Monday, April 28, 2008

Athanasius Contra Mundum?

The March/April issue of the American bi-monthly periodical The Catholic Response featured an English translation of an article originally published in L'Osservatore Romano by Auxiliary Bishop Athanasius Schneider of Karaganda, Kazakhstan. The article summarizes the bishop's more complete argument, put forward in his book Dominus Est, in favor of a return to the traditional practice of receiving Holy Communion directly on the tongue. That book, which was published in Italy earlier this year, is especially noteworthy because (1) its author is a bishop, (2) it was published by the official Vatican press, Libreria Editrice Vaticana, and (3) its preface was written by Archbishop Malcolm Ranjith, second-in-command of the Congregation for Divine Worship, who agrees that the practice of Communion-in-the-hand needs to be reevaluated and probably suppressed.

Newman House Press has been awarded the contract to publish Dominus Est in English. According to Fr. Peter Stravinskas, the publisher, Bishop Schneider intends to send a copy of the translation to every English-speaking bishop in the world. Toward that end, a donation to Newman House Press in support of this important project would be greatly appreciated.

It's worth mentioning that the matter at hand (so to speak) concerns both forms of the Roman Rite, the ordinary and extraordinary. For, while the 1962 Missal (like earlier editions of the Roman Missal), calls for communicants to receive while kneeling, no rubric or canon in the extraordinary form forbids the reception of the Host in the hand. Granted, people who frequent extraordinary-form celebrations of Mass are not likely to put their hands out for Communion; but some bishops have been known to require certain standard "Novus Ordo" features, such as female servers and extraordinary ministers, in those celebrations. Anyone interested in the restoration of the sacred and the preservation of faith in the Real Presence should take interest.

For the full text of Bishop Schneider's provocative essay, click here.

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