KNEELING AND FAITH IN THE EUCHARIST
by Regis Scanlon
Seminarians and lay people (including converts) from various parts of
the United States have mentioned to me over the past two years that
they have been directed, and in some cases even coerced, into
standing at the Consecration of the Mass by bishops, seminary
rectors, pastors, directors of RCIA (Rite of Christian Initiation for
Adults) and coordinators of religious education. They have also been
to stand during the Consecration by laity, who refused to
give them the communion kiss of peace, because they knelt when
everyone else stood.
The reasons given by these zealous liturgical innovators for their
disdain for kneeling were: there are no kneelers (they had recently
been eliminated); the early Church stood during the Consecration;
Vatican II said that we should give equal respect to the Scriptures
and the Blessed Sacrament (therefore, stand for both); and today we
must emphasize the Eucharistic Body of Christ as the spiritual
presence of Christ in his people (i.e., the Church or the Mystical
Body of Christ). Let us look at this last claim.
As many already know, the Church teaches that at the Consecration of
the Mass the "whole Christ," his "soul and divinity," including his
"physical 'reality,"' is made "corporeally" present through the
miraculous "ontological" change called "transubstantiation." Paul VI
says in that after the Consecration, "nothing
remains of the bread and the wine except for the species." And
according to St. Thomas Aquinas, "species" has "being" in the
"intellect," but it does not have being "outside of the soul" or
mind. Therefore, that, which is outside the mind of the person about
to receive communion is Jesus Christ himself, not physical bread or
Consequently, when Paul VI discussed the of Christ in
the Eucharist in , he stated:
And so it would be wrong for anyone to try to explain this manner of
presence by dreaming up a so-called "pneumatic" nature of the
glorious body of Christ that would be present everywhere; or for
anyone to limit it to symbolism, as if this most sacred Sacrament
were to consist in nothing more than an efficacious sign "of the
spiritual presence of Christ and of His intimate union with the
faithful, the members of His Mystical Body."
Thus, the primary meaning of the words, "Body of Christ," at
communion is not the spiritual or Mystical Body of Christ called the
Church. Rather the primary meaning is the individual being of Jesus
Christ, history, the "substantial" or "whole
Christ," including his "physical 'reality,"' made "corporeally"
PART I. "BENDING THE KNEE" OFFICIALLY "SIGNIFIES ADORATION."
The authoritative post-Vatican II directives on gestures and postures
in the Roman Rite Liturgy are found in the 1985 . The Congregation of Divine Worship indicates this in
the , the English
translation of the Caeremoniale Episcoporum>, we find that the
"norms" of the are to be a "model for all other
celebrations" and "a model for the entire diocese." Finally, the
The greater part of the liturgical laws contained in the new
have their force from the liturgical books already
published. Whatever is changed in the new is to be
carried out in the manner the prescribes.
It is clear that the Congregation intends the directives of the
to be strictly applied. These directives are
requirements and not options. This is evident in the
note on the alter native (for certain cultures) to substitute a
cultural act of reverence for the celebrant's kissing of the altar
when entering or leaving the sanctuary at the Eucharistic Liturgy.
Even here, in this apparently minor matter, a should only
choose an alternative "after informing the Apostolic See."
Let us examine the required gestures and postures of the faithful
toward the Blessed Sacrament during the Eucharist while keeping the
authority of the in mind.
Required gestures and postures
After the Second Vatican Council, the Church stated in her : "But, unless impeded by lack of
space, density of crowd or other reasonable cause, they (the
faithful) should kneel down for the Consecration." This means
kneeling from the beginning of the (the invocation of the
Holy Spirit upon the elements of bread and wine) until after the
Consecration. The is denoted by the priest "with hands
outstretched over the offerings."
This kneeling during the Consecration by the faithful is consistent
with the Ceremonial's directives for deacons (especially during
incensation) and for non- celebrating bishops who at the
Eucharistic Liturgy. The states that "the blessed
sacrament (note lower case, see below) is incensed from a ," not from a standing position as in all other cases of
incensation. Then the says:
One of the deacons puts incense into the censer and incenses the host
and the cup at each elevation. The deacons from the
to the elevation of the cup.
Later the states about bishops who preside but do not
facing the altar on a kneeler provided for him either in
front of the chair or in some other convenient place. After the
elevation, he stands once again at the chair.
Following its directive for the faithful to kneel at the
Consecration, the says:
However, it is for the Bishops' Conference to adapt the postures and
gestures here described as suitable for the Roman mass, so that they
accord with the sensibilities of their own people, yet remain suited
to the meaning and purpose of each part of the Mass.
