Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Comments on "Back to kneeling?"

Archived comments to the post: "Back to kneeling?" (Musings, January 16, 2007):

Perhaps a short anecdote will illuminate some of the symbolism that the altar rail (or iconostasis in the Eastern rites) represents and, by corollary, what I think we've lost without it. I had not been attending the traditional Latin Mass for very long when I assisted at a particularly beautiful and rich High Mass in a church that had retained its traditional architecture. At a certain point in the Mass one of the altar servers came out and shut the gates on the altar rail and the Great Sacrifice commenced. Suddenly this Mass brought the Faith together for me in a way that no other Mass had. There was Jesus, our High Priest, standing in the Holy of Holies and offering the sacrifice of Himself to the Father on our behalf. He was clothed in royal splendor, flanked by servants bearing incense and glowing candles. And I longed for heaven that day--I wanted so much to go to be with Him. But the gates were shut; I could not go. "Jesus answered, 'Where I am going you cannot follow me now; but you shall follow afterward.'" (John 13:36).

But then I knelt at the very threshold of heaven and earth and He met me there, to sustain me with His Body and Blood until we should be together forever. And I wept for joy.

That is the Catholic Faith that I want for my children, for myself, for all Catholics. That is the Faith of our Fathers.
ThomistWannaBe | 03.22.06 - 5:12 pm | #

Ian Ker writes: "Whatever our view of [Evelyn] Waugh's religion, the fact remains that Tridentine Catholicism not only perfectly met his need for order and definition and form, but also played a significant role in his fiction in the Catholic novels. In fact, it is an essential element in the achievement of The Sword of Honour, the greatest literary work to come out of the Second World War apart from T.S. Eliot's Four Quartets." (Ian Ker, "Waugh the Catholic," The Tablet, 18/20/2003)
Pertinacious Papist | Homepage | 03.22.06 - 5:28 pm | #

It is fitting that we be prepared and well-disposed to receive the Lord.

In a communion line, you must keep moving. Which means you must think about keeping moving, not holding things up, etc., etc.

With the altar rail, you have precious time both before and after--perhaps a good solid 15 seconds or so (times two). Brilliant. Amazingly brilliant. All but gone.
Kirk | Homepage | 03.22.06 - 5:33 pm | #

Well even though I am a fairly new Catholic my parish has the Indult Mass so we still have the Communion rail and so I compare the experience between the Communion rail and the line.

I definitely prefer the rail since I am better able to prepare myself instead of concentrating on just the mechanics of bowing, receiving and moving out that the line forces on you. Sure you still have some of that with the rail, but it is not as rushed and it does help you to concentrate on receiving the Lord more.

The Communion line is too much like a traffic jam.

Though I don't understand why parishes that still have the Communion rail and good orthodox priests can't just start using the rail again for the new Mass. I don't think there was ever anything in writing that mandated the Communion line in the first place.
Jeff Miller | Homepage | 03.22.06 - 6:02 pm | #

"Something quite remote from anything the builders intended, has come out of their work, and out of the fierce little human tragedy in which I played; something none of us thought about at the time; a small red flame -- a beaten-copper lamp of deplorable design relit before the beaten-copper doors of a tabernacle; the flame which the old knights saw from their tombs, which they saw put out; that flame burns again for other soldiers, far from home, farther, in heart, than Acre or Jerusalem. It could not have been lit but for the builders and the tragedians, and there I found it this morning, burning anew among the old stones." (Evelyn Waugh, Brideshead Revisited)

Somehow a communion rail fits better in that picture than a communion line.
Dave | 03.22.06 - 6:15 pm | #

Holy Mother Church tells us that when we receive kneeling, no further gesture of recognition or adoration is necessary. It stands to reason that since the altar rail assisted in this kind of gesture, it was a good thing in itself and helpful to our salvation.

And no, there never was legislation allowing or requiring the dismemberment of the altar rail.

