Sunday, July 4, 2010

To Kneel or Not to Kneel...

Let's pretend that, all of a sudden, you find yourself in the true presence of God. What do you do?

Now let's pretend that, all of a sudden, being in the true presence of God, you are notified that God wishes to enter your being and become one with you. What do you do?

I don't know about you, but I'm pretty sure I would be dumbfounded. Awe-struck. I would probably fall to my knees in adoration.


As it turns out, this is exactly what happens when we receive Communion! As stated and clarified by Jesus, the bread that we break is his flesh indeed, and the Catechism tells us that when we receive Him, we receive Him in Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity.

In meditating the true meaning of the Eucharist over the past few weeks, I have uncovered an intense desire to kneel to receive Communion. Although kneeling is standard practice in the Tridentine Mass, standing is the norm in the Ordinary Form. However, letters to U.S. Bishops and Catholic individuals from the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments have stated that "communicants who choose to kneel are not to be denied Holy Communion on these grounds."

Being about to burst with desire to adore Christ in the Eucharist at the moment of Communion, I spoke to a local priest who told me to simply... pray about it. So I did, and after a couple of weeks, the desire had only intensified. I went back to him, and he encouraged me to kneel if I felt led to it. So I did.

Three days later, I decided to bring up the matter with my pastor, because I knew that some priests wish to adhere to the directives of the U.S. bishops much more strictly when it comes to posture during Communion.

In the end, I was asked not to kneel for Communion. I obeyed out of respect for my pastor, who holds authority over me, but a gaping wound was left in my heart.

In spite of the Pope's wish to contrary, I am aware that Catholics throughout the United States have also been asked not to kneel in order to maintain unity within the Body of Christ. So I ask: If, in the name of "unity," we are asked not to adore Christ in the way Catholics have done for centuries up until a few decades ago, what next?

Certainly, I have no desire to go against authority. There's more than enough of that rebellious attitude in the church. I also don't care to call attention to myself. Most of all, I have no desire to disrupt the Mass.

But if the longing in my soul to adore my Lord was put there by the Holy Spirit himself, what next?

The desire to adore Christ as his whole Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity enters my being is not going away. Someone said that maybe it's God calling me to something. If that is so, I don't know what. "Pray about it," they say. And I do.

But the more I pray, the clearer things become: Christ, who is the second person of the Holy Trinity, who is in heaven with all the angels and saints, with Holy Spirit in the glory of God the Father... is truly and substantially present in the Eucharist. And He patiently awaits me. You, too.

Longing for God,

The Catholic Wife

13 comments:

  1. I'm with you all the way. I think kneeling is a great way to prepare the heart for God! I was raised a Protestant and every time we sang a song that included the word "kneel" I felt strongly called to kneel. Sometimes I did, and I was usually all alone in doing so. I felt very out of place, but happy I was answering the call. Kneeling and reverence during worship is one of the things that has really drawn me to Catholicism. That's why I'm so sad to be going to a no-kneelers Catholic church right now.
    I respect your obedience, and I think that's the best way to go. I wouldn't give up on the idea, though. For the most part, the young priests I have met are very conservative. I bet America will come back around to kneeling in the future. Hold on to the dream! :) I'm so excited to read your post about mantillas now, so you might find a comment there too.

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  2. If the Holy Spirit planted the desire, it is a huge penance to hold back. God called St Teresa of Avila to reform the lax practices of her order and return to earlier practices. She often met with obstacles and roadblocks. Sometimes patient waiting was in order, sometimes not. You should read more about her :)

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  3. Thanks, Elaine. I definitely will. This is actually one of the things that the "encouraging priest" said to me. Not necessarily about St. Teresa of Avila specifically but about the saints in general.

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  4. I go to an Anglican Use Catholic Church near our home on weekends that my husband and I are not teaching conformation classes at his former parish. I find it to be the best melding of the NO and the TLM. At the Anglican Use church they have an alter rail and it just feels so right. I find myself kneeling for communion at the NO. I always try to go to communion last not to disturb the flow of communion. Like everyone else said keep praying about it. Maybe your prayers might help God change your pastors feelings on the subject. I know my husband has prayed me into many things I never thought I'd do. One being receiving on the tongue, while kneeling and being veiled.

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  5. I don't know if it can fill your desire at all, but I always genuflect prior to receiving the Eucharist. I do it when the person in front of me is receiving, so that it doesn't hold up anyone and it's hardly noticeable. I saw a teenager do it years ago and thought it was wonderful. Since then I have only ever seen one person do it- another young HS aged girl. I am 24, so who knows maybe someday traditions like kneeling will make their way back! :) [Also, I go to a NO church and I am the only person to veil (minus a few elder ladies with hats), but I first became interested because I saw another HS girl veiling.]

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  6. I don't get it. I come from Poland, where this practise is the most popular one. Either you kneel in front of the holy Comunion and stand up to become It, or you can kneel while you become the Comunion. Aw, and you become the Body of Christ into your mouth -only from a priest. Now I live in Germany, where most of people become the Comunion while standing and into their hands. Also it happens sometimes that you become the Comunion from a non or even from a lay person.
    So if you want to kneel, than tell the authorities, that a Pole sent you ;)
    I'll pray for you and I'll visit you often. Thanks for writing this blog!

