Sunday, October 21, 2007

Fr. Perrone comments on Altar Rail Cloth and Communion

Fr. Perrone continues to educate the parish on the finer details of the TLM. He will be providing a class in the coming weeks - an informal one - to discuss the structure of the Tridentine and how to follow along in the missal.

Weekly, he has been taking one subject at a time and talking about it. This week, he talks about the altar rail cloth, and about what some would call "snapping turtles". Is there a benefit to closing our eyes when we receive Holy Communion on the tongue? Read this and find out....

My comment in gray and in brackets below.

First, Father talks about some fundraising:

This is my last chance to goad you into
being part of the BENEFIT DINNER AND
RAFFLE which will take place next
Sunday after the noon Mass. There are
many fine items for the raffle, many
more since I last wrote about this. You
will be understanding if tickets will not
be available once we have been called to
give a head count of attendees to the
caterers.


Now he speaks about Altar Rail Cloths and Holy Communion

My liturgical word this time has to do
with the reception of HOLY
COMMUNION. In the new rite of Mass,
which you know so well, the priest or
other minister of the Sacrament [Grotto
has a religious brother
(ORC)
who helps to
distribute Communion]
says,
“The Body (and Blood) of Christ” to
which the communicant is to answer
“Amen.” This, we are informed, is an
ancient formulary. As such it has
antiquity to commend it. It is also a
means of eliciting an act of faith in the
Real Presence by the communicant who
says, in effect: ‘Amen. Yes, I do believe
that this is the real Body of Christ.’

The Tridentine form of distributing Holy
Communion requires no word from the
communicant (“Amen” is not to be said),
but is rather a formula of blessing. You
will note there that the priest makes the
sign of the cross with the Sacred Host
toward each one about to receive the
Holy Eucharist and says to him: “May
the Body of Our Lord Jesus Christ bring
you to eternal life. Amen.” Of the two
ways, the older form seems to me to be
the more beneficial for the communicant.
In former days, there was also a cloth
covering the altar railing. It was removed
here sometime in the 1960s, I presume.

This cloth served a double purpose, one
liturgical, one practical. The practical
was that should the Host drop during the
distribution, It would not fall upon the
hands of the recipient (how carefully the
Church safeguarded the Host!). The
other reason was to indicate that the
railing is an extension of the altar itself.
This is why communion rails were often
made of the same material as the altar–in
our case, of while marble. One receives
Communion then from the ‘altar,’
symbolic of Christ.

While I’m at it, I want my say about
receiving Holy Communion. There are a
few procedural points that can be
improved upon by some of our
parishioners. In olden days, the good
teaching Sisters taught us how to receive
Communion reverently. With their
diminished presence, many now do not
know how to conduct themselves well at
the Communion railing. Here are a few
points. Keep your hands away from your
face and your arms and elbows off the
railing. At the moment of reception,
close your eyes and put out your tongue.
Closing the eyes assures that you will
not be attempting to ‘follow’ the Host
into your mouth, a practice which
usually results in a lunging forward,
making the priest miss the mark (and
maybe get his fingers nipped as well).
Putting out the tongue makes it easier to
place the Host thereupon and avoids the
potential danger of digital amputation of
the priest. I’m sorry to be so pedantic
about these things but, lacking other
suitable means of imparting this
information to you, I must write about it
here.



And, Father plugs Palla Eius one last time (3:00 today!!!)

Performances of the musical play Palla
Eius will have ended by the time you read
this. I’m praying now that it all goes well
and that it will be truly inspiring as well as
an entertaining. The play itself is a great
promo for priestly and religious vocations,
as well as a story of trust in the powerful
intercession of our Blessed Mother. I hope
the folks who attend will get that as they
watch the show. There’s a lamentable void
in the Church’s involvement in the arts
today, even though the Church formerly
has been a great promoter of them. This
deficiency has resulted in the proverbial
‘vacuum’ for the devil to take ascendancy,
as he has already so successfully, in film,
TV, literature, lewd music, etc. From time
to time we all need incentives to help our
faith along. The arts should help supply for
it. How I wish for a Catholic cultural
revival!


Fr. Perrone



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2 comments:

Barb said...

The altar cloth is called a "houseling cloth" because the Anglo-Saxon word for Host is "housel." It's also known as a manutergium -- which is Latin for hand cover. A very nice pious practice -- placing the hand beneath the houseling cloth -- a valid way to "actively" participate by gesture during the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.

Diane K said...

Barb: Thanks for the terminology.

Good point on active participation. I find many ways to actively participate in the TLM, but first and foremost, in the depth of my soul. The busy nature in which many Novus Ordo Masses are celebrated makes such interior silence difficult for me. Yet, it is interior silence that is needed.

Aside from silent-active participation, are the gestures of reverence which I embrace.