Receiving Communion: “the turf the devil does not want to give up without a fight”

I am always enheartened when a find a parish where large percentages of the congregation receive Holy Communion on the tongue directly, and even more when kneeling.

In his entry, Fr. Heliman first presents a Youtube of Bp. Morlino preaching, I was alerted by a reader to an interesting post by Fr. Rick Heilman, a priest in the Diocese of Madison, on his blog Mary’s Anawim.

Fr. Heilman presented first a Youtube video of Bp. Morlino of Madison who preached in a parish inviting people to kneel to receive Communion.  The bishop hedges what he is asking with all sorts of statements, but his message is excellent.


Then Fr. Heliman writes this:

This is my Bishop, I am proud to say.  Two weeks after he gave this homily in his parish, I began to offer a kneeler to my people in my parish.  It has made all the difference in the world! [Do I hear an "Amen!"?]

Prior to offering the option of kneeling and receiving on the tongue (which was offered with much teaching), I may have had a small handful of people who felt comfortable enough to receive on the tongue.  Since offering the option, I now have 60-70% of my parishioners receiving this way[OORAH!]

It is difficult to describe how much it has helped so many who were, as Bishop speaks about, ”desensitized” before making the choice to receive in this way.  Now they approach in a much more discerning and serene way.  I have even noticed such things as people choosing to get a bit more dressed up for Mass.  Praise God!

A word of caution:  For those parishes who choose to do this, I would say that the divine benefits far outweigh the earthly costs. In other words, I have come to understand, over 22 years of priesthood, that if we are going to choose to do the hard work of reversing the trend in our churches of a growing ‘cult of the casual’ and ‘privatization’ of our faith,  we are going to be met with FIERCE opposition. [True.] Having encountered such disproportionate hostility toward any efforts to call us to a deeper reverence (while introducing each effort with much love and much teaching), has left me convinced [PAY ATTENTION:] that this is particular turf the devil does not want to give up without a fight[OORAH!] Which tells us this is all the more reason why this is a fight in which we must engage.



Go and read the rest there.

Official WDTPRS kudos to this diligent priest.

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  1. EXCHIEF says:

    The word of caution about fierce opposition to any and all attempts to promote greater reverence whether receiving communion or introducing even one hymn in Latin is worthwhile advice. My wife and I took over responsibility for liturgical music at our small parish over a year ago. On an occasional basis (not weekly) we substituted Latin for one of the ever popular (at least in that parish) OCP modernistic hymns. That translated to one hymn in Latin for about every 20 in English. The intent was to slowly and gently introduce a parish that had been liturgically abused for decades to the beauty that sacred liturgy could be. The new Pastor, whose heart really is in the right place, was supportive.

    Ah, the results? Wish I could say the slow introduction tactic worked. But it didn’t. Behind our backs a small but vocal minority of parishioners called and wrote both the Pastor and Bishop complaining about any Latin at all. They threatened to leave the parish if Latin continued at all. Because the financial base of that rural mission Parish is tenuous at best the threat of less people in the pews and less coin in the collection worked and we were instructed to schedule only hymns (OCP) in English that the parishioners were comfortable with and made them feel welcome and included.

    One can only butt one’s head into the wall so many times before it just isn’t worth the pain. We have since moved back to our former parish where we participate in the sacred liturgy without the stress of being responsible for “the music”. The old parish is just a little better liturgically and its “music” too is OCP—but at least we don;t have to sing it and compromise our beliefs in the process.

    Unfortunately most modern Catholics care very little about liturgical correctness. Their focus, just like that of society in general on almost every subject, is on what makes them “feel good” and “comfortable”. It is not about proper reverence at all.

  2. JohnMa says:

    It always lifts my spirits when I attend the daily NO Mass at St. Mary’s in DC. Sometimes I see up to 90% of those receiving doing so at the altar rail, on the tongue kneeling.

  3. PghCath says:

    This is wonderful. I recieve in the hand at OF Masses; my desire to recieve on the tongue is outweighed by my fear of causing an incident with the Eucharist. Recieving on the tongue while standing is difficult and usually awkward – it’s just not possible to tilt one’s head back as when kneeling when the EMHC is a short old lady.

    Kneeling is clearly the way forward for receiving on the tongue, as our Catholic forebearers decided so long ago. It’s a shame we have to duplicate their efforts.

  4. Ellen says:

    I go to Mass where there’s a communion rail and everyone recieves on the tongue. There’s usually a large number on Sundays and two priests give communion. It goes as fast as the neighborhood churches where there are 6 or so communion helpers, and much more reverently.

    I’ve gotten to the point where I don’t like to recieve communion any other way.

  5. TravelerWithChrist says:

    A big AMEN!!! Thanks for the awesome post!

    We began kneeling at a local parish and one Friday the priest made an announcement at the end of mass that we were being rebelous for kneeling. After 2 weeks of email discussions, he publicly apologized.

    As with veiling, it takes courage and understanding, but it brings about extra graces.

  6. Oneros says:

    This isn’t just an initiative priests can take. The laity can exert pressure of their own initiative for it to happen to, with victorious results:

  7. AJP says:

    I’m not surprised more folks at the parish started receiving on the tongue when the kneeler was put in – it is so much easier to receive on the tongue when one is kneeling rather than standing.

