Posted Monday, June 25, 2012 12:06 AM By Dan
Before they tore the altar rail out of St. Rita’s, I just loved going to communion there. The Archdiocese would have none of it and with the new pastor came the wrekovation characteristic of the new theology came quickly. The liberals were predictably esctatic, but I think something very deep was lost.
Posted Monday, June 25, 2012 4:35 AM By Dottie
As a senior citizen, I can not kneel when receiving Holy Communion – even through I want to. I need something for balance and to help due to weaker knees. Altar rails would be very helpful. I hope the Bishops return the Altar rails to all Catholic Churches. It is my understanding that Altar rails were removed without permission from the Vatican and had nothing to do with Vatican II. I can find nothing in Vatican II documents which discusses removal of Altar rails.
Posted Monday, June 25, 2012 7:10 AM By MacDonald
“On the part of the priest, more of his time is spent actually distributing the Blessed Sacrament and less time waiting. On the part of the person receiving, the hurried tone is removed; there is a great opportunity for quiet and prayer both a few moments before and after receiving our Lord.” Lovely article. However, if the priest has to “wait” for the people of God to approach for Communion, he will survive just fine. Also, the ONE time I have seen people receive the Blessed Sacrament at an altar rail was at the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico, and it was shameful chaos! People all rushing up from the back to be first, with absolutely no reverence, no sense of respect or awe. It was scandalous, with all the pushing and shoving. Fortunately, I imagine such behavior is RARE, but this memory remains with me as I read this nice article about the altar rail and the spiritual meaning it can have for the faithful. (I imagine it would also keep children from galloping into the sanctuary in between Masses to mess around, while their parents do absolutely nothing to stop them.)
Posted Monday, June 25, 2012 7:20 AM By Robert Lockwood
It is worthy to note that the almost universal removal of the altar rail in the USA has been done by the parish pastors under the “do your own thing” catagory as there is not a single word in the Vatican II documents to even suggest removal of the rail should be done. The absence of the rail for me is a symbol of the modernist takeover of our church.
Posted Monday, June 25, 2012 8:41 AM By Catholic Joe
Actually, the altar rail that creates the sanctuary distinction tremendousl and beautifullyy helps convey the Catechism. It’s sad that many of them are gone.
Posted Monday, June 25, 2012 9:02 AM By jim
The Altar rail was just another sign of authority . Like a fence around the altar to protect it. Women were suppose to stay out side the altar rail. Even couple being married stood outside the altar rail
Posted Monday, June 25, 2012 9:27 AM By Becie
MacDonald—attend a Traditional Mass and see the beauty of the reception of the Body and Blood of Our Lord with the altar rail. Part of the chaos you describe can be attributed to V2 and the “start from the last row” instead of the natural first-row-first pattern of order. Jim—what a closed mind you have. The Church IS about Authority! Christ’s authority. The hierarchy was established by God, and if it is so troublesome to you, perhaps a Protestant sect would be more to your liking. Heck, you can even start your own church and have it totally democratic (a concept foreign to Christ the King).
Posted Monday, June 25, 2012 9:59 AM By MacDonald
I wish they have left the altar rails, because I have been told that many were very beautiful — and why fix what’s not broken? Even now, the Roman Catholic Church teaches that it is REQUIRED to make a clear and proper distinction between the sanctuary and the rest of the church, so it seems that an altar rail would be one great way of doing so.
Posted Monday, June 25, 2012 10:30 AM By JLS
MacD, such behavior as you describe is not rare. There are hordes of Catholics who have very little capacity for reason; yet they have souls and need to be saved.
Posted Monday, June 25, 2012 10:38 AM By Catherine
MacDonald, You have only seen people receive Holy Communion at an altar rail ONE time? I have never once witnessed in all of my years of being a Catholic the chaos that you described seeing. Interesting post MacDonald, when a Catholic describes this story as a “lovely article” yet he proceeds to bring up some rare example that tries to nuke the loveliness of kneeling at the altar rail. Pretty clever attempt but it did not work. Thank you Robert Lockwood for clearly explaining why our altar rails were removed.
