Brick by Brick on the Emerald Isle

From a reader:

My son is due to make his First Communion next spring. Since our family attends the extraordinary form of the Mass at St Kevin’s in Dublin, I was concerned that his teacher might not understand the differences between the two forms, and might assume he would receive in the hand and standing. I decided to approach the bishops’ conference in Ireland to clarify this matter for teachers, as I expect there will be many children in the same position each year.
After a year or so of to-and-fro communication, the catechetics commission of the Irish Bishops conference agreed to post guidelines aimed at teachers who have children in their class who will make their First Communion in the extraordinary form.
The guidelines have now been posted HERE.
It would be very helpful if this news could be spread as widely as possible in the English-speaking world so that other conferences may be "persuaded" to take such steps, which help to keep us in the mainstream.
The next step is to get the 1962 calendar on the liturgy pages of the bishops’ sites!!

"But FAHther! But FAHther!", and I am sure some of you are by now lilting.  "Sure and what may they be, these guidlelines from their Lordships the bishops?"

Here they are with my emphases and comments:


Children who attend the extraordinary form of the Mass will receive Communion in a
different manner
from their classmates who attend the ordinary form of the Mass.  [SAd, but true.]

At Mass in the extraordinary form, Holy Communion is received kneeling and on the
. Reception in the hand or while standing is not normally permitted.  [That might be a little strong.  I think people have rights, under the Church’s law where permitted.  But this is a good direction, at least.]

Communion is received under one kind only, to emphasise the Church’s teaching that Christ
is received whole and entire under the appearance of bread or wine.

Normally the child will approach the altar with joined hands and will kneel at the
Communion rails (although children making their First Communion may use a prie-dieu).

The priest recites the formula: “Corpus Domini nostri Jesu Christi custodiat animam tuam in
vitam aeternam. Amen.
” (May the Body of our Lord Jesus Christ preserve your soul to
everlasting life. Amen.) Note that the priest says “Amen”. The child should make no

The sacrament of Confession (or reconciliation) is often available before and during Mass in
churches celebrating Mass in the extraordinary form. Almost exclusively, confession will be
in the traditional form, using a confessional box, rather than face-to-face with a priest
[Sadly, this doesn’t describe the situation also in churches where only the Ordinary form is used.]

For teachers who wish to know more about the extraordinary form of the Mass, details are
available at The schedule of Masses for Ireland is also available.
If a teacher wishes to take a class of First Communion children to experience Mass in the
extraordinary form, that can be arranged in advance with the celebrant
. Explanatory DVDs of the Mass are also available from the Latin Mass Society of Ireland.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. chorst01 says:

    I hope someone (preferably a priest or bishop) would take a momemt to commend this parent (instinct tells me it was the child’s mother) for her courage and tenacity in bringing the issue to the attention of the Irish Bishops Conference. It is precisely this determination and love for the Blessed Sacrament that has preserved the Traditional Latin Mass.

  2. jlmorrell says:

    The fact that they offered teachers the opportunity to learn more about the Extraordinary Form is promising. It’s all about that gravitational pull:~)

  3. This is exactly what should have happened, except that the bishops should have remembered to do it without having to have been asked. But better late than never.

    We owe a debt of thanks to this lady; and other bishops’ conferences should take the Irish statement as a model, and go and say likewise. :)

  4. Tom Ryan says:

    About half the parishes I’ve attended in Eire still employ the altar rail. But this looked even more problematic as they also employed EMHCs.

  5. PatrickV says:

    Every once in a while Father Z asks us for news of what we are thankful for, and I think I will jump the subject a bit and say that this thread gives me a chance for that.

    I am thankful that I am in a Parish where the Pastor is at home with both the Ordinary and Extraordinary forms. I am thankful that both he and the Deacons are equally comfortable with conveying the Precious Body to the tongue or the hand of the Communicant. I am thankful that I have never seen a Communicant who knelt to receive the Most Precious Body be told to stand.

    I pray that the Brethren in Eire are well cared for and that worshipful and decorous practices prevail.

    Praised Be Jesus Christ.

    Now and Forever.

  6. Jack007 says:

    Now that is one absolutely GORGEOUS first communion holy card!
    Is that St. Aloysius Gonzaga acting as the child’s sponsor?

