Friday, March 19, 2010

Liturgical Innovations at St Mary Magdalen's

Call me a wet liberal if you must but I have been innovating.
Our nave aisle is terribly narrow, people can only come up to Holy Communion in single file, it takes an awful long time to distribute Holy Communion to a couple of hundred people.
People felt rushed, elderly parishioners wobble when they get to the end of the queue. A few weeks ago a woman walking up didn't quite judge when to stop and almost fell on me and would of knocked the ciborium out of my hand if it wasn't against my chest.
I also had a conversation with a young couple who asked if ther was a way they and their child could receive Holy Communion together occassionally, the only thing I could suggest was going to the TLM, they did, then they asked why they couldn't do so at the Ordinary Form.

So the innovation: instead of forming a queue I have suggested people form a line across the sanctuary at the step. It seems to work, people have a little time to arrange and recollect themselves before and after receiving. Some of the younger members of the congregation have started to kneel for Holy Communion and families can receive together. Distribution in this manner also gives a slightly deeper sense that Holy Communion is an "ecclessial act" involving the Church as community.

21 comments:

universal doctor said...

"Call me a wet liberal if you must"
ROFL!

P Standforth said...

Interesting Father. I was at a Church in Germany just recently where they did just that. It worked very well.

Fr. Francis Wadsworth said...

Dear Father,
We innovators must stick together!!! When I took on my second parish about six months ago i encountered a similar situation. In order to achieve this I first had to ask that only the priest and one extra ordinary minister distribute Holy Communion. (Previous to that there were 4 extra ordinary ministers and Father. The latter distributed Holy Communion away from the High Altar in a corner of a side chapel??? Probably so that the extra ordinary ministers could have full range of the sanctuary.
We now have a similiar arrangement to your parish. My hope was that it would encourage more people to kneel to to receive Holy Communion, but sadly this has not been the case. But the new arrangement is much better than the old - even though some of the folk diasagree.

berenike said...

We do this in my parish - it is So Much Better For All Sorts Of Reasons, as Tepidus from Glasgow said when he came to visit. Most people kneel, but those who can't or won't, don't have to, you can get to the sanctuary step and have a moment or many to collect your thoughts, and you don't have to be already moving away as you receive to get out of the way of the next people. And because of the shape of our sanctuary, there is a lovely awareness of all of us together.

Just another mad Catholic said...

innovating my foot father:)

Joe of St. Thérèse said...

LOL at your first line Father, maybe a few kneelers being placed along the lines would help in the kneeling for Communion part :)

This kind of Liturgical innovation I like :)

incaelo said...

Very interesting idea. It's basically a case of receiving at communion rails without the communion rails. I caught myself wondering about the risk of chaos as people line up and leave after having received, but then I realised the English are experts at queueing ;)

Fr. Wadsworth: I notice that it usually takes a few people to get the 'trend' of kneeling going, and it can also take a lot of time. In my parish it has been going on for three years now. Maybe you can convince some individual people to get the ball rolling? ;)

Dominic Mary said...

Personally, Father, I think it says a lot for your reckless liberalism that you have not simply decided that - in such an ultra-hedonistic, self-indulgent city as Brighton - there is an ever-present danger of desecration and sacrilege, and that you will therefore only administer the Blessed Sacrament directly onto the tongues of kneeling communicants . . ! ;-)

Pablo said...

When Charity is present, people help the elderly and infirm, and those with children, and the wounded souls that come to the Blessed Sacrament.

Extraordinary Ministers should only be used if England is being bombed, as in WWII, or nuclear attack is happening.

To accommodate people because they are in a hurry to sit in line overnight for the latest computer, or to wait inline for days to get Elton John tickets and so on, is perhaps sacrilegious.

The road to Paradise is long and narrow. We must help others on our way there, or we will never reach Paradise.

Too bad you innovated. It was a good lesson for your Sheep.

O Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God and our most gentle Queen and Mother, look down in mercy upon England, thy dowry, and upon us who greatly hope and trust in thee.

May Our Lady wrap her protective mantle securely, around her precious son, Benedict; Amen."

*

The Cellarer said...

The practice when I was in Whitefriars St Church, Dublin. Most recieved kneeling at the altar rails and when one person stood up another took their place.

http://www.carmelites.ie/ireland/Whitefriar%20St/whitefriarstreet.htm

Ma Tucker said...

