Friday, July 29, 2011


First a disclaimer; I was trained prior to entering the seminary in 1976 that standing for Holy Communion was "more adult" "more ancient" and "a resurrection stance" that was much better than kneeling in a subservient way before the priest which was also described as being "juvenile." This was taught to St.Joseph parishioners in Augusta, Georgia at that time. We were probably one of the last parishes, apart from Tybee Island, who continued to kneel for Holy Communion until about 1975.

I have taught religiously that standing for Holy Communion was more ancient than kneeling and more importantly it was a sign of "being raised up with Christ in His resurrection." I truly like that imagery.

However I am old enough to remember kneeling at the altar railing (in 1975 I was 21 years old) and remembering how nice it was to be waiting for the priest to come to me and having the ability to wait a moment after receiving before getting up and returning to the pew. It was nice kneeling with others around the "table," I mean, altar and it really seemed to me that we were participating in a meal at the altar, with the railing as an extension of the the altar-table.

Many people also felt that kneeling was a "more" reverent way to receive Holy Communion. Evidently they are in good company. Read on:

Spanish cardinal recommends that Catholics receive Communion on the tongue

Lima, Peru, Jul 28, 2011 / 01:56 pm (CNA).- Spanish Cardinal Antonio Canizares Llovera recently recommended that Catholics receive Communion on the tongue, while kneeling.

“It is to simply know that we are before God himself and that He came to us and that we are undeserving,” the prefect of the Vatican’s Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments said in an interview with CNA during his visit to Lima, Peru.

The cardinal’s remarks came in response to a question on whether Catholics should receive Communion in the hand or on the tongue.

He recommended that Catholics “receive Communion on the tongue and while kneeling.”

Receiving Communion in this way, the cardinal continued, “is the sign of adoration that needs to be recovered. I think the entire Church needs to receive Communion while kneeling.” [Get that? "entire Church". And he means the Latin Church, of course.]

“In fact,” he added, “if one receives while standing, a genuflection or profound bow should be made, and this is not happening.”

“If we trivialize Communion, we trivialize everything, and we cannot lose a moment as important as that of receiving Communion, of recognizing the real presence of Christ there, of the God who is the love above all loves, as we sing in a hymn in Spanish.”

In response to a question about the liturgical abuses that often occur, Cardinal Canizares said they must be “corrected, especially through proper formation: formation for seminarians, for priests, for catechists, for all the Christian faithful.”

Such a formation should ensure that liturgical celebrations take place “in accord with the demands and dignity of the celebration, in accord with the norms of the Church, which is the only way we can authentically celebrate the Eucharist,” he added.

“Bishops have a unique responsibility” in the task of liturgical formation and the correction of abuses, the cardinal said, “and we must not fail to fulfill it, because everything we do to ensure that the Eucharist is celebrated properly will ensure proper participation in the Eucharist.”

My final comments: As for receiving Holy Communion in the hand, I have seen many people do so in the most reverent way. But I have seen many unintended abuses: walking off with the host and consuming it on the "run"; children moving their small, almost cupped hands to quickly and receiving unthinkingly as though putting pop corn in their mouths, and people taking the host and leaving it in the pew, in their pockets or giving it away to others.

The good Cardinal is also a prefect for the Vatican's Congregation of Divine Worship. Floating statements of this type indicates to me that we will soon be seeing a "mandate" of some sort to return to this pious practice of distributing and receiving Holy Communion. How long has the Holy Father been doing it as a model for other bishops to help them to see how it is done and to prepare them for this change?


qwikness said...

When receiving on the tongue I often wonder, 'Is my mouth open wide enough, Am I sticking my tongue out far enough?" I think we might need a refresher course. We haven't been to first communion classes for decades. Folks receiving in the hand probably are less self conscious about making a mistake. As for the kneeling and profound bow: I think EWTN has done A LOT to help as an example in this regard.

Gene said...

The "Resurrection" posture seems to me to be hand in glove with the exaltation of man and the humanism that has become the religion of our culture...not to mention a bit of presumption on the part of those who so smugly assert this nonsense. Would not the "Resurrection" posture surely be kneeling in humble joy and adoration before the One who has brought us back from the darkness and into the Light of His love? Please...
It drives progressives wild because it represents humility, obedience, and an understanding that, before Him, we are nothing.

Anonymous said...

Cardinal Canizares wraps himself, literally, in earthly splendor (we've all seen the photo of him swathed in a watered silk cappa magna, seated on a throne, flanked by members of his "royal" retinue), play-acting the role of an earthly prince, and then tells the rest of us that we are "undeserving" and should kneel to receive communion.


Gene said...