Consequently, the Catholic Bishops of the United States said in that this directive to kneel at the
Consecration be so that the faithful kneel, not only
during the Consecration, but also from after the (Holy,
Holy) up to the Our Father. The states:
At its meeting in November 1969, the National Conference of Catholic
Bishops voted that in general the directives of the Roman Missal
concerning the posture of the congregation at Mass should be left
unchanged, but that No. 21 of the General Instruction should be so
adapted that the people kneel beginning after the singing or
recitation of the until after the Amen of the Eucharistic
prayer, that is, before the Our Father.
When the bishops directed the congregation to stand during the Our
Father in No. 21 of , the centuries-old American
custom of kneeling from the to the Communion was
interrupted. And, while the bishops said nothing in their instruction
on the Roman Missal about returning to a kneeling position after the
Our Father (i.e ., from the or Lamb of God to the
Communion), many Catholic people in the United States are trying to
retain this liturgical sign of adoration and submission to Jesus
Christ. Others. however. are encouraging people to stand at this
Recall that it was the practice of Latin Rite Catholics in the United
States to kneel for the "" ("Lord, I am not
worthy"), because this by the faithful
symbolized the "centurion's" great "faith" and submission to Our Lord
Jesus Christ (Matt. 8:5-11). It was also the practice of the altar
server to return to a kneeling position at this same time (after
getting the server's paten). Today, however, this powerful seems about to disappear because most deacons, altar servers,
and Eucharistic ministers stand at this moment of the
Liturgy-apparently against the development of the Church's
Eucharistic piety in America and without any solid reason based upon
Sacred Scripture and Sacred Tradition.
The Church has also instructed that the traditional act of
genuflection toward the Blessed Sacrament be maintained following the
Second Vatican Council. The Sacred Congregation for the Sacraments
and Divine Worship says:
The venerable practice of , whether enclosed in the tabernacle or publicly exposed,
. This act requires that
it be performed in a recollected way. In order that the heart may bow
before God in profound reverence, the genuflection must be neither
hurried nor careless.
The also distinguishes between bows and genuflections.
The states that a "bow of the body, or deep bow, is made
to the altar if there is no tabernacle with the blessed sacrament
(note lower case) on the altar," but "A , made by
bending only the right knee to the ground, "
A "strongly recommended" act
Previously, I had written about a Eucharistic practice which has been
recommended by the Church for the faithful following the Second
Vatican Council. This act of reverence, which has been "" by the Sacred Congregation of Rites in 1967 and
repeated by the Sacred Congregation for the Sacraments and Divine
Worship in 1980, is as follows:
When the faithful communicate kneeling, no other sign of reverence
towards the Blessed Sacrament is required, since kneeling is itself a
sign of adoration.
When they receive communion standing, it is
that, coming up in procession, they should make a sign of reverence
before receiving the Blessed Sacrament. This should be done at the
right time and place, so that the order of people going to and from
communion should not be disrupted.
I argued that it appears from the context of the statement that the
Congregations are here strongly recommending a , and
not merely a sign of the cross or a mere bow of the head. First of
all, the Congregations previously referred to "kneeling" as "a sign
of adoration" and secondly, the reverential act which they recommend,
if done out of place, would "disrupt" or interfere with "the order of
people going to and from communion," which would not be the case if
the recommended act was a mere sign of the cross or a bow of the
That this sign of reverence is a genuflection, and not even a full
body bow, is supported by the of Bishops. It has just
been stated that the calls for a "bow of the body"
before the "altar" while it reserves the "genuflection" for the
"Blessed Sacrament." Once more, since this is a "model"
for all Masses of the Roman Rite throughout the universal Church and
since the spirituality of bishops and priests should be an example to
the laity, the way the bishop and priests receive the Blessed
Sacrament at Communion is a "model" for the laity. The
states about the Communion of the Mass in which the bishop
concelebrates with priests and distributes communion to the priests
before saying "Lord, I am not worthy":
After saying inaudibly the prayer before communion, the bishop
and takes the paten. One by one the concelebrants
approach the bishop, , and reverently receive from him the
body of Christ (note lower case of word, " body," see below).
Now, if it is proper for priests to come and genuflect to the Blessed
Sacrament prior to receiving communion from the bishop (who also
genuflects), it should also be proper for the laity to come up and
genuflect to the Blessed Sacrament prior to receiving communion from
the priest or Eucharistic minister. The statement by the Church
regarding the laity's reception should be interpreted consistently
with the . The officially recommended act of reverence
prior to receiving communion, when receiving in a standing position,
is clearly a "."
Kneeling is an irreplaceable "work" of "faith"
There is a good reason why the Church reserves the genuflection for
its official act of reverence toward the Blessed Sacrament. Not just
any act can be used for an act of . For example, one could
never use as an act of adoration in our culture nor in the
oriental culture. We stand when a bishop or the President of the
United States comes into the room, but we do not either one
of them. Similarly, today, many bow at the presence of great
dignitaries and human authority, but they do not adore them. This is
also the case in oriental cultures today.
