Wednesday 29 June 2011

Persecuting the Laity....

A post on a new blog I've just discovered, a Minor Friar, got me thinking about how much the poor laity get bullied on these traddie websites and forums. He was talking about how Trads often whinge that in the New Rite Eucharistic prayer, we thank God for "counting us worthy to stand in your presence and serve you", when the laity should really be kneeling. He made the point that on this occasion, trad critics had chosen to ignore the possibility of a non-literal interpretation of the verb "stand" to make the point that either the laity don't kneel anymore as they should during the Eucharistic prayer, or that the modern rite is inadequate for congregations who do kneel.

How exhausting. It reminds me of the obsession with Communion in the hand. That debate can get so heated, I normally start wondering if Traditionalists shouldn't chew off their own hands just to make their point and then get on with it. When serving as Subdeacon I get to see exactly who receives Communion and how, and as for those who receive in the hand, I would not doubt their piety, their devotion to the Sacrament, or any other motive.

I personally receive on the tongue, because I feel more comfortable that way, especially in terms of respect for the Sacrament. I also kneel, partly out of reverence and partly because most people who administer the Eucharist are shorter than me, and so it's just more practical. I'm sure those hands that regularly receive the Host from the Priest carry less bacteria than my tongue on a Sunday morning, or indeed the tongues of some of those nutters on the forums. We could all of us be boiled in bleach and yet we still wouldn't be clean enough, in any sense of the word, to receive the Body and Blood of Our Lord Jesus Christ. That's the point.

Maybe it's the yoga talking, but I sort of see the posture of the laity during the Liturgy as not something we should worry about too much. It's all OK as long as they have the right attitude to what is happening. Whether the laity sit or stand or bow at a certain point doesn't matter nearly as much as what the ministers in the Sanctuary are doing on their behalf. Servers and clergy should pay the utmost attention to how they behave during the Liturgy, knowing that the laity expect it of them. It's not about "Oooh, Fr so-and-so says a lovely Mass", it's about the ministers fulfilling an office, without personal flourishes or adornments or personalised extras. They should be self-effacing and decorous at all times. And it's OK to bully them about that because they should be used to it! It's their job!

In the typical Roman parish, or indeed Roman Rite Anglican parish, some people will stand during the Eucharistic prayer, some will kneel. Some receive on the hand, some on the tongue, some kneeling, some standing. I really cannot understand how that image makes some people's blood boil so much! Leave the laity alone! If you want to make a point about the defects of the Modern Rite, make it a principle not to discount the good intentions of the devoted people who have turned up for Mass in the first place.

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