Posted Monday, June 25, 2012 10:40 AM By Alice
MacDonald: What you witnessed in Mexico is shameful. However, you are clearly too young to have witnessed what communion reception was like here in this country prior to the removal communion/altar rail. Until I was a young adult, the only way we received anywhere in any church was kneeling at the communion rail with the Eucharist placed on the tongue. Never in all those years did I witness any disrespect of the Sacrament. That cannot be said of the manner in which Our Lord is received today. You see people grabbing the Eucharist with one hand and shoving it in their mouth, even while chewing gum! More abuses of the Sacrament have been witnessed with people taking the host and not consuming it (which should be guarded against by the priest but still happens) and taking off with Our Lord in their hands or pocketing the consecrated host for perhaps some sacrilegious abuse. In large churches there are so many EMs scattered all over the place that it is impossible to not at some point to be turning your back to Our Lord. Most people brush past all these extra Ems without any indication that they just brushed past Jesus! There are spills of the precious blood and host dropped all over the church with problems in proper cleaning. A dropped host behind the rail was always dealt with promptly and properly without any chance of being stepped on….I could go on, but you get the idea…maybe that’s why our Holy Father insists on those he distributes communion to, do so on their knees and receive on the tongue.
Posted Monday, June 25, 2012 10:40 AM By St. Christopher
The almost universal (in the USA anyway) removal of altar rails, entirely unnecessary under anything from Vatican II, and related desecrations of Catholic art and liturgy, are a principle reason that one feels great sadness about the state of the Catholic Church today. In fact, except in certain dioceses, this type of wreckovation continues unabated, including purchasing or building simply awful examples of architecture to house Christ and within which to hold Mass. This all is directly related to the Bugnini-Paul VI Mass and the alteration of much of the Church that existed prior to Vatican II. Benedict XVI is faced with virtually an entire Church clergy and administration that believes that its Birthday is the beginning of Vatican II, and not when the Church was begun by Christ. A pastor in Fredericksburg, VA recently demanded that his parishioners stop genuflecting, due the chance that someone might trip. How foolish, just as ripping out altar rails was foolish in that the “liberal” pastors everywhere believed them to be signs of the “Medieval” Church. All of this must be changed, along with the many other abuses (e.g., altar girls, orens praying and hand-holding by parishioners, facing the congregation while saying Mass, use of the vernacular, disrespectful dress at Church, failure to have a central tabernacle, failure to have kneelers, and many other “innovations” imposed by liberal administrators making up the “Spirit of Vatican II”). But, the USCCB, and particularly Cardinal Dolan, will never insist on any bishop reinstituting this architectural feature, just thas they will never require communion on the tongue, or under one species. A true revolution is demanded to make these changes.
Posted Monday, June 25, 2012 10:50 AM By Alexandria
“jim” is wrong. Women are not supposed to stay outside of the communion rail. That’s simply incorrect — and bigoted.
Posted Monday, June 25, 2012 10:52 AM By Doug
Robert, Do you not see the connection between Vatican II and the modernist takeover of our church? Or is the removal of the communion rails after Vatican II just but a big coincidence to you? Aside from the author’s fine description and purpose of the communion rail above, I also see it as the way to humbly and reverently receive our Lord, the creator of the universe, on our bended knees attesting to His supremecy over us, the universe, Heaven, and hell! It helps those who couldn’t otherwise do so, kneel down and receive our Lord, then stand-up again.
Posted Monday, June 25, 2012 10:55 AM By Doug
Robert, Do you not see the connection between Vatican II and the modernist takeover of our church? Or is the nearly complete removal of the communion rails world-wide after Vatican II just but a big coincidence to you? Aside from the author’s fine description and purpose of the communion rail above, I also see it as the way to humbly and reverently receive our Lord, the Creator of the universe, on our bended knees attesting to His supremacy over us, the universe, Heaven, purgatory, and hell! It helps those who couldn’t otherwise do so, kneel down and receive our Lord, then stand-up again.
Posted Monday, June 25, 2012 11:00 AM By Alice
jim: the altar rail was not about you (or women or couples) or a sign of authority…it was a sign of respect and reverence of Our Lord Jesus Christ. However, the Church does have the authority given her by Christ to make decisions regarding liturgy…it is not a democracy.
Posted Monday, June 25, 2012 11:03 AM By Catherine
jim, Have you always had issues with authority? Does that mean Church authority too? That is not a good sign. Why would you take this beautiful article and turn it into a woman’s rights issue? Your post sounds like you also want the diversity of women priests so other types of diversity will be accepted. Why else would you write such a divisive comment? jim, Birds of a disobedient feather are usually flocked together. Are you trying to sound like a liberated man by playing the ungodly rage radical feminist card? Please jim, take your manly energy out of the clutch of a women’s purse and use that beautiful intended manly energy to humbly serve Christ who is the Supreme Authority.
