QUAERITUR: In the USA is it against the law to kneel for Communion?

From a reader:

I know this may seem a bit odd, but  I was hoping to get your perspective on the U.S. GIRM 160, which states:  "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."
 
There are people, including the popular and much visited website, Catholic Answers who have spoken that kneeling for communion is inappropriate as it goes against the norm in the United States, and that one is disobedient if one still chooses to kneel even after having been "pastorally" corrected as to the proper norm in the country. 

Can you provide further clarification according to your knowledge as to whether or not it is "licit" for one to kneel in the U.S. even though it may not be the U.S. norm, and whether or not one is disobedient after being "pastorally" corrected according to U.S. GIRM 160.

Since this veered into the technical, I consulted a canon lawyer before answering.  I will adapt his response with my own.

Part of a response must involve what "norm" means.  I admit that I use the term "norm" rather loosely when writing and talking, and often morph it into "laws", and vice versa.

A norm is not the same as a law.

The "norm" for the U.S., in accordance with GIRM 160, is that communicants stand when receiving Holy Communion.

One thing we have learned from post-modernists, is also to read a text for what it doesn’t say.  GIRM 160 doesn’t say, "In the United States, Holy Communion must be received while standing."   That would be a disciplinary liturgical law.   It would require a dispensation to do something different (i.e., to kneel).

Rather, GIRM 160 in the USA is a norm.   That is to say it points to a normative thing, the usual practice, the custom.  In 25 years we can have a discussion on what legal force this custom has, but now is not the time.  

What the U.S. bishops did in including this norm, with the approval of the Holy See, is state that the normal manner of receiving Holy Communion, in the United States, is standing.   The usual way… it is customary now.

The addition of the second statement (communicants "should not be denied Holy Communion because they kneel") shows that the norm is not some sort of enforceable law.

The situation is to be addressed "pastorally", with explanations, catechesis, etc.  Once people have been provided with this, if they chose to continue to kneel they are not being disobedient. They do not do something illicit.  They have chosen to follow a practice that differs from the norm.  That does not violate a law.

Moreover, whereas a Fr. M might go to lengths to explain that the "reasons for the norm" are excellent because, after all, we members of the Resurrection people (whose name is Alleluia) are all grown up now as modern men and women and, no longer cling to out-dated oppressive hierarchical and patriarchal, Eurocentric feudal habits we therefore must stand in self-affirmation, a Fr. Z might describe the "reasons for the norm" otherwise, and add that we miserable sinners know that we are unworthy to approach the ineffable gift won for us in the bloody Sacrifice of Calvary, and, humbly recognizing the need for a Savior, therefore appropriately kneel in the presence of the Almighty GOD.

It’s all a matter of pastoral nuance.

It is not proper to accuse someone who kneels of being disobedient. 

One could go into various digressions about whether people who kneel when everyone else is standing are really just drawing attention to themselves.  Are they perhaps creating a traffic problem?

My favorite objection, by the way, is "Someone might trip over their legs!"

I will turn this around and argue that, for insurance purposes, there should not be a dangerous chow line approach with the potential of hazardous legs unexpectedly thrown in front of the unsuspecting.  Far better, and safer for insurance purposes – as well as charity and common sense – would be to spread out the communicants in a line, say parallel to the edge of the sanctuary, perhaps even where the nave and sanctuary come together.  There people could kneel and not be obstacles.  Furthermore, again for insurance purposes and charity and common sense, perhaps there could be a low supporting structure along that line across the sanctuary where people might kneel.  This low supporting structure could at once have a theological purpose pointing to the area of the nave where the baptized – according to their own dignity – have a place that the priest will not often confuse with his own place, but it could also have a practical purpose, giving older people an aid for kneeling and rising with greater ease.

I don’t know… maybe someone could figure out how that might work, what that low supporting structure might look like, etc.  It might need, come to think of it, some sort of gate to permit entrance to the sanctuary. 

We have to be practical.

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97 Responses to QUAERITUR: In the USA is it against the law to kneel for Communion?

  1. r.j.sciurus says:

    We should take care to ensure that such a structure does not imply a wall or barrier between the priest and the people of God. It cannot be solid. Perhaps a railing of some sort??

  2. patrick_f says:

    Right – Lets NOT kneel before our God….Brilliant US!

    Tell me this… How do you address through Catechesis NOT kneeling before God Almighty!! That smacks of Hipocracy I think.

    Address it as being “Different” because thats what it is…then the person addressing it can rightly wear the egg on their face that they earned..

    I get “norms” , I getnot making waves, and brick by brick – But to suggest as this so called Girm does that someone who kneels before GOD , in the presence of the sacrament, is somehow lacking in Catechesis, is absurd

    You know… at one time in Ireland…the Rosary was outlawed too (referring to english occupied areas) – Yet the faithful found a way to still do it, I have one of those Rosaries. Its only one decade..and has enough different to confuse the people at the time

    It saddens me when people hide behind a law – The same logic is used by ultra modernists against latin, chant, etc “Oh…well Vatican II did away with that…there for its incorrect”

  3. A practical solution:
    Communion stations; we have them here in the parish in which we live…a kneeler on either side allowing the communicant to stand or kneel without anyone tripping over anyone.
    I doubt it will become “a rage”; but it’s one answer.
    The communion railing would be the best, however.

  4. jbas says:

    Strangely, the USCCB does not seem to provide the reasons for their decision to adopt this norm. This appears to leave priests responsible for explaining the reasons without knowing what they are. One cannot say that standing is better, since kneeling is the first option given in the Typical Edition of the Instruction. So, while I do not doubt there are good reasons for standing, but I simply do not know which ones motivated the US bishops to adopt this norm. Perhaps the phrasing of this norm could be revisited, for pastoral reasons.

  5. T H A N K Y O U F R . Z. ! ! ! ! ! for blowing the “disobedience” canard out of the water. I notice it being deployed not only in the matter of kneeling for Communion but also in other questions dear to the hearts of the traditional-minded — such as preferring the Extraordinary Rite to the Novus Ordo (even in the age of Summorum Pontificum).

    It all puts me in mind of Mother Angelica’s comment back when Rome decided to allow girls to serve on the altar (paraphrased): for the first time in thirty years, the liberals were obedient.

  6. Henry Edwards says:

    It puzzles me that even priests and “popular and much visited web sites” are poorly informed about these matters, when all needed information is readily available, for instance at the Adoremus “Posture and Gestures” site

    http://www.adoremus.org/Posturelinks.html

    I cannot count the number of times this has come up here at WDTPRS. Here (with bf emphasis added) is what I posted the last time it came up, and perhaps the time before that, and perhaps the ….. :

    The matter of whether the norm on standing is prescriptive, or merely descriptive – as the bishops were assured just before voting to approve it. After apparently prescriptive language was slipped into US-adapted GIRM in English, and appeared in various directives, the matter was quickly dealt with by the Congregation for Divine Worship (see protocol below).

    As I read Vaticanese, the last paragraph says that if anyone harasses you for kneeling for communion, let the CDW know, and they will harass someone. There have been various informal reports of this having happened. As you can see at the Adoremus site, the point on permissibility of kneeling has been reiterated periodically from 2003 to this year.
    …………………………
    Prot. n. 47/03/L
    Rome, February 26, 2003

    This Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments has received your letter dated December 1, 2002, related to the application of the norms approved by the Conference of Bishops of the United States of America, with the subsequent recognitio of this Congregation, as regards the question of the posture for receiving Holy Communion.

    As the authority by virtue of whose recognitio the norm in question has attained the force of law, this Dicastery is competent to specify the manner in which the norm is to be understood for the sake of a proper application. Having received more than a few letters regarding this matter from different locations in the United States of America, the Congregation wishes to ensure that its position on the matter is clear.

    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“.

    This Dicastery hopes that the citation given here will provide an adequate answer to your letter. At the same time, please be assured that the Congregation remains ready to be of assistance if you should need to contact it again.

    With every prayerful good wish, I am

    Sincerely yours in Christ,
    [signed]
    Mons. Mario Marini
    Undersecretary
    …………………………

  7. Henry Edwards says:

    In the church where I attended OF daily Mass this week, those wanting to receive while kneeling — roughly 20% of the total — simply stepped out of the communion procession and entered the front pew and knelt. When those receiving while standing had all received, the priest approached those kneeling and gave them Holy Communion last. We did not mind having to wait; indeed, this gives one a perfect opportunity to say that “2nd confiteor” (maybe even the traditional form just to be sure) just before receiving.

    I’ve seen it work this way in several churches, and don’t recall seeing a church where it wouldn’t work for lack of a “barrier” to lean on in front of the first pew. Of course, you must have a pastorally minded priest who is willing to accommodate those waiting humbly on their knees.

  8. To the person who asked the question:

    “There are people, including the popular and much visited website, Catholic Answers who have spoken that kneeling for communion is inappropriate…”

    I highly doubt that the employees of Catholic Answers (catholic.com) would espouse that viewpoint. There may be individual members of the forum (forums.catholic.com) who, for one reason or another, frown up or discourage kneeling for reception of Holy Communion, but their opinion on the matter should not be confused with Catholic Answers’ official statements, which can be found in their tracts moreso than in the forums.

    See here and here for starters.

  9. Henry Edwards: Just as an aside, while reading very quickly your response, I thought you had written, “Vietnamese” for Vaticanese LOL!…
    I thought, “Since when are official documents written in Vietnamese?”
    But they might as well be, since the number of those who SHOULD be reading them is very minimal.
    Disgusting.

  10. SonofMonica says:

    I drove an hour and a half to attend my first EF Mass this morning, and I tripped coming back down the steps from the altar rail… :-\ Oh, well… the drive was worth it.

