Three Things that are Wrong about Making Everyone Stand after Holy Communion


In some places in the USA there is a custom of people going back to their place after Holy Communion and then remaining standing until everybody has received Holy Communion. (What happens then? Does everybody kneel or does everybody sit? If I gave you 5-1 odds for everyone sitting, I think I would come out quids in.) Sadly, I understand that this postural uniformity is mandated by some Bishops. In case there is any danger of its creeping across the Atlantic, I would like to offer some negative comment. I have selected Three Things that are wrong with this imposition – and free of charge, you get a Bonus Wrong Thing.

1st Wrong Thing. It interferes with a proper desire to adore God and to be recollected.

In the period immediately after Holy Communion, the holy people of God quite rightly want to adore Jesus Christ and to be recollected . Kneeling down is a posture suitable to earnest prayer and adoration. The order for everybody to stand is presumably meant in some way to reinforce the idea of communal unity. That is a worthy aim, but the holy people of God may well insist that having just received Jesus, their unity in community can be expressed perfectly well by kneeling down together and praying quietly in adoration and thanksgiving.

2nd Wrong Thing. There is no mandate for it.

There is no rule in the General Instruction of the Roman Missal or in the rubrics of the Roman Missal telling people to do this. Therefore I don’t think that any Bishop has the authority to order people to do it, unless he gets recognitio from the Holy See. Nobody, if course, has obtained this recognitio.

3rd Wrong Thing. It is an unwarranted extension of the authority of the clergy.

The imposition of a particular posture, especially one that would seem inappropriate or even irreverent to many of the holy people who are cajoled into observing it, is an unwarranted extension of the authority of the clergy. In other words, it is a form of clericalism.

Your Eminences, Your Graces, My Lords, Right Reverend Fathers, Very Reverend Fathers, Reverend Fathers, and Reverend Deacons: leave the people alone. Unless they disturb the peace of others or encroach on the sanctuary, let them participate in the sacred functions as suits them in their state of life, education, status, worries, mental health etc. You just get on and do your job.

And, as Fr Z says, Go to Confession!

Bonus Wrong Thing. It imposes a ridiculous uniformity.

The mention of Fr Z reminds me of one of his more thought-provoking offers of merchandise, the Lockstep Sheep and Papist Throwbacks mug (still on sale) which was created in response to a HuffPo article calling people who supported the new (corrected) translation of the modern rite Roman Missal “Lockstep Sheep and Papist Throwbacks.”

In contrast to the welcome gift of the new translations, received with relief and thanksgiving by the holy people of God, after having had to put up with lame, ideologically skewed paraphrases for decades, the instruction to the holy people of God to make them all stand together after Holy Communion does indeed seem like the imposition of a “Lockstep Sheep” policy. (As to the second part of the slogan, I would hate to think that the liturgical authoritarians might believe their diktats to be in accord with some anti-kneeling policy of our revered Holy Father.)

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