“I beg you to show the greatest possible reverence and honour for the most holy Body and Blood of Our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom all things, whether on Earth or in Heaven, have been brought to peace and reconciled with Almighty God.” – (St. Francis of Assisi, in a letter to a priest.)
For many years I have been kneeling to receive Holy Communion on the tongue. It has always seemed to me ‘right and fitting’ to fall to my knees, to receive my Lord and Saviour. Nor do I believe my unconsecrated hands should touch His Most Sacred Body, so I receive on the tongue.
There was a time when I was very young, swept along in the tide of novelties that had overwhelmed the Church in the aftermath of Vatican II, that I received the Sacred Host in the hand; it appeared to be unavoidable, even though I had been taught at my First Holy Communion to receive in the traditional way. I soon began to notice that tiny particles of the Host sometimes stuck to my palm and I was horrified. I knew full well that in each one was the fullness of the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Our Blessed Lord. I was not happy about this and yearned for a more traditional and reverent way of receiving the Eucharist.
I was blessed; at the same time as I began to meet and make friends with like-minded traditional Catholics, all the holy Catholic devotions that had so nourished the Church for centuries started to make a slow comeback, bringing with it a call to reclaim the Sacred in the Liturgy. I returned to my earliest childhood days of receiving kneeling and on the tongue, and always from the consecrated hands of a priest. Despite some initial fears, I have never had a problem with this practice. Until the other day!
Last Sunday, as I chanced to be paying a visit to see an old friend who lay dying in hospital, on leaving I went into an unknown nearby church for Holy Mass to offer prayers for him. It was a fairly modern-looking church, but I was pleased to see a large beautiful crucifix hanging above the altar. The N.O. Mass was celebrated in a not-too-modernist way, so I had no inkling of what was about to happen next.
When it came time for the distribution of Holy Communion both the celebrant-priest and an Extraordinary Minister came down the steps from the altar. I got into line to receive from the priest. When it was my turn I knelt down, closed my eyes and opened my mouth, as I always did. Nothing happened! I opened my eyes to see him frowning down at me, when then, still holding the Host suspended in his hands, he growled, “De pie!” (Stand up!) I was so stunned, and without thinking, simply gasped, “no”. He turned away from me then with a, “como quieres” (as you wish) and continued stuffing the Sacred Host into the outstretched hands of all those coming up behind me. I eventually got to my feet, but to make my humiliation complete he still ignored me until the last person in the line had received Communion. Then glaring furiously at me (because I still refused to unclasp my hands) he hurriedly gave me Holy Communion on the tongue without even uttering, “Cuerpo de Cristo” (Body of Christ). I walked back to my bench with downcast eyes to avoid the curious stares of all the congregation.
There was no way after Mass that I could politely enquire of the priest why he had refused me Communion while kneeling – he had slammed shut the door to the Sacristy – but I did approach the Eucharistic Minister as he was leaving the church with his wife to ask his opinion. His explanation was only to say that “this is the way we do things here [i.e. in this church]; it’s quicker and easier”. I suppose his meaning was: this is the way we choose to interpret Catholic teaching, and if you don’t like it, go elsewhere! Echoes of Protestantism (viz, every church picking and choosing what to believe at random) started ringing in my head.
However, under the Vatican website entitled “OFFICE FOR THE LITURGICAL CELEBRATIONS OF THE SUPREME PONTIFF”, and under the subtitle, “Communion received on the tongue and while kneeling” it states that:
“The Western Church has established kneeling as one of the signs of devotion appropriate to communicants. A celebrated saying of Saint Augustine, cited by Pope Benedict XVI in n. 66 of his Encyclical Sacramentum Caritatis, (“Sacrament of Love”), teaches: “No one eats that flesh without first adoring it; we should sin were we not to adore it” (Enarrationes in Psalmos 98, 9). Kneeling indicates and promotes the adoration necessary before receiving the Eucharistic Christ.
From this perspective, the then-Cardinal Ratzinger assured that: “Communion only reaches its true depth when it is supported and surrounded by adoration” [The Spirit of the Liturgy (Ignatius Press, 2000), p. 90]. For this reason, Cardinal Ratzinger maintained that “the practice of kneeling for Holy Communion has in its favor a centuries-old tradition, and it is a particularly expressive sign of adoration, completely appropriate in light of the true, real and substantial presence of Our Lord Jesus Christ under the consecrated species” [cited in the Letter “This Congregation” of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, 1 July 1, 2002].”
The Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments in 2004, with then prefect Cardinal Francis Arinze, stated in Redemptionis Sacramentum that:
“…it is not licit to deny Holy Communion to any of Christ’s faithful solely on the grounds, for example, that the person wishes to receive the Eucharist kneeling…”(91) and “each of the faithful always has the right to receive Holy Communion on the tongue…” (92)
Esteemed priest-blogger of the Diocese of Madison, WI, Fr. Richard Heilman, said in a homily:
“Reports are now widespread of priests refusing Communion to those who wish to receive kneeling and on the tongue. Even reports of priests berating people for this. A friend of mine said he was traveling and attended Mass where he proceeded to kneel and indicate that he wished to receive on the tongue. The minister of Holy Communion refused and ended up walking away from him. He remained. Finally, the priest came over and said, “Get up son, we don’t do it that way here.” My friend said, “So, you are refusing me Communion?” The priest said, “Yes I am.” He got up, walked out and reported him to the chancery. It is a severe infraction against canon law for any priest to do this.”
So I am not the only one to have ruffled the feathers of an anti-traditionalish priest. There are many such stories reported on the Catholic blogosphere. Katrina Fernandez (Crescat) wrote an article last March where she reports how she was: “Denied Communion on the Tongue at My Grandmother’s Funeral…”! She says:
“I mean I’ve heard stories about priests refusing to give communion to people kneeling or on the tongue before but have never witnessed it myself. I just had such a hard time believing a priest could be so poorly formed or dismissively casual with the Eucharist.”
