Monday, January 5, 2015

ON BLESSING ALTAR RAILINGS; HOLY COMMUNION PROCESSIONS AND THE COMMUNAL ACTION OF RECEIVING HOLY COMMUNION

On Sunday's Extraordinary Form High Mass for the Feast of the Holy Name of JESUS, we blessed our newly restored altar railing for Saint Joseph Church in Macon, Georgia.


The Mass, as usual, was exquisite. I have come to appreciate this Mass more and more for it touches the heart in ways that even a child perceives. We are not bombarded with words, idiosyncrasies, or contrived horizontal, banal signs and symbols. That doesn't mean that the horizontal is not at work in this Mass. Oh yes it is!

The most powerful sign of the horizontal at the EF Mass is the traditional way in which Holy Communion is distributed when the communicant kneels at the communion rail. As a child and teenager I received Holy Communion at an altar railing from the time I was 7 until I was about 18 as my home parish in Augusta was late in changing this time honored and most reverent means of receiving Holy Communion kneeling to the now more banal standing method.

Yesterday was the first time ever as a priest that I distributed Holy Communion in the traditional method at the full length of an altar railing! I felt like it was Holy Thursday when I process with the Most Blessed Sacrament through the Church to the Altar of Repose and all are kneeling in adoration as our Eucharistic Lord passes by them!

There is a real, reverent and authentic sense of "community" and of the "communal" nature of receiving Holy Communion at the extension of the "table" of the Lord which is the communion railing where the "meal" aspect of Holy Communion is truly visible and experienced.

And the true "Holy Communion Procession" is experienced in the traditional way of receiving Holy Communion at the Communion Rail. Christ processes up and down the full length of the communion railing, as communicants await for His passage before them and unto them!


14 comments:

JBS said...

That's your best photograph ever.

Vox Cantoris said...

How wonderful that this has happened!

Gene said...

I think this is wonderful…what will change during the OF celebration?

Fr. Jay Finelli said...

Truly beautiful church! God bless you Father!

quicumquevult said...

Lovely photos, Father. May the Good Lord bless your efforts.

Anonymous said...

At the NAME of Jesus every knee shall bend! Praise God!

Veronika N said...

May God bless your efforts, Father! I pray your example will inspire other pastors to do the same.

Juden said...

You did say there are gonna be gates, right?

Anonymous said...

Kneeling for Communion at a railing and liturgical mischief don't go togehter. I think you've helped to ward off the dancing clowns well into the future. That's why barn style churches are a welcoming playground for the creative juices of the liturgists. I pray more of this can be done before the Francis effect seeps back into the USCCB.

Mike

Bee said...

This is wonderful. How beautiful it looks as the people receive Communion.

I remember the first time since I was a kid I attended a Mass where you could either stand in line or kneel at the communion rail to receive, and when I saw that, my heart LEAP that I could receive kneeling. It was a total joy. I attend St. John Cansius in Chicago, and almost everyone there kneels for Communion (a few people, it looks like mostly those with knee problems, receive standing). Only priests or deacons give Communion there.

Father, I hope you will be able to also get the long rail cloths too, because in my experience they add to the sense of reverence for the Eucharist.

So glad you did this (had the altar rail restored). It sounds like it add to the reverence for the priest as well.

Robert Kumpel said...

This brings back a lot of memories, all of them fond. Communion goes so much more smoothly this way. This also begs a question: Even after the rail was no longer used, a number of churches still had altar boys holding a paten under each communicant. I don't see that anywhere any more. Is a paten no longer in the rubrics for the Novus Ordo? Was it ever?

Anonymous said...

Father, you summed it up beautifully. Exactly how I have come to love the EF Latin Mass and receiving communion kneeling and on the tongue (although I have never received in the hand). Like your parish I attended Mass on Sundays at one of our cathedral churches where it was a sung Latin Novus Ordo Mass - beautiful - and we received communion kneeling at the altar rails until the early 1980s. At that stage there was an attempt to get rid of the beautiful marble altar rails and reardros. Thankfully a group of parishioners fought long and hard for their retention through the NZ Historic Places Trust and there was nothing the parish could do!

I am sure you, Father, and all those involved will receive abundant blessings for this restoration which does honour to Our Lord.

Jan

Anonymous said...

Too young to remember Latin Masses---I have never understood why we kneel for the consecration in the OF ("Ordinary Form") and stand to receive communion---does not seem consistent.

Ironically, the Episcopal Church---much more liberal than Rome---still retains altar rails in their sanctuaries, though to "speed things up"---their Eucharists usually are longer than ours in part because of singing (if they have an 8-stanza hymn, then all 8 are sung)---they do allow option of receiving communion in standing position.

Templar said...

Juden: Yes there will be gates, they are on order and should be finished within the month.

Robert: I can find no reference to Patens in the GIRM for the NO, at least not Communion Patens you are referencing. St Joseph has always used them (at least as far back as I can attest). But you are right, they are rarely seen these days. Getting rid of the Patens, like getting rid of Chalice Veils, like having EMHCs distribute, like standing, like receiving in the hand, like encouraging everyone to receive every week, like getting rid of rails, are all aimed at the same goal (i.e. lessening Catholics sense of Awe for the Sacrament) because that has always been the goal of the enemy and starting in 1969 The Church's own Ministers were duped (some not so much) into helping him achieve his goal.