During the Holy Father’s Corpus Christi Mass, the Holy Father gave Communion only to people kneeling at a kneeler set up before him.
This is a very interesting development.
The Holy Father has been trying to provoke conversation and a rethinking of many practices, not very good innovations, that have become more or less standard.
You can see the kneeler set out.
And the people knelt and received on the tongue.
I am sure they were instructed to.
I watched and rewatched the coverage and did not spot anyone receiving in another way from the Holy Father.
In so many places it is simply accepted that Mass must be celebrated "facing the people", versus populum, instead of "facing God", ad orientem.
So the Holy Father celebrated Holy Mass in the Sistine Chapel, when he was also going to do something very much in his role as Bishop of Rome, when he baptized.
He got the conversation going.
Now, in another moment when he is very much Bishop of his diocese, for this great City celebration of the Eucharist, he adminsters Holy Communion on the tongue at a kneeler.
Surely this will start another conversation.
Remember that just the other day the newspaper of the Diocese of Toronto attacked Benedict’s reforms as "backward steps" and the mere suggestion that Communion in the hand wasn’t wonderful.
Remember that His Holiness’s Secretary in the Cong. for Divine Worship, Archbp. Malcolm Ranjith, wrote a preface to a book, Dominus Est: riflessioni di un vescovo dell’Asia Centrale sulla Santa Comunione, printed by the Vatican press which argues for a return to Communion kneeling and on the tongue. The book is by Bishop Athanasius Schneider of Karaganda, Kazakhstan and it will eventually be in English, I am sure. In the Vatican’s newspaper, Bp. Schneider asked "Wouldn’t it correspond better to the deepest reality and truth about the consecrated bread if even today the faithful would kneel on the ground to receive it, opening their mouths like the prophet receiving the word of God and allowing themselves to be nourished like a child?".
It may be that at the next Mass Pope Benedict will do the same. Maybe he won’t.
But people are now going to be talking.
Piece by piece, he is challenging assumptions.
Brick by brick he is rebuilding what was devastated.
His Marshall Plan for the Church is very much underway.
UPDATE: 22 May 15:20 GMT
Here is a video, with the German language feed, probably from Vatican Radio.
The music is the soupy goopy stuff of Msgr. Marco Frisina, who is entirely dominating Italian "pastoral" liturgical music these days from his post at the Lateran.