Skip to comments.Eucharist kneeling request sparks controversy [Catholic Caucus]
Posted on 12/12/2008 6:48:14 AM PST by NYer
OTTAWA Ottawas archbishop would like all parishes in the sprawling diocese to kneel at the same time during the Mass.
Archbishop Terrence Prendergast said he is implementing what the Canadian bishops had decided a few years ago would be common practice throughout Canada when the new translation of the Roman Missal comes into use.
He never expected his request would become a front-page story in the Ottawa Citizen, describing the move as authoritarian.
It didnt strike me as controversial, he said. But you can always line up people on either side of an issue.
It gets the message out that theres a change, he joked.
Though the new missal is not expected until 2010 or 2011, the archbishop decided to introduce the change at the start of Advent, the beginning of a new liturgical year.
I want harmony and unity in the diocese, he said. I felt we needed to move now, to make some movement towards a regular, balanced position on liturgy.
In a pastoral letter dated Nov. 23, Prendergast invited all parishes to kneel during the Eucharistic Prayer, from the end of the Holy, holy, holy to the Memorial Acclamation when the celebrant says, Let us proclaim the mystery of faith.
'If you had no response to change, people wouldnt be alive.'
Prendergast had informed his priests of the change last August, and said a number were not happy about it. Some expressed concerns that the archdiocesan liturgical commission was not consulted.
He has also had some parishioners complain.
Change always does that, he said. If you had no response to change, people wouldnt be alive.
Bishops in Atlantic Canada initiated the move to a new common practice while he was still archbishop of Halifax, he said.
The Canadian bishops decision to adopt this happened before his appointment to Ottawa in 2007.
In travelling throughout the sprawling Ottawa Archdiocese, with its French and English sectors, Prendergast noticed a whole range of practices: some congregations stand throughout, some kneel in the middle of the Eucharistic Prayer, causing a lot of noise and distraction, and others continue to kneel after the Consecration.
As more parishes are working together, sometimes congregants will be confused at a joint gathering, with half standing and half kneeling, a sign of division, he said.
When the controversy hit the front page, Prendergast had just returned from Rome where he had attended meetings of Vox Clara, an advisory group of Scripture scholars that is making recommendations to the Congregation for Divine Worship on the English translation of the Roman Missal.
The work during the latest meeting concerned the translation of the Proper of Seasons, that includes the prefaces for Advent, Christmas, Lent, Easter and other seasons during the Church year.
Its slow, he said. Its always longer than you think.
We were hoping to finish by 2010, but it looks like we may finish by 2011, he said.
Some of the controversy over the change is theological, though Prendergast noted in his pastoral letter the reasons for standing: expressing our dignity before God as his children set free by the death and resurrection of Christ; and for kneeling: to express adoration and reverence.
He also pointed out that both postures would be in use during the Great Eucharistic Prayer of Praise.
Others have objected to being told what to do, though the Citizen had trouble finding people to comment publicly.
Though the newspaper described his move as authoritarian, the archbishop disagrees with the label. Exercising authority and making proper decisions can be perceived as authoritarian, but it is not, he said.
Others objected to the focus on a liturgical change when the Church faces other problems.
Parishioner Toddy Kehoe told the Citizen, Is that all they have to think about? I dont see the Catholic Church as doing loving things.
I dont see them as the caring community they should be. It isnt whether you stand or kneel.
A better question would be, “What would you do in the presence of Jesus?”
I would be on my knees instantly!
Now, how about you?
Just a question for my Catholic friends on FR: When kneeling is ‘required’ as part of the mass, are those who have knee problems or problems getting back up from the a kneeling position exempted? (I assume so, but was just curious as to whether my assumption was correct.)
>>I would be on my knees instantly! Now, how about you?
At age 64 with a severe knee injury in one leg, and two pins in the other foot - courtesy a Vietnam-era Air Force flight school parachute injury, I thank the Lord every day I can get up from my bed and walk. Frankly, if I had my ‘druthers, I’d be flat on the ground with my face in the dirt (check the Hebrew testament for references) in His presence. Sorry, can’t do that very well any more.
As the pendulum swings from the “Father Feelgood’s happy time” sermon days, we should be aware that it can also swing a bit too far in the opposite direction.
. . . but I can't help thinking that would look pretty odd in the middle of Mass . . . . so kneeling is good. Our priests and deacons prostrate themselves in the center aisle every Good Friday.
Our rector passed the word awhile back that we would be standing from "Pray, brethren . . . " and would kneel after the Sanctus. And everybody does.
I'd probably be flat on my face. Now whether I could get back up or not is another story. ;)
Not only that, if you have trouble walking the Rector or one of his Vicars will bring the Sacrament to you in your pew. Just sit up front.
