QUAERITUR: If priest denies Communion when I kneel

I got this by e-mail:

Dear Father,

Last week during a trip to ________, I went to the _______ Cathedral, and attempted to receive communion kneeling, but as I knelt the priest gave me a sigh, at first ignored me, and then said "Get up! Get up!" I was tempted to argue, but desiring to keep peace during the Mass, I stood and received standing. I feel inspired to write or call him. I was wondering if you had any advice on how I should handle this.

In Christ,

I respond with this….

Pray for this man.

Pray that he be very relieved that no one report him either to the local bishop or to the Congregation for Divine Worship and Discipline of the Sacraments.

He would have violated your rights, seriously and publicly.

Pray that he have some change of heart before his scandalous behavior becomes matter of world wide discussion. 

I will help in that regard, btw.

And pray that God may grant you mercy if you have even slightly exaggerated your story.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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


  1. Father why would you think this writer is “even slightly” exagerating his story. These incidents are known to happen. why do yoou single out this writer?

  2. Marcin says:

    Redemptionis Sacramentumn instruction:


    [90.] “The faithful should receive Communion kneeling or standing, as the Conference of Bishops will have determined”, with its acts having received the recognitio of the Apostolic See. “However, if they receive Communion standing, it is recommended that they give due reverence before the reception of the Sacrament, as set forth in the same norms”.[176]

    [91.] In distributing Holy Communion it is to be remembered that “sacred ministers may not deny the sacraments to those who seek them in a reasonable manner, are rightly disposed, and are not prohibited by law from receiving them”.[177] Hence any baptized Catholic who is not prevented by law must be admitted to Holy Communion. Therefore, it is not licit to deny Holy Communion to any of Christ’s faithful solely on the grounds, for example, that the person wishes to receive the Eucharist kneeling or standing.

    [92.] Although each of the faithful always has the right to receive Holy Communion on the tongue, at his choice,[178] if any communicant should wish to receive the Sacrament in the hand, in areas where the Bishops’ Conference with the recognitio of the Apostolic See has given permission, the sacred host is to be administered to him or her. However, special care should be taken to ensure that the host is consumed by the communicant in the presence of the minister, so that no one goes away carrying the Eucharistic species in his hand. If there is a risk of profanation, then Holy Communion should not be given in the hand to the faithful.[179]


    All things to the contrary notwithstanding.

    This Instruction, prepared by the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments by mandate of the Supreme Pontiff John Paul II in collaboration with the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, was approved by the same Pontiff on the Solemnity of St. Joseph, 19 March 2004, and he ordered it to be published and to be observed immediately by all concerned.

    From the offices of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, Rome, on the Solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord, 25 March 2004.

    Francis Card. Arinze

    Domenico Sorrentino
    Archbishop Secretary

  3. Geoffrey says:

    David: I think Fr. Z is simply exercising caution, especially considering how heated some comments in other posts have been lately.

    I’ve heard stories like this too, though I have never seen it. I live in a rather left-leaning diocese. I have seen a few people kneel at Mass in the Ordinary Form and the priest gives them Holy Communion as usual, with no fuss, no scene, etc.

  4. Fr. Angel says:

    This person should collect the pertinent documentation and write a respectful and charitable letter to the priest informing him of the rights of the faithful. The case as described in the letter sounds like other cases I know of and priests are under the sincere impression that the US Bishops have instructed them to “correct” the folks who kneel.

    The Diocesan Bishop should also be informed of this incident. But the letter writer was very prudent and mature not to make a scene and from the tone of the letter, seems to have handled the incident very well.

  5. Brendon says:

    Hah, unfortunately, I haven\’t exaggerated this story. I\’ve written him a letter, and I\’m sending it out tomorrow.

  6. Copernicus says:

    I’ve had the converse experience – attending Mass in a church in a country “where the Bishops’ Conference with the recognitio of the Apostolic See has given permission” for reception of Communion in the hand, to find my hands pushed rather aggressively out of the way by an altar server wielding a paten and the priest proffering Communion on the tongue in a take-it-or-leave-it fashion. So I have deepest sympathy for Brendon. It’s a sad situation when a priest uses the Blessed Sacrament as a means of making a ‘political’ point, or whatever colour. I still haven’t got over the hurt, and this was years ago.

  7. Copernicus says:

    “or” -> “of”

  8. Carlos says:

    The last time it happened, I just said, in a low voice, “please, Father, I beg your mercy,” and didn’t budge from my kneeling position. After a few seconds, he gave me Communion properly (from a coconut-shell ciborium, nonetheless), but before the final blessing he spent half an hour furiously vituperating “those who don’t understand that we are now free in Christ and no longer need to kneel for anything or anybody.” :_(

  9. Legisperitus says:

    This happened to me, only it went more like the incident Carlos described (but without the lecture afterward).

  10. Phil (NL) says:

    I sounds to me like the priest Carlos describes is lacking work – if he has time for an half-hour rant, then certainly he could find time to offer another Mass, assist another parish or hear confessions. Unless you’re living in one of the few areas where there’s no priest shortage, but then I’d warmly recommend he’d go on a course to learn to make his point more briefly…. (kudos for sitting it out though, I’d simply left after 5 minutes)

  11. Jim says:

    If you wanted to think in terms of stubborn teenaged melodrama, you could always remain kneeling, and say defiantly, “I’ll get up when I’ve been given Communion on the tongue, or when the bishop gets here.”