Posted Monday, June 25, 2012 12:23 PM By Gil
An altar rail would be most welcome in my parish. What used to be the sanctuary is now merely a corridor to the sacristy. Anywhere from one or two to half a dozen women (mostly) have urgent need to speak to the priest either immediately before or immediately after Mass [when he makes his preparation or gives his thanksgiving is his problem] and trot through the area where the altar is to get there (the former sanctuary), though the outside entrance is only a few steps through the side door and a turn to the left. They also feel free to gather in front of the Tabernacle and chat together. Once in a while one of them may nod her head toward the Tabernacle but genuflection is unknown. Lest it be thought that I am complaining about my fellow parishioners, I am not. I assume that a word from the priests would put an end to it in a trice.
Posted Monday, June 25, 2012 12:28 PM By St Peter
What a lovely article. Plus, as every true Catholic knows, Jesus fed his all male disciples at the altar rail that surrounded the altar of the last supper. Too bad those LIBERALS attacked OUR altar rails. I will be praying for them!
Posted Monday, June 25, 2012 12:42 PM By Abeca Christian
jim you are incorrect.
Posted Monday, June 25, 2012 1:47 PM By JLS
There is a distance between God and man, and although that distance is being reduced for some through the Holy Eucharist, yet it remains a distance. The intrinsic definition of altar is distance. “Many shall storm Heaven with violence”, says Jesus. Doing so is also known as the sin of presumption.
Posted Monday, June 25, 2012 2:05 PM By Kenneth M. Fisher
Alexandria 10:50 AM, Spoken like a true modernist! God bless, yours in Their Hearts, Kenneth M. Fisher
Posted Monday, June 25, 2012 2:09 PM By MacDonald
Posted Monday, June 25, 2012 10:38 AM By Catherine…Well, CATHERINE, I can see you are as crabby as usual. Maybe a nap would help? My posts actually show that I think an altar rail would be a good thing, in spite of the chaos I witnessed that (one) time in Mexico.
Posted Monday, June 25, 2012 2:58 PM By Anne T.
I think this is a great article and great website, and an altar rail does not keep out women from serving at the altar in the proper manner for them. I know women who do a beautiful job of making and putting on the altar cloth and vases of flowers and other adornments for Our Lord’s altar and the Mass. They most certainly are allowed to enter the sanctuary for that purpose. We do not need women to serve the Blessed Sacrament if we have enough priests and deacons. Women can serve in many other ways.
Posted Monday, June 25, 2012 3:00 PM By Anne T.
Are the rest of us women better than the Virgin Mary, who called herself “a handmaiden of the Lord”? I think not!
Posted Monday, June 25, 2012 3:35 PM By Anne T.
According to tradition, Our Lady served in the Temple as a young woman but not as a priest. It is ALL serving if done rightly. None of us are to lord it over someone else.
Posted Monday, June 25, 2012 3:53 PM By Anne T.
As a woman, I find churches without altar rails to be somewhat cold, even if the people are friendly,usually too friendly is probably the problem. It does not give one time for any private prayer or reflection before or after Mass. All the talking and socializing should be done in the hall or another area. I am very lucky to be able to go to some Catholic churches with altar rails. I even look forward to going to a Catholic Anglcian-Use Mass sometime because their churches always have altar rails. The Orthodox and Eastern Catholic churches all have the Iconotasis to set off the Holy Area (Sanctuary), so why not ours.
Posted Monday, June 25, 2012 4:26 PM By Elizabeth
The Altar Rail helps people show respect and also deters the Altar from being used as a prop….I have seen many a person going up and having pictures taken like they were at Disneyland and having their pictures taken with Micky and Minnie!!!
