Jesus is Truly Present in the Most Blessed Sacrament… So What?
Recently, Team Orthodoxy has found itself defending the reality of Jesus’ Real Presence in the Most Blessed Sacrament. Sadly, the defence of this truth has had to have been made to catholics, who for whatever reason, do not truly believe in this truth that is 2000 years old which has been declared in the Holy Scripture by our Lord Himself, proclaimed and guarded by the Vicars of Christ and the Saints, and affirmed by countless miracles . The most recent of events occurred in our home parish, where a resident priest has taken it upon himself to aim to rid the local church of it’s reverence due to the Most Blessed Sacrament. On the very feast dedicated to the Most Blessed Sacrament, Corpus Christi (which was instituted after a beautiful Eucharistic Miracle occurred), he declared to the faithful in the pews that the Doctrine of the Real Presence is best left in the middle ages, and that anyone who believed it was dumb, running a “Model T” on a high speed freeway. Then, to cap it off, a week before the Wedding, as I and the rest of my family, with CatholicRuki, knelt to receive Communion (as we do at every Mass -whether the Ordinary Form or Extraordinary Form – still same Jesus), the priest had the audacity to push the Consecrated Host in our mouths rather angrily and said “Body of Christ…No need to kneel”. This he said to all four of us individually. There were others in the church I know who knelt to receive, however I do not know if they received the same treatment. This was a great injustice. It was not only negligence of canon law, but a complete refusal to recognize the Person who is present under the appearances of the Host. All of this happened before the wedding, and having no time, I was unable to respond to this. However, it is time to speak up in honour of our Eucharistic Lord. Below, please read the letter that I am sending to this priest and pray it will be blessed by Almighty God and the Blessed Mother would help guide my hand as I write in defence of her Divine Son, to one of her adopted but wayward chosen sons.
Dear Father (name removed to protect his privacy),
I hope this letter finds you well. My name is Chris Pinnegar. I am a weekly communicant at St. Peter’s Cathedral in London as well as I frequently try to attend Mass during the week at the parish as much as I can. I am writing to you today as a concerned parishioner. I wish to begin by requesting that you please read this letter with an openness of mind, and please do not feel as if I am trying to create a rift between us. The intent of this letter is to simply to share with you what our Blessed Lord has revealed to me by the many great and faithful catholic priests and laity in my life. I am not proposing to know more than you, or make any disrespect to your Priestly Ministry. I greatly thank you, in fact, for your faithful ministry. Without the priesthood, the Church would not exist. It is because of this understanding, that I wish to share what has been shared with me, because I care so deeply for the priesthood.
On July 31st, 2011, my family processed up the aisle to receive our Blessed Lord in Holy Communion. Each of us knelt to receive communion from you. As you placed the Sacred Body of our Lord on our tongues, you spoke the words, “Body of Christ – No need to kneel”. All four of us remained kneeling to receive our Lord, arose to our feet and returned to our seat. We left Mass, and I was convicted to know whether I was doing something wrong in this case or not. Now, this was the week before I was to be married at St. Andrew the Apostle in London, so I had little time to begin my search for the truth concerning this matter. So please accept my apology for not writing this sooner. I have done some research concerning this and wish to share my findings with you.
1. The Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI has mandated that anyone who is to receive Holy Communion from him will receive it “Kneeling and on the tongue”. This is not a sign of reverence to him and his Papal office, but to Jesus truly present in the Blessed Sacrament. Cardinal Raymond Burke speaks about this saying, “The Holy Father is giving a very clear lesson by his own insistence that the faithful receive Communion kneeling and on the Tongue. He’s teaching us something. This is a decision which he obviously made with much thought and for good reasons, and so to me it’s the case to teach the faithful once again about due reverence of receiving Holy Communion and to encourage them to consider a return to that traditional form of Communion kneeling and Receiving Holy Communion on the Tongue”
2. I found in my research that the Universal Norm for Reception for Holy Communion is “On the tongue” while kneeling. Some National Conferences of Bishops, the USA and Canada for example, had to request permission from the Holy See to allow the faithful to receive communion while standing and to receive in the hand. This permission was granted with the condition that the faithful must receive the Eucharist with great reverence (see Redemptionis Sacramentum 90).
3. In a letter written by the Congregation for Divine Worship and Discipline of the Sacraments in their publication Notitiae in 2002, it stated that:
“The Congregation in fact is concerned at the number of similar complaints that it has received in recent months from various places, and considers any refusal of Holy Communion to a member of the faithful on the basis of his or her kneeling posture to be a grave violation of one of the most basic rights of the Christian faithful, namely that of being assisted by their Pastors by means of the Sacraments (Codex Iuris Canonici, canon 213). In view of the law that “sacred ministers may not deny the sacraments to those who opportunely ask for them, are properly disposed and are not prohibited by law from receiving them” (canon 843 ß 1), there should be no such refusal to any Catholic who presents himself for Holy Communion at Mass, except in cases presenting a danger of grave scandal to other believers arising out of the person’s unrepented public sin or obstinate heresy or schism, publicly professed or declared. Even where the Congregation has approved of legislation denoting standing as the posture for Holy Communion, in accordance with the adaptations permitted to the Conferences of Bishops by the Institution Generalis Missalis Romani n. 160, paragraph 2, it has done so with the stipulation that communicants who choose to kneel are not to be denied Holy Communion on these grounds…Indeed, the faithful should not be imposed upon nor accused of disobedience and of acting illicitly when they kneel to receive Holy Communion”
I hope this helps to clarify at least where the Church stands on this issue. From a personal perspective, I attribute my reversion back to the Catholic faith to the intercession of our Blessed Lady, who led me to the Real Presence of Jesus in the Most Blessed Sacrament. Jesus, present under the Sacramental veil is what keeps me Catholic. My God, the Creator of the Universe is contained in this tiny white host. This completely changed my entire existence; this is the central reality which the Scriptures reveal, Pope and Saints have proclaimed, and countless miracles have attested to.
On my honeymoon, I knelt at a communion rail in a faithful Catholic parish called Saint John Cantius in northern Chicago with my new wife and the rest of the faithful waiting to receive our Lord in Holy Communion. As the priest came, and laid the host on my tongue, the absolute joy that I experienced in that moment was indescribable, but also incredibly humbling, knowing that the Lord willed to “enter under my roof”. The King wills to enter my home every time I go to Mass. From this moment of intimacy with the Divine Saviour in which He imparts so many graces, I’m able to go out into the world and be a disciple. Therefore, I thank you again from the bottom of my heart for your priesthood, because it is because of you that I can receive the greatest of all graces who is the Giver of all grace. I thank you also for your time in reading this letter.
Gratefully I am
Sincerely yours in Christ through Mary,