Among other (admittedly random) thoughts are these. The altar rail is an extension of the altar. Therefore if we receive kneeling at the altar, we are closer to the sacrifice. Since the priest is an alter Christus, wouldn't we WANT to receive (anything at all!) from Him while kneeling? Aren't we told in one of the Gospel accounts not to take the high place, but rather wait to be invited? It stands to reason, therefore, that we should kneel to receive that which we can not be worthy to receive.

Sorry for the rambling approach.
Chris Garton-Zavesky | 03.22.06 - 6:54 pm | #

The Communion Procession is a beautiful part of the Rite. Singing a Psalm (ha) with the Communion Antiphon as the refrain (hahahaha) we make our way in an orderly fashion to the heart of mercy, the door to the Kingdom, the Holy Eucharist. We come, we receive. (Without all that manuevering and stopping and backing up out of peoples' way that you have to do with an altar rail.)
Kathy | Homepage | 03.22.06 - 7:20 pm | #

In regards to maneuvering, there seems an awful lot more in a line. Also, I find it interesting that in Protestant churches there are very often ushers to assist in communion and just general seating. Never seen them in Catholic services.
Joe | 03.22.06 - 8:14 pm | #

The picture with little girls wearing head coverings raised another question in my mind. Why is it an all or nothing situation? It seems like there are either all latin mass parishes, with rails, and chant, and people dressed in Sunday best and head coverings, or there is a very loose mass with the windbreaker crowd. It don't understand how things became so very polarized in such a traditional church.
Joe | 03.22.06 - 8:30 pm | #

(Okay, call me an angry feminist if you must. Just please do it quietly to yourself, as I've been arguing with an angered mother from Arlington all day.)

Because I want to mention a stained glass window in one of my old parishes. It was one of a set of the seven Sacraments. And the one for Holy Communion was like this 20 foot priest reaching down to give Communion to someone whose head barely reached his toes.

Whenever I see an altar rail in use I think of that stained glass window. The thing is that the floor behind the altar rail is nearly always elevated. As it should be, since the priest goes up to the altar of God. But then at the rail, the priest is standing extra high and the communicant is kneeling extra low.

There are theological-anthropological implications to posture, as Dr. Blosser says pretty much every morning when he drinks his breakfast Guinness. So I hear. And the anthropology here seems just a little off. I love being humble before the Lord and before the Church. And before the priest, with his power to bind and loose. But gee whiz, not that humble. Am I wrong? In other words, should we (laity) be not just kneeling, but kneeling low, in relationship not only to the Eucharist but to the priest as well?
Kathy | Homepage | 03.22.06 - 8:37 pm | #

_In other words, should we (laity) be not just kneeling, but kneeling low, in relationship not only to the Eucharist but to the priest as well?_

Why not? At that moment, the priest is Jesus.
Jordan Potter | 03.22.06 - 8:43 pm | #

A Eucharistic miracle has been reported in my diocese (Dallas). On Monday, the Feast of St. Joseph, Fr. Mario, the parish priest of St. James the Apostle Catholic Church, reported to Bishop Grahmann, that the Sacred Host has bled human blood. The Sacred Host has been removed from the parish so that the matter can be further investigated. If you wish to see a picture of this miracle then go to:

You will have to become a registered memeber before you can log on to the forum, which is where the picture is. One of the memebers of the forum went to see Our Lord before he was taken away, and she is the one who took the picture.

This parish doesn't have kneelers . . . but I bet they'll put them in now!!
St Pio | 03.22.06 - 9:32 pm | #

Interesting point, Jordan. I've always wondered why some people prefer to receive Communion from the priest-celebrant, and this would be a good reason for that.

I get the impression that at some points of the Mass the priest represents us before God, and sometimes represents God before us. But in this I've always thought he was serving.
Kathy | Homepage | 03.22.06 - 10:51 pm | #


Ever wonder why the "Banish the Latin" crowd can not tolerate a priest facing the tabernacle? To whom should the priest pay greater attention: God or his wayward flock?

Don't we pray "Domine, non sum dignus" ... and shouldn't that be more than words mumbled before the entire parish goes up to receive our Lord ?
Chris Garton-Zavesky | 03.22.06 - 11:31 pm | #

found this: At the Council of Laodicea in the fourth century, the laity received Communion at the altar.

