Saturday, June 2, 2012


This is what Auxiliary Bishop Athanasius Schneider from Astana in Kazakhstan said on Pentecost Sunday, that it is "more than clear that the Church has experienced a great crisis."

Communion is Handed out Like Bread

The crisis shows itself in its most gripping in the declining Liturgy, for the prelate: "Today's manner of receiving Communion spread throughout the world is a great wound."

The body of Christ has been received "without recognizable sacral gestures of worship".

Hand communion leaves one with the impression as if one is taking a regular meal, which "one puts in ones' own mouth".

The Bible gives a different example of reverence

Msgr Schneider recalled that the angel and prophets in Holy Scripture knelt before Jesus Christ:

"How great is the contrast between today's widely spread form of hand-communion with the minimalistic signs of reverence on the one side and the glorious examples in Holy Scripture and the examples of Catholics from the past two thousand years, and also the edifying examples of our own associates, parents, grandparents on the other side."

The example of the Pope

Msgr Schneider recalled then that Pope Benedict XVI has been distributing Holy Communion in the mouth since Corpus Christi of 2008 to the faithful on their knees:

"A true Catholic, and even more a Catholic Bishop, can not ignore the Pope's gestures."

That would be a true renewal

For the Auxiliary Bishop it would be a poignant sign of Faith if all the Masses world-wide "were brought back to clear signs of reverence, silence, the holiness of the music".

He criticized the supper table very carefully: priests and people should interiorly and exteriorly look together upon Christ -- he said.

All faithful should "receive the body of Christ self-evidently in the state of sanctifying grace, having gone too confession, and to receive it directly in the mouth with the piety of a child."

In this Msgr Schneider sees "powerful sings of a true renewal in the Church".

In such Masses a God fearing man should fall on his knees and say: "Verily, God is among you" [1Cor 14 24-25]

My Comment: Why are priests reluctant or even refuse to provide a kneeler for those who wish to kneel for Holy Communion? And why hasn't the Holy See demanded and mandated a return to kneeling for Holy Communion and receiving on the tongue? Just wondering? Is standing and receiving on the hand a dogma?


ytc said...

Yes, I'm sick of sissy pansified Catholicism. I'm sick of everyone getting to be right about everything. I'm sick of Mass being inconsistent, disgusting and conducted in a blase manner in one place and gorgeous in another.

I'm sick of Mass being called a meal when it really isn't one. We can't call Mass a meal any more than we can call an excursion to the mall where we might happen to have lunch on the way a meal. The meal aspect is an accidental, something that is not crucial to the Mass. To emphasize it is silly. The Last Supper was a Mass just like our Masses. The Mass is not a re-presentation of the Last Supper. It is a re-presentation of Christ's sacrifice on His Cross, in the same way the Last Supper was a pre-presentation, in a manner of speaking. It does not follow that because the first Mass was performed in the context of a Jewish seder meal that, ergo, all subsequent Masses are a re-presentation of it. Does not follow. Is not logical.

Furthermore, I am sick of it being the "norm" to stand to receive Holy Communion when this goes against at least 1700 years of consistent and uninterrupted Latin tradition. It is historically inaccurate to say that the "early Western Church" received Holy Communion standing and in the hand. This was rare, and was an exception, not the norm.

It is historically inaccurate to say that the "early Church" celebrated Mass facing the people. This is patently false and is a lie. Go into the catacombs and you will find not ONE freestanding altar.

I'm sick of the Latin Church having no outward identity. I am sick of the Latin Church being afraid of itself. I am sick of people being too lazy to learn the Order of Mass in Latin. I am sick of other people being whiny crybabies when priests who have a mission and are devoted to their parishioner's souls are assigned to a parish (Platteville...). We need to buck up, man up, and reclaim our identity.

How can other people not see this?

Joseph Johnson said...

For churches without Communion rails (the re-introduction of which should be a long-term goal) bringing out the double kneeler just after the Offertory procession and putting it away just after Communion works very well. Ushers and/or older altar servers can handle this task very nicely. If you're not already doing this--you should give it a try. It still allows for the present "norm" of standing (people stand just to either side of the kneeler to receive that way) or kneel two at a time and receive in the universal way.

This respects the rights of those who wish to receive in the universal way (and may cause others to consider trying it themselves without forcing anything on anybody). It is truly an ingenious idea that is not disobedient and is a good way to quietly ease in (hopefully) a quiet movement back to the universal norm of kneeling.

