Monday, July 3, 2017


Playing Monday morning quarterback, and reflecting on the EF High Mass I celebrated yesterday at the Cathedral (which I now do about once a month), the single most important liturgical practice that the powers that be must restore to the Ordinary Form Mass is kneeling for Holy Communion, bar none!

It is more important than Latin! It is more important than ad orientem! It is more important than ornate Roman vestments! It is more important that all male altar boys! It is more important that elaborate rubrics and choreography.

I ain't saying that the other things aren't important or shouldn't be recovered, because at least in the more liberal allowance of the EF Mass, these things are recovered, I am just saying that kneeling for Holy Communion is the most important restoration or recovery of the baby that was thrown out with the so-called bath water.

I do think, though, short of mandating ad orientem, the powers that be should mandate the so-called "Benedictine altar arrangement" as Pope Francis has continued to use even in his pilgrimages. I think what I have at St. Anne's in Richmond Hill and my former parish of St. Joseph in Macon are both sober, unobtrusive and quite elegant on the altar--mandate it in the Name of God and all that is Holy!


Victor said...

The Protestant practice of receiving communion in the hand should be abolished in the Catholic Church. Only the priest/deacon ought to be allowed to touch our Lord with his bare hands. For Catholics, the Communion is more than a mere community meal symbol.
Nonetheless, with ad orientem practice, Communion given by a priest into the mouth (Byzantine) or on the tongue (Roman) of the the worshiper follows naturally.

Fr Martin Fox said...

The striking thing for me is that distributing Holy Communion to the faithful kneeling, and at the rail, is far more practical. I wouldn't have said this without years of experience distributing the Eucharist. One of the biggest problems with having people receive while standing in line is that they are so frequently still in motion. Many are unsteady; many are impatient. Many never actually stop, it's like when people "roll through" a stop sign. But when people are kneeling (or sitting), they are stationary. Almost all the times when the sacred host is dropped, this is why.

I see no evidence that the standing method saves time. And for me, standing in one position for ten minutes is less confortable than moving along the rail.

Of course, anyone who cannot kneel can be accommodated, as was always the case. And, yes, the Precious Blood can be distributed this way. I would suggest by intinction.

Robert Kumpel said...

Most Catholics in the US have no idea that the entire reason so many receive in the hand is because of an indult granted by Paul VI. Paul VI did not like Communion in the hand, but was willing to grant an indult to bishops in nations where they would assert that there had always been a tradition of people receiving that way. The US bishops conference voted twice, in 1975 and 1976, to get a majority of bishops to request the indult and failed. Finally, the leader of the US bishops, Cardinal Bernardin, changed the rules and permitted absentee voting from bishops who could not attend the meetings and barely squeaked by with the two-thirds majority needed. Again, the indult was only supposed to be granted where there had been an established practice of distributing Communion that way AND THERE HAD NEVER BEEN AN ESTABLISHED PRACTICE OF COMMUNION IN THE HAND IN THE US. The indult, DISHONESTLY petitioned for, was granted.

As far as I'm concerned, I am not bound to obey disobedience. The pope can and should revoke every single indult granted as soon as possible.

rcg said...

What is interesting is how strongly EMHC and even priests react when a person presents themselves kneeling and prepared to recieve on the tongue.

Anonymous said...

Well, according to the book The Orthodox Church: 455 Questions and Answers, in t he Early undivided Church, communion was received in the hand. So if it was good enough to do back then...........

Kneeling Catholic said...

Bravo, Fathers Fox and MacDonald!

Father Mac,

I do wish you would dig deeper into why kneeling for Communion is vital to renewing our Liturgy, what/who it was that convinced you, etc.

For me it was Bishop Schneider's humble demeanor and Pope Benedict's likewise humble implementation way back in 2008 (?) It was shameful the way American prelates deliberately ignored him! "Kneeling is not a part of our American cultural heritage"! (to which one might answer:"no, it isn't, but neither is saving-your-soul a part of the American cultural heritage!")