    I’ve often scratched my head as to how so many people could casually discard such beautiful things in favor of such…?

    Jack in KC

  7. sekman says:

    Interesting indeed, for my First Communion which was in the O.F. it was mandated that we receive kneeling on the tongue, beautiful indeed, I believe such is still the norm at my parish.

    Jack in KC, do you attend Blessed Sacrament?

  8. rinkevichjm says:

    Since before the Pauline Mass there was a tradition that children receive their confirmation with or near their first communion (at the age of reason, like first communion and penance), do EF parishes do that?

  9. You know, the mention of confession boxes in the bishop’s guidelines brings up something that I find very disturbing: the new “reconciliation rooms” that seem designed for the express purpose of depriving the penitent of privacy. I have been to parishes where the “reconcilation rooms” have 2 to 3-inch gaps under the doors, and every single word can clearly be heard outside. In my own parish, these rooms have big glass doors so anybody walking by can see you.

    Is this supposed to be a way of dealing with clergy sex abuse? If so, it seems to me the old traditional (soundproof) box did that a lot more effectively, all while safeguarding the penitent against eavesdroppers.

  10. Rob Cartusciello says:

    As regards the bishops conference, I don’t think it is laziness. It is often easier to respond to an inquiry than speculate about a need and address the issue.

    Responding to imagined needs has been one hallmark of the “bad reforms”.

  11. David2 says:

    These so-called reconciliation rooms seem to be designed to inhibit access to the sacrament. The ordinary faithful have enough struggles with shame and the like as it is, without having to look father in the eye whilst confessing sins against the “sixth and ninth”…

    Also, note that Can 964 seems to mandate the traditional confessional as a right of the faithful:

    §2. The conference of bishops is to establish norms regarding the confessional; it is to take care, however, that there are always confessionals with a fixed grate between the penitent and the confessor in an open place so that the faithful who wish to can use them freely.

    §3. Confessions are not to be heard outside a confessional without a just cause.

    Yet another law interpreted “creatively” by the Bishops’ conferences?

  12. ssoldie says:

    Reception in the hand or while standing is not normally permitted.
    The word normally, (standing) there is an exception, such as, having only one leg, or no legs, or operation on knee, being older I am so glad when there is an alter rail or prei deus, so that I can assist myself to be able to recieve my Lord in adoration on my knees, and some days they hurt real bad, but not as bad as the knees of my Lord, who died at calvary for me. And as to the (hand), the recieving of my Lord on my tongue, by the hands of the ordained, is a no brainer, feed my lambs, feed my sheep, both literally and spiritually.

  13. DisturbedMary says:

    At Fatima, the Angel who visited and instructed the children in prayer, brought them Holy Communion. The children knelt. Lucia who’d made her first Communion, received on her tongue; Francisco and Jacinta received only the precious blood from the Angel’s chalice.

  14. Jacob says:

    Though I don’t make use of this feature for health reasons, all the ‘reconciliation rooms’ I’ve seen in the parishes locally have screens and kneelers just inside the door for those who wish to confess in a more traditional way without having to see the priest at all face to face.

  15. onesheep says:

    I have to say that when I made my First Communion I was required to stand. Kneeling down, I was so short the Priest had difficulty getting the Eucharist into my mouth. As it was, even standing my chin was barely above the rail. To this day I still receive Communion on my tongue and have never received in my hand. It just feels wrong and doesn’t seem, for me, to show the proper reverence. It’s my personal preference.

  16. asperges says:

    Excellent. Well done, Irish hierarchy. At last someone is listening to the Pope’s wishes and intentions on all matters EF.

  17. Singing Mum says:

    This is a succinct explanation, and includes an invitation. What a clear, warm, and proactive solution.

  18. kenoshacath says:

    “Reception in the hand or while standing is not normally permitted. [That might be a little strong. I think people have rights, under the Church’s law where permitted. But this is a good direction, at least.]”

    Fr. Z: I do not feel this is too strong. This is a matter of re-education. There is already so much unbelief and denial of the Real Presence that it certainly should be expected that humble servants receive Our Lord in the most reverent posture appropriate for the setting. Of course, those unable to receive kneeling due to disability should be allowed to stand or sit. This is simply a matter of common sense, which is not so common anymore.

