July 22, 2022
It has been a tremendous blessing to be assigned to the Catholic parishes in Loveland. Fr. Ed and I have spoken several times about how welcoming the people of St. Margaret of York have been during this transition. We are both grateful for the welcome and excited to be with you. In just a short time, we have seen how much energy this parish has. It is obvious that the people at SMOY care deeply about their faith and the liturgy.
After consultation with other priests and the Divine Worship office of the Archdiocese, we made some minor changes to the liturgy. You may have noticed some of these. I wanted to share the rationale for those changes particularly, the removal of the kneelers, the removal of the candles and cross on the altar and the dismissal of the bells during the Eucharistic prayer.
In terms of the kneelers:
In the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops document “The reception of Holy Communion at Mass”, the Bishops state:
"the norm... is that Holy Communion is to be received standing”
While an individual may receive Holy communion while kneeling, it is clear the norm is to receive while standing.
The kneelers were present as I celebrated my first Mass at SMOY. For those who were trying to receive Communion while standing, it was very awkward and even irreverent, because they had to reach over the kneeler in order to receive. It was also awkward for me as a distributer of the Holy Eucharist to have the kneeler in front of me while distributing. While we will not refuse anyone who wishes to receive the Eucharist kneeling, it does not seem appropriate to make it more difficult to distribute to those who are trying to follow the Bishop’s norm by receiving Holy Communion while standing.
With regards to the ornamentation on the altar:
The General Instruction to the Roman Missal (GRIM) states:
“For only what is required for the celebration of the Mass may be placed on the altar table: namely, from the beginning of the celebration until the proclamation of the Gospel, the Book of the Gospels; then from the Presentation of the Gifts until the purification of the vessels, the chalice with the paten, a ciborium, if necessary, and, finally, the corporal, the purificator, the pall, and the Missal.
The candlesticks required for the different liturgical services for reasons of reverence or the festive character of the celebration (cf. no. 117) should be appropriately placed either on the altar or around it, according to the design of the altar and the sanctuary, so that the whole may be harmonious and the faithful may not be impeded from a clear view of what takes place at the altar or what is placed upon it.” [GIRM 306-307].
The removal of these items was meant to fulfill what the Church asks, namely, “to give a clear view of what takes place at the altar.
With regards to the bells during the Eucharistic Prayer:
This is more a matter of preference. Historically, the bells were brought in when the priest had his back to the people and spoke in Latin. The idea was that people needed to be aware of when the consecration was taking place. The bells were a polite way of saying “Pay Attention”. Since it seems clear that the people of SMOY are paying attention during the Mass, the bells seem an unnecessary distraction. In addition, silence can be a very powerful way of appreciating Christ’s presence
In the grand scheme of things, these are small changes. What matters most is that our God loved us so much that He chose to become one of us in the person of Jesus Christ. Then Jesus Christ suffered, died and rose again in order to destroy sin and death and give us hope in eternal life. The night before His passion and death, Jesus took bread and wine and transformed them into His Body and Blood and told His disciples “do this memory of me”. Christ’s passion, death and resurrection are made present on the altar every time we celebrate Mass. What matters most is that we take what we receive and share it with others or as St. Augustine said – “become what you eat”.
Yours in Christ