Tito Edwards

Living a Catholic Life


  1. I used cringe at seeing Catholic high school basketball players cross themselves before taking a free shot. It seemed more superstition than prayer to me. Tebow is in a different milieu and it is a different age since the pre-Council years. There is no comparison with a priest kneeling at the old Mass rite OR a modern Catholic genuflecting reverently as she enters church. Tim is in a public televised place and being watched and cares not about public opinion and the anti-faith, religion critics. A good witness which is not equally received by all observers or commentators as we expect today.

  2. That link to the New Advent article on posture at prayer turned out to be a really interesting historical and bibical review, including:

    Christ assumes that standing would be the ordinary posture in prayer of those whom He addressed:” And when you shall stand to pray”, etc.


  3. Even better is that Roman Canon #1 – Eicharistic Praper # 1 speaks of all those CIRCUMSTANTIBUS all standing around, the whole congregation. The kneeling posiiton was part of the process for reconciling public sinners. Those who insist on kneeling ignore that the presiding and assisiting clergy stand. Similarly, standing for Communion and receiving on the hand are ancient practices the others are medieval inventions.

  4. So long as Tim is sincere and fervent in his Faith, I am sure his kneeling is acceptable.

    Same same, Herm, as long as all that malarkey you’re commenting is done in charity to correct what you view as errors. Is it after 5PM where you are?

    Kneeling and genuflecting are personal signs of respect. In the military we saluted superiors and returned salutes of subordinates. We saluted the National Anthem at parade. As a veteran, I am allowed to render the hand salute when I am present for the playing of the National Anthem. I was only in a few years. I got out 36 years ago, or so. But, I still get the unconscious urge to snap to and and salute anywhere I here our National Anthem.

    And, reading that post on the movie “Glory”, I recall I served with the finest young men (Asian, Black, Hispanic and white) America ever produced.

  5. Correct me if I’m wrong but I don’t think the GIRM even prescribes kneeling. I think it’s the USCCB supplemental norm. Elsewhere, people stand when we kneel and bow when we genuflect.

  6. TEBOW may be left-kneed and a kneel on that is as valid as one who is left handed crossing herself
    As to the posture for Mass, the bishops have decided kneeling for the Euch. Prayer and standing for Communion. The more “devout” of the laity and some clerics decide that 1. kneeling is more “traditional” which it is not and 2.that, though they have that choice, baby-feeding on the tongue is more “traditional which it is not.

  7. HT,

    Perhaps your reference to “baby-feeding was not intended to be inflammatory, but I took it that way. Tell me, is your arrogance hard-earned or simply natural? In any case the facts are not that simple. From “catholicpages.com:

    “The history of Communion in the hand is usually told as follows: From the Last Supper on, and during the time of the apostles, Holy Communion was, of course, given in the hand. So it was during the age of the martyrs. And it continued to be so during that golden age of the Fathers and of the liturgy, after the peace of Constantine. Communion in the hand was given to the faithful just as we now do (in the more open and up-to-date sectors of the Church). And it continued to be the common practice until at least the tenth century. Thus for over half of the life of the Church, it was the norm.

    A wonderful proof of the above is held to be found in a text of St. Cyril of Jerusalem (313-386) in which he counsels the faithful to “make a throne of your hands in which to receive the King [in Holy Communion].” This Father of the Church further counsels great care for any fragments which might remain in one’s hands, since just as one wouldn’t let gold dust fall to the ground so one should take even greater care when it is a question of the Body of the Lord.

    According to the popular rendition, the change in the manner of receiving the consecrated bread came about in this way: During the Middle Ages, there were certain distortions in the faith, and/or in the approach to the faith, which took place and which gradually developed. These include an excessive fear of God and related preoccupation with sin, judgment and punishment; an overemphasis on the divinity of Christ which was virtually a denial of or at least downplaying of his sacred humanity; an overemphasis on the role of the priest in the sacred liturgy; and a loss of the sense of the community which the Church, in fact, is.

    In particular, because of excessive emphasis on adoration of Christ in the Holy Eucharist, and a too strict approach to moral matters, Holy Communion became more and more rare. It was considered sufficient to gaze upon the Sacred Host during the elevation. (In fact, this decadent practice of the “elevation”-so the mainstream treatment of this period continues-and the equally unhealthy Exposition and Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament find their origins during these unfortunate Middle Ages, a period whose liturgical practices we would do well to rid ourselves of).

    It was in this atmosphere and under these circumstances that the practice of Communion in the hand began to be restricted. The practice of the priest placing the consecrated bread directly into the mouth of the communicant developed and -sad to say- was imposed.

    The conclusion is rather clear: we should get rid of this custom whose roots are to be found in the dark ages. We should forbid or at least discourage this practice of not allowing the faithful to “take and eat,” and return to the pristine usage of the Fathers and of the apostles: Communion in the hand.

    It is a compelling story. It is too bad that it is not true.

