Monday, July 19, 2010


For some reason I cannot download pictures today. Sorry for the wordy format.
When I was still in my first assignment the diocese change the posture from kneeling to standing from after the Angus Dei until after everyone has received communion. I was mixed about the idea. On the one hand this gesture was so apart of the New Word experience of celebrating the Mass. The universal law is that people stand. Here in the States we knelt to emphasize the presence of Jesus as the Blessed Sacrament since we are so surrounded by Christians who do not recognize Him in this way. And so with this new posture a part of our unique culture has passed. On the other hand it made celebrating funerals and weddings much, much easier. Having to invite people to kneel again at this part of the Mass where non-Catholics were often in attendance invited some rolling of eyes, snickering, or those who simply refused. Not all, certainly not the majority, but enough to make it painful. And now we are more in line with what you will find in much of Europe.

Anyway, when it came time to implement the posture I asked the people to please try it for three weeks before making judgment on the change. It was, after all, a universal law for which we had permission to do differently in the first place, and it was within our ordinary’s right to ask us, in obedience, (never an easy thing for us Americans) to do.

I must say that the people were absolutely wonderful in giving it a shot for three weeks. Then after that a number of people returned to kneeling. John Paul II spoke on this and said that although standing is preferred, nobody should be denied the right to kneel “even for purely pious reasons.” So if anyone asked me about what posture they should take I would respond that the Universal Church and our bishop has asked us to stand and so I ask you to stand, but if you have a good reason to kneel the pope has extended his permission for you to do so. As a result most people stood and few people knelt. In my book that sounds great.

Not so in other people’s book however. A small but vocal group were angry at those who knelt and came to tell me to enforce the bishop’s call to stand. My response was that I could ask them but in the end it was not my right nor in my power to make them stand. The Church clearly gives them permission to kneel and it is not my role to restrict people further than the Church does.

A philosophy teacher of mine once talked about the need we have as people to worship with like minded people. Not only do we want to believe the same things there is often a tendency to want us all to pray the same way. I find that to be true. And why not? It makes sense and is much more comfortable than having someone next to you doing something different and wondering “what do they think of ME doing something different from them?”

As a new priest there were some types of Masses that I was very nervous about celebrating. The thought of some day celebrating a Charismatic Mass scared the bejeebers (sp?) out of me. Then a very wise priest told me that, “you don’t have to pray like everyone else, you just have to be able to pray with everyone else.” This permission opened a whole new world to me. I could then go to a Charismatic Mass and celebrate and you know what? It was always a wonderful experience with very appreciative people. So I try (with various levels of success) to be open to anything on the Catholic playing field.

Recently I allowed something new at my current parish that is squarely on the Catholic playing field but it is not without its controversy in some circles. I am more assured now than ever that I will never, ever wish to become bishop – never, ever, ever, in saecula saeculorum. If it is this difficult keeping a few thousand people happy in everything, I can’t imagine what it must be like to keep nearly a million people happy, or being pope and trying to lead a billion people is some fashion of unity! But you try to do what you think is right and keeping with the Church and the Gospel and trust God to do the rest and pray that everyone at least gets along on our journey to heaven.

Further apologies to you: I suppose today is not much of a diary day but the rambling thoughts of something on my mind!


Adoro said...

Fr. V. ~ As I recall, based on official documents (such as the GIRM), the preferred position is to kneel, however the caveat within the document states something like "except in those places where the bishop says otherwise".

So in Cleveland, you may be in line with Europe, however given the state of the Church in Europe, that's not really the best example to give. It seems to me that the default upon reverence does more in subtle ways to preserve the faith than trying to be in line with ever-more-secular and ever-more-anti-Christian Europe.

That said, obedience is VERY important and so when I visit those dioceses where the Bishop has made a decree, with his proper authority, to divert from the norm followed by the rest of the United States, I will act in accordance with the Bishop's directive. I don't have to agree with it but as I see it, I would have the moral obligation to respect the laws coming from legitimate authority.

Emiliano Zapata said...

It's better to die upon your feet than to live upon your knees!

Adoro said...

However, when in need and when in worship, the very best position is with one's knees in the dirt!

Lex orandi, lex credendi. We pray with our entire bodies and in the context of the Mass, each movement means something specific.

In the Eastern Churchs, it is their custom to stand for the consecration, however they profoundly bow not just then, but at various times during the Divine Liturgy. The vast majority of their long liturgies involve standing and bowing. It's truly beautiful.

In my opinion (which I'm allowed to have in this matter and still be faithful), it is better for we Roman Catholics to kneel at the consecration for that is where we learn humility; who we are in relation to God. In America, standing is a form of defiance and revolt.

But again, if I was in Cleveland, I'd stand in obedience to the Bishop although I admit it would be very, very difficult. (In fact, the last time I was there and had to do so, it WAS very very hard!)

Adoro said...

For the record...I'd rather live upon my knees, and die there as well, begging for God's mercy for myself and for the world.

May God grant me the grace to do just that.

Robert M Kraus Sr said...

Father, you are an extremely sensitive person. I admire you.

Anonymous said...

Although it will be for future generations to assess the wisdom or lack thereof of Summorum pontificum, a case can be made that it has spurred a tragic, ostentatious waste of precious resources. Minimizing the reforms of the Second Vatican Council feels a lot like blasphemy against the Holy Spirit - the only unforgivable sin. Time will tell where wisdom lies.

Cracked Pot said...

Apparently, the reforms of Second Vatican Council were inspired by the Holy Spirit but Summorum Pontificum may not have been. Interesting. Also interesting, Fr. V's blog did not mention Summorum Pontificum.

