LIBERA ME, Domine, Iesu Christe, ab omnibus iniquitatis meis et universis malis,
fac me tuis semper inhærere mandatis et a te numquam separari permittas. Amen.

Tuesday, 20 April 2010

Yes, you CAN kneel if you want to !

In relation to the previous post, Mickey commented that s/he was ‘waiting for the day when I'll be permitted to kneel to receive Our Lord in Holy Communion’.

I don’t know where Mickey comes from – although I suspect it’s the US – but the answer is the same anyway – you are permitted to kneel to receive Our Blessed Lord in Holy Communion, and no-one can stop you : and it’s worth remembering that the Holy Father now insists that whenever he distributes Holy Communion, those who receive from him do so kneeling and on the tongue.

The introduction of standing Communion was very largely a product of Vatican II and the Novus Ordo; and it particularly got hold of North America, where the US Conference of Bishops sought permission to adapt the requirements of the GIRM (General Instruction of the Roman Missal) to read :

‘The norm for reception of Holy Communion in the dioceses of the United States is standing. Communicants should not be denied Holy Communion because they kneel. Rather, such instances should be addressed pastorally, by providing the faithful with proper catechesis on the reasons for this norm. When receiving Holy Communion, the communicant bows his or her head before the Sacrament as a gesture of reverence and receives the body of the Lord from the minister.’ (GIRM 160 ~ USCCB Version).

(In other words, you should kneel, and if you don’t, you shouldn’t be refused Holy Communion, but you should be catechised to explain why you ought to stand – in other words, why you should ignore your conscience, and behave in a way you deem disrespectful to Our Lord.)

However; it will be noted that the Holy See did insist that those who kneel may not be denied Holy Communion : and following a number of complaints, in the November/December 2002 issue of Notitiæ, the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments stated unequivocally that it would consider ‘any refusal of Holy Communion to a member of the faithful on the basis of his or her kneeling posture to be a grave violation of one of the most basic rights of the Christian faithful, namely that of being assisted by their pastors by means of the Sacraments.’

The Congregation also made it absolutely clear that no Catholic who seeks Holy Communion at Mass in this was should be refused it ‘except in cases presenting a danger of grave scandal to other believers arising out of the person’s unrepented public sin or obstinate heresy or schism, publicly professed or declared’ – which I’m sure no-one would find in any way unacceptable or inappropriate.

The Notice concluded by quoting an earlier letter* of Jorge Cardinal Medina Estévez that ‘priests should understand that the congregation will regard future complaints [of refusal to give Holy Communion to those who kneel] with great seriousness, and if they are verified, it intends to seek disciplinary action consonant with the gravity of the pastoral abuse.’

So, Mickey, you can kneel to receive Our Blessed Lord whenever you want to – so ‘go to it’ – and if anyone challenges your right to do this, you may like to direct them here, where the texts of various letters (suitably anonymized) from the Congregation can be found.

(And, just in case you’re in any doubt, you also have the absolute right to receive Holy Communion on the tongue if you wish to do so – again, it’s entirely your choice.)

* July 1, 2002 [Prot. n. 1322/02/L]


  1. Would be so good to kneel - but how would I get up again! (priest stands in front of the altar rails....)

  2. Thank you Father. I am the "Mickey" who commented and inspired this post. (And I'm a man, btw :-)

    As you guessed, I am in the USA. I'm aware that we're actually permitted to kneel...even tho the "norm" in the US is to receive Our Lord standing...and I do receive Him on my tongue. I do kneel from time to time when the situation permits it, but sometimes I feel pressured to "go with the norm" instead of what my heart tells me to do.

    I am priviledged to serve at Daily Mass here in the Pentagon occasionally, and because of the arrangement of the chapel, I am able to receive kneeling without "causing a scene" or "distrupting traffic." It is good to humble myself before the Lord!

    Haven't received Him in my hands in years, and in receiving on the tongue I am returning to the practice of my youth (I'm 45 years old, so I barely remember the Extraordinary Form, and remember the introduction of receiving in the hand.)

    I guess what I was really getting at when I made my comment is twofold...the re-introduction of the altar rail and the "norm" of kneeling to receive Him.

    Here's hoping the Holy Father's "Marshall Plan" (H/T: Fr John Zuhlsdorf) vis-a-vis the Holy Mass will bear fruit in abundance soon..."Forty years I endured that generation..."

    Ad Iesum per Mariam!