Pastor’s Prose

Libreria Editrice Vaticana has published a book, Dominus Est by Bishop Athanasius Schneider, where that Bishop analyzes the question of communion received kneeling and on the tongue.

Archbishop Malcolm Ranjith, Secretary of the Congregation for Divine Worship, has written the forward to this book, what follows is an English translation of excerpts:

“… speaking of communion in the hand, it must be recognized that the practice was improperly and quickly introduced in some quarters of the Church shortly after the Council, changing the age-old practice and becoming regular practice for the whole Church. They justified the change saying that it better reflected the Gospel or the ancient practice of the Church… Some, to justify this practice referred to the words of Jesus: “Take and eat”

Whatever the reasons for this practice, we cannot ignore what is happening worldwide where this practice has been implemented. This gesture has contributed to a gradual weakening of the attitude of reverence towards the sacred Eucharistic species whereas the previous practice had better safeguarded that sense of reverence. There instead arose an alarming lack of recollection and a general spirit of carelessness. We see communicants who often return to their seats as if nothing extraordinary has happened… In many cases, one cannot discern that sense of seriousness and inner silence that must signal the presence of God in the soul.

…the book written by Bishop Athanasius Schneider, Auxiliary Bishop of Karaganda in Kazakhstan entitled Dominus Est is significant and appreciated. He wants to make a contribution to the current debate on the real and substantial presence of Christ in the consecrated species of bread and wine… from his experience, which aroused in him a deep faith, wonder and devotion to the Lord present in the Eucharist, he presents us with a historical-theological clarifying how the practice of receiving Holy Communion on the tongue and kneeling has been accepted and practiced in the Church for a long period of time.

Now I think it is high time to review and re-evaluate such good practices and, if necessary, to abandon the current practice that was not called for by Sacrosanctum Concilium, nor by Fathers, but was only accepted after its illegitimate introduction in some countries. Now, more than ever, we must help the faithful to renew a deep faith in the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharistic species in order to strengthen the life of the Church and defend it in the midst of dangerous distortions of the faith that this situation continues to cause.”

Please see the Catholic Sun, February 7, 2007, article: “Vatican official: Church should reconsider Communion in the hand” for more information.

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