7:45 AM and 12:10 PM had fewer kneeling percentage wise but a goodly number did kneel.

A goodly number of 20 somethings chose to kneel, but others I think, and this is just conjecture on my part, did not want to come across as "holier than thou" by kneeling. And in fact, if that is what some people think, that kneeling makes one look holier, then what does this tell us about kneeling and modeling reverence during Mass? Just wondering.

A goodly number of people knelt for the first time in their Catholic lives on Sunday as most of my parishioners are former Protestants or true converts. I had one of my RCIA candidates from this year's Easter Vigil who is a former Southern Baptist thank me for the kneeler and that she found it more reverent and "special" to kneel for Holy Communion.

But, folks, admit it, the very fact that I placed kneelers out for those who want to use them to receive Holy Communion means that I am really an ultra liberal, no?

Time will tell though as others watch the others kneeling for Holy Communion if more won't take advantage of this pro-choice option. I must add also that there was no difficulty offering the Consecrated Host to people who stood and received either on the hand or tongue. In fact, the kneeler forced these people to actually come closer to the minister distributing Holy Communion.


Bill Meyer said...

But, folks, admit it, the very fact that I placed kneelers out for those who want to use them to receive Holy Communion means that I am really an ultra liberal, no?


What it means to me is that you are mindful that the canons give us the right to kneel, if we choose, and that the indult for standing does not--cannot--negate that.

Lacking either a communion rail or a prie-dieu, I do not make the attempt to kneel; I have never recovered the main strength in my legs, after my hip replacements.

I applaud your reforms, Father, and wish I could find a priest in any of our nearby parishes whose own views were similar.

Templar said...

Father you are a Liberal in the truest form of the world, not the pejorative sense it has come to mean, since most "liberals" are really as close minded as they come.

Seeker said...

You are a good Pastor. Thank you Father. This is a good thing!

Joseph Johnson said...

It would be interesting to know if a high percentage of those who chose to kneel are also part of your regular EF crowd or if many who knelt are not EF attenders. The age demographic is also interesting.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

Yes, that is possible but certainly not all.

John Nolan said...

An interesting point, this. The Anglican tradition is to kneel to receive, and most Anglican churches have rails (when I say Anglican churches you need to remember I am referring to England's historic churches, built with Catholic money for Catholic worship, and which in God's good time will be restored to the True Faith).

The Eastern tradition is to stand and receive by intinction from a spoon. Whether one stands or kneels is less important than the manner of reception, and the widespread and now probably ineradicable custom of receiving the Host in the left hand, picking It up with unconsecrated and unpurified fingers and transferring It to the mouth is a scandal. It began as an abuse and was later legitimized (a cop-out, but what else did you expect from the 1970s Church?)

There is hope. Over the years I have noticed that in churches where kneeling is the norm (I'm thinking of the London and Birmingham Oratories) fewer and fewer people stick their hands out. Birmingham Oratory's Solemn Mass on Sundays is now in the EF and visitors are reminded that reception on the tongue is a requirement in the 1962 missal. At Masses in St Peter's, Rome, I have noticed priests ignoring outstretched hands. A communion plate stuck under the chin is all that is needed.

Henry Edwards said...

Let me reassure you, Fr. McDonald, that from the viewpoint of a real traditionalist you are still a flaming lib. Though from the viewpoint of the far left you evidently are a nasty trad. So that must mean that you are right there with our Holy Father in seeking reconciliation at the heart of the Church.

Seriously, I know quite a few seminarians and young priests ordained since 2000, but not a single one whose views are not about the same or to the right of yours. So when they are pastors, those of us still around will not have to drive around endlessly looking for a truly pastoral priest.

Steven P. Millies said...

I think, Father, you evoke the futility of these labels. Once we are sufficiently Catholic (and, catholic), there are no traditionalists or liberals. "Here comes everybody."

rcg said...

FrAJM, what you may be observing is the number of people who read your Bulletin! LOL! Seriously, I expect some may have been taken aback a little, but actually, I think they were surprised and not entirely sure if it was for them. The remainder may not have wanted to stand out (pun intended) but will eventually come around. You are wise to make it non-competative, so that people don't feel forced into it so they can see it as it should be, the volitional show of respect, humility, and love that it is.

John Nolan said...

There was no such thing as a traditionalist before Vatican II. Make of that whatyou will.

Father Shelton said...

"...That kneeling makes one look holier..." Good point. Were one to stand while others knelt, it would be perceived as disrespect rather than as too much respect.