  8. Father S says:

    I’m a bit confused about the kneeling for Holy Communion. The General Instruction clearly states that we are to follow the norms of the country, which are, as far as I know, to stand for reception, except in the case that someone refuses to abide by the norm for whatever reason – then that person may be given Holy Communion while kneeling. But it seems clear to me that the priest is to talk to the person and ask them to be in unity with the gesture of standing, which, again, is the norm.

    As I read (quickly) through teh Geneal Instruction, the unity of gestures seems to be very important.

    Personally, I would be for getting back to altar rails and kneeling, with Holy Communion on the tongue. But that doesn’t seem to be what is indicated.

    I don’t like it when the crowd from MECCA (Methodist Episcopal Catholic Church of America – the heterodox Latin Catholics) go their own way for whatever reason; and I believe that this kneeling for Holy Communion MAY be the same issue.

    Really would love to read some SANE comments.

  9. Oneros says:

    The Vatican clarified long ago that Catholics retain the right to kneel.

    This is where neoconservatism really gets annoying. The rubrics don’t exist for their own sake, they exist (theoretically) to guard good practice. When they don’t…well, I think the scrupulosity about “obedience” to the rubrics is one of the reasons liberalism succeeded so much. They were willing to just do their own thing in a liberal direction, but traditional-sympathetic “conservatives” feel paralyzed in terms of making things better in a traditional direction because “that’s in in the Novus Ordo rubrics”…but the whole problem is that the Novus Ordo (with its rubrics) is a banal mediocre product to begin with, and there is no merit (nor appeal) to feeling constrained by it (even before SP). If they don’t discipline the liberals for giant puppets…you dont need to worry about any repercussions for you using a kneeler. God certainly doesnt care.

  10. Ceile De says:

    Father S
    You are mixing up 2 issues – you a correct about kneeling versus standing in the US. The norm is to stand but Communion may not be denied for kneeling so we choose to kneel.
    As for Communion on the tongue or in the hand, the universal norm is on the tongue. An indult was allowed for the US allowing but not requiring reception in the hand on the condition that any who wish to the universal norm of reception on the tongue may do so. We receive on the tongue. It’s not a practical issue sine we rarely attend an NO Mass since Summorum Pontificum – we’ve seen enough liturgical abuse to last us through his world and the next. I’m just a layman and I know the rubrics – why don’t the priests who are professionals? If they do, why don’t they follow them? It’s not rocket science.

  11. jsksinclair says:

    I am glad to say that at my parish every one kneels at the altar rail and recives communion on the tounge. He have a brilliant and holy priest that has shown us the truth about the Eucharist and in the light of such reverance and devotion on his part, the parishioners greatly desire and love recieving Our Lord as reverently as possible

  12. MichaelJ says:

    Why is the “norm” for reception of Communion in the US standing and on the hand? Isn’t it because too many people refused to submit to the previous norm? I understand that one act does not justify another, but this seems too close to me saying that if my Father stole something from your Father, you have no right to demand its return.

  13. TNCath says:

    This is good news indeed, however, I do believe this issue is a tremendously steep uphill fight. Let’s face it: a significant number of priests in the U.S. do not want what they perceive to be a “return” to the practices prior to Vatican II. This is where the bishops come in, and good bishops like Bishop Morlino, albeit obliquely, are making a difference.

  14. aladextra says:

    A few years ago before I gave up on the Novus Ordo (just personally) some friends of mine and I had an idea we called “project pellican” where we were going to recruit the largest possible number of people to begin receiving kneeling on the tongue on the same day (say 1st Sunday of Advent , recruiting people online, etc. We reasoned the number one reason people don’t do it is because no one does it. If 70-80% of the people began kneeling to receive on the tongue altar rails would return to their function naturally to accommodate this. As a convert from a conservative Lutheran synod, this was one of the most difficult things about converting. I had received (invalidly) on the tongue in a kneeling position since a child. And here, now viewing something of infinitely greater value I had to treat it with less respect. It was really very difficult for me, and in fact literally scandalized me for a while to a degree that my conversion was delayed.

  15. Henry Edwards says:

    It puzzles me that even priests are poorly informed about these matters, when all needed information is readily available, for instance at the Adoremus “Posture and Gestures” site

    The matter of whether the norm on standing is prescriptive, or merely descriptive – as the bishops were assured just before voting to approve it. After apparently prescriptive language was slipped into US-adapted GIRM in English, and appeared in various directives, the matter was quickly dealt with by the Congregation for Divine Worship (see protocol below).

    As I read Vaticanese, the last paragraph says that if anyone harasses you for kneeling for communion, let the CDW know, and they will harass someone. There have been various informal reports of this having happened. As you can see at the Adoremus site, the point on permissibility of kneeling has been reiterated periodically from 2003 to this year.

    Prot. n. 47/03/L
    Rome, February 26, 2003

    This Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments has received your letter dated December 1, 2002, related to the application of the norms approved by the Conference of Bishops of the United States of America, with the subsequent recognitio of this Congregation, as regards the question of the posture for receiving Holy Communion.

    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“.

    This Dicastery hopes that the citation given here will provide an adequate answer to your letter. At the same time, please be assured that the Congregation remains ready to be of assistance if you should need to contact it again.

