Friday, July 1, 2011

A Return to Traditional Ways of Receiving Communion

Offerimus Tibi Domine June 22, 2011:

Among other things, the papal Master of Ceremonies [Msgr. Guido Marini] spoke of the ancient tradition of focusing on Christ in a physical way in the sacred liturgy, either though the eastwards orientation of the Eucharistic Prayer or where the crucifix or other image of Christ (the great panto-creator images on the apse of ancient churches) stood in for the eastward orientation. He thought that recently we have been in danger of losing this and that this is not a small detail but something of central importance, for in the past everyone (including the priest) prayed towards the same point - showing that the Lord was coming and that together we all looked towards Him.

Mgr Marini also posited that kneeling before the presence of the Lord makes it all the clearer that it really is Jesus and implies our adoration of Him. Not that we just receive Him but that we kneel before Him. To kneel accomplishes the truth of our relationship with Him - we adore. This is true freedom because man submits to slavery to many other earthly things - we bow down before these false gods - but to kneel before Christ expressses the truth and therefore reveals the dignity of man before the Lord of Life. Kneeling is the TYPICAL sign of offering our hearts and lives. The Church that kneels in the body will adore in the heart.


Of the Holy Father's example in the Papal liturgies where Holy Communion is now always administered by Pope Benedict on the tongue to kneeling communicants he said that it was the Holy Father's practice and intention - BEYOND INDULTS AND PERMISSIONS - that this remains a law of universal character. That Holy Communion received on the tongue and kneeling was more than just the Pope's personal desire. The Holy Father's intention is that people and priests follow his example. I could not help thinking of the recent request made by the Bishops' Conference in England and Wales and how this fitted in with the Holy Father's example?

Holy Mass was offered by Cardinal Piacenza, Prefect of the Congregation for Clergy. It was much commented upon that at the canon of the Mass he dropped his voice considerably (even though microphones were used) and so the canon was not actually silent but sotto voce. It had a very dramatic effect on concentrating the mind and heart and bringing about a tangible sense of reverence and prayer.

Another of yestedays talks was given by Bishop Athanasius Schnieder (author of "Dominus Est" in which he calls for a fullsome return to receiving HolyCommunion kneeling and on the tongue).

The Bishop posited that there were some outward signs that the more ancient form of the Mass and the new Mass shared and although some of these are not always seen in the new Mass they could fruitfully be used more frequently. These are:

  • Eastward orientation during the Eucharistic Prayer
  • Kneeling at altar rails for Holy Communion
  • Communion received on the tongue

Of eastward facing the said that the shared orientation of priest and people is a "great gift" leading us together towards the Lord. He also suggested that the more frequent genuflections found in the Extraordinary Form of the Mass could most helpfully be incoporated into the Ordinary Form.

He spoke of innovations that moved away from an attitude of adoration, silence and wonder as examples of a liturgy that had abandoned the meaning of the psalmist when he said, "Not to us Lord, not to us, but to your Name give the glory" and moved to an attitude of "To our name give the glory!"

He spoke of the example of the Holy Father and implored us TO THINK AND ACT WITH PETER.

When asked what we should do when people, priests and even bishops refuse to do this he said that we should see it as a call to make expiation for them and to console Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament by our acts of prayer, love and adoration. He said that he saw it as a loss of fidelity to the Holy Father by people, priests and even bishops. WHERE PETER IS, THERE IS THE CHURCH. That is why we should follow the Holy Father's example.

How I wish there were more than ten clergy from England here!

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