QUAERITUR: If I kneel for Communion, am I in rebellion?

From a reader:

I was told by a pastor in the Dallas Diocese today that I was in rebellion because I genuflected before I received Communion at his Novus Ordo church.  He also criticized those few who knelt for Communion.  He stated that the "norm" in the US is to stand and receive in the hand, and that anything else is rebellion and an act of pride.  He stated that the point of Communion was to "build community," and thus we should all do the same thing – to genuflect or kneel somehow violates the spirit of that community, in his mind. 
Is he right?  Could those who kneel or genuflect at Communion reasonably be interpreted as being in rebellion for those practices?

You might offer to that priest a copy of the CDW’s 2004 Redemptionis Sacramentum:


[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”.

[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”. 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, 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.

If you are deeply concerned about this, you might write to the local bishop and ask him if he agrees with the priest. Ask him if you are in rebellion because you desire to kneel for Communion.

You might also ask the bishop if he agrees that the point of Communion is to "build community".

If you write, you might want to consider some of my tips for writing such a letter.

Finally, I think we should avoid terms like "Novus Ordo church".  A church is a church is a church.  Some are more or less suited to sacred rites, but I think that sort of distinction is unhelpful – even though it may simply and innocently be used to identify a place where only the Novus Ordo is used rather than the older, traditional for the Roman Rite.

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  1. Joseph says:

    From the USCCB GIRM §160: “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.

    When receiving Holy Communion, 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.”

    Im just sayin’.

    I’m not saying that the priest was right to say that this member of the faithful was ‘in rebellion’ (it was certainly not ‘pastoral’ of him). But according to this document the ‘norm’ in the US is to receive communion standing. (Yes, I know that the universal norm is to receive on the tongue, kneeling, but…) I suppose the bishop would also be able to use this snippet to back up his position if he took a similar opinion to the priest is saying.

    I note also that in the USCCB GIRM it states that an appropriate gesture of reverence is a bow of the head, but it certainly does not say that a bow of the head is the only appropriate gesture of reverence.

  2. Fr_Sotelo says:

    The reader should tell Father that community is not built up because everyone does the exact same thing in the liturgy. We are not programmed robots at Mass. He is being rigid and should open his mind to other ways of showing reverence to the Blessed Sacrament.

    It is also uncharitable to accuse the reader of rebellion, because rebellion rejects the law and the law giver. Rather, the reader has taken the law into account and then, with proper formation of the conscience, made a decision that seems to be in accord with the law.

    The spirit of the reformed liturgy should move this priest to distinguish between parts of the liturgy where precise adherence to the rubric is called for and other parts where the Church respects the piety of the faithful to express their distinct and creative gestures of reverence. In other words, leave this poor reader alone and give thanks that they are showing love for the Blessed Sacrament.

    It would be appropriate for the faithful to sometimes ask priests if they are wielding the post-Vatican II rubrics with certain narrowness and pettiness which was supposedly something the new rites wanted to avoid altogether. Why do some priests have to get so threatened and hysterical if someone genuflects or kneels? What obsession is making them so overprotective at Communion time that people show reverence “just so” and not a tad more?

  3. FrCharles says:

    Please accept my apologies for being in a ranting mood, but this post brings up so much nonsense and suffering for me–in various places and times in my life I have been made to conform to uniformity in gesture and action against the actual prescriptions of Mass! Whether it be being made to stand until everyone has received Holy Communion, being made to accept illicit matter for Mass, being made to pass the Host and Precious Blood around in a circle, being forbidden to kneel at the prescribed times during the Eucharistic Prayer (even as a deacon this happened to me!) and even being told–as a priest–that I am supposed to scold people who kneel during the consecration! May I never appropriate to myself such authority!

