QUAERITUR: Can a person be stopped from kneeling for Communion?

From a reader:

Father,
The Wanderer told me to write to you and see if you perhaps answer my question. My question is in regards to receiving Communion. Hasn’t the Vatican said that a person cannot be refused Communion if they kneel? The reason for asking is because I am a member of a Catholic Network, and there is a person who also is a member of the same network who has said that her priest has told her to stop kneeling for Communion. Can you give me some help on this?

In short: No.  People may not be prevented from kneeling.

The CDW document on liturgical abuses Redemptionis Sacramentum states:

[90.] “The faithful should receive Communion kneeling or standing, as the Conference of Bishops will have determined”, with its acts having received the recognitio of the Apostolic See. “However, if they receive Communion standing, it is recommended that they give due reverence before the reception of the Sacrament, as set forth in the same norms”.

[91.] In distributing Holy Communion it is to be remembered that “sacred ministers may not deny the sacraments to those who seek them in a reasonable manner, are rightly disposed, and are not prohibited by law from receiving them”. Hence any baptized Catholic who is not prevented by law must be admitted to Holy Communion. Therefore, 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.

 

Not licit.  That is to say, it is against the Church’s law to prohibit someone from kneeling for Communion.

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41 Responses to QUAERITUR: Can a person be stopped from kneeling for Communion?

  1. Augustine says:

    It would be a sad state of affairs indeed if one could be denied the sacrament for kneeling in reverence and adoration but not for material aid to government-approved infanticide.

  2. Paul says:

    The priest may not deny her the sacrament for kneeling, but she should still do whatever the Conference of Bishops has determined, which is presumably what her priest is telling her to do.

  3. Andy K. says:

    So, this begs the question…

    Most of us being in the USA, are we allowed to kneel, even though the USCCB has stated we are to stand?

    Would I be in the wrong (not just canonically, but … “common sensically”) to kneel for Communion, if my entire parish stands? (I am at a parish where myself and my friends are the only people that are in suits each week…)

    Many thanks.

  4. GH good boy says:

    I don’t agree with Paul. The faithful have received so much abuse from both Bishops and priests having taken away from them the venerable tradition to receive Holy Communion kneeling and on the tongue, and once the Church stands up to defend their right, someone wants to read into it and place new requirements that we should still follow the Bishops. I pray every day that we correct so much damage done to the Church and that we return to the norm of receiving Communion on the tongue and return the Communion Rails to our Churches.

  5. Federico says:

    The priest may not deny her the sacrament for kneeling, but she should still do whatever the Conference of Bishops has determined, which is presumably what her priest is telling her to do.

    No.

    No conference of bishops may ask anything of anybody that abridges rights provided by the universal law. The Holy See (in the CDWDS) has been very clear, when provided recognitio for particular norms establishing standing as a licit posture, that the faithful retain the right to kneel.

    The matter has also been addressed in a series of letters from the Holy See on this topic. You can do a search on the internet for dicasterial letters from the CDWDS, or you can look them up yourself. One I know of appeared in Notitiae, I think in 2002 or 2003; another was published in Roman Replies and CLSA Advisory Opinions in 2004. I don’t have those here, but if there’s interest and Fr. Z asks, I’ll be happy to provide images on Saturday. The CDWDS has also been extremely stern with bishops who permit of any suggestion that kneeling in countries where bishops established standing as a norm shows disobedience or is in any way negative.

    Most of the time, it’s enough to inform priests (bishops know) about the law — provide them with some charitable, pastoral advice. If that fails, and I know it’s not popular with some, every single one of the hierarchical recourses I’ve seen on this topic have come back in favor of the faithful, and in each case they were handled more quickly than the norm; so…go for it.

    Another way to look at it: it is illicit for anybody, even a bishop, to ask somebody to give up a right provided by the universal law.

  6. Andy K. says:

    Joe,
    Thank you very much.

    So it sounds like it’s kind of along the lines of the option to receive in the hand or on the tongue?

    Many thanks, and God bless!

  7. Paul,

    I agree with your view.

    Quite different to the case of communion on the tongue which is always a legitimate option, it is up to the conference of bishops to determine the adequate postures during the various parts of the Mass. The faithful under their jurisdiction are responsible for obeying their decisions.

    Another example may help to illustrate my view.