  11. Supertradmum says:

    I was told at the OF that I was “showing off my piety” and “drawing attention to myself” for kneeling. I gave it up, as it seemed to be a negative detraction for people in the parish, where no one else kneels.

  12. sacerdosinaeternum says:

    Great post, Fr. Z…I can understand this from the side of the laity, but how does this USCCB norm apply to Pastors of parishes/Priests who distribute Holy Communion? I’ve submitted a dubium with this question to the Holy See, but have not yet received a response. As long as this norm is in place in the US, can a Priest with an altar rail in his church licitly say “in this parish, we will receive Holy Communion kneeling”? Would this not be contrary to the norm?

  13. Fr. Z & Folks:

    I have always thought this way. I in fact kneel, and have always found it acceptable to do so based on an interpretation of the GIRM and writings of the USCCB similar to the one which is stated above.

    That being said I have found a “Bulletin Insert” on the USCCB website which is linked to the new Missal Translation area.
    Link: (http://www.nccbuscc.org/romanmissal/resources-bulletins5.shtml)
    This insert and description uses language that I have never seen before.
    Granted, I am an attorney, so my reading may be nuanced and over-technical, but it seems as if there is a slight shift in thinking:

    “…The new edition of the General Instruction asks the Conference of Bishops in each country to determine the posture to be used for the reception of Communion and the act of reverence to be made by each person as he or she receives Communion. The Conference of Bishops of the United States has determined that in this country Communion will be received standing and that a bow will be the act of reverence made by those receiving. These norms may require some adjustment on the part of those who have been used to other practices, however the significance of unity in posture and gesture as a symbol of our unity as members of the one body of Christ should be the governing factor in our own actions. ..”

    The part that concerns me is: the USCCB “…has determined that in this country Communion *WILL BE* received standing…”

    That seems to carry more force than, “the norm for…”

    Is this part of a NEW GIRM that is coming out?
    Does this change, or will this change the interpretation given by Fr. Z and understood as it is above?
    It concerns me that the language is slightly altered in this informal text, and that it may be part of something more authoritative like a new GIRM.

  14. xgenerationcatholic says:

    I can’t fathom why Lutherans kneel and Episcopalians kneel for Holy Communion and we don’t. It’s positively unreal. Lutherans expressly disbelieve in adoring the Sacred Host and here they are kneeling. I feel like they get a privilege we don’t get. I know I should trust the Holy Spirit, but I can’t help but think there were agendas behind the setting of these “norms.” Did certain people actually WANT to discourage belief in the Real Presence? If they did, they’re doing a good job.

  15. Bob says:

    I require the use of a cane to maintain balance and am put in danger of falling when the person in front of me dives to a kneeling position in the communion line. Additionally, it is impossible for me to kneel unassisted. I have recently switched back to the TLM where I can kneel again thanks to the support of the altar rail. I don’t understand why all churches could not at least provide kneelers at strategic communion distribution points, crude but that is what they have become, for those who choose to kneel.

  16. TC says:

    One thing we have learned from post-modernists, is also to read a text for what it doesn’t say. GIRM 160 doesn’t say, “In the United States, Holy Communion must be received while standing.” That would be a disciplinary liturgical law. It would require a dispensation to do something different (i.e., to kneel).

    Ah, thank you for that, Father!
    My parish has a rail and everyone kneels except for the elderly & others who are unable to.

  17. Faith says:

    http://theonetruefaith-faith.blogspot.com/2010/08/when-in-rome.html St. Monica had the same concerns when she came to Rome from Africa. Should she kneel (whatever the custom in Africa) or do what the Romans do? St. Ambrose said “When in Rome, do what the Romans do.”

  18. Henry Edwards says:

    Defend Us In Battle: That “will be” statement you quote is a very old one, pre-dating (as I recall) the Vatican smack-down of such “prescriptive” interpretations of the so-called standing norm. USCCB staff has continued to post it and include it in various documents, as though never corrected by the pertinent Vatican dicastery. (This is hardly a unique example; witness the frequent discussions here of communion on the tongue, free-standing altars, ad almost infinitum.)

    As a lawyer, I assume you are quite familiar with this pattern, in which bureacratic or staff interpretations often go well beyond the evident intent of the legislation as expressed in the discussion of the lawmakers when it was passed.

  19. Jason says:

    At Papal Masses, communicants must kneel and receive on the tongue. I would point that out to any priest or anybody else who makes an objection to receiving in such a posture. Either that or I would ignore them, realize where I am, make a bee line out of there, and find the nearest TLM.

    It’s all a left over of watering down the real presence in a foolish attempt to make the TRUTH palatable to protestants.

    The stupidity of the post-conciliar Church is absolutely staggering. I can imagine Christ rolling his eyes and thinking that, without the Holy Ghost to keep these guys in check, they’d screw up a game of hopscotch.

  20. One of those TNCs says:

    Far from being distracted by the sight of a communicant kneeling to receive Our Lord, my own reaction is two-fold: (1) My heart is lifted to God at the sight of a humble, adoring communicant and (2) I am forcefully reminded of my own unworthiness and of Whom I really, truly am about to receive.

    So, to me, the act of kneeling does not draw undue attention to the kneeler, but it draws DUE attention to the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Jesus Christ in the Eucharist. May God bless those who kneel, those who genuflect, and those who make a heart-felt, profound bow.

    Methinks whoever started the “rumor” that kneeling communicants are attention-seekers was looking for a straw man, an excuse to do away with the practice…and it has been repeated so many times now that “it must be true.”

    Perhaps we can think of ways to gently, lovingly dispel the myth?

    Being a typical American, I used to feel uncomfortable with the profound bow until I developed the habit of saying to myself as I did it, “My Lord and My God!” It makes the gesture absolutely necessary.

  21. Jayna says:

    Cannot it not also be pointed out that, despite any misguided “pastoral” reasons a specific country may have, the universal norm is kneeling and on the tongue? Surely that norm supersedes any local custom.

    I guess we could say that about a lot of things, though, couldn’t we? And it doesn’t seem to work in those cases either.

  22. K. Marie says:

    @Supertradmum: I got that for wearing a chapel veil at a OF mass once. The idea that being respectfull is “showing off” has really started to grate on my nerves. I suppose when it is perfectly acceptable to DIY the Mass and have immodestly dressed dancers waltzing down the aisles respect isn’t a big deal anyways.

  23. Discipula says:

    A woman visited our parish once several years ago and knelt to receive Communion. She started a trend, more and more people joined her – so many in fact that the men of the parish reinstalled the Communion rail. You never know the difference one person can make.

  24. Susan the Short says:

    Supertradmum, go ahead and “show off your piety.” You might give courage to others to do the same.

    Years ago, lost in a modernist wilderness, I saw a lone woman kneel to receive Holy Communion. I had never seen such a thing! My heart rejoiced!

    I sought her out after Mass to offer my appreciation, and she told me about a parish I had never heard of, where people kneel all the time. It is now, praise God, my parish. Many women wear veils, and we now have 2 kneelers (wide enough for 3 people side by side) as a sort of altar rail.

    And,yes, it is Novus Ordo. Be brave, supertradmum….you never know who may benefit from your example.

  25. Tantum Ergo says:

    Of course there is a very good reason for standing while receiving Holy Communion, and those who wish to kneel before Almighty God should be properly catachized on the matter. Now, the reason is… umm… well… er… the line moves quicker!

  26. Tantum Ergo says:

    Head um’up! Move um’ out!

  27. shin says:

    >So, while I do not doubt there are good reasons for standing,

    I doubt, oh I very very much doubt. :)

  28. Marcin says:

    Geez! Father, I once saw such a structure! How did you know?

  29. YadaYada says:

    If quickness of the line is the only thing for catechesis… well, in my experience in administering Holy Communion, the fastest way is to go along a line of kneeling communicants with their tongues out. It’s true.

  30. MJ says:

    I’m an EF gal, but on a few occasions I have attended an OF Mass, and each time I made a point to receive the Eucharist from the priest’s hands (not from those of a lay minister) and to kneel and receive Him on my tongue (even though a communion rail was lacking – I knelt on the floor). Both times I received some funny looks, from the priest and from the parishioners whose line I had slipped into (the lay minister’s line was the line I should have been in) — but the priest gave me the Eucharist, on my tongue, and I quietly went back to my pew.

    Oh…and I wore a nice long mantilla, too. :) Always do. Huge mantilla fan I am.

  31. Fr. Basil says:

    \\We did not mind having to wait; indeed, this gives one a perfect opportunity to say that “2nd confiteor” (maybe even the traditional form just to be sure) just before receiving.\\

    Is it these people’s contention that the form provided by the Church in the present English translation of the Ordinary Form somehow inadequate?

    **Oh…and I wore a nice long mantilla, too. :) Always do. Huge mantilla fan I am.**

    Mantilla–is that the feminine of phylactery? Seems that Jesus said something about wearing big obvious ones.

  32. I think it would have been better never to have allowed standing for communion and receiving in the hand.

    That said, the Catholic Eastern Rites (I have served the Melkites and the Ukrainians), stand when receiving communion. There is nothing irreverent about their practice.

    This is not to say that I think it should have been copied in the Latin Rite. Kneeling in the Latin Rite was introduced by lay initiative (and against the will of the clergy!), and I have discussed this change at length in my book, _Cities of God: The Religion of the Italian Communes_ available here: http://www.amazon.com/Cities-God-Religion-Communes-1125-1325/dp/0271029099

    On the other hand, if the “norm” in the US were kneeling, but “those who stand should not be refused communion,” what would comboxers say priests should do when a stander appeared? Perhaps an Eastern Rite Catholic? Tell them to kneel?