  4. MarkJ says:

    My 7 year old daughter just received her First Holy Communion this year on the Feast of Corpus Christi. Our Pastor arranged to have all First Communicants kneeling together and receiving on the tongue (this was an Ordinary Form Mass). For several Sundays after that Mass, we attended only the Extraordinary Form, so up to that point my daughter had only received on the tongue while kneeling. When, a few weeks ago, we attended a Novus Ordo Mass again, she asked me if I would kneel with her so she could continue to receive in the manner she thought was most proper. Of course I agreed, and we now kneel together to receive Communion at every Novus Ordo Mass we attend.

    I do not believe that we are in rebellion by doing this – my daughter is just following the leading of the Holy Spirit… and I am following her lead… aren’t we supposed to receive our Lord with the heart of a child?

  5. Bill in Texas says:

    I was going to react to this in a way that would have been critical of the priest, while also being defensive about our Bishop and our Diocese, but then I thought, “I only have one side of the story here. I wasn’t there, and I don’t know either the writer or the priest.”

    So, “No comment and no criticism” from me.

    I would be appreciative of a little “proper catechesis on the reasons for” the norm in the dioceses of the United States. Let me make it clear that I don’t have a problem with the norm, but it would be good to know the reasons.

    (And I don’t have a problem with the norm as it is in the rest of the world either, or with people in the US who want to genuflect or kneel as they approach and receive Our Lord.)

  6. Henry Edwards says:

    Fr. Sotelo: Why do some priests have to get so threatened and hysterical if someone genuflects or kneels? What obsession is making them so overprotective at Communion time that people show reverence “just so” and not a tad more?

    Because they do not want anyone else to show reverence that they themselves do not feel?

  7. This seems to be a matter of fundamental… um… well, of having a stick up one’s butt.

    When you’re dealing with children in a school Mass, or a religious convent’s denizens, it makes sense for someone to make strict decisions about what is or is not to be done as a posture of reverence by every single person. There’s a necessity of organization and control in the one case (to prevent everything dissolving into utter chaos and “But Bobby did it!”); and of a spirituality of unity in everything and autonomy in as little as possible, in the other.

    But in the regular world, there’s a lot broader amount of discretion given by the Church to the individual layperson. Look at how diverse people are about postures in Masses in Europe, South America, etc. If you look at old paintings and illuminations, you can see that it was that way in most times and places. In the days before pews you see paintings where some people are standing up, others are sitting down or kneeling, as necessity and reverence blended in different ways for different folks even at the very same time in the same church.

    Adults come through all sorts of dioceses and parishes, where the traditions and usages differ in small ways, and so do theirs accordingly. The official rulings from the Vatican have always been in favor of not messing with people who kneel, or being too rigid about demanding one monolithic form of respect. But some people seem to have internalized the level of control that Sr. Mary Whoosis had before Vatican II, and to have decided that when they were in charge, they would demand the exact same level of obedience that she had over her class of second graders. It’s strange.

    But that’s not appropriate for the priest of a parish of all ages, is it? Not very Vatican II, either.

  8. Clinton says:

    I have two observations. Firstly, I find the Dallas priest’s position odd –that receiving standing and by hand is the norm (true) and all
    other means of communicating are acts of rebellion and pride(?). Surely the good father is familiar with the history of the newer form of
    receiving. It began as a liturgical abuse, conducted without sanction by competent authority. It would be safe to say that it has its roots
    in rebellion and pride. Here in the US, it’s use was eventually legitimated by an indult from Rome, but with the understanding that the
    older custom remained the norm. It was only relatively recently that our bishops declared that the newer form of receiving was to be
    the norm in this country. This was done, I understand, because it was felt that people should all receive in one way to underscore our
    unity in Communion. I don’t know why our Bishops decided that the best way to underscore our unity was to prefer a form that has its
    roots in liturgical abuse over a venerable form that was universal and underscored our unity with millennia of our forebearers in Faith.

    Obviously, I’m not in love with having to stand to receive Communion. But, out of obedience to our Bishops, I do it when I attend a NO
    Mass. Most often, I attend an EF at my parish, where kneeling to receive is the norm. Which brings me to my second observation.
    At that EF Mass, where we all receive on the tongue while kneeling, there is a person who presents herself standing, hands outstretched.
    Is she violating the “spirit of the community”? It seems that she is acting within her rights, but is it right?