    The practice in Hong Kong regarding the posture during the Eucharistic Prayer is more “in line” with the directives of the GIRM (i.e. kneeling from epiclesis up to the mysterium fidei), but the Bishop’s conference in the U.S. determined for their territories that the faithful should kneel from the Post-sanctus to the great Amen. You may know that the latest GIRM explicitly approves of this practice, but we can’t say that it has been illicit prior to e.g. 2002. (Officially speaking, the GIRM hasn’t been put to force “at the local level” yet, since the translation of the other parts of the Missal is still taking place and awaiting for recognitio)

    Strictly speaking, the decision of the Holy See directing the priest not to deny Communion to the kneeling communicant does not dispense of the latter’s obligation to obey his/her pastor.

    In my humble opinion, when confronting with similar episodes, the priest is not to presume grave irreverence (hence not “fit” to receive Holy Communion) on the part of the kneeling communicant. The latter could be approached at a more convenient time to be informed (e.g. after the Masss, etc.) about the directives from the local authorities. I think this would be more charitable. Remember the Eucharist is also “sacramentum caritatis”.

    For your interest, I would like to cite the following directive from the Holy See –

    Ea quae supra definiuntur minime supervacanea censeda sunt, quia eo tendunt, ut unitas sese gerendi habeatur in coetu qui Eucharistiam celebrat, et ideo manifestetur unitas in fide et in cultu communitatis. Videntur saepe fideles, statim post Sanctus, et adhuc saepius post consecrationem, corporis habitu diverso quasi oblivisci se esse participles Liturgiae Ecclesiae, quae est summa actio communitatis, et non tempus sese alienandi in actionem devotionis privatae. [Notitiae 14 (1978) 300-301]

  8. Paul says:

    Federico, It would be helpful if you could provide more direct quotes from the documents you refer to, as I have not been able to find anything that clearly supports all your claims. For example, the note of February, 2003 from the CDWDS says “…communicants who choose to kneel are not to be denied Holy Communion on these grounds. Indeed, the faithful should not be imposed upon nor accused of disobedience and of acting illicitly when they kneel to receive Holy Communion.” I would take that to refer to what should not be done by priests at the time of receiving the Sacrament. That would in no way prevent a priest at some later time from requesting a different behavior.

    Edward Cheung, Here is the English for what you quoted: “The points determined are in no way to be considered trivial, since their purpose is to ensure uniformity in posture in the assembly celebrating the eucharist as a manifestation of the community’s unity in faith and worship. The people often give the impression immediately after the “Sanctus” and even more often after the consecration by their diverse postures that they are unmindful of being participants in the Church’s liturgy, which is the supreme action of a community and not a time for individuals to isolate themselves in acts of private devotion.”

  9. Andy K. says:

    Heehee. Sorry for the dumb questions… but…

    If the priest were to pull me aside, and say I must stand to receive Communion, due to the USCCB, then what?

  10. Federico says:

    Paul,

    I\’m traveling today, and don\’t have the documents with me. I\’ll get the exact text on Saturday or so. I think the text you cite is pretty explicit however. Pastors don\’t have the authority to demand behavior different from what the universal law requires, so I miss your point on the priest requesting a different behavior.

    In a practical term, are you aware of a single priest or bishop winning a recourse? The frustration with this issue in Rome is palpable in their writing.

    It’s also interesting to note that in a response to a dubium published by the PCLT, it was clearly noted that the faithful are free to kneel or otherwise pray in accord with private devotions following Communion. This is indicative of greater and greater freedom being given the faithful. I handed a copy of this document to a pastor in a NC parish I was visiting who announced, before Communion that everybody in his church was to remain standing until distribution of the Eucharist was completed. Illicit.

    The seventies are (thanks be to God) over.

  11. Federico says:

    Andy K.: If the priest were to pull me aside, and say I must stand to receive Communion, due to the USCCB, then what?

    Educate him.

    If that does not work, bring the matter to your bishop (in writing) and ask him to make the priest stop his request.

    If that doesn’t work, go to Rome. Consult a canonist if you need help. Plenty will help you for free (try the St. Joseph Foundation).

  12. Andy K. says:

    Federico:
    Okeedoke.

