Hard to really capture in words, the act of kneeling and receiving the Eucharist on the tongue has deepened my affection for Jesus and given me opportunity to pay Him homage in way that I'd previously been neglecting. Understandably the devoted are no longer required to kneel and for some people the position may be impossible, but for me there is no longer any other way. Not because I think myself a better Catholic (I am not), but because I can no longer quiet that still, small voice that beckons me to lower myself and receive, rather than stand and take.
ZEBULON, NC (Catholic Online) - Receiving the Holy Eucharist in my hand in order to communicate myself had long been part of my routine, before it finally came to my attention that there was another, more preferable way for me. I suppose I just hadn't given it all that much thought, sadly. In grade school we'd been taught the proper hand positioning, but my generation missed out on the altar rails and their purpose.
Yes, intellectually, I knew that the Body and Blood of Jesus is truly made manifest in the Eucharist, but I'd adopted a "casual" reverence. Hands crossed I quietly waited my turn in the communion line, until reaching the Extraordinary Minister at which point I accepted the Blessed Sacrament in my palm. Sliding back into the pew, I'd pause for a bit of head down-turned, silent prayer. For years that moment signaled the fast approaching end of Mass with only the final blessing and closing song to follow.
I remember distinctly the very first time a priest introduced me to the "old" kind of reverence. He was visiting our parish, the kind that hosted 45 minute Masses on Sundays. Once the last communicant headed back to his seat, Father returned to the altar singing "O' Sacrament Most Holy" while with careful attention and genuine devotion, he cleaned each chalice and paten until not one miniscule speck of Jesus could have been left behind. Entranced by curiosity, I followed his every movement as he wiped and inspected, rubbed and examined. Father's obvious love for the Blessed Sacrament and want to protect Jesus from any careless indignity, captivated me and stirred an ember in my heart. Unfortunately, Father's appearance was a one time blessing, but it was enough to inspire a sincere reflection.
Time passed at that parish and then the witness of an egregious sacrilege at a First Holy Communion celebration caused me to reconsider the lessons I was now allowing my children to encounter. My son came home distressed from Sunday school one week because a little classmate had hidden Jesus in her pocket. And then there was the Faith Formation teacher who'd told my little ones that Communion was merely a symbol of their Lord. For if my own focus had been skewed by perfunctory worship, how could I ignore the long lasting affects of errors and omissions in my children's faith journey.
After much prayerful discernment, we left and God planted us temporarily in a parish dominated by seniors. What a gift that was to our growing family, being immersed in a church home where traditional reverence was the norm. No more jeans and sneakers (for us as well), no more homilies that left us thirsting and most importantly no more rushed communion lines and swiftly discarded vessels.
It never ceases to amaze me how patient and gentle God is with me. The perfect Father, He knows just how and when to reach me. Never impetuous, like me, He redirects and corrects a little here and a bit there as the gardener who sets out to straighten a bent tree.
A move led us to search out a new parish, but we did so with cautious consideration. Not that I advocate church-shopping, but history had led my husband and me to weigh the merits of attending more versus less traditional Mass celebrations and the latter now seemed unsatisfactory.
By the grace of God, we found our new parish home and instantly knew it was where He intended us to raise our family. From that very first liturgy, that ember in my heart which had been stirred into a slow burning flame was fed all the more. Like that visiting priest, Father moved slowly through the consecration, giving thoughtful consideration to each word he uttered. And upon returning to the altar he would show no less care and love for the sacred vessels. His silent motions were a visible prayer.
My understanding of and love for the Blessed Sacrament increased beyond the intellectual, but there was more to come. It was a simple statement posted on facebook by a seminarian. "Kneel for Jesus," he typed.
Kneel? I'd never considered that position, but after reading those three words I was convicted. It just seemed proper although so foreign to me. Sharing the experience with my husband, he seemed ready to adopt that humble stance without hesitation, as well did our children.
Admittedly, it took some courage those first few Masses to lower myself before Jesus. Not that I struggled with recognizing my smallness, but I worried that somehow someone might misconstrue my kneeling as a sign of "holy pride." "Look at that woman with all those kids, she's trying to appear all holy, you know." But then again I suppose perhaps there was greater merit in learning to forget the judgment of others because none of this was about me.
