68 of 70 people found the following review helpful
on January 6, 2009
It was 1969. Paul VI was the Pope. The Congregation for Divine Worship issued an Instruction, Memoriale Domini, on the manner of receiving Holy Communion. It makes very interesting reading.
After recalling the development of the reception of Communion on the tongue as a fruit of "a deepening understanding of the truth of the Eucharistic mystery, of its power and of the presence of Christ in it," the Instruction declares that "this method of distributing holy communion must be retained...not merely because it has many centuries of tradition behind it, but especially because it expresses the faithful's reverence for the Eucharist. The custom does not detract in any way from the personal dignity of those who approach this great sacrament: it is part of that preparation that is needed for the most fruitful reception of the Body of the Lord" it said.
It also warned: "A change in a matter of such moment, based on a most ancient and venerable tradition, does not merely affect discipline. It carries certain dangers with it which may arise from the new manner of administering Holy Communion: the danger of a loss of reverence for the august sacrament of the altar, of profanation, of adulterating the true doctrine." And it published a survey of the world's bishops, which led it to conclude: "the vast majority of bishops believe that the present discipline should not be changed, and that if it were, the change would be offensive to the sentiments and the spiritual culture of these bishops and of many of the faithful." For this reason it reports, "the Holy Father has decided not to change the existing way of administering holy communion to the faithful."
What happened, for communion in the hand is now practically universal and younger generations know practically nothing else?
A `loophole' existed. The Instruction contained the provision for bishops' conferences to make a decision to allow communion in the hand in places where "contrary usage...prevails." And over the coming decade or so this loophole was exploited.
Today, the Instruction's warnings about loss of reverence for, belief in and even about the profanation of the Blessed Sacrament have - sadly - been vindicated. It is time to look again at the question of communion in the hand.
This is precisely what a young bishop from Central Asia has done in Dominus Est. Bishop Athanasius Schneider, a patristic scholar, appointed a bishop by Pope Benedict in 2006, has raised his voice in prophetic call for the Western church to recall the importance, if not the necessity, of returning to the previous discipline of the reception of Holy Communion kneeling and on the tongue.
There is, of course, no question that - as Memoriale Domini itself attests - it is "true that ancient usage once allowed the faithful to take this divine food in their hands and to place it in their mouths themselves." This fact was much flaunted throughout the 1970's, together with talk about receiving Holy Communion as mature adults, and not as children, etc. We were encouraged to return to the primitive purity of early Church practice as we emerged from centuries of supposedly corrupt accretion in the way we worshipped.
However, in our egalitarian excitement we ignored the sober facts that, as Bishop Schneider attests, the "organic development" of the practice of receiving communion on the tongue is nothing other than "a fruit of the spirituality and Eucharistic devotion stemming from the times of the Fathers of the Church," and that the exclusion of kneeling for Holy Communion was a feature of the protestant theological revolt of both Calvin and Zwingli. Indeed, no less a scholar than Klaus Gamber points out that the reception of communion in the hand "was in fact abandoned...from the fifth or sixth century onwards." (The Modern Rite, p. 59).
The Church as she proceeds through time accrues wisdom. Her Sacred Liturgy, developed in tradition, is a privileged repository of the same. All but the most partisan liturgists today recognise that many of the hasty decisions taken in respect of liturgical reform and practice in the 1960's and 1970's, were infected by an antiquarianism that was at best naive and at worst partisan. It is time to reconsider some if not many of those decisions and to take decisive steps to correct them where necessary. Communion in the hand is one such.
Lest we think that this young bishop - whose account of his formation in Eucharistic piety under Communist persecution in the first chapter is a spiritual treasure in itself - raises his voice alone, let us be clear that the book carries the approbation of superiors of the Congregation for Divine Worship: the recently-retired Cardinal Arinze states: "I have read the whole book with delight. It is excellent." And Archbishop Malcolm Ranjith, a true prophet of the liturgical reform of Benedict XVI, writes in the preface: "I think it is time to evaluate carefully the practice of Communion-in-the-hand and, if necessary, to abandon what was never actually called for in the Vatican II document Sacrosanctum Concilium nor by the Council Fathers but was..."accepted" after it was introduced as an abuse in some countries."
This little book, a brief but insightful survey of the Fathers, the Early Church, the Magisterium and the Eastern and Western liturgical rites, is capable of creating a storm - not in a teacup, but in the minds of those unduly attached to the flawed external changes made to the liturgy in what can only be described as a peculiar period in the Church's history.