    Thanks much! ;-)

  13. dcs says:

    Strictly speaking, the decision of the Holy See directing the priest not to deny Communion to the kneeling communicant does not dispense of the latter’s obligation to obey his/her pastor.

    There is another instruction that states that those who kneel for Holy Communion are not to be charged with disobedience.

    http://www.ourladyswarriors.org/liturgy/kneeling.htm

    To this end, it is perhaps useful to respond to your inquiry by repeating the content of a letter that the Congregation recently addressed to a Bishop in the United States of America from whose Diocese a number of pertinent letters had been received. The letter states: “… while this Congregation gave the recognitio to the norm desired by the Bishops’ Conference of your country that people stand for Holy Communion, this was done on the condition that communicants who choose to kneel are not to be denied Holy Communion on these grounds. Indeed, the faithful should not be imposed upon nor accused of disobedience and of acting illicitly when they kneel to receive Holy Communion”.

    So, no, those who kneel to receive Holy Communion are not being disobedient.

  14. Paul says:

    Federico, dcs:

    You’ve both provided the quote that “…the faithful should not be imposed upon nor accused of disobedience and of acting illicitly when they kneel to receive Holy Communion.” There is a context for that quote: a practical problem had been that when people were kneeling to receive the Sacrament, though they might eventually be given the Sacrament, some priests were using that occasion to tell off the person at the point in time that they were right there kneeling in front of the priest, waiting to receive the Sacrament. The quote given indicates that this is not to be done. But nothing in the quote prevents a priest from subsequently — e.g after Mass is over, or at some other time — asking any communicant to please stay within the norms.

  15. Dcs, et al.,

    From our discussion thus far, I think we will need to distinguish between the case of posture during Communion and that of after Communion.

    I have done some search on the web regarding the issue, and in my view the following articles may be of relevance –

    Cardinal Arinze’s address on liturgical renewal

    in which he stated, “The Roman Missal wisely notes the importance of common gestures by the worshipping congregation (cf GIRM 42-44). Examples are times for the congregation to stand, kneel or sit. Bishops’ Conferences can and do make some specifications. Care should be taken not to appear like regimenting the congregation, as if it were an army. Some flexibility should be allowed, more so as it is easy to hurt people’s Eucharistic sensitivity with reference, for example, to kneeling or standing.

    Holy See Affirms Customary Kneeling During Communion Rite

    … in which “freedom” is explicitly recognized that the faithful could choose to stand, sit or kneel according to their own initiative.

    And also, Responses to Question on Kneeling for Communion

    … where it was explicitly stated that the priest is not to deny Communion to the kneeling communicant.

    Reading these, my impression is that when something is done “outside” the literal prescription of the liturgical law, it can occur as an excess or as a deficiency of reverence. If a faithful chooses to kneel for Communion, this devotional action per se merits acknowledgement and appreciation before any consideration of pejorative remarks like “disobedience”, “psychological immaturity” or “hypocrisy”. The same would apply to a priest who, out of deep personal devotion, genuflects twice or even several times in tears at the consecration of the Host, we probably should not accuse him of “irreverance”, “disobedience” or “acting illicitly” merely on this ground, although materially speaking, he is not actually according to the rubrics, which prescribe genuflection for once at each elevation.

    Here may we remind ourselves of the woman in Lk 7:36-8:3, in defence of whom our Lord said, “Quoniam dilexit multum”.

  16. Federico says:

    But nothing in the quote prevents a priest from subsequently—e.g after Mass is over, or at some other time—asking any communicant to please stay within the norms.

    By what authority would a priest (or even a bishop) do this, Paul?

    Something is either licit, or illicit; something is either obedient or disobedient; something is either an imposition, or it’s not. We’ve established the faithful can’t be denied communion. They also can’t be “corrected”. So, by what authority would they be “asked”?

    As I said, I’ll get you some complete text (including the original queries) over the week-end.

  17. Ohio Annie says:

    God bless you, Mystery Teacher, we need more like you. Do not despair and keep being faithful. God sees all we do and knows the intentions of our hearts.

  18. Mitch#2 says:

    Following the law and not the norm may be difficult in many parish Churches. In those where there is no altar rail, no step, or kneeler, what are parishoners inclined to kneel to do? Many Churches I have been too have the Priest or Lay Minister standing in the aisle waiting for the line to come forward. Without any of the above is it still just to kneel down on the tile floor to receive? Anyone with knowledge of what is correct or what they have seen, please advise. Also, how is this done with reverance and no disrespect?