In the seventh century at the Fourth Council of Toledo it was established that priests and deacons would receive in the Sanctuary.

From the thirteenth century, a white cloth was spread before the communicants kneeling before the altar.

In the sixteenth century, the cloth was spread on a bench set up outside the Sanctuary.

This eventually became the communion rail.

Spirit of Vatican II | Homepage | 03.23.06 - 1:30 am | #

" a church that had retained its traditional architecture"

This is what blows my mind. How can anyone that understands the relationship between tradional Catholic Church architecture and the Temple in Jerusalem think that messing with the architecture was a good idea???

I guess if you abandon our Jewishness, you don't have to answer uncomfortable questions like why you just removed the Tabernacle from the Church. It's just a "host holder". Temple.GIF
michael hugo | 03.23.06 - 1:52 am | #

When I read Catholic blogs, I am always dumbfounded at the variety of opinions people have. Some are very learned, some are more "intuitive".

This is why I am SO glad we have a Pope, and 2000 years of Church history, and Magisterial teaching.
michael hugo | 03.23.06 - 1:59 am | #


The question is, why was the Communion rail introduced? Was it an arbitrary decision or an organic development? The same question pertains to the rail's removal.
Dave | 03.23.06 - 8:36 am | #

Pews are also a recent innovation, relatively speaking. They should be removed immediately, and a policy of BYOK ("Bring Your Own Kneelers") instituted. The Iconostasis should be reinstasis ... I mean reinstated, and virtually all activity at the altar hidden from view. Altar girls are an innovation as well. Out with them. Small consistency rules.
A. Nonymouse | 03.23.06 - 9:29 am | #

God is ubiquitous. Kneel down right now and breath deeply to receive the Lord!!!

If Catholicism/Christianity requires 15 seconds of "feeling good" kneeling at communion rail, you have sorely missed the message.
Realist former Convergent | 03.23.06 - 10:24 am | #

Fr. O'Leary wrote: "At the Council of Laodicea in the fourth century, the laity received Communion at the altar. In the seventh century at the Fourth Council of Toledo it was established that priests and deacons would receive in the Sanctuary. From the thirteenth century, a white cloth was spread before the communicants kneeling before the altar. In the sixteenth century, the cloth was spread on a bench set up outside the Sanctuary. This eventually became the communion rail. SO THE COMMUNION RAIL IS A QUITE RECENT THING, DATING PERHAPS FROM THE 17th CENTURY?"

Hmm. Canon 19 of the Council of Laodicea says, "And it is lawful to the priesthood alone to go to the Altar and [there] communicate." ( So that council seems to say the opposite of what Fr. says it does.

To me the central point is not altar rail per se. It is the fact (Fr's assertions about Laodicea notwithstanding) that in the Catholic Church, from East to West, there has always been a sanctuary set apart into which the laity did not venture (at least during the Mysteries) and which thus served symbolically as Heaven, while the nave served symbolically as the Earth. As someone pointed out above, this is a distinctive of Jewish architecture that goes all the way back to Moses. What was done to partition this space off--iconostasis, a bench, altar rail, a spread cloth--may have varied, but what it seems did not vary is the fact that there is this sacred place which was essentially reserved to the clergy and physically removed from the laity. That is what has been set aside in the post-conciliar period. So, as Dave asks, why was the rail removed?

Another anecdote: I teach my children the perennial Catholic belief, that sanctuary is a sacred space and it is to be respected. Many years ago now we used to attend one of the two most orthodox parishes in our immediate area, at which the Novus Ordo is celebrated. We chose it precisely for the fact that both priests at this parish are orthodox in their doctrine. But each Sunday morning, at an appointed time, the priests would call for the children of the parish to leave their pews and bring canned goods for the poor to a basket in front of the altar. And so dozens of Catholic children (not mine), without so much as a genuflection, a bow, or even a nod of the head, go roaring up into the sanctuary to the very altar, plunk in their can of food, and go roaring back to their seats. (How, in view of such a spectacle, do I continue to enforce due reverence and decorum in my own children?)