    As a priest I will not be a policeman for the piety of lay communicants. And when I celebrate the EF (Dominican Rite) I don’t force standers holding out there hand to kneel and put out their tongue. Communion is not the time for that.

  33. ChantalM says:

    I just have to add something to this discussion. I can distinctly remember a few years ago this one time at a Daily Mass (a college parish, for you Americans) genuflecting before receiving the Body. Well, didn’t I get a talking to from our priest about that and the proper stance prior to receiving is a bow. He’s all about liturgy and God forbid I do something out of the ordinary before receiving. Something about tripping over my leg and causing a cascade, sound familiar Fr. Z? Last time I did it there and on Sundays. Fast forward to moving out west and I genuflect all the time before receiving. I was raised Lutheran and converted shortly after graduating from college, and my initial two parishes (Lutheran) that I grew up in had altar rails and in the second one also had kneelers (wooden, no softy cushions for us, thank you). I’ve always received from the Lutheran minister in those days, and I have real trouble now receiving from a lay person. I’ll do it if I have to, but I much prefer receiving from the priest. I wish I could receive kneeling but if I kneel fully, I have trouble getting up afterwards. Honestly, I’m with a lot of you, bring back the altar rail, or at least prie-dieus gathered around the altar for people who like to receive kneeling. I also prefer receiving on the tongue, and a lot of lay people just don’t understand how to do that.

  34. “The Conference of Bishops of the United States has determined that in this country Communion will be received standing ” (!!)

    Hey Defend Us In Battle!

    That USCCB insert to which you are referring is old. I have found posts quoting it going back to 2003. The USCCB site webpage doesn’t have a date. Whoever linked it to the new translation is either not paying attention to its contents, or else is deliberately contravening the Holy Father’s own humble example.

    The days of bishops’ conferences usurping the authority of individual bishops or that of the Pope and ‘determining’ things. are over.

    to those who say kneeling catholics are drawing attention to themselves:

    Is it drawing attention to oneself to follow what your conscience tells you is right even when others don’t see it that way? yes.

    Were the few who stood by our Lord in His Agony drawing attention to the themselves?

    yes. Sometimes “drawing attention to yourself” is not a bad thing.

    Instructing the ignorant is almost always a good thing.

    k.c.

  35. Athanasius says:

    When I was raised as an episcopalian I went to a semi-high church where we still knelt at an altar rail and received communion. Now the preaching was low church, so there were few if any who believed they received even as much as the presence of Christ. They believed they were receiving bread.
    Which is to say they were kneeling at an altar rail to receive bread.

    Now Catholics are told they must stand and march through to the 1st window then the 2nd for what is truly and substantially their Sacred Redeemer, the God of the universe.

    This is what is asinine about the Bishops’ crusade against kneeling, they create a situation where some protestants kneel for bread, and we stand in front of God. Is it a wonder so few believe either in the Eucharist or in the Sacrifice of Mass?

  36. Jordanes says:

    Fr. Basil said: Is it these people’s contention that the form provided by the Church in the present English translation of the Ordinary Form somehow inadequate?

    Since you mention the present English translation of the Ordinary Form, it is actually the Church’s contention that the form provided inthe present English translation is inadequate — that’s why the Church has approved a new translation. ;-)

    Mantilla—is that the feminine of phylactery?

    No, it’s the diminutive of “manta,” Spanish for a cloak or a wrap.

    Seems that Jesus said something about wearing big obvious ones.

    She said she’s a huge mantilla fan, not “a fan of huge mantillas.” Of course her mantilla is a “nice, long one” — but then hardly any mantillas are short. Mantillas are always big and obvious. Even smaller chapel veils are obvious. Since most Catholic women no longer follow St. Paul’s instruction, those who do will be noticeable in most parishes.

    Her point, I beleive, is that she always wears a mantilla, always kneels, always receives on the tongue from the priest — even when she went to the OF, she did not do anything different than what she always does at the EF. It doesn’t seem she said she went to the OF to show off.

  37. Athanasius says:

    On the other hand, if the “norm” in the US were kneeling, but “those who stand should not be refused communion,” what would comboxers say priests should do when a stander appeared? Perhaps an Eastern Rite Catholic? Tell them to kneel?

    At an EF Mass I attend run by the FSSP, there are some people who receive standing because they are too weak to kneel, mostly elderly, but there is one person who is Eastern rite who stands. He gives her communion with no comment. I don’t think I have ever seen a Traditional Church where someone was denied communion for standing and I believe every Traditional parish I have been to has had at least one person stand who probably could have knelt.

    Years back when I went to the NO I was denied for kneeling.

  38. Jason says:

    \We did not mind having to wait; indeed, this gives one a perfect opportunity to say that “2nd confiteor” (maybe even the traditional form just to be sure) just before receiving.\

    Is it these people’s contention that the form provided by the Church in the present English translation of the Ordinary Form somehow inadequate?

    Oh…and I wore a nice long mantilla, too. :) Always do. Huge mantilla fan I am.

    Mantilla—is that the feminine of phylactery? Seems that Jesus said something about wearing big obvious ones.

    Father Basil with all respect if you have a point to make you should simply state it.

  39. Sixupman says:

    A Jesuit church in the UK, which had not been butchered, continued to use the Communion rail and people knelt or stood without embarrassment. Come a new parish priest and the practice, which satisfied everyone, now divided the good sized congregations.

    Communion-in-the-hand, no kneeling, no genuflections – diabolical!

  40. shin says:

    >That said, the Catholic Eastern Rites (I have served the Melkites and the Ukrainians), stand when receiving communion. There is nothing irreverent about their practice.

    Standing is a neutral posture. Everybody stands around, all the time in all kinds of situations. It’s neither reverent or irreverent, inherently.

    Kneeling is a reverent posture, cross-culture this is witnessed to, it’s inherent, culturally independent ultimately. A culture against it that way would be an extraordinary exception to the natural.

    So take people who normally kneel out of reverence, and require them not to kneel, but simply to stand, and it can be done for reasons of irreverence, and reasons of less reverence. The result is — less reverence in the posture. Certainly we can have interior reverence in both cases, but one is exteriorly less reverent, and less conduce to reverence.

    This is easily illustrated. Walk into a church, everybody is kneeling. You know they’re reverencing someone. Everyone is standing. You don’t know, they could be doing anything.

    On a blank slate, all things being equal, kneeling is better. But the world isn’t a blank slate. In the current situation, it’s quite obvious changing from kneeling to standing was harmful, and is detrimental, most especially in times that lack reverence, awe, respect for the sacred, and the Eucharist. Exterior practices that show this reverence are more necessary than ever.

  41. Clinton says:

    Perhaps I lack imagination, but I cannot see how a newly concocted norm peculiar to one nation facilitates the ‘unity of gesture’
    that is so dear to some liturgical wonks. Doesn’t having a norm peculiar to one nation undermine unity of gesture with all
    the Church in the rest of the world? How is it rationalized that in the name of unity of gesture, America must have its own norm?

    And what of unity of gesture with those generations of Catholics who passed the Faith on to us? Evidently that is a unity of
    gesture that can be lightly discarded. A pity.

    I assume that the unity of gesture that the Church enjoyed prior to the advent of standing to receive was somehow an inferior sort,
    because it has been supplanted with a new posture that unites us even more– even though it still isn’t the norm in the Roman Rite.
    Or something.

    Honestly, I haven’t heard a justification for this liturgical boondoggle that hasn’t made its proponent sound ridiculous.

  42. kittenchan says:

    @One of those TNCs:

    “Perhaps we can think of ways to gently, lovingly dispel the myth” “that kneeling communicants are attention-seekers”?

    I have a way, but it might not quite fall under gentle or loving, and it’s the same sort of response I give people who say the same thing about wearing a veil: “On the contrary. I do it because I *don’t* care what other people think. What’s more important is what *God* thinks about it.”

    I’ll admit it’s rather pompous-sounding but it’s the unvarnished truth of the matter. [begin rant] If I cared about what other people thought, I wouldn’t kneel, I wouldn’t wear a veil, I wouldn’t go to church — heck, I wouldn’t be Catholic! If I really wanted to attract people’s attention, I’d turn secular and join GreenPeace or streak through football games. Kneeling to receive the Blessed Sacrament or wearing a bit of cloth on my head are really, *really* low on the “effective ways to attract attention” list.

    If my few-second up-and-down motion while receiving the Blessed Sacrament, or small white triangle of cloth on my head, attracts people’s attention to the point where it detrimentally distracts them, that is THEIR PROBLEM and THEY will just have to get over themselves. Objectively speaking, neither the action nor the veil is ostentatious in any way. Perhaps they are hypersensitive (deal with it!) or perhaps they are reacting against their consciences saying “gee, you might want to consider being more respectful yourself.”

    If we are just supposed to “go with the flow” and “do what everyone else is doing”, then NONE of us should even go to Mass, because staying home is what most people are doing! [end rant]

    as for “Someone might trip over their legs!”:

    In the five years I have been kneeling for Communion, I have knelt in some very small, awkward, crowded spaces, with all sorts of people behind me. I have sometimes been slow to get up, or stepped on my skirt, or just plain wasn’t quite balanced and wobbled. However, I have *never* had anyone ever even come close to tripping over my legs. For Pete’s sake…

  43. shin says:

    I also kneel, no matter where, it’s a good Communion to be in. :D

    I find that once starting, it’s impossible to stop.