    The Sacred Council of Trent declared that the custom of only the priest who is celebrating the Mass giving Communion to himself (with his own hands), and the laity receiving it from him, is an Apostolic Tradition.1

    A more rigorous study of the available evidence from Church History and from the writings of the Fathers does not support the assertion that Communion in the hand was a universal practice which was gradually supplanted and eventually replaced by the practice of Communion on the tongue.

    Rather, the facts seem to point to a different conclusion.

    Pope St. Leo the Great (440-461), already in the fifth century, is an early witness of the traditional practice. In his comments on the sixth chapter of the Gospel of John, he speaks of Communion in the mouth as the current usage: “One receives in the mouth what one believes by faith.”2 The Pope does not speak as if he were introducing a novelty, but as if this were a well-established fact.

    A century and a half later, but still three centuries before the practice (according to the popular account reviewed above) was supposedly introduced, Pope St. Gregory the Great (590-604) is another witness. In his dialogues (Roman 3, c. 3) he relates how Pope St. Agapito performed a miracle during the Mass, after having placed the Body of the Lord into someone’s mouth. We are also told by John the Deacon of this Pope’s manner of giving Holy Communion.

    These witnesses are from the fifth and the sixth centuries. How can one reasonably say that Communion in the hand continued as the official practice until the tenth century? How can one claim that giving Communion on the tongue is a medieval invention?

    We are not claiming that under no circumstances whatever did the faithful receive by their own hands. But, under what conditions did this happen? It does seem that from very early on it was usual for the priest to place the Sacred Host into the mouth of the communicant. However, during times of persecution, when priests were not readily available, and when the faithful took the Sacrament to their homes, they gave Communion to themselves, by their own hand. In other words, rather than be totally deprived of the Bread of Life, they could receive by their own hand, when not to do so would mean being deprived of that necessary spiritual nourishment. The same applied to monks who had gone out into the desert where they would not have the services of a priest, and would not want to give up the practice of daily Communion.

    To summarize, the practice was that one could touch the Host when not to do so would mean being deprived of the Sacrament. But when a priest was available, one did not receive in one’s hand.

    So St. Basil (330-379) says clearly that to receive Communion by one’s own hand is only permitted in times of persecution or, as was the case with monks in the desert, when no deacon or priest was available to give it. “It is not necessary to show that it does not constitute a grave fault for a person to communicate with his own hand in a time of persecution when there is no priest or deacon” (Letter 93, my emphasis). The text implies that to receive in the hand under other circumstances, outside of persecution, would be a grave fault.3 The saint based his opinion on the custom of the solitary monks, who reserved the Blessed Sacrament in their dwellings, and, in the absence of the priest or deacon, gave themselves Communion.

    In his article on “Communion” in the Dictionaire d’Archeologie Chretienne, LeClerq declares that the peace of Constantine was bringing the practice of Communion in the hand to an end. This reaffirms for us the reasoning of St. Basil that it was persecution that created the alternative of either receiving by hand or not receiving at all.

    After persecution had ceased, evidently the practice of Communion in the hand persisted here and there. It was considered by Church authority to be an abuse to be rid of, since it was deemed to be contrary to the custom of the apostles.

    Thus the Council of Rouen, which met in 650, says, “Do not put the Eucharist in the hands of any layman or laywomen but only in their mouths.” The Council of Constantinople which was known as in trullo (not one of the ecumenical councils held there) prohibited the faithful from giving Communion to themselves (which is of course what happens when the Sacred Particle is placed in the hand of the communicant). It decreed an excommunication of one week’s duration for those who would do so in the presence of a bishop, priest or deacon.

    Of course, the promoters of “Communion in the hand” generally make little mention of the evidence we have brought forward. They do, however, make constant use of the text attributed to St. Cyril of Jerusalem, who lived in the fourth century at the same time as St. Basil.

    Henri LeClerq summarized things as follows: “Saint Cyril of Jerusalem recommended to the faithful that on presenting themselves to receive Communion, they should have the right hand extended, with their fingers together, supported by the left hand, and with the palm a little bit concave; and at the moment in which the Body of Christ was deposited in the hand, the communicant would say: Amen.”

    There is more to this text than just the above, however. It also goes on to propose the following: “Sanctify your eyes with contact with the Holy Body . . . . When your lips are still wet, touch your hand to your lips, and then pass you hand over your eyes, your forehead and your other senses, to sanctify them.” This rather odd (or even superstitious? Irreverent?) recommendation has caused scholars to question the authenticity of this text. Some think that perhaps there has been an interpolation, or that it is really the saint’s successor who wrote it.

    It is not impossible that the text is really the work of the Patriarch John, who succeeded Cyril in Jerusalem. But this John was of suspect orthodoxy. This we know from the correspondence of St. Epiphanius, St. Jerome, and St. Augustine. So, in favor of Communion in the hand we have a text of dubious origin and questionable content. And on the other hand, we have reliable witnesses, including two great popes, that placing the Sacred Host in the mouth of the communicant was already common and unremarkable in at last the fifth century.”

    I take communion in the hand. But it would not occur to me to ridicule those who prefer to take communion in the mouth.

    And your reference to the history of kneeling for communion is similarly simplistic.

