Monday, March 12, 2012

The Sin of Kneeling

In the March issue of Catholic Insight, a letter to the editor was entitled "The Sin of Kneeling" and was written by Marcy Millette. I quote:

I am at a loss on what to do for Mass here on Sunday. We have been instructed to stand (in the spirit of unity) until everyone has received Communion and then we are told to sit or kneel....
The commentator started for the fifth Sunday with, "In the Spirit of Unity, we ask everyone to remain standing until ALL have Communion and the priest has returned to the altar."

We tried hard to ignore it and knelt anyway as we did the last four Sundays.

On this fifth Sunday, before the final blessing, the Bishop made a point of looking at us as he said, "I know some of you would like to kneel after Communion but this is a procession for Communion so you need to remain standing until ..." I can't remember the exact words but his directives were very clear.

Do we obey or not? Do not straightforward directives make it impossible to ignore? Sickened again, because it will surely take another 20 years to right this wrong. It is unbelievable that so many are getting sucked into the same language that was thrown at us 20 years ago when we were told to stand during the Consecration "in the spirit of unity."

As it stands, my family is the only family 'disobeying'. I am having second thoughts about that now. Talk about spiritual bullying and harassment!

Marcy, I hope it is some consolation to you and your family that, out on the east coast, there is another couple who are kneeling after receiving Communion. We too have been told to stand until all have received Communion and until the priest returns to the altar.

We, like you, feel that this is a misunderstanding of the essential truth of the Catholic faith: that the bread and wine of Communion become the actual body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ. If we truly understood that, we would not just kneel but we would prostrate ourselves.

The time immediately after receiving Communion is not the time for solidarity with the community. It is the most intimate moment of the sacrifice of the Mass and it is the precious short time when one should focus entirely on Jesus Christ, not on the rest of the Church.

As my daughter said to me, "priests and bishops have no problem with standing, because they do not kneel during Mass at all". Perhaps that is the crux of the problem; our clergy do not know what kneeling means any more. They have lost touch with what the faithful laity know: that this is a time for reverence, for awe, for individual worship of the Lord; it is not community time.

There is plenty of community time during the responses of the Mass, during the singing of hymns, during the reading of the Gospel, and while listening to the homily. But the time immediately after Communion is a deeply personal time that is for the recipient and the Lord.

Doing anything to disrupt that time seems to me to be a misunderstanding of what makes the Catholic Church so very different from other Christian denominations. For us, Communion is not an event symbolizing and commemorating the Last Supper; it is the actual physical giving of Jesus of Himself in the simple species of bread and wine. That is the incredible mystery of the Eucharist. That is what has made the immense difference between Catholics and Protestants. Ask most converts to Catholicism why they converted and the majority will say it is because of their coming to belief in the Eucharist as the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ.

Any secularization of the Eucharist, and that is what I see standing to be, displays a loss of faith in what the Eucharist really is.

Correct me if I am wrong, but I would love to see some real reverence shown by our bishops in this regard. What I am seeing is conformity to public opinion and a "dumbing down" of the greatest sacrament we Catholics have been given by Christ Himself.

What we need in our leadership is not a building up of community spirit, but we need to see real holiness lived out.

Added note: I know that many Catholics will reply that obedience to one's bishop is essential to living out one's faith. And I would agree; however, I really do think that they have got it wrong on this point, and that I will disobey. Call it defiance or rebellion, but I think they need to see that this mandating of posture to all Catholics is evidence of a deeper more troubling phenomena: a loss of faith in the real Presence. And with that, I cannot comply.


Anonymous said...

I remained kneeling in my parish until some of my fellow parishioners took my sleeve and made me stand... This was the last straw. What can I do?

Julie Culshaw said...

A tough position to be in. Perhaps a change in location in the church would help? We recently traveled to Texas, and lo and behold, none of this nonsense is going on there. This is a Canadian phenomenon, and I think it is evidence that the Cdn bishops do not really follow what is coming from the Vatican.
Pray for a big change in those who are in the CCCB, let these bishops retire and bring in some new blood, ones that are orthodox.

Anonymous said...

I still can't stand after receiving communion, to me it represents a lack of reverence for the body of Christ. I also see this directive as incongrue: I was told to kneel since my first communion 47 years ago, I always knelt since. The Canadian bishops are bulliying old people into submission and I resent that.