Friday, May 23, 2008

Just a gesture

~hat tip to Fr. Z, a report from CNS: Vatican: Receiving Eucharist kneeling may not be permanent change. Why do I get the distinct feeling that people in certain quarters were scrambling to get clarification muy pronto?
The four dozen people who received Communion from Pope Benedict XVI on the feast of the Body and Blood of Christ received the Eucharist on the tongue while kneeling.

Vatican officials said the gesture at the May 22 Mass outside the Basilica of St. John Lateran does not mark a permanent change in papal liturgies, but highlighted the solemnity of the feast and a connection to Mass practices in the past.

As the pope prepared to distribute Communion, two ushers placed a kneeler in front of the altar on the basilica steps. The chosen communicants -- laypeople, nuns, seminarians, priests and boys and girls who had received their first Communion in their parishes in May -- all knelt and received on the tongue.

Generally at papal Masses, those receiving Communion from the pope stand. The majority choose to receive on the tongue, but some reverently extend cradled hands to receive the Eucharist.

In a brief e-mail to Catholic News Service May 23, Msgr. Guido Marini, master of papal liturgical ceremonies, said the decision "was a solution adopted for (the feast of) Corpus Domini," but as for the future, "we'll see."

Archbishop Albert Malcolm Ranjith Patabendige Don, secretary of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Sacraments, told CNS "there is no discussion" in the Vatican about insisting that those who receive Communion from the pope do so kneeling or that they receive it on the tongue rather than in their hands.

In addition, he said, "there are no new norms coming" that would change the Vatican's 1969 decision that local bishops could allow their faithful to receive the Eucharist in their hands while standing.

"But the gesture of the Holy Father" at the May 22 Mass "is to be appreciated. It brings out in a better way the fact that we adore the Lord whom we receive" in the Eucharist, Archbishop Ranjith said.

"It was a special occasion" because the feast focuses on Jesus truly present in the Eucharist, he said. "I hope this practice spreads."

In a preface to a January book about the beauty of receiving the Eucharist on the tongue while kneeling, Archbishop Ranjith had said he thought it was time for the Catholic Church to reconsider its decision to allow the faithful to receive Communion in the hand.

Passionist Father Ciro Benedettini, assistant director of the Vatican press office, said he did not think the May 22 Mass marked a permanent change; "according to current norms the faithful may receive in the hand while standing," he said.

However, he said, the practice chosen for the special feast day was another example of what Msgr. Marini has said would be the practice at papal Masses, "alternating the old and new to indicate continuity with the past."

In his homily at the Mass, Pope Benedict spoke about the importance of "kneeling before the Lord, adoration that begins at the Mass itself and accompanies the entire (Corpus Christi) procession" through the streets of Rome.

"To adore the body of Christ means to believe that there, in that piece of bread, there really is Christ who gives meaning to our lives," the pope said in his homily.
What the heck is so scary about receiving on the tongue and kneeling? I mean, why is there such a mad rush squelching this show of devotion? OH, silly me, wrong ecclesiology! That's right, there's no need for that anymore.

I was in a group discussion once and a person said rather sneeringly, knowing that I receive on the tongue, "People who receive on their tongue think they're more holy than anyone else. And all those who kneel during Mass think they're more Catholic than the Church." (In reference to our diocesan norms of remaining standing after the Agnus Dei and after reception of Holy Communion). He was looking directly at me while he spoke.


Anonymous said...

So I guess the Blessed Sacrament is the Body of Christ only at Mass offered on the Feast of Corpus Christi, and not at every Mass.

That is what is being proposed by the "experts".

You would have to surgically remove my kneecaps and sew my mouth shut, not to recieve our Lords Body, Blood Soul and Divinity on my toungue and kneeling.
I have never recieved Christ otherwise and I am shocked that the norm in the Diocese of Raleigh is this abominable irreverence.
God bless you

Dan Hunter

Anonymous said...

If it is any comfort, I was yelled at for doing so. I was breaking the unity of the Church you see.

Any idea if the bishop is going to clarify those matters soon? I am getting anxious about a few clarificaions, such as the one Dan mentionned but also on washing women feet on Holy Thursday...


Anonymous said...

Beloved in the Lord:
As a Lutheran born and bred who has served in the Ministry of that church for almost 40 years, I was indeed surprised to find Pope Benedict refering to the consecrated Host as a "piece of bread." It seemed to echo Luther who believed and taught that the "Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity" of Christ were truly Present "in, with and under" the consecrated Bread and Wine regardless of the faith of the communicant just as "fire" is in a piece of heated iron. In Xto per pedes Apostolorum, Rev. James E. Townsend

Jeff said...

I noticed the same thing as James Townshend!

I'm guessing/hoping it's just a translation problem. We do of course refer to our Lord as "Bread" with a capital 'B', but not usually "a piece of bread".

DimBulb said...

I'm no authority on Italian, but just prior to the words "piece (pezzo) of bread" the pope spoke of the "pane spezzato," the loaf that's broken.

DimBulb said...

Incidentally, I'm involved in a discussion with Mister Hunter on the merits of standing to receive. If anyone is interested you can go here and click on the combox:

I find the symbolism of both kneeling and standing to be quite interesting. It's unfortunate that some conservatives don't understand the ancient practice of standing and its meaning. Likewise, it's unfortunate that certain liberals denigrate the practice of kneeling as somehow beneath their Christian dignity.

Anonymous said...

Dan Hunter said,

Dim Bulb:
Sir, I would like to debate with you man to man, via e-mail.
Please e-mail me at
God bless.

Argent said...

Dear Fr. Townsend and Jeff,

I'm reading the official Italian version posted on the Vatican website and noticed:

il Calice benedetto
il Pane spezzato

Bread is capitalized. And the article used is the definite article "il", not "un", indefinite. Hope that helps.

I noticed that the English translation is not yet up. Sigh!