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St. Mary Magdalen's
Catholic Church
Willesden Green
London NW10
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Friday, July 29, 2011
17th Sunday of the year – 24th July 2011

This weekend we have a pastoral letter from Archbishop Vincent Nichols on receiving Holy Communion, which follows a recent clarification from Rome concerning the issue in this country. There are copies at the back.

He encourages “reverence” at the moment of receiving Holy Communion and highlights the following points:
• It is the “norm” in this country to receive Holy Communion standing.
• The “prayerful procession” coming up to receive Holy Communion at the front is a sign of being one “people with a mission”
• All individuals have the right to received on the hand or the tongue, standing (expressing our pilgrim nature) or kneeling (expressing humility before God), also recently confirmed by Rome.
• When receiving Holy Communion standing then you should make a sign of reverence before.

In order to facilitate all these things next weekend we intend to introduce a development in the manner in which we receive Holy Communion. That is for all to receive at the front, standing in a horizontal row, at the foot of the sanctuary step. This means peeling off at the front of the communion procession to find a space in the line across the front of the Church. An Extraordinary Minister of Communion will still attempt to facilitate those for whom coming forward is very difficult. From next week we will implement this and have ushers to help.

This is something I, Fr Hugh, have had in mind during my time here – particularly since noticing the increasing amount of parishioners who are caught somewhat napping by having to receive Holy Communion immediately after the person in front has moved away. This can take away from the person’s concentration, whereas standing in a line across the front gives the communicant time to reflect in preparation to receive the Gift of God Himself. It also makes the no doubt accidental practise of walking some way away with the Sacred Host before consuming significantly less likely, along with the associated, if very rare, desecration of the Sacred Host by taking the Host back to the bench and then allowing the Host to drop on the floor and remain there.

I believe this will be a move forward for us all. It is a change I discussed with Extraordinary Ministers of Communion several years ago and since have had numerous individual positive conversations about. It is a change strongly supported by our soon-to-be Parish Priest, Fr Kevin Jordan. He recently introduced this at North Harrow, citing the further good reason that those who wish to exercise their right to kneel, which the Archbishop mentions in his letter, need to have this right facilitated. Such people would be recommended to go to one end of the line where we have altar rails and where kneelers will be available. This move is also fully supported by Fr Kieran and Deacon Michael. It has been the practise in some parishes for some time and seems to be coming in in numerous other parishes. Thanks in advance!

posted by Sinead Reekie at 2:27 pm