Magazine article The Christian Century

Catholics Prepare Changes in Communion

Magazine article The Christian Century

Catholics Prepare Changes in Communion

Article excerpt

Raising their hands at the Lord's Prayer. Forgoing the handshake and embracing the person in the next seat at the sign of peace. In an extra act of reverence, bowing before receiving the communion host.

And undoing a lifetime of tradition by not kneeling in prayer after communion. Instead, in a sign of the communal nature of the sacrament, worshipers will stand and sing until each person has received the Eucharist.

American Catholics are about to experience major changes in the communion rite as dioceses begin implementing the updated General Instruction of the Roman Missal.

Diocesan bishops are gradually putting in place the changes approved by the Vatican and then by U.S. bishops with adaptations for American culture. The Cleveland diocese, for instance, will begin hearing about the changes in late September and will receive instruction in sermons and bulletins through October and November. Bishop Anthony M. Pilla has set implementation for November 30, the first Sunday of Advent.

"We're taking our time; we're trying to do it well," said Michael G. Woost, who teaches liturgical and sacramental theology at St. Mary Seminary in Wickliffe, Ohio. Perhaps the biggest change "and probably the most problematic change," Murray said, will be getting Catholics to break the habit of immediately returning to their pews to kneel in prayer after communion.

The diocese is encouraging people to return to their pews and continue to stand and sing until everyone has received communion and the priest has sat down to pray. At that point, worshipers will kneel in private prayer. …

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