Receiving communion

In Paul Turner's Blog by Paul Turner

Q:  I have noticed a “trend” at a number of churches where mostly younger adults, even children, are receiving communion kneeling. Someone shared with me this is a tradition in some cultures like the Polish. A number of people don’t think they should be doing it. What is the understanding and way for proceeding with discussing this? Why has this become a trend? One argument brought to me is if we are agreeing to stand or kneel after the Breaking of the Bread, then we should all receive the Body of Christ standing when it is our time to receive. I don’t know if this is a local “trend” or national, even worldwide. 

Of course, then there is the discussion about receiving on the tongue and is it related to kneeling? Thanks.


A:  Posture for communion may vary across the conferences of bishops, so GIRM 160 allows each conference to state its preferences. In the US it reads this way: “The norm established for the Dioceses of the United States of America is that Holy Communion is to be received standing, unless an individual member of the faithful wishes to receive Communion while kneeling.”

So, an individual may choose to kneel. But in my view it would not be right for the priest to encourage kneeling or to provide a kneeler. Such practices are hard to defend in the light of GIRM 160, which is striving to have the community’s common posture for receiving communion be both a proclamation of faith in the resurrection and a source of ecclesial unity.

Receiving on the tongue is a different matter. Both GIRM 160 and 161 let the communicant decide how to receive.