Stand Before the Lord!

In the annals of the continued deviations of celebrations of the Novus Ordo – going way beyond what Vatican II and even the post-conciliar decrees – the bishop of the Hamilton diocese in southern Ontario, His Excellency Douglas Crosby, has just forbidden kneeling to receive Holy Communion, at least in his cathedral. One may peruse the recent bulletin here.

Here is the text:

Our celebration is meant to foster the unity of the Church. Even our actions as individual Catholics at the Mass speaks to the unity of the Church. This is why the Bishops of Canada have encouraged a common way to receive Holy Communion. Kneeling, or excessive gestures at Communion time, draw more attention to ourselves and away from the community, and from the Lord we receive. 

  1. Catholics receive Holy Communion in one of two ways only – either in the hand or on the tongue – we stand to receive Holy Communion as as sign of our reverence for the Lord.

The emphasis – a trifecta of boldface, italics and underlined – is in the original. The bishop means business, and woe to those who now try to kneel to receive, as was the tradition, custom and practice of the Church for nearly all of her history. This will not do much to restore belief in the Real Presence, lining up to receive like queueing up at McDonald’s. Note the reasons given, as though people kneel to ‘draw attention to themselves’. That is accidental, and almost everyone who kneels – myself included – simply wants to receive in proper reverence, and would most rather not draw any attention whatsoever to oneself.

His Excellency may be unaware of the 2004 Instruction from Congregation of Divine Worship, Redemptionis Sacramentum, which itself decrees, with somewhat higher level of authority:

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

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

This time, the emphasis is added by yours truly.

We should clarify that Bishop Crosby still permits Communion on the tongue – as, again, he is required to by law – but, even so, one must still receive standing. This is awkward, especially a 5’5 priest trying to place the Host on the tongue of a 6’5 communicant, who has to bend down and quasi-kneel. Then we get to the question of the non-existent patens…

I’m not sure if this applies only to the cathedral, or to the whole diocese. I suppose I will find out in my next visit to the area.

All of this could be solved by replacing the Communion rail (or, even more, to some form of the TLM). We must bide our time, do what our conscience moves us to do, receive Our Lord with as much reverence and devotion as we might, and be patient for the full restoration of the Liturgy. There is the sensus et custos fidelium, which is very much a source of tradition and proper praxis, and should perhaps be brought more into actuosa than it currently is.

Marana tha! +