  19. MS says:

    Mitch # 2, What I see people do is just as you say walk up and kneel down on the tile floor (or whatever kind).

    In my milieu most of the people do observe the rubric of
    making a deep bow or sometimes a genuflection before advancing to the priest to receive Holy Communion. Those who intend to kneel, don’t pause to bow etc., since the kneeling for Communion is an act of reverence. This is a visual clue that someone will kneel. However, if you are somewhere where people just bow their heads, this may not be particularly helpful.

    It doesn’t look disrespectful to kneel. Even before I knew about tradl’ism, when I saw a young woman walk up to the priest and drop to both knees, hands behind her back, it looked very humble and appropriate to me.

  20. Breier says:

    Paul,

    Your interpretation does not match that of the Holy See, which recognizes that kneeling can not be forbidden by norms of the bishops. So it appears that there is no moral duty whatsover to stand for communion.

    Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments

    5 June 2003

    Prot. n. 855/03/L

    Dubium: In many places, the faithful are accustomed to kneeling or sitting in personal prayer upon returning to their places after individually received Holy Communion during Mass. Is it the intention of the Missale Romanum, editio typica tertia, to forbid this practice?

    Responsum: Negative, et ad mentem. The mens is that that the prescription of the Institutio Generalis Missalis Romani, no. 43, is intended, on one hand, to ensure within broad limits a certain uniformity of posture within the congregation for the various parts of the celebration of the Holy Mass, and on the other, to not regulate posture rigidly in such a way that those who wish to kneel or sit would no longer be free.

    Francis Cardinal Arinze
    Prefect

  21. Breier says:

    Whoops! I cited the wrong document, as the above only applies to after communion, not communion proper. Sorry about that!

  22. Paul says:

    Paul: But nothing in the quote prevents a priest from subsequently — e.g after Mass is over, or at some other time — asking any communicant to please stay within the norms.

    Federico: By what authority would a priest (or even a bishop) do this, Paul?

    They would be pointing out what Redemptionis Sacramentum says. The authority of that is clearly indicated within that document.

    Federico: We’ve established the faithful can’t be denied communion.

    Agreed.

    Federico: They also can’t be “corrected”.

    The only quote we’ve seen is one that says that they should not be corrected at the point in time when they kneel.

  23. brendon says:

    Congregation de Cultu Divino et Disciplina Sacramentorum

    Prot. n. 1322/02/L

    Rome, 1 July 2002

    Your Excellency,

    This Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments has recently received reports of members of the faithful in your Diocese being refused Holy Communion unless while standing to receive, as opposed to kneeling. The reports state that such a policy has been announced to parishioners. There were possible indications that such a phenomenon might be somewhat more widespread in the Diocese, but the Congregation is unable to verify whether such is the case. This Dicastery is confident that Your Excellency will be in a position to make a more reliable determination of the matter, and these complaints in any event provide an occasion for the Congregation to communicate the manner in which it habitually addresses this matter, with a request that you make this position known to any priests who may be in need of being thus informed.

    The Congregation in fact is concerned at the number of similar complaints that it has received in recent months from various places, and considers any refusal of Holy Communion to a member of the faithful on the basis of his or her kneeling posture to be a grave violation of one of the most basic rights of the Christian faithful, namely that of being assisted by their Pastors by means of the Sacraments (Codex Iuris Canonici, canon 213). 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 ¶ 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 Institutio 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.

    In fact, as His Eminence, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger has recently emphasized, 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.

    Given the importance of this matter, the Congregation would request that Your Excellency inquire specifically whether this priest in fact has a regular practice of refusing Holy Communion to any member of the faithful in the circumstances described above and — if the complaint is verified — that you also firmly instruct him and any other priests who may have had such a practice to refrain from acting thus in the future. Priests should understand that the Congregation will regard future complaints of this nature with great seriousness, and if they are verified, it intends to seek disciplinary action consonant with the gravity of the pastoral abuse.