John Nolan said...

I had the privilege of meeting Bishop Schneider in 2010 when he celebrated Pontifical High Mass at Downside Abbey at a training conference for priests in the EF (I was in the schola). He is a modest, unassuming and patently holy man.

I agree with you totally on the matter of intinction. All it requires is for the server to stand beside the priest and hold the chalice (preferably in white gloves). And if he is an instituted acolyte he is de facto an extraordinary minister of Holy Communion in the OF. The monstrous regiment of mosly female EMs can then be given their marching orders.

John Nolan said...

But we do, we do! I was a teenager at the time of the Second Vatican Council and experienced my first 'yoof, folk' Mass in 1968. It was as horrible then as it is now, and oxen and wainropes would not drag me to another one.

Anonymous said...

I wonder whether it could be argued that the right of every Catholic, to receive holy communion kneeling, implicitly implies a pastoral duty to provide means that facilitate the exercise of this right.

In regard to intinction, one does not even need a server to assist with the chalice. The intinction set that our priest has:

Of course, it is used only for our occasional Latin OF Mass, not for EF. But I appreciate its use then, this being my only opportunity to receive the Precious Blood. Not only because our parish does not normally make the chalice available at daily or Sunday OF Masses, only on specified special occasions (e.g., Holy Thursday).

Anonymous said...

"Why are priests reluctant or even refuse to provide a kneeler for those who wish to kneel for Holy Communion?"

Well, Father, you're one of those priests, so you tell us...

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

My reluctance stems from not wanting to yank people around, meaning that I put out the kneeler, the bishop doesn't like the kneeler, I hide the kneeler when he's there and then he finds out about the kneeler and says take the kneeler away and make your people observe the liturgical law in force for the USA as it concerns the manner of distributing and receiving Holy Communion. It's not my personality type to like that sort of thing, to give and then have to take away.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

My personality type likes directives and policy and if the directive or policy is flawed then mandate a change--that's why I'm waiting for our Holy Father to say, kneel, Gosh, darn it or something like that in a papal decree.

ytc said...

And then if the Pope demands kneeling, marble workers and carpenters will have lots of orders to fill.

Who would have thought COTT kneeling would create jobs?!

Anonymous said...

The LCRW thinks that Rome gave,and is now taking away.

A perfect recipe for tantrums.


Anonymous said...

Aside from the question as to whether general liturgical norms actually have the force of law, I never cease to wonder why so many of our bishops seem to insist on enforcement of those norms and laws that weaken belief and devotion. A lot of people have gone along, but our bishops are primarily responsible for the shape the Church is in now.

ytc said...

Of course they are, Henry. It is all the clergy's fault, this post-Vatican II nonsense mess, and no, I really am not being sarcastic.

Anonymous said...

Of course, I meant to say "only those norms that weaken belief and devotion". Would that they were equally zealous in their enforcement of laws that strengthen belief and devotion. They may say that we get the kind of bishops we deserve. Don't know about "deserve", but would that we had the kind of bishops we so desperately need. (For some of us, the demographic solution is painfully slow.)

Anonymous said...

As a post-Vatican II Catholic, who has always received in the hand while standing because this was the universal custom (although a few still elect to receive on the tongue), I would like to ask a question seeking clarification. Indeed, most of my posts are directed at seeking clarification or exploring nuances – I know, Gene, it is the academic in me.=)

I understand the reasons for advocating a return to kneeling and receiving on the tongue. As to kneeling, I find it interesting that at an Episcopal Church with which I am familiar the custom is to kneel and receive in the hand. Isn’t it odd that they kneel and we Catholics do not?

As to receiving on the tongue versus in the hand, in the lovely book on the Mass by Cardinal Jean-Marie Lustiger, which he wrote as Archbishop of Paris in 1985 and which I mentioned in my comments on May 28 (“Is It True That the Extraordinary Form Mass is Too Clerical. . .?”) (at 3:08 p.m.), Cardinal Lustiger writes the following in the very last section, on Communion (page 79):

After the Litany of “Lamb of God,” we pray in silence and express words of humility and hope before receiving Christ in the Eucharist: “Lord, I am not worthy to receive you, but only say the word and I shall be healed.” [Note: the book being from 1985, the Cardinal uses the old translation]. Each person goes forward to commune according to the custom of the church and individual sensibilities: either in the mouth or by extending the hand, following a beautiful manner attributed to Saint Cyril of Jerusalem: “With your left hand, make a throne for the right hand which is about to receive the King; curve the palm of your hand into a hollow and receive the Body of Christ as you say ‘Amen.’”

