Life

On Receiving Holy Communion


The best way to express our sense of reverence to the Lord in Mass is to follow the example of Peter, who as the Gospel tells us, threw himself on his knees before the Lord and said, ‘Lord, depart from me, for I am a sinner’”. (Luke 5:8) …Archbishop Ranjith, Secretary of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, in the preface to Dominus Est

The papal master of ceremonies, Monsignor Guido Marini, commented that kneeling and receiving Communion on the tongue helps to emphasize “the truth of the Real Presence [of Christ] in the Eucharist, helps the devotion of the faithful, and introduces the sense of mystery more easily”. ZENIT

Why do I post these quotes? I post in reflection, reflecting on receiving Holy Communion, the Body and Blood of Our Lord, with reverence.

In Australia standing is the most common posture for receiving Holy Communion. The customary manner of reception is recommended to be followed by all, so that Communion may truly be a sign of unity among those who share in the table of the Lord. When approaching to receive Holy Communion, the faithful bow in reverence of the Mystery that they are to receive . General Instructions of the Roman Missal, Interim text for Australia §160.

Note that standing is described merely as the most common posture. Standing to receive communion is not prescribed. Not compulsory. Merely recommended.

Neither do the instructions imply, nor state, that the bow mentioned replaces a genuflection; nor do they mention genuflecting or kneeling to receive Our Lord….. let alone forbid such postures.

It is clear that reverence for the Eucharist is a requirement.

May I add, that kneeling and/or genuflecting and receiving Holy Communion on the tongue, re-inforces our belief in the Eucharist, in the sacred, in transubstantiation….encourages reverence.

Kneeling and receiving on the tongue is the norm at Papal Masses.

As Monsignor Marini, quoted above, goes on to state…“The form adopted by Benedict XVI is meant to highlight the force of this valid norm for the whole Church.”

“It could also be noted that the (Pope’s) preference for such form of distribution which, without taking anything away from the other one, better highlights the truth of the real presence in the Eucharist, helps the devotion of the faithful, and introduces more easily to the sense of mystery. Aspects which, in our times, pastorally speaking, it is urgent to highlight and recover.”

The Monsignor reminds us that “it is necessary not to forget the fact that the distribution of Communion on the hand remains, up to now, from the juridical standpoint, an exception (indult) to the universal law, conceded by the Holy See to those bishops’ conferences who requested it”.

We are to receive Holy Communion with reverence. We may bow and stand, as is the custom in Australia or we may genuflect before receiving Our Lord; we may receive kneeling.

The unity of which the GIRM speaks may be seen to be unity in reverence..each communicant showing, by their posture, their reverence; by these actions, demonstrating belief in the Real Presence.

I can even be cheeky here and quote that Second Vatican Council document ..unity within diversity.

And, you know, there is very little hold up and no tripping of people in lines that I have ever seen, when some communicants prefer to receive kneeling.

As the Archbishop of Miami says, in one of his regular columns, “Some people, however, prefer to kneel to receive Communion and that is also allowed. Some say it interrupts the flow of the Communion line and could lead to people tripping over those who unexpectedly kneel in front of them. I have yet to go to a celebration where someone does not kneel in front of me to receive Communion, and I have yet to see someone trip”.

Any communicant is entitled to receive Holy Communion kneeling, even in countries like Australia where standing is normative.

From Sacrament of Redemption , Redemptionis Sacramentum, Pope John Paul II, published March, 2004:

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”. [There is a cross-reference to GIRM §160]

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”, [i.e. not excommunicated. The official text has a reference to Canon 843§1, cf.canon 915.]

Therefore, any baptized Catholic who is not prevented by law must be admitted to Holy Communion. It is not licit to deny Holy Communion to any practicing Catholic merely on the grounds of posture ie merely on whether or not someone receives Holy Communion kneeling .

Cardinal Arinze, Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship, Prot. n. 47/03/L of 26th February, 2003, said of the permission for standing in the USA:

…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.

The faithful should not be imposed upon.

Something to think about.

For, as that old Baltimore Catechism tells us, that catechism I have used with my kids as part of their preparation for their First Holy Communion…The chief effects of a worthy Holy Communion are: a closer union with Our Lord and a more fervent love of God and of our neighbor; an increase of sanctifying grace; preservation from mortal sin and the remission of venial sin; the lessening of our inclinations to sin and the help to practice good works.

And, that it is well to receive Holy Communion often, even daily, because this intimate union with Jesus Christ, the Source of all holiness and the Giver of all graces, is the greatest aid to holy life.

Receiving Jesus often, maybe daily, worthily, with reverence..and without undue imposition from others.

As I said above, something to think about, something for reflection. Especially during Lent.

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