Saturday, July 30, 2011

Kneeling for Holy Communion

Last Sunday as promised a prie dieu was put out after the sign of peace for anyone who wished to to kneel for Communion as requested by the bishops in the new instruction for England and Wales. Only one brave soul took up the opportunity but others made inquiries and we`ll see how it goes this weekend. Such is the nature of the re-ordering at St Mary`s that an altar rail is an impossibilty.

Imagine my joy when this week it was reported that Cardinal Cañizares de Llovera, Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship) said that all Catholics should kneel for Communion. (In jest he is known in these Geordie parts as Wor Canny Zares. Or should that be Jordi parts? We also joke about the great Catalan viola da gamba player Jordi Savall as Wor Geordie Saville but I digress- and I know how `J` is pronounced in Spanish.)

The Cardinal`s remarks have no canonical value but they give encouragement to those of us who don`t naturally find queuing to be a natural way of showing reverence. (Cf. CCFather`s take on this if you`ve not already read it.) We now will have it in the General Instruction courtesy of our bishops that if a person does not kneel they should bow. I have yet to see to it that we introduce bowing and I don`t understand bowing to mean a nod of the head. But for now we will be making the prie dieu familiar (as well as gradually introducing the new translation over the Sundays of August).
UPDATE 4.08.11 Just to say I`ve been away this week ( more to follow on that). Three more people used the kneeler on Sunday gone. Brick by brick!


1569 Rising said...


Since Catholics are now to be "officially" allowed to kneel for Communion, and since the 1960's wreckers have scrapped altar rails, then every parish MUST give communicants a choice, and your solution should be copied by every PP.

Of course, every PP will be rushing to follow your example, of that I am certain!?!

I would quite like to hear Wor Geordie Saville playing extracts from the Overture to Aida by that well known Geordie composer Joe Green.

It's Now Or Never said...

May I suggest, Father, that the re-ordering that took place at St Mary's some time ago was not only disastrous, but ridiculous. It would not take a great deal of effort to move the current postage stamp 'sanctuary' back to the wall on your right as you leave the sacristy: i.e., the wall that backs on to the hall/tea room. It would also not take very long to switch the pews from their inconvenient angled placing and place them in rows facing the restored altar - as in most 'normal' churches. With any new sanctuary, so placed, you would at least have room to swing a cat, or even a thurible, which I am sure most parishioners of sound mind and judgement would agree with. I am sure, also, that it would make funerals easier to cope with in the church. Why not ask them?
Does not the introduction of the new translation give all priests the opportunity of correcting some of the more grievous mortal sins of re-ordering and making sanctuaries once again look as if they have some resemblance to being Catholic.

Melanie said...

Father, your parishioners are so blessed! I wish I lived in your parish! Thank you for all your efforts to encourage love for Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament.

Fr Michael Brown said...

`It`s Now or Never`, just to say it took me about 5 minutes after arriving here in 2005 to reach the same conclusion. I would still like to do it but spending the money it would take would require diocesan approval which I`ve been told will not be forthcoming. In the meantime the next two icons should be here this month.

Et Expecto said...

Father, I would urge you to go through the motions of seeking to reorder the church back to a sensible lay-out.

This is a bit like the provisions of Sommorum Pontificum. The faithful are entitled to request a traditional Mass, but very few do because they think it is a waste of time asking Fr X or Fr Y. The result is that bishops can report to Rome that there is no interest in the traditional Mass.

Black cat said...

Swing a cat??!!! Noooo!!!!!

Malcolm t said...

I'm proud to admit that I was that lone soldier who took the opportunity of kneeling at mass last weekend in order to receive holy communion. I was also pleased to see that 2 of the congregation followed suit this weekend. At this rate we should have 128 in 8 weeks time??? Mind you, not too sute that we get that many at Mass on Sunday's?

It's Now or Never said...

I would support the view of Et Expecto. First of all I would canvass opinion in your parish for the change. I would not push the 'traditional' layout argument; I would argue that the present layout, from experience, has proved to be completely impractical (which it quite clearly is). There are so many twists and turns to get to the sanctuary that the celebrant and servers must be quite dizzy by the time they get there. And once they have arrived, there is no room on the pedestal (it is NOT a sanctuary) for the servers,or even more importantly - the extraordinary ministers. Was this miniscule platform cleared by Elf'n Safety?
Perhaps first of all I would solicit the impartial views of the local undertakers about the difficulties they must experience in carrying a coffin in and out of the church. This would be a starting point and provide an independent opinion about the unsuitability of the current arrangement.
If their responses are favourable to your position then you could include this information in your discussion with your parishioners. There would be the usual suspects who would raise a stink but surely most of them would see the sense of changing to a more formal layout and provide a sanctuary suitable for all purposes, and large enough to carry all those who are supposed to be on it.
Also, if the people really do want the priest to be facing them, then with the current semi-circular arrangement, most of them are to your left or right.
Once armed with this information you could then map out a plan of campaign and have it costed by a friendly architect/joiner/builder. There is no better time to get a competitive tender. I am sure that some men in the parish would be willing to give their time to move benches and suchlike to keep the costs down. I think that Fr Blake had a lot of help with his restoration.
Then, fully armed with this carefully prepared plan you submit it to whoever you need to to get the money. Simple. Fortune favours the brave. Carpe diem, and all that.