  44. Central Valley says:

    This issue does come up often. When it does come up, Fr. Z provides an excellant response. Rome has spoken many times on this issue and many times Rome has been ignored by American priests and bishops. I have addressed this issue with the diocese of Fresno, Ca. in the past and the response is the “norm” for Fresno – Nothing.

  45. FR. AR says:

    As a young priest who has preached a lot on the Real Presence, I am edified when one of our parishioners kneels to receive Holy Communion. I would be a fool to “explain” to them how they are lacking in understanding. They are one of the few that actually understand what the Church teaches. I have never openly advocated kneeling for Communion, but I quietly appreciate those who do (I am not a pastor).

    I am often irked by those who harbor a disdain for our tradition, as if any nod to the past is a bad thing. Many of my so-called “conservative” colleagues (fellow priests) advocate a rigid conformity without any consideration for traditional elements. They would disdain any priest that wears a maniple, uses Latin in the Mass, says Mass ad orientem, or keeps custody of the canonical digits after the consecration. The argument from tradition holds no weight with them, and they claim disobedience for those who celebrate Mass in any way different from the local Ordinary. Ironically, the freedoms inherent in the Novus Ordo Missae have become petrified into a rigid conformity that threatens to squelch any sense of tradition, good theology, and common sense.

  46. Kate says:

    We want our altar rails, and we want them now!

    Love you, Fr. Z!

  47. muckemdanno says:

    “Communicants should not be denied holy Communion because they kneel.”

    Fr Z, (or anyone) can you expound on the distinction between “should not” and “must not”?

    “Should not”, it seems to me, indicates that the pastor is not strictly forbidden to deny Communion to those who wish to receive kneeling.

    “Must not” would be much stronger…”Must not” indicates that the pastor is strictly forbidden to deny Communion to those who kneel.

  48. The Egyptian says:

    “Furthermore, again for insurance purposes and charity and common sense, perhaps there could be a low supporting structure along that line across the sanctuary where people might kneel. This low supporting structure could at once have a theological purpose pointing to the area of the nave where the baptized – according to their own dignity – have a place that the priest will not often confuse with his own place, but it could also have a practical purpose, giving older people an aid for kneeling and rising with greater ease.

    I don’t know… maybe someone could figure out how that might work, what that low supporting structure might look like, etc. It might need, come to think of it, some sort of gate to permit entrance to the sanctuary.

    We have to be practical.”

    Father you have snark down cold, keep it up, maybe someday with alot of prayer, sigh

  49. Liz F says:

    Whenever we go to the OF I am so glad that I’m wearing a veil. (Yes, we often feel like freaks.) It hit me that when I’m wearing a veil it will be no shock or surprise to the priest when I drop to my knees. (“Here comes THAT woman with the veil who kneels and receives only on her tongue.) I do notice that a lot people bow and genuflect before receiving. I wouldn’t think kneeling would be much harder than that. However, I do have to admit that it’s sometimes hard to get up. Five years ago, at my niece’s wedding my then 11-year old son knelt for Holy Communion (for him it was mostly just what he knew.) People thought it was so neat and commented on it for awhile. I think they were mostly younger people who had never seen such a thing.

  50. Panterina says:

    I really want to thank you, Father Z., for consulting with a canon lawyer. You explained very well the distinction between a norm and a law, so now the difference between what’s customary vs. what’s licit make a whole lot of sense. Norm as in normal custom. As an EMHC, this has been been very instructive for me to learn.

    @jbas (Aug. 28 5:30 PM) re: “(…) the USCCB does not seem to provide the reasons for their decision to adopt this norm.”
    In light of the above, my undestanding is that a norm does not require a decision, and a norm is not adopted: The USCCB simply states what is observed as being the customary (normal) posture in the United States.

    By the same token, the norm of receiving in the EF is kneeling and on the tongue. I always like it when in our Parish an announcement is read before a Mass in the EF that says “we ask you to respect the custom to receive kneeling and on the tongue, in the same way that we follow the rubrics while celebrating Mass in the EF” (quoting from memory).

  51. Get rid of the Protestant oriented norm and go back to Tradition, which also shows that maximum reverence to God. Then there will be no problems with two different postures. This norm business reminds me of how to eliminate the law in a practical manner without literally eliminating the law.

  52. @ Fr. Augustine:

    On the other hand, if the “norm” in the US were kneeling, but “those who stand should not be refused communion,” what would comboxers say priests should do when a stander appeared? Perhaps an Eastern Rite Catholic? Tell them to kneel?

    I am old enough to remember when the norm was kneeling. Back then, nobody was expected to kneel who physically could not do so. If I were now to see somebody standing to receive Holy Communion at Mass in the Extraordinary Form, I would assume that he physically could not kneel.

  53. nanetteclaret says:

    Fr. Basil — 29 August 2010 @ 12:07 am

    ***Mantilla—is that the feminine of phylactery? Seems that Jesus said something about wearing big obvious ones.***

    Fr. Basil, that is an unbelievably uncharitable and ignorant comment. It also shows that you don’t know your Scripture very well. Jesus’ instructions in Matthew 23 concern the Pharisees who were “bind(ing) heavy burdens and grievous to be borne, and lay them on men’s shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers.” The notes in the Douay-Rheims version for verse 5 say: “Phylacteries: That is, parchments, on which they wrote the ten commandments and carried them on their foreheads before their eyes: which the Pharisees affected to wear broader than other men; so to seem more zealous for the law.” That is hardly the case with women wearing chapel veils. Your analogy does not hold up.

    On the contrary, those of us who wear chapel veils are following St. Paul’s instructions as found in I Corinthians 11:5-6, 10. In verse 10, he explains that we are to do this “because of the angels.” It is also interesting to note that this instruction at the first part of Chapter 11 is followed by St. Paul’s instructions later in the chapter that “whosoever shall eat this bread, or drink the chalice of the Lord unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord.” Those of us women who take verses 23-29 seriously also take verses 5-10 seriously.

    As a woman, I feel that it is my duty to cover my head at Mass, first of all because the Holy Scriptures tell me to, and secondly, it gives a silent witness that I believe in the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Jeus present in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. In this day and age of not believing in the Real Presence, I wear a veil to make reparation to Our Lord for all those who are irreverent. Thirdly, I wear one in imitation of Our Lady to thank her for leading me out of the Protestant heresy and into the Catholic Church.

    I am really shocked that you would make such a snarky, rude and uncharitable comment. Over the 4 1/2 years I have been Catholic, I have run into several priests here and there throughout the country who seem to be really put off by me wearing a chapel veil. I have often wondered if it is because they don’t really believe in the Real Presence themselves. If this isn’t the case, then why don’t you explain what the real reason is for this animosity?

  54. uptoncp says:

    Protestant oriented norm, Fr?

    Every mention of Protestants in this thread has been “even they kneel for Holy Communion, whatever they believe about it (or don’t).” Even the 1552 Book of Common Prayer – a liturgy very strongly angled against all sorts of Catholic doctrines, including the Real Presence – orders communicants to kneel (admittedly with the proviso “that it is not ment thereby, that any adoracion is doone, or oughte to bee doone.” Even the Westminster Directory is silent on the matter, which presumably means that the Puritans were content to let current practice continue.

    Not all of your woes can be blamed on Protestants.

  55. Ceile De says:

    I agree this cannot be laid at the door of protestantism. This has everything to do with priests who do not believe in the Real Presence or who define it away from transubstantiation into something else such as the assembly itself making Christ present or some such stuff. Protestants (at least liturgical ones) kneel. What happened in the Catholic Church is very clearly aimed at the Eucharist. Add up all the changes and then see if they were due to a desire for more or less respect, more or less belief in transubstantiation: 1 stand, don’t kneel; 2 receive in hand not mouth; 3 receive from EMHC even when there are enough priests; 4 good luck finding the Tabernacle; 5 with no Tabernacle within range, stop genuflecting; 6 stop fasting before receiving; 7 confession before Communion? What’s confession?

  56. Ceile De says:

    And above all (how could I forget?), no sanctus bells!

  57. xgenerationcatholic says:

    “This has everything to do with priests who do not believe in the Real Presence or who define it away from transubstantiation into something else such as the assembly itself making Christ present or some such stuff.” I can’t agree more. However, one priest said in a class I was in once that “standing up was the traditional way to pray” and that’s why that was the only appropriate way to receive. I knew he believed the Real Presence but I don’t know where he got his reasoning. By that logic we should stand all through the Mass and stand for all personal prayer as well. But what about the idea that the altar rail “separates” us from our Lord? Not that I agree, but I think that has been used as one rationale for ripping them out.

  58. Ceile De says:

    Hey Xgen – thanks for your comment. Not meaning to doubt your priest but try asking him (1) if by Real Presence he means transubstantiation and (2) why those receibing from the current Pope kneel.
    He may have bought into some of the cunning arguments used by the purveyors of our very own ‘Cultural Revolution’.

  59. Ceile De says:

    An ecumenical thought: if Lutherans and Anglicans and Episcopalians kneel for Communion, wouldn’t it bring us closer to them if we did too? ;-)

  60. xgenerationcatholic says:

    Ceile De –

    Well, this was at Franciscan University some years ago, and I think this priest is doing something else now other than teaching. He actually was quite holy and taught Christian Moral Principles very orthodox-ly. When he veered off into liturgical subjects he was all wet. Franciscan is there in terms of orthodoxy but not there with everything pertaining to the liturgy, if it’s the same way I remember. I just think this priest was good-hearted but reading the wrong stuff. He also said he thought the monthly Latin Novus Ordo Mass should be shut down because it “made people think the Church was going back to Latin.” He was very much a Charismatic Renewal priest, need I say more?

