Saturday, December 1, 2012

THE CRISIS OF FAITH AND STANDING FOR HOLY COMMUNION



This video is most important and a bombshell I suspect to many priests and unfortunately to many bishops, the laity have a right to kneel to receive Holy Communion if they so choose and the pastoral response of the clergy is to provide them the means by which they can do this comfortable, like providing either an altar railing or a kneeler! Please note the still frame prior to activating the video has the old instruction of 2002, which is now abrogated and no longer are communicants who choose to kneel made to feel uncomfortable or berated pastorally "with proper catehcesis as to why they should observe the norm" of standing because kneeling is now allowed for those who choose it!

Anyone who has been a priest for more than 10 years, are we shocked by this news:

A sociologist at the University of Nebraska has found a “tremendous decline” in the strength of American Catholics’ commitment to their faith.

Philip Schwadel found that only 35% of Catholics describe themselves as “strongly affiliated” with the Church. Among Evangelical Protestants, the number reporting that they were “strongly affiliated” was much higher, at 56%. Even among the members of mainline Protestant groups, which have experienced severe decline in recent years, the level of “strong” affiliation was higher than that for Catholics, at 39%.

I want to make clear that this is my most humble opinion, but I think there is a correlation between the casual Masses we've had in the last 40 years in general and "dogmatization" of a mere "norm" that the laity stand to receive Holy Communion and the indult to do so on the hand. These two things have led to the sad statistics found by Philip Schwadel.

Certainly there is more, such as the sex abuse scandal. However, I believe that if the traditional reverence that Catholics had at Mass and during Holy Communion had been present in the Church all theses 40 years, that not even the outcry against Humanae Vitae and the social forces in the culture in general against authority and toward anarchy would have affected the Faith of Catholics as Catholics brought up in the Pre-Vatican II Church knew that Jesus Christ was central and that the Blessed Virgin Mary was closest to Him and to us simultaneously.

Recently From the Diocese of Trenton's newspaper, The Monitor, a reporter reported the following: The beauty, reverence, splendor and awe of a traditional Latin Mass was reflected in its highest form in the Diocese of Trenton Nov. 27 as Bishop David M. O’Connell, C.M., celebrated a Solemn Pontifical High Mass in St. Hedwig Church, Trenton.

Watch a video of the distribution of Holy Communion at a Mass where there is an altar railing and people kneel to receive and watch a video of the distribution of Holy Communion at a Mass where people stand to receive and in the hand.

I have watched our school children stand to receive Holy Communion at our school Masses and this year, I have watched them kneel to receive. There is a big difference and what is being conveyed to these children when they kneel is that something out of the ordinary is happening when they receive our Lord in Holy Communion and that they should fall to their knees in adoration! Isn't this what Pope Benedict is saying by insisting that people kneel when he distributes Holy Communion?

Our bishop, Bishop Gregory Hartmayer of Savannah is very concerned about what our Confirmation candidates know and don't know about the faith, especially about what they don't know and what they don't know is abysmal!

But I'd be as concerned about their piety which in many cases is abysmal too. Do they have awe and wonder in the presence of Christ in the tabernacle and recognizing Him there fall to their knees in adoration? How many youth have this kind of piety and Catholic spirituality today?


How many of our youth would feel uncomfortable kneeling to receive Holy Communion? Would they even understand its significance? Do they even know the meaning of kneeling?

I am convinced that if the Catholic Mass returned simply to mandating that Holy Communion be distributed to the Laity as they kneel in adoration, we would see a major shift toward humility in our worship and more Catholics in the future "strongly affiliated with the Church." We don't need to look to Evangelical Protestantism to keep our young in the Church, we need to look toward our traditional reverence which includes beauty, reverence, splendor and awe and in part produced by kneeling to receive Holy Communion!



22 comments:

Gene said...

