Corpus Christi Mass: Benedict XVI gives Communion only on the tongue to people kneeling

During the Holy Father’s Corpus Christi Mass, the Holy Father gave Communion only to people kneeling at a kneeler set up before him.

This is a very interesting development.

The Holy Father has been trying to provoke conversation and a rethinking of many practices, not very good innovations, that have become more or less standard.

You can see the kneeler set out.

And the people knelt and received on the tongue.

I am sure they were instructed to.

I watched and rewatched the coverage and did not spot anyone receiving in another way from the Holy Father.

In so many places it is simply accepted that Mass must be celebrated "facing the people", versus populum, instead of "facing God", ad orientem.

So the Holy Father celebrated Holy Mass in the Sistine Chapel, when he was also going to do something very much in his role as Bishop of Rome, when he baptized.

He got the conversation going.

Now, in another moment when he is very much Bishop of his diocese, for this great City celebration of the Eucharist, he adminsters Holy Communion on the tongue at a kneeler.

Surely this will start another conversation.

Remember that just the other day the newspaper of the Diocese of Toronto attacked Benedict’s reforms as "backward steps" and the mere suggestion that Communion in the hand wasn’t wonderful.

Remember that His Holiness’s Secretary in the Cong. for Divine Worship, Archbp. Malcolm Ranjith, wrote a preface to a book, Dominus Est: riflessioni di un vescovo dell’Asia Centrale sulla Santa Comunione, printed by the Vatican press which argues for a return to Communion kneeling and on the tongue.  The book is by Bishop Athanasius Schneider of Karaganda, Kazakhstan and it will eventually be in English, I am sure. In the Vatican’s newspaper, Bp. Schneider asked "Wouldn’t it correspond better to the deepest reality and truth about the consecrated bread if even today the faithful would kneel on the ground to receive it, opening their mouths like the prophet receiving the word of God and allowing themselves to be nourished like a child?". 

It may be that at the next Mass Pope Benedict will do the same.  Maybe he won’t.

But people are now going to be talking.

Piece by piece, he is challenging assumptions.

Brick by brick he is rebuilding what was devastated.

His Marshall Plan for the Church is very much underway.

UPDATE: 22 May 15:20 GMT

Here is a video, with the German language feed, probably from Vatican Radio.

The music is the soupy goopy stuff of Msgr. Marco Frisina, who is entirely dominating Italian "pastoral" liturgical music these days from his post at the Lateran.


About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
This entry was posted in Classic Posts, SESSIUNCULA. Bookmark the permalink.


  1. Jenny Z says:


  2. Jeff Pinyan says:

    I was about to flip my lid! I thought “is this a Mass in the Extraordinary Form?” because here in the US, this Solemnity is transferred to the following Sunday.

    Notwithstanding that, may God be further glorified by the reverent offering of the Mass by our Pope!

  3. Pope Evaristus, Martyr says:

    Benedict XVI will be rewarded in Heaven.

  4. Meanwhile in Australia the bishops are trying to legislate in the opposite direction:

  5. AlephGamma says:

    This is a very interesting and good development. Growing up in the VII ruins I don’t remember kneeling for the first time, but I remember receiving on the tongue which in my child’s mind seemed more proper. It was only later that reception by hand was introduced by the sisters and it just felt odd. In my later years this has led me to conclude and theorize that this leads to a more casual and ‘what-ever’ attitude towards the Eucharist especially by the EMs and others.

  6. W says:

    I don’t have cable television at home so I rarely have the chance to watch EWTN. However, I was not at home today and I had the chance to see their broadcast of Holy Mass at noon.

    As far as I could tell, every single person receiving Holy Communion received on the tongue and almost everything after the consecration was in Latin.

    The last time I saw Mass on EWTN, there was almost no latin and only 2 or 3 people received on the tongue.

  7. Jayna says:

    I spent about half an hour trying to convince our parish’s liturgist to talk one of our priests into celebrating a daily mass ad orientum. I wasn’t unsuccessful, per se, but she’s definitely not going to take it into serious consideration any time soon. Of course, these are also the people that when I offer explanations for my traditional liturgical leanings by referencing things that the Pope has said or done, they respond with “well, he is only human, you know.”

    Personally, I would love to take communion kneeling (I already take it on the tongue), but my balance is so off-kilter that unless there was a railing or kneeler there for me to hold on to while I stood up, I would end up doing something terribly embarrassing.

  8. Legisperitus says:

    Things like this make me take with a large scoop of salt the rumors that Abp. Ranjith is going to be “punished” for being so vocal about these sorts of issues.

  9. Cerimoniere says:

    This is truly wonderful. I think this makes me even happier than the Mass ad orientem did. One day, all things shall indeed be well.

  10. SM says:

    When will Pope Benedict give us the communion rails back?

  11. AnnaTrad says:

    Brick by brick. Brick by brick.

  12. RBrown says:

    Meanwhile in Australia the bishops are trying to legislate in the opposite direction:
    Comment by australiaincognita

    I would think that as soon as Papa Ratzinger took over, bishops would want to read some of his later books. Evidently, that is not the case.