My understanding is that Cardinal Lustiger was no liberal. Indeed his Wikipedia entry emphasizes his conservatism and states that “Lustiger tried to reduce tensions with the Traditionalist Catholics, celebrating a Tridentine Mass, sending a conservative priest Patrick Le Gal as his emissary to Lefebre.” That being so, isn’t there a “traditionalist” or “conservative” case for receiving in the hand as an alternative to receiving on the tongue provided it is done with the reverence and awe the Saint Cyril describes?

Of course, it may be that Cardinal Lustiger was just making the best of the existing realities. Moreover, it would in any event be necessary to catechize regarding the proper way to receive in the hand, but proper catechesis regarding the Order of the Mass is the import of Cardinal Lustiger’s whole book.

Anonymous said...

I attended Mass at St. Peter's Roman Catholic Church in Nanaimo, British Columbia last year. They put out kneelers for those who wished to kneel for Holy Communion, whereby those who wished to receive in the hand simply went to those who were distributing Communion in the hand.


Gene said...

So, what's the Bishop's problem?

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

Receiving in the hand as St. Cyril suggests would be wonderful and the Episcopal have it down pat, but we don't, we pick host up with our hands or grab the host or cup the hands, where as after making a throne, one bows one's head toward the palm and takes the host into the mouth directly from the palm and making sure all particle are taken as well. If only we would do that or allow and while kneeling and thus not receiving on the run, it would be wonderful.

Anonymous said...

P.S. to my earlier post.

From an abundance of caution and before reading your response Father, I researched St. Cyril’s quote regarding the receipt of the Host in the hand. On the three sites I checked the authenticity of St. Cyril’s quote is questioned.

I truly thought I could trust a respected source such as Cardinal Lustiger. For all I know, perhaps I still can. However, all this is dreadfully confusing for those of us who are trying to live as faithful Catholics at a time when everything in the Church is being turned upside down -- again.

Can you shed some further light on the issue Father?

John Nolan said...

There is no liturgical law either in the USA or elsewhere which prevents people receiving kneeling and on the tongue, which is normative in the Latin rite. Any bishop who suggests otherwise should be told in no uncertain terms to stick it.

Anonymous said...

My son will be receiving his first Communion next Sunday. There is no religious ed for him, so I took it upon myself to teach/train him. He decided on his own that he should receive kneeling, though no one in our parish receives this way. He said he wanted to receive Jesus in the most reverent way he could. Tomorrow we discuss the ceremony with our parish priest - I hope he is amenable, and even encouraging, to my son's desire.
If we had a place to kneel, I would kneel, too; but kneelers seem to have been outlawed at this particular church.

Marie R

Joseph Johnson said...

John Nolan,
What you wrote about "there is no liturgical law, etc." is precisely why kneelers should be provided for those who wish to receive kneeling. Cardinal Lustiger was quoted by Anonymous above wherein he referred receiving according to "the custom of the Church" and "individual sensibilities." It is the universal custom of the Church to receive kneeling and on the tongue. The U.S. Bishops, unfortunately, have created a "custom" or "norm" for the U.S. (which is receiving while standing, and usually, in the hand, because of the way it has been promoted over the years as a preferable means of reception in First Communion classes, etc.). This is obviously different than the universal custom.

Anonymous has only received in the hand standing because that is all Anonymous has known from recent history (because of the imposed U.S. "norm"--they created a national "custom" by imposing a norm which differed from the universal one which had been our previous custom!).

What about the sensibilities of "traditionalist" Catholics--especially those who would prefer to have reasonable access to the EF but do not have it? If a typical small town parish Mass must accomodate Catholics of all stripes (sensibilities)then why accomodate all except the traditionalists? If they can't even have an occasional EF Mass then it seems a very small thing to at least show them the courtesy of allowing them a kneeler to facilitate their preferred method of reception, (kneeling on the tongue) which is their right--regardless of any national "norm." Otherwise, we must exercise our "right" (which the new Missal says should be respected) by kneeling on the floor--which I can physically still do, many who would like to can't without the aid of a kneeler or rail. It just isn't right!