    Thanking Your Excellency for your attention to this matter and relying on your kind collaboration in its regard,

    Sincerely yours in Christ,

    Jorge A. Cardinal Medina Estévez
    Prefect

    +Francesco Pio Tamburrino
    Archbishop Secretary

    ——–

    Certainly the implication in the paragraph I emphasized is that the laity has every right to kneel and that no one has the authority to suggest that they are incorrect and disobedient to do so, no? Especially considering the current hierarchical position of the referenced Cardinal?

  24. Paul says:

    Brendon: “Certainly the implication in the paragraph I emphasized is that the laity has every right to kneel and that no one has the authority to suggest that they are incorrect and disobedient to do so, no?”

    The central purpose of the quoted text you provided is that priests must not refuse the Sacrament on account of kneeling. We seem to be all agreed on that. But there is nothing whatsoever in that text which suggests that communicants have every right to kneel.

    While the text does indicate that there are favorable reasons for kneeling to receive Communion (and there certainly are), it doesn’t say that these are sufficient to amount to a right. The favorable reasons for kneeling are given as support for the assertion that there are no grounds for denying the Sacrament. But there are also unfavorable reasons that the text refers to — the approved legislation that says that standing is the posture for Communion. The text doesn’t say that there is a right to kneel.

  25. dcs says:

    The central purpose of the quoted text you provided is that priests must not refuse the Sacrament on account of kneeling. We seem to be all agreed on that. But there is nothing whatsoever in that text which suggests that communicants have every right to kneel.

    If those who kneel are not to be refused the Sacrament, accused of acting illicitly or of disobedience, and that priests who refuse the Sacrament to those who kneel may be disciplined, then how would you characterize it (kneeling for Holy Communion) other than a right?

  26. GH good boy says:

    Of course it is a right to receive kneeling. To affirm otherwise, is just silly.

  27. Paul says:

    dcs: “If those who kneel are not to be refused the Sacrament”

    Which is what the quoted texts show, and we all seem to be agreed on that.

    dcs: “and that priests who refuse the Sacrament to those who kneel may be disciplined”

    Likewise agreed on that (though more precisely put: communicants are not to be denied the Sacrament on account of kneeling).

    dcs: “accused of acting illicitly or of disobedience”

    The texts quoted say that this is not to be done at the point in time when the communicant is kneeling on the ground in front of the priest. More than that, they do not say. So it would be perfectly proper for a priest to later (e.g. when Mass is over, or at some other time), ask the communicant why they were kneeling, and to request that they stand rather than kneel. Exactly what a priest does later would be a matter for prudence on the part of the priest. But it would be proper for the priest to later ask for compliance with the agreed-on legislation.

    If there was to be a right to either kneel or stand, solely as the communicant wishes, the appropriate authorities could very easily rescind the relevant parts of Redemptionis Sacramentum, and state this in terms that were very clear. They haven’t done this. In fact, they have pointed out the contents of Redemptionis Sacramentum in a way that makes it clear that it still applies (and that document indicates that the norm is whatever has been actually approved).

    I would guess that most people kneel because they think it a suitable posture and don’t know about, or understand Redemptionis Sacramentum. Why anyone would choose to kneel if they were told that their priest wished them to stand, that their Conference of Bishops had decided on that as a norm, and that the Pope had approved this, I simply have no idea.

  28. GH good boy says:

    I think we need to understand here the whole purpose of Redemptionis Sacramentum. The purpose of the document is to correct liturgical abuses. Sad to say, but the principle perpetrators of these liturgical abuses have been Bishops and priests. One of the abuses it set out to correct is that of denying Holy Communion to the faithful who desire to receive Our Lord kneeling. The document is so clear on defending the right of the faithful to receive Communion kneeling. If the priest were to take the person aside after Mass and try to convince that person that he should not kneel, the document would make no sense. It would be just another abuse worse than the first.

  29. Paul says:

    GH good boy: “I think we need to understand here the whole purpose of Redemptionis Sacramentum.”

    Surely so. That document is explicating the Missale Romanum, where it says: “Fideles communicant genuflexi vel stantes, prout Conferentia Episcoporum statuerit.” (“The faithful should receive Communion kneeling or standing, as the Conference of Bishops will have determined.”) Following the principle of “Say the black, do the red”, that would be the red.

    So, if the local Conference of Bishops has decided that the norm is standing, then the norm is standing.

    Because of some particular events, the question has then arisen: “Should someone be denied Communion solely on account of kneeling?” And the answer has been given as “No”.

