Last weekend 21 young boys and girls made their First Holy Communion. This weekend at the 11:30 Mass 11 more of our young people will receive the Body of Christ for the first time. This is an important day in the life of these children. To receive our Lord, Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity into our body, heart and soul is the greatest gift we have as Catholics. We thank God that these children will receive their First Holy Communion within the Tradition of the Church. They all will wear special clothes that remind them of the specialness of this day. Their families will make it a special day as well by hosting family gatherings in celebration. But as wonderful as these traditions are, they are not what we mean when we talk about the Tradition of the Catholic Church. The Tradition is what has been handed down in faith from the Apostles to the present time. The Tradition includes Scripture, Church teaching, and above all the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. Each of our children receive their First Holy Communion kneeling and on the tongue. They receive kneeling in adoration, just like the Wise Men, the Three Kings, knelt before the Holy Child in recognition of who He truly is: God in the flesh. And our children will receive the Body of Christ on their tongue from the priest, who represents Christ himself. They are fed the Body of Christ like a mother feeds her young children.
The common practice in most parishes since the Novus Ordo Mass was introduced over 50 years ago is to receive Holy Communion standing and in the hand. This innovation has resulted in a serious decline in belief in the Real Presence of Christ among Catholics, which has been well documented. Kneeling has always been understood as the physical way one shows that one is in the presence of God. The Psalms sing of "kneeling before the Lord our Maker". The New Testament witnesses many times to kneeling before the Lord, from those who begged Him to heal them to St. Peter himself. While it is true that Orthodox Christians usually stand at the Divine Liturgy, at the Consecration many kneel or even prostrate themselves. The Orthodox would never dream of taking the Sacred Species and putting It into their hand as if they are eating just bread. They are fed by the priest. Those who advance the claim that standing for Communion was the practice of the "early Church" have little solid evidence for this, and even if this were true, belief in the Real Presence as Tradition developed organically made kneeling the norm at Holy Communion. Please pray for our children who have received their First Holy Communion that their faith, strengthened by their encounter with the living Tradition of the Church in the Mass, will grow and deepen each year of their life.
Fr. Richard G. Cipolla