    With every prayerful good wish, I am

    Sincerely yours in Christ,
    Mons. Mario Marini

  16. Gwen says:

    We have three Conventual Franciscans running our parish, and they’ve just recently started using more Latin and singing more of the prayers. Every time they do so, I thank them profusely for the singing and the Latin. (even though one of the priests doesn’t have the greatest singing voice:))

    I receive on the tongue and would very much like to receive kneeling. However, at an OF Mass, the latter would really slow down and clog up the communion line, it seems. It would also call much attention to me, as I’d be the only one doing it. I’m just not sure what to do here?

    We have a new rector coming on the 1st of July and rumor has it that he knows the EF, loves chant, and sings most of the Mass. I’ve already cornered a couple of young men (18-19 yr old university students) who are altar servers for our 7:00 daily Mass and they are getting interested in learning the EF. We’re trying to figure out how to make an EF happen–I’m thinking that if we can approach the new rector and show him that a few hundred parishioners are interested, and a core of young guys want to be servers, maybe he’ll make one of the six Sunday Masses an EF Mass. Ideas and strategies appreciated!

    I’m not too concerned about “fierce opposition.” It seems like most of the parishioners are “refugees” from the “liturgically loose” parishes around town. They come to the Cathedral, as I did, because the Mass is by-the-book.

  17. Andrew says:

    If the unity of the gestures is important (and I think it is) then why not follow the example we see on television when the Holy Father administers communion to the faithful kneeling and receiving on the tongue?!

  18. I would estimate that 90-95% of the good folks that attend my parish, St. William the Confessor, in Greenville, Tx, kneel and receive our Lord on the tongue. Of course after the homily Fr. Weinberger gave in 2005, I am not shocked. Diane at “te deum” has a link to the homily and some may have already read it, but in case anyone is interested you can view it here.

    The whole homily is great but the teachings on the responsibility we have in receiving Holy Communion is a little more than half way down the page.

  19. Agnes of Prague says:

    Dear Gwen, I’ve heard it advised to be either the first or last person to receive, if you want to kneel at an NO with the least fuss possible. (So sit in the front pew, or sit somewhere towards the back and wait till everyone else has gone up to get in line.) God bless you!

    Gwen, your new-rector initiative sounds great. Hmm, maybe you could soften him up (I mean both emotionally and by grace) by collecting a spiritual bouquet for him before he arrives. Then present him with the idea a week after giving him the bouquet. I’ve heard that a good line to use is “In accordance with the Holy Father’s Motu Proprio ‘Summorum Pontificum’…” [we would like to, etc., etc.]

    Also, sometimes I’ve heard it’s good to ask first for *one* Mass, for example a High Mass for a certain feast day–which would take practice–and see how that is received in the parish, and go from there (“look at this interest!”). But if he is already a supporter he might be ready and willing to plan to slot it in weekly. I couldn’t tell you.

    For the server candidates, see if you can get them a head start by getting hold of some of those DVDs or Internet videos of Tridentine Masses, so they can get a little bit of an idea.

  20. What a blessing to have a Bishop encouraging this. Installation of altar rails in my parish transformed the whole atmosphere in the parish. Majority of people now kneel, and receive on the tongue. Some who found altar rails ‘turning the clock back’ or ‘separating the sanctuary from the church’ left and went to the neighbouring parish. I was sorry they felt they couldn’t stay but, frankly, peace descended upon the parish. Dissent and arguments about liturgy and doctrine – which had been a constant irritant – ended. Latin singing is a regular (though not weekly) feature and Latin at our International Mass was simply accepted as totally appropriate. Children seem not to have a problem with it at all – in fact in many cases it is they who lead their parents into greater reverence. They love the more solemn – yet joyful – and reverent celebration of the liturgy, and no shortage or servers. Reverence attracts.

  21. Sedgwick says:

    Are they kneeling and receiving on the tongue from the priest, or from the Extraordinary Monsters? Not the latter, I hope.

  22. SonofMonica says:

    I went to Mass at St. John Cantius parish in Chicago (happened to be in town for Ascension Sunday), and we knelt at the rail for communion. It was the fastest communion I’d ever been a part of. Granted, there were several folks in robes up there helping out, and we weren’t receiving from the chalice, but still, goes to show that it wouldn’t slow anything down if we knelt in reverence like we used to.

  23. Tim Ferguson says:

    One should always be careful to avoid lumping the abuse of permission together with the permission itself. Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion (EMHC), while an exception, ARE permitted. Granted, recourse to EMHCs is frequently had on the flimsiest of reasons. Still, they are permitted, and it is the pastor’s prerogative to utilize them.

    If this parish does utilize EMCHs (most of whom are sincere, if sometimes misguided folks, and seldom are they “Monsters”), then I would hope that those who are receiving from them are also kneeling and receiving on the tongue. One is not kneeling for the priest who administers the sacrament, but for the sake of the Divine Lord whom one is receiving.

    If this parish does utilize EMCHs, based on the other items that are apparent from this post, I have confidence that the pastor has taken pains to ensure that those who serve this function are faithful, orthodox and devout, and understand the nature of their service.

  24. Gwen says:

    Agnes, thanks for the tips. I’m going to have our current rector one-on-one tomorrow (he’s blessing my airplane and then I’m taking him flying, weather permitting) and I’m going to ask him about receiving kneeling.