But where do people kneel before any person or thing today? Some
people may try to genuflect to the Pope, but the Pope is usually seen
trying to raise the person up immediately. Again, the genuflection is
reserved for adoration of the Eucharist.
Once more, the act of before Jesus Christ is not
just a relative act, or an act that is based purely on culture.
Rather, it transcends culture because it is an act that has
scriptural, traditional, and cosmic significance. God the Father says
through Isaiah: "To me every knee shall bend" (Isa. 45:23). And St.
Paul says, "for it is written: 'As I live, says the Lord, every knee
shall bend before me"' (Rom. 14:11). Again, St. Paul states "at
Jesus' name every knee must bend in the heavens, on the earth, and
under the earth" (Phil. 2:10). And, this "kneeling," or "bending of
the knee," is the act of adoration of the Blessed Sacrament which has
developed in the Tradition of the Church and which the faithful have
adopted down through the ages. St. Francis of Assisi, for example,
said in his twelfth century "Letter to All Superiors of the Friars
When the priest is offering sacrifice at the altar or the Blessed
Sacrament is being carried about, and
give praise, glory, and honor to our Lord and God, living and true.
Thus, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger states in one of his theological
works about the act of "kneeling" during the Liturgy: "Here the
bodily gesture attains the status of a in
Christ: words could not replace such a confession."
This statement of Cardinal Ratzinger reminds one of a theological
maxim drawn from Church history and applied in the : ""
("what is prayed indicates what may and must be believed"). This
Latin phrase "makes the rule of prayer a norm of belief." It points
out that "worship influences doctrine" and  This
"influence" of "worship" on "doctrine" also includes the gestures and
postures of worship. Consequently, when Catholics "worship" by
"bending the knee" in Eucharistic , they in the doctrine of the Real Presence of Christ in the
Eucharist, for themselves and for the entire Church. And when they
can and do not, they weaken it.
There are always those who will say that the only thing that is
important is that one adore the Blessed Sacrament and
that one must not get hung up on externals>, like "kneeling." This
resembles the argument used by the wealthy against feeding and
clothing the poor. St. James dispels this argument against external
actions of caring for the poor by saying: "Be assured, then, that
faith without works is as dead as a body without breath" (James
2:26). And earlier St. James says: "Such faith has no power to save
one, has it" (James 2:14)? The same can be said in reference to
kneeling before the Blessed Sacrament at the Consecration in the
Mass. When one claims to adore the Blessed Sacrament, but refuses to
demonstrate "latria" (the act of adoration) on one's knees (when not
prevented from doing so through some reason, like old
age, etc), one's "faith" in the Real Presence of Jesus Christ in the
Blessed Sacrament is "as dead as a body without breath." "Such
faith has no power to save one, has it?"
The book of the Gospel
It should be noted that, while the deacon incenses the lectionary
before proclaiming the Gospel and the bishop kisses the lectionary
after, still the does not even require that a
bow of the head be made to the lectionary when one approaches or
passes by this book in the Liturgy. This might surprise some people
who have a tendency to place reverence for the lectionary on par
with- or even above- reverence for the Blessed Sacrament by giving
the lectionary the most prominent position in the sanctuary.
Occasionally, one hears it said that the Second Vatican Council
taught an reverence to lectionary and Blessed Sacrament. The
Council is quoted:
The Church has always venerated the divine scriptures as she
venerated the Body of the Lord, in so far as she never ceases,
particularly in the sacred liturgy, to partake of the bread of life
and to offer it to the faithful from the one table of the Word of God
and the Body of Christ.
But, the "in so far as" limits the similarity of reverence to the
fact that the faithful have always been nourished from "the one table
of the Word of God and the Body of Christ."
Unless we want Catholics to start genuflecting before the lectionary
at Mass, we must conclude that those calling for an equal reverence
have misinterpreted the Council. It is certainly true that we should
reverence the "divine scriptures" as the "Word of God" just as we
reverence the Eucharist as the "Body of Christ," but one must not
confuse the physical or corporeal lectionary or bible with the
"divine scriptures" or the "Word of God." The "divine scriptures" as
the "Word of God" is something which issues from the
Father and lives in the minds and hearts of the faithful. The
physical and corporeal lectionary or bible, made of cardboard and
paper, is only a symbol of this spiritual Word of God. The Word of
God has a physical reality and corporeal form that can be handled and
adored in the Blessed Sacrament. While the physical lectionary
is a of the Word of God, the Blessed Sacrament is the of the Word of God.
So, one should respect the lectionary or bible, but one must adore
the Blessed Sacrament. Now it is just as wrong to lose a part
of the Word of God through carelessness and neglect as it would be to
lose a particle of the Body of Christ at communion. But, one loses
part of the Word of God through carelessness and neglect by omitting
some portion of the Word of God, or distorting the Magisterium's
interpretation of it, when teaching and preaching, especially from
the pulpit-not by failing to place the physical lectionary in the
center of the sanctuary, crimping its pages, or loosing its binding
PART II. DISCOURAGING EUCHARISTIC LATRIA.
