Receiving Communion

Receiving Communion

The “kneeling is a sin” thread has diverged a little from the original situation to discussing Communion procedures at people’s parishes. As usual, many people have noticed that the profusion of Extraordinary Ministers of the Eucharist (who aren’t so extraordinary anymore) has left us with a mess in the aisles. People often end up crossing in front of each other or bump into one another or you have some people heading toward the altar for Communion and some away.

First, it should be noted that concern for neat lines and orderliness is very much an American one. In most of Europe, especially in Italy, everyone just gets up and goes together. None of this pew by pew business. That does have a practical pastoral aspect. When you’re getting up row by row, if a person decides not to go up to receive, for whatever reason, it becomes very obvious to everyone else that he’s not going. This can put enormous pressure on someone to go up so that they’re not singled out as “that mortal sinner.”

Now, I am happy to say that after years of lobbying, I have finally convinced my pastor that it is preferable to have the two priests—celebrant and one assisting—stand at the head of the aisle and everyone comes to them. In that past we’ve done it with one EME or priest standing halfway down the main aisle and even with the priest standing in front of the back doors into the entryway. But now, with them standing up front, it provides a nice symbolism of going up to the altar to receive, reminding us of our journey through life so that at the end we will stand before Christ and attend the wedding feast of the Lamb.

I will add that we do have two EMEs in addition to the priests, who offer the cup to anyone who wants to receive under both species. We don’t have enough priests to have only priests do this so I’m not so concerned about that.

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