dotCommonweal

A blog by the magazine's editors and contributors

.

Getting "out of hand"?

In a Jan. 11 post I noted thata bishop from Kazakhstanwrote an essay in the Osservatore Romano about the superiority of receivingcommunion on the tongue, while kneeling. As with most posts on liturgy, it occassioned a good deal of comment,and many informative historical references. In those comments there seemed to me to be a notable effort to keep the bishop's piece in perspective, and avoid prophecies about the rollback of Vatican II.And yet...CNS has a story saying the secretary of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Sacraments"thinks it is time for the Catholic Church to reconsider its decision to allow the faithful to receive Communion in the hand." Archbishop Albert Malcolm Ranjith Patabendige Don makes his comments in a preface to a book by that same Kazakh bishop who wrote in the OR. Given the Archbishop's role--he has used the bully pulpit recently to decry "obstructionist" bishops who he says are blocking implementation of the Latin Rite motu proprio that will correct "abuses"--this does seem like an undeniable sign of a back to the future push. On one level, I am not surprised, as it reflects the thinking of the current pontificate. But Benedict has also been careful about "disorienting" the faithful with yet more changes, even if he would like to implement them. Restoring a separate Latin rite, as the motu proprio did, for a smallminority of Catholics attending their own Mass is one thing. Making everyone go back to kneeling and receiving on the tongue--or simply indicating that the current practice is less reverential--seems far more controversial.

Comments

Commenting Guidelines

Ther Archbishop reveals his hand (yes, pun intended) in the following quote by him in the CNS story:"'Now more than ever, it is necessary to help the faithful renew a lively faith in the real presence of Christ in the eucharistic species with the aim of reinforcing the very life of the church and defending it in the midst of dangerous distortions of the faith,'" the archbishop wrote."While maybe not exactly a red herring, the stand/kneel//hand/tongue issue he raises is not as worrisome to me as his belief that reversion to pre-VII reception of the Eucharist is a necessary concomitant to the Church's defense of itself against "dangerous distortions of the faith" that he leaves unspecified. Internal distortions? External distortions? VII a distortion? I could be wrong, but me thinks the Archbishop has a long list of "distortions" he'd like to correct.

Apropos the good Archbishop's attempt to rewind the clock:"Anyone who wants to think about religion in a really serious way must inevitably come up with heretical ideas." Czeslaw Milosz, A Year of The Hunter (1994)

Just speaking practically, changing the mode of reception is going to require some remodeling and extra expense, isn't it?I suppose the cheapest way to do it is to have the ushers move portable kneelers in front of the priest/EMs when communion time rolls around, and then removing them so the recessional can take place. If there's no room at the front of the Church (the set up at our local parish is pretty cramped), they'd have to push the altar back and install a rail and kneelers there.I think it's about time somebody questioned whether some of these moves instill a more "lively faith" than, say, having some kind of viable program for the poor, Scripture study, and whatnot. In my experience as an Anglican and as a Catholic, liturgical changes seem to annoy most people.

I think it would be helpful if we simply talk about the symbolism of the actions themselves, before considering their historical meaning.What is implied by kneeling that is not implied by standing?What is implied by receiving, rather than taking?

Taking? I've never taken the host. It's always been placed in my hand.

William,I am not skilled in reading between the lines of such statements, but I would assume that, by "distortions of the faith," the archbishop is simply referring to a waning of belief in the real presence. I have found references to a Gallup poll done in the early 1990s that put the figure of American Catholics believing in the real presence at 30 percent. I can't imagine it has gone up since then, although who knows.Speaking just for myself, the old rules of fasting from midnight, kneeling, and receiving communion on the tongue did give you the impression you were dealing with something way out of the ordinary. I am not taking a position on standing versus kneeling, or hand versus tongue, but I am saying the old ways almost certainly gave more of a sense that something extraordinary was going on. (Of course, in the very old days, the eucharist was a meal in people's homes. Who's to say that should not be the model?)The switch from Latin to English did not make much of an impression on me until I moved to New York and heard a priest with a heavy New York accent saying mass. To someone who grew up in the midwest, it sounded "unholy."