One might consider why Catholic people in America are not all
kneeling at the Consecration and at the "Lord, I am not worthy," nor
all genuflecting before the Blessed Sacrament. This is certainly
unusual since kneeling at the Consecration and before the Blessed
Sacrament are so clearly required in the Vatican's documents on the
Liturgy and kneeling at the "Lord, I am not worthy" is a
centuries-old custom in the United States.
Now, there may be more than one reason for this de-emphasis on
liturgical kneeling. But, one should have noticed that the phrase,
"ut et fiant Filii tui Domini nostri Jesu
Christi," found in Eucharistic Prayer III of the Vatican's Latin
was translated into English in as
"that they may become the and of your Son, our Lord
Jesus Christ," by the International Committee on English in the
Liturgy (ICEL). In fact, ICEL consistently de-capitalized "Corpus"
and "Sanguis" to "body" and "blood" throughout .
It is also interesting to note that, on one hand, the Vatican
Congregation consistently capitalizes "Blessed Sacrament ()," but not "book ()" in the phrase, "book of the
Gospels ()," of its original and of pit-no Latin
. ICEL, on the other hand, consistently
capitalizes "Book" in the phrase "Book of the Gospels" and
consistently deletes the capitals of the term "blessed sacrament" in
the , their translation of the
32 This is indeed strange since even a vulgar secular
work, , capitalizes "Blessed
Sacrament" when it defines "Blessed Sacrament" as "Communion
elements." The same kind of de- emphasis of terms symbolizing the
Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist through lower case language
signification can be found when ICEL translates the term, "Corpus
Christi," found in the , to "" in their .
While these de-capitalizations could be mere oversights by others,
they could hardly be such by expert translators. In fact, the
pre-Vatican II hand missals, some of which were published by the same
publishing house as the present , translated ""
and "" with "Body" and "Blood." ICEL, therefore, had to be
aware of the capitalization of "Body" and "Blood" in previous English
translations. However, what is most important is the fact that ICEL
went out of their way to alter the original text of the Latin
to capitalize "Book of the Gospel." This
clearly indicates that they did place at least some importance on
upper and lower case language signification. So, from all of this, it
seems that ICEL deliberately deleted the capitals from the words,
"lessed Sacrament" and "ody of Christ" in both and the , and that they subtly
gave a greater importance to the than the
by means of capitalization and de-capitalization.
The importance of these facts obviously does not lie in revealing the
minor errors that ICEL has already made in translating the books of
the Liturgy. Rather, the importance of these facts lies in hinting
what major translating errors ICEL might make in the future regarding
the relationship between the and the .
While these de-capitalizations and capitalizations alone might not be
too disturbing, it is alarming when one adds to this the
recommendation of the American diocesan liturgists at their 1990
National Meeting of Diocesan Liturgical Commissions (FDLC). The
Federation of Diocesan Liturgical Commissions' states:
It is the position of the delegates to the 1990 National Meeting of
Diocesan Liturgical Commissions that the provide for the assembly to stand
throughout the Eucharistic Prayer in the revised for
use in the United States.
And it passed with 95% voting for it.
The question is: what reason do these liturgists give for
recommending that the congregation "stand throughout the Eucharistic
Prayer?" The does not say, but one suspects that it is
the same reason mentioned by the Canadian Conference of Catholic
Bishops. This Conference recommended "standing" in imitation of the
early Christians who stood during the Liturgy on Sundays in honor of
the Resurrection. No doubt, they got this from the Council of
Nicaea I (325) which stated:
Since there are some who are bending their knee on Sunday and on the
days of Pentecost, the holy council has decided, so that there will
be uniformity of practice in all things in every diocese, that
prayers are to be directed to God in a standing position.
But this statement of Nicaea (I) in the 4th century refers to
. P. F. Mulhern states: "Kneeling during
religious services began as a penitential practice and at one time
was not permitted on feast days." The statement of Nicaea (I),
therefore, is most likely a reference to those, like the 4th century
"," who, as members of the ", . . .
remained inside (at the Eucharist) but were on their knees " Thus, in order to show that the Resurrection was a victory
over sin Nicaea (I) ruled that these penitential Christians should
take a break in their penitential posture of kneeling throughout the
Mass in prayer on weekdays, by generally praying in a
standing position on Sundays.