After some months of this my wife very tactfully broached this with the younger of the two priests, a devout and orthodox young man. He just looked at her with a blank stare, total incomprehension.

So the liturgical "reforms" have destroyed the very notion of a "sanctuary", even among many very faithful Catholics. Am I a "rad trad"and a traitor for concluding that "enemy has done this"?
ThomistWannaBe | 03.23.06 - 10:27 am | #

Ironically enough, there is also a greater feeling of "community" for me kneeling alongside my brethren at the rail than queuing up behind them in a line, so it puzzles me why progressives are so adamant about keeping the queue if they are truly concerned with "building community."
Dave R | 03.23.06 - 10:34 am | #

Chris, my question is: To whom should we pay more attention, God or the priest?

(One of my main reasons for advocating the ad orientem posture.)
Kathy | Homepage | 03.23.06 - 10:55 am | #


If at that point in the Mass the priest represents Christ bringing His Body and Blood to the faithful, then doesn't this substantially vitiate the "either-or" dichotomy posed by your question?
ThomistWannaBe | 03.23.06 - 11:11 am | #



Let's see. The priest has just received Communion. He is bringing forth the Lord.

I'd say he does not represent Christ at that moment but rather Mother Church.

So we should have a humble attitude towards him, but not anything suggesting adoration. The adoration is reserved for the Sacrament Itself. I think that posture should make that distinction apparent.
Kathy | Homepage | 03.23.06 - 11:34 am | #

Let me go out on a limb and suggest, just for sake of argument, a possible scriptural justification for removing the altar rail and thus opening up the sanctuary to the laity. Here are two passages from that most liturgical of New Testament documents (second only to Revelation), the Letter to the Hebrews:

'For we have not a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.' (Heb 4:15-16)

'For you have not come to what may be touched, a blazing fire, and darkness, and gloom, and a tempest, and the sound of a trumpet, and a voice whose words made the hearers entreat that no further messages be spoken to them. For they could not endure the order that was given, "If even a beast touches the mountain, it shall be stoned." Indeed, so terrifying was the sight that Moses said, "I tremble with fear." But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to innumerable angels in festal gathering, and to the assembly of the first-born who are enrolled in heaven, and to a judge who is God of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect, and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks more graciously than the blood of Abel.' (Heb 12: 18-24)
Dave | 03.23.06 - 12:11 pm | #

I will anticipate the first objection to my use of the above quoted verses from Hebrews to justify removing the rail. The long tradition of the Church had Hebrews available to inform liturgical discipline. Yet until the late 20th century, that tradition reserved the sancturary to the clergy and kept it separated from the laity.

Second objection: it is unlikely that the liturgical reformers who removed the rail had Hebrews 4 and 12 in mind.
Dave | 03.23.06 - 12:26 pm | #

Pseudo-Dionysius' Ecclesiastical Hierarchy made the case that the mind travels up through the degrees of orders, separated as they are by roles and places within the church.
Kathy | Homepage | 03.23.06 - 1:15 pm | #

Cognitive theories of learning also support the idea that 'the mind travels up [or forward] through the degrees of order'. I've always felt that the hierarchical nature of Catholicism is "fitting" (to use Dr. Blosser's term) in light of the heirarchical order of the created world. While I am not a scientist, I would also imagine that recent explorations of the sub-atomic world support this idea all the more.
Dave | 03.23.06 - 1:28 pm | #


You wrote: "So we should have a humble attitude towards him, but not anything suggesting adoration. The adoration is reserved for the Sacrament Itself. I think that posture should make that distinction apparent."

I don't mean to deflect from your question, but I'm confused. Are you suggesting that the very posture of kneeling at the altar rail suggests adoration for the priest rather than the Sacrament? Surely all of the discussion on kneeling for Communion so far has focused on the proper veneration of the Sacrament; the priest has never entered into it.

And are you objecting specifically to the elevation involved (as you mentioned above) or to the entire posture of kneeling to receive?

