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So then, brethren, stand firm and hold to the traditions which you were taught by us, either by word of mouth or by letter.—2 Thessalonians 2:15

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Holy Communion in the Ordinariate: receiving the Chalice during Divine Worship. A model practice for the Ordinary Form.

Written by a witness to and participator in, but not necessarily an authority on, the practice of Holy Communion in the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of Saint Peter.

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For many of us "diocesan Catholics" who receive the Precious Blood of our Lord during Holy Communion in an Ordinariate Mass, the experience or practice of receiving the chalice (Precious Blood of Christ), and for that matter the Sacred Body of Christ, can be slightly unsettling, as it should be. After all, one is receiving the Lord God!

The typical diocesan Catholic who attends the Ordinariate Mass is not your typical non-Ordinariate Catholic. Like the Extraordinary Form and Ordinariate Catholic who approaches Holy Communion with solemn reverence in posture (kneeling, communion on the tongue) and attitude, the diocesan Catholic who attends the Ordinariate Mass is one who is alert to the Real Presence of Jesus Christ.

A lack of familiarity with Ordinariate practice gives visitors the opportunity to demonstrate humility. God forbid we should become oblivious to the greatest miracle on earth! The Ordinariate method of receiving the chalice, long honed within former Anglo-catholic circles, is a custom from which all Catholics can draw necessary wisdom to enhance reverence. The Ordinariate practice provides practical direction to Catholics approaching the Blessed Sacrament during Holy Communion.

Though visiting Extraordinary Form-ers typically do not receive the Precious Blood when they attend the Ordinariate Mass at a local fellowship in our area, most former diocesans (Ordinary Form regular attendees) and occasionals (visitors) who receive the chalice do so with deep reverence. Visitors quickly adapt and adopt the actions and intentions modelled by regular Ordinariate Mass-goers.

So, how does one receive the chalice (Precious Blood) during Divine Worship (the Ordinariate Mass)?
  1. After the priest(s) has received Holy Communion, the bells are rung once and the Communion Sentence (antiphon) is chanted or read.
  2. The Communion Procession. Communicants then leave their pews and process to the altar steps (... we have no altar rail... yet!). As they approach the sanctuary, they genuflect or bow as they are able in adoration of the Real Presence, the Blessed Sacrament being distributed.
  3. Posture. Kneeling on the bottom or first step of the sanctuary, which in the case of the parish church in which our community worships is the first of two steps up to the predella, the communicant receives the Body of Christ on the tongue.
  4. Waiting. Communicants who desire to receive the Precious Blood remain kneeling after the reception of the Body of Christ. Until needed to grasp the edge of the chalice, the hands remain  palms together, thumbs crossed (right over left). [Those who come forward for "a blessing" cross their arms across their chest per the common practice in our area. In the future, perhaps, people will be instructed to appreciate that a blessing is already offered at the conclusion of Mass. The practice of receiving a blessing during communion seems awkward given that the person requesting a blessing is basically identifying their unworthiness (due to a serious impediment?) to receive Holy Communion. Furthermore, an act of spiritual communion may be made in the pew if one so desires.]
  5. Cooperation. The priest brings the chalice to you, placing the edge of the cup near your lips.
  6. The moment has arrived! You gently grasp the bottom edge (the edge nearest to you) of the chalice between your thumb above your curved forefinger to guide the chalice closer to your lips. The priest will guide the chalice to your mouth and tilt it to pour a small amount of the Precious Blood into your mouth. [One does not grasp the chalice with both hands and wrench it from the hands of the priest. Nor does one chug or gulp the Precious Blood. The practice, as described, preserves decorum and respect, guards against spillage of the Precious Blood and prevents the chalice from being dropped or mishandled.]
  7. My cup underfloweth. If you happen to be one of the last communicants, the amount of the Precious Blood you receive might be very small, a mere "touch". Bear in mind, until the purifications of the chalice by the priest, the Lord is truly present in the chalice no matter how little of the Precious Blood remains. Touching your lips to the chalice is itself a beautiful act of adoration of the Lord.
  8. Veneration. Typically, it is the practice of communicants to "cross" themselves before receiving both the Body of Christ and the Blood of Christ. Many people also "cross" themselves after receiving the Precious Blood for a total of three "crossings".
  9. And no, intinction is not permitted for lay Catholics.
  10. If there is more than one priest, the Precious Blood follows immediately after the Sacred Body. If there is one priest, the process can take a lot longer, which is beautifully appropriate. I.e., one "waits" on the Lord until the priest returns with the chalice.
  11. The communicant, having received Holy Communion, proceeds back to his or her pew to pray. At the conclusion of communion, the prayer Almighty and everliving God, we most heartily thank Thee is collectively prayed. Most often, after Mass, people will spend a few minutes in prayer to further give thanks and remain focussed on having received the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ.
The modus operandi of the Ordinariate Divine Worship could (should?) be a model for a restoration of reverence and practicality in the Ordinary Form.
Every English Mass Should Be Like the Anglican Ordinariate’s
https://heroicvirtuecreations.com/2015/08/24/every-english-mass-should-be-like-the-anglican-ordinariates/
"The Order of the Mass for the Anglican Ordinariate is what the English Mass should be: traditional, yet in the vernacular; accessible, yet reverent."—Devin Rose


There are plenty of reverent diocesan Catholics who show deference to the Blessed Sacrament with appropriate gestures and the proper intention during Ordinary Form liturgies. If gestures of deference are signs of a reverent attitude, such folk are more the exception than the rule in most parishes. Such Catholics are encouraged to attend an Ordinariate or Extraordinary Form Mass where their sense of decorum (e.g., kneeling to receive Holy Communion on the tongue) is the norm.

Let's face it, receiving the Host on the tongue in an Ordinary Form liturgy is, for most priests or Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion (EMHC), frequently awkward to deal with. Unless a parish is one of those exceptional communities well formed in the Faith, communicants who kneel in the Ordinary Form—on two knees or genuflect with their right knee touching the floor while receiving Holy Communion—almost look out of place. Their witness to the Real Presence is probably a blessing to some, an oddity to others, and surely a sign of love that God honours in His way.

By-the-way, Roman Catholic Man (Fr. Richard Heilman) has posted an excellent article at his blog regarding the appropriate reception of Holy Communion:
https://www.romancatholicman.com/truth-communion-hand-standing/
 For a solid historical perspective, try these few words on for size!
The practice of receiving Holy Communion in the hand first began to spread in Catholic circles during the early 1960s, primarily in Holland. Shortly after Vatican II, due to the escalating abuses in certain non-English speaking countries (Holland, Belgium, France and Germany), Pope Paul VI took a survey of the world’s bishops to ascertain their opinions on the subject. On May 28, 1969 the Congregation for Divine Worship issued Memoriale Domini, which concluded: “From the responses received, it is thus clear that by far the greater number of bishops feel that the present discipline [i.e., Holy Communion on the tongue] should not be changed at all, indeed that if it were changed, this would be offensive to the sensibility and spiritual appreciation of these bishops and of most of the faithful.” After he had considered the observation and the counsel of the bishops, the Supreme Pontiff judged that the long-received manner of ministering Holy Communion to the faithful should not be changed. The Apostolic See then strongly urged bishops, priests and the laity to zealously observe this law out of concern for the common good of the Church.
https://www.romancatholicman.com/truth-communion-hand-standing/
Pray for a restoration of ad orientem worship and kneeling to receive Holy Communion on the tongue.

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