Fr Gary Dickson said...

I celebrated a family funeral in Forest Hall some years ago and it was distressing: due to lack of space my brother’s coffin was laid out sideways-on like a shop counter. I remarked on this distressing effect, as well as the fact that from a Health & Safety point of view the arrangement of the benches is not easy for sight or mobility-challenged people, to Bishop Dunn. I seem to recall something about him saying permission to re-order back to the old wall was given. Why did this not come about?
On another note, I disagree that it is impossible to put rails on the altar; I'm sure a good designer and joiner could do this without insurmountable difficulty.

Fr Michael Brown said...

Fr Dickson I`m sorry for your distress but you didn`t mention that that problem has been addressed, and the benches re-arranged so that coffins are no longer set out like ironing boards. As for permission to move the altar all I heard was a message from Bill Martin to say he had spoken to bishop Dunn a couple of months before his death to say that it was ok to move things. I wanted to hear this from the bishop himself but this was not to happen. Our present bishop has forbidden it.

I don1t see how altar rails could be put in in the present arrangement no matter how good the joiner.

I have made quite a number of changes to the sanctuary and church.

Fr Gary Dickson said...

I was grateful for the rearrangement of the benches at my sisters funeral, and acknowledge that a lot has been done to make the Church more fitting for the sacred liturgy, credit for which goes to yourself. I simply intended to show by my comment how poorly thought-out the original re-ordering had been.
I still feel walking in to a Church with a central aisle is far easier for disabled people to negotiate than any Church which has this kind of off-to-the-side design, and do hope that at some future point my home parish can be restored to its former glory. Sorry for any unintended offence.

It's Now Or never said...

If the previous bishop was content to have the altar and sanctuary restored to a more fitting position, and the current bishop has forbidden it, what does this say about the attitude of our prelates to the dignity of the sacred liturgy? The dignified celebration of the liturgy, and its appropriate setting within a Catholic church, should not be a question of eeny, meeny, miny, mo, depending on the personal whims of who is in authority at any one time. This is one of the reasons why parish churches have incurred tremendous debts over the past 40 years when priests have decided (often against the wishes of their parishioners who are left to pick up the unwanted bills) to re-order beautiful sanctuaries created for the worship of Almighy God, into flat soulless presidential platforms for the favoured few - priests and ministers of every hue.
And following a change of parish priest, or a change in the dominant lay leadership, there is a re-evaluation of the first re-ordering and further expense is incurred in making it even more outlandish, or attempting to restore the church back to something worthy of even a semblance of Catholic worship.
We are now being told ad nauseam (apologies for the Latin) that the laity must be consulted at every turn. So if there is sufficient interest among the parishioners to make your church look like a Catholic church once again then why should this interest be dismissed out of hand without a reasonable explanation being given. After all, as one bishop said to me recently, "Since the Second Vatican Council's Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, Lumen Gentium, Catholics are no longer prepared to be treated as children - ruled by bishops and talked down to by priests. On the question of re-ordering and disordering, this is precisely what has happened, and is the reason why we have so many ugly and soulless interiors.

berenike said...

A prie dieu makes for a Holy Queue, just one where you have a little more time to get your self together when you get to the front :D

Don't know what the inside of your church looks like: could you get people to line the edge of the sanctuary for Communion, standing or kneeling as they pleased? It's what we do in my parish: everyone kneels along the edge, except those who can't (or, I suppose, dont' want to). It's both less hassly-crowdy for the communicants (who get a moment to recollect themselves before receiving), AND quicker than the Holy Queue - pleases everyone :D

It's Now Or Never said...

berenike said...
Don't know what the inside of your church looks like: could you get people to line the edge of the sanctuary for Communion, standing or kneeling as they pleased?

Check out the images page on the parish website. I had forgotten how tiny, and completely unsuitable, the 'sanctuary' is. It is so cramped it is impossible to kneel, and when two or three are standing at the front for such events as confirmations, it is a shambles. The sooner this ridiculous arrangement is rectified the better.

David O'Neill said...

Sorry to come in late but just back from hols.
How about trying out what we do at the Saturday EF Mass? It seems as if that would replace the need for altar rails & yet still be sacred as communicants wouldn't need to scramble to rise after Communion to allow others to take their place. Did you explain the use of the prie dieu before Mass or just hope that the congregation would realise?

Anonymous said...

I'd be quite happy to put my hand in my pocket to pay for re-ordering or anything that would encourage proper Catholic liturgy - if I had the benefit of a PP who was receptive which sadly I do not.