    Nah, most knees wouldn’t last that long. :)

  12. LoyalSeminarian says:

    I witnessed the Rector of the Pontifical College Josephinum deny Holy Communion to a new seminarian for kneeling to receive. He was pulled aside after the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and chastised.

    When the seminarian later brought evidence supporting the legality of kneeling in Redemptionis Sacramentum with the appropriate member of formation, he was verbally abused and told to cease, which out of obedience he did.

    Such a sad state of things today! Please pray for all Christ’s priests that they may be unswervingly loyal to the Magisterium!

  13. Maureen says:

    If we’ve been made free in the Body of Christ, we’ve been made free to kneel. So that’s not the best argument!

    I also find it annoying that the “set free” priest thinks you’re kneeling to him. Either that, or that God does not bend before God — when pretty clearly Jesus does just that and of His own free will.

  14. Enough pussy-footing. It’s time to name names. If a guy can be humiliated publicly, the humiliator should have his name and location all over the internet. I know that sounds rash, but we’re dealing with a bully here. Bullies don’t understand reason; they understand an equal and opposing force. They don’t like it, but they respect it.

    But hey, that’s just me.

  15. Ottaviani says:

    I’ve heard stories like this too, though I have never seen it. I live in a rather left-leaning diocese. I have seen a few people kneel at Mass in the Ordinary Form and the priest gives them Holy Communion as usual, with no fuss, no scene, etc.

    That does not mean it never happens at all. I have never seen Pope John Paul II personally – it doesn’t mean he never existed.

  16. From personal experience, I know that writing to the ordinary and to Rome will stop this. Give them.

  17. R says:

    I do believe stories like this are plausible. Once I was attending a funeral mass at a relative’s parish, and the priest seemed confused when I wanted to recieve on the tongue, so after a couple seconds I held out my hands and moved on.

  18. “Enough pussy-footing. It’s time to name names.”

    I agree!

  19. Daniel Canaris says:

    While of course I agree that kneeling is a much more venerable posture for the reception of Holy Communion, I still think it is inadvisable to go against the custom of congregation in which you are communicating. By kneeling, you draw attention to yourself which may hinder you from being in a suitable disposition for the reception of the Sacrament.

    Also, if you know that you are in a liberal parish, kneeling is just asking for confrontation. It’s better to avoid scandal and just follow the custom of the parish. The reception of the Sacrament is not the time to be making statements.

    In the same vein, if I’m receiving from an extraordinary minister or a liberal priest, I tend not to insist on communion on the tongue. Reception standing and in the hand are lawful practices and one doesn’t commit any sin or liturgical abuse in receiving in such a manner.

  20. Barrett says:

    I was recently at a wedding of my wife’s coworker and tried to receive while kneeling but the priest made me stand up. Afterward her Catholic coworkers were grilling her about what happened, obviously they hadn’t seen anyone receive while kneeling or even knew it was an option. I guess this leaves us more room to lead by example.

  21. Joan says:

    From what I recall, the directives from the USCCB are that communion is to be given in this situation, but one who has knelt is to be taken aside later and given “proper catechesis” on why standing is the norm. :-(

  22. tony says:

    Why do you attend mass at a Cathedral with a naughty priest?
    Why do you attend mass at a parish where the priest uses a coconut ciborium?

  23. Woody Jones says:

    Why is the “hermeneutic of rupture” still so entrenched after 3 years?
    Why does it seem that this situation is in fact endorsed by most of the faithful and their bishops?
    Why has there been no distinct and binding directive, backed by forced retirements at the episcopal level?
    Why do those who trumpet their closeness with the Pope’s (any Pope’s) thinking not follow Benedict’s clearly indicated preferences for altar arrangements and communion on the tongue while kneeling?
    Why does it seem that the majority of bishops in the Western world are simply enduring the present time and waiting for the repose of Pope Benedict?
    Why is it that the Church seems to be in the grasp of effeminacy?
    Why should I not conclude, as do a number of my Anglican friends, that Rome is just 50 years behind Canterbury?

  24. Jeanne Hunter says:

    This has happened quite a few times to me in our local parish….I’ve been told to stand and I’ve been “tsk tsked” and also laughed at by the priest. When he told me to stand I blurted out that I had a note from “My” Pope that says I can kneel. He said with astonishment, “Your Pope?”….and I guess that he deemed there was enough conversation and gave me Communion.

    I just have to mention this…..(I was choir director at the time and we just finished singing Panis Angelicus)..then we proceeded to the altar..as the priest held the Sacred Host up before me he first yelled…”Don’t you EVER sing Latin again in this church”….

    We now have the Gregorian Mass one town away from us with Sunday Mass only. If need be we attend Our Lady of Ostrabrama pastored by a very pius Polish priest who says the New Order Mass very reverently and does not mind at all if we kneel and receive on the tongue.

  25. I think enough has been said here.

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