But, our "concerned" Bishop still thought it appropriate to change the "I" in the Vocations Prayer to a "we." He obviously cannot see that such liberties, and the implications thereof, are a part of the very problem we are discussing. Not only that, he gets some mod Priest who is generally hostile to Traditional Catholicism and the theological understandings that go with it to re-write the prayer. I am not encouraged. Bishops, generally, are far more a source of anxiety than of comfort. Being largely political animals, they sway with the breeze and avail themselves of huge amounts of psycho-politico babble in an effort not to offend anyone. There are notable and happy exceptions, some of whom we have discussed on this blog. Go re-read the encounters of Friar Tuck with the Bishop in "Ivanhoe." Tuck nailed it. LOL!

Joe Shlabotnick said...

You see Father, the problem with posts like this one you've published today is that we are living in an age that is virulently opposed to such notions as objective truth and common sense.

Pater Ignotus said...

"I am convinced that if the Catholic Mass returned simply to mandating that Holy Communion be distributed to the Laity as they kneel in adoration, we would see a major shift toward humility in our worship and more Catholics in the future "strongly affiliated with the Church."

What convinces you of this?

Henry Edwards said...

"I am convinced that if the Catholic Mass returned simply to mandating that Holy Communion be distributed to the Laity as they kneel in adoration, we would see a major shift toward humility in our worship and more Catholics in the future "strongly affiliated with the Church."

While this is self-evident to most who have eyes to see--and this includes most of the many priests I know personally, because they see it up close--it occurs to me that kneeling for Holy Communion probably was never mandatory in the past, was done simply because of the humility and reverence people already felt.

Perhaps which is the horse and which the cart changes from one period to another.

rcg said...

In the parish Carol and I attended they do as little kneeling as possible. It is considered a model for the Archdiocese. Akin opened a can of worms with the statement that 'kneeling was seen by some as servile'. Well, 'Duh!' That is exactly the point we are accepting the Lord of the Universe and hopefully in the spirit of Our Holy Mother: Do with me as you will. I kneel with absolute trust and I have that complete submission and commitment to no one else. Dang straight it is servile. Unworthy? It is the pinnacle.

Pater Ignotus said...

The requirement from Liturgiam Authenticam (LA) that resulted in the “singularization” of the first person pronoun used in the Creed (“We believe…” has become “I believe…”) does not apply in this case, unless LA does apply to such local prayers and there is a Latin original that uses the singular. This is not the case with the diocessan vocations prayer.

There are many prayers in the Roman Missal that make use of the first person plural pronoun. For the 12th Sunday in Ordinary time:

Collect: “Grant, O Lord, that WE may always revere…”
Prayer Over the Offerings: “…WE may make offering of a heart pleasing to you”
Prayer After Communion: “…WE ask your mercy, O Lord,…”

In the prayers for the Order of Mass, the Purification prayer says:
“What has passed OUR lips as food, O Lord, may WE possess in purity of heart…”

A thought from the Office of Readings from Monday of the 11th Week of Ordinary Time:

“Above all, he who preaches peace and unity did not want us to pray by ourselves in private or for ourselves alone. We do not pray, ‘My Father, who art in heaven,’ nor ‘Give me this day my daily bread.’ It is not for himself alone that each person asks to be forgiven, not to be led into temptation or to be delivered from evil. Rather, we pray in public as a community, and not for one individual but for all.” (From a treatise on the Lord’s Prayer by St. Cyprian)

Our vocations prayer is for the entire diocese. "We" pray it not for one, but for all.

Pater Ignotus said...

Oh, and I don't think St. Cyprian is "hostile" to "Traditional" Catholicism.

Marc said...

Interesting to see you quote St. Cyprian, Father. I'm guessing you and he have very little in common as it concerns theology, particularly ecclesiology and ecumenism.

There is a strong argument that St. Cyprian was quite hostile to Traditional Catholicism, actually. Didn't he argue with the Pope for some years and deny the validity of the baptism of heretics...? Come to think of it, that might make him the "poster-saint" for Traditional Catholicism! Ha!

Pater Ignotus said...

Marc - you guess....wrongly.

Marc said...

