This is a follow up to Deacon Greg Kendra's change of heart concerning kneeling for Holy Communion and altar railings. I think every congregation in the world where standing for Holy Communion and receiving in the hand is the norm has experienced the major reasons why this is a liturgical idea gone wrong. People have lost a sense of the sacred and this took place with the dumbing down of the sense of reverence by not celebrating the Ordinary Form of the Mass as it was intended, with the same reverence as the Extraordinary Form. Simply bringing back kneeling for Holy Communion and receiving Holy Communion on the tongue, combined with ad orientem for the Liturgy of the Eucharist and a better grade of sacred music and chant, will help greatly in the return of a more traditional reverence and piety for Holy Communion.
Yesterday, Father Jay Finelli posted his experience with the return of an altar railing and more and more people choosing to kneel to receive Holy Communion in his parish once the railing was reinstalled. You can read "My Experience of the Altar Railing" in full by pressing these two sentences.
He recalls why Pope Benedict XVI has been distributing Holy Communion to people as they kneel and receive Holy Communion on the tongue:
During Mass at St. John Lateran, on May 22, 2008, Pope Benedict XVI began giving Communion to all who received from him kneeling and on the tongue. His master of Ceremonies, Monsignor Guido Marini stated that Communion kneeling and on the tongue helps to emphasize “the truth of the Real Presence (of Christ) in the Eucharist, helps the devotion of the faithful, and introduces the sense of mystery more easily.” Since that Mass, the practice has become the norm at all Papal Masses.
At the Cathedral in New Orleans and I believe at St. Patrick's Cathedral, I've seen ushers or security people standing near those who distribute Holy Communion who's primary job is to make sure the communicant receives Holy Communion and does not walk off with it.
While this extreme practice is laudable, wouldn't it be more laudable to just insist that people kneel and receive on the tongue.
Will this prevent all abuse? No! Even in the pre-Vatican II Church there were stories of satanists stealing the host during Mass for their untoward sacrilege and of small children, not properly catechized, taking the host out of their mouth and bringing it home. There is even one report of a child who had done this quite frequently and eventually flushed all the hosts she had taken home down the toilet.
But this was very rare and the shock and disgust of those in the Catholic community who learned of it was palpable. Today these kinds of abuses are so common place in so many parishes that people simply shrug their shoulders either apathetic about it or recognizing that the Church has brought this on herself by allowing Holy Communion in the hand while standing. They feel powerless in the face of this kind of sacrilege since the Church herself won't do what is necessary to protect the sanctity of Holy Communion and restore traditional reverence and piety during Mass and specifically in the manner in which Holy Communion is received in the Latin Rite.