Msgr. Guido Marini: Communion kneeling and on the tongue will be the standard for papal Masses

From the interview with Msgr. Guido Marini, Master of Pontifical Ceremonies with L’Osservatore Romano.  My translation, emphases and comments:

L’ OssRom: In the recent visit to Santa Maria di Leuca and Brindisi the Pope distributed Communion to the faithful on the tongue and kneeling.  It his a practice destined to become habitual in papal ceremonies?

Msgr. Marini: I really think so.  In this regard it is necessary not to forget that the distribution of Communion in the hand remains, even now, from the juridical standpoint, an indult from the universal law, [the exception to the rule, not the norm!] conceded by the Holy See to those bishops conferences which requested it.  The method adopted by Benedict XVI tends to underscore the force of the norm valid for the whole Church. In addition, one could perhaps also note a preference for using this method of distribution [He means the Pope’s own preference.] which, without taking anything from the other, [Uh huh.  Right.]  better sheds light on the truth of the Real Presence in the Eucharist, it helps the the devotion of the faithful, introduces them more easily to a sense of mystery. [It’s all about MYSTERY folks!]  Aspects which, in our time, speaking pastorally, it is urgent to highlight and recover.

Pretty clear what Pope Benedict is trying to do.  (See here and here for what His Holiness did at Corpus Christi and in S. Italy.)

Remember!  He understands that liturgy is the tip of the spear!

In his Marshall Plan for the Church, the liturgy plays an essential role, without which nothing else can be accomplished.

The Pope is trying to bring us back to ad orientem worship and reception of Communion kneeling and on the tongue.  This is all about the Church liturgy being a locus of encounter with MYSTERY, with a sense of awe at transcendence. 

I think the Pope wants everyone to move in this direction.

Therefore, he will keep the focus on the liturgy and what he is doing, slowly but steadily walking us back from some of the things that have happened in last decades.  He is changing the conversation.

To get at my thought about this, perhaps it would be useful to check this out.

On the very day that mighty gift Summorum Pontificum went into effect, 14 September 2007, I was at the parish of His Hermeneuticalness, the inimitable Fr. Tim Finigan in Blackfen, England.  I gave the sermon for the Solemn Mass to mark that wonderful day.  I wanted to emphasis that what we do in the Church is not about nostalgia, or curiosity, or intellectual stimulation.  Instead, it has to do with the deepest needs of the human person.  The Cross, and even its proper placement during Mass, brings us to an encounter with Mystery. 

My recording of the actual sermon didn’t work, so I had to read record the sermon separately.  I then incorporated it into a PODCAzT (which also deals with Augustine and also women’s chapel veils).  Still, this could be you a glimpse at my theological understand of these liturgical moves the Pope is making and why I think they are so important.


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  1. Great! The list of Benedictine “re-introductions” continues to grow! May many other pastors encourage reception of Holy Communion in this manner.

  2. EJ says:

    Kind of a Papal finger in the eye, and you know which, to the USCCB and their ridiculous policies. Deo gratias.

  3. Jenny Z says:

    I. LOVE. OUR. PAPA!!

  4. “…Kind of a Papal finger in the eye…to the USCCB and their ridiculous policies…”

    The day that the USCCB changes their policies is the day of victory for the Holy Father. I am not holding my breath.

  5. Matthew Mattingly says:

    This is wonderful what the Pope is introducing. But it would be even better if he would simple issue a mandate supressing Communion in the Hand, and “Liturgical Dance” entirely and completely.

  6. Petrus says:

    Honestly, I think the time is coming when His Holiness will celebrate a EF mass at St Peter’s. He is gradually guiding the Church in the right direction, and the next thing you know he will bring back the EF mass to St Peter’s.

  7. Hey, some highly placed mouth pieces said that what we saw on Corpus Christi didn’t portend of anything!

  8. Padre Steve says:

    This is all going to take the USCCB a long time to digest. I wish the renewal of the Episcopacy would happen quicker!

