Canonical Basics

From the bulletin of St. Edward’s Church, Princeton, MN, December 9, 2007:



…I would like us to temporarily change our posturing DURING THE UPCOMING SEASON OF JOY. As I reflect upon the liturgical text and review the procedures exemplified at our diocesan liturgies, it seems most appropriate during the Sundays/Holy Days of the Christmas Season (December 24—January 13, the Baptism of the Lord) that we STAND DURING THE EUCHARISTIC PRAYER. We would resume kneeling again as we move into Ordinary Time (January 14—February 5) and continue kneeling in the season of Lent (February 6—March 19).

My intention is not to cause confusion nor resurface old wounds (for the archives of St. Ed’s reveal some volatile debates concerning “correct” posturing during the Eucharist prayer) but to reveal in our posturing what we celebrate in our liturgies. Without question, the Christmas season is a time of celebration. At our Diocesan liturgies, when the theme/focus is to celebrate, the assembly is asked to remain standing during the Eucharistic Prayer. I believe that our bishop is within his right (as the local Ordinary to call for this. [See General Instruction of the Roman Missal, paragraphs 386-390.]

While Bishop Kinney has not mandated that all parishes stand, I believe that we are called to respect his preference. Paragraph 43 in the GIRM states that the normative posture for the U.S. is that of kneeling, however, it includes the following “except when prevented on occasion by reasons of health, lack of space, the large number of people present, or some other good reason.” I dare to say that our bishop’s “good reason” in part stems from the fact the Eucharistic prayer is in fact a “berakah prayer” (that is, a benediction or expression of praise/thanks directed to God) and thus the appropriate posture (especially on feast days or the seasons of joy) is to stand. This is the example demonstrated at all diocesan Masses.

Now don’t misinterpret me, kneeling is an important posture…it indicates supplication, penitence or adoration. I would never want to eliminate it from our services, but I don’t find it relevant for the Eucharistic prayer during our seasons/days of joy….

For now, we kneel during the Eucharistic Prayer, expressing our “advent longings and waiting.” At Christmas time, may we stand to express our joy, glory to God and thankfulness.

-Fr. Kevin Anderson


[Fr. Anderson is saying that in his parish the liturgy will conform to whatever he finds relevant instead of the lawful norms. This is antinomianism combined with clericalism. For more of the same, see the next two “Straws. “ CMW]


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From the bulletin of Immaculate Conception Church, Springfield, MO. The date is uncertain; but it is most likely December 30, 2007 or January 1, 2008:


Those who want a Latin Tridentine Mass or those who want to genuflect or kneel for Communion are creating turmoil within our Roman Catholic Church. They are individuals wanting their own liturgical style.

/s/Fr. Lewis E. Hejna


[This is Fr. Hejna’s second appearance in “Straws in the Wind.” He is clearly no fan of the TLM; but he is not nearly as rough as was Fr. James Patrick Wiseman, pastor of Sacred Heart Parish in Bolivar, MO, also in the diocese of Springfield-Cape Girardeau, who blamed the TLM for the rise of Hitler. (See “Straws in the Wind,” Vol. 25-6, November 9, 2007.) A new bishop has been appointed, who reportedly is friendlier toward the TLM and those Catholics who are attached to it. CMW]


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An excerpt from a column by Fr. Richard McBrien in The Tidings, newspaper of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, February 1, 2008:


…There is a small but powerful and determined group within the Vatican who have never accepted the liturgical reforms of the Second Vatican Council and Pope Paul VI. Their resistance is at root ecclesiological in nature.

What they oppose is the de-clericalization of the liturgy. In their minds, the Church is identical with the hierarchy and the priests who serve under the bishops. The laity, on the other hand, are simply the beneficiaries of the sacramental ministrations of the clergy, in a process ultimately controlled by the Vatican.

The problem for the resisters is not so much that the Mass was put into the vernacular, but that the laity could now fully understand it and actively participate in it.

The same applies to the turning around of the altar to face the congregation. It was no longer the priest-in-charge reciting the sacred words and performing the sacred rituals on behalf of the laity, but the laity themselves participating in the Mass along with the priest, making responses, singing various parts, proclaiming the Scripture readings, and even assisting with the distribution of Holy Communion.

And the same applies to the removal of the Communion rail and the receiving of Communion in the hand rather than on the tongue, while standing rather than kneeling. Each of these changes signaled again that the laity are not passive observers at Mass, but active participants.