Here we go again. The truth is that the post Vatican II Catholics have the clearest understanding of the faith. Secondly, it really does not make that much of a difference whether one recieves on the tongue or on the hand. We should not contend one way or the other, whatever our position. I beleive it is more appropriate to receive in the hand but I will not object to others doing otherwise.As far as the theology of the Eucharist is concerned the real meaning is that in breaking this bread and wine, body and blood we are united with Jesus in a most special way in being as much as we can like him. That is loving our enemies, doing good to those who hate us, becoming humble like (not acting like) little children, serving one another, and offering to God all that we are with Jesus. Going off on treatises on the real presence is not what it is about. It is about celebrating the life of Jesus in us. This bishop might use his energy to helping the lower classes increase their income in a country with such vast resources and fewer opportunities for those at the bottom

May I suggest a title for implementation of this retro propsal?"Re-arranging the prie-dieus on the Titanic''

Grant,I know, I was thinking the same thing as I wrote that: wait a minute, I receive the Eucharist in my hand.But then, I take it.

"Here we go again. The truth is that the post Vatican II Catholics have the clearest understanding of the faith. "Aye! Aye! And that Anselm guy who didn't understand much about his faith - what an benighted rube!

Well, St. Thomas didn't always give props to Anselm, either...This is a very interesting problem. Viewed antithetically, the liberals are probably right in saying that the conservatives want God to be too remote.And the conservatives are probably right in saying that liberals want to be so comfortable around God that they show God disrespect.But what's interesting is that the effective result of both being too formal and too casual are exactly the same: we lose mystery.Jesus Christ lives among us, reducible neither to our neighbor nor to abstract formalism. Yet somehow mystically involved in both. Put God and humanity in the same room--in the same Person--that's the mystery of Christ. And who's at ease with that?

So Kathy, Patrick: hand or mouth? (Or foot, as is my preference.)

David, your foot and mouth seem conjoined.(Emoticon)I think of the tongue as a personal part of the body and I don't go around exposing it in normal life. I'm happy to have the option of Communion in the hand. But I'd be happy to change if they changed the rule. Things are really strikingly casual in Catholic churches. Go to a Methodist church on Communion Sunday and see the difference between them and us. They're, you know, praying.

For me it is pretty simply. Infants are fed and adults feed themselves. Receiving Communion on the tongue from a minister infantilizes the communicant. If the source of the Eucharist is the meal Jesus shared with his disciples, then the Eucharist is food for adults broken and shared, taken with the hand. The dichotomy between a God too near or too far is besides the point here. Jesus did not telegraph the bread he shared on that night from a distant planet. He broke it and gave it to his disciples in their hands.

l'Osservatore Romano is seriously pushing the image of the faithful as nursing infants as some sort of antidote to modern lack of belief? Give us a break.

Ah yes, Kazakhstan, that mecca of Catholic liturgical piety... And that "Kazak bishop" (whose name is Schneider by the way) yes, he really has his finger on the pulse of world Catholicism.But seriously, folks. There are no Catholics in Kazakhstan. I mean, there are more Catholics in my parish than there are in Kazakhstan. It says volumes that Archbishop Ranjith had to go all the way to Central Asia to find some bishop crazy or bored enough to make as issue out of this.The incident says more about the Curia than it does about Communion. If you ask me, all that's happened is that Archbishop Ranjith has made himself look silly.

Alan:amen legw humin hos an me dexetai ten basileian tou theou hws paidion ou me eiselthe eis auten

Leaving the specific issue of whether receiving on the tongue is preferrable aside, it seems the concensus here that there is no problem in the Church regarding belief in or appreciation of the True Presence. I disagree with that if it is true. I have been given the Eucharist from what can only be described as a plexiglass salad bowl held on the priest's hip. He might as well have been slinging hash. Over the years I have seen and experienced a lot of the same. Am I wrong to be concerned? If there is a problem, does anyone have any suggestions to help remedy it?

