Conference to Promote Communion Kneeling and on the Tongue

Saturday’s conference will take place at 6 p.m. in the conference hall of the church of Santo Spirito in Sassia, Rome.

Survivors of Super Typhoon Haiyan receive Holy Communion in the Philippine village of San Joaquin in Palo on Dec. 24, 2013.
Survivors of Super Typhoon Haiyan receive Holy Communion in the Philippine village of San Joaquin in Palo on Dec. 24, 2013. (photo: TED ALJIBE/AFP/Getty Images)

VATICAN CITY — Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith will be among those contributing to a Rome conference Saturday aimed at reestablishing the rebirth of Eucharistic devotion.

The archbishop of Colombo, Sri Lanka, and former Secretary at the Congregation for Divine Worship has sent his blessing to the conference, entitled “Every Knee Shall Bow — The Majesty and Infinite Love of Holy Communion.”

Other contributors will be Cardinal Raymond Burke, the patron of the Sovereign Order of Malta, and Bishop Athanasius Schneider, auxiliary of Astana, Kazakhstan, who will give messages via video.

The event, aimed at raising awareness about the way Jesus in the Eucharist is received, will especially urge greater reverence by receiving the Body of Christ kneeling and on the tongue rather than standing and in the hand.

It comes after around 11,000 people signed an international petition to say they wanted to receive Jesus in the Eucharist in this “traditional way,” one “more suitable to express utmost devotion.”

They asked that the possibility of receiving Holy Communion on the tongue and kneeling be guaranteed and that the distribution of the Eucharist by the laity be prohibited.

The petition was sent as an open letter to Church authorities, asking them to act on this “legitimate request and will of the Catholic people.”

“The Eucharist is the heart of Christianity around which all the rest shall rotate,” the petition organizers wrote, adding: “The time that the Catholic Church is living nowadays is very serious and problematic so that the question: ‘Will the Son of Man still find faith on earth when He returns?’ becomes more and more current.’”

Among the conference speakers will be Msgr. Nicola Bux, a theologian and former consultor to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. In Sept. 27 comments to the Register, Msgr. Bux said the “crisis of faith that we are experiencing is caused by secularization, to which the clergy have contributed most, as [French philosopher] Charles Peguy wrote.

Msgr. Bux said if a priest “first obliges a believer to stand up to receive Holy Communion, or comes to remove kneelers from the church, it means that the devil has entered the temple.” The devil, he said, “pushes priests to remove this element that recalls the First Commandment: to love the Lord your God and serve him alone!”

Referring to what Benedict XVI called a “sort of ‘nuclear fission’” that takes place when bread and wine is turned into Christ’s real body and blood, Msgr. Bux explained how transubstantiation brings about a “process of transformation of reality, a process leading ultimately to the transfiguration of the entire world, to the point where God will be all in all.”

Kneeling before the Holy Eucharist is therefore “the most eloquent expression” a person can make in front of the “present mystery,” said Msgr. Bux. “Divine worship has this central focus: to realize that the Lord is here and to give him importance, that is, to worship him by bringing us to our knees, as Saint Peter did at the Sea of Galilee.”

Cases have come to light of a few priests and bishops denying Holy Communion to communicants who kneel — one of the most recent being Chilean Bishop Celestino Aos, who denied the Eucharist to at least two faithful who were kneeling to receive on Holy Thursday this year.

Concerning Holy Communion in the hand, the petition organizers wrote that it was never instructed by the Second Vatican Council, even though it is often construed as coming from it. They also stressed that it was a choice but never an obligation that could be imposed.

Msgr. Bux said Holy Communion in the hand was an “indult extracted from Paul VI which has become customary, and even the rule, justified also through the assumption that the Lord, at the Last Supper, gave Communion in the hands of the Apostles.

“On the contrary, the very words Jesus spoke in reference to the traitor — ‘It is the one to whom I hand the morsel after I have dipped it’ — describe the friendly Semitic use of putting in the mouth what was considered delectable.”

Msgr. Bux added: “As for Communion standing, receiving in the hand or, or abusing it by taking it away, we would like to show that we are adults before God but not, as Peter writes, newborns in need of the spiritual milk that is Eucharistic Sacrament.”

Saturday’s conference, organized by the lay group ‘United With Jesus in the Eucharist Through the Most Holy Hands of Mary,’ will take place at 6 p.m., Oct. 5, in the conference hall of the church of Santo Spirito in Sassia, Rome.