  61. Ceile De says:

    Xgen – I hear you! My wife + I went to St Patrick’s in Montreal last week. We were about to leave after hearing ‘how is everybody this morning?’. Anyway we decide to stay and were intrigued at how the presentation was very Charismatic but the content rigorously orthodox. I guess there are still a few of those fellows floating around.

  62. Unfinished says:

    Father Z – I love you.

    I laughed so hard at the last paragraph.

  63. Mitchell NY says:

    If kneeling for communion causes attention to that individual then I would think that someone in the “teaching” position is at fault. If everyone was taught that kneeling is the accepted law and that standing is only an option in the US, which is an allowance to stray from the recognized law, then maybe instances of kneeling would not draw so much if any attention. Most people who kneel would like to due so out of reverance, nothing more. The last thing they want is people gawking at them. Being in the US, even with an explanation, pastorally put, I would probe a little deeper into the Priest’s explanation of how this became a norm. Was it from an abuse? I remember in the 70′s being specifically shown how to kneel for communion in preparation for 1st Holy Communion, and suddenly, halfway through the program being told to “get up”. I never desired to stand in the first place and my Mom in particular was offended by this new rule. So you see, we didn’t, the lay faithful, ask for it. So my pastoral response would be “Thank you very much for explaining how this abuse became the norm here. I kneel at the TLM so will continue to do so where I can in the NO Mass.” And in general I have stage fright, so would hate to be the center of attention. But really something inside me says that standing is just not right. My catechis started one way and ended another. I am not going to take the position that standing must be eliminated, although it probably should, (I will leave that to the Holy Father, and we know what he does), but why should anyone look at me if I kneel? We do not look at people strangely who stand, so why the other way around? As usual better Cathechis would relieve the stigma. If we are ever going to get around to a universal norm for the Church without local norms then people need to be made to feel comfortable with whatever position they choose. If there is that much pastoral explaining going on then it would appear that for the faithful, and good of the Church, it may be time to recognize that people prefer kneeling on a larger scale than is currently acknowledged. It has already been stated that it is a better sign of reverance and represents a theological point. It was not that long ago that everyone in the US knelt which is more uniform with the entire Church. It was more a movement from the top down pushing us to create a new way thereby requesting permission a new norm. It stunk then and it stinks now.

  64. Gwen says:

    I started kneeling to receive at my OF Mass a few months ago. To preclude any tripping hazard, if the line is single-file, I simply whisper to the person behind me “I’m going to kneel, don’t trip” with a smile. If there are two lines merging at the priest (as at daily Mass), I go to the back of the line. No broken legs yet.

    Since I started, the only comments I’ve had are positive. Two other guys started kneeling, saying to me “you gave me the courage to do this.” Two others tell me they are trying to get the courage to do so. Several others have said they need a rail or kneeler and wish they could kneel.

    Our priests have been totally supportive and positive.

    The spiritual benefits have been immense.

  65. AnAmericanMother says:

    Gwen,

    For the folks who have difficulty kneeling on the hard stone or trouble getting up – see if your priests won’t arrange for a little prie-dieu at the head of the aisle. It’s what the Holy Father does . . .

    http://www.overheardinthesacristy.net/wp-content/uploads/2010/05/pope-porto-communion.jpg

  66. PaterAugustinus says:

    I notice that some posters take it for granted, that standing while receiving the Eucharist must necessarily involve reasons of expediency, or impiety, or lack of faith in the Christ’s true presence in the Eucharistic Elements.

    I would point out that in the Orthodox Churches, we stand to receive the Eucharist, and it certainly does not imply any of these things. I think the idea should be dropped, that standing while being communed is somehow substantially connected to all these deficiencies in piety.

    It is, after all, the ancient and Apostolic custom of the whole Church (including, originally, the Latin Church) NEVER to kneel (at any point in Mass or the Divine Office, nor even to make prostrations during private prayers) during Sundays, Feasts or the festal period of Pentecost. And yes, the usually-given reason for not kneeling on these days is their joyful spirit and especially “Resurrectional” character (though, the “grown-up” idea is foreign to the Orthodox experience). A contrite heart and penitent spirit is always good for the Christian, but there is a good reason for not making outward displays of a penitential character at certain times.

    I understand that some will answer, by saying that kneeling came also to express both devotion AND penitence throughout the Latin Church, beginning from the locally Roman custom of genuflecting (rather than bowing, as in the Eastern, Gallican and Mozarabic rites) to show reverence. Setting aside the question of whether it is appropriate to begin expressing devotion by setting aside Apostolic customs, and setting aside the fact that kneeling by genuflection is different from kneeling by “standing on one’s knees,” I would still point out: if the West can adapt innovative customs to express devotion, then surely it can observe the ancient customs without necessarily implying a lack of faith or devotion.

    I understand that many abuses were introduced into Catholicism on the grounds that the liturgical illuminati were “restoring” ancient customs. I’m not advocating for the kind of crypto-liturgiology, which is always making odd speculations about what the 1st century Christians must have done and then trying to restore those speculative customs… but, the Apostolic custom of standing during festive times (esp. Sundays) is not an obscure matter of historical speculation. And finally, I’m not saying that those Roman Catholics who stand for communion are actually doing so out of a sense of fidelity to Apostolic Tradition; it could be that a lack of reverence or a desire to be speedy genuinely is the motivating factor. But, surely the proper answer is better catechesis and a renaissance of piety… not a condemnation of the mere act of standing, as though that necessarily involved impiety. The Orthodox Churches would beg to differ!

    And, I know that not everybody expressed this attitude. I’m just replying to the sense I get from some posters, that standing seems to be “just not right.” And I know that even those posters mean well… perhaps standing isn’t proper for the Roman Rite as currently celebrated in Catholicism (some Russian Orthodox Churches occasionally celebrate the Sarum Use of the Roman Rite, and we do not kneel during the times when that was traditionally forbidden, and never for Communion). I would just encourage them to realize that standing for Communion is a venerable custom of Apostolic antiquity, observed by all the Orthodox Churches. It does not have to be negative by its very nature. If some Roman Catholics are standing for the wrong reasons, address the wrong reasons and their context; don’t accept the notion that standing is somehow fundamentally impious.

  67. RichardT says:

    “The Conference of Bishops of the United States has determined that in this country Communion will be received standing and that a bow will be the act of reverence made by those receiving.”

    So how many of these priests who oppose kneeling also refuse Communion to people who don’t bow?

  68. RichardT says:

    And what is the official reason for the norm?

    Perhaps it would help stop this nonsense if lots of people asked the Conference for an official explanation. I would like to see them give one that sounds sufficient to insist on standing but doesn’t get them into trouble with Rome.

  69. Gail F says:

    Clinton had the best post — I’ve never heard it that way before. And PaterAugustus is very kind to point out that standing is the original and unchanging custom in the Orthodox tradition.

    Many people say that standing in the Roman rite was to restore the original Apostolic tradition. Certainly, a lot of theological work was done at the time of Vatican II with the intention of moving us closer to Orthodox practices. However, the result has NOT been greater unity between the Roman and Greek churches, and greater faith among Catholics. Instead, it has been a steady decrease in faith, reverence, and even comprehension of the supposedly “transparent” liturgy. That’s not to deny that some Catholics are very faithful and love standing. I’m not saying that at all. What I am saying is that in the aggregate, that has not been the result. It would be nice if the bishops would realize that.

    Fr. Thompson, I was not aware that kneeling was introduced by the laity over hte objections of the clergy. Perhaps that’s a sign that it was an authentic outgrowth of the culture and therefore the best practice for the Roman rite.

  70. Luke says:

    I love it! I love it! Great commentary, Fr. Z.

    Regarding low structures set aside for legal purposes and the ease of those who desire to receive their Lord, I saw the strangest thing at a wedding that my wife and I attended a few weeks back: The communion rail had been cut down to an eight foot length and used as a part of the ceremony and then it was carried to the back of the Church after Mass. It was never offered to the people of God to use as an optional way to receive the Body of Christ. I think it has been a mistake in the past to build such ornate railings that people later decide that they would look better with the kneeler removed and placed as an octagon around a baptismal font. Maybe if they had been more plain people would have been less likely to remove them from their proper place. It seems that this is one place where viewing something as a utility may be better than doing away with them altogether. The term “pastorally corrected” is rather frightening to me. I feel for those who, compelled by conscience no less–which St. Paul gives certain precedence, choose to kneel only to find themselves at odds with the pastor of their parish. May God give those folks the strength that they need to choose rightly and follow the tug of that conscience.

  71. The English translation of many of the rubrics has been deliberately mistranslated. Kneeling is the universal norm of the Church, the USCCB can not override this, in spite of the exception to the established law.

    Some points I’ve been pondering in this discussion…

    1. Isn’t it a heresy to go back to something the early Church did, just because the early Church did it? The name of the heresy escapes me at the moment. Just because early Church did x, y, z, doesn’t mean that we’d do it now. Early Church also had priests killed during Masses in some cases, should we do that too? (Now just to be clear, this is different from the maintaining of something, which has been done in both the Eastern Church and Orthodox, the customs that developed in the East for the most part have not changed)

    2. Both sides have a form of kneeling…the East, Prostrations, and the West, kneeling, strictly speaking kneeling is a Christian thing to do. I remember this from Dominus Est as well as in Spirit of the Liturgy.

    3. I think restoring standing at least in the Western Church where it has been foreign for a long enough period of time has been a major mistake as far as reverence towards the Eucharist goes. (Not saying standing in of itself is irreverent) The radical shift in culture of the Church…has lead to scandal amongst some of the laity. I see why many left after the post Vatican II changes.

