16 August 2008

What ARE They Thinking?!? (2)

Why must Holy Communion be distributed to all the faithful at every Mass? Without even taking into consideration that most Catholics are not worthily receiving the Body of the Lord, there are perhaps those Catholics who are in a state of grace, but perhaps are at a mega-Mass. Is it really necessary that they receive Communion? It used to be that at Papal Masses, only the Pope, the deacon, and subdeacon communicated. Now we have this...

BAGH! I recall that at the Mass at Nationals Park, the organizers prided themselves on figuring out how to distribute Holy Communion to 57,000 people in 14 minutes. (It is interesting, though, that they took 14 minutes without any lay extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion. Hmm.) Now how can this be reverent? People looking like animals with their paws sticking out for food. Guys, this isn't a piece of bread. This is the Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of Our Lord Jesus Christ. Any malicious person could easily pocket the Eucharist, and any well-intentioned and properly disposed Catholic doesn't even have space to make the silly bow of the head.

That's another thing that I don't get. I'm not faulting you if you do this, since it is the American norm, but.... why bow your head when you are about to receive the King of Kings into your own body? Let's look at the occasions of various postures:
  • At the name of Jesus, we bow our head (same in Old Mass)
  • At the mention of the Incarnation, we bow our body so our hands could touch our knees (we genuflect in the Old Mass)
  • We should genuflect on our left knee when greeting our own bishop. We bow to any other bishop.
Now why, when we do the above, should we simply bow our head as we recognize the Body of the Lord and receive Him? And why do we dare touch His holy Body? Are our hands consecrated as the priests and deacons are? Our hands are not "dirty" in themselves, but the priest's hands are alone set apart, consecrated, to touch the Eucharist.

Now that's nice.... that's how it should be done. Even the Anglicans receive "Communion" at an altar rail. We have the real Body of Jesus. For several hundred years, this is how Catholics received Holy Communion. When we kneel, we make the most profound sign of adoration possible. Also, by receiving on the tongue, we are not grabbing for Jesus. We are fed by the priest (who acts in the person of Christ) the very Body of the Lord. Receiving on the tongue shows this act of God nourishing us with His Body.

For those who receive in the hand, or even on the tongue standing, it might seem odd or difficult to think of trying something different. But if we approach the altar with a humble heart, in the state of grace and making acts of faith, hope, and charity, we have nothing to fear. We may kneel in front of Our Lord and receive Him as a child would. When you see Jesus in heaven, I guarantee you will fall to your knees. Why not get the practice while you're here? The spiritual benefits will be great. Don't do it to be more pious for the sake of being pious. Do it out of a love of God. It pleases Him when we do this.

Also, do not let anyone give you any trouble. If you are reading from Gainesville, know that I have not had any problems at all, ever. The Holy See has reassured us that this is a proper way to receive Holy Communion, and even now all those that receive the Sacred Host from the Pope do so in this manner. Think about it, pray about it, then try it out!



Blogger Anthony M Piferrer said...

At the Madeleine we joke that it is a Catholic church because we see any and all things at every Mass! It's true. So many crazy things happen, even relatively unnoticeable but nonetheless important things like children reaching into the ciborium (or paten) to grab communion for themselves. We have to patrol to make sure that people consume the Host before walking away. I don't know why we don't make our lives easier like it once was but that's just me...

And I think it is ridiculously democratic (and silly) to try to give communion to thousands of people. It's like we've forgotten the notion of spiritual communion, in that our very presence at the Mass is, in itself, highly important. If only this were stressed as much as the importance of frequent communion, maybe more people would come to Mass and even be content if they do not understand what is going on, just knowing that their very presence is significant. Just like, sometimes when someone is in a bind, it suffices to just be there with them than to really say anything...

Excuse my rambling.

August 16, 2008 6:11 PM  
Blogger Jonathan Knox said...

I know what you mean. It stems from the misunderstanding of full, active, conscious participation or whatnot. To many modern Catholics, it means "touch, say, do, read, distribute Communion"

If people realized that one merely has to unite themselves with the action that is going on at the altar... it would be much easier to accept Latin, scholas, and ad orientem worship.

August 18, 2008 12:39 AM  
Blogger Daniel said...

Haha, funny post.. I actually do bow before receiving the Eucharist, and I have a hard time understanding why that's bad.

As an EMHC, let me tell you what a problem it can cause if people march up and kneel down on the floor. Sometimes people aren't careful getting up and nearly knock over the ciborium or trip the person behind them (not kidding!)

I think that it would be a good thing to use altar rails. Being to the Tridentine Masses, that's my preferred method of receiving the Eucharist (you already mentioned the spiritual and practical benefits). But at a NO Mass if everyone is doing something different, I think that's a BAD idea.

Also, if you are going to receive on the tongue, please stick it out far enough!! I hate when people simply open their mouths and expect me to stick my fingers inside. yuck I know this is technically not appropriate, but if people do that, I just hold the host near the bottom of their trunk so that they have to receive in the hand.