  25. Minima says:

    To Gwen and anyone who might be considering receiving Holy Communion on their knees, I would say “be brave!” You will be showing tender love to your Lord, and you never know who else at your parish is just waiting to follow someone so that he too won’t be ‘the only one’. Be that someone!

  26. fajalou says:

    I wish I was able to receive kneeling, but my Pastor believes otherwise, and has asked me to receive standing, in which I humbly obey. One of the reasons I still love the EF; the reverence! Sigh, maybe the American Bishops will change their minds on the norm soon? Oh well. When/if (Deus volens) I have my own parish, I will give all of my parishoners the option to receive in this way with Bishop approval.

  27. My apologies if this has been mentioned. I do so endorse full reverence for Holy Communion but my question is this: will it cause persecution for those who cannot kneel because of joint problems/health issues? I have seen one poor woman harassed by “pharisees” because she cannot kneel in the pew nor when receiving the Body of Christ. She does not use a walker nor other aid and appears to have no problem with walking (which just encourages the judgmental individuals) but her replaced knees which allow her to walk normally do not allow her to kneel. She is unjustly accused of irreverence.

    Would a thorough explanation from the pulpit about those with hidden disabilities be appropriate?

  28. Joseph says:

    Dear Plain Catholic,
    I can’t imagine anyone harrassing a handicapped person for not kneeling.
    Whereas I, while kneeling in order to receive Holy communion most of my life, was reprimanded, argued with and even yelled at (in the cathedral!) for doing so. It got silly last winter on occasion of that swine flue hysteria. But so far I was never refused yet.
    What I am wondering is, what kind of priest are you, when a kneeling person raises your blood pressure?

  29. JohnMa says:

    PghCath: I have had no problems kneeling to receive at all the churches I have attended in the South Hills. Last time Bp. Zubik was at St. Thomas More I received from him kneeling and on the tongue.

    fajalou: Show your pastor the above communication. If he does not reconsider then write your Bishop. If you live in a liberal diocese you might have to write to Rome.

  30. jlmorrell says:

    I know this is off topic, but I have a quick question that I’m sure somewhere here can answer quickly. To whom do we address our letter when writing to the PCED now that it is incorporated into the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith? Is it Cardinal Levada or someone else?

    And is the address still:

    Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei
    Palazzo del Sant’Uffizio
    00120 VATICAN CITY

  31. AnAmericanMother says:

    I generally receive on the tongue, but only from a priest, not from EMHC any more — since one of them freaked out and DROPPED Our Lord. Thankfully I had my hands folded at my chest and was able simply to open them in time.

    I just don’t want to go through all that again, and since it’s always an EMHC that comes up to the choir loft, I’m stuck. I do genuflect. Sigh.

  32. Mark R says:

    I grew up in a very large parish in the Md. suburbs of D.C. Until the early 1990’s a kneelin for communion was normative! I loved it.

  33. Maggie says:

    I am proud to say that I was present the day the bishop preached that bold homily. Following Mass, as we do every year on the feast of Corpus Christi, the bishop, Msgr. Holmes (rector of St. Patrick’s), seminarians, and faithful processed with our Lord through the streets of downtown Madison, stopping at the Capitol to pray for our lawmakers. It is a beautiful tradition.

    St. Patrick’s is a phenomenal parish. The congregation’s demographic is rather evenly divided between elderly/middle-aged couples and young families with many children. A few years ago Msgr. began only allowing boys to serve at Mass, and since then the number of boys, ages seven to seventeen, who serve at Mass has tripled (or more). Often there are ten to fifteen servers at *every Mass*, all properly attired in cassock and surplice, candle bearers in gloves, the whole bit. It is a beautiful brotherhood, and I cannot wait to see the many priestly vocations that will come from it. The Catholic young adult community of Madison finds one of its chief focal points at St P’s, where the parish staff is young, energetic, and orthodox.

    Say a prayer for Bishop Morlino. There is a strong, faithful contingent of orthodox Catholics in our diocese, but as one can imagine, an even larger and more vocal group who opposes everything the bishop tries to do. He is shepherding in a storm and doing it admirably.

    Praise the Lord!

  34. CeeLee says:

    I wish we had the option to kneel at my parish!

  35. Christine111 says:

    Fajalou: Your priest is wrong. As the Congregation for Divine Worship has stated, “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.”

    You have every right to kneel to receive Holy Communion, and your parish priest has no right to deny you the sacrament if you kneel. In fact, he would be acting contrary to the CDW’s directions above. If he has asked you to stand, that is a mere request, and, if you wish, you may accede to his request. But if you decline his request and wish to kneel, you have done nothing wrong. It is your *right* to receive communion while kneeling!

  36. benyanke says:

    Whohooo Fr. Rick!!!

    I would like to let you know that Fr Rick is truly a reform-of-the-reform style priest. It was been wonderful knowing him, and he also does a weekly ad-orientem mass on Saturday Mornings at his beautiful church WITH all of the chant propers and ordinary.

    Check it out:

    It is awesome.

    Also, (from being at the rehearsal, I found out that… Drum roll please….) Bishop Morlino will use the new translation of Euch. Prayer I at a deaconate ordination tomorrow night. [YES!!!]