Anon, Uh, all that "earthly splendor" is for us; it is not some
boost for his ego. It is supposed to be an indication of the majesty of Christ and the Glory that is to come. He is not "play acting"...he is representing and pointing beyond himself to Christ...he is in persona christi...for us, for you...get it?

Marc said...

Anonymous, I'd recommend you consider how in the Old Testament God provided very specific instructions for the people regarding the makeup of the liturgy and liturgical items. These instructions always included using the finest materials available - gold, silk, etc.

This continues in the Catholic liturgy because we want to give the best we have to God. In the case of a Cardinal (who is afterall a "prince of the Church") or a bishop, we have a shepherd of the flock, a successor of the Apostles, a visible sign of Christ to the local Church. (See Lumen Gentium, Chapter III). Therefore, the Bishops and Cardinals (and priests, for that matter) are treated with the respect with which we would treat Christ.

I find this quite clearly exemplified in Pontifical Masses. Since the Church has done away with those extraordinary liturgies in favor of the mundane, it's no wonder people like Anonymous can become so easily confused regarding the role the Bishops and Cardinals have in the Church.

We are undeserving and we should kneel for Communion. Unless your hands have been consecrated for that purpose, you should not handle Our Lord in the Holy Eucharist.

Haec est fides Catholica, quam nisi quisque fideliter firmiterque crediderit, salvus esse non poterit.

Anonymous said...

Marc, the cappa magna is not a liturgical vestment. It is a symbol of the power of the Cardinal, as were all such "regal" garments of the age. Once, when Cardinals were princes, these vestments may have had their place.

We treat people with respect - priests, bishops, cardinals - not because of what they wear, but because they have acted in ways that deserve respect.

I am not the least bit confused as to the role of the hierarchy of out Church.

The Church does not share your view that only consecrated hands should touch the Lord in the eucharist.

Gene said...

Anon, the cappa magna may not be a liturgical vestment, but the power it represents comes from God and the Church. Your trite comment about respecting people because of how they behave is all fine but, liturgically, the Priest's character doesn't matter. Liturgically, we do respect the garments and trappings because they represent the efficacy of the Grace conveyed in the Mass...apart from the personality of any Priest.

Anonymous said...

And pinanv525, aren't you the one who, not so long ago, proclaimed that you skip mass (a mortal sin) when you can't find a church building that meets your peculiar architectural and decorative standards?

That's Protestantism at its very best. And now you want to lecture faithful Catholics on "the majesty of Christ and the Glory that is to come"...?

Marc said...

Sorry for my misspeaking regarding the cappa magna, a vestment used both in the liturgy and outside the liturgy. My point remains valid, we give the best we have to God, including vestments, music, arts, etc.

I disagree with you that we give priests, bishops, and cardinals respect only when they "act in ways that deserve it." We can dislike or disagree with the decisions they make personally, but we must always respect with awe the position which they hold and the great charge Christ has given them. It is through these men, no matter how little respect they may have personally earned, that Christ sees fit to come to the earth under the signs of bread and wine. That deserves respect.

The Church re: handling of the Holy Eucharist by consecrated hands:

Council of Trent:

"The fact that only the Priest gives Holy Communion with his consecrated hands is an
apostolic tradition."

Pope John Paul II, Dominicae Cenae, 11:

To touch the sacred species and to distribute them with their own hands is a privilege of the ordained, one which indicates an active participation in the ministry of the Eucharist. It is obvious that the Church can grant this faculty to those who are neither priests nor deacons, as is the case with acolytes in the exercise of their ministry, especially if they are destined for future ordination, or with other lay people who are chosen for this to meet a just need, but always after an adequate preparation.

Gene said...

Anon, You left out what I said about confessing my sin of disgust and willful disobedience. I suppose you have no sins and, thus, do not need Confession. On the other hand, for all of you (presumably) progressives, is it possible that those who are responsible for the architectural and liturgical abominations that discourage true worship are guilty of violating Paul's admonition about "tempting a brother to sin?"

Gene said...

BTW, Anon, most Prots do not change churches because of architecture or decoration. They change because they do not respect the preacher for his sermons or personality and, therefore, believe that their worship is not true. (see Donatism). LOL!

Anonymous said...

The Cappa Magna being a tradition of the CHurch for centuries should be respected and not viewed as anything more than it is. Use of something that can seem the very best we have to offer at Mass. The fact that is offends so many as being ostentacious or regal attests to it being above the rest that we can offer and begs for its' continued use. Why can't we just love and respect our Church's Traditions and be supportive? Is it really that important? So some clergy use it, not everyone all the time. Why link it to the worst of the CHurch in any way. In fact some of the worst abuses and horrors that occured in recent years was when there was no Cappa in sight. So does it really warrant such strong oppostion?