“Because THAT’S the way we receive Communion!”

These were the words of Bishop Tod Brown when he refused Holy Communion to a kneeling woman. It’s a shame that American society has plummeted so far. Back when the Extraordinary Form was the Ordinary Form, no one would have tried to receive Holy Communion standing unless they were physically unable to kneel. Likewise, no one would have tried to take the Lord’s Body from the hands of the priest with the excuse that “receiving on the tongue feels weird”.

Then we have the Church in America today. Ninety-nine out of a hundred communicants receive standing and in the hand, and that way is considered to be the norm. Bishop Brown is an example of that. When you do see that rare, blessed soul who receives the traditional way, he or she is met with stares, and in some cases is refused Communion.

Why?

It’s stupid, quite frankly, to assume that something which has been done for centuries was all of the sudden done away with, being declared “archaic” and “non-pertinent”. This goes for the traditional method of receiving Holy Communion, the priest versus Deum at Mass, Latin in the Mass, etc… Never did we just “move beyond” all that and give it the status of nostalgia. As I’ve said multiple times, Vatican II wasn’t responsible for that, either. The Holy Father made a point along these lines in his Summorum Pontificum, when he said that the 1962 Missal was “never juridically abrogated and consequently, in principle, was always permitted.”

God bless the Holy Father. It’s always great to have him on your side.

Contrary to what it might look like at a given parish, Communion kneeling and on the tongue is just as much a norm as standing and in the hand. In fact, it was standing and in the hand that needed to be permitted, while kneeling and on the tongue must always be allowed.

Yeah, I know. Shock and awe. Wails of lamentation. Gnashing of teeth.
How could I say such a thing, right? Silly old me, not in touch with the times and the beautiful progress we’ve made.

But really.

Before I present official pronouncements to defend my words for me, I’d like to say that we should always look to the Holy Father. How does the Vicar of Christ see an issue? Insofar as it aligns with orthodoxy and sound reasoning, his practice should be our practice. Now, this will be a shocker: he only gives Holy Communion with the communicant kneeling and refuses to place the Body of the Lord into his or her hands. So if you don’t like my opinion on the subject, give some credit to His Holiness, who has the highest office in Christendom, and consider it in that light. His reasoning is sensible:

We Christians kneel before the Blessed Sacrament because, therein, we know and believe to be the presence of the One True God.

Since I already devoted several posts to the topic of Communion in the hand (which can be found here), I’m going to focus solely on the issue of standing vs. kneeling. Despite its appearance as “the way we receive Communion” now, it actually involved dispensations before it was permitted. A dispensation is an “exemption from a usual rule or requirement“. Remember that definition.

As with many unfortunate modern practices, Communion standing was first permitted in the 1960s. Specifically 1967, in the instruction Eucharisticum Mysterium. It stated that one practice or the other, kneeling or standing, would be the norm in the territories of individual bishops. As with Communion in the hand, though, there were conditions: 1) No one can be denied Communion should they choose to kneel; 2) “…such instances should be addressed pastorally, by providing the faithful with proper catechesis on the reasons for this norm.”

Has proper catechesis been given as to why people receive standing? I highly doubt it. It’s just thought of as what we do. Truth is, kneeling is still a perfectly acceptable posture, and a better one, and it’s an abuse of priestly power to refuse Communion to someone who desires to revere Our Lord in this way.

 

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