a shell game or what? In October, Bishop Loverde instructed
the priests of the diocese to catechize us pew-sitters about the American
adaptations to the GIRM (General Instruction of the Roman Missal). So
priests told their flocks, among other things, that the proper posture
for Communion is standing and the appropriate sign of reverence a slight
bow of the head. Many parishioners heard kneeling for Communion is not
permitted by order of the Vatican. Some priests also
banned genuflecting or making a “profound” bow. [Close
your eyes. See the pope waggle his finger at you if you kneel or even
bow too low before receiving our Blessed Lord.] One problem –
it ain’t quite true. The adaptations didn’t come from the
Vatican, but originated with the American bishops who lobbied for an indult
(an exception) to allow standing.
***When the bishops discussed the
proposed adaptations in 2001, some asked for clarification of the meaning
of the word “norm.” Helen Hull Hitchcock in The Conflict
over Reverence, an article on the Adoremus website, says, “At
that time, it was explained that the word simply reflected the usual practice
in the United States; thus, implicitly, that to say that ‘standing
is the norm in the United States’ was a simple statement of fact.
Since then, judging from the BCL's [the Bishops’ Committee on the
Liturgy which has said kneeling is not a licit posture] and other interpretations,
the word ‘norm’ has assumed a juridical meaning far stronger
than most bishops apparently understood when they voted for it.”
[Must be the “spirit” of the adaptations, cousin of the
“Spirit of Vatican II.”]
***And what does Rome really say? Let’s hear it from the Pope: “When the faithful communicate kneeling, no other sign of reverence towards the Blessed Sacrament is required, since kneeling is itself a sign of adoration. When they receive Communion standing, it is strongly recommended that, coming up in procession, they should make a sign of reverence before receiving the Sacrament.” (Inestimabile Donum) What does Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith say? “The Christian Liturgy is a cosmic Liturgy precisely because it bends the knee before the crucified and exalted Lord. Here is the center of authentic culture – the culture of truth. The humble gesture by which we fall at the feet of the Lord inserts us into the true path of life of the cosmos.” (The Spirit of the Liturgy, Ignatius Press, 2000) And closer to home, our own former bishop, Most Rev. John Keating: “No bodily posture so clearly expresses the soul’s interior reverence before God as the act of kneeling. Reciprocally, the posture of kneeling reinforces and deepens the soul’s attitude of reverence.” (Pastoral Letter on Reverence for the Eucharist, December 4, 1988)
*** Vatican letter forbids
The Congregation in fact is concerned at the number of
similar complaints that it has received in recent months from various places,
and considers any refusal of Holy Communion to a member of the faithful
on the basis of his or her kneeling posture to be a grave violation of one
of the most basic rights of the Christian faithful, (our emphasis)
namely that of being assisted by their Pastors by means of the Sacraments
(Codex Iuris Canonici, canon 213). In view of the law that "sacred
ministers may not deny the sacraments to those who opportunely ask for them,
are properly disposed and are not prohibited by law from receiving them"
(canon 843 p.1), there should be no such refusal to any Catholic who presents
himself for Holy Communion at Mass, except in cases presenting a danger
of grave scandal to other believers arising out of the person's unrepented
public sin or obstinate heresy or schism, publicly professed or declared.
Even where the Congregation has approved of legislation denoting standing
as the posture for Holy Communion, in accordance with the adaptations permitted
to the Conferences of Bishops by the Institution Generalis Missalis Romani
n. 160, paragraph 2, it has done so with the stipulation that communicants
who choose to kneel are not to be denied Holy Communion on these grounds.
[emphasis added] In fact, as His Eminence, Cardinal
Joseph Ratzinger has recently emphasized, the practice of kneeling for Holy
Communion has in its favor a centuries-old tradition, and it is
a particularly expressive sign of adoration, completely appropriate in light
of the true, real and substantial presence of Our Lord Jesus Christ under
the consecrated species. [emphasis added]
Given the importance of this matter, the Congregation would request that
Your Excellency inquire specifically whether this priest in fact has a
regular practice of refusing Holy Communion to any member of the faithful
in the circumstances described above and - if the complaint is verified
- that you also firmly instruct him and any other priests who may have
had such a practice to refrain from acting thus in the future. Priests
should understand that the Congregation will regard future complaints
of this nature with great seriousness, and if they are verified, it intends
to seek disciplinary action consonant with the gravity of the pastoral
Given the importance of this matter, the Congregation would request that Your Excellency inquire specifically whether this priest in fact has a regular practice of refusing Holy Communion to any member of the faithful in the circumstances described above and - if the complaint is verified - that you also firmly instruct him and any other priests who may have had such a practice to refrain from acting thus in the future. Priests should understand that the Congregation will regard future complaints of this nature with great seriousness, and if they are verified, it intends to seek disciplinary action consonant with the gravity of the pastoral abuse.