That it will provoke a storm is unfortunate, for the practice it advocates is a practice of love and of humility, one from which no-one who truly adores Christ present in the Blessed Sacrament ought to recoil. But perhaps today some controversy is necessary. Future generations, though, may well wonder why we took so long to realise that It is the Lord, and once again to behave accordingly.
This is 2009. Benedict XVI is the Pope. The Holy Father has himself already reformed the manner of reception of Holy Communion at the Masses he celebrates. Let us follow his example. It accords with the teaching of Pope Paul VI.
15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
on October 7, 2011
This is such a beautiful little book I don't know where to begin. The beginning details the struggles of faithful Catholics under the Soviets to receive Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament - in fact to receive any of the sacraments! The following discussion of the reverent posture in which to receive the Eucharist is very moving. Please read. If you truly believe that Our Lord is present, body, blood, soul and divinity in the Blessed Sacrament it will be profoundly moving. If you have doubts, this will help to open your eyes. God bless Bishop Schneider and send us more like him!
12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on June 26, 2013
This book costs a measly $8. If I had $1000 lying around for no reason, I would buy as many copies as I could and give them to anyone I thought might read it openly. As it is, I will buy 3 copies and find people to give them to, and ask them to buy 3 copies and do the same. I challenge every last one of you who buys this book to be the same - start a movement to bring people to their knees for God, one reader at a time!
If Catholics read this with an open mind and give just a few other copies to other Catholics to do the same, boy I believe we'd have a mass return to people kneeling and receiving only on the tongue.
Every last particle of Jesus is sacred. This little book just blooms with all the ways the Church has always taught that. I cannot even pick a 'best quote' because I would just be retyping the entire book!
This tiny little book is an absolute gem that, if read with an open heart, might change many people's understanding of Holy Communion.
It is only about 60 pages, it'll take you a few hours, and you do not need to be an expert in Catholicism to 'get' it.
Many times when people complain at me that I kneel and receive only on the tongue, I hear from them that I do it out of vanity, and that it's so old and we know better now than to 'hold up the line' by making Holy Communion take longer. The comments have always puzzled me. I kneel because I have Fear of the Lord, a Gift of the Holy Ghost at Confirmation. I've even knelt in gravel in national parks at Mass, or just weeks after having a cesarian, because I just can't physically bring myself to stand; it doesn't matter whether or not there is a Communion rail. I'm not worthy.
This book is an article printed in the Vatican's daily newspaper, written by the auxiliary bishop of Karaganda. It is current, written in 2008, so there is nothing anyone could consider 'out-dated'. It contains quotes by Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI on proper reverence that we owe to God. It explains why the Church needs to 'seriously reconsider' (aka: get rid of) the common practice of standing and using the hands.
It is packed with Old Testament information on proper adoration and why kneeling and reception on the tongue are most appropriate. It explains why the current practice of Holy Communion standing and with the hands is not a harkening back to the early Church because they did so very differently and then realized all sorts of reasons why kneeling and the tongue were far better, which is why they got rid of standing and using the hands in the first place! It discusses reasons why Protestant religions were adamant that in their communion services people stand.
Hitting hardest, perhaps, is the first part of the book, which explains the devotion that certain people under Communism had for the Holy Eucharist. Even though I already receive the way the book says we should, reading about these people left me crying in shame that I do not understand how great their devotion was. It makes you want to be a martyr.
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on March 20, 2012
Based on his experience of Eucharistic devotion under Communist persecution, Bishop Schneider, auxiliary Bishop of Karaganda, Kazakhstan and member of the Order of the Holy Cross, bears witness to the loss of reverence for the Real Presence in the Western world and makes concrete suggestions for the renewal of Eucharistic faith and devotion in our times.
The book is a short read of 51 pages, however each page is pregnant with meaning. Worth every penny and much more.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on June 30, 2013
A perfect primer in Eucharistic reverence! This is perhaps the best book I have ever read on the subject of reverence for the Holy Eucharist because of its readability and short length. This is the type of book that should be read by all Catholics. Even more so it should bought in bulk and distributed to deacons, priests, bishops, and anyone who is being trained as Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion so that they are sure to understand the extremely grave nature of the job they are being called on to undertake. God willing soon we will see a vocation boom which will return the Sanctuary and the Holy of Holies to the duly consecrated and anointed men of the cloth making lay ministers exta-ordinary once again.