Posted Monday, June 25, 2012 4:55 PM By Bob ONe
Some of us are old enough to remember the altar rail and all the other symbols of authority that the priest, and therefore the church, held over us. Women, even nuns, were not allowed inside the rails during mass, except for a wedding of two Catholics. A “mixed marriage” requied the couple to stand outside the altar rails. After VII there was a great liberation in the church. One of the most important teachings of VII is that the people were the chruch, not just the Bishops and priests. Part of that liberation included taking down the dominenering sysbols, such as the altar rail. I think it would be rather awquard to have the priest running up and down the altar rail with the host of one turn and then the challice on the next run. It is much easier to have the people come to the EM for the host and then to the EM for the challice. Its been nearly forty years since I went to mass that did not distribute the host and the “cup.” Some want to go back to the way it was in the middle ages, but we must never let that happen. We must not let the Bishops become the royalty they use to assume for themselves. Remember it way they, who thought of themselves above others, who caused the sex abuse scandal and still try to hide what is going on. It was they that try to keep the laity under seige. It is they that put obedience above concience as we saw in the recent trial in Philly and that we are about to see in Kansas City, where it is predicted the Bishop will go to jail. No, WE are the chuch and we can never go back to the way it was. Besides, most of the changes brought about after VII had nothing to do with faith, it was always about religion.
Posted Monday, June 25, 2012 6:14 PM By Janie
I must say.. I feel extremely blessed to attend a parish that has just installed new alter rails! Our Priest is a holy man, and our church reflects the love and respect he has for the Lord, The Holy Eurcharist, and his calling. Our parishioners… for the most part, are very respectful. Our tabernacle is placed dead center, mass is celebrated “ad orientum”. There are still a few things that need to be improved upon and God willing, these things will be corrected.
Posted Monday, June 25, 2012 7:00 PM By OneoftheSheep
Those altar rails made it easy for the priest to serve Communion to many of us as we could line up and then take a place of kneeling and wait with reverence for the priest with the altar boy who would hold the paten. What beauty! What discipline! What anticipation as Our Lord would soon come to me. How long, O Lord, must your people wait for the rails to be installed once more?
Posted Monday, June 25, 2012 7:13 PM By Anne T.
A correction: I misspelled “inconostasis” in my last post.
Posted Monday, June 25, 2012 7:15 PM By Mark from PA
Bob One, there is a lot to ponder in what you have written. I am in Pennsylvania and am still trying to digest what we have learned from the recent trial in Philly. We really need bishops and Church leaders that care about the people. The realization that many of these bishops really didn’t care about innocent children is very troubling to me. How horrible was it that Msgr. Lynn decided that being obedient to the Cardinal was more important than following his conscience. He was protecting himself because if he had done what was right he would have faced the wrath of Cardinal Bevilacqua. So either way he was in a bad position.
Posted Monday, June 25, 2012 7:27 PM By Canisius
Bob One: “Some of us are old enough to remember the altar rail and all the other symbols of authority that the priest, and therefore the church, held over us” In the end Bob One means he will not obey God’ s authority over His Church…No Bob One its not your Church or Our Church but His Church…And yes we will go back to our glorious traditions that defined who we are as Catholics, we have had 45 years of bogus novelty and the results can be summed up in one word: DISASTROUS .Notice a second statement he makes “. It is much easier to have the people come to the EM for the host and then to the EM for the chalice” Always about convenience, always about themselves.. the word sacrifice is complete alien to them,,, With the Bob One crowd its always NON SERVIUM.. the sooner this protestanized crowd is driven from the Church the better
Posted Monday, June 25, 2012 7:39 PM By JLS
Bob One, man has always deceived man … putting the old routine of symbols over the eyes of faithful is a two way street: one way the clergy sins and the other way the laity sins by lapping up the slop. So why are you continuing to support the deception? Learn how to discern good teachers from slaves of the world, the flesh and the devil.
Posted Monday, June 25, 2012 7:45 PM By JLS
MacD, how can you blame Catherine for your own stubborn refusal to respect the intellect and efforts of someone who explains things with excellent articulation? I know exactly how she feels, and you deserve all the crabbiness you get. I’m long through with extending any mercy to people who play dullness of mind as a weapon against those who have labored to develop their minds, especially in the illumination of Church faith and doctrine. You constantly display lack of insight, lack of understanding, lack of respect and you blame others for their graces … read the story of Cain killing his brother out of a jealous and envious frenzy stoked by the devil, and in direct defiance of God. God gave man intellect, and expects us to use it … those who attack it need to be throttled back before they find a way into some responsible position and destroy others.
