Sunday, October 5, 2014

(UPDATE 07OCT)yours truly, denied Holy Communion (speaking of whom should be denied Communion!)

Hello Folks, (all 3 or 4 of you, Susan, Bear, Lynda, Nathalie, Victoria!)

I'm not really back yet.  I know the Synod on the family is beginning and I should just be praying and fasting! But--speaking about whom should be denied Holy Communion---something happened to me on Saturday, 4 October, which I earlier only  suspected was the stuff of urban legend.   My apologies to all you who have suffered this I know such things really do happen!

I was visiting a Catholic Church in a large city not far from Corpus Christi....(I am being deliberately vague) where a young-ish (about 50 years old) and ebullient Catholic priest refused me Communion for kneeling.

'Friend, please stand for Communion'...
'I can wait, Father',
pause pause...
I surrender and move on.
Spiritual Communion for me!

I have his email address and am going to write him.  I want you all to follow along to see if I utterly fail in my attempt to win him over. I will be 'scrubbing' references which might allow outsiders to identify either 'Father Friend' or yours truly,  Sorry!!

My first email, minus the [scrubbed] material looks like what is posted below in bold italics, .....  When and if Father Friend replies, I'll make a new post of it....

Hello Father Friend!

I worshiped with your [SCRUBBED] Catholic Community on Saturday 04 October.

By way of background, Father, I am a[RAPPORT BUILDING SCRUBBED].  I see you are also a [SCRUBBED]therefore I hope you will not take my words the wrong-way, but more as grumbling coming from one [SCRUBBED] to another J!

I think you probably know why I am writing, but in case you don’t please forgive me the recap:  My [SCRUBBED]is in your town and I live some [SCRUBBED]miles distant.  I was just getting back to my hotel and was still in my work uniform, barely in time to make your Saturday vigil. I was edified by your sermon, your celebration of the Holy Mass. I love that your bulletin emphasized October as our Lady’s month and many other things…..however when it came time for Holy Communion….as you know-unless you do this kind of thing quite often and routinely…I was shocked when you refused to give me Holy Communion!

What was my crime, my public sin?  I knealt to receive our Lord.

Father, again by way of background perspective, this is the first time, that any priest has (ever!)  made a public example of me at the Communion rail-- never in the multitude of parishes – Lifeteen, guitar, Pentecostal, 80’s style, etc. -to which my professional travels have taken me in the U.S. and abroad,  certainly never by any [SCRUBBED]!

My purpose in writing this letter is not to cry about the embarrassment you caused me, as I believe such things should be ‘cheerfully endured’ and there from benefited, but instead I want to find out why you acted the way you did.  As I see it, Father, we could not have both been acting rightly. Either :
–a- Father was wrong to deny me Communion 
or –b- I was wrong to kneel for Communion.  

I do not rule out the latter possibility, but if you will convince me that it is wrong or forbidden to kneel at one’s most intimate encounter with Jesus Christ, (an venerable and august tradition) then I feel you do owe me an explanation!  If my wide-spread experience mentioned above is in any way representative of things in general, I am afraid your action leaves you quite alone on this. That per se does not mean you are wrong!

However neither do I rule out the former -a- as also a possibility, i.e. that Father-acting in good conscience- might have been wrong.  In which case please be assured that I am determined –as one of your very own order once put it- “never to despair your recovery” and will vigorously try to win you over to my side!

Do pray for me and do know that I am praying for you!


Good morning K.C.

Thank you for your personal and faith-filled message. I appreciate your

message and tone, and hope that my reply will match your sincerity.  

Saturday I did not intend to deny you Holy Communion, nor to cause undue

attention to you.  I intended to follow the norms as given to our

archdiocese and the Catholic Church in the USA.

Let me first state that I had just talked about  the reception of Holy

Communion to the three congregations one week prior to Saturday, and that

was.  The whole of the instruction in the link  comes from the United States

Catholic Conference of Bishops. This group, according to the General

Instruction of the roman Missal is authorized by the Vatican's Congregation

for Divine Worship to set the practice for the reception of Holy Communion.


The text is below.

The points which I made were the unity of the body of believers in the

procession and the reception of Holy Communion, the proper display of

reverence (bow) and the courtesy of opening one's mouth or holding out one's

hands to receive Our Lord.

With respect to kneeling. Are you wrong to kneel? In a word, yes. It's not a

sin, nor a crime.

The bishops state,  "In the United States, the body of Bishops determined

that Communion should be received standing,"

In addition to the principle of unity, we have no Communion rail and the

concern about foot traffic and safety is real. In other places/circumstances

kneeling is fine.   I ask you to read the bishop's instruction and take to

heart their message, particularly where they state:  "These norms may

require some adjustment on the part of those who have been used to other

practices, however the significance of unity in posture and gesture as a

symbol of our unity as members of the one body of Christ should be the

governing factor in our own actions."

With respect to your question, "Am I wrong to deny you Communion?" I did not

deny you Holy Communion, nor was it my intention to deny you Holy Communion.

I was surprised by your departure when I said to you "please rise to receive

Communion." As such I had no opportunity to address the matter r reception

of Communion. ask you to see me after Mass.   There was an added challenge

this past Saturday in particular because of a blessing of a parishioner who

is to [SCRUBBED] this week and the purposeful procession to the parish dinner at

the other chapel. I am sorry that I did not see you afterwards.