Kathy:In response to your Mark 10:15/Luke 18:17:hote hemin nepios elaloun hos nepios ephonoun hos nepios elogizomen hos nepios. Hote yeyona aner, kathergeka ta tou nepiou. (1 Cor 13:11)The logion you quote means to be receptive of the Kingdom, not Communion and it does not mean to return to childhood. Did you miss the hos before paidion?

Sean,What you state I agree with. The Lord's Supper should be a most profound, joyful, engaging moment for all of us. It is the center of our week and our lives culminate in that union and community. It is not a comedy event nor is it like any other event. All should treat this precious time accordingly.

Alan,The quotation from I Cor is one half of an analogy that expresses the difference between the earthly life and the heavenly; it is not advocating human earthly maturity but describing it in order to distinguish between earth and heaven, faith and sight.I take the "hws," on the other hand, to mean that there is a characteristic way in which children receive things that we as Christians are supposed to adopt. An attitude of trust, maybe, or of joy. I take it to be in tension with the way in which adults accept things, which is nearly always with calculation.

Kathy:I think you missed the parallelism in what Paul wrote. Being a child corresponds to what is partial and being an adult corresponds to being complete. Child:knowing in part :: adult:knowing fully. Despite the eschatological context, for Paul the goal is to be an adult not a child. This is the goal of developing Christianity (Hebrews 5;11). Regarding the logion, I agree that receptivity of the Kingdom is the issue. I fail to see how receiving Communion in the hand compromises that. How do you equate the reception of the Kingdom as a future reality with the reception of the Eucharist in the present?

Quoting oneself is the sure sign of a hack, but since I got no response from the previus thread on this topic when I raised St. Cyril--and since the shoe may indeed fit in my mouth, I reprise what I wrote a couple weeks ago, namely why has no one cited St. Cyril of Jerusalem? In a well-known passage from the fourth-century on receiving communion he wrote:When you approach, do not go stretching out your open hands or having your fingers spread out, but make the left hand into a throne for the right hand which shall receive the King, and then cup your open hand and the Body of Christ, reciting the Amen. No less a commentator than OSVs excellent columnist Msgr. Mannion cited St. Cyril in a Dec. 9, 2007 response to a reader asking about a return to communion on the tongue. Mannion also commented: Do I think we lack reverence by receiving Communion in the hand? No, I dont. Nor do I know of the existence of evidence one way or the other. Everything depends on the attitude of the one receiving Communion and the general atmosphere that surrounds the celebration of the MassI have heard nobody suggest that Pope Benedict will abolish the reception of Communion in the hand and revert to the pre-1977 practice of receiving on the tongue. I do not think this is a major concern, except for a small group of people who are generally unhappy with liturgical reform.Rita, I would agree with your point (and Mannion's) that this is a small group of disaffected souls. But a neuralgic point in the Church today is that if that small group should happen to occupy the high ground, so to speak, they can--and will--do as they like. Sean, I am actually quite skeptical of surveys on belief in the Real Presence. In general, the way they are phrased would make me wonder if I should respond Yes or No. They are often so literal-sounding, you feel as if you are confessing to cannibalism should you respond in the affirmative. Moreover, the Real presence can't be reduced to a poll question. I am sure there is always a crisis regarding the understanding of the Eucharist. But history shows that the form of reception has little impact on reverence. On the contrary, in many episodes of the past, Catholics had little sense of the Real Presence, or a childish and superstitious view of the Eucharist and its "powers." It would be easy to argue, as Bill Mazzella indicated, that today's Catholics are more sophisticated in this and other beliefs than ever before. Maybe that is the problem, but maybe it is a good problem, one that can be ameliorated through discussion and education.