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  7. Find another church! Our pastor does not encourage kneeling because it would interrupt the 'flo'. We have no Communion Rail. He also uses lay ministers for distribution even when he has a deacon or two right there. This is against Vatican policy and so is lay ministers going to the Tabernacle to bring the Host to the altar. Lets not mention the lay minister who is living in sin with her boyfriend who also distributes. Or the women who distribute in clothes you would wear clubbing... or worse. Or the men who can't be bothered to put on clean clothes ......... You can read more by going to this website

    communion-in-the-hand.org/rome.html

    In desperation I went to a NO Mass at another church and was blown away by the reverence shown through the entire Mass which is done ad orientum. Communion is at the rail, on your knees, and on the tongue! Veils are welcome and they still use real Confessionals! If you go to http://www.traditio.com/
    you will see a list, scroll down to #9. Download the book. You can search by state for Traditional Latin Masses BUT If you aren't comfortable with the Traditional Latin Mass look through the listings for the Latin Masses with the scowly faces next to them. Many of the churches that offer the diocesan Latin Mass also have very traditional, reverent, HOLY, NO Masses too. That is how we found our wonderful church.

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  8. Granny, thank you! I have joined an oratory run by the Institute of Christ the King, which offers all the sacraments in the Extraodinary Form, has communion rails, real confessionals, etc. I love it!

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  9. Feels good to get back to a real church doesn't it :-) If you've never been to Real Catholic TV
    http://www.realcatholictv.com you should go. I signed up for the premium subscription and I'm thrilled that I did. They have hours and hours of information at their website. The host of RCTV was recently interviewed on a Canadian show. I think you can link to that show from the RCTV website. That interview gives you a good grasp of what RCTV is about. I tell everyone about their website, just like I tell everyone about YOUR website and beautiful veils :-}

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  10. I had the very 'problem' in some NO masses. Oh the stories.... Anyway, there are good NO masses. It's just finding them... I've done my share of church hopping for that and other reasons. It's always nice to find a holy priest isn't it.!

    I do find it difficult to kneel when I attend a new NO mass, but have that very pull you had ! It was never a problem until a Eucharistic minister stood so long (like she wasn't going to budge until I stood up) I felt very embarrassed and since then it takes a lot of mustering courage to do so. I am very blessed to have a husband that kneels in spite of some and just follow his action.
    I am so glad I came across this post. Thank You
    Knowing I'm not alone helps. I'll bite my tongue and initiate next time. :)

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  11. Here in Germany, the vast majority receives the Eucharist standing and on the hands, communion rails are very rare. But nevertheless I receive kneeling and on the tongue. It never came to my mind to ask wether that was ok or not. I am receiving standing and on my hand when I had a cold sore or a bad cold because I didn't want to infect others, as some priests and most Eucharistic ministers have difficulties not to touch lips, teeth or the tongue, apparently they lack the practice, because when I go to Mass where kneeling and receiving on the tongue are more common there never is a problem, so it isn't me doing anything wrong.

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  12. I would love to kneel, but without a communion rail to kneel at it's pretty much impossible with my creaky knees and not great balance (I'm past 60). My son does kneel (the only person in our parish to do so, and he's done it for years - that takes guts!), but I have to content myself with a profound bow. My son-in-law genuflects because that's what he was taught to do when he was confirmed in an Army chapel in Germany (he was baptized Catholic as a baby, but not brought up in the faith). In our parish probably at least a third of the people receive on the tongue and I suspect that all of them would love to see the communion railing brought back. We've attended an EF Mass on a number of occasions (once at St. Francis de Sales Oratory in St. Louis when we were there for a wedding) and it's been marvelous to kneel.

    Our diocese has no parish that celebrates the EF on a Sunday, and none closer to us than two hours away in any case. The closest regular Sunday EF Mass is over two hours away in a neighboring state. So we have really no choice other than to attend the most reverent OF Mass around. We keep hoping things will change in that regard, but change looks like a long time coming. Our pastor was very welcoming to the bishop celebrating the EF in our parish over a year ago, but made it very clear that he had no interest in tackling the Latin himself, nor does our young parochial vicar. If you live where the EF is available regularly please avail yourself of it and pray for those of us who continue to be deprived of it. BTW our parish has the Blessed Sacrament in the center of the sanctuary, real confessionals, two daily masses,a priests who clearly love God and the Church, and regular exposition of the Blessed Sacrament, I do appreciate what we have, I just wish that our priests would understand the longing some of us have for more.

    It's only this winter that I've begun to cover routinely. I wore hats starting the beginning of Advent, but lately as the weather got warmer I've switched to the inexpensive veil I got a few years back to wear to EF masses. I'm generally the only one wearing one and since it's light colored it's pretty conspicuous. My veil from Lily should arrive this week (brown, so slightly more subtle), and I'm looking forward to receiving it. In our parish there are only about 5 of us that veil, although there are also a number of elderly women who routinely wear a hat. At any given Mass there aren't usually more than two of us with a veil on. Last Sunday at the Mass I attended I was the only one. However, I remind myself that part of what gave me the courage to do so was the fact that there were other women I'd seen wearing a veil. Who knows what the tipping point towards a trend of returning to head covering will be.

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  13. Since I was away from the Church for so long, as a very Evangelical anti-Catholic/save-the-Catholics 'Christian', who mocked the Holy Eucharist and the Church...when I returned to the Church by AMAZING graces that I will never comprehend this side of eternity, I felt VERY convicted to kneel when receiving the Eucharist. It's easy when there are kneelers, but it's more difficult when I am the only one. I struggled whether to kneel or not when at a casual Mass or parish. While there are a few times I don't, I usually do kneel. I admit feeling a little odd when I'm the only one, but when I think of how horrible I used to speak about the Eucharist and the Catholic Church, I'm OK with feeling a little odd now.

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