Do priests who have such an evident distaste for kneeling communicants truly believe that the Holy Eucharist is the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Our Lord Jesus Chirst? If they did, would they really wish to deny Holy Communion to those who revere the Sacrament in this way? Every day we hear cases of horrendous Eucharistic abuses. Irreverence and disbelief in the Real Presence of Our Lord has increased as the posture of kneeling has been lost. Can these liberal priests who deny Communion to those who desire to kneel and receive on the tongue not see that? It is very hard not to imagine that priests who refuse to distribute Holy Communion to those who wish to kneel to receive, those who shun handling His Sacred Body as though it were a mere piece of unconsecrated bread, have not lost their faith in the Real Presence themselves. Because, quite frankly, what other reason could there be for this contemptuous attitude towards communicants who wish to honour and revere Our Lord “on bended knee” [Phillippians 2:10], and to receive Him directly onto the tongue? **
The “Congregatio de Cultu Divino et Disciplina Sacramentorum“, under the subtitle, “Kneeling For Holy Communion. Must Catholics Stand?“, includes this information:
“In view of the law that “sacred ministers may not deny the sacraments to those who opportunely ask for them, are properly disposed and are not prohibited by law from receiving them” (Canon 843 s. 1),there should be no such refusal to any Catholic who presents himself for Holy Communion at Mass, except in cases presenting a danger of grave scandal to other believers arising out of the person’s unrepented public sin or obstinate heresy or schism, publicly professed or declared. Even where the Congregation has approved of legislation denoting standing as the posture for Holy Communion, in accordance with the adaptations permitted to the Conferences of Bishops by the Institution Generalis Missalis Romani n. 160, paragraph 2, it has done so with the stipulation that communicants who choose to kneel are not to be denied Holy Communion on these grounds.”
So there we have it. The Magisterium of the Catholic Church encourages the faithful to receive Holy Communion kneeling and on the tongue. Those priests who refuse communicants the Sacred Host, not for any dubious motive (like those cases mentioned in the above text) other than their distaste for this pious form of receiving the King of Kings, are disobeying the laws of the Church.
** I would like to point out that Catholics who choose to receive Holy Communion whilst standing (or those who cannot kneel on the ground), and to receive in the hand with reverence, are not committing any Church disciplinary infraction. Such methods are permitted by Canon Law.
This post is very sad. Such refusal on the part of priests doesn’t – thank the Lord – happen in every country.
Here in Germany, the situation is a little different.
For all their faults, the Germans – God bless ’em – are scrupulous followers of rules and regulations. Cardinals like Kasper and Marx, along with others in the German episcopate may veer toward heresy and schism when it comes to doctrine. When there’s a rule, though, that no priest can refuse to give Communion to someone who wishes to receive it on the tongue, while kneeling, then the priests here follow that rule. to. the. letter.
Other things seem vastly more worthwhile getting all hot under the chasuble about. Still, takes all sorts, dunnit? I suppose the question is – did the Apostles at the Last Supper kneel down and take bread from Christ’s hand into their mouths? Or has that got nothing to do with it?
I also suppose, if it had been the custom, for virtually two thousand years, to stand up and receive the host on the hand – and someone recently had suggested kneeling down and taking it on the tongue, the Trads would be screaming blue murder about it.
The modern way prevails in Moratinos. Pilgrims all follow suit. Kneeling down etc, would seem rather ostentatious and self-absorbed. When in Rome(!) etc.
Of course, if everyone here knelt down and stuck out their tongues, it would look equally ostentatious to stand there with your mouth shut, and your hands outstretched.
Please, please, please follow this up properly. Write to the priest asking for an explanation. When you get one, or don’t within a reasonable time, write to the Bishop of the place, copying your own Parish Priest and the Bishop of your place of residence and ask for an explanation and an apolgy for the scandal caused. If you don’t get one, write to the Congregation for Divine Worship and Discipline of the Sacraments.
It is only by following this protocol that the message will get out. Blogging is all very well – and an important service to the Church – but until proper canonical action is taken (and that can only happen if you follow the protocols) then this will just continue.
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Ugh! Feel free to share with me his address. I will ask him for you.
Seriously, that is terrible. My mother saw that happen once, many years ago. She was going up for communion, when a lady knelt in a mantilla.
She heard the priest say, “In the diocese of _____, we STAND to receive communion.” The woman remained kneeling, and the priest repeated his words: “In the diocese of ______, we STAND to receive communion.” She still knelt, and so he stepped aside, and left her there.
My mother, who was not a traditionalist, was nonetheless shocked. It was highly cruel and unkind.
I am really sorry that you went through that. If I was close by, I would question him for you, no qualms there. God bless you, and thank you for sharing this.
Do priests who have such an evident distaste for kneeling communicants truly believe that the Holy Eucharist is the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Our Lord Jesus Christ?
Very good question, and one worth asking of those who readily administer Communion to people in a publicly professed (or otherwise evidenced) state of unrepentant mortal sin. Actually, I imagine that these ministers are often the very same who refuse Communion to kneeling communicants as well.
Here (IMO) are your real doctors of the law, only in this case their rigidity is much more pernicious as it is based on an ever-changing (and therefore much more prone to fashion or climate of opinion) law of their own making, not that which the Church has clearly defined.
I certainly concur with the sentiments of the previous two commenters as well – this definitely needs to be reported, or the practice will continue. There may even be people who regularly attend that parish who would secretly like to receive kneeling and on the tongue, but are fearful of being brow-beaten and/or ostracised by the clergy there.
@ Robert John, Stephen, Isabella Rose (RTS) and Michael
Thank you very much for your very interesting stories and for offering me your support.
I was really upset about this incident (rather than angry); for not only did it happen at a very sensitive moment – on the day an old friend lay dying in hospital just down the road – but it was also the Sunday after Christmas, feast day of the Holy Family, one of my favourite in the Liturgical Calender, with its lovely Epistle and Gospel, and all the Catholic family devotions the feast conjures up.
An ongoing sorrow of course (for all of us who hold a deep love for the Holy Eucharist) is the way the Body of Christ is offended by this sort of behaviour. The priest’s impatience, casualness and apparent total lack of understanding of the greatness, awe and wonder of this Most Blessed Sacrament – unfortunately all too common among many priests at this time – is truly heartbreaking. We do really need to make constant reparation for all these “outrages, sacrileges and indifference by which He [Our Lord] is offended” – (from the angel of Fatima’s prayer).
This took place in the city of Granada in southern Spain. It has never happened to me before in any of Granada’s many beautiful old churches where I have attended Holy Mass!
