Praytell blog recently discussed our favorite topic: Kneeling for Communion!
The lands where latin-rite Catholics still kneel for Holy Communion are largely former Soviet Union republics…e.g. Latvia, Estonia, Kazakhstan. I have visited Latvia but know only second hand of the others.
If one were to think about what Catholics from these countries do not have in Common with the U. S. Catholics, the elephant in the room would be that one group has endured intense persecution for their Faith and the other has not.
Bishop Athanasius Schneider, of Kazakhstan, is most certainly the reason we are even having this discussion. He is the man who convinced the pope to re-introduce the Communion kneeler into papal liturgies. For Bishop Schneider the act of kneeling conveys a message from your body into your soul. That message is dependence like that of a child who waits to be fed, and intense gratitude, like that of the one leper who bothered to come back to our Lord and fell on his knees before Him to thank Him! Does not the word eucharist mean gratitude?
The Holy Father is commanding no one to kneel! He does invite us….and as Amercans reject wholesale his humble invitation to demonstrate gratitude, we are saying way too much about ourselves.
I think you’re making a few unfair leaps here. I wouldn’t assume that people who don’t kneel for Holy Communion aren’t as grateful, nor would I assume that people who kneel have greater gratitude. Surely the human heart is more complex than that. (Perhaps – just perhaps – some proponents of kneeling are judgmental of others and lacking in humility.) Regarding your last line, Americans are perhaps saying about themselves that they’re obedient to their Bishops (since our Bishops don’t permit kneeling) and that they’ve been well-formed by a couple generations of renewed liturgical practice.
Humility and complete dependence upon God are very good things. Jesus spoke often of them. The problem is that kneeling for Communion suggests, rather, complete dependence upon a clergyman who feeds you like a child. There is nothing in the teachings of Jesus to even hint that Christians should have this childish attitude toward ordained authorities in their community.
I think for this question we need a richer and broader understanding of receiving Communion: humility and adoration, yes, but not only! Also sharing in the entire Paschal Mystery, anticipating one’s resurrection on the Last Day, being divinized by God’s grace, being given one’s full human dignity, completing one’s action in the EP, sharing with the gathered community, anticipating the final Banquet, and so forth.
(Father's original comments did not have bold print)