Monday, January 21, 2013

Bring Back the Communion Rail?

A blogging deacon, Greg Kandra, who previously defending the practice of receiving Holy Communion in the hand and standing, has “changed his mind”; you can read his complete blog post here. Deacon Kandra says that

… after several years of standing on the other side of the ciborium—first as an Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion, now as a deacon—and watching what goes on, I've had about enough.

After describing some of the more atrocious things he’s seen happen at Communion, he notes:

…I’m reminded week after week that people have no uniform way to receive in the hand. There's the reverent "hands-as-throne" approach; there's the "Gimme five," one-hand-extended style; there are the notorious "body snatchers" who reach up and seize the host to pop into their mouths like an after-dinner mint; and there are the vacillating undecideds who approach with hands slightly cupped and lips parted. Where do you want it and how??

Communion rail at St. Mary's in Pendleton, OR
Catechesis, he maintains, has been tried in his parish and the results are less than positive.

Our modern liturgy has become too depleted of reverence and awe, of wonder and mystery. The signs and symbols that underscored the mystery—the windows of stained glass, the chants of Latin, the swirls of incense at the altar—vanished and were replaced by . . . what? Fifty shades of beige? Increasingly churches now resemble warehouses, and the Body of Christ is just one more commodity we stockpile and give out.

Can kneeling to receive on the tongue help alleviate some of this? Well, it can't hurt. And for this reason: to step up to a communion rail, and kneel, and receive on the tongue, is an act of utter and unabashed humility. In that posture to receive the Body of Christ, you become less so that you can then become more. It requires a submission of will and clear knowledge of what you are doing, why you are doing it, and what is about to happen to you.

The faithful receiving Holy Communion at Mass
(extraordinary form)
 There are other good points in the article supporting the author’s idea that a renewed sense of reverence would be the result of bringing back the communion rail. He concludes by pointing out that

[Pope Benedict XVI]…will only give communion at papal Masses to those who kneel and receive on the tongue. He was gently making a liturgical point. Are we paying attention?

After what I've seen, I agree with him. We need to get off our feet, and on our knees.

Bring back the communion rail. It's time. 

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