Anyway, I shall take your advice – thank you.
“It is only by following this protocol* that the message will get out.”
(* The one you mention.) Exactly.
As I was a newcomer to this church, I do not know the priest’s name, but perhaps I can find out.
I have met the Bishop of Granada; he confirmed one of my sons a couple of years ago.
Just one little postscript about something I forgot to add into the article…
The cartoon picture above, “Eucharists for everyone”, was meant to have a comment beside it stating: Unless, of course, you wish to receive reverently by kneeling and on the tongue! One could almost come away with the idea nowadays that the more quirky, blasé, novel and flippant way one receives the Holy Eucharist, the better!…
For the Modernists within the Church of course.
You would not be refused if you were a divorced and civilly marriage person who is okay by their conscience to come forward; you would not be refused if you were in a sodomite relationship; you would not be refused as a pro-abortion politician; and you would not be refused as a declared lesbian Buddhist either. But to be reverent and desire to show it with your body posture….well, that is another matter.
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Toad @ 10:19
“Other things seem vastly more worthwhile getting all hot under the chasuble about.”
If you have no love, awe and reverence for the Blessed Sacrament, then I suppose you are right, Toad. Would that be your case?
As to the rest of your comment, well, it is simply common sense that kneeling is a sign of homage. Besides, it is a well known fact that kneeling to receive on the tongue can be traced back to the Early Church Fathers. It is Scriptural too, and a very clear gesture of recognising one’s unworthiness (sinners that we are) and submission to Our Lord and King. Like the Magi – important men from afar – who “falling down they adored him”, (Matthew 2:11).
“Kneeling down etc, would seem rather ostentatious and self-absorbed.”
Is that what you think I am, Toad? I am sure that are plenty of liberals who would agree with you, and it was certainly one of my initial fears when I went back to my early childhood habit of kneeling… before the jolly old Modernists (destructors of beauty and reverence) took control of the Church and imposed standing and Communion in the hand. Now I am immune to the surprised stares and, perhaps, sniggers; I honestly don’t notice them… if they exist that is. I just try to concentrate on the enormous gift and wonder that Our Blessed Lord wants to become “Food for my soul”.
We attended Christmas Eve Mass in Rudesheim in Germany & experienced no difficulty whatever. However a few years ago our diocesan bishop refused Communion to a friend because he knelt. My friend contacted Rome & our bishop had to apologise
The starting point is that the Holy Ghost guiding and perfecting the Church, as was promised by Our Lord! Now in the 60’s we began to see this insidious attack on the Church and especially implying errors!
The arguments human judgements especially those from free thinkers (naturalism and modernism), then the non Dogmatic Council Vatican II ( a Pastoral Council) swept away centuries of settled traditions under the guise of modern relevance.
The starting point with the Eucharist is MAN AS CREATED BY HIS HEAVENLY FATHER. The Eucharist becomes (under the appearance of bread and wine) the Body (without Original Sin) Blood Soul and Divinity (that is the Trinity since there is One God and three personages).
God is to be adored! Worshipped! This is commonly agreed even by Protestants that God is to be Adored and Worshipped.
Epistle Of Saint Paul To The Philippians 2:10-11
 That in the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those that are in heaven, on earth, and under the earth:
11] And that every tongue should confess that the Lord Jesus Christ is in the glory of God the Father.
Now why would you NOT knee and receive HIM on your tongue?
First Vatican Council, 1869–70 called by Pope Pius IX (Dogma of the Immaculate Conception)
Pope Pius XII (Dogma of the Assumption) “..It is traditional to kneel when kissing the Pope’s ring. … fans made of white feathers on either side of him.36 Pope Pius XII reigned from 1939 to 1958. … to their knees with the phone in their hand and remain kneeling while they spoke to him ..”
Pacelli and the 1917 Canon Law Code!!
But it is not a Canon Law matter! Hence a Pastoral Change!
Its General Instruction of the Roman Missal (GIRM)
The norm in USA
The faithful are not permitted to take the consecrated bread or the sacred chalice by themselves and, still less, to hand them from one to another. The norm for reception of Holy Communion in the dioceses of the United States is standing. Communicants should not be denied Holy Communion because they kneel. Rather, such instances should be addressed pastorally, by providing the faithful with proper catechesis on the reasons for this norm.
When receiving Holy Communion, the communicant bows his or her head before the Sacrament as a gesture of reverence and receives the Body of the Lord from the minister. The consecrated host may be received either on the tongue or in the hand, at the discretion of each communicant. When Holy Communion is received under both kinds, the sign of reverence is also made before receiving the Precious Blood.
Fools rush in where Angels Fear to Tread!
I sincerely feel sad you had such a hard time this holiday. But fight the good fight. I wish we would put the altar rails back in. That would end the fight once and for all. Since there are no kneelers at an altar rail, I bow. It is sufficient, though I’d prefer to be kneeling for my own reasons. I cannot do the swift kneeling that others can as my knees are bad and I’d likely fall, so I simply bow. I envy their agility. I’m a klutz so it is better if I simply bow. If there were an altar rail again, I’d be able to no problem. Oh well. Maybe someday I’ll be in a place with altar rails and can kneel all I want and not topple over into the persons behind me or worse fall forward into the Minister or Priest and cause the Blessed Sacrament to be knocked over or something!!! Hello! Yikes! Happy New Year Kathleen. God bless. Ginnyfree.
Behind all this positional controversy is the (probably stupid) question: ” Why does God need to be adored, anyway? He’s already got everything. Does He demand it, or do we assume that He will appreciate it? He certainly won’t be the better for it. And why should He demand something He doesn’t need – and be “offended” if He doesn’t get it??
It seems very illogical and anthropomorphic – we seem to be treating God as if He were Chairman Mao, or Brad Pitt. Surely, He can’t want that – can He?
…And I do agree that Kathleen was very shabbily, and incredibly ill-manneredly, treated. A stiff letter to the Bishop in his palace is on the cards.
“Pope Pius XII (Dogma of the Assumption) “..It is traditional to kneel when kissing the Pope’s ring. “… fans made of white feathers on either side of him. 36 Pope Pius XII reigned from 1939 to 1958. … to their knees with the phone in their hand and remain kneeling while they spoke to him ..” “
Not the foggiest idea what Rogbert is talking about – but the imagery is wonderfully surreal.