So, this statement of Nicaea (I) is not a ruling on posture,
especially kneeling, as an act of or adoration during the
Consecration of the Eucharist. If some act or form of at the
Consecration of the Eucharist had already developed during the first
few centuries of the Church, this statement of Nicaea (I) would not
have been taken as an order to do away with that act of at
the moment of Consecration. It would have merely been understood as
doing away with the penitential posture (kneeling for the
sake of penance) at other times during prayer and the Liturgy on
Sundays. Most likely, it was only when the general act of kneeling
for the sake of penance was eliminated during the Sunday and feast
day Liturgies that the specific act of could be distinguished from and come to the fore.
A poor recommendation
This recommendation "to stand throughout the Eucharistic Prayer" has
many problems. First of all, standing throughout the
Eucharistic Prayer without making any gesture of whatsoever
would be a total exclusion of the act of (the visible act of
adoration of Jesus Christ) from the Liturgy.
Secondly, this recommendation to "stand throughout the Eucharistic
Prayer" clearly contradicts the official directives of the Church as
found in the and the
. Standing during the Consecration would therefore
proclaim disunity with the universal Church at that very moment . John Paul II has
stated that "It is a very serious thing when division is introduced
precisely where , in the
Liturgy and the Eucharistic Sacrifice, by refusing obedience to the
norms laid down in the liturgical sphere."
Thirdly, this recommendation betrays a tendency to conclude that
there was from the correct notion of liturgy after
the early years of the Church. But James T. O'Connor says in : "Such a tendency, however, misses the riches that came
to the Church from the development of Eucharistic devotion during the
Middle Ages (e.g., St. Francis of Assisi,"
John Henry Newman says about development of doctrine that this should
be consistent or "logical." In other words, as the Church grew more
and more conscious of her treasure of the Real Presence of Christ in
the Blessed Sacrament, the actions of the people developed
accordingly: from standing (if they were not kneeling or prostrate)
to kneeling during the Consecration. Instead the Canadian and the
FDLC proposal presents the Liturgy and Eucharistic piety as
inconsistent and dialectical, i.e., standing, kneeling, and back to
standing during the Consecration. Now, if this FDLC combination
(standing-kneeling-standing) were actually accepted by the Church, it
would mean in the history of the Church that the development of
"latria" toward the Eucharist was followed by the elimination of
"latria" toward the Eucharist. This would not be doctrinal
development but doctrinal "recession" and reversal. It would be
So, this recommendation to stand during the entire Eucharistic Prayer
denies through "worship" in
"Sacred Tradition," particularly through the Eucharistic piety of the
laity in the Liturgy. Those developing this so-called Eucharistic
Theology refuse to acknowledge "that the Tradition that comes from
the Apostles in the Church with the help of the Holy
, as an act of , is also , and it is
in perfect harmony with standing during other times in prayer on
Sundays to demonstrate the Church's victory over sin through the
Resurrection. Fifth century St. Augustine stated that "It was in the
flesh that Christ walked among us and it is His flesh that He has
given us to eat for our salvation." So, the Word was made flesh;
the Word died in the flesh; the Word rose in the flesh; and the Word
is before us on the altar of the flesh.
latria . If our Eucharistic Lord is really
and truly the Word in the flesh, then the Word have risen from
the dead in the flesh and previously become flesh in the womb of the
Virgin Mary. Once more, he will come again to raise us up in the
flesh. Thus, immediately after the Consecration, the faithful
respond in a joyful Eucharistic Acclamation to the priest's
proclamation, "Mystery of Faith ()"; "Christ has
died, Christ is risen, Christ will come again."
But, if our Eucharistic Lord is really not the Word in the flesh,
then perhaps the Word did not become flesh and die and rise in the
flesh. And perhaps he will not come again to raise us up in the
flesh. So, to replace kneeling with standing during the Consecration
will not only eliminate the best testimony to the Real Presence of
Christ in the Eucharist, it will also eliminate the Church's
testimony to the Incarnation, Death, and Resurrection of Jesus Christ
and to our own future resurrection in the body.
Once more, Cardinal Joseph Bernardin of Chicago recently stated that:
"according to a Gallup poll only 30% of our faithful believe what the
Church teaches on the presence of Jesus in the Eucharist." So, if
this poll is in any way accurate, it is also clearly illogical to
de-emphasize the Real Presence of Jesus Christ in the Eucharist at
the very time when doubt or knowledge of this Mystery among so-called
Catholics is so tragically high (70%). Remember that "whoever eats
the Bread or drinks the Cup of the Lord unworthily sins against the
Body and Blood of the Lord" (1 Cor. 11:27). And for one to receive
"without recognizing the Body" is to "eat and drink a judgment on
himself" (1 Cor. 11:29). To exclude the official act of
kneeling as adoration from the Liturgy (especially at the
Consecration), when so many baptized Catholics have difficulty with
this teaching, would make it easier for those who do not believe in
the Real Presence to come to communion and "eat and drink a judgment"
An ambiguous recommendation
Beside this poor recommendation to stand throughout the Eucharistic
Prayer, the FDLC has also made an recommendation. At
their 1993 national meeting, the FDLC stated:
It is the position of the delegates of the 1993 National Meeting of
Diocesan Liturgical Commissions that ; and the delegates
further urge that the Board of Directors of the FDLC assist the BCL
to encourage the Executive Committee of the NCCB to clarify with the
appropriate Vatican Congregations or Secretariats the matter of
Eucharistic adoration and Eucharistic exposition and communicate this
clarification to the bishops of the United States as soon as possible
and in an appropriate way.