Kinda like when Mike Ditka made his coaching debut with the Bears. He started screaming at them for messing up. One of the coaches came up to him and explained that they weren't used to being yelled at. Ditka replied "yeah, you're not used to winning either!" ROFL!!

Now these prelates have the pope they deserve.

Rood Screen said...

Father Fox is absolutely right, kneeling at a rail provides stability. The rail also recalls both the Temple wall and the Holy Altar, both of which become accessible through Christ.

Anonymous, interesting citation. It's my understanding that the Roman Church never had this practice in the past, and that evidence for it elsewhere describes a practice very different from what we see today.

Father McDonald, I see your point, and it seems sound enough to me, but I still think ad orientem is at least slightly more important, because it takes the focus off celebrant. The "presider cult" is the greatest liturgical error of our time. Clericalism merely elevates the priest too high above the laity; versus populum elevates the priest above God. The practice is damnable.

CPT Tom said...

The way we are receiving communion in the hand is NOT the way it was received in the ancient Church. When it was done, and there is debate about how universal the practice was, it was done with a cloth on the communicants hand, kneeling, with a cloth across the person's palm, and the host was placed on that cloth, and then the hand was raised to the mouth. The lay person did NOT touch the host. It was not the "throw the potato chip in the mouth" way many people receive today.

If we wanted to be continuity with the East, then we should receive by intinction, and only given by the Priest.

Finally, after going to EF masses on a regular basis, I am of the opinion it is actually faster to have one priest give communion at the rail, on the tongue, kneeling, then the army of EMHC's that many Churches employ. The latter is more about clercizing the Laity and little about the sacredness of the sacrament. It should be abolished.

Anonymous said...

The HAND of the lay person is unworthy, but the tongue, lips, roof of the mouth, teeth, esophagus, etc., is perfectly acceptable.....

Boo Yah

Rood Screen said...


I'm afraid you've misunderstood the argument. Once you understand someone's argument, it is then possible for you to construct a rational counter-argument. This process requires respectful communication and mutual understanding: dialogue. In this case, it is not about one body part versus another, but about the relationship between the priest and the communicants, which, so the argument goes, is best expressed by the priest feeding the communicants, rather than them feeding themselves.

John Nolan said...

There are several factors in play here, which are nothing to do with the Novus Ordo per se, since they date from the 1970s. Here are three for starters.

1. The removal of altar rails for ideological reasons, i.e. to abolish the distinction between sanctuary and nave in favour of a common 'worship space'.

2. The decision by the US and English bishops to make the chalice available to the laity as a matter of routine rather than as an exception in particular circumstances.

3. The innovation of EMHC which was seen by the bishops as an opportunity for increased lay involvement, particularly as regards women, who were not then allowed to serve at the altar.

The bogus archaeologism trotted out to justify what amounts to self-communication (in both species) was merely window-dressing. The PBL (poor bloody laity) were not asked if they approved of these and other innovations. It was assumed that they would get used to it or leave. Many took the latter option.

ByzRus said...

Dialogue -

I absolutely concur. The argument was missunderstood and, therefore, the provided explanation struggles to contribute constructively.

Also, it seems that "booyah" has, historically, been treated as one word, not two. Regardless, is this an 'in your face' provocative type of inference?

ByzRus said...

The response provided by John Nolan is well thought through. All that I can add is what I've stated before, if holy communion continues to be distributed in the hand; then, standing or kneeling, profanation is possible. Reception of the host on the tongue or, reception under both species via. intinction and on the tongue, standing or kneeling, would go far to solving this problem. At Divine Liturgy, we approach the chalice and stand before our Lord, arms crossed to receive both his body and blood which is dropped into our mouths from a spoon. At all the Byzantine Catholic churches that I have visited, this is consistently reverent and I'm amazed at how many communions the priest can distribute by himself in a relatively short amount of time.. That aside, I continue to maintain that ad orientem posture is the single greatest practice for renewal followed very closely by the reception of holy communion and sacred music.

At the

Anonymous said...

One man's "bogus archaeologism" is another man's historical precedent.