Alan,There is a kind of maturity that Paul promotes, eg I Cor 2. But I still don't see the I Cor 13 passage as prescriptive but descriptive. I was a child, I am a man, I am seeing through a glass darkly, then I shall know even as I am known--and that will be the end of the charisms that the Corinthians place too high in their value system.But Paul's maturity is the maturity of the cross. It's about love and involves suffering.Look, if you give a child a puppy, the child is going to want to take the puppy home. They don't think about how the puppy is going to fit into their life. It's attractive and they hold onto it. In the Gospels the Kingdom breaks in, and the crisis is: are you going to accept it or not? It's attractive to Herod and the rich young man as well as to the poor. But who will accept it wholeheartedly, just as it comes?Symbolically, Communion in the hand looks to me a little like "I'll receive the Kingdom, but I'll take charge of the process at some point."

David,Fundamentally, I disagree with the idea the modern Catholics are any more sophisticated than previous generations. They are certainly no more knowledgeable, and probably much less so about their Faith. And as much as I'd like to say Catechesis can address the problem, I know it won't for a lot of reasons. First, no one will do it. Whenever anyone, including a priest, tries to address the issue, there is an imediate backlash. "Who is HE to tell me how I should .... fill in the blank . . . what is he, some sort of throwback to the middle ages?" Unfortunately, many priests prefer to be liked than to say anything. Second, if Catechesis could address all the issues everyone has been saying better Catechesis will solve for 30 years, why doesn't it happen?I am not saying that people can not reverently recieve the Eucharist in the hand, I think they can. However, over the years, with the introduction of this method and Lay Extraordinary Ministers etc. communion has become banal. Relatively few people even abide by the norms established in the US. Symbols and gestures carry great meaning. You get french fries, cookies, and asprin handed to you. There is nothing else that you would recieve kneeling and placed on the tongue. The symbolism this sends has an immediate impact that all the explanations in the world don't.

Ranjith claims that communion in the hand was an abusive, unauthorized innovation. But Paul VI allowed bishops to allow it, asking for papal permission in each case, and the bishops did so. So what is he talking about???Anyway, you cannot put the toothpaste back in the tube.

Receiving communion on one's knees and on the tongue could suggest a double distortion -- (1) that the Real Presence means a reified presence of Christ in the host, rather than the dynamic presence of Christ in the living reality of his paschal mystery, not to be dissociated from his presence in the Word and in the community; (2) that the communicant is in an isolated one-to-one relation to Christ rather than participating in a communal meal-event expressions the community's participation in the paschal mystery.

Fr. O'Leary,I wonder if you consider genuflection before a tabernacle or monstrance a distortion.If so, I think Paul VI, who wrote Mysterium Fidei, would disagree with you.

Kathy:I am sorry, but I do not make sense out of the first part of your post. Is the maturity of the cross, i.e. suffering, expressed in receiving communion on the tongue? How so? Is receiving the Eucharist supposed to be an experience of suffering?The telling part is the last sentence. It sounds to me like you have a fundamental mistrust of people, whom you see as trying to take charge. Is taking Communion in the hand a manifestation of "taking charge"? Do you want people to adopt a submissive posture of kneeling and receiving on the tongue? To what end? Did the Lord expect this at the meal he shared with his disciples on the night before he died? A literalist interpretation of that meal always serves the hierarchy well when it wishes to close any discussion of who can be ordained. Well why not take that approach with the reception of the Eucharist? Did those present kneel before Jesus and receive the bread he shared with them on the tongue or did they take it in their hands?

Receive vs. Take sounds like a false option. How about words like "give" "with" "do this in remembrance"? These are dynamic words and phrases that are relational in character.As for where the Mystery of God's presence is located, the very idea that one might think it could be located suggests a profound misunderstanding of that very real Presence.

Alan,I don't agree with your original adult/ child schematic: For me it is pretty simple. Infants are fed and adults feed themselves. Receiving Communion on the tongue from a minister infantilizes the communicant. If the source of the Eucharist is the meal Jesus shared with his disciples, then the Eucharist is food for adults broken and shared, taken with the hand.However, since you brought this up, I thought it worthwhile to discuss, briefly, spiritual maturity according to Scripture--your field, I remember.