If Moses had to cast off his shoes in order to step on sacred ground, how is it that we came to this time in history when we've so removed ourselves from the right practice of reverence? More than Moses, we are able to partake of the very real Body and Blood of Jesus Christ, but casual worship has blinded many of us to the treasure resting in our hands. We may never even consider whether our hands are even clean enough to touch His Precious Body or that we could carelessly drop our Lord on the dirty ground.
Hard to really capture in words, the act of kneeling and receiving on the tongue has deepened my affection for Jesus and given me opportunity to pay Him homage in a way that I'd previously been neglecting. Understandably the devoted are no longer required to kneel and for some people the position may be impossible, but for me there is no longer any other way. Not because I think myself a better Catholic (I am not), but because I can no longer quiet that still, small voice that beckons me to lower myself and receive, rather than stand and take.
Remember the woman who bent down on the floor in order to anoint the feet of Jesus and how she dried them with her own hair. What an act of charity that was. Remember that Jesus Himself got down on His knees in order to wash the feet of His Apostles. What a lesson in humble service that was.
Like Moses, we are privileged to meet our God. We are called to His table and invited to consume His Living Bread and the realization of that should knock us off of our feet, literally.
Tara K. E. Brelinsky is a home schooling mother of seven living children, with six more heavenly ones who intercede (and a little soul expected to arrive in August). Married to her childhood sweetheart, they make their home in North Carolina where they teach Natural Family Planning, grow a garden, raise two dogs, a cat, a fish, ducks, roosters and a flock of hens (in addition to all those wonderful kids). Tara studied journalism a lifetime ago in college, but now she writes simply for the the glory of God. You can read more of her musings and inspirations on her blog "Blessings In Brelinskyville" (www.http://brelinskyville.blogspot.com/).
By Andrea Gagliarducci (CNA/EWTN News)
Former Pope Benedict XVI could appear in public once again on June 29, the 65th anniversary of his priestly ordination. Vatican City, Rome (CNA/EWTN News) - Speaking after the May 20 presentation of a book dedicated to Benedict XVI's pontificate, Archbishop Georg ... continue reading
By Tony Magliano
The best way to remember those who have been killed in battle is to work for the day when others will no longer be sent to take their place. Prayerfully reflecting on how to move away from war and war preparation should be central to every Memorial Day.Why do ... continue reading
By Ann Scneible (CNA/EWTN News)
The feast of the Holy Trinity is an invitation for us to commit to enriching our everyday relationships by promoting communion, consolation, and mercy, Pope Francis said during his weekly Sunday Angelus address. Vatican City, Rome (CNA/EWTN News) - "Our being created ... continue reading
By Deacon Keith Fournier
What we choose determines who we become. Choosing what is good changes the chooser, empowering him or her to proceed along the pathways of virtue and develop the habitus - or habits- which promote Christian character. The Catechism of the Catholic Church ... continue reading
By Marshall Connolly (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)
Ever since the reveal of the Third Secret of Fatima in 2000, several people have insisted there's more to the secret than what the public was told. These rumors have taken a life of their own, prompting the Holy See to speak out against them. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic ... continue reading
By (CNA/EWTN News)
Recognizing the difference between a person who's possessed and a person struggling with a mental illness or other infirmity is a vital part of the ministry of exorcism, according to a long-time exorcist and priest. Rome, Italy (CNA/EWTN News) - Father Cipriano de Meo, ... continue reading
By (CNA/EWTN News)
It's a major miracle that you've probably never heard of. Lima, Peru (CNA/EWTN News) - On Sunday, Oct. 3, 1847, more than 2,000 people in Ocotlán, Mexico saw a perfect image of Jesus Christ crucified that appeared in the sky for more than 30 minutes.Approved by the ... continue reading
By (CNA/EWTN News)
During his Mass on Thursday, Pope Francis preached a warning to the rich who oppress the poor, focusing on employers who accumulate wealth by misusing those who work for them. Vatican City, Rome (CNA/EWTN News) - "We consider this drama of today: the exploitation of ... continue reading
By Kenya Sinclair (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)
William Friedkin, the director of famous horror film "The Exorcist," described a time he was invited to document a real exorcism at the Vatican. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - According to AFP, Friedkin shared his experience at the Cannes film festival Thursday ... continue reading
By Kenya Sinclair (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)
We all have bad days - but did you know the devil preys on you when you are the most vulnerable? LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Life is never easy for long. Children, work, school and illness often interfere with the plans we've made for ourselves, and it is ... continue reading