  37. Revixit says:

    If no one in your parish kneels and receives Communion on the tongue, you could be the first. Others will follow. Some are thinking about it now but are afraid to act. You can be the one to give them the courage. Others will start thinking about it once they’ve seen someone else do it and eventually they’ll act, too. It snowballs. Just do it.

  38. isabella says:

    Plain Catholic,

    A few suggestions for your friend, you may have already tried them . . .

    At my church, the first pew is reserved for handicapped people, at least at the NO. The support of the pew behind her and in front might help her to semi-kneel with replaced knees. And if she can’t kneel at all, she could sit, lean forward, and still tilt her head back to make it easier for the priest. I also believe we have the option of standing at the end of what would be the altar rail (will find out for sure when I have my next surgery and am on crutches) – I normally go to the EF.

    Our church does it out of simple charity – have you tried just asking the pastor? Reserving a pew for the handicapped is simple, costs nothing, and is less likely to generate bad will than some other options. I have personally never even speculated on why people don’t kneel, sit, stand, etc. Not my business.

    An EF church I visited in another state had an informal agreement that people who couldn’t kneel at the altar rail would form a small line at the far left and Father would give them Communion there. As far as I know, nobody complained, made rude remarks, or wondered why they didn’t kneel.

    For myself (I only go to the EF now ) – we do not have an altar rail yet; we kneel on the bottom step as if there were an altar rail. I am not graceful but can manage – have had three knee surgeries after a bad accident and am waiting for one more. I actually get snarky looks more often when my genuflections look like shallow curtseys when I go to the NO sometimes. But God has seen my knees, most people have not, and the people who attend the EF at my home church are mostly all nice people who are praying instead of finding fault with others.

    No suggestions however on how to kneel in a NO Mass, sorry. I think her best option might be the “handicapped pew” where she could sit and lean forward. Or, as somebody suggested, being last and perhaps coming up with an escort? (Don’t know if that is OK or not, but God knows if she really can not kneel — the rest of the world doesn’t need to see her medical records.)

    And as far as the people accusing her of being “irreverent”, didn’t Jesus said these people should remove the logs from their own eyes before complaining about the motes in the eyes of others?

  39. ncstevem says:

    One thing that always amazes me is Catholics who are intimidated by receiving Holy Communion kneeling and on the tongue or women who want to wear a head covering but are concerned about the reaction from others. Is this the Church Militant whose history includes thousands of martyrs? Come on people, grow a spine.

    As for those who don’t receive Holy Communion in the traditional posture out of a sense of obedience to a request by their priest, print out the appropriate Vatican information and present it to him. The priest is the one being disobedient, not you. Sheesh!!

    I began receiving on the knees years ago at the Cathedral in my diocese and I venture to say that at the time I was probably the only one doing so. The thought of feeling intimidated never crossed my mind. One day I decided it was the right thing to do and I just began doing it. I could care less what others think – even the priest. I only receive from a priest (won’t receive from a permanent deacon even and certainly not a layman), and I’ve never been refused Holy Communion. If I ever was refused, I’d tell the priest he can’t refuse me Holy Communion because I’m kneeling and if he still refused I’d call him a fraud right there in front of everyone and refuse to receive. We Catholics have to stand up to these liturgical bullies.

  40. coletmary says:

    In the last few years we in the Arlington diocese were asked to give a slight bow rather than genuflect when we approached the altar for communion. I struggled with this: it seemed to be a question of obedience versus reverence. Is this the same thing? Sometimes I wonder if these acts are a way of saying to the priest and fellow communicants, “you’re doing it wrong, but I know the *right* way to do it.”
    (please give me time to duck before the missals start flying).

  41. Mariana says:

    “I began to offer a kneeler to my people in my parish. It has made all the difference in the world!”

    This is just brilliant! Altar rails can’t be installed everywhere, but a kneeler can’t be that hard to negotiate in a church! Or two kneelers!

  42. Mariana says:

    “As a convert from a conservative Lutheran synod…. I had received (invalidly) on the tongue in a kneeling position since a child. And here, now viewing something of infinitely greater value I had to treat it with less respect.”

    aladextra –
    Same here!

  43. GOR says:

    ” I have even noticed such things as people choosing to get a bit more dressed up for Mass. Praise God!”

    I’m not much given to New Year’s Resolutions, but this year I did make one: to ‘dress up’ for Mass. Actually it was a ‘Christmas Resolution’. Noting how we usually ‘dress up’ for Mass at Christmas and Easter, it struck me that it was somewhat contradictory of me to do this twice a year and not every time I go to Mass – as in the old days and wearing our ‘Sunday best’ every Sunday. Is the Mass any less at any other time?

    So it is jacket and tie for me now every time I go to Mass – even on weekdays. I figure that if I were to be meeting someone important (like the Holy Father or the local Ordinary, for instance), I would ‘dress up’. And who is more important than Our Lord? Case closed.

    However, so far there have been no other imitators in the parish (even the pastor shows up in open-necked shirt and casual pants before vesting…). Some probably think it is dumb on a hot Sunday with no air conditioning. But, who cares? It is not being done on their account.

  44. MargaretC says:

    Hmmm…I finally switched to receiving on the tongue, as a result of conversations on this blog. In general, I’ll receive on the tongue from a priest or deacon, not from an EMHC. I can never be sure if they’ll know how to cope.

