Again, only rarely do circumstances lead me to lift another blog’s post in its entirety, but this post at New Liturgical Movement is a must read. Following on the heels of a prior interview with Archbishop Ranjith, Secretary of the Congregation for Divine Worship, about reviewing the practice of communion in the hand and returning to communion on the tongue, here is yet another public interview on the subject.
ANOTHER INTERVIEW WITH ARCHBISHOP RANJITH: “COMMUNION IN THE HAND NEEDS TO BE REVISITED”
by Gregor Kollmorgen
B. Volpe: Your Excellency, unfortunately Holy Mass, in Italy and in various other parts of the World, continues not to be celebrated as it should be, with priests putting themselves at the centre of attention and inventing impromptu texts and rites that are absolutely not loyal to the Magisterium.
Msgr. Ranjith: It is true, and I think it is really sad that some priests, fortunately not all, continue to abuse, with inexplicable extravagancies, the liturgy which, it should be remembered, is not their property but belongs to the Church.
Volpe: Would you like to make a public appeal?
Ranjith: I remind these priests that they must, and I stress must, respect the official liturgy of the Catholic Church. Enough with the abuses and the personal interpretations: Mass is not a spectacle, but sacrifice, gift and mystery. Not coincidentally the Holy Father Benedict XVI continually reminds us to celebrate the Eucharist with dignity and decorum.
Volpe: We come to a practical case. Some priests indulge in homilies excessively long and not always attuned to the readings of the day.
Ranjith: First of all I think that a good and healthy homily should never exceed 8-10 minutes; having said that it is necessary that the celebrant studies in depth the Gospel of the day and always stick to it, without flourishes or unnecessary turns of words. The homily is an integral and complementary part of the Eucharistic sacrifice, but must absolutely not dominate it.
Volpe: Your Excellency, let us come to the question of Communion in the hand: What do you think about it?
Ranjith: I ‘simply’ believe that this practice needs to be reviewed. How to do it? To begin with, a good catechesis. You know, unfortunately, many are not even aware of Whom they receive in the Communion, that is Christ, and so approach the Eucharistic banquet with scarce concentration and very little respect.
Volpe: Specifically, what needs to be done?
Ranjith: We need to recover the sense of the sacred. I speak only for myself, but I am convinced of the urgency of reviewing the practice of Communion given in the hand, returning to giving the particle to the faithful directly in the mouth, without them touching it, reinforcing thereby that in the Eucharist there is really Jesus and that everyone must receive Him with devotion, love and respect.
Volpe: Would it not be appropriate to return to kneeling at the moment of Communion?
Ranjith: I think so. This gesture would represent a true act of respect towards the gift and the mystery of the Eucharist.
Volpe: But some, even inside the Church, seem to express “embarrassment” only at the idea of seeing restored kneeling before the Blessed Sacrament.
Ranjith: Beyond the office I occupy in the Vatican, as a Catholic I ask myself and wonder: why be ashamed of God? Kneeling at Communion would be an act of humility and recognition of our nature as children of God.
The other interesting point made by the Archbishop is the need to avoid the possibility of the sermon dominating the Mass. It is a protestant practice, in services without the Real Presence in the Eucharist, to focus on the preaching. Since the Second Vatican Council the novus ordo Liturgy of the Word has become co-equal, in practice at least, to the Liturgy of the Eucharist. Yet the Mass is first and foremost the Sacrifice of Calvary, and is not designed to be a didactic moment. That reality is undeniable in the traditional Mass. Not that the faith isn’t strengthened and informed by the Mass, the readings, the scripture-rich prayers, and the sermon, but that the primary focus is undoubtedly the cross. Proper celebration of the liturgy leads to proper understanding of, and adherence to, the faith itself.