Monday, March 23, 2015
KNEELING AT THE ALTAR RAILING FOR HOLY COMMUNION: EVEN RECEIVING HOLY COMMUNION IN THE HAND LOOKS REVERENT!
As you know, our 12:10 PM Mass, a very Ordinary Form Mass that is exactly like our other Masses in the vernacular and in chants/hymns, is different in two ways only. Its Liturgy of the Eucharist for three years now is celebrated ad orientem (which nary a protest) and for the past month with Holy Communion distributed by the celebrant and the deacon at our newly restored altar railing.
I've already mentioned that no one is forced to kneel at the railing and that I've said each Sunday that one may stand at the altar railing to receive and either standing or kneeling one may receive Holy Communion on the tongue or hand.
Some would say that allowing the communicant to choose to stand or kneel brings a divisiveness into the liturgical assembly of that particular Mass and into the diocese which doesn't have other parishes that allow this option. I would have to ask the question of these naysayers if they would say the same thing about those who choose to receive on the tongue compared to those who choose to receive in the hand. And the same question concerning the common chalice and those who choose it and those who don't? Is there a flaw in logic here?
But let's get back to the altar railing and Holy Communion received in the traditional manner of using an altar railing. Everyone except for those who really can't kneel easily kneels. For those who kneel on my side where I distribute Holy Communion the majority are receiving on the hand.
This is my sacred observation about what is happening at our altar railing at communion time:
1. Receiving at the altar railing is less rushed for the communicant, who often is kneeling for a bit of time before the priest gets to them and then they don't need to leave immediately, they can pause in meditation/thanksgiving, make the Sign of the Cross and then depart in an unhurried way. Compare this to the communicant in constant motion from the time they depart the pew to approaching the minister of Holy Communion, receiving, moving and returning immediately to their pew. Who in the world thought this is a better method of receiving Holy Communion than kneeling at an altar railing when standing was mandated for the OF Mass?
2. Those who choose to receive in the hand do so more deliberately and remain at the railing until they place the host reverently in their mouth, they then pause in meditation and thanksgiving before departing. Even children receiving in hand do this. I know every priest out there who distributes Holy Communion to small hands know that their hands are a moving target when they come forward and remain in motion and walk off with the host in their hand until they pop it into their mouth. Kneeling at the railing with the communicant remaining still makes Holy Communion in the hand even look reverent!
3. It takes less time for a priest and deacon (only two distributing Holy Communion) to distribute Holy Communion compared to having four (two Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion) distributing Holy Communion at four stationary Communion stations. Yes, the priest and deacon get a workout going back and forth along the altar railing and yes they are moving fast to distribute, but the ironic paradox is that it is much slower and deliberate for the communicant who receives in the most unrushed manner! This is a mystery!
Thank Pope Benedict XVI for taking the stigma away from kneeling for Holy Communion by doing two things:
1. allowing the more liberal celebration of the EF Mass where kneeling for Holy Communion at an altar railing is the norm.
2. for distributing Holy Communion in the OF Mass to kneeling communicants.
Those who demanded that standing is better than kneeling up until Pope Benedict were fascists in demanding that everyone stand and would mock in the most cynical way those who would kneel and would see to it that a priest who allowed kneeling would be marginalized and ridiculed. Thus one sees the way of operating of liturgical progressives who in actuality are extremely narrow minded when in comes to the celebration of the Mass.