    Significantly more than that has not been provided. The instruction in the Missale Romanum still stands, and the faithful should do what their Conference of Bishops has decided.

  30. Andy K. says:

    Paul:
    I would guess that most people kneel because they think it a suitable posture and don’t know about, or understand Redemptionis Sacramentum. Why anyone would choose to kneel if they were told that their priest wished them to stand, that their Conference of Bishops had decided on that as a norm, and that the Pope had approved this, I simply have no idea.

    Perhaps because that, just because it is permitted, doesn’t make it the best way. My parents received kneeling for years, my grandparents received kneeling, and so on and so forth. This is the Lord our God, King of All.

    Standing just doesn’t seem right. Especially when it’s a break from tradition.

  31. GH good boy says:

    Paul:

    Before Almighty God, we kneel. Our beloved Pope Benedict is trying to teach us that this is the most appropriate posture to receice Holy Communion and the Church has been very strong in defending the right of the faithful to do it.

  32. Federico says:

    As promised, here’s a link to an interesting letter (and some additional comments on the use of Redemptionis sacramentum below): http://www.genoesezerbi.it/Documenti/Kneeling.pdf . I only publish one from my archive because I think it contains most important information.

    I note a number of things:
    1. It includes the query from the faithful. Paul, despite your protestations, I think it’s clear based on the context of the question, as well as the letter, that the question is not about a priest accusing a communicant of disobedience or illicit behavior at the time he’s communicating.

    2. It includes a hermeneutic for interpreting the GIRM which is, canonically, based on c. 17. In other words, if you have a doubt, look to parallel places. Here the congregation clearly looks to the authentic interpretation regarding the posture following communion to provide guidelines regarding the posture during commuinon. C. 17 provides a powerful notion — parallel places.

    The CDWDS says “not to regulate posture rigidly in such a way that those who wish to kneel or sit would not [sic] longer be free.” But, Federico, that’s about a different situation. Yes, and the CDWCS told us that it’s a parallel place to aid us for communion.

    3. The congregation clearly states that bishops are bound by universal law. Pastors even more so. So whatever bishops may require is restricted by the universal law. When bishops’ conference have attained recognitio for standing, the CDWDS has consistently attached conditions to it. This is part of the universal law.

    Paul, you answered that pastors and bishops attained power to tell communicants what posture to hold through Redemptionis sacramentum. That suggestion is, canonically, untenable for two reasons. First, the instruction says nothing new. If you refer to Chapter I or Chapter IV or whatever, everything in the instruction is already contained in other documents (look at the footnotes.) Second, the document is an instruction, not a legislative document. It was not approved by the pope in forma specifica. As a result, even if it had provided for new law, or new authority, this would have had no canonically binding effect. With few exceptions, the dicasteries of the Holy See lack legislative authority; when they issue an instruction, it looks to explain the law, not create it or modify it.

  33. GH good boy says:

    How beautiful when people want to receive Our Lord kneeling.

    It came to me this morning after Holy Communion that Our Lord would be pleased that I share this experience at my parish to our readers.

    In one of our Sunday Masses, I started to give the option to our people to receive Holy Communion kneeling, placing a kneeler in place for that purpose. Many people took advantage of this opportunity. The next thing I knew, people started to slide the kneeler into place for the other Masses although I had not contemplated doing this myself. I placed no resistance because I figured that this was probably the work of the Holy Spirit. I am absolutely amazed how many of our people really want to receive Our Lord in Holy Communion in this manner. In my parish I believe that the greater majority of our people are now receiving Our Lord kneeling. I must say that I have been sitting back and watching all of this with the greatest delight.

    I could never understand why other priests would get so upset when people desire to show exteriorly their love and devotion to Our Lord in the Eucharist, always trying to squash it or even demonize it. I have a different philosophy: There is so much good in our people and how beautiful it is when they want to receive Our Lord kneeling. Us priests are not the lords of our people. There is only one Lord over the souls of the faithful and it is the Holy Spirit. Let us not always be trying to control them, but let us give them the space and the encouragement they need so that the grace of the Holy Spirit may work in their lives

  34. Paul says:

    Federico:

    Going to the Vatican website, one can find the current Missale Romanum, which says: “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.”

    Nothing you provided has contradicted that. There is no legislated right to kneel.

