Bring Back Reception of Holy Communion on Knees and on the Tongue

Published by Los Pequenos de Cristo, Inc.

It is no wonder that belief in the Real Presence has plummeted since Vatican II. Kenneth C. Jones’s Index of Leading Catholic Indicators shows a decrease in all major statistical categories of the Catholic Church from the late ’50s to the mid-’60s to the year 2000. Arguably, these figures are worse 20 years later. Also, the new Pew Research Center’s study on Catholics’ belief in the Real Presence is staggering. This crisis cannot be put solely on the change in the mode of reception of communion, but one cannot help but think it has the most to do with it. Lex orandi, lex credendi cannot be more apparent than in this particular instance.

The question seems to have an obvious answer attached: abolish communion standing and in the hand for the obviously more reverent and appropriate communion kneeling and on the tongue. Bring back the altar rails! Cardinal Sarah believes that it would certainly be one of Satan’s top priorities to attack belief in the Real Presence. It’s hard to argue with his assessment.

To address this concern, Edward Pentin of the National Catholic Register wrote about a Conference to Promote Communion Kneeling and on the Tongue that took place October 5, 2019 in the church of Santo Spirito in Sassia, Rome. The conference has been entitled “Every Knee Shall Bow — The Majesty and Infinite Love of Holy Communion.”

Pentin wrote that Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith was among those speaking and that the archbishop of Colombo, Sri Lanka, and former Secretary at the Congregation for Divine Worship sent his blessing. Other contributors were Cardinal Raymond Burke, the patron of the Sovereign Order of Malta, and Bishop Athanasius Schneider, auxiliary of Astana, Kazakhstan, who gave messages via video.

The event, aimed at raising awareness about the way Jesus in the Eucharist is received, especially urged greater reverence by receiving the Body of Christ kneeling and on the tongue rather than standing and in the hand.

It comes after around 11,000 people signed an international petition to say they wanted to receive Jesus in the Eucharist in this “traditional way,” one “more suitable to express utmost devotion.”

They asked that the possibility of receiving Holy Communion on the tongue and kneeling be guaranteed and that the distribution of the Eucharist by the laity be prohibited.

The petition was sent as an open letter to Church authorities, asking them to act on this “legitimate request and will of the Catholic people.”

“The Eucharist is the heart of Christianity around which all the rest shall rotate,” the petition organizers wrote, adding: “The time that the Catholic Church is living nowadays is very serious and problematic so that the question: ‘Will the Son of Man still find faith on earth when He returns?’ becomes more and more current.’”

Other conference speakers were Msgr. Nicola Bux, a theologian and former consultor to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. In Sept. 27 2019 comments to the Register, Msgr. Bux said the “crisis of faith that we are experiencing is caused by secularization, to which the clergy have contributed most, as [French philosopher] Charles Peguy wrote.

Msgr. Bux said if a priest “first obliges a believer to stand up to receive Holy Communion, or comes to remove kneelers from the church, it means that the devil has entered the temple.” The devil, he said, “pushes priests to remove this element that recalls the First Commandment: to love the Lord your God and serve Him Referring to what Benedict XVI called a “sort of ‘nuclear fission’” that takes place when bread and wine is turned into Christ’s real body and blood, Msgr. Bux explained how transubstantiation brings about a “process of transformation of reality, a process leading ultimately to the transfiguration of the entire world, to the point where God will be all in all.”

Kneeling before the Holy Eucharist is therefore “the most eloquent expression” a person can make in front of the “present mystery,” said Msgr. Bux. “Divine worship has this central focus: to realize that the Lord is here and to give Him importance, that is, to worship Him by bringing us to our knees, as Saint Peter did at the Sea of Galilee.”

Cases have come to light of a few priests and bishops denying Holy Communion to communicants who kneel — one of the most recent being Chilean Bishop Celestino Aos, who denied the Eucharist to at least two faithful who were kneeling to receive on Holy Thursday this year.

Concerning Holy Communion in the hand, the petition organizers wrote that it was never instructed by the Second Vatican Council, even though it is often construed as coming from it. They also stressed that it was a choice but never an obligation that could be imposed.

Msgr. Bux said Holy Communion in the hand was an “indult extracted from Paul VI which has become customary, and even the rule, justified also through the assumption that the Lord, at the Last Supper, gave Communion in the hands of the Apostles.

“On the contrary, the very words Jesus spoke in reference to the traitor — ‘It is the one to whom I hand the morsel after I have dipped it’ — describe the friendly Semitic use of putting in the mouth what was considered delectable.”

Msgr. Bux added: “As for Communion standing, receiving in the hand or abusing it by taking it away, we would like to show that we are adults before God but not, as Peter writes, newborns in need of the spiritual milk that is Eucharistic Sacrament.”

The conference was organized by the lay group United With Jesus in the Eucharist Through the Most Holy Hands of Mary. !

© Los Pequenos de Cristo, Inc.,The Pequenos Pepper, November 2019

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