  9. servusmariaen says:

    The older I become (I’m 43) the less patience I have for such nonsense as this. On the occasions when I absolutely MUST go to a novus ordo to fulfill my obligation, I torture myself with whether or not to receive as I am accustomed to doing in the Usus Antiqiuor kneeling and on the tongue. I’d rather avoid the whole situation frankly. I can no longer bring myself to stand to recieve my Lord my God my all. So I kneel in my pew and make a good spiritual act of communion. I’ve been known on numerous occasions to drive 45 miles in order to avoid this very situation. It’s sad that this is what it’s come to isn’t it? I was under the impression that receiving in the hand was an indult anyway? God preserve us from this foolishness.

  10. Sandy says:

    Henry Edwards, you are on to something, I believe. The same view as the reader’s priest was held by a priest I heard several years ago. He publicly chastised, at the end of Mass, a couple of people who had knelt for Communion. He valued uniformity and keeping the line moving over reverence! What has happened to a priest who thinks that way?

  11. NLucas says:

    If Redemptionis Sacramentum is lawful, then disobedience to this priest would seem to me to be a fairly clear-cut case of resistance to an abuse of authority. Isn’t that not only a right, but an obligation of the Faithful?

    In Christ,

  12. Jason Keener says:

    I imagine this Dallas pastor is in his 50’s or 60’s and can’t quite come to grips with the fact that his generation’s ideas about re-making the Catholic Church are coming to an end, and not a moment too soon.

    Can we see how bizarre these times are for the Church and how Satan has entered the Temple of God? We have priests of the Church who actually ridicule Catholics for engaging in traditional Catholic practice. Pope Benedict has said an institution calls its very existence into question when it ridicules elements and practices it once held as sacred and great.

  13. everett says:

    This is a tricky situation. On one hand, the person receiving does have a duty to respect the authority of the norm established by the Bishops, and also of the request of the priest. On the other hand, there’s no reason a priest should ever refuse to give communion to someone kneeling (or on the tongue). Additionally, if a priest does choose to discuss the action with the person, it should always be done with true pastoral care.

    As an example, while I was discerning a vocation and in the college seminary, one summer I returned to my home parish. For a week or so I had been receiving on the tongue, before my pastor asked that I consider receiving on the hand, so as not to possibly cause confusion about whether receiving on the tongue was “more holy” than receiving in the hand. Basically, he stated that given the current state of catechesis in the parish, and given that I was the first seminarian in 15-20 years from the parish, he was worried that people would feel worse about themselves because they might think they were doing something improperly. He never told me that I couldn’t, more he asked that I respect his authority as pastor.

  14. luiz says:

    Always kneeling and on the tongue. If the priest doesn’t like it, who cares?

  15. Will D. says:

    I am once again inclined to thank the Lord for my parish priest. A few weeks ago he talked about respect for the Eucharist and mentioned correct gestures (bowing, genuflecting) before receiving and then suggested kneeling, saying that that’s how he’d receive if he weren’t a priest. While the clear majority still receive in the hand while standing, each week more seem inclined to kneel or at least genuflect.

  16. Tantum Ergo says:

    This is just plain ugly. The universal norm is Communion on the tongue, and it is CLEAR that the rights of the communicant to receive this way must be respected. Rome has called the ill-treatment of those who wish to kneel a “grave abuse.” The “cattle drive” Communion line has become a powerful example of what a failed experiment looks like.

  17. JosephMary says:

    These are hard situations. I have struggled with some of these innovations myself. My former diocese was invited to stand for the consecration because we are no longer a penitent people but a resurrection people. That got harder and harder to do! So I studied the whole situation and the norm is to kneel. I was standing in what I thought was obedience but sometimes there is a greater authority–Rome for example–and one needs to be obedient to the higher authority. I determined that the ‘invitation’ to stand was an invitation I did not need to accept! Nor did I need to stand around the altar or hold hands or run about the church hugging and glad handing. I do receive standing up but I genuflect before I get to the front of the procession. I only receive on the tongue; sometimes when I travel someone does not like it but I have never been refused.

