Two Restorations – Communion Rail for all Masses and High Altar for Sunday 9:15 and 11:15 Masses

Two Restorations – Communion Rail for all Masses and High Altar for Sunday 9:15 and 11:15 Masses

2021-11-09T22:00:07+00:00 November 9th, 2021|

A playlist on youtube to assist is here!

The article from the bulletin on 7 November follows:

The Sacred Liturgy – What We Do and Why  

This Fall’s series on the sacred liturgy – what we do and why – will soon wrap up.  This week, we’d like to share two things which will be restored at St. Joseph on the Solemnity of Christ the King (two weeks from today, the Sunday before Advent begins).  But first, we want to reaffirm some important guiding principles:  

  • Offering worship to Almighty God is the most important ‘work’ we can ever do in this life – it prepares us for and orients us to heaven.
  • The sacred liturgy is a gift from the Church which we receive, and which changes us – it is not something primarily ‘about us’.
  • The sacred liturgy celebrated with dignity, beauty, and fidelity to the Church’s tradition is a particular gift in an age of secularism, individualism, emotivism, and the idolatry of ‘personal taste’.  

Restoration One:  Use of the Communion Rail at all Masses

Our parish church remarkably (almost miraculously!) still has its original wooden hand-carved communion rail, adorned with stunningly beautiful eucharistic imagery.  The communion rail’s placement is of utmost importance:  the border between the sanctuary-where the altar/tabernacle is, and which images heaven- and the nave (where the people gather), which images earth.  The meeting point between the two-heaven and earth-is traditionally the place of the reception of Holy Communion, the place where we offer ourselves to the Lord and the Lord offers Himself to us.  The Lord comes from heaven to give Himself to us here on earth – He gives us supersubstantial spiritual food for the journey to heaven.  Our hope is that the return to receiving Holy Communion at the place intended by those who constructed our church will foster a deeper sense of reverence and recollection.

By way of procedure (we will have a video available soon), it will be very simple.  If able, please stand (the norm for the reception of Holy Communion in the US is to stand, and a simple bow is prescribed before receiving) on the second step (one may certainly kneel on the third step if desirable) and receive as you normally do.  An image: you are ascending toward the ‘New Jerusalem,’ toward heaven.  If an individual’s mobility makes this dangerous, please either:  1) receive in the hand and reach out from the floor level at any place along the rail or 2) stand at the center where the communion rail is open and the minister will descend the steps to you.  Regardless, once you have received, you may immediately make your way back to your pew by way of the side aisle, as usual.  Holy Communion will continue to be brought to those who cannot participate in the Communion procession.

The procession will simply take place as usual – but will begin immediately after the priest has drunk from the chalice.  Those first to the front of church will assemble at the rail as described above.  A second group will line up immediately in front of the pews and behind those at the rail, leaving the floor space in front of you open – these individuals will simply approach the rail once a space opens up after the person before them has received Holy Communion.  The rest will remain in the aisle.  Once the ‘second group’ has all assumed their places at the rail, then a new group will assemble in front of the pews – and so forth and so on.  Random note: if anyone sitting in the side pews would prefer to not walk through the center pews, you may always simply walk around the back of the church and join the procession that way – that’s no problem!

You will notice some clear advantages to this practice.  1) Time to prepare.  You will be at your spot to receive Communion for several seconds before the minister comes to you – time when you do not have to be concerned with moving in procession – you may simply pray!  2) If you have kiddos, it will simplify the ‘corraling’ experience of moving through the Communion line (please do keep instructing those not receiving Holy Communion to cross their arms, though!) 3) It will be less disruptive to overall flow should individuals wish to receive while kneeling.

Restoration TwoMass ‘Ad Deum’ – Use of the High Altar at 9:15 and 11:15

Ad Deum:  to/toward/facing God.  Will not be implemented at Saturday 4:30 or Sunday 7:15 Masses.  A more familiar gesture here, given the practice at daily Masses for over 3 years.  The whole of the Mass is the re-presentation of the sacrifice of Jesus on Calvary – offered by the priest and people alike – to God the Father.  This offering is imaged very well (which is NOT to say that Mass ‘facing the people’ is ‘bad’) when there is a common direction of prayer – of the priest and people alike – during those parts of the Mass when God the Father is being addressed.  By way of a simple image:  imagine the priest as a bus driver, and why it ‘makes sense’ for him, as the driver, to face the direction in which the bus is moving rather than the opposite direction! 

There are many parts of the Mass when the priest addresses the people, and of course during those times he faces them.  If you have never prayed the Mass this way before, consider paying very close attention to this interplay – it communicates 1) a depth of closeness between the priest and people and 2) a powerful uniting of priest and people in addressing God together.  For more information on this, please consider visiting the website stjoemish.com and clicking the link ‘Mass Ad Deum’.   Much of the information there was originally published here in the bulletin in 2017.