After reading about the events you have described so well above, I came across the following passage by Lady Lucy Herbert (1669 – 1744), who gave up the noble life (she was daughter of the second Marquis of Worcester) to enter a convent in Bruges at the age of twenty-four. She wrote a treatise called Several Excellent Methods of Hearing Mass, in which some reflections are designed to be used on the 25th of each month, by way of reflection on the Incarnation. Here are some excerpts which I think connect well with what you’ve written (and which the priest in question would do well to read!):
‘At the very moment that the Priest pronounces the words of Consecration, imagine how the Angels in great numbers descend with their Lord King. We announce to you great joy, for this day your Saviour is born for you.
Acknowledge Him and adore Him under the appearance of bread and wine. It is the same God whom the Blessed Virgin held in her arms, wrapt in swaddling clouts and laid in a manger…
…Reflect that it is not without mystery that Jesus Christ is born in a stable, which is to signify that there is no heart, however poor and vile it be, which He disdains to enter, provided it desires His coming, and disposes itself for the same. Secondly, reflect that He is the Lamb of God who was sacrificed on the Cross for our sins, and is desirous, on the Altar of our heart, to offer Himself again to His Eternal Father for the same end…
…After having received Him, entertain your Divine Saviour, and beg Him to remain hidden in your heart as He was at Nazareth, that so He may help you to labour and work as He did His blessed parents; and work with you joining His hand to yours, without which, acknowledge that nothing will be done well.‘
P.S. Does anyone know why, when putting quotations in italics, the gap between the last and penultimate paragraphs is always somewhat shortened?
P.P.S. Ginny @ 23:30, January, 2nd – very good point about the altar rails. Raises several other important questions about the effect a church’s structure and aesthetics has on the communicant, as well as making it more difficult for intolerantly-tolerant priests to deny Communion to those who wish to kneel.
In addition Michael, I’m of a mind to eject all non-ordained persons from the Sanctuary altogether as well. Yes, not only do I long to see the altar rails back up, but the little gate that must be passed to enter the elevated holier ground of the Sanctuary. I’m so sensitive sometimes in this area that I have to close my eyes when I see some persons coming and going endlessly from the Sacristy behind the Altar as if it is the garage. The chatter and laughter coming from it before and after Masses is also an annoyance. But not everyone sees things the way I do, so I’m learning to apply several spiritual works of mercy all at once. Yeah. I’m very conservative in that regard. It is Holy Ground they trespass upon. If they all of a sudden decided to re-instate a stricture regarding who can enter the Sacristy and the Sanctuary again, I also feel so strongly about this that it will actually take a reconsecration of them both and maybe even the Altar itself as well for all the abuse all three have witnessed to. Ah well. A gal can dream can’t she? God bless. Ginnyfree.
“When the Son of Man comes, will He find faith left on the earth?”
Priests like this desperately require prayers – difficult as it is to pray for them! One really does wonder just how they perceive the Blessed Sacrament. God and Mary enlighten them!
Nah, Michael. They simply need a refresher course on rubrics and options regarding the Mass. Perhaps a few weeks away from their regular parish while they are put through the course would help them focus on the learning task at hand. Then they could return to their parishes, faculties still intact and proceed to continue ministering in a corrected manner. Sort of a camp for priests who need correction. It wouldn’t work as too many have stiffened their necks and deafened their ears and would rebel further should corrective measures be applied I think. We need to keep praying for them. On well. A gal can dream can’t she? God bless. Ginnyfree.
Michael @ 21:04 yesterday
That was a lovely reflection by Lady Lucy Herbert of the moment of Consecration. Only those who are intent on putting their whole mind and heart into entering into this awesome mystery can be made aware (and even then, only in part) of the wonders taking place on the altar at this sublime moment of the Holy Mass.
St Padre Pio’s Masses would sometimes go on for hours! He immersed himself into Our Lord’s Passion and Death at every Mass in such a way that all who witnessed them were bowled over in wonderment. What would he have to say about the hurried, flippant and slapdash way some of his fellow priests celebrate the Supreme Sacrifice today, I wonder! And like St Padre Pio, all the many other holy priests and saints who have truly made the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass the centre of their lives.
I watched a YouTube video a while back of a priest of the FFI celebrating the Consecration at a Traditional Latin Mass. It was absolutely rivetting! His whole demeanour: concentration, reverence and long drawn out motions spoke of his absolute immersion into the Sacred Mystery. If I can find the video again I’ll post it here.
This is all to go back to starting point: belief in the Real Presence of Our Lord Jesus Christ (under the species of bread and wine). None of the offhand approach, or abuses, or scorn of kneeling communicants, etc. would occur if we had faith and truly believed in it.
Yes, as another Michael said at 23:20 yesterday, such priests really do need our prayers.
Many thanks for your encouraging words.
As Michael says, I think you make a great point about the return of the altar rails that would, above all, make it easier for those who would like to kneel to receive Holy Communion. Why they were ever removed in the first place beats me I’m afraid. Such wanton destruction can only be seen as satanical!
I quite agree with you too about keeping the altar free from all those people bustling around up there on this sacred space. That little gate on the altar rails would be a good deterrent.
Let us reclaim all that is sacred and holy in the Church, and thus bring back true Faith.
There are no physical altar rails at a battlefield Mass, yet it is just as Holy and Sanctifying.
Our Lord had nowhere to lay His Head: There was no stability in His adult earthly life, or even His infancy. We sinners crave stability and certainty because of our sinfulness. We are like pampered farmyard chickens awaiting our fate compared to free-flying eagles who rise above it all.
Hen-houses are great for comfy hens, but no use for sky-cruising saints-in-the-making.
We must learn to rough it, for Christ’s sake, and in imitation of Him.
Traditionalism’s fatal flaw is in its lust for the past rather than the present.
(Liberalism’s fatal flaw is in its lust for the future rather than the present, btw!).
Human dreaming/planning is always dangerous: God has other plans at all times and in all places.
Rather than dream then plot and act, we should pray, then gain Grace, and then we will act in all Holiness and in all times and places.
