Kneeling while Receiving

Cardinal Robert Sarah, Prefect for the Congregation for Divine Worship, has called on Catholics in the Roman Rite to kneel while receiving the Eucharist. His words,

“Where kneeling and genuflection have disappeared from the liturgy, they need to be restored, in particular for our reception of our Blessed Lord in Holy Communion.”

Now, this is not a common practice in Novus Ordo masses. In fact, it is almost non-existent. How to make the transition to kneeling? Is it not odd, strange, disruptive, for someone to kneel when no one else does? Perhaps. It certainly is different. Is there never a sense of self-righteousness by this ‘renovation of return’? Perhaps. But all this is beside the point. It may be odd for us to see at this moment, on account of ingrain habits which we put on but which a revolutionary change imposed in a non-organic way. And the transition may be odd.

Still, there are good reasons to kneel at the consecration. Above all, this is the Most Holy Lord, the Flesh of the Second Person of the Trinity, which we are about to receive. Kneeling is a gesture of worship, discipleship, total commitment, receptivity. It is a marvelous gesture, especially when the Lord of All is about to enter our hearts.

Yes, it is odd, difficult, to go from one common practice to a new one. But to do so in the matter of revolutionary rupture is violent. To do so in the manner of reconciliation and return is not violent. It will be odd to make the transition. First one person, then a few, then more. Eventually, perhaps, many. Finally, the practice of receiving while kneeling may  just return; it may just become common.

Who would have thought? I recall the treachery of certain fellow college students who tweaked the creed constantly, so that it might grown in their own image and likeness. They mocked it as it was. But then, suddenly, the new translation of the liturgy was given us English speakers, and behold: Few mock it. I have never seen it not embraced. Remarkable. In parishes in which no one kneeled at all (all but 10 years ago), now everyone kneels, twice. Remarkable.

Back to receiving while kneeling. In order for this transition to take place, we need heroes of change, good change. Who will be a fool for Christ? Allow himself to be considered rather clownish? Rather self-righteous? Out of place? Clueless? Odd? Perhaps even these judgments will not be entirely 100% mistaken. Nonetheless, and notwithstanding, if it is worth doing, it is worth doing badly. (Or not perfectly, which is really what we are saying.)

THAT person is the one who catalyzes change, who moves history, and in this case… for the better. If he or she does it with great love, firm conviction, and knowledge of the rightness of the practice and the opportuneness of the reconciliation with Tradition, the opportuneness of overthrowing the revolutionary spirit, then that person will be the catalyst for good change. A true agent of reform.

Cardinal Sarah’s text is available here.