By the way, nice blog. Feel free to visit mine: http://questioprodeus.blogspot.com

August 19, 2008 5:06 PM  
Blogger Jonathan Knox said...

Thanks for stopping by and commenting, Daniel!

I'm not saying that it's necessarily bad, per se. I just think it's goofy. And that's not meant as a slight against you or anyone who does so, because it is, after all, what we've been taught to do.

Forgive me if I misread you, but it seems like you have an axe to grind against people who kneel? "people march up and kneel down" Do kneelers really do that?? It's my experience that those that kneel usually process reverently, with palms together in front of them. A lot of other people are patting people's backs in the pews. Not accusing you of that, but I don't like the 'march up' deal. Personally, I've never had any problems with the ciborium or with people behind me. (I try to get up slowly anyways.)

I'll agree with you on altar rails!!! That option is much better and practical than the current situation. Though I think that we should be kneeling at NO Masses. After all, it's the same Eucharistic Lord. If you genuflect on one knee in front of the Lord reserved in the tabernacle, and on two knees while at Exposition, why just a simple head bow at the exposed Lord in front of you?

Your last paragraph disturbs me... please try another method. Ask your pastor to mention it in a homily or the bulletin or something. It's true that many are scared of people biting their fingers or getting their fingers wet. Gross indeed. I figure you mean well, but it is not your place as an EMHC to deny the communicant his legal right. Remember, universal law does not give the option of Communion in the hand. We are allowed to break this law because of the indult. If you are serving God, don't worry about maybe getting your finger wet. It might be gross, but remember Jesus washed the dirty feet of the Apostles! Besides, it shouldn't be too much of a problem if you hold the very end of the Host?? I wouldn't know. :-/

That said, STICK YOUR TONGUES OUT EVERYONE! The recommendation is to place the tongue on the lower lip, making the tip of your tongue flush with the outside of your lip.

August 19, 2008 6:30 PM  
Blogger Anthony M Piferrer said...

"Taking Communion for Dummies" by Jon Knox, MDiv lol

August 20, 2008 8:54 AM  
Blogger Jonathan Knox said...

I think my degree is more along the lines of M.Dumb :P

August 20, 2008 12:19 PM  
Blogger Daniel said...


Today at Mass when I bowed before receiving I was thinking to myself, " I wonder if I look goofy?" haha

I bow as an acknowledgement of who I am about to receive (since I don't kneel or receive on the tongue at an NO daily Mass. Let's just both agree that the ideal form of receiving communion is on the tongue and kneeling at an altar rail.

The thing about holding the very end of the Host is that at my parish they bake the bread themselves, and it will crumble very easily. I am more comfortable with people receiving in the hand so that no particles fall to the ground (and hopefully nobody just brushes off the particles from their hands!!) I might mention this to any other pastor but mine. I'll just take your recommendation and remember Jesus washing his disciples feet.

One other thing.. if you are at an NO parish where they serve Communion under both kinds, please take it. I know that the wine becomes the most precious Blood of Jesus, but it still retains the accidents of wine. If nobody drinks the precious Blood, we EMHCs must consume it by ourselves... and yes, you can become slightly tipsy.


August 21, 2008 1:12 AM  
Blogger Anthony M Piferrer said...

Ah the wine!! Since consecrated wine began being distributed to the people, the heretical belief that the bread is only the Body and the wine is only the Blood has arisen. The actual theological truth is that in the consecrated bread, Jesus is fully present in both Body AND Blood, therefore receiving the consecrated wine is in a sense frivolous, especially with regard to the whole congregation. To say that the consecrated bread is only Christ's Body is to fall prey to materialism and judging the nature of the Host by its accidents alone, as you said.

So, no more wine for the people. (It's a little more sanitary than having the whole parish sharing the same chalice, too!)

August 21, 2008 4:01 PM  
Blogger Jonathan Knox said...

haha! Well, I don't think bowing makes one look goofy. I do hold to my belief, though, that a slight bow to the Eucharistic Lord is a goofy idea if we make a more profound bow only at hearing the words "and became man". I also think it is a goofy idea to switch out of a tradition that dates back to the sub-apostolic age, to receive Communion in the hand.

I personally choose not to drink the Precious Blood for a couple reasons. One, is that I receive the whole Christ in the Host. Also, I disagree with the premise that it is a "more full expression" or whatever- since at the Last Supper, those who received the 'bread' and 'wine' were all priests anyways. Thirdly, the chalice is a consecrated vessel. As such, unless I were a sacristan or something similar, I feel like I should not be touching it.

August 21, 2008 6:15 PM  
Blogger Anthony M Piferrer said...

Jon, I suddenly feel an upwelling of pride to be a sacristan, and of the Madeleine no less......... :)

August 22, 2008 4:07 PM  
Blogger Jonathan Knox said...

Haha. Note that in the good ole days you would have no ordinary right to touch them- just an extraordinary right when it it needed. :P

August 22, 2008 5:15 PM  

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