    But you know what, one person’s reverence causes others to follow suit. When I knelt for the consecration, others did to and in time the ‘invitation’ to stand was rescinded. It looked pretty dumb in my parish as it got to the point where 3/4 were kneeling and 1/4 standing. I have moved, thank God, but I think now they stand from the Our Father until after communion. And then also when traveling I come across the everybody stand until everyone receives community thing. I kneel and make my thanksgiving.

    But when one goes to the EF you have NONE of those innovations!!! Praise God.

  18. Federico says:

    With respect to the matter of posture at Communion, my view (and that of most canonists I’ve discussed this with) is that:
    1. The GIRM modified for the US does establish a norm, but the language is not preceptive.
    2. The norm should be interpreted in light of a 2003 authentic interpretation from the PCLT. The interpretation addressed a different part of the GIRM, and wrote that that part of the GIRM was intended “to ensure within broad limits a certain uniformity of posture within the congregation for the various parts of the celebration of Holy Mass, and on the other, to not regulate posture rigidly in such a way that those who wish to kneel or sit would no longer be free.” Although it impacts a diferent part of the GIRM, mutatis mutandis it applies to the whole GIRM and posture at communion. Cf. c. 17.
    3. The CDWDS apparently agrees with #2 because they have cited that interpretation in responses from queries from the faithful.
    4. Furthermore, consistent handling of the issue by the CDWDS shows the faithful who choose to kneel are not to be accused of disobedience.
    5. Confirmed this in personal conversations with CDWDS consultors.

    Note that across the country the faithful kneel for reception in the context of the EF. The EF rubrics do not define posture, so the general norms of the GIRM apply to the EF as well. Yet consistently, this has been found to be proper permitted posture.

  19. Hidden One says:

    We must remember that the inability to properly worship God at the Novus Ordo, even one full of abuses (or at least things of dubious nature) is no virtue. Nor is the inability to receive reverently in the hand, or standing, or what have you. Dominus est… and I say this as one who was shattered when, twice since my conversion, I was forced to receive on the hand.

  20. Greg Smisek says:

    The following reply from the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments demonstrates Federico’s third and fourth points and speaks directly to the original question:

    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”.

  21. Tom A. says:

    Dear servusmariaen, I feel your pain (to quote a thankfully ex-president). I find it harder and harder to attend NO Masses. So much is lacking and so many distractions. I too avoid reception of the Most Blessed Sacrament at these Masses. It pains me too much to see the lack of reverence. I am fortunate to have a TLM only 20 minutes away, but at 6pm on Sunday. Not very convienent with my young kids. My kids have been forced to take communion on the hand at times at their Catholic School of all places. Keep up the good fight! It’s worth the souls it will save.

  22. TXKathi says:

    Well, imagine my surprise when I read this entry & thought, “hey, that’s the Mass I was at today!” One thing to clarify – Fr. did make it clear (& does make it clear every time he makes this announcement from this chair right after he says, “The Mass is over go in peace”.) that he will not deny Communion to anyone based on their posture. He also goes to some length to explain that standing is a reverent position. He has never stated a problem with people receiving Communion on the tongue — except during swine flu season.

    The person who guessed the pastor’s age, guessed correctly. He’s 63.

    At today’s Mass, in his Communion line, the first person in line knelt to receive & then there were a few families (w/higher #’s of children receiving) who all genuflected before receiving. When he gets probably more than 3 people genuflecting before receiving, he makes this announcement. This is the third time I’ve heard this announcement. In addition to the rebelliousness/pride he thinks it represents, he says this action also makes distribution of Communion not flow as well.