Then God’s Will is done, as we pray for it to be done.
Happy New Year to everyone.
Actually Kathleen, I would prefer to kneel for Communion, but I have bad knees and need solid help kneeling and getting up most times. Without something solid to grab onto in the process of getting up and down, I risk further injury. If I had an altar rail to help me, I’d be happy as a clam in deep, deep sand cause then I could be where I’m supposed to be before my Lord, on my knees………….every knee shall bow under Heaven………………God bless. Ginnyfree.
Ya know Brother B, I never said one little word about the Sanctity of the Mass itself. Never will. Mass is Holy no matter how mangled it gets by those who are responsible for it. I’m only responsible for my participation and I do the best I can to participate in a way I feel God is pleased with. I mind my distractions and focus on my responses etc. But that is all I’m responsible for. I have no responsibility for the stuff that goes on at the Altar. And I thank Almighty God for it too. The things I’ve seen are sacrilege. When a Mass is served in a battlefield that actually is a battlefield, there are accommodations made and only those priests who are dispensed to do so, can do so without sin. To pretend those same accommodations apply in daily Mass at St. Nowhere’s parish is a falsification of discipline and practice. God bless. Ginnyfree.
Ginny @ 21:43, January 3rd; 12:32, January 4th:
Agreed! Our Lord is just as present whenever Mass is served, but whether on a battlefield, a small rundown chapel, or a grand basilica, all that is possible should be done to create an atmosphere conducive to reverence. In the case of an established church building, this means just the sort of things you’ve outlined; and in all cases, the elimination of a plethora of lay people dressed in beach clothing (as you mention on another thread) as well as chatting and laughter in the congregation, should be a given.
There is nothing about this that looks back to past practice for nostalgia’s sake, but a simple desire for holy spaces to be treated as such. Which leads me to Kathleen’s excellent comment at 11:02:
This is all to go back to starting point: belief in the Real Presence of Our Lord Jesus Christ (under the species of bread and wine). None of the offhand approach, or abuses, or scorn of kneeling communicants, etc. would occur if we had faith and truly believed in it.
This is the absolute bottom line problem here. Though I would also suggest that there is an inevitable feedback involved as well, insofar as when churches/the Mass are set up/enacted in a way that ignores or even undermines the reality of what is going on there, this will itself contribute to a decrease in belief in the Real Presence, which will result in more churches practicing abuses, etc as well.
To break this cycle though, we must begin with clarification and reaffirmation of doctrine, and this will then flow out into practice. The tendency nowadays of course is to start with practice (usually reduced to some vague concept of ‘social justice’) and of course everything sacred eventually goes out the window, leaving the Church no more relevant than the nearest hobby club or branch of social services.
P.S. Kathleen, another part of your comment:
What would he have to say about the hurried, flippant and slapdash way some of his fellow priests celebrate the Supreme Sacrifice today, I wonder! And like St Padre Pio, all the many other holy priests and saints who have truly made the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass the centre of their lives.
reminded me of a post a month or so back over at Faith In Our Families:
I can see from the ‘likes’ at the bottom of the post that quite a few people here have read it already, but it is worth bringing it to anyone else’s attention I think, given how it links in with what has been discussed here already!
Michael, Kathleen makes the point clear, but if you asked each and everyone of them if they believed that Jesus Christ was present, Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity upon said Altars, they’d all say “Yes, of course I do,” and wonder why on earth you’d think they really didn’t believe. And that is, as they say, that. Actions speak louder than words though. Back to the bottom line – me and how I behave. I am after all, the only person whose behavior I can adjust and adjust I must in response to all that God has done for me. God bless. Ginnyfree.
Dear BB @ 11:54… it’s really nice to see you back again, but I’m afraid I find your comment rather baffling! I think you have rather missed the point here. The article is not about the return of altar rails at all really – these just happened to come into the last bit of the conversation when we were calling for the need to reclaim all that is holy, reverent and sacred at Holy Mass. (And I know you would not be against that! 😉 )
Of course Holy Mass can be celebrated anywhere if there is no church building around, and perhaps some of the most Sanctifying Masses ever celebrated have taken place in catacombs, gulags, dungeons, and yes, battlefields!
I remember once posting some amazing pictures from WWI on CP&S of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass being celebrated in all sorts of muddy, uncomfortable sites. One of them was on a make-shift altar high on the peaks of the Italian/Austrian Alps. The photo of the men humbly kneeling on the steep rocky ground during the Consecration was extremely moving. No doubt there that they truly believed in the priest’s words of Our Lord: “This is My Body; This is My Blood”.
P.S. I just want to add that the last paragraph in Michael’s comment at 15:57 is very important. You cannot expect people who have been poorly catechised to understand the Doctrine of Transubstantiation if they have never been taught it in the first place! As he infers, this attempt to turn the Church into some sort of social club where ‘justice’ and ‘tolerance’ are the only ‘entry words’, is a direct attack on the precepts of our Catholic Faith.
This makes me angry & has been said by others who have commented do these priests truly understand what they are doing during communion, I wonder. In my church in great billing village Northampton uk we still have the rails & the gates I kneel down on my right knee before priest then stand & recieve by tongue I would say just under half the people recieve by tongue. I have seen people kneel at our Cathedral the priest just Carey’s on as normal. So sad that you had to go through such an ordeal.
Thank you, chippino.
How nice that your Cathedral still retains its altar rails! These would certainly make it a lot easier for those communicants who want to kneel, but find kneeling down on the ground (or getting up again afterwards, as Ginny has described), too tricky to contemplate.
Do those who kneel at your Cathedral use the kneelers in front of the altar rails then?
Ginny @ 21:23, January 4th:
…but if you asked each and everyone of them if they believed that Jesus Christ was present, Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity upon said Altars, they’d all say “Yes, of course I do,” and wonder why on earth you’d think they really didn’t believe.
Hmm. Some (of those who actually don’t believe in the Real Presence that is) might respond in such a way yes, and I don’t think this would always be down to rank hypocrisy either – many will have managed to ‘re-interpret’ the formal definition of Our Lord’s sacramental presence, so that it marries up with a concept in their heads which is very different.
