It is interesting to see how an old post on the topic of receiving Holy Communion devoutly, “Cardinal Ranjith to his clergy – communion on the tongue only and while kneeling is mandatory”, has suddenly had another surge of visitors and some lively new comments. Why this surprising renewed interest?
The only explanation has to be that the subject is of enormous concern to very many traditional Catholics who are weary of witnessing the lack of Faith in communicants, and sad or disheartened at the constant abuses of Our Blessed Lord’s Sacred Body at many Ordinary Form Masses. If reverence and piety could be restored in the way we celebrate and participate at Mass, faith would increase, hope strengthened, and charity (containing all the virtues) would naturally follow and turn unhappy or lukewarm Catholics into fervent members of the Church once more.
Kneeling to Receive Communion on the Tongue
Receiving the Sacred Host on one’s knees and directly onto the tongue (from the consecrated hands of the priest) should not be restricted to a Latin or Tridentine Mass (in theory), but where, if anywhere, is one able to receive Our Blessed Lord in this humble, reverent way at a Novus Ordo Mass? I can only think of two churches of the many that I have visited at home and abroad where this practice can be seen during a Novus Ordo Mass.
And yet as the commenter Geoff Kiernan points out, all three of the last Popes, Paul VI, John Paul II and Benedict XVI encouraged solely, kneeling and on the tongue, as the preferred way of receiving Holy Communion.
Bishop Schneider noted that the reverence and awe of Catholics who truly believe they are receiving Jesus in the Eucharist should lead them to kneel and receive Communion on their tongues. “The awareness of the greatness of the eucharistic mystery is demonstrated in a special way by the manner in which the Body of the Lord is distributed and received,” the bishop wrote.
Before he became Pope, Card. Ratzinger said: “The kneeling of Christians is not a form of inculturation into existing customs. It is quite the opposite, an expression of Christian culture, which transforms the existing culture through a new and deeper knowledge and experience of God. Kneeling does not come from any culture – it comes from the Bible and its knowledge of God… The Christian Liturgy is a cosmic Liturgy precisely because it bends the knee before the crucified and exalted Lord. Here is the centre of authentic culture – the culture of truth. The humble gesture by which we fall at the feet of the Lord inserts us into the true path of life…”
The (Extraordinary Form) Tridentine Mass
Every single detail of the Tridentine Mass of the Ages is centred towards Adoration of God from the very opening words of the priest, “introibo ad altare Dei”. The culmination of this sublime Mass is the Consecration of the Bread and Wine into the Body and Blood of Our Lord and Saviour. It follows that by the time the faithful then move toward the altar rails to receive the Sacred Host, they are better prepared spiritually by the deeply prayerful ‘build up’. They now have an ardent desire to receive the Blessed Sacrament, and to do so with great piety, gratitude and reverence.
A Holy Mass and a devout reception of Holy Communion go hand in glove.
Fr. Peter Carota, on his blog Traditional Catholic Priest says:
“I believe that the Latin Mass is superior from my own empirical experience of offering the English, Spanish Novus Ordo Masses along with the Latin Mass for 6 years. Any priest who offers the two masses together, day in and day out will, in all honesty, find out that the Latin Mass is more pleasing to God. It is because of its total orientation toward God, its adoration of God and perfection that was organically developed over centuries and centuries.”
A obvious solution would be to only attend a Tridentine Mass. Or at least a Latin NO Mass where kneeling to receive the Sacred Host is more acceptable. But sadly for most of us, these are options that are not easily available.
In spite of Pope Benedict XVI’s ‘motu propio’, the Apostolic Letter, Summorum Pontificum, allowing the return of the Mass that “nourished the faithful for centuries”, this has not been applied in many dioceses yet, probably because a great many priests no longer know how to celebrate it!
So what can we do to return to the sacred traditional way of receiving Holy Communion whilst kneeling and on the tongue? Another answer would surely be to get together to collectively beg our priests, and perhaps even petition our Bishops later on, to bring back the facilities for the laity to receive Our Blessed Lord in this humble way. If altar rails (so tragically ripped out of many churches in the aftermath of VII) cannot be replaced, at least a few prie-dieus (kneeling pews) could be strategically set in front of the altar for those who are unable to kneel on the ground.
Is it not worth a try? Is Our Lord not the King of Kings? Does He not deserve the maximum efforts on our part to devotion and respect in receiving His Sacred Body and Blood?
Lex orandi lex credendi lex Vivendi. With this move, and then the slow but sure bringing in of other pious practices during Holy Mass that have been discarded since the 70’s, the faithful will be invigorated in their faith. Let’s start the long climb back to reclaiming all that is sacred and beautiful and holy in the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church.