Thanking Your Excellency for your attention to this matter
and relying on your kind collaboration in its regard,
***But what about obedience? Exactly! When are bishops and priests in this country going to begin obeying Rome? We’ve seen bishops allow altar girls and Communion in the hand when they were forbidden and ignore the rubrics of the Mass. Obedience seems of concern only when used to suppress pious acts of reverence among the faithful. The U.S. bishops have been on a collision course with the faith for two generations and the laity are beginning to revolt, imitating the apostles who said to the Sanhedrin (their “bishops”) “Judge for yourselves whether it is right in God’s sight for us to obey you rather than God.” (Acts 4:19)
***But what about unity? What about it? There are dozens of liturgical rites in the Church, all legitimate. Is the Byzantine, Maronite, or Tridentine Mass any less Catholic than the Novus Ordo? There are hundreds of different devotions; no Catholic could practice them all. Does a garden manifest disunity if both roses and daffodils grow there? If liturgical unity is such an overriding issue, let’s return to the language of unity - Latin. “Unity” is a red herring rarely used to argue for more reverent behavior. Do we hear, “Let’s all kneel at the altar rail for unity? Let’s all dress modestly and be silent in Church for unity.”? No, it’s always – don’t kneel, don’t genuflect, stand during Communion – for unity. Will bishops require priests to follow the rubrics of the Mass for unity? Will they enforce Ex Corde Ecclesiae? Or are the new adaptations just another cudgel to beat the orthodox? We’ll see.
***Finally got an answer…Les Femmes wrote to Bishop Loverde in September asking if he would instruct his priests to give Communion to those who kneel to receive? We did not receive a response so we followed-up in October with a second letter, also unanswered. In November we sent a third, return receipt requested, and copied it to the Apostolic Nuncio. See The Post Office for the bishop’s response.
***Is this much ado about nothing? We don’t think so. Again from Cardinal Ratzinger: “There is a story that comes from the sayings of the Desert Fathers, according to which the devil was compelled by God to show himself to a certain Abba Apollo. He looked black and ugly, with frighteningly thin limbs, but most strikingly, he had no knees. The inability to kneel is seen as the very essence of the diabolical.” (chapter on “The Theology of Kneeling” from The Spirit of the Liturgy) Irreverence has helped precipitate the crisis of faith in the Church. Only a return to reverence offers hope of a new springtime. One of the best things that could happen in this country is to restore Communion at the altar railing.
***While we’re discussing reverence Father George Rutler relates a conversation he had with Mother Teresa. Responding to a question about problems in the Church she said, “Wherever I go in the whole world, the thing that makes me the saddest is watching people receive Communion in the hand." Being fed is a sign of dependence and love. Sadly, the priests of our diocese have been instructed not to preach that receiving on the tongue is the preferred method. It is. Receiving in the hand is an indult, an exception. [Why don’t the bishops promote Communion on the tongue for unity?] Let the Lord of Life, your beloved, feed you this Christmas season as He allowed His mother Mary to feed Him.
***Strange bedfellows: You wouldn’t think a group defending victims of sex abuse by clergy would pair up with the sex-free-for-all champs at CTA (Call to Action), but they have. SNAP (Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests) was out and about at the bishops’ meeting in Washington, D.C. in November partnering with the CTA heretics who never heard of a deviant sex act they couldn’t defend. [Unless a priest did it and they could use self-righteous posturing to advance their agenda of women priests, etc.] CTA, SNAP, and VOTF (Voice of the Faithful) represent an unholy trinity attacking the Church. How many sucked in to VOTF because of their disgust over priestly sex abuse realized they’re being snookered by those who want to annihilate the faith of our fathers and substitute Protestantism. [Our apologies to Protestants. A more accurate description would be creedless unitarianism. Hey!…there’s that word unity again. Coincidence?]
***Wishing you “choice” on earth? Planned Parenthood – what an inspired bunch! Remember the patriotic condoms after 9/11 and free abortions offered by the Manhattan affiliate [Gotta protect those widows from their dead husbands’ brats!] With the giving season upon us, the pagans are in high gear, offering Christmas cards [Oops…“holiday” greetings] wishing “Choice on earth,” a euphemism for “abortion on earth, good will to people.” Besides greeting cards their online store offers: onesies for your infant, on the front reading, “Parenthood. Plan it!” and on the back, "Every Child A Wanted Child." Baby as billboard doesn’t appeal? Get a “condom t-shirt” for your significant other. Prefer a more intimate gift? Go for the real thing – the only one “that comes with a team of medical professionals behind it.” [Won’t the bed be awfully crowded?] “They come in…new, unique flavors — like honeydew and raspberry.” [Free vomit bags to readers on request.] Other offerings: PP tote bags, coffee mugs, key rings, and posters. And don’t forget your Margaret Sanger bookmark, the ultimate stocking stuffer. [Let it never be said that Planned Parenthood missed an opportunity to make a buck But who buys this stuff? Horny reindeer?]