The Communion rail is gone because there should be no barrier between the sanctuary and the worshiping congregation. Communion is given in the hand because the laity should feed themselves rather than be fed like infants or very young children.

The communicants stand rather than kneel because they approach the priest as co-equals with him in Baptism, not as serfs coming before their lord and master to express their fealty.

It is this underlying ecclesiology that is rejected, and not simply the changes in language and rituals. What the resisters oppose is the very idea that the Church is the whole People of God, laity included, rather than the hierarchy and clergy alone.


[This is another one of Fr. McBrien’s offerings in which he presents his ill-founded personal opinions as if they were undisputed fact. Nowhere in Sacrosanctum Concilium or any subsequent liturgical legislation could I find any requirement that the altar must be turned around to face the people. Neither is there any legislation mandating the removal of Communion rails or forbidding their installation. Receiving Communion on the tongue remains the norm, although in some countries, including the US and Canada, indults were granted permitting (but not mandating) reception in the hand. In accord with the norm of law, the episcopal conferences of the US, Canada and some other countries, have approved legislation making standing the norm. However, the Holy See has stated that no one who approaches to receive kneeling can be denied Holy Communion. For other views on receiving Communion in the hand, receiving Communion standing and always celebrating Mass facing the people, see the next two “Straws.” CMW]


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From the Foreword of Dominus Est by Bishop Athanasius Schneider, Published in Italian by Libreria Editrice Vaticana on January 18, 2008. The author of the foreword is Archbishop Malcolm Ranjith, Secretary of the Congregation for Divine Worship and Discipline of the Sacraments. Thanks are due to New Liturgical Movement ( for the translation.


…Even in the Church, the deep conviction that in the Eucharistic species the Lord is truly and really present, along with the growing practice of preserving the Holy Sacrament in tabernacles, contributed to practice of kneeling in an attitude of humble adoration of the Lord in the Eucharist.
Therefore, the Eucharist, bread transubstantiated in Body of Christ and wine into the Blood of Christ, God among us, is to be greeted with wonder, reverence and an immense attitude of humble adoration. Pope Benedict XVI… points out that "receiving the Eucharist means adoring him whom we receive […] only in adoration can a profound and genuine reception mature."(Sacramentum Caritatis 66).
…As we see in some churches now, this practice is decreasing and those responsible not only require that the faithful should receive the Holy Eucharist standing, but even eliminate all kneelers forcing the faithful to sit or stand, even during the elevation and adoration of the [Sacred] Species. It is ironic that such measures have been taken in [some] dioceses by those responsible for liturgy, or in churches, by pastors, without even the smallest amount of consultation of the faithful, even though today, more than ever, there is an environment desiring democracy in the Church.
At the same time, speaking of communion in the hand, it must be recognized that the practice was improperly and quickly introduced in some quarters of the Church shortly after the Council, changing the age-old practice and becoming regular practice for the whole Church. They justified the change saying that it better reflected the Gospel or the ancient practice of the Church… Some, to justify this practice referred to the words of Jesus: "Take and eat" (Mk 14, 22; Mt 26, 26).
Whatever the reasons for this practice, we cannot ignore what is happening worldwide where this practice has been implemented. This gesture has contributed to a gradual weakening of the attitude of reverence towards the sacred Eucharistic species whereas the previous practice had better safeguarded that sense of reverence. There instead arose an alarming lack of recollection and a general spirit of carelessness. We see communicants who often return to their seats as if nothing extraordinary has happened… In many cases, one cannot discern that sense of seriousness and inner silence that must signal the presence of God in the soul.
Then there are those who take away the sacred species to keep them as souvenirs, those who sell, or worse yet, who take them away to desecrate it in Satanic rituals. Even in large concelebrations, also in Rome, several times the sacred species has been found thrown onto the ground.
Now I think it is high time to review and re-evaluate such good practices and, if necessary, to abandon the current practice that was not called for by Sacrosanctum Concilium, nor by Fathers, but was only accepted after its illegitimate introduction in some countries. Now, more than ever, we must help the faithful to renew a deep faith in the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharistic species in order to strengthen the life of the Church and defend it in the midst of dangerous distortions of the faith that this situation continues to cause…


[Without a doubt there will be those who say that the foreword to Dominus Est can be seen as merely the personal views of Archbishop Ranjith. Strictly speaking, this is true; but the fact that the book was published by the Vatican’s own publishing house also says a lot. There is nothing I can add to the archbishop’s words; they speak for themselves. CMW]

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