    In our attempt to be more like the early Church or what not, I believe the result has been a loss of our identity, and hence once we don’t know who we are, we lose what’s important, vocations, reverence, etc.

    As has been mentioned here, the restoration of our Catholic Identity here in the West is crucial to our fight against Satan. It begins with the Holy Liturgy. I love what Our Holy Father is doing in restoring many of the traditional elements back to their rightful place. Pray for our Holy Father that he have long health.

  72. Clinton says:

    Thank you, Gail F. .

    Fr. Z. has examined this issue before, and some valuable comments were made back in 17 June.

    As directive #160 of Institutio Generales Missalis Romani (adapted for the US) states, “(W)hen receiving Holy Communion standing,
    the communicant bows his or her head before the Sacrament as a gesture of reverence and receives the Body of the Lord from the
    minister”. Redemptiones Sacramentum stresses that those receiving standing are to “give due reverence before the reception of the
    Sacrament, as set forth in the same norms”, i.e., a communicant is to bow his head before reception.

    So yes, RichardT, I’d agree that to be consistent in their application of the norms as prescriptive law ministers who deny Communion
    to people who kneel should also be refusing Communion to those who do not bow before receiving while standing.

  73. Clinton says:

    I apologize, as I seem to have botched the above link to the 17 June post.

    I hope this works.

  74. BernadetteY says:

    I attend a traditional parish, the priest faces ad orietem and we have an altar rail.

    Everyone kneels for Communion and only priests distribute it. Many women and children wear mantillas or head coverings.

    I have seen once or twice people stand to receive, but that is not the norm at our parish.

    All the Anglican Use parishes have altar rails and kneel. I expect that will be the case when the Ordinariates are established and we see more Anglican Use parishes.

    Some here say the custom is to be more like the Orthodox, I think it is more like most protestants, except for some Anglicans and Lutherans.

    Thank God we don’t have any innovations in our parish and strong priests who don’t bow to unorthodox Bishops.

  75. @PaterAugustinus:

    I would still point out: if the West can adapt innovative customs to express devotion, then surely it can observe the ancient customs without necessarily implying a lack of faith or devotion.

    Perhaps. But at the time and in the circumstances in which the practice of standing was introduced (i.e., in the face of the long-standing custom of kneeling, and amid the storm of confusion and destruction that was wracking the Church), it sent a message: that the Eucharist is no big deal. Besides which, as far as I know, none of the reasons that you mention were proffered in justification of this practice. (At least, I never heard them.)

    @Joe of St. Therese

    I think you’re talking about antiquarianism.

  76. PaterAugustinus says:

    Anita, you said:

    “Perhaps. But at the time and in the circumstances in which the practice of standing was introduced (i.e., in the face of the long-standing custom of kneeling, and amid the storm of confusion and destruction that was wracking the Church), it sent a message: that the Eucharist is no big deal. Besides which, as far as I know, none of the reasons that you mention were proffered in justification of this practice. (At least, I never heard them.)”

    You’re absolutely right. I had tried to emphasize, near the conclusion of my post, that I wasn’t saying that the change had been justified along Orthodox rationale, nor that Catholicism should return to standing simply because it was the Apostolic custom.

    In fact, I specifically alluded to the very well-known troubles, caused by the misguided zeal to “restore” apostolic practices in the Roman rite. Even the Orthodox Churches don’t do everything exactly like the 1st century Christians, and we would strenuously resist any attempt to artificially revise our traditions with a similar goal in mind. As I said, standing to commune may in fact be the wrong thing for Catholicism at this point in time. I just wanted to discourage the mistake, of assuming that standing was somehow an inherently impious gesture. One poster even said that standing was “neutral,” or at best “not necessarily irreverent,” and kneeling was objectively more reverent.

    I can only say that the Holy Tradition, and its expression in once universal customs, should lead us to strongly disagree; different times and actions call for different postures, and standing or kneeling can become reverent or irreverent depending thereupon. For example, when I’m doing my prayer rule after receiving Communion, or on any day when the Great Doxology is chanted at the conclusion of the ainoi (i.e., Lauds), I don’t think of standing as “neutral;” I am quite consciously aware of my standing posture and how proper it is to the occasion. If I accidentally start to go to my knees, even at private prayer, my conscience usually catches me right away and says, “no, you mustn’t do that today; it would be irreverent!” Practicing Orthodox all share this conviction – i.e., that sometimes kneeling is *irreverent,* and sometimes standing is.

    In fact, the Orthodox Tradition relates the standing posture to the reception of Eucharist in an especially intense way. Our Church considers reception of the Eucharist to be such a joyous occasion, no matter how simple and ordinary the day may be, that all communicants are FORBIDDEN from kneeling or prostrating for the entirety of the day after receiving the Lord’s Body and Blood… in fact, it is considered a grave act of impiety to abase the body by lowering it in penitential gestures, when it has become the tabernacle of the Lord in a very special sense, and has been lifted high above all creation through “partaking of the Divine Nature.” Sometimes, penances are even given to those who err like this through their own inattentiveness, as it is considered an Eucharistic abuse and a genuine act of blasphemy. Likewise, we do not reverence any holy object, nor ask the priest for a blessing nor kiss his hands, since our intense union with the Lord through the reception of His Body and Blood is itself the summit, the veritable recapitulation of the realities, which such practices partially effect in their own, less spectacular ways (namely, the Lord’s own benediction and the enjoyment of the communion of the Saints). To engage in any of these actions would in some small way be a denial of this fact. All of this is obviously related to why we don’t kneel to receive our Lord’s Body and Blood, though our preparation and penitence beforehand is (supposed to be) quite intense.

    None of this is to discount the different way in which Catholicism expresses its reverence before the Eucharist. The rub, I think, comes in *how* we stand. Do we stand because we are indifferent or ignorant? Because everyone else is? Because we want to be efficient? All of these rationales would be blasphemous before the Universe’ King. Do we stand because we are very cognisant of the Tradition and the rationale underlying the Apostolic custom of standing on such occasions? That is highly reverent.

    In short, I wasn’t saying that Catholicism should change its practice to match Orthodoxy’s, and I certainly wasn’t endorsing the general exhortation to “renovate” an entire, intact, cultural piety so as to become “more like the early Christians” (who would never have tolerated such a thing). I just thought that the temptation to view standing as irreverent, or neutral at best, should be given some context. It may not be right for Catholicism now… but it isn’t necessarily a bad (nor even a netural) thing, in the right context.

  77. B Knotts says:

    In the Dominican parish to which I belong, the issue is simple. Everyone kneels at the altar rails. There are a few who suffer from celiac disease who receive standing, from the cup. They are the only ones who stand. I have never seen anyone have a problem with this arrangement.

  78. robtbrown says:

    1. Isn’t it a heresy to go back to something the early Church did, just because the early Church did it? The name of the heresy escapes me at the moment. Just because early Church did x, y, z, doesn’t mean that we’d do it now. Early Church also had priests killed during Masses in some cases, should we do that too? (Now just to be clear, this is different from the maintaining of something, which has been done in both the Eastern Church and Orthodox, the customs that developed in the East for the most part have not changed)
    Comment by Joe of St. Thérèse

    I think “archeologism” is the word you want, but I wouldn’t call it a heresy but rather an attitude or a method. And, IME, those who are always referring to the Early Church more often than not just pick what seems to support their liberal agenda.

  79. Gail F says:

    I would like to thank PaterAugustinus for another long and thoughtful post. The Orthodox tradition of standing is very interesting for this Roman Catholic, and there is obviously a very developed theology about it. He is quite right to remind us that there is nothing inherently irreverent about either standing or kneeling.

    One of the problems with kneeling in the Roman rite is that it is not perceived as reverent. As much as some liturgists may have studied the early church and the Orthodox tradition, the theology behind it seems to be very different — a “horizontal” view of the Church and a desire to “see God in the community.” There is no theology of divinization, of (please excuse me if I don’t say this exactly right) the exaltation of the soul because of participation in the Eucharist, after which it would be impious to stand because we would be denying that the divinity of Christ we had just partaken in had in some way transformed us. Instead, there is the half-expressed but fully developed notion that we are all pretty cool just the way we are, as the redeemed people of God, and we have all just shared a “meal” together rather than experienced a profound participation in the eternal sacrifice of Christ. Finished with our “meal,” we are just going to stand around (and sing a boring song) until everyone gets back to his pew, and then we are going to sit politely until we are dismissed. Nothing reverent about it.

    Having studied this a little, I do believe that the people who brought us this theology were devout and, because of their being steeped in traditional Catholic culture, experienced these ideas as exciting, new, and profound. But for those of us who have been reared on them REPLACING traditional Roman Catholic tradition and theology, they are weak tea. Personally, I am weary to near despair of sitting around a church where nothing seems to be happening when I know very well what it is supposed to be! I believe in the Eucharist. Is it too much to ask the Church to actually worship?

  80. lux_perpetua says:

    @paterAugustinus:

    “Likewise, we do not reverence any holy object…”

    does this mean that every time i’ve been to a Divine Liturgy wherin members of the congregation venerated the Cross or icons after liturgy [aka at every Divine Liturgy I've been to], that this should not have been happening?

    or, is there a difference between “reverencing” and “venerating”.