In addition to being obedient, I believe that I am a priest who should look

at people with a pastoral approach of applying the norms. It's a challenge

to be pastorally sensitive and instructive during the reception of the Holy

Communion. Since you desire to receive Holy Communion kneeling, I counsel

you to bring this up to a priest before Mass, asking for an accommodation. I

have made pastoral accommodations only for [SCRUBBED]

but I do not do this without knowing this request in advance. Politely put

and respectfully intended, the responsibility rests on those who do not

follow the Church's norm. What I ask is that they be the last person in the

procession to  receive Holy Communion.  I extend this accommodation to you

with the note to politely  ask for the accommodation before Mass begins.   

At Mass I mentioned that I am a Jesuit. Having professed final vows[SCRUBBED]years

ago, I do take the vow of obedience seriously. Being a Jesuit, I know that

if I do not educate the congregation about general instructions for the

liturgy, I'm not act responsibly as a priest. I  even could possibly be

giving the false impression, "Oh, he's a Jesuit - those Jesuits." There are

very few of us in the [SCRUBBED] who are active and I don't want to

make it harder for more Jesuits to  serve in [SCRUBBED] .

The more that I'm put into a place of not publically following general

instructions, the heavier the weight I feel for not giving proper

instruction, guidance and pastoral response.

A line from today's morning prayer called attention to God's mercy. In that

spirit I send you my fraternal regards  as one[SCRUBBED]to another,

and my  paternal care as pastor: that any lacking on our part be made up for

by our union in Christ and the prayers of the saints, who keep us from

spiritual harm. 

Are you still at []SCRUBBED? If you are open to a cuppa joe or a talk, I would

like that.
Father Friend

[[[ME AGAIN]]]]

Hello again, Father!

You wrote me such a nice letter!

Incidentally if all goes well,   I should still be in [SCRUBBED]about once a month, and[SCRUBBED] should be able to make the Mass at [SCRUBBED].  Just look for me at the end of your Communion line J. You do have a way about you…it even seemed to me –although I was pretty steamed at you at the time—that you  were gently encouraging your parishioners to save their socializing for outside the church. I already began to see: ‘here is a priest trying to do the right thing and lead his sheep gently towards a more reverent attitude’. 

Where were we?  Oh yes!  The USCCB ‘regulation’.  Well, Father you already have made a pastoral exception for my sake and I sincerely appreciate it!  You Jesuits!  I’ll take the money and run!!

To tell the truth, I didn’t start kneeling for Communion until after Pope Benedict’s symbolic act on the Feast of Corpus Christi 2008.  It was then that he re-instituted the use of kneelers for his Masses.  [SCRUBBED] saw this—‘[SCRUBBED]—that was enough for her and she started kneeling and eventually I got up the nerve---(not that it should have taken much since some people at the Cathedral here have always knealt)—and then one Sunday I genuflected before our Lord and I just stayed down, put both knees down and waited.  When the EMHC gently placed the Host on my tongue….Father, I just cannot describe it but I felt like …like this was nothing routine or ordinary! That maybe this was helping me  show Jesus intense devotion and total surrender, total trust to Him that He deserved!  Not that I have intense devotion…but kneeling helped remind me that I should?  I apologize for my clumsy wording.  But I think you understand…

Where were we? Darnit!  Now I have to get back to that ‘regulation’.  As per your advice, I looked it up and got very sad…and confused.  We kneelers rejoiced when we heard that the 2012 GIRM had removed the stricture that we must be ‘nagged at’, ‘catechized’ every time we get caught kneeling for Holy Communion…..the USCCB’s good news for kneelers can be found right here…..

5. What does the Missal say about the posture of the faithful when receiving Holy Communion? What about Communion in the hand?
Both of these questions are covered in no. 160 of the GIRM. It states clearly there that the “norm” established for the United States for reception of Holy Communion is standing. In the 2003 GIRM, it stated that no one should be refused Communion if they kneel, but that afterward they should be properly catechized. In the current edition, the exhortation to catechesis is removed and the exception to the norm of standing is left to the discretion of the faithful: “unless an individual member of the faithful wishes to receive Communion while kneeling.” The Instruction Redemptionis Sacramentum, no. 91, is then cited.<<<<<

Father, I think the USCCB website article to which you referred  is simply a reprint of the old 2002 policy found here…  Halfway down the page and you can find the USCCB’s 'current' text verbatim only with a 2002 date on its url.<<<<<

So , recapping:

1)      in 2002 the USCCB said everybody stands or else, then
2)      in 2003 the GIRM says it’s ok to kneel, but with mandatory corrective training afterwards
3)      in 2012 USCCB, introducing the 2012 corrected GIRM, said no more corrective training for kneelers, then
4)       in 2014 the USCCB is back to saying everybody stands or else?!!  

 I can’t wait to tell [SCRUBBED]]

 Frankly, Father, such vacillations vex me greatly!!   When, pardon the term, bureaucrats try to choreograph us and flip us back and forth  it starts to feel like we’re the property  of ‘1984’ or ‘Animal Farm’ despots where every few years the common folk are obliged to forget the past  if they know  what’s good for them!!……

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