To restrict "delivery" of the host to the lay-faithful by the imposition on the tongue by the priest is one part of a two-part retrogression: who can believe that the Chalice will still be offered to the riff-raff? "They" are not as other men are.

Genuflexion before the Bl. Sacrament, such as I usually perform when putting hosts back in the tabernacle, is fine. But even there if it is carried too far it can distort the nature of eucharistic adoration as an extension of the Mass (as stressed by Pius XII), that is, as part of the extended communal meal-event whereby we participate in the Paschal Mystery.I have received the Eucharist kneeling in Anglican Churches, though not on the tongue, and under both species. The gestures of themselves do not have an ineradicable connotation, but in the present context when people like Abp Ranjith call for a return to an exclusive practice of kneeling and receiving on the tongue all the emphases are pointing away from those of Vatican II. That is why I say the practices, though lauded by Paul VI, "could suggest a double distortion".

"As for where the Mystery of Gods presence is located, the very idea that one might think it could be located suggests a profound misunderstanding of that very real Presence."That is going too far. The eucharistic presence is non-local, according to Aquinas. But nonetheless the divine shekinah is identified as present in Jesus (Jn 1.14) (or in the Christ-event if you want to finesse it). And Jesus is identified as present in his word, his community, and in the eucharist (or eucharistic meal-event if you want to finesse it).

Why must it always be about human power relationships? The question is do we, as a Church, have a problem with reverential treatment of the Eucharist that undermines understanding of and belief in the True Presence? If not, then that answers the Bishop's question right there - the current state of affairs is just fine. If not, criticizing his idea as "infantailizing" the "riff raff" by requiring them to take a "submissive" posture, without having an alternative of your own isn't very helpful.

I've never seen a plexiglass ciborium. We used crystal chalices and ciborium in our parish until somebody narc'ed to the bishop. The Altar Guild had to buy precious metal items PDQ.I've never seen a puppy at Mass, not even on St. Francis Day. Nobody in this area blesses animals. It's dairy country. People aren't too sentimental.For those concerned that the ignorant who do not believe in the Real Presence are communing, maybe the priest could say, as he often does at funerals where there are many Protestant mourners, "Catholics believe that this IS the body and blood of Jesus Christ. All faithful Catholics may now receive." Thus cuing non-Catholics and lapsed Catholics to keep their seats.But I have never believed it was my place to ferret out those whose belief was not perfect, nor that God needs protection from the ignorant. Sean and others have pointed out that those who KNOW their beliefs are not in accord with the Church make a mockery of communion, so I think it's enough that I don't receive. I do hunger for communion occasionally when I attend with my husband and son, so the whole argument over how to receive strikes me as ludicrous and sad. In my view, you're lucky if you have enough grace to be fit to receive however it's done.

I also don't know how anybody can say they know that Methodists are praying over their once-a-month Tastee-Bread squares and grape juice and Catholics are not. Divine revelation?

In regard to "take", I simply include a translation into English from the Maronite Rite: 'Come, O brothers and sisters, take the body of the Son, drink His blood in faith and sing of His glory'."My concerns about reception while kneeling is whether or not a comminicant would receive as one does in, for example, the Maronite Rite, (kneeling, and the priest says to each one to receive, "The servant of God (add name) receives the Body and Blood of Christ for the forgiveness of sins and eternal life." or will we return to people lined along a rail so the priest moves about in the manner of a typewriter platen distributing the Eucharist with great efficiency.If people are to kneel as they receive, I would prefer something such as found within the Maronite Rite because it provides for some slower exchange of mutual reverence between two people in a manner that is not rushed. People who wish to kneel as they receive in the Roman Rite can still have a "chop chop, Father" attitude about them.In my small parish, I have many more guests than parishioners who wish to receive kneeling. I will never deny them this opportunity and I will only be concerned for them if they believe that they are somehow better Catholics simply because of the posture they choose to use. I have encountered such grandstanding. It saddens me.As for the supposed lack of reverence of many who receive, I am glad that a mentor told me to remind people that what they are about to do and who they are to receive is the most important they will do both today and ever. It's a simple message that seems to be easily understood and accepted.

