Liturgy & Liturgical Law Forum: Communion reception
Communion reception QUESTION from Honn April 25, 2001
Hi! I understand that per Inaestimablile Donum, it is ...strongly recommended that, coming up in procession, they should make a sign of reverence before receiving the Sacrament...
Today, during my second grade sacramental preparation class, I was abruptly stopped by a co-catechist while teaching the importance of making a sign of reverence (in our case, the sign of the cross) before receiving communion. I was told (in front of the class) that - at a recent catechist meeting I was unable to attend- a volatile argument ensued about whether or not to encourage this reverence. I'm told that either one catechist or a group of them, went as far as to say that this would be redundant, take away the focus from the reception of communion, and is against canon law. Ergo, we are forbidden to teach the practice.
We are in the Dallas diocese, can there be a ban on the practice per diocese?? Is there something wrong with the sign of the cross, as opposed to genuflecting? Neither one is safe to teach, apparently. But I am looking for complete documentation or links with which to include so that I can at least make sure we all know what the truth is.
Thank, and God Bless
ANSWER by Mr. Jacob Slavek on May 12, 2001|«à
Hello, Mrs. Honn. It seems as if you already have the proper documentation. Here is the complete paragraph from Inaestimabile Donum:
11.The Church has always required from the faithful respect and reverence for the Eucharist at the moment of receiving it. With regard to the manner of going to Communion, the faithful can receive it either kneeling or standing, in accordance with the norms laid down by the Episcopal Conference. When the faithful communicate kneeling, no other sign of reverence towards the Blessed Sacrament is required, since kneeling is itself a sign of adoration. When they receive Communion standing, it is strongly recommended that, coming up in procession, they should make a sign of reverence before receiving the Sacrament. This should be done at the right time and place, so that the order of people going to and from Communion is not disrupted. 
The Amen said by the faithful when receiving Communion is an act of personal faith in the presence of Christ.
As you can see, Inaestimabile Donum quotes the norms in Eucharisticum Mysterium. This document is available from the Catholic Liturgical Library, but unfortunetly when I tried to find it was temporarily unavailable. Either way, it says the same things as are quoted above.
There are three signs that are commonly made before reception of the Eucharist when the communicant is not kneeling. They are the genuflection, the Sign of the Cross, or a profound bow. Of these three, the genuflection is the most appropriate because it is the act of reverence that is normally called for at others times during the Mass. The priest himself is REQUIRED to genuflect before he recieves. The profound bow or Sign of the Cross may be used by those who are not able to genuflect, or when there is no room to genuflect.
Remember, making these signs of reverence are not strictly required, but because the church strongly recommends it, it is a really, really good idea, and most definately should be taught in second grade.
Mrs. Honn, whenever you notice your fellow catechists quoting something strange from documents, immediately asked them to cite their source. I strongly believe that they will forget it and assure you that they will look it up and get back to you. If they do, write a follow up question to me and we will talk about it.
If a bishop were to place a ban on this practice, he would not be in conformity with the thinking of the church. There is nothing WRONG with the Sign of the Cross over the genuflection, rather the genuflection is BETTER.
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