From a priest reader:
I am pastor of ___ in ___. I have a weekly EF Mass that draws 50-100 people, a nice group of diocesan seminarian servers, and a good little schola.
I am considering returning the distribution of Holy Communion at our 4 OF Masses to the altar rail, whether kneeling (what I would prefer) or standing (it’s an older parish, and I have several folks with bad knees!).
What are my canonical rights and choices?
I seem to recall a statement from USCCB that the norm for receiving Holy Communion at Mass in the US was standing. But if the Pope is doing it, can’t we? I’m not trying to be more Catholic than the Pope, but I do know it is more reverent to receive Christ in the Blessed Sacrament kneeling, and I already encourage people to receive on the tongue rather than on the hands (I don’t forbid them that option, though). Hope I’m not asking you something I’ve missed on posts already, but you’re a good man to ask!
I wanted to consult a canonist about this one.
The wording in the GIRM adaptations for the USA is odd.
Article 160 says:
“The norm for the reception of Holy Communion in the United States in standing.”
I am left scratching my head.
That is neither proscriptive nor prescriptive. It is descriptive, a statement of fact. It doesn’t sound at all like a law.
“The norm for the reception of Holy Communion in the United States in standing.” Is that so? Really? I will stipulate that a lot of people stand. It is the “norm” in that sense. Is there some other “norm” out there? An actual norm that is something more than a statement of fact?
If this said, “The norm for the reception of Holy Communion in the United States WILL BE standing,” then it would have some force. Instead, it is a statement of fact that some people assume is a law. Maybe there is a … what a “spirit” of a law hidden within the statement?
It is hard to forecast canonical repercussions for putting in an altar rail. It is easy to forecast squeals of gloom from liberals of a certain age in the parish followed by pressure from the chancery.
I think that a steady process of catechesis, along with lots of talk about restoration of elements of the church that were lost, would be a good preliminary to putting in an altar rail. Frequently explanations of what Pope Benedict has done would be good. The priest’s own reverence for the Blessed Sacrament should be evident.