Saturday, 22 February 2014

Re-thinking the Procession for Holy Communion

Here is a first-rate post from Fr Simon Henry on his highly-recommended blog, Offerimus Tibi Domine, entitled When was the last time you felt unable to go to Communion?

I venture, with some trepidation, to make a modest proposal.

In Clifton diocese the Holy Communion procession is a very neat arrangement, front to back, row by row. This results in those who do not go up to receive remaining rather conspicuously alone in the pew.

In contrast, I remember things as they used to be, both in my earlier years in Liverpool archdiocese, and as they were when we spent a good deal of time in a rural part of Ireland in the mid-2000s. What I recall is a bit of a scramble. All the communicants surged forward randomly, including those right at the back of the church. The people in the front pews sometimes had to wait quite some time before they could fit into a gap. In addition, some of the congregation liked to spend a little more time in prayer before receiving.

The “bun-fight” approach allowed for all sorts and types. It was untidy, but the very untidiness gave shelter to those who were unwilling or unable to receive. Nobody noticed what they were or were not doing. They could devote themselves to their own prayers and spiritual communions.

Really, it would be an act of charity to such members of the congregation. And, since the First Great Commandment relates to God, this giving of shelter and a degree of anonymity would also help to foster the respect due to the Blessed Sacrament.

Would congregations be willing to go back to the old, somewhat chaotic arrangement, if these genuine and very important spiritual reasons were put forward? Might it be feasible?

Image, via Google, from the Church of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, Wentworthville, New South Wales

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