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Reception of Communion While Kneeling

Reception of Communion While Standing

Stand | Stood

Kneeling for Communion

Kneeling for Holy Communion

Kneel | Knelt

Holy Eucharist

Blessed Sacrament

'Lay Ministers'

'Eucharistic Ministers'

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Arrow Question / Issue:

"I was quite concerned when I read your article on 'Lay 'Eucharistic Ministers': Why Not?' One of my duties (for lack of a better word) is to bring the Eucharist to the sick and homebound. I am one for not going against the teachings of Holy Mother Church. In other words I feel uncomfortable receiving the Holy of Holies in my hand and standing up. I kneel on one knee. My pastor told me once that he did not want me to kneel for Communion, that it was the choice of the bishop to stand when receiving Holy Communion. He also told me that it draws attention to myself..."

 

Arrow Answer / Resources:

[click link(s) below, as applicable]

We certainly understand both the confusion and your concerns. Unfortunately there is so much confusion in the Church today and it really is necessary for the faithful to be very careful concerning what is true Catholic doctrine.

To answer your questions, I think the best way I can put things is that yes, the Church may (at present) allow persons to receive the Holy Eucharist standing - and even from a lay person (in areas where this is allowed). However, both are very problematic and both are conditional (for example Redemptionis Sacramentum states: "if they receive Communion standing, it is recommended that they give due reverence before the reception of the Sacrament" and "Only when there is a necessity may extraordinary ministers assist the Priest celebrant in accordance with the norm of law"). Despite these conditions, few people actually give 'due reverence' (ever notice how so many persons bow to the rear end of the person in front of them in order to speed things up rather than 'slow down the line' by actually waiting to at least bow to the Holy Eucharist?) and many parishes use 'extraordinary ministers' every week regardless of any supposed necessity. Note also that the use of 'extraordinary ministers' is now only tolerated due to disobedience. The Church has long condemned the use of lay persons handling the Holy Eucharist (see here). Furthermore, both practices may lead to loss of faith in the Real Presence of Christ in the Holy Eucharist – and also they may lead to sacrilege. (You have only to look around you to see the truth of these statements, correct?) Both are obviously very serious problems today. This is simply a matter of common sense that even atheists could understand if it was explained to them.

Finally, note that these practices may be allowed/tolerated (at least at Novus Ordo Masses), but they are certainly not desirable. Common sense alone tells these practices can harm souls (for example, consider the dangers to souls over loss of faith in the Real Presence – see 1 Cor. 11:29) and are not as respectful [consider that "at the name of Jesus every knee should bend" (Phil. 2:10) and that even those who mocked Christ during the Passion knelt (see Mt. 27:29)]. As kneeling goes, the best I can tell you is that you should absolutely feel comfortable receiving Holy Communion kneeling. This is certainly the desired posture for those physically able. While some of the more liberal bishops may discourage it (we know of one case where a bishop actually pulled a woman up off her knees), other bishops have prohibited standing. Popes have certainly encouraged kneeling (and NOT standing) and also have protected the laity's right to kneel (for example, Redemptionis Sacramentum states: "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"). When standing is allowed, it can be a matter for one's conscience. Kneeling, however, is a right of ours protected by the Church – as is taking Communion on the tongue. You should most definitely *not* feel forced to go against your conscience & be less respectful to the Holy Eucharist (you say yourself that you "feel uncomfortable receiving the Holy of Holies in my hand and standing up"). Whether or not kneeling for Christ happens to 'draw attention to yourself' is really irrelevant. Doing the right thing is not a popularity contest. We understand that your pastor may not want you to kneel, but it is nevertheless your right. If desired, you could remind him of your right and refer him to the document Redemptionis Sacramentum on the Vatican website. Again, this document states that "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." For more on kneeling, please visit here.

From your message, you seem clearly to be a devout Catholic who wants to follow the Church's teachings. It appears to me that you are on the right track on these issues, but you are cautious over lack of support by your pastor. This can be a difficult situation, but I can assure you I personally know holy priests who are in good standing in the Church who would most definitely agree with the position that Holy Communion should only be received kneeling (if physically able), on the tongue, and from a priest. Even though we're in liberal California, there are two diocesan parishes I know of here that have & use an altar rail. I also know a priest who refused for his entire life to give out Communion in the hand. He always remained in good standing in the Church and was a very holy priest (unfortunately he died a few years ago). Another holy priest we know considers today's popular manner of receiving Holy Communion to be a personal cross. Furthermore, the Popes typically require Holy Communion to be received while kneeling. So, know that you are not alone, even if you unfortunately face some opposition in your area. Nevertheless, you are perfectly within your rights (and not only that, but are you are perfectly right!) to receive Holy Communion kneeling, on the tongue, and from a priest. Don't be discouraged even if you do not have the support you really should have. Perhaps your good example will affect others and you may later receive more support. If not, perhaps you could thank Christ for being allowed a share of His suffering. I am quite confident that persons who lovingly reverence the Eucharist by kneeling will find no trouble for this at their judgment (even, perhaps, a reward), even if they do experience trouble on earth.

Regarding taking Holy Communion to the sick, this might be something you want to reflect on. Consider this quote...

"It is written (De Consecratione, distinction 12): 'It has come to our knowledge that some priests deliver the Lord's body to a layman or to a woman to carry it to the sick: The synod therefore forbids such presumption to continue; and let the priest himself communicate the sick.'" (St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church and "greatest theologian in the history of the Church").

As further 'food for thought', you might consider the material here.

Please do not take any offense whatsoever at what is said – I have every confidence that you have nothing but good intentions in doing so and I assure you I have no intention whatsoever to offer any offense or cause you any distress whatsoever by referring you here. We do know of at least one person who used to be an 'extraordinary minister' who has since given up the practice & condemns it after he spent some time reflecting on it. We have also seen experiments done concerning the number Sacred Particles that are left behind when lay persons handle the Holy Eucharist – and I'm sure I don't have to tell you that each particle, no matter how small, is truly Christ's flesh & blood. It's heartbreaking to realize that churches & hospitals may be literally lined with Sacred Particles that are being trampled on.

Finally, you may be interested to know that novelties such as Communion in the Hand, 'Lay Ministers', standing for Communion, etc. can (typically) be avoided by attending the highly reverent Traditional Latin Mass (see here for more information).

Did you know? It is still possible – thanks be to God! – to lawfully attend the Traditional Latin Mass. The Traditional Latin ('Tridentine') Mass differs from the 1960's Novus Ordo Mass in many & significant ways (try here for more information). To locate a Traditional Latin Mass in your area, try here.

+ + +

"It must be taught, then, that to priests alone has been given power to consecrate and administer to the faithful, the Holy Eucharist. That this has been the unvarying practice of the Church, that the faithful should receive the Sacrament from the priests, and that the officiating priests should communicate themselves, has been explained by the holy Council of Trent, which has also shown that this practice, as having proceeded from Apostolic tradition, is to be religiously retained, particularly as Christ the Lord has left us an illustrious example thereof, having consecrated His own most sacred body, and given it to the Apostles with His own hands." (Catechism of the Council of Trent)


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