However, I wouldn’t be too surprised if a good number of priests nowadays would actually be quite reluctant to commit themselves to a belief in anything defined so clearly as ‘Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity’ and instead would try to come up with a formula of sufficient vagueness that they could honestly agree with.
Anyway, actions speak louder than words as you say, and even if 100% of priests quizzed were to affirm belief in the Real Presence, defined clearly as you have done above, the way they treat the consecrated elements (and communicants who show reverence to Our Lord there) would be a dead giveaway that they were either lying, under a misapprehension about what the words meant, or had jumped through mental hoops so that they could appear orthodox whilst entertaining views very much not in line with Catholic teaching on the Eucharist.
Back to the bottom line – me and how I behave. I am after all, the only person whose behavior I can adjust and adjust I must in response to all that God has done for me.
I agree and disagree here Ginny. It is absolutely true that if we want to change things, we must start with ourselves, and it is only over ourselves that we can have direct influence. It is also only with respect to ourselves that we can know the intentions and motivations behind our behaviour.
However, just as in the case of others, whilst we cannot know the secrets of their hearts (and so cannot know the full extent of their culpability), we can make assessments about their behaviour being sinful or not; we can also help to adjust the behaviour of others, albeit in the full knowledge that our assistance therein still depends on their cooperation. Otherwise, we would not be called to perform the Spiritual Works of Mercy (particularly the first three), and if we never did attempt to help others reform their views and/or behaviour, situations like that Kathleen described in the article above would continue without impedance.
We must start with ourselves always, of course, but we are called to tend to the needs of one another as well, and this includes helping them back on track when they have gone off the rails. This can take place on a one-to-one level, which of necessity requires a lot of tact, knowledge of one’s own failings, and trust between the two actors; but I believe we are also called to adjust the aberrant behaviour of wider movements or groups within the Church as well – such as the practices written about above.
Michael, I said what I said simply because every Catholic knows that in order to receive, one simply has acknowledge a belief in the Real Presence. It is one of the “I must believe/do this” things or I’m not Catholic kinda thing and if you are a “Cradle Catholic,” you had it drilled into your head before your First Holy Communion, that you had to believe or you couldn’t receive, so you believed whether or not you really believed. Most folks keep their doubts about this to themselves. But like Kathleen pointed out, actions do speak louder than words. I also wrote what I did because I know I cannot place that belief in another person. That is entirely between them and God. If a person has a faulty belief in the Blessed Sacrament, they are aware of it. Only they can turn to God for healing. Only they can expose that wound to Him and ask Him to heal it. They have to admit in their innermost being that they actually have a fault there that deprives them of a mature and fulfilling faith “experience.” (hate to use that term, but it does convey the point) If they never admit there is a fault, the fractured faith they have gets built on and not in a good way. It is very disabling and it is the root cause of much that afflicts the Church. But I cannot do much about that at all. God knows the hearts of everyone, not me. I suppose if a person had a charism to effect the healing process for these particular types of persons, then it would happen. It is a charism and since God is also in charge of dispensing charisms, once again I know it isn’t my place to attempt to change another to my liking. It is a frustration, Michael and I sense that about your words. Pray about it. I’m sure you already do. God bless. Ginnyfree.
Ginny @ 12:57:
I think we’ve been over this sort of ground before, a while back, but I still fail to understand why one cannot make a distinction between not knowing the heart of an individual (which of course, only God knows) and the ways in which people publicly make manifest heterodox beliefs by their actions (or indeed, publicly make manifest a persistence in sinful patterns of behaviour). As I just wrote in my previous comment:
…in the case of others, whilst we cannot know the secrets of their hearts (and so cannot know the full extent of their culpability), we can make assessments about their behaviour being sinful or not…
In the case of priests who treat the Blessed Sacrament in cavalier ways, or in the case Kathleen outlined in her post, actively discourage people from receiving Our Lord reverently, I think we would have a good case for suspecting that they might not believe in the Real Presence, or at the very least that they only pay lip service to that belief without really reckoning what it means.
In such cases, I am not suggesting we exercise a special charism to read their hearts, but that we exercise prudence and take steps to address the situation. Of course it is only the person in question that can ‘admit in their innermost being that they actually have a fault there‘, but to say that just because we can’t effect a miraculous change in their attitude then we can’t do anything to help them to see the error of their ways is ridiculous, and contrary to what we are indeed advised to do in the Spiritual Works of Mercy (with the provisos I outlined above).
In this particular instance, we would not even need to admonish or counsel the priest in question – it would be a question of contacting his superiors and submitting our concerns about the way in which the Mass is conducted, etc. However, if you were close enough to someone with a similar attitude to the Blessed Sacrament, are you seriously suggesting that you wouldn’t say anything to them about it, just because you don’t have a God-like knowledge of their intentions, etc? I very much doubt it. Also…
If a person has a faulty belief in the Blessed Sacrament, they are aware of it.
Not so. As I wrote before, there are plenty of intellectual games people can play to assure themselves that they are perfectly in line with Church teaching, whilst holding views contrary to those teachings. Moreover, even if they are aware of being out of line here, there are many who just don’t care, because they think the Church is wrong and they’re right. In both cases, the charitable thing for someone close to them to do is to inform them of the Truth. After that, it is up to them; but we can’t just not say anything because we lack omniscience.
“…in the case of others, whilst we cannot know the secrets of their hearts (and so cannot know the full extent of their culpability), we can make assessments about their behaviour being sinful or not…”
The question is, what do we do after that? Apart, naturally, from condemning the shortness of their shorts, and their mindless and innocently cheerful demeanour – on CP&S?
When Christ (or an officially appointed representative) advises, “Judge not, lest ye be judged,” he does not have us in mind, of course.
[Moderator: The second paragraph of this comment is quite unacceptable and has been deleted.]
(Bossy old thing, Gin-girl is – isn’t she?. Good to hear from Burro. I feared he was dead. Like Jabba.)
Hi Kathleen I think l may have explained it wrong it’s my parish church Our Lady of Perpetual Succour that has altar rails with the gates not our Cathedral. To answer your question gates are always open its where priest stands for us to recieve communion & no one uses the altar rail to kneel & recieve communion those that do kneel for communion kneel in front of priest. At our cathedral no altar rails so again some just kneel as they recieve communion on a concrete floor!! Now in time I will suggest to my parish priest that we should make use of th altar rails for those who wish to kneel I fear he will say no because most are so used to lining up in front of priest. On weekday masses at my parish it would be easier to hopefully get the priest to allow us to kneel along altar rails as less people attend weekday mass at least it would be a start! I will let you know if this happens!! I’m so glad I found you’re site you do great work & may God bless you ma’am.