    I usually go to mass at the Cathedral, which has an altar rail, but unfortunately, it’s never used. They do use the “front pew for the handicapped” strategy described above, which seems to work very well.

    To Plain Catholic: I sympathize with your friend. My knees are still the original equipment, but I can no longer genuflect without some sturdy object to hold onto. I can kneel without assistance, but getting up again is another matter.

    I fear that at least some lovers of the Traditional Mass have let the flack they’ve taken over the years embitter them and make them uncharitable toward others.

  45. Clinton says:

    I’ve never understood the reasoning of the USCCB when it was declared, in the name of ‘unity of gesture’, that standing to receive
    Holy Communion was to be the norm in the US. If the norm of the Church throughout the world is to kneel (and standing is
    permitted, but not the norm) then isn’t our bishop’s conference striking a blow *against* unity of gesture by declaring that we are to
    have a norm peculiar to this country? Why does the need for unity of gesture stop at our borders? Shouldn’t seeking true union
    mean that we cleave to the norms of the Church worldwide?

    In his sermon, Bishop Morlino remarked that if he clings to Peter, he can”t go wrong. Following the Holy Father’s lead in rebuilding
    reverence for the Blessed Sacrament–now *that’s* my idea of ‘unity in gesture’.

  46. cblanch says:

    “Having encountered such disproportionate hostility toward any efforts to call us to a deeper reverence (while introducing each effort with much love and much teaching), has left me convinced [PAY ATTENTION:] that this is particular turf the devil does not want to give up without a fight.”

    Wow! This is such a great point! I’m so tired of feeling awkward just for receiving on the tongue and often if I’m not carrying one of my kids, I end up receiving in my hand anyway to avoid making others feel uncomfortable. I’m through with this…it’s time to grow a spine!

  47. irishgirl says:

    Bravos to Bishop Morlino and Fr. Heliman! That’s the way to lead!

    And ncstevem-I like your post, too…especially your exhortation to ‘grow a spine’! I agree with you totally!

    We Catholics have to stop being such wusses!

  48. TravelerWithChrist says:

    CeeLee and others,

    You do not need a kneeler to kneel and receive our Lord. Our family has done this for almost a year – just proceed through the line, when you get to the priest, kneel. I’ve read some who say they close their eyes so the priest can’t gesture them to move.

    We are NOT being rebelous or disobedient. We are following the Pope’s lead. In my opinion, it is the priests who aren’t following the Pope when they request only standing and receiving on the hand…

    It is Jesus we are receiving. In my humble mind, I am not worthy to receive him on my hands. And I don’t worry about any pieces remaining on my hands or falling to the floor.

  49. laurazim says:

    Sedgewick–ALWAYS from a priest or deacon. On the Sundays which Bishop Morlino is present at the Cathedral Parish, he and Monsignor Holmes offer us Our Lord on the tongue. On the Sundays which Bishop is not able to be with us, we have a wonderful deacon who stands beside Monsignor to offer us Our Lord on the tongue. EMHCs have been given the task of offering us the Precious Blood only, and they are intensely trained before doing so, thanks be to God. I would also like to add that about a year ago, we began to see the patens come out, so now when we receive Our Lord, there is a server standing along side Bishop and one next to Monsignor with the paten as well.

    It’s true–Cathedral Parish is a very special place to be. We are formed from three parish families from the downtown Madison (Isthmus) area: Saint Patrick, Holy Redeemer, and the parish family from Saint Raphael Cathedral which was destroyed by arson 5 years ago. The Holy Spirit has been incredibly present, our parish family has grown, and the number of vocations has absolutely skyrocketed. What Maggie mentioned is true as well: the number of servers–the young men from whom those vocations are coming–has multiplied beautifully! My own 12-year-old son is among the ranks, and my 4-year-old can scarcely wait until he receives Our Lord in Holy Communion so that he can join them. That’s the way of it here: once a boy receives his First Holy Communion, he can serve at Mass. The littlest ones are usually given jobs like Boat Bearer or assisting the Bishop in cleansing his hands after Communion (my son tells me that job is part of “levabo”). It’s so beautiful!! (In fact, another Mama and I will likely need to alter two of the cassocks, as this year’s First Communion boys are a bit smaller than last year’s…)

    It is so encouraging and absolutely fills us with JOY to be part of such a reverant parish, and to know that Bishop Morlino’s words are being heard by more souls every day! +JMJ+

    For those interested:

  50. ncstevem wrote:

    “I only receive from a priest (won’t receive from a permanent deacon even and certainly not a layman), and I’ve never been refused Holy Communion.”

    This is odd…why not go all the way and refuse Communion from anyone less than a bishop?

    Bishop Morlino is tremendous – a true shepherd!

  51. Jim of Bowie says:


    ncstevem wrote:

    “I only receive from a priest (won’t receive from a permanent deacon even and certainly not a layman), and I’ve never been refused Holy Communion.”

    This is odd…why not go all the way and refuse Communion from anyone less than a bishop?

    Bishop Morlino is tremendous – a true shepherd!
    Comment by PatrickThornton — 28 May 2010 @ 10:42 am

    Because a priest has consecrated hands. I was taught as a child that the host should only touch the consecrated hands of a priest. It was a sad day when this rule was changed. Today I receive on the tongue only from a priest. I fell the host has already been profaned by touching the hands of an EMHC.