  81. mvhcpa says:

    Somewhere in my peripatetics through the internet I came across a wonderful defense of the posture of kneeling (especially during the consecration) written by Bishop Thomas Olmsted of Phoenix. I was “feeling the love” for this Bishop, as he was invoking in his essay humility and other things that those who I’ll call “rupturites” despise. When the discussion turned to reception of communion, however, all of a sudden this same Bishop made a “one-eighty” and STRONGLY DIRECTED people NOT to receive Communion kneeling:

    “A few of our laity still kneel or genuflect prior to receiving Holy Communion, and rightly they are not denied the Blessed Sacrament. While I appreciate the good intentions that prompt these actions, I invite them to consider again the reverential nature of standing during the Sacred Liturgy and the real value of a unified expression of our fraternal communion in Christ. Taking exception to liturgical norms can distract others and even divert their attention during this most sacred moment of communing with our Savior. It can draw undue attention to oneself. Receiving Communion is also a statement of our union with the entire Church, not just a time of individual experience.”

    Well, Your Excellency, I have considered it again, and your position on this matter loses. Once I knocked the pride out of my heart (yes, I was originally thinking about doing kneeling for communion to “show everyone a lesson”), I could find no reason not to kneel for communion. Any “attention” drawn to my act of humility and reverence would be quite due, thank you, and might prompt more folks to do their own “re-considering” and join in the OBVIOUSLY more reverent expression of humility before God. As for “a statement of our union,” if one other person does it, then would we be in enough union for Your Excellency? Since many places in the world (and in the United States) promote and practice kneeling, is the USCCB the ones who are out of union?

    For the past year, I have received Communion exclusively while kneeling. I have had only one priest scowl at me while I was so doing, although that priest did not withhold communion from me, however. (Said priest also earlier in the Mass performed a detailed blessing of “parish ministers” including “liturgical dancers’” ad libbed a dramatic version of the Gospel reading though pretty much close to the entire actual text, and therefore left out the Creed to save time.) I have also stopped receiving the Precious Blood, and commune now only under the species of the Sacred Host (a separate issue, I know). I personally feel those steps I have taken are more reverential. I cannot say that I feel more in communion with Our Lord after taking these steps—maybe that means God in his grace had already granted me a sufficient inner reverence before I started these steps–but perhaps my increased outer reverence will lead to a far greater reverence on the part of others than appears to be happening now.

    Michael Val
    (who does NOT–repeat NOT–accuse anyone receiving communion standing as being irreverent in their hearts)

  82. Tradster says:

    If the priests are so worried about the time it takes to give out Communion, instead of attacking kneelers why not instruct those Catholics not in a proper state of grace, and all non-Catholics, to remain in the pew. That would shorten the lines considerably.

  83. Gail F says:

    lux perpetua: I am not exactly certain what Pater Augustinus meant by that statement, but my understanding of icons (from my Orthodox friends) is that one does not venerate the icon, one venerates the person the icon represents, who is somehow (I’m sure P.A. could expound on this) made present IN the icon by the monk who wrote it. That is different from blessed objects, etc., in the Roman tradition.

  84. Latriagiver says:

    Father Z,

    I have to confess that I too fall into this category as “that person” who bucks the system…. I kneel and have so for the last 4 years in my parish(Novus Ordo). I started kneeling serving as a Master of Ceremonies in my local parish. Doing that, in cassock and surplice, noone seems to care while in the sanctuary. Rather they think it is so very proper. But when I am the only one kneeling in the communion line, I have been hit with the glares, the sneers, and the jeers. It does get rediculous at times that thier attitudes try and disrupt my adoration of my God. Hmmmmmm, what fuels that attitude….?

    I must add one note to those that say “I am drawing attention to myself…” Why can’t it be that “I am drawing atention to Jesus?” That is idea in the extraordinary form. There is no conplaints there. Why if someone stood in that Mass, they would be disrespectful and obstinant.

    Is it not all about Jesus?

  85. MJ says:

    Fr. Basil, with all due respect, I’m sure you know what a mantilla is.

    Every time I go to Mass or am inside a Catholic church, I wear a Spanish lace mantilla that falls a few inches below my shoulders and covers my hair. I’m a huge mantilla fan (meaning I love mantillas), not a fan of huge mantillas.

    Jordanes, thank you for your reply to Fr. Basil and your defense of what I wrote — you were spot on. You said, “Her point, I believe, is that she always wears a mantilla, always kneels, always receives on the tongue from the priest—even when she went to the OF, she did not do anything different than what she always does at the EF. It doesn’t seem she said she went to the OF to show off.” Exactly so!! I want to add that as you observed, I would never go to an OF to show off…if I happen to be at an OF it is out of necessity of fulfilling some obligation (whether a holy day obligation or a Mass preceding the baptism of an extended family member or something) — it is out of necessity rather than by personal choice. But if I am at an OF I do not do anything different than what I always do at the EF.

    God Bless!

  86. As usual, Fr Z is absolutely correct. The revised GIRM for the USA has standing as the normative posture for receiving Holy Communion. Standing is not the MANDATORY position, however, as the Prefect for the Sacred Congregation for the Sacraments and Divine Worship has unequivocally delineated. In fact, Catholics have a right to kneel or genuflect if they prefer. No priest or bishop can refuse them Holy Communion for not standing. The key here is that ‘normative’ means the bare minimum or the usual. Mandatory, on the other hand, means always required. A single genuflection is normative for the believer when the Blessed Sacrament is exposed in the Monstrance. The double-genuflection had been mandatory before V2. Now, it is optional. Yet, some liturgical Nazis insist on terrorizing those who still double-genuflect (like those who still kneel or genuflect when receiving Holy Communion in the absence of an altar rail)

    Uniformity does help promote unity but it is not the essence of it. Better that everyone BELIEVE the same thing (doctrine of Real Presence) and that everyone practice the same thing (be in the state of grace) than to only manifest the same posture.

    Since Pope B16 visited the USA, I have been placing kneelers in front of the sanctuary. The faithful have the OPTION of kneeling or standing and of receiving Holy Communion on the tongue or in the hand. The ‘flow of traffic’ has not been adversely affected and if anything else, the elderly and infirm who would be unable to kneel on the floor are able to use the prie dieu and thus utilize an option they previously could not access. Everone seems to be more reverent at Holy Communion and appreciate the opportunity to show their reverence. Likwise, the faithful appreciate the chance to invoke their preference when a confessional has a screen rather than the usual ‘Penance Room’ which just has two comfortable LAZY Boy recliners.

    Fr Trigilio

  87. vernonq says:

    Fr Z – I laughed so much that I nearly choked on my coffee reading your suggestion “to spread out the communicants in a line, say parallel to the edge of the sanctuary, perhaps even where the nave and sanctuary come together. There people could kneel and not be obstacles. Furthermore, again for insurance purposes and charity and common sense, perhaps there could be a low supporting structure along that line across the sanctuary where people might kneel.” You are, as always, spot on there. Not only does it avoid the potential problem of somebody tripping over the previous communicant’s legs but it also very considerably speeds up the process of giving Holy Communion without detracting from its reverence. The only problem is what to call this low supporting structure. May I in the spirit of continuity humbly suggest that they might reasonably be called ‘Altar Rails’.

    Why do the Bishops want to make standing the ‘norm’ for receiving Communion? What nobody has so far mentioned is that it greatly facilitates hoards of unordained ‘Extraordinary Ministers’ to shove chalices brimming with the Precious Blood at us as we move away from having received, in the Sacred Host, the fullness of the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Christ our Saviour.

    It is very easy for the Priest or Deacon to distribute Holy Communion in the form of the Sacred Host to a kneeling communicant, but very much more difficult to offer him the Chalice – so Yes! let’s bring back the Altar Rails.

  88. Henry Edwards says:

    Fr. Trigilio,

    Thank you for your crystal clear explanation of what “normative” means. Like much of what is routinely attributed to “the bishops”, this was staff-driven committee terminology. It seemed likely (to me) from the bishops discussion of this norm that a majority of the bishops at this USCCB meeting would not have voted for a mandatory standing requirement.

    Indeed, as I recall from reviewing the minutes at the Adoremus site, one of the last questions before the bishops asked was whether the statement that standing is the norm was to be interpreted as prescriptive (i.e., what must be done) or merely descriptive (i.e, what is normally observed). The presiding officer replied that it was descriptive, not prescriptive.

    I thought the bishops’ vote of approval probably hinged on this clarification. However, the liturgical nazis (as you call them) predictably preceded to issue and attempt to enforce prescriptive rather than descriptive interpretations.

  89. kittenchan says:

    “Why do the Bishops want to make standing the ‘norm’ for receiving Communion?”

    This question provokes one of my own. The fact that in the US, the bishops have changed the normative posture to standing, and then counter those who still kneel by telling them that they need to stand as a sign of unity, says to me that *the norm itself is inconsequential, and that the important part is that we all do the same thing*.
    The fact that bishops say we should stand because of XYZ reason without comparing those reasons to the ABC reasons to kneel yet still insists on standing over kneeling, says to me that *as long as something has A REASON, it is legitimate; whether the reason is superior or inferior than the reason for a different something is irrelevant.*

    Perhaps one day the bishops will become filled with zeal to emulate St. Peter, and therefore change the normative posture to receive Communion to standing on our heads – as St. Peter was crucified upside down, and rejoined Jesus in that orientation, so should we follow his ancient example and be joined with Jesus likewise. There’s THE REASON, requirement 1. Then, as long as everyone receives the Blessed Sacrament upside-down, it is a SIGN OF UNITY, requirement 2.

    If kneeling has superior reasoning, meaning, symbolism, et cetera, not to mention its more practical aspects, than standing, then why not just change the norm to kneeling? Then if everyone did THAT, it would be a sign of unity too!

  90. @ PaterAugustinus: understood.

    Incidentally, where the custom is to kneel for Communion, as I mentioned in an earlier comment, if I see someone standing, I just assume that that person is physically unable to kneel.