Joseph O'Leary: Perhaps I communicated poorly, for your examples all indicate the point I was trying to make. The Christ event, the Word, the community, and the meal are not reductive locations; instead, they are dynamic relations.

Forgive me for asking this, but is it possible people have thought too much (or perhaps I should say speculated and theorized too much) about these issues over the past 2000 years to the point where it's now more pseudoscience than religious mystery? At the Last Supper, or during early Christian eucharistic celebrations, did anyone believe, or "have to" believe, that something called "transubstantiation" took place? Can anyone imagine Jesus at the Last Supper explaining that he was giving them bread and wine, but they need only eat the bread because he was present--body, blood, soul and divinity--under both species? I believe I mentioned before that someone I told about this debate (who is Jewish) said it sounded like the Big-endians versus the Little-endians.Having said that, I think Sean's message written at 6:44 a.m. today restates the central question that is not getting much real discussion:

The question is do we, as a Church, have a problem with reverential treatment of the Eucharist that undermines understanding of and belief in the True Presence?

The formula for administering Holy Communion was for the priest to make the sign of the cross with the host over each kneeling communicant while saying: "Corpus Domini nostri Iesu Christi custodiat animam tuam in vitam aeternam. Amen." This was later abbreviated to: "Corpus Christi." Newly ordained priests took forever to give out communion. Pastors would try to hurry them on. You didn't want to be a newly ordained priest in St. Agnes Church in Manhattan, right near Grand Central Station, where 40,000 people used to come to Church on Holidays of Obligation.

Fr. Komonchak,Does Newman talk about the issues surrounding doctrines that develop as response to error?As I understand the development of Eucharistic doctrines, they began to be spelled out in a time when Augustine was taken as the highest authority, but the question was how to interpret Augustine.

The length of this thread -which will go on and on, I suppose, - shows that liturgy is "where the rubber meets the road.Whether one receives standing (in union with the risen Christ) or kneeling (adoring Him -did Christ institute the Eucharist to be adored?) does little or nothing to convince folk of the real presence.That's more "apologetics" for going back to the good old days.I concur with those here who see this kind of approach as another atempt to infantilize the laity before the clergy who are "other than.'I suspect we'll se more liturgical and canonical dithering of this sort as they try to put the toothpaste back.Meanwhile, they really engender more cynicism among many, often the young, who see diviseness promoted.

I wonder if there is any data about whether there has really been a decline in the number of Catholics who believe in the real presence, and if so, the reason for that decline.Beliefs may dictate behavior, but also behavior has a real impact on beliefs. If people consider standing less reverential than kneeling, and receiving in the hand less reverential than receiving on the tongue, then I don't see any problem at all with hypothesizing that what people do in practice influences what people believe.

Joseph [or is it Father Joseph?],I am perplexed that you claim to have received "the Eucharist" in Anglican churches. Do you believe that Anglican churches have the Real presence? Your objections "(1) that the Real Presence means a reified presence of Christ in the host, rather than the dynamic presence of Christ in the living reality of his paschal mystery, not to be dissociated from his presence in the Word and in the community; "(2) that the communicant is in an isolated one-to-one relation to Christ rather than participating in a communal meal-event expressions the communitys participation in the paschal mystery"appear to contradict the formula of the giving of the Host: "the body of Christ" - a reified presence. [I refrain from asking the meaning of the phrase "meal-event"]. In preparation for reception of Communion, do we not go into a one-on-one relationship in the confessional? Those who have a problem with the infantilization of being fed might consider that we [as did our parents and grandparents] address priests as father, as we address the first person of the Trinity in the Lord's prayer. And might heed the words of Our Lord [of God] [Matt 18:3]: "Amen, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven.4 Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven".