  9. LCB says:

    “the inimitable Fr. Tim Finigan in Blackfen, England, soon to be Archbishop of Westminster

    I fixed it for you.

  10. Fr. John says:

    What are the odds that the Holy Father will remove permission to the indult? (Please God!)

  11. Historically, what I find so odd, is that when the world’s bishops were asked about introducing Communion in the hand, they was a heavy majority of “NO’s.” Yet it was introduced anyway. Supposedly there was to be a limited time period and it would be re-examined, yet I have never seen anything official about the conclusion of that “trial period.”

    Of course I think it’s pretty easy to see it hasn’t helped faith in the Real Presence. And as someone once pointed out, what benefit does it have?

    It’s good to see the Pope (and those assisting him) leading by example. Yet, I wonder if legislation is not out of the question, since I would think that there are some faithful who would go on receiving in the hand in spite of all papal initiatives.

  12. Fr. Steve says:

    As a new pastor I need someone’s help. If recieving communion on the tongue while kneeling is the “universal norm” “valid for the whole Church,” can the “indult” of recieving communion standing be forced on a parish if the pastor should choose to follow the Holy Father’s lead and gradually reinstate the traditional manner of recieving communion in his parish?

  13. Trad Tom says:

    I love Pope Benedict XVI !!! We learn by example, and although it will take years for our American bishops’ conference to completely follow the Holy Father’s example, small steps reap big rewards!

    Could someone explain to me how the horrible sacrilege of Communion in the hand even came about in our time? Was it simply the egregious “Spirit of Vatican II?” To whom was Communion in the hand a good thing? Did no one do any research as to the denial of the Real Presence when communion was received in the hand? (Really easy to find out 1500s Lutheran attitudes about Communion in the hand vs. on the tongue, etc.)

    I have never understood how we got to these irreverent, mystically-lacking times. Maybe now, little by little, we can regain what we have lost over the past 40 years. I hope that my theatre-in-the-round, priest-facing-and-joking-with-the-congregation-during-Mass will learn from and follow the Holy Father’s example. I won’t hold my breath, but I will pray!

  14. Atlanta says:

    Bravo! What a beautiful post!

  15. Pingback: WDTPRS on a roll… important days « ••• Welcome to the Jackass Trilogy •••

  16. As a new pastor I need someone’s help. If recieving communion on the tongue while kneeling is the “universal norm” “valid for the whole Church,” can the “indult” of recieving communion standing be forced on a parish if the pastor should choose to follow the Holy Father’s lead and gradually reinstate the traditional manner of recieving communion in his parish?

    no, indults can be removed by individual bishops (cf: Cardinal Cipirani, Bp. Laise). I’d assume that the indult could not be used at an individual parish level. E.g: At my friends parish there’s no CITH. Communion in the Hand should not be used if there’s a risk of sacrelige. My logic being that it’s not the norm, it’s by special premission, which can be taken away at the stroke of a pen or by the actions of an individual priest. (There’s a priest at my parish that doesn’t give Communion on the Hand)

  17. Andrew says:

    This is indeed marvellous news from the latest interview given to Msgr Guido Marini, the Pope’s liturgical maestro in the new look L’Osservatore Romano as well, regarding the new postures for communion reception from Pope Benedict, at papal Masses.

    Here we in Australia are holding our breath that this will be the case during the final Mass celebrated by Benedict at Randwick Racecourse during World Youth Day, on July 20.

    Receiving commmunion on the tongue and kneeling draw attention to the marvellous Catholic teaching that we are receiving Our Lord crucified and resurrected in the holy sacrament of the Eucharist.

    Taking away altar rails, and making hand communion the norm in so many places, has played no small part in the decline of belief in the Real Presence among Catholics, in addition to the deficiencies here and with other doctrines, in catechetical programs.

    During telecasts of papal liturgies, the camera frequently focuses on those receiving Holy Communion from the Pope. Now that this will be done entirely in the traditional manner, it will pave the way for their universal application, by the simple fact of it being seen by millions on a regular basis, having the effect of others following this example.

