This is the Holy Communion Procession at St. John's Episcopal Church in Detroit, Michigan. Please note the particulars of what is missing, which I will discuss below, as it concerns the "normative" way to receive Holy Communion at the "Normative" Mass of the Latin Rite, what is also called the Ordinary Form of the Mass:
What you see in the Episcopal Church is their version of the Holy Communion Procession. It is very clearly a Holy Communion Procession. But how many Holy Communion Processions do you see? One? No! There are two Holy Communion Processions. There is the procession of the Communicants to their station at the altar railing. Then there is the Holy Communion Procession of the Priest with the Consecrated Host and the two Chalice Ministers,both of whom are lay people but vested for this awesome ministry.
These two processions, mimic what occurs (or at least should occur) at every Catholic Mass. First the laity dress for Mass at home, hopefully in their "Sunday Best." Then they process to the Church, greeting people as they arrive at the doors of the Church and then enter solemnly to their positions in the nave of the Church, the pews, spending quiet time in prayer in meditation, preparing themselves as though they were praying the Prayers at the Foot of the Altar.
Then there is the Procession with the Priest and the ministers of the Mass to begin the Mass. Here we see that symbolically, the people are called or summoned by Christ to Church and then Christ comes to them in the Priest as the Mass begins.
In the traditional method of receiving Holy Communion in the Catholic Church, which is now totally lacking in the "Normative Form" of the Mass, the same thing happens at the time of Holy Communion which is so obvious in the video above.
The people process to the altar railing, which is an extension of the Altar table. In fact in some places, the altar railing has a cloth draped over it making it look like a tablecloth. In the video above, it is very clear that the communicants are in procession to their table as they kneel at it and await the procession of our Lord to them.
But what is missing in most Catholic Masses today is the procession of the priest and the Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion to the communicants. In the revised form of receiving Holy Communion, what is called the "normative" form, the priest, deacon and any extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion are more like pedestals, stationary like frozen statues, for the people to come, like going to a window at a fast food restaurant to pick up your meal, unlike going to a sit down restaurant and having the waiters process to you with your meal. The first is "grazing" and the second is "true dinning."
What the Episcopal method of distributing Holy Communion above shows very clearly and what every Catholic Mass once showed very clearly through signs and symbols, is that salvation is a two way street, a two way procession! First by God's divine initiative, He processes to us with His Son, which is unmerited and a sign of His unconditional love for us. Salvation always begins with God throughout salvation history. Because of Original Sin and actual sin, sinners often process away from God or separate themselves from God by their actions and omissions.
The very fact that anyone processes to Mass is a sign that God has summoned them there and they have responded to this grace by actually going in procession to Mass! At Mass and if in a state of grace, free of sin, either venial or mortal, they are summoned again to the Communion rail. At the rail, they await the Holy Communion procession to them, where the priest and or any extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion bring them the Sacred Species, the Body and Blood of our Crucified, Risen and Glorified Lord under these sacred signs which also have great symbolic signage in and of themselves.
When the communicant arrives at the altar railing and humbly kneels as a sign of their soul's risen but subjugated status before the King of their Soul, Jesus Christ, who alone has made them "worthy" as unworthy as they are, to have Him come "under their roof" He has nonetheless said the "word" that has healed their soul!
This points to the necessity of this two way street of salvation, God's procession to us and ours to Him as a result of His grace! This is quite vivid in the video above isn't it in the two wonderful processions we see in action, sacramental action!?
Please note that the communicants have time to leisurely pause as they kneel and await Holy Communion coming to them in the most important procession of the Mass!
They also have time to remain briefly given thanks to God for His coming to them in Holy Communion. This is totally lacking in the perpetual motion of the laity's procession to Holy Communion and back to their pews in the normative truncated procession of the Mass today in the Ordinary Form.
Please note the priest who is the only one distributing the Host with two vested Chalice Bearers. These are presumably licensed chalice bearers in the Episcopal Church. Please note they too process with the chalice to each communicant thus extending their time at the table of the Lord which is by its extension the altar railing! There is constant processing by the Ministers of Holy Communion. They are not "stationary pedestals" in the least and certainly not frozen statues making everyone come to them without a reciprocal procession! There is great symbolism in this in terms of salvation, isn't there, totally lacking in the "normative" way of distributing Holy Communion since the 1970's in the Catholic Church!
Pray that kneeling at the Communion Rail will once again become the norm for Holy Communion as it is once again legislated and codified in the General Instruction of the Roman Missal and that art and architecture in building and redesigning Catholic Churches insists on altar railings once again for so awesome Communion Processions as witnessed in the video above but in the Catholic Church of the Latin Rite! The symbolism of the current method of only the laity processing to the "immovable pedestals" where they take Holy Communion boarders on heresy in terms of salvation being our initiative and our procession only! (Hyperbole here folks to make an important point about our unreformed, truncated way of distributing and taking Holy Communion today in the so-called reformed Mass!)
Finally, in the name of God and all that is Holy, why is it that the Episcopal Liturgy above is more in continuity with the Extraordinary Form of the Latin Rite Mass than the actual "Normative" form of the Latin Rite Mass today as celebrated in most Catholic Churches. How is it that the reform of the Latin Rite Mass that Sacrosanctum Concilium envisioned, a minor reform, came to be such a rupture in sign and theology, which an Episcopal Liturgy is a better sign of the very same reform? This is the scandal that must be rectified by the "reform of the reform of the Ordinary Form of the normative Latin Rite Mass!"
Compare the video above with its two solemn processions to the video below which is more than likely normative in most Catholic Churches today. How sad, how far we missed the mark in the revision of the Tridentine Mass! This so sad and so far from what the Mass was intended to be in the Post-Vatican II era!
And in praise of the "grain of wheat" one-way communion procession to pedestal like communion ministers, so typical today in so many Catholic Churches, so sad! As an aside, look where the tabernacle is placed and the centrality of the large green fern like plant placed centrally below the crucifix where the tabernacle must have been at one time, that speaks volumes too. But listen closely to the hymn at this one way communion procession and its words, it sounds idolatrous combined with what is happening here!