Father Komochak touches upon the very core of the problem in the pre-VII days:"Newly ordained priests took forever to give out communion. Pastors would try to hurry them on. You didnt want to be a newly ordained priest in St. Agnes Church in Manhattan, right near Grand Central Station, where 40,000 people used to come to Church on Holidays of Obligation". Too many devout souls taking up too much of the parson's time and delaying his lunch! It seems to me that it was for such problems rather than the logic chopping of the theologians that John XX III thought it necessary to allow fresh air into the Church. Alas the council fathers like the Pharisees got bogged down into discussions of rites and rituals and risked throwing the baby out with the bath. Now we're looking for the baby.

Gabriel, How far are you willing to take the "little children" sayings? Should those of us who are adults not have jobs? Should we play with dolls and color in coloring books? In addition to receiving communion on the tongue, should everyone fidget during mass? Quite obviously, Jesus did not mean we must become like children in every respect. Clearly the meaning has something to do with trust, dependency, and perhaps innocence. And for Catholics, wouldn't becoming as little children apply at least in part to their relationship with the Church, since it represents Christ on earth? It seems to me that "conservative" Catholics expect strict obedience to the Church in large matters (sexual and reproductive issues) but can't find it in their hearts to obey the Church when it comes to standing versus kneeling, or communion in the hand versus on the tongue.Don't you think your use of Fr. Komonchak's remarks about distributing communion to large numbers of people were inappropriate and unfair?

Fr. Komonchak: Yes, your points make good sense. Not every parish is as small as mine. I guess I have a luxury in being able to not rush things here. My heart goes out to the churches as you described where the time it takes to do something can be a legitimate matter of concern.Here's a case in point with this Sunday: Would it even be feasible to do individual blessings of the throats at St. Agnes rather than a group blessing? One thing is for sure - the administrators of the blessing would get sore throats.

I hate to be negative and I hate to be angry, but this seems to have gotten more replies than it"s worth. I believe and feel, when you take away all the dressing, it's just about denying Vatican II. The Church says it believes in the teachiing authority of the Pope, and bishops in communion; but, when the greatest gathering of bishops and theologians since Vatican 1 and maybe in the history of the Church was convened by the by by the Pope, disagreed with the power structure, it knew that the Holy Spirit couldn't work through that group. They have spent the last 50 some odd years in trying to erase Vatican 11. This is just another step. I'm sure in many years they'll be able to say it was a hoax and never really happened( something like Peking Man).

Andrew,I am no expert on these kinds of things, but I did find this paragraph of interest:

3. The option offered to the faithful of receiving the Eucharistic bread in their hand and putting it into their own mouth must not turn out to be the occasion for regarding it as ordinary bread or as just another religious article. Instead this option must increase in them a consciousness of the dignity of the members of Christ's Mystical Body, into which they are incorporated by baptism and by the grace of the Eucharist. It must also increase their faith in the sublime reality of the Lord's body and blood, which they touch with their hand. Their attitude of reverence must measure up to what they are doing.

http://www.ewtn.com/expert/answers/communion_in_hand.htmAs I have said a couple of times already, the implicit question in the document cited is whether the practice of communion in the hand is having a negative impact on what people believe about the real presence. It appears from the paragraph above that one of the stipulations allowing communion in the hand was that it not result in changed attitudes toward the Eucharist. If it indeed has, then it seems to me it would be perfectly reasonable to maintain that the conditions stipulated when permission was granted have not been met. It seems to be a relatively simple question, and yet there is some of the most esoteric reasoning in this thread that I have seen on dotCommonweal.Sean, whom I almost never agree with, summed it up quite nicely as follows, but nobody seems willing to address his question:

The question is do we, as a Church, have a problem with reverential treatment of the Eucharist that undermines understanding of and belief in the True Presence? If not, then that answers the Bishops question right there - the current state of affairs is just fine. If not, criticizing his idea as infantailizing the riff raff by requiring them to take a submissive posture, without having an alternative of your own isnt very helpful.

Pages

Share

About the Author

David Gibson is a national reporter for Religion News Service and author of The Coming Catholic Church (HarperOne) and The Rule of Benedict (HarperOne). He blogs at dotCommonweal.