Jeremiah 6:16

Thus saith the Lord: Stand ye on the ways, and see and ask for the old paths which is the good way, and walk ye in it: and you shall find refreshment for your souls.

1.28.2008

Kneel Before Thy God in the Most Holy Eucharist


In July of 2002 the (please withhold the laughter) United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (thank you for your restraint) issued a [IMHO] seemingly-blasphemous statement which read "The bishops of the United States have decided that the normative posture for receiving Holy Communion should be standing. Kneeling is not a licit posture for receiving Holy Communion in the dioceses of the United States of America unless the bishop of a particular diocese has derogated from this norm in an individual and extraordinary circumstance."

Let us step back 12 years to the instruction by Pope Servant of God John Paul II, where in Inaestimabile Donum claims that "When the faithful communicate kneeling, no other sign of reverence towards the Blessed Sacrament is required, since kneeling itself is a sign of adoration." (#11)

Again step forward to October 2001, Cardinal Medina Estévez, Prefect for the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, wrote a letter to the Bishops of the United States regarding certain New Word Innovations (my words) and American Adaptations (his words). He says that "the tenor of not a few letters received from the faithful in various Dioceses of that country leads the Congregation, even after a very careful consideration of such data, to urge the Conference to introduce a clause that would protect those faithful who will inevitably be led by their own sensibilities to kneel from imprudent action by priests, deacons or lay ministers in particular, or from being refused Holy Communion for such a reason as happens on occasion." (full text)

To further illustrate my point, and to completely beat this dead horse into submission, let me relate to you the letter written seven months after the USCCB's letter, again from the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments. The relevant portion of this letter reads "communicants who choose to kneel are not to be denied Holy Communion on these grounds. Indeed, the faithful should not be imposed upon nor accused of disobedience and of acting illicitly when they kneel to receive Holy Communion."

And now, to the thick of it. Here at Franciscan University of Steubenville the Pre-Theologate Program has forbidden it's members (young men discerning a vocation to God's Holy Priesthood) from kneeling to receive their Blessed Lord in the Eucharist. They have been accused of disobedience and disunity.

I beg the director to tell me how this position of prayer, the raising of hands, which has been encouraged and fostered here at Franciscan University, is more commensurate with the tradition of the Church than the posture which is cross-culturally, historically and traditionally the posture of surrender, service, worship and obedience, kneeling. I further inquire of the Bishop of this Diocese where he is in regards to liturgical abuses, especially in so prominent and forefront issue and place such as this University.

Is it possible that our Bishops and priests have taken such a stance against outward signs of reverence and devotion? In our seminaries, the men are chastised for, and warned against signs of "clericalism," categorized from believing in the superiority of the Priesthood, to the outward signs thereof, including but not limited to wearing of clerical attire (to which they have been traditionally entitled), formal respect for priests and many other things. But that's a sidebar, and a whole book in itself.

Recently I read a novel called Come Rack, Come Rope by Robert Hugh Benson, and a follow up Martyrs of the English Reformation by Dr. Malcolm Brennan. In it are descriptions of the rabid and rampant hatred and expunging of anything seen as "Romish" or Hoc-Est Popery (see here "Hocus Pocus"). It was here in the mid-late 16th century that the Protestant "Bishop" John Hooper declared that

"The outward behaviour and gesture of the receiver should want all kind of suspicion, shew [show], or inclination of idolatry. Wherefore seeing kneeling is a shew and external sign of honouring and worshipping, and heretofore hath grievous and damnable idolatry been committed by the honouring of the Sacrament, I would wish it were commanded by the magistrates that the communicators and receivers should do it standing or sitting..." (Philip Hughes, Philip, Reformation in England, (London: Hollis Carter, 1953, p. 197)

Why should we agree with these archaic Protesters heresies; these attacks on the Sacredness of the Body and Blood of Our Lord Jesus Christ, the very Soul and Divinity, whole and entire of the God of Abraham, Issac and the Creator and Savior of the world?

An Anarchist, Atheistic-Communist who managed to get himself ordained wrote in his Memoirs that
“To weaken more the notion of the ‘Real Presence’ of Christ, all decorum will have to be set aside. No more costly embroidered vestments, no more music called sacred, especially no more signs of the Cross, no more genuflections, but only dignified and stern attitudes. Moreover the faithful will have to break themselves of the habit of kneeling, and this will be absolutely forbidden when receiving Communion.” (AA 1025: The Memoirs of an Anti-Apostle, p. 90)


*"...kneeling [...] will be absolutely forbidden when receiving Communion.”
- Atheistic Anarcho-Communist 'Priest'
*"Kneeling is not a licit posture for receiving Holy Communion."
- USCCB

Frightening.