I don't know that the PBL has ever been consulted about changes throughout history. To suggest that because they were not asked for their input on "these and other innovations" is utterly disingenuous. Did the PBL cast a vote when Latin was adopted and the "norm" for liturgy? When the common cup was replaced with the cup-for-priest-only? When the colors for the seasons were selected?

I didn't think so....

John Nolan said...

'One man's bogus archaeologism is another man's historical precedent'. There is indeed evidence that in the early Church Communion was given in the hand (at least in some places) and indeed a detailed description of how It was to be received. Had this been followed, it would have certainly been what Pius XII deplored as 'archaeologism', but it would not have been 'bogus'.

Receiving the Host in the left hand and transferring It to the mouth with the fingers of the right is as 'bogus' as Piltdown Man. So was the contention that in the early Church celebrant and people faced one another with the altar in between, although this is a now a near-universal norm.

Vestment colour was long a matter of local Use, and still is to a certain extent. It was never imposed as an innovation. In the West, Latin replaced Greek as the language of the liturgy over the course of the fourth century. Some places may have had a Latin liturgy in Apostolic times. The custom whereby the laity received under both Species gradually fell out of use in the West, probably for practical reasons. Its revival after Vatican II was not an innovation, nor was it imposed on everyone; nevertheless, the practical circumstances of its implementation have impacted on the way we receive Communion.

It's ironic that a Council which claimed to give greater dignity to the 'People of God' should have been followed by sweeping changes, imposed from above in a ludicrously short space of time, which left the laity for the most part bewildered and demoralized.

Anonymous said...

John, your reply: "Vestment colour was long a matter of local Use, and still is to a certain extent. It was never imposed as an innovation. In the West, Latin replaced Greek as the language of the liturgy over the course of the fourth century. Some places may have had a Latin liturgy in Apostolic times. The custom whereby the laity received under both Species gradually fell out of use in the West, probably for practical reasons. Its revival after Vatican II was not an innovation, nor was it imposed on everyone; nevertheless, the practical circumstances of its implementation have impacted on the way we receive Communion."

But that's not a reply to the question I raised, now is it?

Were the PBL consulted about these changes? That they were a matter of "local use," and are still to a "certain extent," has nothing whatsoever with consulting the laity.

You decry, on the one hand, consulting the laity. Then, on the other, you defend changes that were made with no apparent consultation.

Duplicity, anyone?

ByzRus said...

Anonymous/Boo Yah/Booyah -

I believe John Nolan's point is, to the extent changes were made that for better or worse watered down that which was rooted in tradition/local custom whatever...tongue-in-cheek no one asked if the people in the pews wanted those changes executed. They just happened, take it or leave it to the shock and dismay of those in the pews.

So, no, I'm not sensing duplicity.

A bit of humility and receptiveness during these discussions makes them much more satisfying and enjoyable. Smugness is utterly offensive.

Anything else?

Anonymous said...

Smugness? No.

Mr. Nolan has no trouble whatsoever with changes made without benefit of polling the PBL as long as those changes are to his liking.

BUT . . . let it involved the vernacular, the removal of altar rails, the singing of hymns rather than the chanting of propers - things he plainly doesn't favor - well, then, he finds it just beastly that the PBL have not been asked about their preferences.

A little less pontification from the P-Nut gallery would be more satisfying.

rcg said...

Based on John Nolan's history that I have observed I believe he was addressing the position that many of the changes ypu list, Anonymous 2:05pm, were done in response to demands or at least preferrences of the laity.

rcg said...

I left out something "were CLAIMED to have been done..."

John Nolan said...

Anonymous (Booyah)

Where did I decry consulting the laity? Where did I make the fatuous suggestion that the laity be 'polled'? In neither of my comments on this thread have I said anything about personal preferences, whether mine or anyone else's. I'll treat the 'duplicity' slur with the contempt it deserves, and the idea that someone of your ilk (who cannot or will not engage in rational discussion, and is not exactly the sharpest tool in the box) knows how I think is hilarious.

ByzRus said...

