by Fr Richard Heilman | August 20, 2015 12:48 PM
In a discussion stemming from this article at Roman Catholic Man, announcing another Bishop prohibiting Communion on the hand, Mr. Paul Cahill does an impeccable job getting to the heart of the matter. Read here …
I think people confuse meticulous with scrupulous. The purpose of the paten was always both practical and symbolic. Hosts do break. Visible particles do fall. Hosts fall. This was the obvious practical application. The inadvertent disrespect it was intended to guard against remains an ongoing risk.
The second aspect to the usage was to reinforce the Sacred. This is the meticulous. The paten was always cleaned into the chalice for consumption by the priest. To say that particles are spread as a matter of course, does not negate the fact that patens always captured some particles. It’s use is always a great courtesy, respect, and reverence towards Our Blessed Lord and God; not a sign of disturbance of either conscience, or psychology. To the contrary, it guards against both these contingencies.
In my local Church there is a large crucifix. There is also a large statue of the Blessed Virgin. But where are they? They are not visible from the main body of the Church. They are located in the side wing … behind the door! To pray before either, and to venerate them, one must pass the band area, the cuddles speakers, and the multi-media screen dominating the side of the altar. Then go through the doorway and look behind the door! There, the faithful will find their Lord on the Cross, and their Blessed Mother. A large Cross (only, with no corpus) can be found on the altar for the days of the Sacred triduum only. On Good Friday, the altar is given over to a passion play , complete with laser lighting, fog machines and sound effects. Many Protestants come for this as they regard it as the best “show” in our town. They also like how it conforms to their understanding based on sola scriptura. Many have told me they like how Catholics have “come around.”
It just breaks my heart. I so love my faith, and the Catholic Church which I belong to. The sacraments were instituted by Christ and entrusted to the Church for the salvation of souls. Each is a unique and tangible encounter with Divine Love and Grace. Communion is, for the faithful, an opportunity for a personal encounter with God made man … to receive spiritual nourishment, protection, and Grace from the Saviour Who suffered death for each individual to provide the means to do so. Guess what? The particular Graces for individuals in particular need are as invisible to the senses as the real presence.
So it is with how we treat the Son of God in guarding His presence. His body. His blood. We have moved too far towards the Son of Man; forgetting that Our Lord never identified himself using that title after His Crucifixion. The sense of awe and reverence in our Churches, and in the mass generally, and towards Communion in particular, has been eroded to the collective detriment of the Church itself. It must be restored if the Church is to arrest the decline in faith currently plaguing Catholicism in the West.
Communion on the tongue helps to foster a proper sense of reverence and piety. To step up to a communion rail, and kneel, and receive on the tongue, is an act of utter and unabashed humility. In that posture to receive the Body of Christ, you become less so that you can then become more. It requires a submission of will and clear knowledge of what you are doing, why you are doing it, and what is about to happen to you.
Frankly, we should not only be humbled, but intimidated enough to ask ourselves if we are really spiritually ready to partake of the sacrament. Kneeling means you can’t just go up and receive without knowing how it’s properly done. It demands not only a sense of focus and purpose, but also something else, something that has eluded our worship for two generations.
It demands a sense of the sacred. Just like Peter, James and John before our Transfigured Lord, it challenges us to kneel before wonder. It insists that we not only fully understand what is happening, but that we fully appreciate the breathtaking generosity behind it. It asks us to be mindful of what “Eucharist” really means: Thanksgiving for GOD we are receiving. (my comments are from this article)
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