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Problems with kneeling for Communion at St. Joseph? August 2, 2010

Posted by Tantumblogo in Dallas Diocese, foolishness, General Catholic, North Deanery.

My wife and I kneel when we receive Communion.  So do our daughters who are old enough to do so.   I’ve gone over the reasons why we do so, adding that kneeling was the standard practice in the Church until 30 years or so ago.   It’s a very personal issue for us, and for some other people we know who also kneel.  It’s all about showing reverence for Christ in the Eucharist and our own unworthiness as recipients of this August Sacrament.

A while back, there was an problem regarding kneeling for Communion at St. Elizabeth Seton in Plano.  Some folks knelt to receive the Blessed Sacrament at a given Friday Mass, and the priest, Fr. Petter, called us out, saying some unfortunate things.  I queried him about his remarks, and he realized that he had made an error.  At the next Mass, he apologized, which was very magnaminous.  This issue got some coverage by Fr. Z, but I couldn’t dig up the links from a year ago.

Now, I have not had another personal experience like this in the Diocese before or since.  We always kneel for Communion, and it’s not been a problem at any of a number of parishes.  I occasionally get a screwy look, but for the most part it seems at least to be tolerated.

Unfortunately, today I learned of a woman and her family who had been very uncharitably scolded by the now retired Msgr. Fischer of St. Joseph in Richardson.  The incident was very upsetting – Msgr. Fischer essentially called her out as she was kneeling and told her to never do that again.  He said kneeling was not ‘tolerated’ at St. Joseph, which flies in the face of numerous letters from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) who assure us, that, Yes Virginia, every one of the Faithful as a right to kneel for Communion, as it is still the normative means of receiving Communion in the Church in spite of indults to receive in the hand**.  

The story goes further, as the woman involved sought redress from the diocese, but after three meetings with Msgr. Greg Kelly down at the Chancery, all she got was the Heisman.   It’s difficult to discern motives here, but essentially, neither Msgr. Kelly or anyone else at the diocese was willing to tell Msgr. Fischer that he had acted wrongly and uncharitably, and that, per the repeated statements from the CDF, this woman and her family did indeed have a right to kneel to receive Holy Communion.  In essence, this woman’s rights as a Catholic were trampled, and the Diocese chose not to help her get them back. 

Now, Msgr. Fischer has retired to the great radio station in the skyon Turtle Creek, and newly consecrated Bishop Deshotel will be taking his place, soon, as pastor.  It might be worthwhile for some brave soul (crickets…….fine, I’LL do it!) to go see if kneeling is still verboten there.   It never should have been.  But, having attended St. Joseph’s for a few years (’97 – ’01), I can attest to the fact that the now retired Msgr. Fischer had to have things just his way, and that he had no problem humiliating people publically if he thought you  were somehow hindering him – this statement is not to be uncharitable, it is a simple fact.  It happened on several occasions when I was personally present. 

** – Some would argue that since the US bishops made standing to receive the Communion the norm, it is now the norm.  I disagree – standing to receive Communion started as an abuse, and is still only ‘tolerated’ by the Vatican.  The indult allowing one to stand to receive Communion in various countries could be pulled tomorrow.  Kneeling is the time honored means of receiving the Blessed Sacrament in union with the Tradition of the Church.

PS – Sorry for the snark, but I saw Fischer just really embarrass some people, so I’m a bit snarky towards him.


1. Subvet - August 2, 2010

Let us all know if there’s any problem. While preferring to stand I’ve no problem going to St. Joe’s and kneeling just to prove a point.

Stand, kneel, receive on the tongue or in the hand. Put a doily on a woman’s head or let her appear ala Sinead O’Connor. No matter what is done the determining factors are the amount of reverance in the heart and conformance to Church teaching.

2. Robert E. Mangieri - August 2, 2010

Go to Mass at St. Thomas Aquinas. The only people who stand are the ones who can’t kneel. I think it’s the only parish in the diocese that has a Communion rail.

tantamergo - August 2, 2010

St. William in Greenville and Mater Dei have Communion rails. Christ the King still might…..not sure if I can recall that or not.

3. Steve B - August 2, 2010


As I understand them, the key difference between kneeling and/or genuflecting to receive Holy Communion vs. standing to receive is that the former two acts are acts of ADORATION, while the standing is absolutely not.

We can get into unresolvable discussions/disagreements with other Catholics over which acts are “appropriate” acts of REVERENCE in receiving Holy Communion (I know, I faced this very challenge from one of the members of my former parish’s Liturgy Committee – and lost).

But, there’s no contest whatsoever over which acts ADORE our Blessed Lord – kneeling and genuflecting.

I’m not so sure you’re right that receiving while standing was an abuse that was eventually allowed via Indult from Rome. I know that receiving in the hand was, but I’ve never heard that receiving while standing was.