    The true benefit however will be the evidence of increased revererence and love for Jesus in the Eucharist. As Fr Z says, the brick by brick approach of the Holy Father with his liturgical Marshall Plan is just the “tip of the spear” in deepening the sense of Catholic identity.

    Mary, Mother of the Church, pray for us.
    The nuns who bear this name (former sedevacantists) are coming to Juventutem, part of WYD as well.

  18. caleb1x says:

    Even in Father Marini’s comments, there’s the newfangled equivocation that makes no judgment and leaves open every possibility:

    In addition, one could perhaps also note a preference for using this method of distribution which, without taking anything from the other, better sheds light on the truth of the Real Presence in the Eucharist, it helps the the devotion of the faithful, introduces them more easily to a sense of mystery.

    If this “method of distribution” takes nothing away from the other, how can this method at the same time “better shed light on the truth of the Real Presence” and “introduce the faithful more easily to mystery”? This can only be so if communion standing and in the hand does many other things better than communion kneeling and on the tongue, so that neither is better in aggregate but each possesses certain better particulars deficient in the other. This is the way of speaking of today’s Church in which the expansion of possibilities takes precedence over exclusive verdicts.

  19. Dob says:

    I’m not sure caleb1x. I read it that you do not need to denigrate/make little/ make less of communion in the hand to support the excellence of communion on the tongue and kneeling. It operates under its own merits for what it delivers namely “better sheds light on the truth of the Real Presence…..”

  20. Alessandro says:

    Not always an “extra-ordinary” rite is older than the ordinary one. In the case of the communion in the hands we are reminded that it is a “indult form” (does it sound familiar??), even if common it is still not the ordinary way of distributing holy communion. And I can witness that until 1995 the distribution of the communion to kneeling faithful was still in use where I live, together with the newer form. Then, with a new master of ceremonies it suddenly disappeared, and we are now discussing of doing something to prevent frequent lack of devotion to the Holy Eucharist….

  21. Matt says:

    Communion in the hand was a liturgical abuse spawned by bishops in
    Belgium, Switzerland and Germany, in 1965 who wanted to ape protestant practise
    as a way of ecumenizing the Catholic faithful into accepting protestantism
    as an equally legitimate form of Christianity and by removing barriers
    that made protestant feel uncomfortable about being protestant.

    By 1967 this liturgical abuse became so widespread that Paul VI
    wrote a document (I can’t recall the name but can find it if you wish)
    whereby he CONDEMNS the practise as being an abuse, but then ALLOWS
    it only for those areas that had already illegally introduced it.
    (Collegiality and all, not wanting to leave egg on the bad bishops’ faces).

    However, the rest of the bishops lobbied and soon it was allowed in all europe an
    and througout the world.

    So that is the sad tale of how this abuse became a hallmark of the spirituality
    of the new mass.

    (Tragically similar to the issue of Altar Crossdressers which were allowed
    in 1994).

  22. Terry says:

    I wonder if this will be the process at World Youth Day…

    Would it be so!

  23. Mark M says:

    Father your Podcazt feed is still broken; tsk tsk!
    (I’m just impatient; I want to listen to your Podcazt.)

  24. Mark: Then listen to it! Use the player on the entry or download it.

  25. Joseph Antoniello says:

    Praise God…this is beautiful. Although it doesn’t happen often, getting refused Communion because I’m kneeling is getting ridiculous. Maybe this will continue to change things in the US for sure, but in the Universal Church as well.

  26. Mark M says:


    It’s strange. Now that you’ve published another one, this one has become visible.

    Did you get my email about a Personal Parish in the UK…?

  27. Garry says:

    but then why why why didn’t he do anything at all -not the least bit – moving in this direction whilst in the States?

  28. Erica says:

    Does anyone here honestly think the USCCB or any other Bishops’ Council cares one whit how the Holy Father distributes communion? Honestly, folks: ever hear of Humane Vitae? They flipped off the Holy See then and still do now. Pull your heads out of the sand and look around. What you see is the Great Apostasy.

    Erica Kauffman

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