Sunday, July 17, 2011

Receiving Communion

There were two articles in Catholic Herald this weekend on this question.

The first was by Archbishop Vincent Nichols in which he posited the idea that both forms of reception - kneeling on the tongue and standing in the hand were of equal value. He then went on to, in my opinion, shoot himself in the foot by suggesting that receiving kneeling and on the tongue, as practiced by Pope Benedict when he distributes Holy Communion, we are "aware of coming to be fed  with the Food of Life, conscious of our utter dependence on the Lord. We know the Holiness of the One we receive, beyond our touch." "When we receive Holy Communion kneeling, we present ourselves with humolity and reverence, submitting our strength to Him, recognising that He is Lord of all." This must surely be the better way to receive our Lord and God.

His explanation for Communion standing and in the hand is that "we show we are ready to receive the Lord and to walk and act in His name."

Can we not, after kneeling before our God, stand renewed and then walk and act in His name?

The second article was Catholic Dilemmas by Fr Tim Finigan whose writings I have read before.

He tells us that, although the Holy See gave permission in the 1970s for Communion to be received in the hand " remains the case that receiving on the tongue is the universal practice in terms of liturgical law." Whilst the permission was implemented by the Bishops' Conference of England and Wales any diocese may revert to reception on the tongue and, as more dioceses examine the situation, many throughout the world have reverted to the 'universal practice' of receiving on the tongue. Again Fr Finigan cites the lead given by the Holy Father.

Some bishops have in the past refused Communion to Faithful who approached for reception kneeling and on the tongue and my wife and I were shocked to be told by a senior prelate in the diocese that he would 'bless our hands' to enable us to go against our deeply held beliefs that lay hands are totally unworthy to touch the Body of Christ. He did, eventually, relent but insisted that we approached for Holy Communion after everyone else.

I find this dichotomy troubling and wonder whether anyone would help by commenting.

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