Also, I wonder what are your thoughts on the broader question of the altar rail acting as a physical barrier between the nave and the sanctuary, which I have argued is a venerable tradition of both East and West? Should it have been retained in the post-conciliar period, or were there good reasons (according to the criteria set out by Sacrosanctum Concilium even) to tear them out?

Also, just a general question to anybody, if there was a solid theological reason for removing altar rails in the West, why has there been no equivalent push to get our Eastern Catholic brethren to remove their iconostases? Wouldn't they derive the same benefit that the West has experienced? (Now what benefit would that be again?)
ThomistWannaBe | 03.23.06 - 1:35 pm | #

I'm objecting to the elevation involved.
And my thoughts on the broader question are that P-Dionysius had a good point.
Kathy | Homepage | 03.23.06 - 1:50 pm | #

Just to be clear for TWB, whom I often confuse
1. I'm anti-elevated priest
2. Pro-separated sanctuary
3. Pro-Communion procession (i.e. flowing to and from the Eucharist, rather than stopping and changing posture by kneeling.)
Kathy | Homepage | 03.23.06 - 1:53 pm | #


Honestly, you went from feeling "uncomfortable" with the relative elevations of Priest and laity, to suggesting that this difference in elevation amounted to "worshipping" the Priest.

I might suggest that you have some personal "power" issues, and that the solution to your problem isn't formal, Liturgical or architectural.

I only say this because I have never even thought about what you seem to be quite "exorcised" about. On the contrary, I have always struggled with my own pride. Your complaint smacks of that, more than anything.

I half expect you to blurt out "patriarchal" at any moment.
michael hugo | 03.23.06 - 4:45 pm | #


In his official capacity as an ordained minister, the priest acts in the person of Christ, the Head of the Church. The priest represents Christ, who acts as priest, teacher and shepherd through him. (CCC 1548-1549)

And you have a problem with them being above you?

Think "humility".
michael hugo | 03.23.06 - 4:56 pm | #

To assist the Irish Jebbie in his ruminations on "brief traditions..."

It should be noted that Central Heating has been around for less time than Communion rails.

Think about that the next time you celebrate Mass in January, Father.

Now as to substance (and away from discussions with the Jebbie)--the TEMPLE had an area reserved only to the High Priest and a few selected assistants.

THAT is the model for the gated/fenced sanctuary.
Dad29 | Homepage | 03.23.06 - 5:19 pm | #

Dear Pertinacious Papist: I know this is off topic (and you are free to remove it and the links), but I wanted to share with you and others here these photos of 'progressive' liberal liturgy, etc., I have been looking at in fear and despair. Very sad, to say the least.

"PHOTOS FROM THE 2005 RELIGIOUS EDUCATION CONGRESS" - "February 17, 2005 (Youth Day) & February 18-20, 2005." - "Sponsored by the Los Angeles Archdiocese's Office of Religious Education - Held at the Anaheim Convention Center, 800 West Katella Ave., Anaheim, Calif. (just across from Disneyland & Disney's California Adventure)": 20Space.htm 20liturgy.htm YDlit2.htm YDlit3.htm YDlitb.htm Labyrinth.htm
Paul Borealis | 03.23.06 - 5:29 pm | #

I suggest we need altar rails (better yet, locks on the Church doors) to keep out (1) evil, and (2) sinful stupidity and error (sacrileges), - including (a) liturgical dancers, Hollywood singers, rock/folk artists, new-age trash and (b) whatever and whomever else needs keeping out!
Paul Borealis | 03.23.06 - 6:05 pm | #

That is really bizarre. I noticed that Cardinal Mahoney was front and center of that travesty. Versus populum, ad nauseum.
Dave | 03.23.06 - 6:09 pm | #

Please include smelly fishermen, tax collectors and whores in your lockout.
Realist former Convergent | 03.23.06 - 6:09 pm | #

Can you imagine St. John the Apostle's reaction to this?
Dave | 03.23.06 - 6:10 pm | #

Please, RfC. Smelly fishermen, tax collectors and whores are always welcome. It's the destruction of the liturgy that we would like to keep out.
Dave | 03.23.06 - 6:12 pm | #

The point, surely, of whom to exclude is not the outward, but the inward disposition. Liturgical dansers and other wreckovators claim they see, and so their sin remains.
Chris Garton-Zavesky | 03.23.06 - 7:11 pm | #


My point, exactly. See my link (above) to the floorplan of the temple in Jerusalem.