One gets the distinct impression that the words "significant and
immediate concern" mean that the FDLC is somewhat or
about the increase of perpetual exposition of the
Eucharist in parishes throughout the United States. While the FDLC
might be afraid of possible abuse of the Blessed Sacrament through
neglect and that some parishes may be proceeding with perpetual
exposition without Rome's permission, one hopes that their "immediate
concern" is not due to the fact that there is a greater emphasis upon
adoration of the Blessed Sacrament and an increase in Eucharistic
devotion among the faithful. If the latter is the case, then their
"significant and immediate concern" should itself be "a matter of
significant and immediate concern" for the Vatican, the National
Conference of Catholic Bishops, and all Catholics in the United
Surely the FDLC knows that the Vatican has permitted prolonged
exposition provided there is a sufficient number of people present
for the exposition. The Sacred Congregation of Rites has stated:
For any grave and general need, the local ordinary can order that
there should be prayer before the Blessed Sacrament exposed over a
long period, and which can be strictly continuous, in those churches
where there are large numbers of the faithful.
While this is not a blanket permission for "perpetual exposition" at
parishes, the Vatican is clearly promoting frequent exposition and
adoration of the Blessed Sacrament with a minimum of prolonged
exposition and adoration "once a year" (i.e., Forty Hours).
Actually the FDLC should be rejoicing over the increase in exposition
and devotion to the Eucharist since the goal of the Second Vatican
Council and its liturgical document, , is
being achieved. For Paul VI stated in , that the
goal of the Second Vatican Council () was
"that a new wave of Eucharistic devotion will sweep over the
Church." This seems to be happening in some quarters of the United
States. One can only hope that it will also occur among the members
of the FDLC and the ICEL.
Discouraging "latria" is perilous
One can also ask: what happens to the person himself who uses some
form of directive, coercion, or discouragement to get people to
eliminate an explicit act of adoring the Blessed Sacrament? This can
be considered from two perspectives: from the perspective of
interpersonal relationships and human. dignity; and from the
perspective of the Catholic doctrine involved.
From the first perspective, this act on the part of these religious
authorities and laity is . When a person is coerced
through directive or peer pressure to go against what he truly
believes, his human dignity and integrity are violated. It is no
wonder, then, that the Second Vatican Council labeled "undue
psychological pressure" as "criminal" when it listed modern
"violations of the integrity of the human person." Similarly, John
Paul II recalled this teaching of the Second Vatican Council when he
stated in his encyclical, , that "attempts to
coerce the spirit," are "intrinsically evil."
From the perspective of the Catholic doctrine involved, discouraging
Catholics from kneeling at the Consecration at Mass is . It was mentioned earlier that St. Augustine said: "It was in
the flesh that Christ walked among us and it is His flesh that He has
given us to eat for our salvation." "But," he added: "no one eats of
this flesh without having first adored it . . . and not only do we
not sin in thus adoring it, but we would be sinning if we did not do
One must understand that the teaching regarding in the
presence of the Blessed Sacrament is no mere liturgical rubric or
disciplinary law of the Church. It was the subject of a definition of
an ecumenical council of the Church. The Council of Trent has affixed
an "anathema" or condemnation to anyone who says that the Blessed
Sacrament is not to be adored with the worship of
. The Council defined:
, and therefore not to be
venerated with a special festive celebration, nor to be borne about
in procession according to the praiseworthy and universal rite and
custom of the holy Church, or is not to be set before the people
publicly to be adored, and that the adorers of it are idolaters; (cf. n. 878).
Now, this does not mean that everyone who stands at the Consecration,
or does not genuflect before the Blessed Sacrament, is condemned.
However, once the universal Church has designated "kneeling" at the
Consecration and "genuflection" before the Blessed Sacrament
specifically as the to be given to the
Eucharist at these specified times, it is then impossible for someone
to these acts at these times without also "saying" that
the "Son of God is not to be adored outwardly with the worship of
Most likely, the same thing can be said about anyone who discourages
exposition or Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament.
There are those who will say that, by discouraging kneeling,
genuflection, and Eucharistic exposition, they are not denying the
doctrine of of Trent, just denying the use or the
of it at a particular time and place. And, they just might be able to
escape the official condemnation of the Church. But how will they do
on the when they meet the One Who said: "I, the
Lord, alone probe the mind and test the heart, to reward everyone
according to his ways, according to the merit of his deeds" (Jer.
