This is my Bishop, I am proud to say. Two weeks after he gave this homily in his parish, I began to offer a kneeler to my people in my parish. It has made all the difference in the world!
Prior to offering the option of kneeling and receiving on the tongue (which was offered with much teaching), I may have had a small handful of people who felt comfortable enough to receive on the tongue. Since offering the option, I now have 60-70% of my parishioners receiving this way.
It is difficult to describe how much it has helped so many who were, as Bishop speaks about, ”desensitized” before making the choice to receive in this way. Now they approach in a much more discerning and serene way. I have even noticed such things as people choosing to get a bit more dressed up for Mass. Praise God!
A word of caution: For those parishes who choose to do this, I would say that the divine benefits far outweigh the earthly costs. In other words, I have come to understand, over 22 years of priesthood, that if we are going to choose to do the hard work of reversing the trend in our churches of a growing ‘cult of the casual’ and ‘privatization’ of our faith, we are going to be met with FIERCE opposition. Having encountered such disproportionate hostility toward any efforts to call us to a deeper reverence (while introducing each effort with much love and much teaching), has left me convinced that this is particular turf the devil does not want to give up without a fight. Which tells us this is all the more reason why this is a fight in which we must engage.
This is what it all boils down to for me … I may not be among the great intellects of our day, nor among the great writers and speakers, but I know what I have learned from the books I’ve read and the face of Christ I contemplated … that obedience is the evidence of our love:
The Books of Leviticus and Deuteronomy shows God’s will and ways and what He blesses. As Christians we obey the Holy Spirit who lives in us.
- Leviticus 26:3-13 — blessings for obedience
- Leviticus 26:14-39 — curses for disobedience
- Leviticus 26:40-45 — restoration from repentance
- Deuteronomy 4:1-2, 4:9-12, 5:32-33 & 6:1-25, 11:26-32 — commands to obey
- Deuteronomy 7:9, 7:12-15, 8:1-10 — blessings for the obedient
- Deuteronomy 8:11-20 — curses for those who backslide
- Deuteronomy 11:8-25 — blessings for the obedient
- Deuteronomy 28:1-14 — blessings for the obedient
- Deuteronomy 28:15-68 — curses for the disobedient
- Deuteronomy 30:1-20 — blessings for the repentant
God’s promises in these passages are “yes” and “amen” for us individually and collectively.
The New Testament reflects this:
God blesses obedience. Luke 8:21
Jesus wants obedience. Luke 6:46
Obedience to Jesus is evidence we are saved. 1 John 2:3-6
Obedience to Jesus is evidence we love God. 1 John 5:3, John 14:15
And so, I have come to understand that the more we obey, the more pure is our love. And, delayed obedience is disobedience. Jesus said, “My yoke is easy and my burden light.” What he meant was that, in that self-surrendering love, obedience comes with ease and promptitude. Anything short of this swift obedience only reveals a measure of corruption, a lessening of our love. I must obey, and I must do it now.
Personally, I cannot understand why, if our Holy Father places a kneeler in front of him, that virtually every church across this globe didn’t offer the same to their parishioners in the weeks that followed his encouragement. Could delayed obedience such as this be one the primary reasons why such things as only 66% of our faithful today agree that “the communion bread and wine at Mass” truly become the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ? Or that about 50% of Catholics believe abortion should be legal?
There is no doubt that we need more pure love for God … a love that finds us following His will with ease and promptitude.