  52. Mercyknight says:

    This is Fr. Heilman. I truly enjoyed reading the comments here. And thanks, Fr. Z, for posting my blog post here … yesterday was my anniversary, so it was a nice 22nd anniversary present for me.

    At the end of the day, it all boils down to this … “If we are with the Holy Father, we can’t go wrong.”

  53. Fr_Sotelo says:


    While your courage and reverence are laudable, I would not recommend saying “Fraud!” to a priest in front of the parishioners, while he is holding the Blessed Sacrament. It testifies to other parishioners that the traditional Catholic spirituality is given to uncontrolled outbursts of anger and is a fake impostor of Christ-like humility. Also, no Catholic should ever go “on the attack” with aggressive words or gestures in front of the Blessed Sacrament.

    See the priest at another time after Mass and if he is not attentive, go to the bishop with a letter which states the date, the Mass, and the celebrant with which you were denied Holy Communion. If he ignores you, write again to inform him that you will be in contact with the Nunciature in Washington, D.C.

    And, although it is true that St. Thomas Aquinas states that the priest’s hands are anointed to touch the Blessed Sacrament, it does not mean that Aquinas is the final say nor does it mean that such an anointing nullifies at all times the right of deacons or laypeople to assist in giving Holy Communion. The Magisterium has divine authority in these matters–while Aquinas is a theological opinion.

    Liturgically, an anointing does not cast a magic spell upon a pair of hands, making them immune to sin or the stain of unworthiness. The liturgical rite is to symbolize that these hands are most appropriately now commissioned to this ministry of giving Our Sacramental Lord to others.

    While a layperson’s hands are not anointed (unless they have received the Sacrament of the Sick, in which case they are anointed on the palms), the layperson may please God with a life of holiness and devotion to the Eucharist. In some cases, that layperson may be more pleasing to God than His priest, who neglects the sacred calling. So, I would say it is ideal to receive Communion from the priest, but the Church with divine authority allows laypersons and God would not be offended if you received from one of them.

  54. evener says:

    I believe this reverence in receiving God will become clear if all can focus on His Holy Presence upon entering the church. The death of our alter rails began the neglect of God’s holy presence, and silence in church in respect for those praying and also respect & reverence for Him in the Blessed Sacrament.
    Should all our priests make known this neglect, GREAT things could happen.

  55. Patikins says:

    What about when the priest is the one showing neglect? I have a cousin who is a priest who never genuflects and it’s not due to physical ailments; he is an avid cross country skier. He gives a barely perceptable head nod at the consecration.

    I pray for him regularly. I think it is time for me to offer a spiritual bouquet for him. I also want to ask him why he doesn’t genuflect.

  56. Gwen says:

    I asked Father today about receiving kneeling and he said “nobody is expecting that in the moving line; you might create a tripping hazard–so I’d prefer you to go to the end of the line. Receiving on the knees is a humbling and very reverent experience and I think it’s great if you want to do it.”

    So, as we used to say on the airdrop or bombing range in the USAF, “cleared in hot.”

  57. lux_perpetua says:

    i fall squarely into the camp of people who are scared to kneel for fear of something horrible happening with the Host and an unexpecting EHMC.

    I have, however, been subtly reminded when attending Mass where there is analtar rail that i am to respond “Amen” before receiving the Lord according to the NO. though i didn’t know one didn’t say Amen in EF Masses, I nonetheless found myself not wanting to break the silence before receiving Christ.

    PlainCatholic: your friend is a great example of why we should always give the best possible interpretation of another’s actions. i think commentary from the pulpit is unnecessary and would only draw undue attention to the people involved–attention they might not desire.

  58. kolbe1019 says:

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  59. “…we were instructed to schedule only hymns (OCP) in English that the parishioners were comfortable with and made them feel welcome and included.”

    This reaction is so common. The whole, “Feel welcome and included” thing is such a weak attempt at disguising the self-centerednes of people. And it lines up perfectly with the Bishop’s speech: Mass has become not about Christ in the Eucharist but *about us* ~ The focus is so much on “Me and my needs!” that people have lost focus on Christ.

  60. “One thing that always amazes me is Catholics who are intimidated by receiving Holy Communion kneeling and on the tongue or women who want to wear a head covering but are concerned about the reaction from others. Is this the Church Militant whose history includes thousands of martyrs? Come on people, grow a spine.”

    Love it! My thoughts exactly.

  61. fabricdragon says:

    i am a moderately recent convert.
    i was raised Episcopalian, and we had an alter rail…. you would go up one “rail full” at a time, kneel (unless you couldn’t kneel, then you stood) and then the first pass of the bread, and then the wine (and i say that because according to Doctrine the Episcopalians don’t actually have the body and blood)
    there were set responses too:
    “the body of Christ” the bread of heaven
    “the blood of Christ” the cup of salvation
    although you could just say Amen…..

    after wandering through a few religions i ended up in Holy Mother Church (long story) and……..

    no Catholic church i have been in has a working in use alter rail. not one.

    you stand in line and move up. the big churches also have people /priests or whatever stationed halfway back the pews…..
    its a strictly “keep moving” line……. no stopping longer than needed to receive the Lord, keep it moving!!!!. only a few people genuflect.. and often the priests look impatient at you if you cant do it fast enough…that INCLUDES at my reception into the church at easter Vigil.

