Posture of the People at Mass - The Reason For the Norm

I recently asked my priest, via email, if during weekday masses I could put a kneeler up front so that I may receive Holy Communion on my knees. (I didn’t want to disrupt the larger weekend masses, but only a handful of people attend weekday masses.) Within 24hrs he responded with a statement that said that the norm was to stand and he would send me a handout in the mail. Within a few days I received this in the mail.

The handout, titled “The Posture of the People at Mass”, highlights the proper posture for each part of the mass, stating specifically “When Receiving Holy Communion - STAND”. This statement has a footnote reference which states:

The norm for the reception of communion is standing. Communicants should not be denied Holy Communion because they kneel. Rather, such instances should be addressed by providing the communicant with a catechesis on the reason for the norm.

In response to this handout and footnote, I have attempted to research the reason for the norm and have been unable to find anything. I sent another email to my priest requesting this catechesis with no response. After a week, I sent another email requesting this catechesis. Again, no response.

So, can someone please provide me with the “reason for the norm”. I don’t want to debate the stand vs. kneel and hand vs. tongue arguments. I simply want the “reason for the norm”. Simply having everyone do the same thing does really work as a reason, because there are options in the mass for doing different things (i.e. - hand vs. tongue, hold hand/orans posture/etc).

Again, please refrain from the arguments about stand vs. kneel or hand vs. tongue.

Thank you.

The norm is established so that everyone will be doing the same thing, not each to whatever they want.

Your pastor is right that the norm in the United States is standing. The Vatican document Eucharisticum Mysterium (1967) states:
In accordance with the custom of the Church, Communion may be received by the faithful either kneeling or standing. One or the other way is to be chosen, according to the decision of the episcopal conference, bearing in mind all the circumstances, above all the number of the faithful and the arrangement of the churches. The faithful should willingly adopt the method indicated by their pastors, so that Communion may truly be a sign of the brotherly union of all those who share in the same table of the Lord.
In the U.S., our bishops chose standing, as expressed in ¶ 160 of the General Instruction of the Roman Missal (with United States adaptations):
The norm for reception of Holy Communion in the dioceses of the United States is standing. Communicants should not be denied Holy Communion because they kneel. Rather, such instances should be addressed pastorally, by providing the faithful with proper catechesis on the reasons for this norm.

When receiving Holy Communion, the communicant bows his or her head before the Sacrament as a gesture of reverence and receives the Body of the Lord from the minister.
I suspect that the reasons for the norm are to speed the process, to prevent collisions and tripping, to prevent people who cannot kneel from standing out or being forced to feel un-reverent, and probably also as a response to / further facilitation of the removal of altar rails. I don’t know that the U.S. bishops’ conference ever came out with a manifesto of reasons for selecting standing as the norm. Needless to say, of course, even if the (apparent) reasons are lacking in your particular case (poorly attended daily Mass), the norm adopted still retains the force of law and the priest is right to follow it.

JStrainis;7550400So, can someone please provide me with the “reason for the norm”. I don’t want to debate the stand vs. kneel and hand vs. tongue arguments. I simply want the “reason for the norm”. Simply having everyone do the same thing does really work as a reason, because there are options in the mass for doing different things (i.e. - hand vs. tongue, hold hand/orans posture/etc).

Again, please refrain from the arguments about stand vs. kneel or hand vs. tongue.

Thank you.

“With a view to a uniformity in gestures and postures during one and the same celebration, the faithful should follow the directions which the deacon, lay minister, or priest gives according to whatever is indicated in the Missal.” **43 **
nccbuscc.org/liturgy/current/chapter2.shtml#sect2

Correction to my initial post. It should read:

“…Simply having everyone do the same thing doesn’treally work as a reason, because there are options in the mass for doing different things (i.e. - hand vs. tongue, hold hand/orans posture/etc)…”

Hold hands and orans posture are both NOT VALID options.

Everyone should stand during the Lord’s Prayer (no kneeling, can sit if one cannot stand) and hands to the side or prayer position (palms together).

You asked for the reason for the norm. The reason given by the G.I.R.M. concerns “a view to a uniformity in gestures and postures.”

I’ve seen it done all types of ways on the EWTN Mass. Some kneel, some bow at the waist, some bow the head. I think everyone receives on the tongue.

I’d like to see our parish have one of those small kneelers for people who wish to kneel.

I’m old enough to remember the central kneeler that ran the entire length across the front of the Church, prior to it being removed.

On the central kneeler, you had to wait for the Priest to “get back to you” and it gave me a bit of time to pray & think about receiving Jesus.