    He definitely says that word “rebellion” several times (I hypothesize that maybe it’s b/c the people who generally do this expose themselves as Traditional-leaning b/c they are veiled women & more traditional-types really do try to be obedient to Mother Church?). He speaks about the fact that he has pledged obedience to his bishop. He asks those who insist on genuflecting before receiving to seriously pray over this issue & discern why they are choosing to be in rebellion with the US bishops & our bishop.

    I am curious about his adamance about this, since this just started about 3 months ago. And why this action? I’ve been to Sunday liturgies at this parish & about 1/3 bow during the appropriate place in the Creed. About 1/2 bow before receiving the Blessed Sacrament. So if we are supposed to be “in communion” with our actions, how come he doesn’t say anything about the lack of communion w/these actions?

    Our family usually genuflects before we receive at a NO Mass, however, at this parish, Fr. has implored us not to. 2 of our children DO NOT like this. I have told them that if they can not obey Fr.’s request, then they need to double-check their attitude and choose to do a spiritual communion instead.

    And finally, I would guess the early 30’s associate pastor would have a different mindset. When he says Mass, I’ve seen people jump to his Communion line on several occasions. This is also the pastor who chants the Kyrie , sings Agnus Dei, usually uses Euch. prayer I & always says the confiteor at daily Mass.

  23. Lori Ehrman says:

    I live in the Dallas Diocese. Whoever you are that wrote this letter to Father Z please feel free to come to St. William’s in Greenville, TX. I promise that Father Paul will not scold you for receiving Jesus after genuflecting or kneeling, on the tongue. I am so sorry that this pastor “intrudes” on the reception of Holy Communion which is the most intimate moment between God and the communicant.

  24. dcs says:

    He also goes to some length to explain that standing is a reverent position.

    Standing is a reverent position among Eastern Christians (Catholics and Orthodox), but not really among Western Christians. I think most people realize that kneeling is more reverent than standing. Do families stand when saying their prayers together?

  25. A few observations:

    1. In the US, the sign of reverence to make before receiving Communion is a bow of the head, not of the body, and not a genuflection either.

    2. The universal norm is to receive on the tongue. Receiving in the hand is PERMISSIBLE only where the indult exists.

    3. The Church appears to have changed the universal norm as far as POSTURE is concerned:

    In accordance with the custom of the Church, Communion may be received by the faithful either kneeling or standing. One or the other way is to be chosen, according to the decision of the episcopal conference, bearing in mind all the circumstances, above all the number of the faithful and the arrangement of the churches. The faithful should willingly adopt the method indicated by their pastors, so that Communion may truly be a sign of the brotherly union of all those who share in the same table of the Lord.” (1967, Eucharisticum Mysterium 34a)

    “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.” (2004, Redemptionis Sacramentum 91)

    I ask, though, “WHAT ‘custom of the Church’ involved Roman Rite Catholics receiving Communion standing up?”

  26. PhilipNeri says:

    Just a little sed contra to stir things up:

    I served as a campus minister at the Univ of Dallas for three years. Students there often knelt to receive. No problem for me at all. I’m visiting right now at Holy Rosary in Houston. Kneeling is the norm at all Masses here.

    Occasionally UD students would argue that kneeling should be required. These same student sometimes told me that they knelt in order to “shame their peers” into kneeling. This is hardly a charitable motive for refusing to follow liturgical norms.

    A priest I worked with in Dallas always assumed that kneeling communicants were trying to be Holier Than Thou. I never assumed this. He regularly refused communion to kneelers. I never did, nor would I ever. I’m reporting these facts so that my question is read in the proper light. . .

    I’ll ask those who support kneeling for communion the same question I ask anyone who bucks against any liturgical norm: why do you want to do ________? Intention is key here. Kneeling to show reverence is fine. Kneeling to be Holier Than Thou, or kneeling to shame others, etc. is not.

    Fr. Philip, OP

  27. Jordanes says:

    Fr. Phili said: This is hardly a charitable motive for refusing to follow liturgical norms.

    True, it’s not.

