So here are my last words, really. Prompted by the fact that, up until January of this year I had never, in 66 years (doggie ones), laid hand on a consecrated host.
What happened in January was, for me, a shocking experience. I was fortunate enough to serve an EF Mass at St Mary Maggiore's in Rome. It took place in a side chapel with a congregation of four. By the time the priest was ready to distribute Communion, the congregation had swelled to 10 or 12 souls - such is the power of the Mass of all time!
Faced with this dilemma, the priest, most reverently, broke up each host into segments but, horror of horrors, one segment fell to the floor. The priest suffered from acute arthritis and I knew he would not be able to retrieve the host so I began to place the communion plate over the fragment for retrieval later (standard practice in times past). However, the priest, being a little more worldly wise than I, did not wish to leave the host unprotected as there were crowds wandering around the church and chance is not an option where the safety of the host is concerned.
He whispered to me that I should pick it up.....I bent down with hand outstretched but then froze...I was incapable of movement..."Pick it up" whispered the priest more insistently...still I could not move...rational thoughts were racing through my head. I knew this was the only thing to do and the right thing to do but I was still doing a reasonable impression of Lot's wife. "Pick up the host" whispered the priest commandingly, so I did.
Afterwards I was in a state of mild shock; I was very disturbed and it took a day or two to wear off.
Now this story will be pooh-hooed by many. I can hear cries of "inbred superstition," "religious maniac"and much more besides but, it is a fact that those of us who believe in the True Presence and the divinity of Christ also believe that He should be accorded not just reverence but the greatest reverence we can reasonably show when we receive the Blessed Sacrament.
Here are some of the specious arguments that I have read over the past few weeks (and my responses in red):
1. "I can be just as reverent standing up" Really? Is that possible? It's an outward sign as well as an inward one we are looking for and kneeling is more reverent than standing for these reasons - it requires more effort and it is a recognised way of humbling oneself.
2. "Our Church doesn't have Communion rails" Install them
3. "It takes up too much time to kneel" What! can't we afford God a few extra minutes?
4. "Our priest does not like to give to those kneeling" Speak to your priest and if you don't get any joy, write to your Bishop and then Rome
5. "We have Ministers of Holy Communion who will not give to those kneeling"
Get rid of them. Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion are only permitted to distribute the sacrament under exceptional circumstances (not likely to be normally encountered in most parishes) - See Ecclesia de Mysterio
6. "Receiving by mouth spreads diseases" No one has died from receiving the Body of Christ yet!
7. "Priests do not kneel when they receive, why should I" Because you are not a priest - simple
8. "I want to kneel but I would be the only one doing so" Our Lord was the only one to offer up His life for us....surely we can take a little embarrassment (and snide comments) on His behalf?
9. "But we wish to receive under both kinds and kneeling would be impossible"
Each species is entire and complete, each host is both body and blood and each drop of precious blood both body and blood. It is unnecessary to receive both*
*as an extra note: reception of the Precious Blood is fraught with safety issues. How do you recover from a spillage? You cannot leave the Body of Christ there on and in the fibres of the carpet, so what do you do? You know the answer!
10. "The Apostles did not kneel to receive at The Last Supper" As priests and Bishops of the Church they had the privilege of receiving (as far as we know) by hand