Friday, 19 August 2011

How to Receive Holy Communion

As we have seen in the past few weeks, since the Bishops’ conference after Easter, there have been a number of changes to the way we live out our faith. Their intention is to restore a clear sense of our Catholic identity, what it is to be a Catholic, and to re-establish a sense of reverence in Holy Mass. To this end, they have restored the ban on eating meat on Fridays. The revised Friday Penance comes into effect from 16th September.

They have also made adjustments to the manner in which we receive Holy Communion. A new Instruction has been published as follows: 

“In the Diocese of England and Wales, Holy Communion is to be
received standing, though individual members of the faithful may choose to receive Communion while kneeling. However, when they communicate standing, it is recommended that the faithful bow in reverence before receiving the Sacrament.”

There are two new things here. First, permission to kneel for Holy Communion has now been restored. It remains the normal way for receiving Communion at the Extra-Ordinary Form Latin Mass (with exceptions made for those who are unable to kneel, who can receive standing). It is now permitted at celebrations in the Ordinary Form of Mass too. (It is the way in which Holy Communion is administered at Papal Masses).

The second new element is the “bow”. Those kneeling make an act of reverence by the very fact of kneeling. Those who choose not to kneel, are “recommended” to “bow in reverence before receiving the Sacrament”. Up till now, it was suggested that forming a queue for Holy Communion was in itself an act of reverence. Our Bishops have decided that there is nothing reverential about a queue, and so they have asked us to bow before receiving the Blessed Sacrament in Holy Communion. 

From now on, all who come forward for Holy Communion are warmly encouraged to bow before receiving Holy Communion, (or to kneel if you so choose).

Worship God with your bodies, and not just your minds!
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