  91. aladextra says:

    PaterAugustinus-

    I am surprised that such an obviously learned Orthodox person is confusing rite with being Orthodox. If you want to see what the Orthodox approach would be to the Rite of St. Gregory, check the Western-rite Orthodox churches. Every one I’ve seen has knelt for communion. Some Orthodox do kneel for communion: http://www.westernorthodox.com/customs

    They also kneel for the final blessing, just like we do after they’ve received communion.

    When you say “Our Church considers reception of the Eucharist to be such a joyous occasion, no matter how simple and ordinary the day may be, that all communicants are FORBIDDEN from kneeling or prostrating for the entirety of the day after receiving the Lord’s Body and Blood.” I assume you mean “Our [Bulgarian, Russian, Ethiopian, Serbian, etc.] Church”. Because Western-rite Orthodox receive kneeling all the time and kneel after Communion during Mass. Conversely, most Eastern Rite Catholics don’t kneel to receive.

    This is a question of rite, and you are attempting to create a larger theological issue that is not supported by the actions of the Orthodox Communion. As you know, the Eastern and Western rites have very different symbolism and expression. It can both be correct that standing is offensive in the Western rite and kneeling inappropriate in the Eastern rite. I thought we had at least gotten beyond this in the understanding between the Orthodox and Catholic world. Every Orthodox acquaintance of mine has been as upset about the violence done to Catholic liturgy since Vatican II as I am. I’m very surprised to hear this defense of the innovators.

    If we’re going to begin to offer theological apologies comparing thoughts of posture of the laity at the Divine Sacrifice, I do not think it would be appropriate for me to offer my thoughts on any deficiencies in congregational posture at Orthodox churches. I can offer very strenuous defense for the legitimate development of kneeling in the Western Rite, beginning with penitential practice–which practice was widespread well before the schism and is practiced by Western Rite Orthodox today. It was no doubt influenced in some way by scholasticism and what St. Thomas has taught us about what happens at Mass. To reject it in favor of some ancient practice is archeologism, which is an enemy of Tradition, not its friend. This is absolutely the case with the Western Rite, despite your claims to the contrary. Will you next recommend the “Orans” posture for the congregation at the Pater Noster? Or perhaps the exclusive use of the Second Eucharistic Prayer? The abolition of the Prayers at the Foot of the Altar and the Last Gospel? The restoration of the “Bidding Prayers”? Celebration versus populum? We Catholics (unfortunately) have seen this show before. Usually the Orthodox are helpful in putting a stop to the craziness.

  92. PaterAugustinus says:

    Lux Perpetua,

    You asked:

    “…does this mean that every time i’ve been to a Divine Liturgy wherin members of the congregation venerated the Cross or icons after liturgy [aka at every Divine Liturgy I’ve been to], that this should not have been happening?”

    It is appropriate for some, and not for others, depending.

    It is technically an abuse to reverence the icons from the time the Holy Chalice has been brought forth into the nave, until the priest blesses the faithful with the Chalice and takes it back to the proskomidi (a “credenza” where the bread, called “the Lamb” is prepared for Liturgy… and where the Body and Blood are rested afterwards for the deacon’s attention). The theoological reason, is that the King is present, and we don’t spend time greeting His friends while He is standing before us. This abuse has crept in, because pews obstruct the space of the Orthodox nave, and the faithful are pressured to remain seated until they can be dismissed in rows for Communion. But, they still remember how they used to kiss the icons before communion, and feel gipped otherwise (somewhat rightly). So, now they do it on the way up to the Chalice, even though this is not a very good practice.

    Now, reverencing holy things after having received the Lord’s Body and Blood, is another matter. The bread distributed at the end of Liturgy is called “antidoron,” which technically means “instead of the Gift.” This bread is actually for those practicing, baptized faithful, who for one reason or another did not receive the Body and Blood of the Lord at that Liturgy. Hence, the bread is received “in the stead of the (Eucharistic) Gift.” Those who did receive Communion, had already taken some blessed bread (and perhaps some ablution wine) immediately afterwards, to make sure they had thoroughly swallowed every bit of the Lord’s Body and Blood. Technically, they should not queue up after Liturgy, nor kiss the Cross nor the priest’s hand. They should remain in their places, attentive to the post-communion prayers being read. The late-breaking custom in many Slavic traditions, of kissing the actual chalice itself immediately after Communion, is a terrifying ordeal in my opinion (and I’m Russian Orthodox, so I’m not being triumphalist here)!

    With so many new cultural influences in the American Orthodox Churches, many of these customs and the reasons behind them are being forgotten. Antidoron is regularly distributed to any and all who came to Church that day, even if they are not Christians of any kind; all the faithful tend to line up to kiss the Cross and the hand of the priest, even if they received Communion (myself included, in most parishes, since people think you’re being disrespectful or blasphemous if you don’t!); many parishes no longer read the post-communion prayers because everyone chit-chats in line and then loiters about even after they’ve gone through the line. Again, one can’t turn into a Nazi about all the little things (though, surely people can be expected to be quiet in a Church!), but one shouldn’t minimize the beauty of the Tradition even in the small gestures we should make. Of course, if we turn our love of these traditional beauties into an excuse to get bitter and angry at everyone around us, we are the most impious of all.

    In my experience, most people in our Church are trying their best… if they aren’t doing something “correctly,” it’s just because they honestly don’t know the custom.

  93. Mike says:

    I must say that having grown up in the Novus Ordo (Mass since I was 5) I have discovered the joy and beauty of the TLM. Attending both forms the Latin Rite I much prefer the manner in which one receives the Blessed Sacrament at the TLM, while kneeling.

  94. lux_perpetua says:

    @paterAugustinus:

    Funny… i didn’t say anything about pews. there were no pews in any of the three Russian churches I went to and about which i was speaking.

    Thank you for your explanations. i should say that the source of my confusion was that the actions described were initiated by the priest or the Deacon himself. Congregation members didn’t simply queue up in line, the priest made an invitation to venerate the cross. same with antidoron, which was given to me from the priest’s hands and so I thought it was legitimate to take it.

  95. PaterAugustinus says:

    @ Lux Perpetua:

    Ha! Yes, I know you hadn’t mentioned pews… I was just pointing out that the changes in the traditional lay-out of Orthodox space in many parishes, has caused people to venerate icons at atypical times in the service. People who feel like they “missed” an opportunity earlier, will squeeze it in during or after communion. Most American parishes have pews, now, so I assumed this may have played a part.

    As regards the antidoron afterwards, the usual practice is now to give antidoron to anybody who comes up, and the general custom is even for the communicants to come up, venerate the cross, etc. My own spiritual father, who told me to avoid reverencing things after communion, regularly expects me to come up and venerate the cross, kiss his hand and receive antidoron. The line after Liturgy seems to be the one great exception to the “no venerating” rule… not so much because it is appropriate, but because infrequent communion was for so long the norm in most parishes, that queueing up at the end became something which “everybody always does.” At least, that’s my guess; a (good) liturgical historian would be better able to say why such an exception exists. Perhaps it was “Latin influence” (much deplored by some Orthodox, but welcome by me!) upon the Russians who were studying in French seminaries. Some French parishes still keep (I am told) the practice of blessing the “pain benit” after Mass – once a very widespread custom in the Latin Church – and certainly most of them were doing it before Vatican II, when many Russian Orthodox priests were educated in France. The pain benit was distributed to everybody, communicants included, and perhaps this was the beginning of a similar custom in Orthodoxy. I just don’t know the reason for it, certainly.

    Orthodoxy has a pardoxically “loose” and “strict” attitude; we believe in keeping old rules on the books and in striving to preserve traditions, but we also have a remarkably relaxed attitude when the “right” thing is not always being done. We wouldn’t be relaxed about big things like the dogmata or proper decorum in the Liturgy… but, little things like anomalies in icon veneration and cross-kissing… well, we tend to give people a lot of leeway on those! Over time, that leeway can turn into a new “norm,” and then into a new “tradition.” So, I wouldn’t say that it was “illegitimate” for you to take the antidoron, which the priest offered you. By the traditions which held heretofore, antidoron was for the baptized, Orthodox faithful, who did not commune that day. By the new “norm,” and possibly the tradition of tomorrow, antidoron is given “in stead of the Gift” to all visitors as a sign of goodwill and hospitality. The Holy Spirit is free to move the Church into new customs… we just have to use discernment and stay humble.

  96. >>>Since Pope B16 visited the USA, I have been placing kneelers in front of the sanctuary. The faithful have the OPTION of kneeling or standing and of receiving Holy Communion on the tongue or in the hand. The ‘flow of traffic’ has not been adversely affected and if anything else, the elderly and infirm who would be unable to kneel on the floor are able to use the prie dieu and thus utilize an option they previously could not access. Everone seems to be more reverent at Holy Communion and appreciate the opportunity to show their reverence. <<<<

    Father T!

    Our Cathedral in Corpus Christi has replaced the kneeling cushions at the railing and our pastor –usually– stands behind the railing. Still, few people take advantage of the opportunity to kneel. We recently got a new bishop. He seems to have less regard for kneeling than our previous — who didn’t have much. Maybe I’m reading too much into gestures …but when the Bishop stands infront of the cushion….cutting off access to it….

    http://kneelingcatholic.blogspot.com/2010/07/bishop-mulvey-eradicates-kneeling-at.html#comments

  97. regarding my above comment….the 28 Aug video has our Bishop standing beside the railing rather than directly infront of the Communion rail….this is better than before ntl his posture does not invite anyone to kneel since they would have to move to his left and kneel beside him…one brave soul kneels in front of him on the floor…

    k.c.