Anonymous/Boo Yah/Booyah

I don't know to whom your pontification comment is addressed but, after rereading the comments to this post but, I'm not seeing evidence of this from those not hiding behind "Anonymous".

I have read this blog for years and many of the posts contain comments from Mr. Nolan. While I do not know him personally, my perception is that he has significant background and insight and is scholarly in his delivery. I appreciate his insights and experiences translated into contributions for us to reflect upon here.

So, perhaps you can clarify your comment or, alternatively, maybe invest in a mirror??

John Nolan said...


Thank you for the undeserved compliment! My sister-in-law being Ukrainian (albeit born over here) I have attended Divine Liturgy a number of times, and despite a total ignorance of Slavonic languages, I would join in the sung responses. (OCS or modern Ukrainian, it was all the same to me!)

It is far more authentically Catholic than the average 'parish Mass' although there is no reason why the Novus Ordo cannot be celebrated in an authentically Catholic manner, as the Oratorians have shown. I am convinced that a sung liturgy, even a vernacular one, restores the essential objectivity which is so often lacking these days.

Bugnini's Consilium has come in for a lot of well-deserved criticism, but there is evidence that the Novus Ordo was conceived as a simple sung Mass which would obviate the need for non-liturgical hymns. In contrast, the East has never had a 'Low Mass problem' since it has never had a Low Mass.

Standing for Communion is indeed the Eastern practice, but I don't think its adoption in the West was a conscious attempt at imitation.

Anonymous said...

I think kneeling to receive communion on the tongue shows a person's belief in the Real Presence like nothing else can and, yes, that should be restored to the Ordinary Form of the Mass. In fact I understand communion on the tongue is the norm and receiving in the hand is extraordinary, so it wouldn't be difficult.


ByzRus said...

John Nolan -

You're welcome!

Last weekend, I attended Divine Liturgy at an absolutely wonderful parish that I visit from time-to-time. This is a singing parish, meaning most of those in attendance regularly and enthusiastically sing. OCS is sprinkled throughout liturgy - Holy God, Holy and Mighty etc., Holy, Holy, Holy as well as the propers. As the liturgy is entirely sung with Father delivering the homily at the end, it was 1+ hours of uninterrupted singing. I, and others, were invigorated in addition to being spiritually nourished by the experience. People were visibly upbeat leaving. My point, it was very traditional Christ centered worship without gimmicks and what I perceive to be miss-directed efforts towards 'active participation'. It works. The Latin church, within the Novus Ordo space would profit greatly from this approach. While I like Low Mass (Extraordinary Form) and I think it has its place, to build on what you mentioned earlier, the average NO Mass is like Low Mass with hymns and then, with pop culture interjected. So many of our people are not used to Holy Mass as it should be celebrated and are uncomfortable, impatient and resistant when they are so exposed. The Mass should be allowed to be the Mass but, I'm afraid in the NO space, it has been too long since that occurred and too many minds have become fixed and immovable.

John Nolan said...


A good Ukrainian or Russian choir singing the liturgy of S.John Chrysostom is an unforgettable experience. The first time I heard the hymn to the Cherubim I was moved to tears. I speak as someone who knows the Roman Rite and sings Gregorian chant most Sundays. Both traditions are indispensable.

I don't appreciate Greek chant, though. Same liturgy, pity about the music!

ByzRus said...

John Nolan -

Couldn't agree more. The choral settings available for OCS liturgies almost sends a chill through you given the ethereal nature of some of the melodies. On the Roman side, the melodies for plain chant are an equally beautiful expression of sacred music. I was fortunate to have been able to attend a solemn high mass for the Feast of the Sacred Heart that featured a professional organist and choirmaster, quartet and schola. I could have listened to the Cor Iesu all night despite my knees begging for mercy about 2/3 of the way through.

While I without question respect Greek liturgical practice; I, like you, cannot develop an ear for their sacred music. I think it is the drone/ison that I don't care for (I'm ending my sentence with a preposition because you recently said that we could ;). It, to me, has tonal quality that I suppose is cultural as I do not sense that it is replicated in the same way by the Russian octavists.