My suggestion may sound ridiculous, but it could still be worth a try. Why not print on a piece of paper, in big bold letters, the following: “IT IS NOT LICIT TO DENY HOLY COMMUNION TO ANY OF CHRIST’S FAITHFUL solely on the grounds, for example, that the person wishes to RECEIVE THE EUCHARIST KNEELING or standing.” Instruction Redemptionis Sacramentum, Chapter IV, . When the priest refuses, that’s the time to bring out this piece of paper from your folded hands, and show it to him for your defense. Never ever give up on this, even if you are the only one doing it. Ave Maria!
“I remember once posting some amazing pictures from WWI on CP&S of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass being celebrated in all sorts of muddy, uncomfortable sites. One of them was on a make-shift altar high on the peaks of the Italian/Austrian Alps. The photo of the men humbly kneeling on the steep rocky ground during the Consecration was extremely moving.”
I remember that post too, clear as day! The photo accompanying it was one of the most powerful depictions of the Eucharistic rite that I have ever seen.
Jane Eyre San Miguel @ 3:35 yesterday
Thanks Jane. Your unusual suggestion made me laugh.
Hope we never have to resort to such measures, but our desire to receive Holy Communion whilst kneeling and on the tongue is wholly legitimate, and if Modernist priests are going to refuse us, desperate actions like you propose might just be necessary. 😉
You have a good memory, old friend. Good to see you back with us again. 🙂
I have seen two posts today which made me think of you and this issue. Firstly, one from Fr. Hunwicke’s blog, which, while its title suggests that the main topic is Pope Benedict’s establishment of the Ordinariate, actually spends just as much time reflecting on the work he did to create safeguards and protections for people who want to worship using the Traditional Rite.
I know this doesn’t actually apply to the situation you describe in your post, as this was at a Novus Ordo Mass, but it is a good reminder of the rights each and every Catholic has with respect to being able to approach the altar with a reverent heart, expressed in particular actions and postures (plus it is a good reminder of what a great pope Benedict XVI was!):
The second post, from Mere Observations, contains a book recommendation which links neatly to the issue of cultural Marxism and critical theory well described by a video recently posted here (a book which I will be looking up myself I think). But also, it contains the following passage, which I thought might be of use for all of us in what are quite trying times at the moment:
The light is always there no matter how dark our current moment in time appears. The darkness, while blanketing and trying to suffocate our hope cannot overcome or quench the light. That we succumb to believing the darkness is stronger is the Big Lie pedaled by the forces of that same darkness.
Thank you very much for this comment, Michael. With these two great links (especially Fr Hunwicke’s excellent article) you raise some very important points that have indeed influenced reverence in our celebration of the Liturgy.
Our dear Pope Benedict XVI had clear insights into where the root of triviality, plus lack of faith and piety at Holy Mass lay ever since the Novus Ordo took over from the Traditional Latin Mass – that most terrible error of the Council Fathers – thus ‘opening the doors’ once more to this sublime and holy TLM in his vision for a reclaim of the Sacred. He saw so clearly that the lex orandi would bring about the lex credendi of the faithful, and that the lex vivendi would automatically follow. The tragedy for Catholics is that he stepped down from the Papacy and his magnificent efforts to heal past mistakes in the V2 aftermath, and before consolidating his enlightened initiatives. However, he laid the groundwork; the rest is now up to us.
In his tribute to Pope Benedict XVI, Fr Hunwicke concludes:
“I do not see what more this good old man could have done, or how he could have done better what he did do. It is now for us to burnish the tarnished sanctities, to drive the smoke of Satan out of the Temple, and to draw the People of God back to the Faith which sanctified and saved their ancestors … pulchritudo tam antiqua et tam nova … the Faith of our Fathers which in many places is now almost forgotten, or is viewed with that same ideological hatred which the regime of Elizabeth Tudor stirred up against it centuries ago in the Age of the Martyrs. “Give us the tools and we’ll finish the job”, we said to Joseph Ratzinger. He obliged. God calls us, not to whinge, but to do.”
Stirring words of encouragement!
It also sounds like a fascinating book that Jeff Walker recommends. There is some fantastic reading material out there to inform Catholics of the sinister machinations at work in the world today… and how to deal with them. 🙂
Kathleen @ 07:31:
Yes, stirring words indeed! And whilst it is something of great personal sadness that I reflect on Pope Benedict’s abdication (as I’m sure it was/is for many others here), he did a great deal to lay foundations for future ages. The establishment of the Ordinariate will, I think, prove to be one of the great moves for facilitating genuine Christian reunion; and Summorum Pontificum has already helped a great many movements get off the ground, the long-term effects of which will I’m sure be felt even more keenly in years to come. When I think of Benedict’s pontificate, I am reminded of John 4:37 – a verse we all need to keep in mind in these times! 🙂
Also, yes, re the book recommended by Jeff Walker, this is another encouraging thing – that there is now a huge amount of material with which we can inform and equip ourselves. Furthermore, there is an unprecedented amount of information available for people (either lapsed or who have never come into contact with the Church) to learn about what the Church actually teaches, her rich resources of spirituality, social teaching and analysis of difficult moral questions, if they wish to learn about it. You can only lead a horse to water, as the saying goes… but there is so much out there to inform and guide, which one hopes acts as a corrective to the great amount of disinformation and inherited prejudice out there too!
