Skip to comments.Rail by rail! (priest explains why he installs altar rails at each parish where he serves)
Posted on 05/13/2013 6:31:03 AM PDT by NYer
One for the Brick by Brick file.
I had a note from a friend in the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph, where the great Bishop Robert Finn presides.
At St. Andrew the Apostle on the north side of KC, Fr. Vince Rogers has installed a new brand new Communion rail!
My friend wrote:
He has installed altar rails in most of not all of the parishes in which he has served over the past 15-20 years.
He noted in his homily this morning, “So, why do I do this everywhere I go? It started when I was a seminarian at the NAC. Mother Teresa came to visit and when time came for communion, she went first and knelt on the marble floor and received. We all looked at each other and went up and knelt to receive our blessed Lord. From that moment forward……”
“The largest denomination in the US is fallen away Catholics. Why? Because we have forgotten what the Eucharist really is. If it’s only bread we are like pigs at a trough. If it is the body, blood, soul and divinity of Jesus Christ, then let’s act accordingly.”
Prior to the rail, he had a double prie-dieu in front of the altar. Maybe 30-40% received kneeling. This morning, the first Sunday Mass with the rail, all but a dozen or so at the 8 a.m. Mass received kneeling. Several still received in the hand but many more received kneeling, reverently and on the tongue – likely for the first time. What happened to their heart, only time will tell.
Fr. Z kudos to Fr. Rogers.
I am only in my 30s but I remember how much I enjoyed receiving kneeled at the alter. The whole mass seemed more reverent. I remember wondering why the heck they stopped doing it that way. I also wondered why rock bands with drums and electric bass were chosen over organs and choirs. I miss the old days dearly.
This brings tears to my eyes reading it. I hope it catches on.
Having an official role in Sunday Mass I can tell you there are certain practical issues at play in our parish. In particular many elderly parishoners with walkers, canes and wheelchairs. Bringing everyone to the rail would be fraught with difficulties IMO.
Back when polio was ravaging the young in America, I remember priests exiting the altar to administer Holy Communion to those on crutches, wheel chairs and in braces. They may have been the last to receive at the Mass, but it was no great bother for priest or congregant.
It would take some getting used to. The last time I did it, a year ago at a Latin Mass, I felt very rushed and a little stressed (did I open my mouth enough? Lift my head enough? Am I getting up fast enough for the people after me?).
So, I would say maybe it feels reverent when You feel reverent, instead of self-conscious. Personally, I think I am prone to distraction by the Evil One no matter what bodily position I am in.
Vatican II proof that the shameful scourge called “The Sixties” reached even into the Vatican.
Because of my knee replacement, revival of kneeling at the altar would preclude me from ever receiving Communion again.
This article does not surprise me, however. My son belongs to a parish in Overland Park, KS. Their “new” (about 10-15 yo) church has what looks to me to be “baby” altar rails. IOW, the main altar is separated by rails. Parishioners are not asked to kneel at them, but the practice could be instituted easily. The church is beautiful with many old world details. My son blangs to St. Michael the Archangel Parish.
1. There were plenty of elderly, disabled persons back when there were communion rails everywhere.
2. Episcopalians still receive kneeling at the rail and always have (albeit in the hand rather than on the tongue). And the Episcopalians are definitely a "graying" denomination, as most of the young families have left for churches that actually believe something.
My husband was head usher for the 11:15 service at our pre-conversion ECUSA parish. The rail itself provides support for those who merely have difficulty getting up and down. The first step makes the distance shorter, and cushions are provided. For those on crutches, walkers, or in wheelchairs, they come to the open altar gates and stand, or the priest goes to them.
Bring this priest to my parish too. The handicapped, those with walkers or canes can receive in their seats at the end of Communion.
I doubt that Vatican II changed it. Vatican II did not change the requirement to eat non-meat meals on Fridays — the American Bishops did that.
We need to be talking to them.
I remember this when I was Kid. It was awesome and sacred. Also I would take my mother before she passed in the wheelchair to Mass. No worry about receiving communion. The priests know what to do. Cheers in Christ.
Found some nice photos on the 'net.
An All Saints' Day Mass was held Thursday evening, Nov. 1, 2012, at St. Michael the Archangel Catholic Church
The photos come from an interesting article, Building on spirit: The Rev. Bill Porter energizes a new church and school. Apparently the church is only 4 years old as it was dedicated in 2009.
In every parish I have attended Mass at, the Eucharist is brought down to those with walkers, canes and wheelchairs. They are not expected to proceed up to receive. In churches with altar rails, they could so the same.
You would never be denied Communion because you cannot kneel; there are many people at my parish who are unable to kneel at the rail. Father never has nor ever would deny them Holy Communion. However...at the TLM, Communion IS received ONLY on the tongue.
I remember once, there was a very old woman, wheelchair-bound, who was unable even to receive a whole Host. Father came down from the altar, broke a tiny piece off a Host, knelt down next to her and gently and patiently gave her Communion. He waited there until he was sure she’d been able to swallow it and then returned to finish distributing the Sacrament to the rest of us.
It was beautiful.
Anyway, you shouldn’t worry about not being allowed to receive if you cannot kneel. Happens all the time.
If you read the history of the time, the Lefty termites were already undermining the Church structure and had been for decades. VII only gave them cover.
Thank you. I already feel guilty about sitting in the back with all the rest of the crippled people, although Father says it’s perfectly OK. He has had a couple if knee and hip replacements, so he’s delivering his homilies sitting in a chair.
I know the real reason they took the rail out the my childhood church is because some yenta parent threated sue my parish because her daughter big wheelchair got stuck at altar at the time
The parent was feminist attorney for NAG gang in 1970s that real reason she felt the priest was too manley he need come down to her level LOL!
Real scandel at my childhood church I love those rails they were so artsy
Ah, see? It works both ways! There is a priest who used to say the TLM for us at our parish. He is very old and is no longer able to say the Mass, but while he was doing it, the altar boys had to literally pick him up from a kneeling position every once in awhile.
The boys didn’t mind, and are to this day very protective of Father, helping him walk to an from the church if they see him out and about.
Everybody understands when someone just can’t do something anymore. I think it’s a great lesson for all of us.
Best to you,