    A different question is how to pastorally deal with the case of someone who wants to kneel, against the norm. As the last document you provided showed, this ought to be done in a generous way. But no firm law can be stated, because it depends on the exact reasons particular communicants wish to kneel. It is quite possible for a USA priest (in agreement with his bishop), at an appropriate time, to ask a communicant to stand. This would contradict nothing in the Missale Romanum, or other Church documents, or the quotations you have provided.

    As for Redemptionis Sacramentum, it is an explanation of the interaction of the Missale Romanum with other parts of canon law. It (in the part relevant to the current discussion) says that kneeling (when standing is the norm) or standing (when kneeling is the norm) is not a sufficient reason to deny Communion. Nothing in the Missale Romanum gives the right to kneel, nor does Redemptionis Sacramentum.

    As to authority, I do note that the last part of Redemptionis Sacramentum says that it was “was approved by the [Supreme Pontiff John Paul II] on the Solemnity of St. Joseph, 19 March 2004, and he ordered it to be published and to be observed immediately by all concerned.”

  35. David2 says:

    Paul, the Sacred Congregation for Divine Worship has stated that:

    “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.” (Letter of July 2002)

    http://www.ourladyswarriors.org/liturgy/kneeling.htm

  36. dcs says:

    There is no legislated right to kneel.

    Which, even if true, is quite different from saying that there is no right to kneel. If the faithful cannot be denied the Sacrament on account of their kneeling, then they have a right to kneel. There is no other way to characterize it.

  37. Paul says:

    dcs said: “If the faithful cannot be denied the Sacrament on account of their kneeling, then they have a right to kneel.”

    No, that certainly doesn’t follow. Ruling out a single specific major penalty doesn’t mean that other consequences can’t follow. Exactly what consequences might follow are not specified; they would depend on a variety of pastoral circumstances. The Missale Romanum indicates: “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.” It doesn’t go on to specify what might occur if they reject the Church’s catechesis.

  38. GH good boy says:

    Isn’t it strange that now people should be penalized for kneeling to receiving Holy Communion and that they are so called rejecting the Church’s catechesis, when our Holy Father Pope Benedict himself is trying to teach us that to receive our Lord kneeling and on the tongue is the most correct way for a catholic to receive Holy Communion.

  39. Paul says:

    I think that my opinion is next to worthless as to which posture might be the best for receiving Communion, and I have no particular opinion as to whether the posture should be changed or kept as is. An interesting discussion might be had as to which is the most practically suited.

    But I do know that the current norm in the USA, as established by the Bishops, is standing, and I am not willing to disobey.

  40. Edward says:

    Dear all,

    I really feel enriched by your above discussions.

    For the sake of discussion, I would like to raise another point to illustrate my view regarding the interaction between universal and local norms.

    According to my knowledge, in the U.S. the faithful kneel from the completion of Sanctus to the great Amen, whereas the universal norm states that people kneel from the epiclesis to the memorial acclamation. The GIRM seems to affirm that the custom in the U.S. is a legitimate one. But what will you guys think (or feel) if a man (e.g. from the U.K. or Italy or so) who chooses to remain standing until the beginning of epiclesis and stands up again immediately after the memorial acclamation, thus in stark contrast to the remaining congregation? This man may also have the notion of “adherence to universal norm” in mind, but without proper regard for the legitimate custom of the local community.

    Many people nowadays want to cite “kneeling for communion” as a universal & unbroken tradition prior to Vatican II. I think here we really need to take a serious look at our Eastern brethren. Many Eastern Churches still hold to the “tradition” (officially upheld by the Ecumenical Council of Nicea) that it is never legitimate to kneel on Sundays. What would you say?

    Of course I am not appealing to archeologism, but when we want to appreciate and highlight certain “legitimate developments in the West” during the Middle Ages, shouldn’t we also be more sensitive to our Eastern brothers in our evaluations and statements?

    My opinion is that for the benefit of my own spirituality, it is most safe to obey the legitimate norms issued by our lawful pastors – even though we may not agree with their decisions. Whenever in doubt, I always presume their legitimacy until they’re proven otherwise. While we are being cautious about local liturgical abuses, let’s also take care not being overcome by “ultramontanism” as well.

    The decisions of our superiors are not always inspired, but we are always inspired in our obedience to them.