Good grief Father, thats the last time I'm contributing to your rennovations, you've turned your church into a train ticket office!

On a more serious note, your innovation is great to hear.

Mariana said...

This is the way it was done at my former, Lutheran, parish, with, of course, a communion rail. Until we can have communion rails, this is a very good idea, the shuffling down the aisle, and then not having a second to one self before having to shuffle out of the way of the person behind was a nasty surprise when I converted.

Father John Boyle said...

When will the altar rails be installed?

Deacon Stephen Morgan said...

You certainly looked and sounded like a wet liberal at the Historic Churches' Committee. More power to your wet liberal elbow.

gemoftheocean said...

Excellent Choice Father B. Wespecailly with those narrow aisles of your.

Dominic Mary, so sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but in the summer of 08 when the anti-Catholic hate monger from some dinky american college was spewing his rage he was urging people to go to Mass specifically to obtain Hosts so they could be desecrated. The hate mongers actually posted a video on youtube of one of these evil people obtaining the Host. It was videod surruptitiously. Gee, did the heathen stand in line and get it from EM who wasn't paying attention? Uh, no. He recieved it kneeling. On the tongue. From the CELEBRANT. Undoubtedly with an "angelic" expression on his face. Appearances aren't everything. So don't count your chickens and assume "problem solved." It's nothing to be smug over.

pelerin said...

Since the subject of Communion rails has been brought up here I should like to mention an incident last week which had my heart in my mouth.

Owing to the open plan church of today, children are no longer aware of the sacredness of the sanctuary. An energetic young lad ran up the aisle just before Mass, ran onto the sanctuary,then behind the altar and was only caught up by his father when he reached the tabernacle. The candles had already been lit on the altar and I remembered the advice given when I was a young mum. 'Never have a table cloth for meals as children are likely to tug the ends and pull everything on top of them.'

Luckily the child was not attracted to the candles otherwise one tug at the altar cloth could have been disastrous...

So if the powers that be (either secular or ecclesiastical) cannot accept the ascetic value of altar rails dividing the sanctuary from the body of the church: or the practical value of being able to kneel and get up under our own steam with rails; perhaps they could accept them on the grounds of Health and Safety?

Until then, this liturgical 'innovation' is one I gladly accept and brings to mind the 'brick by brick' of Fr Z!

Patricius said...

I would suggest doing away with the pews altogether...that way, the church itself feels like an ecclesial space and more conducive to prayer, rather than a place where people sit to hear sermons or watch Low Mass...

Augustine said...

A very positive development, Father! Too often communion can feel like a queue for the check-out at Tesco. Keep up the good work!

nickbris said...

The way things are going it is only a matter of time before we get Converts who want to re-introduce "human sacrifice"

Hilary Jane Margaret White said...

but father, I don't understand what the problem is. There is nothing in the rubrics or instructions for the Ordinary Form requiring the queue. Long before I had ever heard of the "Old Mass", I always received H. Communion kneeling at the altar rail, which was the normal thing at Holy Rosary Cathedral in Vancouver.

It is the normal way of receiving (either in the hand or on the tongue) at the Toronto Oratory. And I have seen people spontaneously reverting to it, instinctively so to speak, in places where the queue had been the norm (the little gate in the altar rail was accidentally left closed one Mass, and without any instruction at all, the people simply went up to the rail and knelt down. No fuss.)

In fact, as I understand it, reception of H. Communion standing in a queue (with your little unwashed unconsecrated mitt stuck out as for a bagel at Starbucks) was entirely an invention in the post-Conciliar years of local liturgists who invoked that old phantasm the "Spirit of Vatican II", happily long since exorcised.

I have been told from people who remember that these innovations were introduced at the word of the priest, whom all trusted.

It seems clear that you have the trust of your parishioners. Why don't you just trust them, and tell them why it's better to kneel down (it is your Lord and God after all).

There are some stubborn ex-hippies at the Oratory who refuse to kneel, and right fools they look, bathed in their insufferable pride. It serves only to highlight the reverence of the younger people who know who God really is.

Hilary Jane Margaret White said...

huh...never mind. I just realised that is what you said you were already doing.

Am dumb. As usual.