So you also don't believe heretic baptisms to be valid? Interesting.

Marc said...

And St. Cyprian would likely denounce you as a heretic simply for holding the office of Director of Ecumenism or whatever it is you do for the diocese...

Also, you might want to look up "sarcasm" in the dictionary.

WSquared said...

"How many of our youth would feel uncomfortable kneeling to receive Holy Communion? Would they even understand its significance? Do they even know the meaning of kneeling?"

I don't know. But I think more would be willing to do so if their priests explained why they might like to try it, and how it can help them nourish their faith.

For one thing, such a sermon or homily might impress upon them why humility is needed-- because of what Jesus working in them enables them to do and to be. Namely, finding out who they truly are in Christ and everything they've been given (alas, since our "WWJD?" culture tends to dumb Jesus down to some nice hippie, I'm not sure a lot of people yet understand the "bigness" of Jesus, the Cross, and thus Catholicism: alas, when we mention "bigness," enough people see that as necessarily including everything under the sun, and not that dogma, doctrine, and discipline lay out clearly what we believe so we can in fact see in the expansive way that God wants us to). Everything that Catholics believe and what the Church teaches and why comes down to that, and to the Incarnation and the Eucharist. That's what makes the faith accessible to all.

I think the subject of kneeling for Communion is good introduction to St. Anselm of Canterbury's famous line that "I believe so that I may understand." I can tell you that I was first inspired to kneel for Communion in my Novus Ordo parish because of the witness of two small children and an older lady, who also veiled. So now I kneel also and I veil (and everyone has been either positive about it or they say nothing-- so I've not gotten any "self-righteous, holier-than-thou traddie doily-head" comments). I've also felt less self-conscious doing so, and I've seen that reverence work in my life. This comes gradually, so I think it's also important to let young Catholics know that the appetite does come with the meal, and that understanding is the wages of faith-- it unfolds, develops, and grows throughout one's life, so one doesn't "get it" all at once. Love, after all, is not just a feeling, but also an act of the will.

Pater Ignotus said...

Marc - I know the meaning of "sarcasm" thanks. No, Cyprian would not denounce me (or anyone else) for being the Director of Ecumenism.

Once again you read an author - Cyprian in this case - out of context and arrive at a false understanding of the Church's teaching on ecumenism. Reading Cyprian apart from the 1754 years of magisterial teaching since he died is the error. He is only one part of the theological tradition of the Church in this matter.

Anonymous said...

If the norm is to receive standing, and if most communicants observe the norm, then use of the altar rail is not convenient and some sort of "prie-dieu" arrangement should be made if those who wish to receive kneeling are to be accommodated comfortably. But this means that the communicant must perform what amount to "physical jerks," as an Irish friend used to say (i.e., "calisthenic" exercises), and it also slows the line. It is much more gracious and well-flowing for communicants ro kneel at the altar rail. This allows for repose and time for prayer, brief meditation, and reverence, with less concentration of effort and attention on the mere logistics of coming and going. Those who prefer to receive standing can stand at the break or gateway between the two parts or "sides" of the altar rail. Another advantage of kneeling at the altar rail, which I miss greatly and would think would be desired by those who prefer the more "communitarian" aspects of postconciliar worship, is its neighborly, shoulder-to-shoulder character.

Ancil Payne

St. Cyprian said...

Such a one is to be turned away from and avoided, whosoever he may be, that is separated from the Church. Such a one is perverted and sins, and is condemned of his own self. Does he think that he has Christ, who acts in opposition to Christ's priests, who separates himself from the company of His clergy and people? He bears arms against the Church, he contends against God's appointment. An enemy of the altar, a rebel against Christ's sacrifice, for the faith faithless, for religion profane, a disobedient servant, an impious son, a hostile brother, despising the bishops, and forsaking God's priests, he dares to set up another altar, to make another prayer with unauthorized words, to profane the truth of the Lord's offering by false sacrifices, and not to know that he who strives against the appointment of God, is punished on account of the daring of his temerity by divine visitation.

