For it is written, “As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall give praise to God.” Romans 14:11
I belong to a parish in which I am grateful to have good priests who have done so much for us during this pandemic.
And I attend another parish in a nearby city sometimes for mass as well. The pastor there has provided kneelers for those who wish to receive the Holy Eucharist kneeling. He started it at daily mass, and then eventually at Sunday masses.
I was so happy when he started using them at daily mass. But when I first saw the kneelers out shortly after Christmas, for Sunday mass too, I shed a few tears of gratitude and joy. From my experience at a previous parish, I already knew that if you put the kneelers out… people will kneel! And at a time when a large majority of Catholics (according to recent polls about 70%) do not even believe in the Real Presence, it made me so happy for Jesus.
Canon 212 s.-3 “Christ’s faithful are totally free to make known their needs, especially spiritual ones, and their desire to the Pastor of the Church.”
So, with this encouragement, I recently decided to ask the pastor at my parish, if he would consider using them. I knew that some people knelt on the floor, but not everyone can kneel on the floor and get up easily. I shared with my pastor how I have seen for myself at two other parishes now, that if you give people a place to kneel, they want to kneel for Our Lord.
In my experience, there is something about kneeling before the Lord, opening my mouth to receive (not take) Him from the hands of a priest, that seems just and right, and repairs. And now I do not wish to receive the Lord any other way.
Saying this, I am in no way implying that those who receive standing and in the hand as the Church allows, are not doing so with reverence and love. I know they do, because I once did too.
But I firmly believe that the change made to receiving the Eucharist in that way has not only contributed to our loss of the sense of the Real Presence, but even worse, it has been the cause of great sacrilege and irreverence.
I saw for myself how it happens
This hit me in a real and personal way while attending mass at my son’s parish in Florida. It was months into the pandemic, and so there were all the new restrictions and guidelines. The protocol there was that Holy Communion would be brought to you at your pew, and that you may only receive in the hand. I had not received that way for a long time, and didn’t want to, but did as I was told (while kneeling).
Now, let me preface this by saying that I have written a long article in which I talk about (among other things pertaining to the Eucharist) how particles of the Eucharist are often left on people’s hands, and then end up on the floor or who knows where! (You can find part one of that article here.)
So, when I looked at my palm, after the extraordinary minister placed the Eucharist there, and saw not one but two fragments, I was stunned. I think I even gasped a little. Though I knew it was true, and had written about it. Seeing with my own eyes was shocking. Of the maybe 250 or so people at this mass, just in this Church alone, how many fragments have been unknowingly left in people’s hands. How many have fallen to the floor? How often have we trampled on Jesus?!
This disturbing thought has not left me.
A Priest Bursts Into Tears
Then recently, I came across a video of a priest sobbing over irreverence to the Eucharist either he had witnessed in his own parish, or because of a mystical experience during mass some others reported. (Here is the original link I found with pictures, and commentary, although sadly the video is no longer available to see there. Another video can be found here though. ) He is speaking Spanish, and there is a translation of part of what he said to his congregation. But whatever happened, it caused him so much grief that he has changed the way people may receive the Eucharist there to only on the knees and directly in the mouth.
He experienced the pain of even one sacrilege to Our Lord in the Eucharist, the Bread of Life! And it affected him so deeply that he changed everything to make reparation for it. He did something to repair the harm done to Jesus, and restore reverence. And this video is touching hearts, just read the comments.
Change is happening
Back to my own parish, and the response of my pastor…while he has given the idea of providing kneelers or a Communion rail consideration before, he felt that, under the current circumstances, that this was not the right time. I was disappointed, but do understand that our pastors have a lot to consider right now.
But on an encouraging note, in another visit to a daughter in North Carolina a few months ago, we attended the Cathedral for mass. And the Bishop, who also said mass that day, has restored the use of a Communion rail…during the Covid Pandemic! Most people at mass knelt there to receive Our Lord, and some stood. While the protocol there may be different now, at that time they had two priests distributing on both sides, allowing families to come up together and kneel, or one person at a time. Then the priest would turn and clean his hands before the next family, or person. It worked just fine. Under normal circumstances, using a Communion rail, with the priest going back and forth, it is actually quite efficient.
Believe it or not, even with all of that, mass did not take more than an hour, with the Church being at least two-thirds full that day. But who cares if it did? Look what this Bishop did for his flock and their faith, and most importantly, for Jesus!
What should we do?
When we show love and reverence for the Eucharist faith grows. Not just our own faith, but the faith of others as well. Don’t we need this now more than ever? If we don’t show some bold acts of faith and love now, will the next generation have any faith left?
Bishops and pastors, from the heart of the laity, because I know that I am not alone, I implore you…even under the circumstances …will you prayerfully consider providing Communion rails or kneelers for the people of God who desire to show reverence and adoration to Our Lord Jesus by receiving directly on the tongue and kneeling?
Perhaps it is not only time, but exactly the right time.
Remember then, O Savior,
I supplicate of Thee,
That here I bowed before Thee
Upon my bended knee;
That here I owned Thy Presence,
And did not Thee deny:
And glorified Thy greatness
Though hid from human eye.
E. Caswall: O Jesus Christ Remember 19th century
“The greatest love story of all time is contained in a tiny white Host.” Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen.
(May the Father, Son and Holy Ghost be glorified in all places through the Immaculate Virgin Mary)