Yes, but let’s not forget Redemptionis Sacramentum:

[91.] In distributing Holy Communion it is to be remembered that “sacred ministers may not deny the sacraments to those who seek them in a reasonable manner, are rightly disposed, and are not prohibited by law from receiving them”.[177] Hence any baptized Catholic who is not prevented by law must be admitted to Holy Communion. Therefore, it is not licit to deny Holy Communion to any of Christ’s faithful solely on the grounds, for example, that the person wishes to receive the Eucharist kneeling or standing.

the reason for the norm is that in their enthusiasm to adopt changes in the liturgy after VII many parishes and dioceses move the altars, changed their architecture and removed communion rails (none of which were actually mandated by any Council document, but be that as it may). They woke up one day and realized without communion rails with the ledge or kneeler it becomes very difficult to kneel gracefully to receive communion, plus the communicants were now a good 8" shorter than before (the rails having put you at the perfect height). So they quickly realized that by making standing the norm the problem would be solved. I know you don’t want to go there, but the change to communion in the hand flowed naturally from this since it is just a matter of luck if the relative heights of the minister and communicant would allow administering on the tongue, and the resultant awkwardnesses resolved when communion in the hand was adopted.

I don’t see a tongue in cheek smiley, but it really is the way it happened, changes followed upon changes to try and make the whole procedure flow well, and the explanations came later.

we all knelt when that was the norm, so we should all stand now that it has become the norm. Obedience is of far greater value and virtue than insistence on this or that posture or practice.

The Catholic Answers radio show interviewed Cardinal Arinze earlier this week. Towards the end of the broadcast he discusses this very issue. He states in no uncertain terms that no one not even a Bishop can deny the option of kneeling. I was wondering if anyone else has heard this and can comment?

Some churches still have the communion rail or have now installed communion rails for this purpose. And you’re right, it has its advantages where you can more fully reflect on Whom you are about to receive. And if you wish to wait a few seconds before you leave, that’s okay too.

Right – the rule is to stand, but the priest can not “punish” you on-the-spot for violating it by withholding the Blessed Sacrament, accusing you of disobedience, etc. For some reason this generous pastoral treatment of the issue has tripped a lot of people up (viz., people who wish it were the case) into thinking that the norm decreed by the bishops has now been rejected by Rome, or only holds the force of a description of what people “normally” do, or was really intended to make standing and kneeling equivalent options, or some such.

The CDWDS did not rule out the norm to stand set by the bishops while making the clarification that one should not be denied Communion if they choose to kneel.

Did I suggest they did? I don’t think so. In any case, irrespective of any norm to the contrary, however, kneeling does remain an option.

The OP said: * Again, please refrain from the arguments about stand vs. kneel or hand vs. tongue.

Thank you. *

I’ve seen a video of this, I believe it was a few years old. I love his answer, but unfortunately that is not how it is written in the GIRM. I understand the need for the church to celabrate in unison… but kneeling to recieve our Lord should not be frowned upon. Nor should those who kneel need to be ‘instructed’ to do it the correct way.

Thank you all for the great responses and for pointing me to the proper places on the USCCB site. I will dig in to that area of the site more. However, I must say that the argument of uniformity doesn’t fly in the face of having options available in different areas. The inclusion of valid options in one area with the exclusion of valid options in another and the cry of uniformity as the reason for exclusion, seems intellectually dishonest to me. but if that’s what the G.I.R.M. states, well…who am I to argue? I can actually accept the obedience argument, reluctantly. “Because I said so” is a great reason for a 2 year old. I, however, am striving for a more mature faith.

ConstantineTG: The validity of orans, although interesting, is out of the scope of this discussion. However, if you will, please provide reference to what is valid. I just tried to search the USCCB site without finding the proper posture (I really must stink at searching for this stuff). Thank you. For clarification of what I am referring to, I will include what the handout I received states.

During the recitation of the Our Father - Orans Posture.

This has a footnote that states: The orans posture is an ancient prayer posture found both in the Old and New Testaments and has been used by the Church from Apostolic times. People are encouraged to pray the Our Father using the orans posture with arms extended downward, holding hands and palms outward. Holding hands with other people and other prayer postures such as folded hands are not to be prohibited; however, there is a caveat to holding hands. Some people are uncomfortable in holding hands with a stranger…"

Could it have something to do with receiving under both species?
If we return to the communion rail, there would need to be a second round for the cup.
And I am assuming that anyone who prefers to kneel and receive on the tongue would not accept both species.

Once again, I am praying that the pendulum will rest somewhere in the center. One of the things I liked about the old liturgy was that it was the same everywhere. No other church could say that since they had no liturgy, and no liturgical calendar to follow.* Random verses chosen by the preacher, and an altar call at the end.

Altar call-- why do they even have an altar if there is no “holy sacrifice” of the mass.
SORRY I am way off topic.

*I think Anglican and Lutheran churches are “liturgical” but they still have a lot of freedom.

The difference, perhaps, is that Eucharisticum Mysterium directed that, with respect to posture, “One or the other way is to be chosen” by the bishops’ conference. So establishing a norm for uniformity in posture has, at least, the purpose of satisfying a Vatican directive. If it were true that a uniform posture were established “because uniformity in things is good,” then you would be right that it would be hypocritical not to establish uniformity in other, similar matters. But if a uniform posture is established because the conference was told to establish a single posture, then the “intellectual honesty” lies just in that they did what they were asked to do. They weren’t asked to select between kneeling, standing, or leaving it to the communicant’s preference; they were asked to select between kneeling and standing.

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