That is true, Michael. Though I often wonder how many, steeped in either indifferentism, or individualism take the time and effort to wade through the ENORMOUS amount of “disinformation and inherited prejudice” we are constantly bombarded with, to seek and find Truth and ‘the pearl of great price’! However, it is always encouraging to hear of the many men and women of integrity (both converts and lapsed Catholics) who do find their way ‘home’ from the desert of ignorance or from the clutches of false ideologies. 🙂
Just to get back to the topic of the above post, here are some wise words from Dietrich von Hildebrand (who I link to in a post today) on the question of kneeling to receive Holy Communion, and why its disparagement is wrong:
“Whence comes the disparagement of kneeling? Why should the Eucharist be received standing? Is not kneeling, in our culture, the classic expression of adoring reverence? The argument that at a meal we should stand rather than kneel is hardly convincing. For one thing, this is not the natural posture for eating: we sit, and in Christ’s time one lay down. But more important, it is a specifically irreverent conception of the Eucharist to stress its character as a meal at the cost of its unique character as a holy mystery. Stressing the meal at the expense of the sacrament surely betrays a tendency to obscure the sacredness of the sacrifice.”
“For one thing, this (standing or kneeling) is not the natural posture for eating: we sit, and in Christ’s time one lay down.”
In which case, why doesn’t this tedious and endless argument demand we should receive communion sitting – or lying down?
Toad @ 7:27
“In which case, why doesn’t this tedious and endless argument demand we should receive communion sitting – or lying down?”
Because this is no mere ‘meal’ any longer!
In receiving the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Our Lord Jesus Christ in Holy Communion, we are celebrating Our Saviour’s redemptive Sacrifice at Calvary. Through His Sacred Passion, Death and Resurrection, the Holy Mass and partaking of His Sacred Body at Communion has become the re-enactment of Christ’s sublime Sacrifice to save us from sin and eternal death.
“Because this is no mere ‘meal’ any longer!”
When was it ever “a mere meal'” Kathleen?
At the Last Supper*, Toad.
It was only after the Passion, Death and Resurrection of Our Lord that the true significance of His Words: “This is My Body…” etc. (Luke 22:19-20) were realised and understood by the Apostles. They have been commemorated forever afterwards by His consecrated ministers (priests) in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.
Edit. * The Apostles received the true Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus Christ from His Sacred Hands at the Last Supper, but the setting was at the Paschal meal.
Are you suggesting the Apostles saw no more mystical significance at the Last Supper than at breakfast that morning, Kathleen?
Hmm. It doesn’t read like that. To me, anyway.
Kathleen @ 11:30, January 16th:
True indeed! 🙂 Wonderful quote there from Dietrich von Hildebrand, which does sum it up very well. I also really enjoyed his writings on the Mass on the post re the TLM – beautiful and full of insight.
Toad @ 9:31
”Are you suggesting the Apostles saw no more mystical significance at the Last Supper than at breakfast that morning, Kathleen?”
No, of course not, Toad – don’t be silly! The Apostles only came to the full understanding of Our Lord’s words of His Sacred body being “given for you” and His Precious Blood “poured out for you” (Luke 22:19-20) after His Death and Resurrection. Then the meaning became clear to them.
The Last Supper was one of the most important events crowning the earthly Life of Our Blessed Lord. Not only was ‘The Discourse’ of Our Lord at the Last Supper of vital significance to our understanding of His mission on Earth and His love for Mankind, but here Our Saviour established the Sacrificial Priesthood and the Holy Eucharist: “Do this in memory of me!”… to be celebrated and re-enacted for evermore in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass within His Holy Bride, the Church.
Michael @ 9:36
Yes, Dietrich von Hildebrand is truly one of the most outstanding Catholic philosophers of our times.
So glad you gained from reading his wonderful article on the TLM. 🙂
I came to this site while looking for information about mantillas (yes, it was rather roundabout). I am a practising Anglican in the UK but living until recently in Australia. Here in the northeast we kneel to take communion (though never on the tongue, it’s some 55 years since I was confirmed and we were taught then to hold up our hands to receive the host), both in my local parish church and in the cathedral, and also in my church in Crawley, south of London. In Australia we knelt at the Cathedral in Perth (where, as is usual in Anglican churches, there is an altar rail) but at our parish church which was very small and open plan we stood around the wall. I cannot imagine any Anglican priest I have met refusing communion on the grounds of kneeling or standing – they can both be issues for people who are old, or disabled in some way.
Reblogged this on northstand66.
I was at a mass yesterday evening in Scotland. The congregation amounted to about 10 who were loudly chatting before mass started. When I went up to receive communion I knelt down and for a very noticeable few seconds the priest did nothing. He then glowered at me and eventually gave me the host. I went back to my pew crying. I am still upset as I write this. I had been hoping to go to a prayer group there after mass but was too upset. How can priests react like this to people kneeling in front of the King of Kings. I despair.
I’m really sorry to hear this has happened to you too; I know exactly how upset you must feel, not so much for the personal snub, but for the affront towards the King of Kings. That was my experience too that day I describe in the article. It really does make you wonder what sort of faith these priests have that take issue with people wanting to receive their Lord reverently, kneeling and on the tongue, in the way it has always been done in the Church up until Vatican II.
Nothing to do, Berni, except offer it up and plod on; we know we are doing what is right in God’s eyes. The humiliation that day hasn’t stopped me from kneeling to receive Communion, although I am now aware that one day it could happen again. If that is the case, well, let it be so. How many far, far greater humiliations Our Blessed Lord suffered for our sake.
God bless you.
Thank you so much for your reply. I am still feeling upset but as you say look at the humility Jesus suffered. I am trying to fast on water up until I go to receive Jesus at 5:45pm mass on a daily basis during Lent and as this was Shrove Tuesday am thinking it may have been an attack by Satan as there’s nothing he would like better than for us to give up revering God and fasting for him.
Berni, I’m sure you are right… Satan hates any show of reverence and piety, and on the eve of Ash Wednesday, a day of abundant graces for those who start on a penitential path towards Easter, he will have been out in full force to bring us down. All the more reason to stand firm with courage so we can better resist his snares to break our will. Not always easy – I know this only too well!
Fasting on water alone till you receive Jesus at the 5:45pm Mass is an absolutely wonderful way of showing your love for His Most Sacred Body and Blood. How tough that must be though! Are you doing this every day? I truly admire you. Our Loving Saviour, Who is never outdone in generosity, must be showering you with great love and grace.
I am going to try my best apart from the days when, either, there is no 5:45pm mass or I need to go in the morning for some reason. I like the idea of the Holy Eucharist being the first meal of the day. I may fail but I am going to try my best. God Bless you Kathleen and thanks for the beautiful words of encouragement.
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