    my RCIA class was taught to receive in the hand ONLY. no one even mentioned on the tongue until later… and we were pretty much told “this is how we do it”
    if the RCIA is taught this way, and the school kids /first communion are taught this way (and they are at my church) how do you ever find out that you CAN/SHOULD receive on the tongue….. and how do you get permission to do so????

    if no one teaches the converts and children, how do you think we can restore what seems to be the officially “accepted method”? because i didnt know it WAS!
    i would have preferred the way i was raised….. kneeling at an alter rail, but i never knew it was available.

    one of the first things to do if you want to really change things is to volunteer as an RCIA leader, and talk to the RCIA priest and the school communion prep people. because if , like me, they are all taught only about how to receive on the hand.. you will have a hard time making that change in your parish.
    we are scared enough with all that we have to learn, without changing what we are taught!
    (although i did wear a veil at Easter Vigil, the only one to do so)

  62. AnAmericanMother says:


    Me too. We came over in 2004 from ECUSA.

    I think you have a great idea for orthodox folks to get into the RCIA leadership. Maybe I’ll have to try that . . . . if it doesn’t conflict with choir. It can’t be worse than teaching first year law students or beginning riders . . . .

    In our Piskie parish we received kneeling at the altar rail, but in the hand.

    No EMHC. Nobody inside the rail but priests, deacons, and on big Sundays the occasional lay cupbearer, but vested like an altar server.

    For those efficiency freaks who want to ‘keep the line moving’, it’s my experience that the altar rail is actually faster. The ushers simply stand at the head of the two lines for left and right, and signal the next group when to move to the rail. As the group is moving, the priest and deacon return to the opposite end of the rail. With good ushers, it’s amazingly fast. I think that receiving on the tongue might slow the line down slightly, but that it would still be a net gain.

  63. bookworm says:

    I’ve said this before and I’d like to say it again: as long as multiple ways of receiving communion remain “legal” (in the hand vs. on the tongue, kneeling and standing, from an EMHC or a priest or decaon), then differences in how we receive should be approached the same way St. Paul in Romans approached the issue of whether or not it was OK for Christians to eat meat left over from pagan sacrifices (which at that time was often sold at public markets).

    St. Paul believed there was no sin in eating such meat since it didn’t involve direct participation in pagan worship. However he counseled Christians who shared his view to respect the consciences of those who believed otherwise, and refrain from eating such meat in their prescence. He also counseled those who believed it was wrong to eat leftover meat to avoid passing judgment on those who did.

    Then there is C.S. Lewis’ famous treatment of the “High” and “Low” Anglican practices in “The Screwtape Letters” (this is from memory so the quotes may not be exact, but here goes):

    “We have quite removed from men’s minds what that pestilent fellow Paul taught about eating meat and other non-essentials — namely, that the person without scruples should yield to the person with scruples. You would expect to see the “low” churchman genuflecting and crossing himself lest the weak conscience of his “high” brother be moved to irreverence, and the “high” churchman refraining from such exercises lest it betray his “low” brother into idolatry. And so it would be but for our ceaseless labor… the difference in usage within the Church of England might have become a veritable hotbed of charity and humility.”

    If a Catholic of more traditional bent, who would, if left to his or her own devices, kneel to receive communion and wear a veil (if female) or dress in a suit and tie (if male) for every Mass, refrains from doing these things so that the NO Catholics around them are not embarrassed or distracted, I would not automatically assume that to be an act of cowardice or laziness. It COULD actually be an act of charity toward people who have good reason for not being able to do these things (for example, a large family with a limited income in which the father doesn’t even own a suit or tie and can’t afford one).

    Likewise, if an NO Catholic accustomed to casual dress at Mass and to recieving in the hand started dressing up or veiling and receiving on the tongue, or even kneeling, out of respect and support for the more traditional people in his parish, and to set an example of reverence for those who are letting it slide, that too would be an act of charity.

    The important thing in each case is the motivation — if one is making a sacrifice or doing someone one normally would not want to do out of respect for God or in consideration of others, it is good. If it is simply to indulge a desire to show off or to avoid inconvienience to oneself, that is not good.

  64. bookworm says:

    Ooops, I meant to say “doing SOMETHING one normally would not want to do…”

  65. BJM says:

    When I started reading through this post and the comments, I thought I was on the right side. It has now been approximately 40 years since my First Holy Communion and I am pleased to report that I have never once received Communion in my hands nor have I ever received from a lay deacon or one of those other people. I even succeeded in teaching my now 9 year old daughter and 7 year old son that receiving in the hand is wrong – even though is was the CCD taught them was the only option. If they can manage to receive on the tongue standing (without any instruction other than mine and with no paten present), anyone can. Now I have a challenge on my hands…even though I receive kneeling when in a church with an active altar rail, do I have the spine to present myself kneeling when there is no rail? I’m not feeling very confident right now but hope must spring eternal…

  66. evener says:

    Hey Patikins,
    I’m sorry your cousin-priest is disrespectful, & you are right to pray for him. But I’ve found that my focus at daily & Sunday Mass is to be reverent & respectful as I possibly can, because that fault is within me, or I wouldn’t recognize it for what it is.
    Thank God for the TLM Sunday Mass, it’s so much easier there. And yes, I had to lose it to appreciate it as it should be appreciated.

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