This week I'd like to explore two things that both happened at our parish around the same time and were stumbling blocks for me. The first was the ceasing of distributing communion under both species at all Masses. The second was the addition of a kneeler in front of the altar to be used as an option for the reception of communion.
At our parish, as with many large churches in this area, we had distribution of communion under both species. This necessitated the use of many ministers - 14 for each Mass for our parish, in fact. Additionally, because of the flow issues created by the area of the choir with the Organ, a Piano, and many people, one quarter of our parish received communion by going to the back of the church. Basically the reverse of what happens at most parishes - protestant and Catholic for that matter.
This was one of the first changes that was made to our Liturgy - in the beginning of October, just 3 months into our new pastor's tenure. We changed the flow entirely to assure that all communicants were coming to the front of the Church to receive - approaching the altar, rather than the back door. To do this well, that meant that there could only be one person distributing communion in the front on the choir side. That logistical concern coupled with the desire to distribute under only one species created the need for only 4 EMCs (Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion) at each Mass. There were a variety of responses including people feeling gipped from communion because now "they were only getting the body and not the blood", feeling useless as EMCs since their "service was no longer needed", and many others that I cannot speak to as I do not understand even a fraction of the logic. Additionally, this subject is still a point of contention for many people.
I was okay with being needed to serve less, I appreciate having the extra time in my pew after communion to spend in prayer. I was also okay with not being able to receive from the chalice each week - which might have been because the chalice was still used at Daily Mass - so I could receive under both species during the week when I attended Mass.
My hang up happened in June of the next year - just 5 to 7 months from when we first changed the entire flow. It was the feast of Corpus Christi and Fr. W decided to celebrate the feast by offering communion under both species so he began offering intinction at a front kneeler to anyone who desired to receive both the body and the blood of Christ. It was a special feast so I decided to go up that line for communion and received kneeling on the tongue - this was my first time, ever, I believe, to be honest.
The kneeler remained for Daily Mass that week and intinction was back the following Sunday for anyone who desired to get into that line, and honestly, I never looked back.
That summer I went to Brazil for World Youth Day and at all Papal Eucharistic Celebrations, the faithful are to receive on the tongue, a decision made a while ago that makes sense with the venue. This prevents abuses, the dropping of Our Lord into the sand never to be found again, and even people taking the hosts home or things like this. That week solidified my preference.
This I do believe is a preference. There are many practical reasons why it could easily be the norm all rooted in the logistics of having Our Lord in our hands. Just a few weeks ago a conversation with our Associate Priest enhanced my understanding reminding me that when we receive in the hand there will by the very nature of bread be crumbs in our hands after we consume the host. This then puts our Lord on hymnals, door handles, bulletins, garbage, people's heads, etc...
Why does this matter? Well, from what I was talking about last week - we are becoming one with the True Presence of Our Lord. The host is either Jesus or we are doing a lot of silly rituals to worship a piece of bread - and not a good tasting one at that. If it's Jesus, then He deserves the very best that we can give him. This means we receive communion as reverently as we possibly can with the most care to protect the dignity He requires.
I will reserve my thoughts on the chalice at this time, and maybe forever, as to not disgust you - but suffice it to say there is no other time, ever, where I would share a communal cup with 100 of my friends let alone strangers!
If you thought these points were areas of contention surrounding the Liturgy, come back next week for some thoughts on the integration of Latin Music and responses into the Novus Ordo (ie: the Mass most of us attend every Sunday). That is quite the heated debate!
Part 1 - Part 2 - Part 3 - Part 4 - Part 5 - Part 6