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<  Did you know...  ~  We all stand while we are receiving communion at St. Isidore

PostPosted: Wed Feb 21, 2007 11:46 am Reply with quote
Posts: 92 Joined: Mon Jun 07, 2004 8:29 pm
The way that we Roman Catholics celebrate Mass is governed by a document called the Roman Missal and its companion: General Instruction on the Roman Missal (better known as GIRM). The Roman Missal contains all the prayers used at Mass and directions for the priest, ministers, and assembly, while the GIRM contains reasons and help on following the Roman Missal. The most recent revision of the GIRM was published in 2000 and this resulted in changes to the way we celebrate Mass starting in Advent 2003. (see ... s2003.html for a full list of those changes)

As part of the explanation for some of the changes, the instruction reminds us: “A common posture, to be observed by all participants, is a sign of the unity of the members of the Christian community gathered for the sacred Liturgy: it both expresses and fosters the intention and spiritual attitude of the participants.” (paragraph 42).

In the US, the instructions state that the norm for receiving communion is standing. Since the very name communion indicates that we are doing something together as the body of Christ, it follows that the normative posture while all are receiving is standing. Once we as a body have received communion, we all, as a body, kneel or sit for a period of quiet reflection.
So we at St. Isidore parish have accepted that norm and invite all to stand while all receive so that our posture might reflect the sacramental action of becoming one with Christ and with each other as the Body of Christ.

The bishops also recognize that long time habits are hard to change. Some of us have been accustomed to kneeling as soon as we return to our pew. The bishops have made it clear that the recommendation on posture of standing as the norm should not be enforced so rigidly as to compel everyone to stand if they are more comfortable kneeling after they have received individually. Here is an excerpt from the dialog that ensued after some bishops implied that the norm of standing until all had received should be enforced rigidly:
The July 2003 Newsletter of the Bishops Committee on the Liturgy (BCL) noted the "controversy ... over the proper posture of the faithful at Mass after receiving Holy Communion.

"In several dioceses people have been instructed that they must stand until the last person has received Communion, despite the long-standing custom that people knelt during the distribution of Communion".

"Numerous inquiries" received by the BCL led Cardinal Francis George, chairman of the BCL, to submit a dubium (doubt, question) to the Holy See's Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments (CDW) on May 26, 2003:

Dubium: In many places, the faithful are accustomed to kneeling or sitting in personal prayer upon returning to their places after having individually received Holy Communion during Mass. Is it the intention of the Missale Romanum, editio typica tertia, to forbid this practice?

Cardinal Francis Arinze, Prefect of the CDW, responded to the question on June 5, 2003 (Prot. N. 855/03/L):

Responsum: Negative, et ad mensum [No, for this reason]. The mens [reasoning] is that the prescription of the Institutio Generalis Missalis Romani, no. 43, is intended, on the one hand, to ensure within broad limits a certain uniformity of posture within the congregation for the various parts of the celebration of Holy Mass, and on the other, to not regulate posture rigidly in such a way that those who wish to kneel or sit would no longer be free.

The BCL Newsletter continues: "In the implementation of the General Instruction of the Roman Missal, therefore, posture should not be regulated so rigidly as to forbid individual communicants from kneeling or sitting when returning from having received Holy Communion" (p. 26.)
So here at St. Isidore, we invite all to stand until all have received Communion so as to reflect in our common posture what is actually happening in the sacrament, but we also appreciate that some may feel more comfortable kneeling after they have received individually.


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