    Still, didn’t the CDW clarify that the “norms” of standing and receiving in the hand are not “norms” in the sense of law that must be followed by all at all times, but in the sense of “what people usually do,” i.e. “normal”? If it were truly a “norm” in the sense of a mandatory rule, the Church would not insist that no one may ever be denied Communion for kneeling when the “norm” is standing, or standing when the “norm” is kneeling.

    I know that’s not what you are arguing, Father. I’m just thinking aloud, as it were.

    Jeffrey Pinyan said: In the US, the sign of reverence to make before receiving Communion is a bow of the head, not of the body, and not a genuflection either.

    My usual practice is to genuflect before receiving — and I always bow my head when I genuflect. Thus, I am in compliance with the norm, which calls for a slight nod of the head, er, I mean a bow of the head, as a sign of reverence, but does not forbid additional signs of reverence besides the slight nod, er, bow.

    There is only one time I was ever “catechised” at Communion time for genuflecting before receiving Communion, and that was a few years ago during a Palm Sunday visit to one of the hapless parishes in the Archdiocese of Milwaukee. It was a Mass rife with liturgical abuses, with a priest who ad libbed almost the entire Eucharistic prayer — and, for my sins, I had to endure a tonedeaf cantor regularly interrupting the reading of the Passion with, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your Kingdom,” in a voice sounding like a cross between fingernails on a blackboard and air being let out of an untied ballon (well, okay, maybe his voice wasn’t THAT good, but you get the picture). I’ve always smiled at the memory of me and my wife being corrected for showing Jesus special reverence during a liturgy in which most liturgical laws and norms were deliberately flouted.

  28. JayneK says:

    I kneel to show reverence, but also to be in solidarity with the Pope. I want to receive the Eucharist the way that is done at papal Masses.

  29. pilgrimom says:

    My parish in CT, which was recently named a basilica, had continuously allowed kneeling at the altar rail during each and every NO Mass. The back half of the church received standing. When the pastor applied for basilica status, our Archbishop insisted that he enforce standing as the posture for receiving Communion and cease the kneeling. I think that it was almost a bit of blackmail because the Chancery had felt some irritation for decades toward all the pastors who had upheld various traditions. So many people attend the parish (which has almost non-stop confessions in confessionals, 24hr Adoration, no altar girls, etc.) that the Chancery held off until the pastor’s application as a basilica. A little over a year ago, the pastor began the EF every Sunday, with a beautiful Schola, so we have an alternative now. It’s rather ironic that the Archbishop chose to make an issue out of the standing posture just as the Pope comes out and says that kneeling is the preferred posture for the Universal Church. I personally choose to receive kneeling and on the tongue not to shame anyone, but because I genuinely feel uncomfortable and unworthy to touch the Lord. I have never received in the hand because I literally feel intimidated about doing so. I feel lucky to be able to receive at all, never mind presuming to touch God with my hands. I do think that it’s wrong to have a ‘holier than thou’ attitude, but why can’t the Church just do what she did for centuries and stop the silliness of each parish improvising as they go along. One Church, one posture. That would be unity.

  30. posted by suburbanbanshee
    >>When you’re dealing with children in a school Mass, or a religious convent’s denizens, it makes sense for someone to make strict decisions about what is or is not to be done as a posture of reverence by every single person. <<<

    This is precisely how ‘liturgists’ have chased kneeling for Communion away. Brainwashing children works! If kneeling, an intense sign of gratitude, is banned from the Eucharist, (which originally meant ‘gratitude) because it upsets the ‘assembly line’ then maybe the ‘assembly line’ is the problem.

    I’m surprised that ‘pilgrimom’ and ‘jordanes’ are the only one to mention the Holy Father’s humble invitation! He invites us to kneel and has forbidden any liturgist or ‘papita’ (a mini-pope) to interfere!



  31. Supertradmom says:

    Oh my goodness! The priest should be praising the good Catholics for receiving Holy Communion so reverently. I think that such priests do not want any higher authority in their lives, neither bishops nor the Pope. The call for “uniformity” is a red herring, as the priest himself is not following the guidelines from Rome.