  13. techno_aesthete says:

    Vivat Benedictus XVI! Ad multos annos!

  14. Fr W says:

    This is remarkable! Isn’t the Holy Father the Chief LIturgist for the world? Sounds like one could follow this!

    A visiting priest today, saying the NO, knelt down facing the tabernacle for the moment of silence after Communion. Is there any way to argue that this is permitted? I will say, it looked ‘right.’ It would have to be considered illicit however?

  15. TJM says:

    Long live the Benedictine Era. I haven’t been so happy and proud to be a Catholic since before the Council! Viva il Papa! Tom

  16. Geoffrey says:

    This would be so easy to impliment in parishes. Perhaps the many priests who have already begun to follow the Holy Father’s example (six candles, crucifix on the altar, ad orientem) will also consider adopting this. Prie-dieus are not that expensive!

  17. trp says:

    Apart from the Gregorian Chant, the music was awful. It sounded like an Italian version of the Gather Hymnal, that is to say very syrupy, very secular melodies. Is there any chance that music will be the Holy Father’s next brick?

  18. AnAnonymousSeminarian says:

    Long live the Benedictine Era.


    I am watching and learning, knowing that if God so wills it, these responsibilities will be mine in a few years. I hope many of my fellow seminarians, who will become the “Benedictine Era priests,” are doing the same.

  19. Limbo says:

    “Brick by brick he is rebuilding what was devastated.

    His Marshall Plan for the Church is very much underway.”

    Praise the Lord !

    Viva il Papa

  20. Woody Jones says:

    There is yet hope.

    Our Lord and Our Lady must be smiling at this restortation, even if onlky for a moment, of the true manner of receiving Holy Communion.

    Oremus pro Pontifice Nostro Benedicto.

  21. Luca says:

    Father, some years ago I heard a priest saying that in his birth region (Piemonte) Frisina was not well konwn. But I am not sure that their music was better…

  22. Malta says:

    Go Holy Father!

  23. Finally, a way to get the altar rails at my parish used for the NO. Long live Pope Benedict!

  24. Coletta says:

    I am so happy to see this. Sadly in my diocese they are pressing for people to receive in the hand, admitting on the tongue is an option, and they have prepared a special insert for the bulletin for the Feast of Corpus Christi which does not edify and but rather presses for receiving in the hand and tells us that genuflecting prior to receiving is NOT an option in the US per the GIRM. That is what they share with us for Corpus Christi. I was sad because now I am having to bow before receiving. I have been genuflecting for the 20 years since my Baptism and no more.

    So God bless the Holy Father! Each time I am not allowed to genuflect (I would rather kneel to receive but rare option these 20 years) I am praying God to bring the reform of the Liturgy to perfection. To be allowed to kneel and receive with reverence and without being harrassed fo move along like cattle…. would be nice! To have some silence to say thank you….would be nice! I’d better stop or I’ll get the sour grapes award :)

    Seeing this Corpus Christi Mass and the Procession did my heart good. The Holy Father looks wonderful, doesn’t he? Thank you Father Z for posting the pics. And as always, I love your birds. Never knew they ate orange slices.

  25. Hoka2_99 says:

    Magnificent Benedict XVI – I would hug him if that were allowed!!!! I watched the Corpus Christi Mass with awe and loving.
    I trust this is the beginning of major moves by Benedict. With his sense, he’ll do it slowly, letting people soak up what his message truly is.

    I still receive the Host on the hand – reverently, making my hands into a throne – but only because we never have an acolyte holding a plate under the chin. When I’m in Rome I’ve noticed that most people receive in the hand at early morning Mass, with only few attending and no acolyte or server. But sometimes, at the bigger Mass in the square or in Saint Peter’s, I do receive on the tongue [again, no plate is held], because I believe it is what the Holy Father wants.

    VIVAT BENEDICT XVI!!!!!!!!!!!

  26. PeterHWright says:

    Communion in the hand is an innovation, an aberrration, some would say an abuse. It is not the norm, and never should be seen as such.
    I would never receive in the hand, or from an extraordinary minister.
    It is for the priest alone, whose hands have been anointed, to touch the Blessed Sacrament.
    Reverence for the Eucharist will never be recovered without much catechesis and a return to traditional practice.

  27. David Palm says:

    [ God bless the Holy Father! Each time I am not allowed to genuflect (I would rather kneel to receive but rare option these 20 years) I am praying God to bring the reform of the Liturgy to perfection. To be allowed to kneel and receive with reverence and without being harrassed fo move along like cattle…. would be nice! ]

    Dear Coletta, you are most certainly still allowed to kneel to receive Holy Communion. The indult for standing to receive Holy Communion was given to the U.S. only on the condition that those who choose to kneel be allowed to do so. I don’t know if I’m allowed to post links here, but I just did a blog posting on this–you can get to my blog from my Web page which is linked from my name. God bless,


Comments are closed.