The adoration due the Sacrament is lacking. We must halt the tide of modernism and methodical dispiriting of our Church. But yet, how can we if the very men we are relying on to lead us into the next age of Christianity are so indoctrinated by the blasphemies (dare I say Heresies, denying the Real Presence) of their predecessors. I am of the opinion that we have not only innovative and lunatic liturgists who impose their own style and theology on the Liturgy rather than the style and theology proposed, and imposed by the only legitimate source: Rome, but that we also have a flood of anti-Catholicism which seeps in and infects, like a plague even our own bastions of Catholic Tradition and orthodoxy. We must fight back and demand that our bishops, priests and seminarians do and be allowed and encouraged to do what is traditional and necessary for the sustenance of Holy Mother Church. She is the Bride of Christ, and if she is allowed to be stripped of her finery, robbed of her Glory and broken of her Purity and Reality, how, then are we to lend ourselves to her example and prepare ourselves for Christ?

The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is a foretaste of Heaven. We reach out for the Divine, and we join the angels and the saints to sing their eternal hymn of Praise in declaring that God is Thrice-Holy and we beg him to allow us to share in the inheritance of His saints. Can we be expected adore Him properly, to bow before Him when we get to Heaven if we do not do it, if we are infact forbidden from doing it here on Earth?

"Wouldn't it correspond better to the deepest reality and truth about the consecrated bread if even today the faithful would kneel on the ground to receive it, opening their mouths like the prophet receiving the word of God and allowing themselves to be nourished like a child?" --The Most Reverend Athanasius Schneider, Karaganda, Kazakhstan

9 comments:

Eques said...

Awesome, so well researched and expressed. Let us remain with Peter, where Peter is there is the church. Let us pray for Bishops who are faithful, collegial, and courageous.

Bill said...

I agree there is cause for concern. As Alexis de Tocqueville wrote that "People get the government they deserve," I suppose that, likewise, bishops will wind up with the priests they deserve. Unfortunately, it won't only be the bishops suffering from irreligious priests lacking piety and devotion to our Eucharistic Lord - it will be the people.
You asked me the other day if I still discerned the priesthood - and while I see myself getting married and having children, I will say this: with things as they are, if I were to join up again, it would most likely be under the FFSP.

Timmo said...

I initially share your displeasure for banning kneeling when receiving
Holy Communion except for extraordinary circumstances. However, you did not, in your post, address why the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops made this call -- except for some rather weird suggestions that the bishops are steadily becoming atheists. Instead of just declaring their statement is "blasphemous", it would be better to engage whatever theology or spiritual reflection that motivated their choice.

fskfan said...

Your writing is enlightned and creative. Keeps the reader's interest peaked. I agree with the comments about waving hands vs kneeling to receive the Eucharist and share the concern that opposition to kneeling is quite simply encouraging less respect for basic beliefs and devotion. It's very disheartening.

Jess said...

"And now, to the thick of it. Here at Franciscan University of Steubenville the Pre-Theologate Program has forbidden it's members (young men discerning a vocation to God's Holy Priesthood) from kneeling to receive their Blessed Lord in the Eucharist. They have been accused of disobedience and disunity."
Wow- how am I not surprised about the Pre-The program? Your post was well reasoned and written, however, I'm not sure if it's completely correct to state that the USCCB was being blasphemous in their declaration.

Anonymous said...

I do appreciate Brandon's effort to raise awareness about the issue at FUS, yet I must add in defense of the university, that we were not totally banned from kneeling. We were just HIGHLY encouraged NOT to kneel. Basically, we were told not to kneel for Communion reception for many reasons (most, if not all were pretty bad) but never absolutely forbidden. The pressure is so strong to merely bow (and so against the holy posture of kneeling), that to kneel would be like a slap-in-the-face to the leadership, which is something about which I did not want to worry. It is really a confusing mess and tragic that people are not concerned with following the orders of Rome.

I just wanted to straighten the fact that technically, the Pre-Theologate members can kneel, although it could be grounds for a mess of accusations like "creating disunity" and being singular and attracting attention to oneself, etc. Indeed, one's right (I believe it is a right) to kneel cannot be taken away by a lesser authority, but, because there are so many battles to fight in the seminaries and houses of formation, (and I do mean serious and intense battles) students and seminarians must choose carefully on which hills they wish to die, and in which battles they wish to fight.

Please pray often for all priests and bishops, especially those responsible for such an important role of leading the future priests. Pray to Our Lady whose intercession is needed now more than ever, both inside and outside the Church, and pray for all seminarians and men discerning God's call.

Ad Jesum Per Mariam.

Gabriel said...

We are body and soul. Our physical postures impact our souls and there is no greater battle to die fighting for than reverence for the real presence. The Eucharist is the source and summit of our faith, Jesus Christ. If we don' t have reverence for the Eucharist we lose the source and summit of our faith. You are not being divisive and proud they are. Not kneeling is a slap in the face to your leadership, Jesus Christ. They need to spend more time on their knees making a holy hour and less time reading about theology. God bless you and I will pray for you and your community. Please pray for me and my community.

Anonymous said...

Cardinal POLYCARP PENGO of DAR ES SALAAM TANZANIA and most Bishops of TANZANIA have ordered to receive the Holy Eucharist Kneeling is not licit. Remember Tanzania in your prayers.
SILVESTER SHAYO

Kneeling Catholic said...

this is a wonderful article!

I'm going to re-post it @

kneelingcatholic.blogspot.com

k.c.