    I highly suggest writing to the Bishop, in the Father Z style, and waiting to see what happens. My guess is that a letter would solve the problem. As to pilgrimom’s Archbishop, let us pray for him.

  32. lux_perpetua says:

    one of the blessings of being completely blind… regardless of where i am, which parish i am visiting, i am [blissfully] ignorant of what people are or are not doing around me. and, if i happen not to hear the kneelers go down during the concecration, well then i can just play up ignorance and kneel anyway. after all, i can’t see what’s going on around me right? who would think to correct me?

    ssame goes for other gestural symbols during the Mass that i have no clue how many people actually follow through with. i am especially grateful for this blessing when i’m in a parish that wants to join hands during the Lord’s prayer. only on a few occasions have i had a fellow pew-sitter pry my hands apart “in a spirit of inclusion”.

    one of the down sides of being completely blind is actually LEARNING about such postures since they were certainly not taught to me during catechisis. as it stands, i make a sign of the Cross and bow my head when receiving in the hand. i must ask, when there is no altar rail, what do people do when they kneel before receiving? just kneel on the floor and have the priest [or whomever] bend to your level? isn’t this actually dangerous since the proper precausions aren’t usually taken with the Host in these circumstances [i.e. a paten]?? what if the Host were to fall on the floor? I’m just asking because I too have thought about wanting to kneel before receiving but haven’t quite gotten up the courage yet to do so.

  33. Gail F says:

    I think the first question is, is the person actually doing so out of rebellion? That is, does he/she do this to make a point, or is it because of sheer devotion that makes it impossible to do anything else? Unfortunately, due to many different things going on in the Church today, some people DO genuflect or kneel simply to make the point that everyone else is wrong.

    The norm for the USA is to receive standing. In such cases, a person genuflecting or kneeling is to be given the sacrament but to be “counseled” afterward, presumably to be told the correct way to do it. That ought to be done charitably but not every priest is a model of charity. I really don’t see how a person genuflecting or kneeling in the middle of a line can do so without disrupting everyone else, unless the parish has many people who do so, or unless he or she waits to go last. It’s all very well to say, as one commenter did, that disrupting a line is no big deal — until someone trips, or knocks into someone else. So much depends on how many people are there. Much more “disruption” can be done in a small crowd than, say, the parish I went to today — where hundreds of people were winding around in very complex lines.

    If this is not the person’s regular parish, then surely he or she must know that genuflecting or kneeling is a roll of the dice — it will be accepted or it won’t, depending on what that parish is used to. Especially as the person refers to this as a “Novus Ordo” church and doesn’t seem to be inclined to accept what are, after all, the normal masses for most people in the country. It is insulting to call them “Novus Ordo masses.” They are ALL, as the Pope himself says, the SAME MASS.

  34. Gail F!

    You are becoming a celebrity on my blog! Your comment was positively inspirational!


  35. Larry R. says:

    I’m the original e-mail writer to Father Z. I think the issue has been satisfactorily resolved. I received the following e-mail from the pastor in question over the weekend:


    Thank you for so astutely pointing out to me my self righteous attitude. You make some sound observations about my behavior at the 12:30 Mass.

    The next time I do the 12:30 Mass I will ask forgivenes from the congregation and clarify and correct the ‘teaching’.

    I know that Fr. [redacted] will be in Rome for much of October so I will be doing the 12:30 very soon again.

    I sounded very intolerant in my announcement and I ask your forgiveness. Thank you for your courage.

    God bless you,
    Fr. [redacted]

    I will pray for many more priests to be similarly open-minded and rational in their handling of various liturgical/ecclesiastical questions. While his initial statement was unfortunate, I am very satisfied with his response, and he has subsequently followed up and given a specific date when he will discuss this issue in a sermon during Mass.

    The issue for me was never, should one kneel/genuflect at Mass or not – a priest can charitably make requests of individuals to adhere to the USCCB ‘norm.’ The issue to me was the statement that we were in rebellion – I think it has been shown here in the comments and in the original posting that kneeling or genuflecting when receiving Communion is, of course, permissible at Mass, wheither it be EF, Novus Ordo Latin, or in the vernacular.