  8. I intended no sarcasm or disrespect with my comment that babies are fed by hand. That is a fact. I did my doctoral work on Eucharist and Reconciliation and was introduced to Jungmann’s great study of The Mass – (Of the Roman Rite? I think was the fulll title) way back in College before the Second Vatican Council and before my advanced studies- that was in the 60s. You may recall that ST PETER did not want people kneeling to him as if he were God- that gesture in his cultural context said something else than showing reverence/respect. You who are older may recall that the cardinals used kiss the Pope’s feet to show obeisance to him and it shocked people who thought that gesture was bizarre and was totally misunderstood on global TV. Even the kiss on both cheeks by males in that and other cultures is not accepted as normal in the West. Mr Bush 44 in your USA got in some hot water by holding hands in friendship with the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia in his Texas ranch.
    Therefore I am all in favour of adopting gestures and ;poses for worship that are understood in the culture of the society and age. I forget where but saw a refrence recently to a foreign missionary community where the person of highest dignity had to be the on the highest level at a ceremony, so where did the Eucharist get placed and the presider at Eucharist. If the Church’s leadership had been sensitive as St Parick was in Ireland to convert the naton with no red martyrs, by building on the local culture and respecting it while he transformed it, the Church would have been more successful in Fr Mateo Ricci’s Japan. Instead false “culture ” from Europe trumped him and the Church lost a more successful acculturation.
    The people may not have agreed with the USCCB adaptation of the GIRM, but they are the pastors and however they arrived at their norms for worship, they are the ones that won the vote of the entire group. Same for Italy and Germany. Bl JP 11 witnessed fairly scantily clothed females dancing and celebating at Eucharist in his many foreign pilgrimages. Norwegian friends commented to me that their cultural social customs are so different from the Latins, a handshake is their best effort at friendship when Mama Mia in Sicily and Madresita Carmen in the Andes of Peru wants to kiss and hug. American teens want to kiss on the lips and hug at special celebrations of Eucharist and Church events without the slightest idea that it can be perceived as unwelcome sexually. FINALLY for my one critic above, check your HISTORY and see that The KNEELERS were a class of penitents being returned to reconciliation and Eucharist, after the first stage which was more punishing and then they moved forward. i much prefer discussing issues with people who do not ask what time it is where I am, we are actually in Europe and we have no time to be sarcastic or demeaning and are not very happy when we are treated disrespectfully on a CATHOLIC Christian site. We endure enough of that from people in public office who call the Pope red socks and he is the anti-Christ and our governments are peopled by atheists and agnostics and “humanists” who favour abortion for pre-born humans.

  9. For a person who consistently submits comments oozing with contempt and unfounded arrogance, you sure have some thin skin. I guess that is the license of one who posts anonymously. In any case I do not believe you when you say you meant no ridicule.

    And for the record if you think American teens kiss on the lips at Mass (I’m not sure what you mean by special celebrations of the Eucharist) you are mistaken, and if an American male teen decided to express his sign of peace to the American female classmate sitting next to him by kissing her on the lips, I can assure you she would be shocked and discomforted. I chair the board of a Catholic high school. I know hundreds of American teens. What you describe is ludicrous. But my children think you are quite hilarious.

    And I know the history of kneelers, yawn. I’m not interested in going back to the practices of the early Church — if I was I’d be a JW. The Holy Spirit has allowed many positive developments, and our traditional practice of kneeling is one of them. Have you been to Scotland?

  10. Ah! So your experience of Church in the USA and elsewhere among teens is the only one. and you cannot distunguish between an unwelcome kiss on the lips by teens who are best friends but not lovers. I pity your lack of experience and your children’;s sense of humour. And you are the arbiter of what is or is not part of the Catholic culture and Church and history, It may not have been you but one person who posted dimissed the fact that kneelers were part of a stage in the sacrament of reconciliation. You call me”oozing and unfounded arrogrance.” And you chair the board of a Catholic high school? By the way, did you actually read my quick overview and see the examples of how cultural gestures are different in each place and some are easily misunderstood. Or are you so sure of your opinion facts are a distraction? Whatever your intent your inability to communicate with simple grace has done it for me. My old grade school Master used say “Beware the man of one book.” Smart man, and that was over sixty years ago

  11. At times I work in Puerto Rico. They don’t kneel down there. I thought is was because they think they are too good (pride) to kneel before God Almighty.

    When I was doing my post-doctoral field work in proctology/cranium-rectal surgery, I would read the geniuses’ posts and comments at “vox nova.” I no longer exercise that methgod of personal mortification.

  12. HT,
    My comment re teens kissing in church was in response to yours, which specified American teens — and in this you are simply mistaken, not that I will convince you since you have done doctoral work and all. And your strawmen accusations and arguments are tiresome. As far as I can tell no one on this blog is offended by the Church’s historic and ongoing use of acculturation, but your posts assume so much. I can guess why that is.

  13. Ah. sweet logic. What reasoning. What ability to read what was written. And not twist it.

    “Wherefore art thou?”

    I miss you so much, sweet logic, reasoning, readers who read what was written, and do not twist what was actually written.

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