The U.S. Bishops should either update their norm or individual Bishops should start making it required in their Dioceses that kneelers be used, if no rail is available, for those who want it!
The way I receive Communion matters a lot more to me than conforming to a national "norm," especially when I know that I cannot be refused Communion simply because I choose to kneel! I'm a Roman Catholic--not an AmChurch Catholic or a "U.S. Catholic!"

Anonymous said...

I agree 110% with Joseph Johnson that it is not right to deprive those who wish to receive kneeling and on the tongue of that option. I have written before about how alienated my pre-Vatican II mother was from the post-Vatican II Church, in part because they took away her beloved Tridentine Latin Mass. It no longer remained even as an option. I could never understand why the Church would do such a hurtful thing to pre-Vatican II Catholics. (I also did not understand why the Church did that other hurtful thing to her – insist on her promising to raise her child, who turned out to be me, as Catholic and because she could not do so in the circumstances, then refuse to recognize her marriage to my Anglican father, so she could not receive communion until many years later when both he and I had, for separate reasons, become Catholic, and the marriage was finally blessed, but I digress).

That said, I must question any implication (doubtless unintended) that only the US Church has the custom of receiving in the hand while standing. That is also all I have ever known in England and on the European Continent, and I don't think my experience is aberrational.

ytc said...

The practice of Holy Communion standing and in the hand in the USA was implemented in a very disgusting and patronizing manner, if I read correctly.

There were outright jabs made at COTT kneeling, calling it "childish" and other stupid 70s nonsense.

Thanks, Cardinal Bernardin...

Joseph Johnson said...

Anonymous at 10:24,
Thank you for your kind comments of support. As for your final paragraph questioning whether only the U.S. Church has the custom of receiving standing and in the hand, I honestly don't know what the custom or norm has been in most of England or on the European Continent. I just know that the artificially created (by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, that is) norm of receiving standing is just that, artificial. It contravenes the universal norm of kneeling and contravenes what had been the American norm (kneeling) up until that time.

The history of Communion in the hand in recent times is another matter and originated as a disobedient act in the Netherlands, as I recall, and spread (at least in Western Europe and North America) in a similar (disobedient) manner but was officially sanctioned after it had been de facto promoted and had become widespread.

That said, in my limited experience in attending Mass in England in 1994, I always had the good fortune to be able to receive at a Communion rail--so apparently my English experience is a bit skewed! That was at St. James (Spanish Place) in London and at the old St. Aloysius Church (the Oratory) in Oxford. At the Oratory, even then they were offering the EF and the OF (both Latin and English) and my schedule only permitted me to attend the OF. The OF there, in many respects, was barely distinguishable from an EF Mass except that it was versus populum (facing the people).

Templar said...

Anyone who believes that kneeling is the only proper and fitting way to receive Our Lord in Communion yet goes up and stands week after week to do so is a hypocrite.

As God is my witness, if they placed tack strips, and caltrops on the ground I would still kneel. And any Priest who denied me Communion kneeling would open the heavens upon his parish in response.

People!! Stop begging. get on your knees of be quiet.

Kitchener Waterloo Traditional Catholic said...

Fr. McDonald, Cardinal Arinze clarified the issue of the universal norm of the Church when local or national customs differ. It may be the norm in the USA to receive in hand while standing but no Catholic is ever to be denied to receive in the traditional manner - it is our right. That being said, it doesn't seem very pastoral to expect people to kneel on the floor in front of the minister. Some people require the assistance of a kneeler. Placing kneelers as an option should not offend anyone. I question any priest or bishop who resists people exercising this right as the universal law of the Church. What are they afraid of: a sense of reverence and belief in the Real Presence?

Templar said...

Waterloo: I agree with you 100%, however in defense of Fr. McDonald or any other Priest in this position, why should he put the kneelers out? Where is the ground swell of believers? If people started getting on their knees it would force their hands, or open their eyes, however you wish to look at it. But for all the posting that this is the only true way to receive, how many of us are receiving on our knees?

Is it right that I should have to inflict my bad knees to the pain of the marble floor? No. But let the sin of it be on someone else's head, whether that be Priest, Bishop or Pope. Everyman's soul is his own.