This idea that Catholic Traditions are not of value because they are recent, is almost ALWAYS wrong, and motivated by people that see tradition as an obstacle to to Church becoming...well, protestant.

I recently heard a Priest (in L.A.) say that the whole idea of having a Tabernacle was a recent "novelty". He did this, because like many (most?) churches in California, they were removing the Tabernacle to a "Eucharistic Chapel". I was dumbfounded.

What happened to the Tabernacle being the holder of the Living Word, Mary being the Tabernacle of Christ, the Ark of the Convenant being the holder of God's Word...

Gee, I wonder why they didn't just remove the "god box" along with the communion rail, way back when? Do you think, just maybe, they figured they'd dismantel the Church one piece at a time? Just maybe?
michael hugo | 03.23.06 - 7:51 pm | #

Oh, Michael.

Certainly we aren't only concerned with being humble. We are supposed to THINK about the right manner of humility. That's all I'm trying to do. In relationship to posture at Communion.
Kathy | Homepage | 03.23.06 - 7:56 pm | #

I am not a Jebbie (Jesuit).
Spirit of Vatican II | Homepage | 03.23.06 - 8:37 pm | #

Looks like I was wrong about Laodicea -- the priests alone go to the altar to communicate. But why does it say "women may not go to the altar" (Canon 44) -- suggesting that lay men may? Oh, I get it -- it is to exclude women from the diaconate or presbyterate? Suggesting that there were women priests or deacons?

Meanwhile, have a look at the following development of dialogue in the Canadian Church: documen...becMar06eng.htm
Spirit of Vatican II | Homepage | 03.23.06 - 8:47 pm | #

Canon XI banishes presbyterides, female presiders. (In old days certain venerable women (presbyterides) sat in Catholic churches, and took care that the other women kept good and modest order. But from their habit of using improperly that which was proper, either through their arrogancy or through their base self-seeking, scandal arose.
Spirit of Vatican II | Homepage | 03.23.06 - 8:51 pm | #


It is doubtful what was here intended, and this canon has received very different interpretations. In the first place, what is the meaning of "presbytides" (SORRY, not presbyterides) and female presidents? I think the first light is thrown on the subject by Epiphanius, who in his treatise against the Collyridians (Hoer., lxxix. 4) says that "women had never been allowed to offer sacrifice, as the Collyridians presumed to do, but were only allowed to minister.

Therefore there were only deaconesses in the Church, and even if the oldest among them were called `presbytides,' this term must be clearly distinguished from presbyteresses.

The latter would mean priestesses, but 'presbytides' only designated their age, as seniors." According to this, the canon appears to treat of the superior deaconesses who were the overseers of the other deaconesses; and the further words of the text may then probably mean

that in future no more such superior deaconesses or eldresses were to be appointed, probably because they had often outstepped their authority.

Neander, Fuchs, and others, however, think it more probable that the terms in question are in this canon to be taken as simply meaning deaconesses.

[Of course there is controversy as to whether women were ever deaconesses in the strictly sacramental sense; see John Wijngaards.]
Spirit of Vatican II | Homepage | 03.23.06 - 8:55 pm | #

Actually I corrected Laodices to Laodicea in my source, thinking it wsa a misprint. Now I see it must refer to the council of Laodices of 315 AD. Clergy-lay distinction increased in the course of the 4th century, culminating in the clericalism of St Ambrose, who is perhaps the most influential shaper of western clerical mores.
Spirit of Vatican II | Homepage | 03.23.06 - 9:03 pm | #

Stand, kneel, sit, or recline!!! Now breath in the Breath and Rejoice.
Realist former Convergent | 03.23.06 - 10:23 pm | #

"Recline." You crack me up, R. f. C.
Kathy | Homepage | 03.23.06 - 10:35 pm | #


Certainly, but your reasons for questioning the "difference in elevation" contained the sentiment of one offended. I am only suggesting that when one is offended, it is usually one's PRIDE that is offended.

