It was a joy today to celebrate Mass at the Cathedral Basilica of St Augustine with our eighth graders. You can see the still existing altar rail in this church, so I took the opportunity to instruct them how to kneel at an altar rail to receive communion. All of the Catholics (adults too) had never done this before.
On the bus on the way home I asked some of the boys what they thought:
“It was just the same as receiving communion the other way.”
“That’s certainly theologically true. Did anyone else feel differently about it?
“I did. I thought it was cool.”
“Yeh, I thought it was cool too.”
“Why was that?”
“Because it was different. It made me think about it more.”
“Any other thoughts?”
“I liked it because it felt more holy.”
“It felt more holy. Why was that?”
“Because you were there above us, and God is above us, and it was like he was coming down to us, you know?”
“I think so. So you’re saying when you kneel you feel closer to God?”
“More like that’s the right way to receive him.”
“I see. Have you seen people receiving communion the other way irreverently?”
“I have. Sometimes people at our church talk while they’re waiting in line.”
“Mmm. Not good. People should be silent.”
“Would you like to receive communion that way again?”
“I wouldn’t mind. When are we going to stop to eat?”
very beautiful – wow!
Very beautiful indeed. I gave up kneeling at the altar rail and the priest facing the correct way with some sadness. I’m right there with you and other traddies in wishing we might restore such things. I don’t particularly like being in the company of SSPX and other schismatics on the issue though.
I was lucky enough to visit the Basilica last summer. I was awestruck by its beauty too.Unfortunately, we couldn’t stay longer to celebrate Mass then.
Hey Fr. Longenecker,I’m a Florida Catholic, and I’ve been to St. Augustine’s Cathedral Basilica several times, and it’s always special each time I go there. Just being in the City of St. Augustine is powerful because the place is literally crawling with Catholic Culture because of the Spanish influence and what-not. It’s truly reaffirming for my faith to go to St. Augustine! I’m glad you were able to offer the Holy Sacrifice at the Cathedral Basilica. I’m also glad that your students used the altar rail to receive Holy Communion. The rails at that parish don’t get too much use! God Bless You!Rushad
I grew up with kneeling at the altar rail in the 80’s in Philadelphia. I really miss that. I think you’re right about the loss of the sense of the sacred (post below). The question is, since there are those of us who “wish” that we could restore these “trappings,” as some others might call them, is there anything we laypeople can do to make that happen, to turn our wishing into action?
Lovely post. “Out of the mouths of babes….”
I received my first communion at the alter rail, (pre Vatican II), right in front of the statue of Our Lady. It’s a memory I hold dear even though I was very intimidated at the time. I have my little chapel veil and my little white gloves. I miss kneeling for communion too. Is it possible that will ever come back into practice?
Thank you, Father. I appreciate the children’s comments. As a convert, one of the things I miss terribly from the Anglican/Episcopal tradition is kneeling to receive the Body and Blood of Christ. I hope it again becomes the usual in the Roman Catholic liturgy Novus Ordo.
TruthfinderI believe we have the right to kneel, though the norm is to stand. If we all begin to kneel to receive or Lord, it would, in time, become the norm. Take courage, and kneel before our Lord!
It’s amazing the wisdom that comes from kids, they know what is right.We have a right to kneel and receive, use it :)Thank you Father for allowing them thei rights as well as givng them the opportunity to use the Altar Rail