“There is an apostolic letter on the existence of a special valid permission for this [Communion in the hand]. But I tell you that I am not in favor of this practice, nor do I recommend it.” – His Holiness Pope John Paul II, responding to a reporter from Stimme des glaubens magazine, during his visit to Fulda (Germany) in November 1980.
Okay, that is good enough for me. However..
I am a new Catholic in mostly all ways that count. Yes I was baptized as a child but since I didn’t ever practice my faith growing up, everything I now know was learned as an adult. I read alot. I have read many, many, many books pertaining to Catholic faith, doctrine, dogma, theology, traditions, saints, the early fathers.. You name it. For about 2 years straight that’s all I read.
I was hungry to learn everything I could, I still feel the same hunger, and now I am exploring different truths.. Different ‘methods’ if you will.. Off topic… anyhow all the reading.. all fine. Regardless how much I studied, I do not proclaim to be an expert. I ask a ton of questions. I am blessed to be able to ask two very knowledgeable priests and they always answer the questions I have. If they can.
When I first started attending Mass, I noticed some subtle differences between a few little things.
Okay here goes..
Some people kneel during consecration, some don’t, some people remain kneeling during the Eucharistic prayer, some don’t – most don’t and even during the prayer it actually says “We thank you for counting us worthy to stand in your presence and serve you.” So that sort of indicates we should stand, but then that’s where I am unsure.. I’ll tell you why in a second. The other big difference was, during the Breaking of the Bread: some people stand, some kneel.. and lastly receiving Jesus. Some stand, receive Him on a ‘throne’, some stand receive on their tongue, some kneel and receive on their tongue.
Okay this is why I do what I do. Not that this is anybody’s business and trust me I have spent many hours praying about this very thing. But after tonight, I don’t know I guess I feel sort of unsettled. Like maybe I am actually doing something wrong.
A few years ago now I was at Mass, we were in a different country, where the population is Catholic. Everyone attends mass and daily mass is full. I watched several things going on. First there was unity. And unity is the only reason I even question my actions. Tonight I had such a struggle.. Okay my story is getting really disordered so bare with me.
During the mass, during consecration everyone kneels, after the memorial acclimation everyone remains kneeling, they rose to offer the Our Father, then to offer signs of peace to God and Neighbor, afterwards as Jesus is being presented.. during the breaking of the bread, everyone kneels. It seemed so reverent.. There were kneelers to receive communion, mostly everyone knelt down and NO ONE received communion in the hand. It was very beautiful, so respectful, so devout.. I fell in love. All these people witnessing to the greatness of our Lord. You could have been from Tim-buck-to and never had stepped foot into church before but if you would have been fortunate enough to witness a mass at this little church.. there would have been no mistaking that something miraculous had just taken place.
Okay. That’s my first influence.
Secondly. I thought, that if Jesus was actually standing at the Alter of my church… I would not be standing there watching him or worse looking around, planning a menu, wondering why this person in wearing that, or what ever people do to ‘pass the time’ during mass. I think I would be on my knees in praise. He is our Lord!!
What is the difference? I believe he is actually there. Maybe not in the flesh, but under the species of Bread and Wine. He gave us that gift.. you know the supporting scripture.. It is his flesh, it is his blood. I am sincere, I am thank full. When we stand to offer our prayers to Our Father, it seems intimate. He taught us that prayer, he wants us to pray in that way. It’s like preparing for a feast, we gather together and bless our food by saying grace right? We are gathered here in our church, we recognise our neighbor, wish them peace, It is all in preparation for the main event. Prayer and unity.. Then as we are making a declaration to our Lord, “Behold the Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world. Happy are those who are called to his supper.” it’s like an invitation. Of course we are not worthy to receive, Him. But as he has already paid the price for each of us.. By His words we are healed.
I kneel because I am before our Lord. It seems to much like standing in line to stand, We stand for too many menial things. I know you can stand reverently. Some do I am sure. But this is such an intimate time with Our Lord, I kneel because I am humble, I am worshiping.
Next, I don’t receive Christ in my hand becasue I am ordinary. My hands are dirty. Priests are ‘specially trained’, by the grace of God to distribute His flesh and blood. I am not. The less chance of dropping, crumbling, or in any way disrespecting the body of Christ seems relevant to me. Your hands to my tongue. Simple. Same goes with the EOM. If I had to, of course I’d receive from an EOM. I have been told by at least two priests, plus I have read countless times that they are given a special grace to distribute, but if there is a priest available, why not receive from him. Especially if receiving on the tongue. Again with the direct path, I prefer the less hand touching my Lord – the better.
Does that all make sense?
Now having said all that, I thought about something else tonight. There is something to be said for Unity. I think unity is important and can also be a very significant sign of reverence.
When I walked into the church tonight, I felt completely uncomfortable. I accidentally interrupted, Marnie and Father making fun of me for receiving Communion on my tongue. Well, that’s what she said. They were comparing myself to a Man named James whom chooses to receive Jesus while kneeling. It was actually Ds that interrupted, but M told me right away what they said. It was very weird and uncomfortable. What should I have said? So I said nothing. It’s all about this Paten business. Like its an inconvenience or whatever. We though, are not the only parishioners that receive communion on our tongues; there are several. I have never witnessed a host falling off someones tongue before?? I am sure it must have happened but is just hasn’t happened to me personally.
So that got me thinking. I sort of zone out during Mass, not in a thinking about other things sort of way, but in a very in-tuned, like I barely notice I am surrounded by other people sort of way. I am in my own little world. Just me and my God. I listen very intently, the words spoken during the Mass are so important. I rarely notice what is going on next to me.
You know that is one of the reasons I started going to daily Mass. I am alone, me and God. I can pay 100% attention. I am not distracted at all. It’s glorious. I am thank full for that gift. So I was thinking, maybe it’s not as important to show outward signs of reverence. Maybe it’s better to follow the group, maybe it would be even more personal if I didn’t stick out at all. My Lord would know I mean no disrespect. After all he knows my heart. Right?
I wish I knew for sure what to do. I will pray some more about it. Obviously I will follow the teaching of the church, but it’s just so unclear pertaining to these particular matters.
Tonight I tried to follow everyone else. I stood and knelt according to the rest of the people, I even received Jesus on my hand. It was awkward, but I guess it is mostly because I am not used to doing it. It felt like the same Jesus, but it was a little nerve wracking worrying about dropping or crumbling the host. And to make things more scary, it was a piece from the original larger host. So it very well could have crumbled.
I don’t know, this was an extremely long winded post, but I guess I just need to pray some more about it. A little spiritual direction in this matter might be a good idea too. I think I should ask again.
I am going to bed. Blessings and Good Night ~