WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 16, 2013
Kneeling to receive Holy Communion in the Latin Rite goes back more that 1200 years, so it is an established tradition and in terms of that tradition, standing to receive in the Latin Rite is novel and aberration of a particularly corrupt point in Church history.
In the Latin Rite the reasons that liturgists after Vatican II (not the Council Fathers themselves during Vatican II) was entirely under the "spirit" of Vatican II to "clericalize the laity, beginning with Mass." In other words a novel "ecclesiology" purported taught by Vatican II meant that the distinctions between the "common priesthood" of all the baptized and the "ministerial priesthood" or the ordained priest had to be erased, minimized and diminished so that the priesthood of the baptized could emerge and eclipse the ordained priesthood.
These same liturgists, desired a low Church expression of the liturgy built upon the ordinary and banal rather than the extraordinary and beautiful. So to promote that there are no distinctions in the priesthood, altar railing were removed and described as barriers to the laity's full, conscious and active participation in the Liturgy. Like the clergy, the laity should stand and take the Eucharist because of their equal status and that it is more adult to do so. And the laity, like the priest should distribute Holy Communion to express their ministry in the Church and the other forms of ministry they would take in the life of the parish in general.
While all of these would be considering the "re-imagining of the Catholic Church" and its deconstruction of pre-Vatican II doctrine, dogma and theology to accomplish these goals and thus make us closer to our Protestant brothers and sisters and thus bring about organic unity in the Church, there were other results of this theology gone viral that has had a deleterious effect on the life of the Church, her faith, morals and discipline and respect and awe for the Second Person of the Most Holy Trinity, in fact for the Most Holy Trinity Himself.
Deacon Greg Kendra has written an article on bring back the altar railing and why he has had a change of mind. What he describes I have witnessed Sunday after Sunday. You can read his entire article by pressing the sentence below. I will pick some examples he describes and describe my experience of them too.
Communion Rails: Restoring a Sense of the Sacred
Would a change of posture at Holy Communion help to sharpen our perspective, as well?
By Deacon Greg Kandra, January 14, 2013
My comments on the deacons examples:
"I've watched a mother receive communion, her toddler in tow, then take it back to the pew and share it with him like a cookie." I have seen this many times, and with either parent breaking off a piece to give to an older child not prepared yet for Holy Communion simply because the child said they wanted some! Others have reported this to me too, as they witnessed it from the congregation!
"At least four or five times a year, I have to stop someone who just takes the host and wanders away with it and ask them to consume it on the spot." This is common at St. Joseph Church and I would say our yearly number is much higher!
"Once or twice a month I encounter the droppers. Many are well-intentioned folks who somewhere, somehow drop the host or it slides out of their hands and Jesus tumbles to the floor." This is quite common in my parish too!
A couple times a year I get the take-out crowd. They receive the host properly, and then pull out a hanky and ask if they can take another one home to a sick relative.
"Beyond that, I'm reminded week after week that people have no uniform way to receive in the hand. There's the reverent "hands-as-throne" approach; there's the "Gimme five," one-hand-extended style; there are the notorious "body snatchers" who reach up and seize the host to pop into their mouths like an after-dinner mint; and there are the vacillating undecideds who approach with hands slightly cupped and lips parted. Where do you want it and how??" In my experience at St. Joseph Church, yes, yes, yes, ditto, ditto, ditto, to all the deacon writes!
"After experiencing this too often, in too many places, under a variety of circumstances, I've decided: it's got to stop. Catechesis is fruitless. We've tried. You can show people how it's done; you can instruct them; you can post reminders in the bulletin and give talks from the pulpit. It does no good. Again and again, there is a sizable minority of the faithful who are just clueless—or, worse, indifferent."
My Final Comment: Not all who receive standing and in the hand do so disrespectfully or cluelessly, many do so quite reverently. But why in the name of God and all that is holy did we change the method of receiving Holy Communion for the laity when it wasn't broke and there were none of the problems that the deacon describes above for the new way we've been doing it for about 40 years now?
At St. Joseph, we have written guidelines for how to receive Holy Communion in a prominent place on the back of our missalette. We catechize regularly, but regularly we find hosts discarded on the floor (as recently as Christmas Day!). We have to go after people who take the host to the pew or out of the Church, we have people who should know better, receiving with only one hand extended, grab it with two fingers and a thumb and others who don't know what to do!
The simple solution is to return to the altar railing, limit those who can be Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion and make sure people kneel and receive the Host on their tongue. It really is quite simple and I would say that in less than two years of doing this, awe and reverence would be re-established in continuity with the pre-Vatican II liturgy and ecclesiology.
As for Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion, I have no issue with these in principle, but I think they should be installed acolytes and vested for this ministry. They should go through a diocesan formation program which focuses on the Liturgy of the Eucharist and the piety necessary and that their primary ministry is to assist the priest in bringing Holy Communion to the sick and homebound and the necessary pastoral skills for this.
I am not opposed to women being included in this ministry.
We don't need hundreds of Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion, just enough to assist at Mass and every Sunday if need be and to bring Holy Communion more frequently (every week) to those who are homebound. Let's face it a priest can hardly get to all the homebound once a month or once a year!