Marc said...

"We must withdraw, nay rather must flee, from those who fall away, lest, while any one is associated with those who walk wickedly, and goes on in ways of error and of sin, he himself also, wandering away from the path of the true road, should be found in like guilt."

St. Cyprian sounds just like a Director of Ecumenism, doesn't he?

Of course, the doctrine has developed since his time. So, the Church now teaches we should reach out to the separated brethren instead of fleeing from them...

rcg said...

Why do so many priests and clergy seem to be against kneeling?

John Nolan said...

Pater Ignotus actually understates his case. Most of the Mass is prayed in the first person plural, including most of the Offertory prayers and the Canon (and I'm going by the 1962 missal).

ytc said...

Build a damn rail and let people approach it. Tell them they can stand at it or kneel, say that standing is the norm and kneeling is the over-1000-year practice of the Latin Church. I am convinced that people will start out with a hodgepodge of both practices, but it will quickly go to all or mostly kneeling like white on rice through peer pressure.

Then after a while it will become normal, and it will make perfect sense. I think this would be a wonderful example of forcing through suggesting, and is quite in the mens of il Papa.

Pater Ignotus said...

Any patristic text, taken out of context (the Church's magisterium), is being manipulated.

Why not cite Gregory of Nyssa: " Gregory of Nyssa on the Jews: “God-murderers, prophet-murderers, fighters against God, God-haters, they who transgress the Law, they who fights grace, they who have another faith than the fathers, advocates of the devil, brood of vipers, slanderers , those who have darkened minds, the leaven of the Pharisees, the sunedrion of the devil, Destroyers, thouroughly evil ones, the stoners, the haters of good. ”(Greg. Nyss. Or. in Christi Resurrect. 5).

Gregory's words are not the last word, inasmuch as the Church has rejected this understanding of our elder brothers and sisters in faith. We have grown in our self-understanding as well as our understanding of through whom and in what circumstances God's grace is operative.

Quoting patristic authors out of context is, in 99% of cases, either ignorance or self-serving dishonesty.

Andy Milam said...

Fr. McDonald,

You say, "I have watched our school children stand to receive Holy Communion at our school Masses and this year, I have watched them kneel to receive. There is a big difference and what is being conveyed to these children when they kneel is that something out of the ordinary is happening when they receive our Lord in Holy Communion and that they should fall to their knees in adoration! Isn't this what Pope Benedict is saying by insisting that people kneel when he distributes Holy Communion?"

It is what the Holy Father is saying, but isn't it sad that it has come to this? Isn't it sad that proper adoration is out of the ordinary?

When we talk about the crisis of faith, it all comes down to that. It all comes down to the fact that we have lost the ability to properly adore and worship God the Father, through the Son, from which the Holy Spirit proceeds. When we catechize, THAT is the crux of the new evangelization. THAT is the key to bringing Catholicism back.

When we ask ourselves about the Mass, when we ask ourselves about Vatican Council II, we must ask does the reformed Mass convey proper adoration and proper worship based upon 2000 years of the Church? Does Vatican Council II convey proper theological, philosophical, and Catholic thought based upon 2000 years of the Church?

We can argue about the form of the Mass and we will, we can argue about the Council and we will, we can argue about theology, philosophy and Catholic identity, and we will. What it all comes down to though is proper worship and adoration. If we understand those two things above all others then we understand the Church, not the Church since 1965, but the Church since her inception.

John Nolan said...

Genuflexion (going down on one knee) came quite late into the liturgy. It was associated with the feudal act of homage and therefore had secular connotations. Prostration is actually more traditional. In the Sarum Use the priest doesn't genuflect at all. Most churches I attend have altar rails and kneeling for Communion (and no EMs) and I have noticed fewer people holding their hands out compared with twenty years ago.

On the other hand I saw a couple of people at the Birmingham Oratory (EF Solemn) adopting the Moslem palms-up gesture at the Pater Noster. I have no idea why this became fashionable, and I felt like giving them a good slapping.