Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Tradition is not a ghetto within the Church!

Kneel Or Stand? On The Tongue Or In The Hand?

Cindy Wooden of the Catholic News Service was quick to rush into print a very facile and ill­-considered story about the faithful who knelt to receive Communion on the tongue from the Holy Father at Rome’s celebration of Corpus Domini on May 22. “ Vatican: Receiving Eucharist Kneeling May Not Be Permanent Change” read the headline of the story which sought to dis­courage any of the faithful from their logical re­sponse of learning from the Pope's encouragement to use this ancient Catholic custom.

Anyone, at any time, may kneel to receive Com­munion and may do so on the tongue. No one may justly on his own authority deny the right of any Catholic to choose how she or he wishes to receive the Lord in Communion at Mass. The Vatican state­ment was intended only to affirm that this one in­stance at the liturgy of Corpus Domini may not be interpreted to mean that any and all liturgies in the future will closely adhere to it as a prece­dent.

The rigid progressivists of the failed modernist agenda, still at the helm of so many bureaucracies in the Church and her support structures, chan­cery offices, and religious education offices, con­tinue to use all the means at their disposal to spin every event to serve their agenda. It is quite a twist to say that kneeling and receiving Com­munion on the tongue is a passing fancy and won’t be around for very long. It is, in fact, the modernist aberrations which have been around for a very short time, 40 or 50 years at the most, and which will in fact, sooner rather than later, be buried unceremoniously in the dustbin of li­turgical history. It is to kneeling, receiving on the tongue, the customs of eucharistic processions at Corpus Chris­ti and patens for Communion and other immemo­rial practices of devotion that young people are more and more attracted.

I had a discussion recently with the young men of the The Liguori Society about the logic of liturgical piety in the Holy Mass that recommends kneeling for receiving Communion. I asked, if by our imme­morial practice it is our custom to kneel in the Mass when the Lord becomes present upon the al­tar, is it not simply consistent and entirely appro­priate to kneel also when not merely adoring but in fact receiving God Incarnate in the Eucharist? And, if we bow when we recount the words of the Creed which merely mention the fact of the Incar­nation of the Word, how much more ought we kneel when receiving the Word Incarnate truly present?

One young man responded enthusiastically to the logic of this reasoning and declared his inten­tion to begin kneeling to receive our Lord in the Communion of the Mass. I warned him that it must be his decision alone in conscience to do so, and not merely because I provoked the discussion.

As a priest and celebrant I will never pretend to have the authority to deny any of the faithful the right to receive their Lord on their knees at Mass, while continuously encouraging those who have lost all practice of our Catholic customs of adora­tion and reverence to bow before approaching the Eucharist as our bishops have asked us to do.

Cindy Wooden refers to a response from Rome about reception of Communion both kneeling and on the tongue by the four dozen people who re­ceived the sacrament from the Holy Father on May 22. “ In a brief e- mail to Catholic News Service May 23, Msgr. Guido Marini, master of papal li­turgical ceremonies, said the decision ‘ was a solu­tion adopted for [ the Feast of] Corpus Domini,’ but as for the future, ‘ We’ll see’.” The Holy Father may choose in the future to speak at length about this topic, but his example remains far louder and more effective than any words.

Regardless, Catholics remain free to express their personal piety using any of our Catholic cus­toms. Vatican II guarantees nothing if not endless “ options.” These options always and in every cir­cumstance include the most ancient and immemo­rial of our traditions.

Archbishop Albert Malcolm Ranjith Patabendi­ge Don, secretary of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, told CNS that the “ gesture of the Holy Father” at the May 22 Mass “ is to be appreciated. It brings out in a better way the fact that we adore the Lord whom we receive” in the Eucharist.

Tradition is not simply a ghetto within the Church. Rather, the Church herself is Tradition and without tradition there is no Church. All that we have, are, and believe in Christ has been handed down. Continuity with the tradition, the “ handing on,” is continuity with Christ Himself who Him­self hands it on through the power of the Holy Spir­it.

Our customs surrounding the most sublime Sac­rament of the Altar are among the most important, concerning themselves as they do with the True Eucha­ristic Presence of the Divine Lord Himself. Let us each follow our consciences as we seek to adore the Lord in word and action especially as He is truly present, the Bread of Life.

A sample of Father Cusick's column "A Leaven in the World" appearing weekly inThe Wanderer Newspaper.

No comments: