Monday, April 29, 2013

Dear Holy Priests Within the Diocese of Beaumont: Please Stop Denying Communion to Those Who Wish to Receive Kneeling

Polls consistently show that only 30% of Catholics in the United States go to Mass regularly. It's a safe bet that trends are very similar within the Diocese of Beaumont. This my brothers and sisters is a tragedy. This is a disease. It is also a safe bet to say that the majority among that 30% has little grasp of what the Church teaches. Polls also indicate that few practicing Catholics still profess a belief in the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist. This is also a tragedy. This is also a disease. I believe the key to recovering from the first disease is to heal the second. We get more Catholics to Mass by restoring belief in the Eucharist.  

A picture of St. Pio kneeling to receive Holy Communion.
The Eucharist is the source and summit of our faith and therefor, for me, must be the source and summit of "The Year of Faith". This being said, we have a lot of work to do. From my perspective as a layman, we desperately need the "New Evangelization" because we as a church in general do not truly believe in the miracle that happens on the altar. Our fruits suggest that we do not truly believe in the Real Presence. I’m not accusing anyone. I myself stand accused. I, too, have walked up the Communion line and responded to “the Body of Christ“ with a parrot-like “Amen.”
My personal goal for this "Year of Faith" is to deepen my devotion to the Eucharist. Specifically by practicing Lex Orandi, Lex Credendi (Latin loosely translatable as "the law of prayer is the law of belief"). I truly believe "As we worship, so we believe" . What we pray is what we believe is how we live. If I pray like the Eucharist is really God, then I will believe that the Eucharist is really God. Alongside other faithful, I have chosen to deepen my faith in the Eucharist by receiving while kneeling. I have asked my own pastor for spiritual guidance regarding this issue and he has encouraged me to receive while kneeling if that is what I feel called to do. I have been warned by many that my attempted reverence might not be welcomed elsewhere in the Diocese.  I find this troubling. The faithful wish to be able to worship with the same reverence at all parishes, but  have not been able to do so. My personal attempts to practice Lex Orandi, Lex Credendi have been snuffed out by the very people who should be encouraging it- the priests of the Diocese. I and others have been discouraged, scolded, and refused from receiving Holy Communion while kneeling. This is going on in the majority of parishes in our Diocese. I have had it happen to me personally, and I have witnessed it happen to others. Since this happened to me I have done some research. I found that GIRM (General Instruction of the Roman Missal) paragraph 160 appears to apply to this situation:
"… The norm established for the Dioceses of the United States of America is that Holy Communion is to be received standing, unless an individual member of the faithful wishes to receive Communion while kneeling."

With that said, in 2004 the Congregation for Divine Worship and Discipline of the Sacraments issued a very strong Instruction called Redemptionis Sacramentum. In paragraphs 90-91 of this document we read:

 “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”.[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”. 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."

Reasons why I choose to kneel to receive

  • Kneeling has always been the Universal Church's posture for reception of Holy Communion. It's the universal NORM.
  • Kneeling is promoted by the Pope. 
  • Kneeling points to the REAL presence of Christ.
  • Kneeling is more reverent.

 Then Cardinal Ratzinger (Pope Emeritus Benedict) giving communion to Blessed (soon to be Saint) Pope John Paul II

Some actual arguments I've been told against kneeling: 
  • The Bishop prefers communicants to receive standing (I have never heard this stated directly by the Bishop but perhaps that is his preference. That's fine. He is our Bishop and we should always want to be obedient to him. However, we can never be disobedient to Church Law or teaching. Canon Law is clear on this matter- that faithful are left free to receive how they wish).
  • Kneeling promotes disunity (That's just silly. Unity doesn't mean uniformity. The Catholic Church is ONE but has many many different types of spiritualistic preferences between religious orders and rites. Unity doesn't mean uniformity). 
  • People could trip on you and fall (The Church has received kneeling for 2000 years. Wouldn't we have heard of someone falling over each other by now?).
  • Vatican II did away with kneeling (The Council did not actually change the way of distribution, but it became a widespread practice in the years following, going against the teaching of the Church, and Pope Paul VI recommended to stay with the traditional way of distribution).

I am just requesting to have the freedom to worship the way I feel is best fitting with my convictions. In mimicking the saints, I do not feel that I am doing anything wrong. I am not trying to draw attention to myself- but to HIM. I believe the Eucharist is really Christ and so therefor I must respond so- on my knees. I do not wish to hamper others from receiving standing up. I do not wish to get in the way. I just want to give God the greater glory by giving Him total reverence. I am not a lone voice. Many in our Diocese feel the same way and have had the same experiences

My dear Holy priests in the Diocese of Beaumont, please stop refusing Holy Communion to those who wish to kneel. It's against Canon Law. And besides, shouldn't you be more worried about denying Pro-abortion supporters instead of those who wish to kneel before God?

During the Holy Friday Liturgy many witnessed Clergy kneel down and kiss the cross. It was beautiful. But it makes one wonder: how is it okay to kneel down and pay respect to a symbol but it's not permitted to kneel down and pay respect to the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity or our Lord?

Ask yourselves, "Why is the first picture allowed in the Diocese of Beaumont but not the second?"

1 comment:

  1. The USCCB published a guide in January 2012 about reception of the Eucharist.

    5. What does the Missal say about the posture of the faithful when receiving Holy Communion?
    What about Communion in the hand? Both of these questions are covered in no. 160 of the GIRM.
    It states clearly there that the “norm” established for the United States for reception of Holy Communion is standing. In the 2003 GIRM, it stated that no one should be refused Communion if they kneel, but that afterward they should be properly catechized. In the current edition, the exhortation to catechesis is removed and the exception to the norm of standing is left to the discretion of the faithful: “unless an individual member of the faithful wishes to receive Communion while kneeling.” The Instruction Redemptionis Sacramentum, no. 91, is then cited. With regard to receiving Communion in the hand, there is a significant development from the 1985 GIRM to the 2003/2011 edition. Whereas in 1985, Communion in the hand was granted by virtue of an indult received in 1977, in the Roman Missal, Third Edition, Communion in the hand is now ordinary liturgical law for the United States, though every communicant retains the equal right of receiving on the tongue.