FROM THE POST OFFICE
“When receiving Holy Communion standing, the communicant bows his or her head before the sacrament as a gesture of reverence and receives the Body of the Lord from the minister. The consecrated host may be received either on the tongue or in the hand at the discretion of each communicant. When Holy Communion is received udner both kinds, the sign of reverence is also made before receiving the Precious Blood.”
The norm for receiving Holy Communion in the dioceses of the United States is standing. Please note that the text here does not give options, as it does in no. 43 (“…they may sit or kneel while the period of sacred silence after Communion is observed”). It is clear that the faithful are expected to stand when receiving Communion in the dioceses of the United States, even as they are expected to kneel beginning after the singing or recitation of the Sanctus until after the Amen of the Eucharistic Prayer (cf. GIRM, n. 43).
What happens if a communicant kneels to receive Holy Communion? Again, the direction is clear: “Communicants should not be denied Holy Communion because they kneel. Rather, such instances should be addressed pastorally, by providing the faithful with proper catechesis on the reasons for this norm.” The reasons include the Church’s desire that there be unity in our postures during the celebration of the Mass. “The uniformity in posture, which must be observed by all participants, is a sign of the unity of the members of the Christian community gathered for the Sacred Liturgy” (GIRM, n. 42).
Since my arrival in Arlington, I have on a number of occasions instructed our priests that no one who kneels should be denied Holy Communnion. This sacred moment of intimate union with the Lord Jesus should not become a moment of struggle or of division. Thus, no one will be denied Holy Communion if he or she kneels. However, the person who does kneel must examine his or her reason for ignoring the clear directions approved by the Holy See for the dioceses of the United States. The Sacred Liturgy is the public worship o the Church: Christ united with His Body. Private inclination or arbitrary choice must cede to what is determined by the General Instruction (GIRM, n. 42). Obedience often is intrinsically linked with sacrifice. To sacrifice our personal preference to kneel when what is expected is standing is, in my judgment, a true act of obedience and a greater sign of our reverence and respect for the Holy One, whose very dying and Rising we relive at every Mass. Moreover, we do make a gesture of adoration and reverence by the bow of our heads and by the fact that, prior to coming to Holy Communion, we were kneeing (cf. GIRM, n. 43 for a further adaptation for the dioceses in the United States.)
While both kneeling and standing are signs of reverence and respect, the manner for receiving Holy Communion in the dioceses of the United States is standing. Therefore, although no one will be denied Holy Communion if he or she kneels, I expect the members of this diocesan church, who are known for their obedience to the Holy See, to follow the directives of the General Instruction, including the manner prescribed for receiving Holy Communion.
This response to your request for a clarification is necessarily lengthy, since one less detailed would be unworthy of both the one asking and the one responding.
Faithfully in Christ,
Avoid mixup over “appalling” event
Your column entitled From the President’s Kitchen Table [Vol.7 #2] criticizes a "Youth Apostles 'chastity' seminar." Please modify this statement to read "Youth Apostles Institute." The article may confuse readers into believing that the program was given by Michele TePas, a chastity speaker featured on Youth Apostles Online (www.youth apostles.com), a website for Catholic teens. The incidents that you described are absolutely appalling, hence the need for immediate clarification.
Just so you know, while Michele TePas is considered by many to be a "chastity" speaker, a better term would be a "purity" speaker. She does not do any "sex ed" in her talks, but instead talks in a discrete and prudent manner about the blessings of purity and honorable courtship.
May God bless you and your work abundantly!
Timothy Harrison via e-mail