At least it is for me.
michael hugo | 03.23.06 - 11:19 pm | #


That is why we all thank God that you are not a "professional liturgist".
michael hugo | 03.23.06 - 11:21 pm | #


Keep breathing and one day you will understand what life is all about.
Realist former Convergent | 03.23.06 - 11:53 pm | #

I'll put it this way, Michael. The only argument I ever have with priests is theological: When he thinks he's God and I disagree. In these discussions, maybe okay my pride is up. But not only mine.
Kathy | Homepage | 03.24.06 - 8:17 am | #

'[W]e need altar rails (better yet, locks on the Church doors) to keep out ... liturgical dancers, Hollywood singers, rock/folk artists, new-age trash ...'

I would qualify Paul's remarks by adding that liturgical dancers, Hollywood singers, rock/folk artists, and new-agers of all sorts are more than welcome (I think all will agree) at any Traditional Latin Mass, so long as they refrain from dancing, singing, rocking out, etc.

As for smelly fishermen, tax collectors, and prostitutes, I dare say that they would feel more welcomed at a Traditional Latin Mass, where humility is the watchword, than they would at the 2005 Religious Education Conference pseudo-Mass, where the "beautiful people" are the norm. At a TLM, the "sinful woman" of the Gospel can worship quietly and unnoticed, because everyone is focused on the Lord instead of themselves. If she tried to find a place at Cardinal Mahoney's happy-fest, her hair dishevelled and mascara running, she would probably be brusquely ushered out by Convention Center security.
Dave | 03.24.06 - 1:36 pm | #


You assume that the smelly fishermen, tax collectors and whores would understand Latin. Better you have your service in Aramaic and not the language of our slave masters.
Realist former Convergent | 03.24.06 - 2:12 pm | #


I don't understand Latin, either. That hasn't prevented me from benefiting from the TLM, the few times that I have participated.

BTW, I was thinking about the whole "elderly, white, North American/European" clerical oppression thing. It occurs to me that the chief liturgical official in the Vatican, Francis Cardinal Arinze, is neither elderly, white, nor North American/European. In time, I believe that there will be a major demographic shift in the leadership of the Catholic Church. Younger priests from the Third World who are VERY ORTHODOX will be moving up the ranks, leaving behind the elderly, white, North American/European clerics who cling to their outdated progressivist ideas about the meaning of Vatican II.

In any case, I stand by my intuition that, even with the obscure language, the "sinful woman" of Luke's Gospel will be more at home at a TLM than at Cardinal Mahoney's happy-fest. Besides, the flat English of the New Mass is hardly the epitome of linguistic clarity.
Dave | 03.24.06 - 2:49 pm | #

Of all the ways I have received communion, my personal preference remains the way Episcopal churches (the ones I know of) do it. The people kneel at the altar rail. The people recieve the host from the priest, in the hand. If there is only one priest present, another person,who is vested (in long black robe covered by short white robe) goes along and offers the cup. Recently a lot of Episcopalians self intinct; I prefer reception from the cup. I LIKE the altar rail. I LIKE kneeling. I know this isn't patristic.

I have also received..just the host on the tongue at the altar rail at "Tridentine Rite" masses. Comment, like kneeling, don't mind on the tongue, don't feel it is any more reverent, don't like not receiving in both kinds. At the Anglican Use mass I sometimes attend the people kneel at the nonexistant altar rail, where it used to be, and receive on the tongue from the priest, but he dips the host in the wine first. Ok with me but if it is Anglican use, why not use the Anglican tradition and have laity recieve from the cup? Again, though, for me, kneeling still means more reverence in my spiritual/emotional vocabulary.
Of course I have most frequently recieved walking up to recieve the host, then over to receive the cup. (Always communion in both kinds in my diocese, one thing I can praise among many I don't like about how things are done here...)Comment: When I first became a Catholic this was bitter to accept; I referred to it as a "cafeteria" line and hated it. I got used to it, but still prefer kneeling. And then there are the churches where you walk up and receive just the host in your hand. I honestly feel they could make the extra effort and take a tiny bit more time and offer the cup as well. To spare some people's sensibilities, I suggest having only men, vested, help the priest by offering the cup (although I do it myself, as we are asked to serve,but since I know it bothers some people, I'd be glad to have it be just men if this made others more willing to support communion in both kinds.)