17:10). Out of charity one cannot help but fear for them!
To understand the seriousness of discouraging someone from outwardly
adoring the Eucharist at the Consecration, one must realize that the
Real Presence of Jesus Christ in the Eucharist is the of
the "substantial" presence of Jesus Christ in the world. It is the
of the Incarnation, or .
Consequently, deliberately to exclude all acts of from the
Eucharist, would be to refuse to acknowledge the Incarnation or Jesus
Christ coming in the flesh. And, St. John says about "men who do not
acknowledge Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh" that "such is the
antichrist" (2 John 1:7) and his "spirit" is "already in the world"
(1 John 4:3). These are the "weeds" which the enemy has sown among
the "wheat" (Matt. 13:25). They make a "pretense" of being Christian
by pretending to "belong to us," but soon they will leave and we will
see that "none of them was ours" (1 John 2:18-19).
This is certainly not to say that everyone who refuses to kneel at
the Eucharistic Liturgy is an "antichrist." Still one should admit
that refusing to give an act of , like kneeling, before the
Real Presence of Jesus Christ in the Eucharistic Liturgy is certainly a type of . And about this,
I tell you, whoever acknowledges me before men-the Son of Man will
acknowledge him before the angels of God. But the man who has
disowned me in the presence of men will be disowned in the presence
of the angels Of God (Luke 12:8-9).
Obviously, today, belief in the Real Presence of Christ in the
Eucharist is failing miserably among baptized Catholics (70%). . It is especially
urgent that deacons, ministers, and servers kneel because of their
visibility to the congregation and their leading roles in the
Liturgy. The People will follow their lead in kneeling. It is also
important for pastors to encourage their people to make use of the
"strongly recommended" genuflection prior to receiving communion, or
to use the legitimate option of having the people kneel to receive
the Sacrament. Then, those, who know the doctrine of the Real
Presence of Jesus Christ in the Eucharist, will be affirmed, and
those who do not know will ask about the kneeling and genuflection
"" to those people who prevent this "bending of the knee" at
Mass and in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament! And, "woe to the
Shepherds" who permit the act of to disappear from the
Eucharistic Liturgy (Ezek. 34:1-16)!
1 (Denzinger), Nos. 874, 883, 30th edition
in , trans. by Roy J.
Deferrari (St. Louis: B. Herder Book Co., 1957), pp. 266, 270; Paul
VI, , No. 46, in , 10 (Fourth
Quarter 1964), 321.
2 Paul V, , No. 46, p. 321.
3 St. Thomas Aquinas, , Ch. 3, No. 9,
translated by Armand Maurer, C.S.B. (Toronto: The Pontifical
Institute of Medieval Studies, 1968), p. 50.
4 Paul VI, , No. 39, p. 319.
5 Congregation for Divine Worship, Augustine Mayer, O.S.B.,
6 Congregation for Divine Worship, Augustine Mayer, O.S.B.,
Pro-Prefect, , Preface, and No. 12, trans. by
the International Commission for English in the Liturgy (ICEL),
(Collegeville, Minn.: Liturgical Press, 1989), pp. 13, 20.
7 , Preface, p. 13.
8 No. 73, p. 37.
9 Paul VI and the Second Vatican Council , No. 21, in (Vol. 1), edited by Austin Flannery, O.P. (Grand
Rapids, Michigan: William B. Eerdmans Pub. Co., 1992), p. 167; also
see Paul VI, , English
translation prepared by the International Commission on English in
the Liturgy (New York: Catholic Bk. Pub. Co., 1974), p. 22. My
10 Paul VI and the Second Vatican Council, , No. 55(c), (Vol. 1), p. 176; Eucharistic Prayer I says in
its rubric directions: "With hands outstretched over the offerings,
he says." Following this the priest says: "Bless and approve our
offering: etc." See , Edited by Reverend James
Socias (Princeton, N. J.: Scepter Pub. Inc., 1993), 691.
11 , No. 94, p. 41. My emphasis.
12 , No. 155, p. 57. My emphasis.
13 , No. 182, p. 64. My emphasis.
14 Paul VI and the Second Vatican Council, , No. 21, , p. 167; , No. 21, p. 22.
15 National Conference of Catholic Bishops, "Appendix to the General
Instructions," No. 21, in , p. 49.
16 Sacred Congregation for the Sacraments and Divine Worship,
, No. 26, (Vol. 2), pp. 98- 99. My emphasis.
17 , Nos. 68-72, p. 36-37. My parenthesis and
partially my emphasis.
18 Regis Scanlon, "Eucharistic piety: A strong recommendation,"
(August-September 1983), 55-59.