I know theoretically the pendulum could swing too far, but it hasn’t happened yet — even in our Latin Mass parish here.
>> These quotes are simply quotes for ignorant Catholics, and sadly there are tons of them out there these days who dont know the very basics of their faith.
Simply by eliminating communion in the hand, the attitude of the congregation improves immediately. And when it comes to attire, I often wonder how many of the people in shorts and flip-flops would attend a White House dinner in that attire. Whereas in Church, they meet the Lord of the Universe!
Like netmilsmom with her reverently worshiped NO liturgy, we have the same degree of reverence and respect in the Maronite Catholic Church. We have grown so accustomed to proper attire that when visitors show up wearing casual clothes, they become self conscious at how they stand out from the congregation.
Absolutely! Our parish is small enough that Father actually brings the consecrated and intincted hosts to two old ladies who both have walkers. God bless him!
Our last pastor installed kneelers. Before then, as the rubric required, most people stood during the consecration, but a few insisted don kneeling. Now that the kneelers are there, everyone kneels, but I have heard a few extra-curricular rants about how kneeling hurts "community". Weird.
I attended Mass at the Cathedral in the Sault Ste. Marie Diocese on the 33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time, and we knelt as the article describes, so I guess some dioceses in Canada are ahead of the others.
It was less kneeling than I am used to at my home parish in the Saginaw Diocese in Michigan, but it is the posture agreed upon by the Canadian bishops, so fine by me.
People with bad knees do not have to kneel, and many do not even though they want to, because their doctors have told them not to. My father has cartilage worn completely out of both knees after decades of hard work on top of old high school football injuries, so he falls into this category.
Our parish allows communion in the hand (I don't think the pastor can forbid it, though we have no altar girls), but when I've been watching while waiting our pew's turn, I've noticed that the majority receive on the tongue. I'd estimate about two-thirds.
Interesting controversy. For what its worth, which is likely plenty, the 20th Canon of the 1st Ecumenical Council at Nicea states:
“On the Lord’s Day and at Pentecost all must pray standing and not kneeling.”
Radical, left wing, disrespectful notion from 325 AD. :)
Believe me, the folks in the Roman churches who are standing for the entire Consecration are NOT the same as the Orthodox folks who are standing throughout.
I bet none of the Orthodox are doing the "field goal heave", imitating the priest's gestures, or holding hands and holding their hands above their heads during the Our Father . . . .
In fact, the Church has recognized eight positions of prayer and worship: standing upright, sitting, inclining of the head and neck (what is called a “bow”), bowing at the waist (”deep bow”), touching our forehead to the floor (”bow to the earth” popularly known as a “prostration”), bending one’s knees (”kneeling”), standing on one’s knees (also, improperly, called “kneeling”), and holding a bow to the earth (”full prostration”).
There is a ninth action that is seen in many churches today a bow with the addition of touching one’s hand to the floor. That is either a pietistic addition to a deep bow or a replacement of a prostration. In the latter case, I believe it was begun by people who could no longer make a prostration because of their health, but has been taken over as a “replacement” prostration.
The eight actions are performed by both the clergy and the laity at various times in the services. Though most eliminate as many as five of the actions, replacing them with just three standing upright, bowing the head, and sitting whether appropriately or inappropriately. Appropriate sitting is when it is called for, such as during the Kathisma, while inappropriate sitting is done by custom, such as when the Royal Doors are closed or during all litanies.
Each of these eight positions has its own distinct term in Greek (and in Slavonic). Only in English have we not established appropriate terminology as yet. Thus, we speak of “kneeling” which should mean bending a knee to the ground and manage to confuse all activities in which a knee touches the ground. We speak of “prostration” despite the fact that lying on the ground (being prostrate) is not one of the eight actions.
As a result, there is a lot of confusion, especially when reading the fathers or the Canons of the Church in translation. The same confusion often exists because the words for “prayer” and “worship” are also often confused and assumed to mean the same thing when they, also, are quite distinct in Greek and Slavonic.
So, when the Fathers speak of “standing,” we need to be very careful to know which term they are using because they can be referring to “standing on one’s knees” as well as “standing upright.”
At the same time, when they speak of not “kneeling during prayer,” we need to be very careful not to assume that they are categorically saying that no knee should touch the ground. Such things are simplifications due to the limitations of English terminology and not their intent at all.
Did I mention we live in Paganville?
Yep. I’ve viewed that as eschatological. Or, in my smartbutt way of thinking: He’s risen again, the least we can do is rise once.
Beware the OCA and its usually self serving opinions, netmilsmom.
BTW, the Greek Church kneels on Sundays (except between Pascha and Pentecost), the Canon notwithstanding. It drives most of the Slavs crazy!
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