We speak so often of Christ’s Body and Blood in the Eucharist, that I think it’s hard not to think with modern minds, and miss what this would have meant for a Jew. We can also easily fall prey to receiving out of habit, and lose the gravity of what it means to receive. Listen to this Holy Thursday’s homily to learn more about what it really means to receive the Eucharist, the declaration or vow we make upon ourselves by virtue of receiving, and the implications it has upon our lives.
I am happily a priest of Diocese of London, Ontario, as of April 25, 2015! Hooray!!!
Some people are afraid to ask clergy questions sometimes, because they are worried about "what he'll think of me". I am happy to engage in any discussions you might want to have with me about the faith, and trust me, I have heard and probably even lived many of the crazy stories people might share and am not seeking to look down on you, but to help lift you up, wherever you are, to whatever degree you are willing to go. It's about you, and your relationship with God. That is what is most important to me. Since the Lord loves you without qualification, I try to impart the same courtesy.
Father this was your finest Homily to date. Might one suggest that the loss of Faith and respect for the Blessed Sacrament these last 40 or so years may be due in part to the change in manner of reception? In former times, we knelt and rec’d the Host on our tongue only. Laymen did not touch the host-only the Consecrated hands of the Priest.. Thus the manner of reception demanded we pay more than passing attention to what we were doing.Perhaps a return to such a format would assist in reclaiming greater focus on what we are actually doing?
Thank you very much, that’s probably because I borrowed a lot of thoughts from Ven. Fulton Sheen.
As for the change in reception of communion, you may very well be right. I mean, it’s probably a combination of things, such as the decline of faith in the Church overall, and even a lack of proper teaching, both in families and from the clergy. The purpose of liturgy is that what we do is supposed to reflect what we believe, and so the more we act, the more it reinforces what we believe. Communion on the hand was initially taught to be done in a reverent manner, but I think that more than anything, it was the stopping, kneeling down at the communion rail, receiving, and only then being able to get up and return to your seat, that gave the greater sense of reverence. What I mean is, what I see in the communion line is people receive on their hands and run off, consuming the Eucharist probably half way back towards the pews, which amounts to more of a “take out” experience of simply coming to take the host, and then just run off. It becomes one small action among many. When really, receiving the Eucharist is something we need to pause for. Even if for a moment. We are always go go go, trying to move things as fast as possible, and it is before God that we get to stop, pause from the world, enter into that “day of rest”, stepping out from our regular lives to come in contact with the Holy One. The reception of the Eucharist manifests this reality in the most concrete way possible, which is why, in my opinion, people should be afforded at least a moment of pause. When you are all lined up at a communion rail, this happens naturally, because the priest has to make his way from one side to the other. You have to kneel down and wait before the priest comes, and then you even have a moment to thank God before having to get up for the next person to take your place, all without having to “slow down” the communion line in any way, let alone in a way that could unduly prolong the Mass. With the current model, the moment you reach the front of the line you are already receiving. Yes, you can receive the Eucharist reverently either by hand or on the tongue, but in a natural liturgical fashion, there is very little opportunity for pause because you must move to the side so the next person may come up and receive. It requires the communicant to be far more intentional, every single time. As people, this is hard, because we easily fall into routine. And for anyone who has not learned and made the effort to be very expressly intentional, the current model for reception of communion doesn’t lend towards making a person intentional. And we see that by virtue of the many people who “eat and run”. The liturgical norms require that one must consume the Eucharist the moment they receive it, right in front of the priest. Not to step to the side and then consume, not to walk away and consume. But right there in that exact spot, to consume. This is almost never the case in practice. But if you’re kneeling at a communion rail, you have little option to do otherwise. I would love to see it come back, but am doubtful that I will see its return in the near future or perhaps even in my lifetime. Anyway, those are my thoughts on the matter. God bless you!
Father, thank you for your very lengthy reply.If one might add a final comment; I recall the practice of Benedict XVI, (the Great!) who in distibuting Holy Communion to the Faithful at Mass, had a kneeler placed in front of him. Those wishing to kneel and receive Holy Communion on the tongue could do so.Those who chose not to, were able to stand and receive in their hand. Might we not put such a method into practice in our clustered parishes?
haha, sorry for going on so long. Yeah I have heard of that and personally am open to the idea… I’ll bring it forward for discussion, but it definitely would help if there’s people asking for it (more than one). So if you find there’s a lot of people who would really like this, come forward and talk to us about it. There may be some complication regarding the logistics around it, so I don’t know for sure if it will fly, but hey, can’t hurt to bring forward the idea!