    Communion on the tongue is the universal law and immemorial custom of the Church; Communion in the hand is by way of permission. This permission can be removed; but, Communion on the tongue can’t be forbidden.

    Also, communion on the hand tends to decrease reverence for this great mystery. On May 7, 2009 Cardinal Caffarra of Bologna has removed the permission to receive on the hand in three large churches because of confirmed grave abuses.

  19. JonM says:

    With regards to the issue of Confessionals:

    I need some help on understanding the controversy. Those with whom I shared Confirmation at this year’s Vigil like the ability to directly face the priest because we establish a sort of ‘progress check.’ For me, this has been enormously helpful in particular for the 6th and 9th.

    Prior to confessing, I do really meditate on my (remembered) failings, what led me to fail, and how to offer amendment. In Confession, I do my best to let the Holy Spirit guide me in what I am to confess (failures at virtue as still at times nebulous, although this discernment is amazingly better than a year ago).

    For at least some of my fellow former Protestants (of various stripes), we think we are getting more by directly facing the priest; we agreed that confessing behind the screen feels like hiding.

    With all that said, I am deeply devoted to a hermeneutic continuity; yes, life prior to 1962 does factor (significantly) into how we are to behave today (amid the astounding sinfulness of modernity). So, I am very open to understanding the reasons for a more rigidly designed confessional.

    I try to treat each confession ‘as if it were the account.’ Perhaps the new format leads others away from this approach?

  20. mvhcpa says:


    I had to write a letter to our priest and lobby the parish facilities manager to put PVC and cloth screens into our “reconciliation rooms”–so there are now two penitent chairs, one oriented behind the screen, and one face-to-face with the priest. No kneelers are available (well, you can’t have everything).

    I don’t want to deprive anyone of their preference for face-to-face confession–I used to go that way lots of the time. But neither do I want face-to-face confession forced on me.

    Michael Val
    (who is glad to see, as posted by David2 above, that I have a canonical RIGHT to anonymous auricular confession!)

  21. Jeannie says:

    My daughter received her first communion at a novus ordo mass 3 weeks ago. She received kneeling, on the tongue, using a prie dieu which was positioned especially for her. The prie dieu was not removed before the Blessed Sacrament was distributed to the rest of the congregation, and a large number of people knelt to receive. Now on Sunday two prie dieux are available for those who wish to kneel.

    The gratitude I have for our pastor’s generous understanding that kneeling to receive communion is a right of the faithful is beyond my ability to express. Praise be to God!

  22. Jack007 says:

    Yes, I do attend BS, but also Old St. Pat’s Oratory, and occasionally St. Vincent’s.

    We are blessed with many options here in the KC area.
    Deo Gratias!

    Jack in KC

  23. tired student says:

    I think it’s inappropriate to suggest that “face to face” confession is somehow not fitting for the extraordinary form. I’m in the minority for sure, but I go to the EF exclusively and I always go to an open confessional. I like seeing the face of a person when I talk to them and make eye contact. Heck, usually the priest hears my confession in his office, which isn’t a “confessional” strictly! Besides, I find that priests are usually more willing to give constructive spiritual guidance when talking in a conversational format, rather than just a brief blurb at the screened confessional. Who cares if you see the priest when you confess? He’s not telling anyone.

    It’s certainly okay to say that some of the innovations after the Council, like the face-to-face confessional and reconciliation rooms, are helpful to some penitents. It’s also okay to be a part of the extraordinary form and participate in certain licit innovations if they are beneficial.

  24. tired student says:

    But one more comment — going to a screened confessional or a confessional box doesn’t make the penitent any more worthy, in my view. Confession is about the sacrament and the grace conferred, not whether you’re kneeling in a wooden booth or sitting on a padded chair next to a potted fern. After all, the confession booth is a relatively new invention (~500 years), but the sacrament is quite older.

  25. kieron wood says:

    chorst01 says: “I hope someone (preferably a priest or bishop) would take a momemt to commend this parent (instinct tells me it was the child’s mother)”

    Actually, it was the child’s father!!

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