Any references you can provide that would substantiate your position on the history of abuse for standing to receive?

Pax et benedictiones tibi, per Christum Dominum nostrum,

Steve B
Plano, TX

tantamergo - August 2, 2010

You’re right – it’s receiving in the hand which was an abuse ‘normalized’ by Rome. My “not enough time to write clearly” disease got me again.

Subvet - August 3, 2010

“But, there’s no contest whatsoever over which acts ADORE our Blessed Lord – kneeling and genuflecting.”

Unless, as one Dominican friar noted to my wife and I, the kneeling or genuflecting is done to show off. He felt there was a lot of that problem with the more “traditional” elements within the Church.

tantamergo - August 3, 2010

I generally try to assign the best motives I can to whatever anyone does at Church, unless I receive information to the contrary. If you don’t kneel, that’s ok, I feel called to do so. Some folks can’t genuflect, all they can do is bow a bit, perhaps due to arthritis or any of a number of reasons. I don’t think most folks who kneel are doing so to “show off.” My experience has been the opposite, those who kneel feel a lot of angst over it and don’t like making a spectacle of themselves, but they feel called all the same. I’m not trying to turn this into a ‘holier than thou’ campaign on any side, I was simply trying to note the history of the situation – at one time, kneeling was the standard, then in Holland people began to stand and receive Communion in the hand at some point in the ’60s, and that practice spread, and the Vatican then normalized it. The USCCB feels that standing is the norm, either receiving on the hand or tongue. They do say one should bow before receiving the Lord.

The point I had hoped to make, but perhaps due to my haste did not make very well, is that kneeling should be allowed to those who wish to do so. I apologize for the error I made wrt the kneeling+receiving in hand issue, and pray I will take more time to be careful.

4. Subvet - August 3, 2010

Tantamergo, I understand your point completely. Thats why in my first comment I volunteered for any further action planned to defend a valid form of worship. I DON’T kneel due to not wanting to make a spectacle of myself, but that is strictly my choice. I also receive in the hand and will continue to do so until a paten is held under my chin in the eventuality the Host drops from my lips. Taking that extra thought and care is my own form of reverence. Again, strictly my choice.

I wonder how it was done in the first few centuries? Our Lord served the first Eucharist to 12 sitting men, they passed the broken bread and cup of wine from one to another. How long was it before kneeling was instituted, Hosts were indiividually distributed, etc.? I doubt a lack of reverence was a problem until those changes were effected.

5. Mary - August 4, 2010

I can’t say I’m surprised. Just look around there, the labyrinth, the coffee shop, and more. When we used to go to St Joseph’s, we noticed how there were no or few children at mass; a neighbor told me that she and her husband would split up so that the children could stay at home. I don’t know when the children went, if at all.

Back on track, our conversion has brought us to our knees, literally.
That’s our story.

I understand receiving in the hands, standing. I grew up as a cradle catholic, I was young when the alter rails were removed from our church and placed around Our Lady of Guadalupe. Yes, it made a sort of fence around Our Lady, who was at the front, right side in church. – ???

Subvet mentions that 12 apostles received sitting – the bible doesn’t say that specifically. It said the sat down for dinner, but it doesn’t say they received sitting; I know paintings and movies have us think they were sitting, I’m not sure.
What I do see is that there were instances of great sinners who approached Jesus on their knees, or in a humbled position – Mary Magdelan wept tears to wash the feet of Jesus, the wise men “falling down, they adored him”, , the prostitute, the leper (Mk 1:40), also in Mk 10:17-the “certain man” who asked what he must do to enter the kingdom.

In my decision to kneel, I contemplated these passages, along with much prayer before making my personal decision. Just as others think we (kneelers) think less of others, I sometimes wonder if they think less of us. in the case of Msgr Fisher, he obviously wasn’t planning to deal with any kneeling.

6. Shin - August 5, 2010

I too, always kneel. The war against the devout continues.. but our bleeding hearts will be kneeling before the Lord. 🙂

Here’s a little answer to those who talk standing:

Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments

5 June 2003

Prot. n. 855/03/L

Dubium: In many places, the faithful are accustomed to kneeling or sitting in personal prayer upon returning to their places after individually received Holy Communion during Mass. Is it the intention of the Missale Romanum, editio typica tertia, to forbid this practice?

Responsum: Negative, et ad mentem. The mens is that that the prescription of the Institutio Generalis Missalis Romani, no. 43, is intended, on one hand, to ensure within broad limits a certain uniformity of posture within the congregation for the various parts of the celebration of the Holy Mass, and on the other, to not regulate posture rigidly in such a way that those who wish to kneel or sit would no longer be free.

Francis Cardinal Arinze

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