Henry said...

Or, John, one might alternatively suggest that everyone was a traditionalist before Vatican II, even if they simply called themselves Catholics.

Anonymous 2 said...

I was delighted to be given the option of kneeling and at the same time of receiving in the hand (I hope I understood your instructions correctly about that), although I think I may have been the only one on my side of the Church to kneel. I understand the theological arguments, but to this particular Catholic who entered the Church in the late 1970s and who has only known receiving in the hand, that particular mode accords much better with my sensibilities. Of course, this may well change over time.

But thank you again, Father, for giving us the options. When I got home after Mass, I commented to my wife about how pleased I was that you were so liberal (well, I didn’t put it in quite those terms =)).

I do have one small suggestion. It would add to the reverence and sacredness of Communion if both those receiving and the Communion Ministers could remember to slow things down a bit when the Host is distributed. We are not at the other McDonalds =), although the pace of distribution at Communion often makes it feel that way in a Catholic church.

Thanks again.

Father Shelton said...

Anonymous 2 mentions the speed issue. The reduction of the formula to simply "Corpus Christi. Amen." in the late '60's was supposed to make distribution go faster without appearing rushed. However, the proportion of communicants increased so quickly in those years as to actually lengthen the communion rite. And today, those not communicating now wish to receive a blessing, customarily taking as much time as the older formula of Communion.
I have noticed that the use of a communion rail, even with the priest having to keep going back to the start of it, does seem to speed things up a bit logistically. I suppose communicants who wish to stand could still do so along the rail.
Anyway, slowing down just 30% in a larger parish would increase the communion rite by that much, and also increase the fatigue of a priest who says or sings Mass several times.
As for lay communion ministers, I avoid calling upon them, which only adds to the time issue.
I have no answers, but Father McDonald has been a priest far longer than have I and so will certainly know just what to do!

Gene W. (formerly Pin) said...

So, Millies, what is "sufficiently Catholic?" I would be interested to hear that since you do not believe in the bodily resurrection of Jesus.

James I. McAuley said...

Wow, an old fashioned liberal -- you would make Gerald Ellard, SJ or Pius Parsch proud!

rcg said...

Minor procedural question: Since this is NO, do you have the communicants say, "Amen", before placing the host on their lips?

Bonus: What doe you make of the horizontal nature of the Confiteor in the NO that includes "you my brothers and sisters"? Which is more liberal? And if you pick latter, are you uncomfortable that 'brothers' is before 'sister'?

ytc said...

Altar rails should be mandatory for all future churches and restorations from now on.

John Nolan said...

Regarding the Confiteor, I would prefer it if the priest's and people's were separate, even if a shorter form is used (the Dominican Confiteor is much shorter than the traditional Roman one). I like the idea of the server or people praying the Misereatur for the priest's sake. The NO penitential rite is weak, and I suspect it will be revised in due course.

'Brothers and sisters' is idiomatic English, like 'ladies and gentlemen'. I cannot imagine anyone save a rabid feminist objecting to it. You could always use 'brethren' which unlike the modern 'brothers' is gender-inclusive.

Whatever you do to the language you won't satisfy the PC brigade. They object to masculine forms, but where feminine ones exist (authoress, poetess, manageress, even actress) they eschew them in favour of the masculine. In German every profession has its feminine form, ending -in. You even have 'Soldatin' (female soldier).

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

I agree that the current Penitential Act with its multiple options is very weak and visually uninspiring. It is sterile.
I've posted before that the Penitential Act should be a prelude before the Mass, like, let me see, like the Prayers at the Foot of the Altar and that we could, let me see, use the "Requiem version" of the 1962 missal and eliminate Psalm 42 and maybe revised the Confiteor to the current one or simply keep the other one with Sts. Peter and Paul in it and add "in when I have failed to do." Then after this, the Official Introit" would be chanted as the priest, now cleansed to to approach the altar and kiss it, may also incense it before going to his chair to preside for the singing of the Kyrie, Gloria and Collect and with the greeting "The Lord be with you" immediately prior to the Collect. It seems so traditional to do it this way, no?

Marc said...

Father, no offense here, but if you're a Traditionalist, these people are in for a rude awakening if they ever encounter an SSPX priest!


Anonymous said...

Rude Awakenings can be a good thing. :-D

Anonymous said...

Oh how I wish there just ONE priest like you in Los Angeles. I read your blog frequently. Thanks for setting a good example.