In the Eastern Rite they walk up to recieve; the priest uses a long gold spoon to put a tiny piece of bread (leavened)soaked in the wine, on the tongue. ( Where I go the priest can do it without ever touching anyone's mouth, but the deacon doesn't have the knack for this down and sometimes seems to be trying to feed a baby and scrape off the bread on the top of one's mouth.)
They say "The servant of God receives the Body and Blood of Christ." I like what they say. The long handled golden spoon used only for this purpose does emphasize the specialness of what is happening and the reverent intent is obvious. This method allows communion under both species without the use of "extraordinary" ministers (since as far as I know the Eastern rite always has a deacon.) It has much to recommend it. Apparently it has a long tradition.

But...kneeling still feels right to me. I don't think there was really a good
Susan F. Peterson | 03.24.06 - 2:58 pm | #

The church of my youth besides communion rails had also gender seperation .
Women and girls on the left side - men and boys on the the right side.

Most parishoners these days seem very happy that this is solidly in the past.

Back home (Germany) there are parishes that to this day have a communion rail - the people in those villages seem generally quite happy with this arrangement as long as they can respect the particular parish priest.
According to my parents, trouble arose in some of these parishes when the priest started making attempts to get back to the real "good old days" without a parish counsil.
Certainly the priest of my parents youth had a much much higher social standing than today. Even a medicre priest anno 1940 could pull off to be rather respected.
These days it seem not to take much to loose even devout traditional parishoners.
I personally would prefer a church that would encourage and allow the individual local parishes to worship according to what emerges between the particular priest and the parishoners.
I am certainly not sure if every priest can pull off a good latin rite mass. Realistically IMHO it is impossible to reencact what has been standard for a totally different generation.

Since I attend an extremely liberal parish I can relate to the issue only in the sense that it took the better part of 30 plus years to built up the needed local tradition to pull of the current form to worship.
It takes a certain community of parishoners to make it work and to be acceptable.
I can recognize, that the catholic church however does not have the luxury to handpick the types that either prefer a strict traditional mass and setting or a very progressive hopping and dancing joyous celebration. The average church service has to be able to speak to all kinds of believers. Unfortunately like in life - average is not cutting it for specialty groups on either end of the spectrum.
Seems to me the bulk of folks that domintate this blog are certainly a very devout and pious group that deserve excellence.
But please whatever you do try not to project your views on all.
grega | 03.24.06 - 6:23 pm | #

Vatican II (not the spirit who lurks hereabouts) says that the hierarchical nature of the Church must be evident especially during the reception of Holy Communion.

How better to acknowledge that hierarchical structure than with a physical altar rail. It was only removed, surely, to allow for the eventual, speedy (not to say unseemly) approach of extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion.

If there is a rail, and if kneeling is the proper posture for adoration, and if further there is no additional gesture of reverence needed if one kneels, why not simply replace the altar rail and allow, nay require, us to kneel?
Chris Garton-Zavesky | 03.25.06 - 2:32 pm | #

Michael, the more I read, the more I become convinced that those who counterfeit 'the spirit of Vatican II' are simply liars.

They make up dates, and events. They make up stories to support their insouciance.

They have a teacher...

And to the local "Spirit"--I retract my slander of calling you a Jesuit.

Perhaps you are redeemable.
Dad29 | Homepage | 03.25.06 - 5:35 pm | #

Fascinating article on the hermeneutics of fittingness from an architectural perspective: http://www.chiesa.espressonline....?id=47226&eng=y
Dave | 03.26.06 - 9:04 am | #

No comments:

Post a Comment