Posted Monday, June 25, 2012 8:04 PM By max
MODERNIST is a word that people keep slinging around in here, so i decided to do some e-research on it. whew! lots of material. one thing i discovered it that it has SEVERAL meanings, so let mee share just one item with you all that i found helpful in tryuing to sort out who means what when they call someonelese a MODERNIST: “Since Pope Paul VI, most Church authorities have largely dropped the term “modernism”, preferring instead in the interest of precision to call errors such as secularism, liberalism or relativism by their several names. The older term has however remained current in the usage of many Traditionalist Catholics and conservative critics within the Church.” one major component odf modernism seems to be the idea that dogma can change, and lots of people in here get called modernists egven though they never make such a claim…
Posted Monday, June 25, 2012 8:31 PM By Kenneth M. Fisher
Bob ONe, “Its been nearly forty years since I went to mass that did not distribute the host and the ‘cup’. I am pretty sure that tells us that you were attending a parish that chose to disobey the Vatican, because the permission for this is not 40 years old. At a NO Mass I attend that still has Altar Rails, they distribute by intinction. Guess what no problem! God bless, yours in Their Hearts, Kenneth M. Fisher
Posted Monday, June 25, 2012 8:34 PM By Kenneth M. Fisher
Janie, 6:14 PM, I will pray for your Pastor so that he does not get called on the carpet as have many priests I know who tried to restore proper order. God bless, yours in Their Hearts, Kenneth M. Fisher
Posted Monday, June 25, 2012 9:24 PM By Jacob
Alexandria, jim is right. Women and animals are not supposed to enter the sanctuary according to many cannon law books prior to the Council.
Posted Monday, June 25, 2012 10:27 PM By Anne T.
I meant no offense to those Sisters and laypeople who serve the Holy Eucharist when there are not enough Ordinary Ministers (priests and deacons) to do so, or those who are really needed to take the Blessed Sacrament to the sick. Nevertheless, there are some who do not serve out of necessity and the proper disposition of the heart, but out of wanting to cause a fuss about having so-called “women priests”. I have been told by loyal priests and others, and read on good Catholic websites, that lay people are only to be used for distributing the Bless Sacrament when it is absolutely necessary. That is why the the proper title for such laypeople is Extraordinary Ministers.
Posted Monday, June 25, 2012 10:45 PM By ssoldie
Bob ONe, that is the goofiest remark I have read in a long time ‘host and cup’ how about body,blood.soul and divinity.
Posted Monday, June 25, 2012 11:42 PM By Clinton
Bring back the altar rails! They were never supposed to be removed. It was the Bugnini inspired modernists that lead the movement to remove them.
Posted Tuesday, June 26, 2012 1:18 AM By Denise Riggio
what is this, dog pile on jim day?
Posted Tuesday, June 26, 2012 4:42 AM By OSCAR
The Altar Rail helped the majority of us to KNEEL to receive OUR LORD, JESUS CHRIST.
Posted Tuesday, June 26, 2012 5:49 AM By St. Christopher
“Janie”: Can you tell us all where this parish Church is located? This is good, and rare, news indeed!
Posted Tuesday, June 26, 2012 10:12 AM By sam
Having grown up w/altar rails I became quite used to them.However certainly there were none during the time of the apostles and/or early christianity.This is a rather new idea which entered Church construction later in our history.Although it does have its pluses; it obviously has it minuses; i.e, many ppl are unable to keel and/or get up once down w/o much assistance.Ppl in wheelchairs cannot even actually approach the rail due to the chair that confines them. As lives are extended by medical advances, it is a fact that most ppl are living longer yet w/disabilities which prevent them from kneeling at an altar rail.”Standing before the Lord” is well documented in Scripture as being a preferred way of praise as long as proper respect (removing ones ‘shoes’ (sins) prior to approaching Holy Ground. Kneeling is only one of the proper stances for prayer. Christ called out to the Lord from the Cross; and the “good thief’ also prayed gave his respect and prayer to Jesus our Lord from his own position of being held fast to a cross (no kneeling involved).
Posted Tuesday, June 26, 2012 10:52 AM By Tracy
I hear many folk say that if you return to using the altar rail that it will take too long to distribute Holy Communion. How did Catholics, before the dissolution of kneeling at altar rails and the use of numerous EMs, survive? Even in the large churches, built long before the change to standing for communion along with the use of EMs, would have had at most only 3 priest to distribute holy communion during each Mass. I don’t for one second believe that the removal of altar rails had anything to do with convenience. In my mind it had more to do with rebel Bishops and priest training Catholics to position themselves to be equals with God. I believe that “Non Servium” was shouted our by all of those giddy to tear out the altar rails.