19 Sacred Congregation of Rites, , No. 34,
p. 122; Sacred Congregation for the Sacraments and Divine Worship,
, No. 11, (Vol. 1), p. 96. My emphasis.
20 Regis Scanlon, p. 57.
21 , No. 163, p. 59. My emphasis and my
22 St. Francis of Assisi, "Letter to all Superiors of the Friars
Minor," in , edited by Marion A. Habig (Chicago: Franciscan Herald
Press, 1973), p. 113. My emphasis.
23 Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, (San Francisco:
Ignatius Press, 1986), pp. 74-75. My emphasis.
24 Geoffrey Wainwright, (New York: Oxford University Press, 1980), p.
218; Paul VI and the Second Vatican Council, , Forward, No. 2, , p. 155; ,
Introduction, No. 2.
25 Geoffrey Wainwright, p. 218.
26 Geoffrey Wainwright, p. 218.
27 Council of Trent, , No. 888,
30th edition, p. 271.
28 , No. 141, p. 55.
29 Vatican II: , No. 21, (Vol. 1), p. 762.
30 Paul VI, , pp. 552, 1066. My
emphasis; Paul VI, , (Vatican
City: , p. 461.
31 , Nos. 69-70, p. 29, also compare Nos.
71, 74, 79, 87, 92, and 94.
32 , Nos. 69-70, p. 36, also compare Nos. 71,
74, 79, 87, 92, and 94.
33 , "Blessed Sacrament"
(Springfield, Mass.: Merriam-Webster Inc., 1990), p. 159.
34 , No. 163, p. 49 and , No. 163, p. 59. My emphasis. Also compare Nos. 164 & 165 in
each book for examples of the same decapitalization with regard to
the " of the Lord."
35 Pius XII, , (New York, N.Y.: Catholic Bk. Pub.
Co., 1953), p. 565.
36 FDLC, "Posture During Eucharistic Prayer," Position Statement 1990
C 2.853, (October 1990), 35.
37 Joseph J. Farraher,
(August-September, 1991), p. 83.
38 Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops, , Vol. 24, No. 124 (March 1991), 59-60.
39 Council of Nicea 1, Can. 20, in ,
Vol. 1, translated and edited by William A. Jurgens (Collegeville,
Minnesota: The Liturgical Press, 1979), p. 286.
40 P. F. Mulhern, "Principles of Penance," , Vol. 11, p. 73.
41 Lorenzo Cappelletti, "Regret or Forgiveness," <30 Days>, No. 12,
1993, p. 69. My parenthesis and emphasis.
42 John Paul II, Consistorial address of May 24, 1976: 68 (1976), p. 374. English translation found in
Sacred Congregation for the Sacraments and Divine Worship (Approved
and Confirmed by John Paul II), , No. 27, April.
17, 1980, Vatican Council 11: More Post Conciliar Documents (Vol. 2),
edited by Austin Flannery, O. P. (Northport, New York: Costello Pub.
Co., 1982), p. 100. Partially my emphasis.
43 James T. O'Connor, (San Francisco: Ignatius
Press, 1988), p. 188. My parenthesis.
44 John Henry Newman, (London: Longmans, Green and Co., 1927), p. 195.
45 Vatican I, (Denzinger), No. 1800, 30th
edition, p. 448.
46 Vatican II, , No. 8, in (Vol. 1), p. 754; Pius XII, ,
Nov. 20, 1947, Nos. 132-133, in (Boston: Daughters of
St. Paul, n.d.), pp. 53-54.
47 Vatican II, , No. 8, (Vol. 1), p. 754. My emphasis.
48 St. Augustine, , 98:9, in Paul VI, , No. 55, p. 323.
49 Paul VI, , "Eucharistic
Prayer III," p. 553.
50 Cardinal Joseph Bernardin, in Gianni Cardinale, "Clinton and Us,"
<30 Days>, No. 12, 1992, p. 32.
51 Federation of Diocesan Liturgical Commissions, ,
"RIC 1993 D 2187 Introduction of Perpetual Exposition in Parishes"
(Nov.-Dec. 1993), 52. My emphasis.
52 Sacred Congregation of Rites, , No. 61,
64, pp. 134-135.
53 Sacred Congregation of Rites, , No. 60,
54 Sacred Congregation of Rites, , No. 64,
55 Paul VI, ,
Vol. I (New York: Pueblo Pub. Co., 1990), p. 672.
56 Second Vatican Council, , Vatican Council
II: Conciliar and Post Conciliar Documents> (Vol. 1), pp. 1-37.
57 Paul VI, , No. 13, p. 312.
58 Vatican II, , No. 27, in Vatican Council II:
Conciliar and Post Conciliar Documents> (Vol. 1), p. 928.
59 John Paul II, , No. 80, English translation,
(Vatican City: , 1993), pp. 122-123.
60 St. Augustine,