  36. Larry R. says:

    To respond to some of the other questions regarding kneeling/genuflecting:

    Yes, I generally kneel at every Mass, but sometimes I get tired of the internal turmoil that roils at times regarding this issue and I genuflect. The last thing I am trying to do is to “shame” anyone else into kneeling. If by my example others choose to do so, fine, but I kneel for my own reasons. These reasons being trying to express the reverence I feel for the sacrifice taking place and my utter unworthiness to receive it. My very soul is being nourished and healed by the Blessed Sacrament, and that soul has been tortured by my own doing through so many sins. Not the “I yelled at someone inappropriately” kind of sins, but deep, cutting sins, that continue to try to raise their ugly head. It is only the Eucharist that nourishes and sustains me to continue to try to grow in God’s grace. I do not know how else to approach the August Sacrament except as a complete and total supplicant. Whenever I receive Communion otherwise, I always feel a certain amount of shame afterwards.

    But that is only for me. I’ve got a closet so full of skeletons that the hinges are ready to burst, and I feel a strong need to be as reverent before the Sacrament as I can. If others can express their feelings for the Eucharist through standing and bowing, that is for them.

    Others I have spoken with about this issue feel the same way, especially regarding the turmoil they often go through when celebrating Mass at a parish where few if any kneel. I can’t speak to the experience others have had with “holier than thou kneelers,” but those I know who kneel or genuflect genuinely struggle with it, at the many parishes where such a practice at Communion is frowned upon.

    To Ms. Lori Ehrman, thank you for your invitation, but our family already attends Sunday Mass at St. William. Unfortunately, we haven’t the time to drive to Greenville, except on rare occasions, for daily Mass.

  37. JayneK says:

    Well done. You wrote a constructive letter to the priest instead of just venting on the blogosphere. He was open to reason and now there will be positive actions that will benefit all involved. You and the priest have both been a good example for all of us. Thank you.

  38. DMT says:

    Cardinal Arinze talks about kneeling, kneelers, altar rails, etc, in this short video. Quite relevant to this post, I think.:


  39. MichaelJ says:

    Is it true that “the point of Communion was to ‘build community'”? This is not my understanding, but am open to correction.

  40. Genna says:

    Well, Michael, according to the lay deacon (yup,in his 50s) at a parish I am attending temporarily it is about community. That’s what he told First Holy Communicants called to the sanctuary before reception. In fact he went further. He instructed that the Eucharist is about loving one another and it is food (not for the spirit, apparently) and the children should remember the hungry in the world. No mention of Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity, by the way. It was when he asked the children what they‘d had for breakfast and a little boy‘s reply of “sausages“ brought a wave of indulgent laughter around the church, that I slid out of the pew, genuflected and left quietly. Oh, how I wanted to stand there and shout “No, no, no.“ Luckily, there was a later Mass a half-hour bus ride away. It gave me time to compose myself and to wonder how many of those little ones would still be receiving in their teens.

  41. Luke says:

    Please allow me to quote briefly from “God Is Near Us” by then Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger: “Receiving Communion means entering into communion with Jesus Christ…[and] a further point follows from this. What is given [is] the Resurrected one himself–the person who shares himself with us in his love, which runs right through the Cross. This means that receiving Communion is always a PERSONAL ACT. It is never [never] merely a ritual performed in communion…In Communion I enter into the Lord, who is communicating himself to me…That is why the Liturgy changes over, before Communion, from the liturgical “we” to “I”…fellowship is created precisely by our each being ourself.” He goes on to point out after this thought that we need silent time after receiving Jesus Christ so that we can–always as individuals–“abandon ourselves to him”. Only then can we be “sent” with something new and positive to offer to the “community”. This is only logical and follows the truth that we are to love God first above all and only then can we love our neighbor rightly. To believe otherwise is to be confused.

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