Robert M Kraus Sr said...

arguing about standing or kneeling is useless

Margaret Comstock said...

Just to set the record straight, Bishop P. said to stand during the communion rite "except in cases of health or personal piety". I live close to the border of the Toledo diocese, whose bishop did not ask the people to stand. In that diocese people must kneel in accordance with the indult asked for and received by the US bishops.

Further the present ordinary form of the Mass is not in accord with the documents of Vatican II which did not eliminate all Latin nor require the priest to face the people.

Patty said...

Father V., your statement that you "allowed something new at [your] current parish that is squarely on the Catholic playing field but it is not without its controversy in some circles" has me intrigued. Whatever it was I hope it was edifying for all involved.

Like Adoro, I stand along with the congregation when visiting family in your diocese but I am very uncomfortable doing so. I can't bring myself to hold my hands in the orans position during the Lord's prayer though. Was that also part of the bishop's directive in Cleveland?

Matt W said...


What does blasphemy against the Holy Spirit feel like?

Anyone who has read the documents of VII, especially Sacrosanctum Concilium, cannot but scratch her head over what the Church Fathers wrote and what has actually happened. One could strongly argue that the reforms that followed VII were not the work of the Council.

Robert M Kraus Sr said...

Some of you commenters should read what Apostle Paul has to say about 'the letter fo the law'

Margaret Comstock said...

Relative to the orans position at the Our Father - the US bishops have not yet submitted a recommendation to the Holy See for any position during the Our Father. While Bishop P. recommended the orans position, he had no authority to demand it.

Adoro said...

Robert ~ Taking the Apostle Paul out of context and throwing it out into a rational discussion in hopes of shaming people to shut them up really isn't logical. We are discussing something that is open for discussion, and from what I read here, all commenters are being respectful and rational in their commentary.

It's actually quite refreshing!

Margaret ~ So...Bishop P RECOMMENDED using the Orans? WOW!

The orans has no place in the Mass! With the exception of the priest and his use of it is pointing to a transcendent reality. The Deacon is to stand with his hands folded during the Our Father, and that formal directive should be a hint to the rest of us!

I'm constantly amazed at the weird things being "recommended" in parishes. *sigh*

I don't recall who said it but the reason we have liturgical abuses in the United States is so that we can suffer, too, for we don't have the persecution here that other countries do. We do indeed often have to suffer when we go to Mass, which is well and good; it gives us something to offer as we stand (or kneel!) at the foot of the Cross in the presence of that Holy Sacrifice.

Cracked Pot said...


If I am not mistaken, +Bp. Pilla recommended the orans posture to counteract the linking of hands across the church during the Our Father, a gesture which was probably even less liturgically correct.

Adoro said...

Cracked Pot ~ I've heard of some doing that because of course the hand-holding is abhorrent. But there are some who take such words as a directive that we "must" use the orans.

I hope it eventually gets straightened out.

More and more I'm seeing people return to simply folding their hands. It's a good sign.

Thanks for the clarification. :-)

Robert M Kraus Sr said...

I most humbly beg your pardon

Anonymous said...

It's quite refreshing that you can attend the 1:PM traditional Mass (1962 Missal) at St. Sebastian's without having to worry about the controversy of standing or kneeling or the orans position. At that Mass you kneel from the Agnus Dei to the Post Communion prayer, and they leave the "orans" position to the priest!

Adoro said...

One of the reasons I love the Mass in the Extraordinary Form. I am reminded as to why I have knees!


But I do love the Ordinary Form as well, when it is done reverently and as closely as possible in accordance with the directives of Sacrosanctum Concilium.

Cynthia Cook said...

Regarding Father's comments about the "new" practice at the parish, kneeling after the Lamb of God, the way people may wish to pray the Our Father, etc.: it boggles my mind that people get exercised over the practices of other people during the Mass. Surely if there were ever a time to invoke MYOB, this would be it. What's next? Instead of being engaged in the Mass, should we take a moment to jot down some names of people to report to Father later? With all the people and institutions within the city of Akron that are crying out for help, certainly people with that much excess time and energy could better employ their efforts for the greater good. Furthermore, I cannot in a million years imagine myself running to 'tattle' to Father Valencheck with such triviata when he has so many other issues to contend with on a daily basis, such as keeping an aging Church building safe and operational on a limited budget, and trying to find ways to pay down an enormous deficit. It also strikes me as strange that the only time certain groups seem to get agitated is when the situation involves trying to uphold longstanding traditions within the Church. As Father said, the culture of the Catholic Church is indeed unique, and there are lots of us out here who are more than willing to fight to preserve it.

Anonymous said...

Well put, Cynthia.

Adoro said...

Cynthia ~ I'm confused. Who here has said ANYTHING about running to "tattle"? Who would WANT to do such a thing?

Scott said...

I just wanted to say thank you for allowing the EF Mass at St. Sebastian's. Your gesture is a witness to the catholicity of the Church.

Vincenzo said...

Is this an accurate account re: how the changes were implemented in Cleveland?

Anonymous said...

Nope, that's just the usual pathetic tripe from Joe Sacerdo. Hope he can find something to do with his life other than hating Bryan Hehire. Wow, lot of posts on this thread; seems to support the observation that the unreformed mass of the early 'Sixties has indeed brought wasteful and needless disention to the Church. PS: God bless Father Murray and his outstanding ministry in DC and nationally.

Cracked Pot said...


Apparently you can't count. Only ONE comment here prior to yours supported the opinion that "the unreformed mass of the early 'Sixties has indeed brought wasteful and needless disention [sic] to the Church."

Fr. V said...


I cannot comment on the entirity of the article of Fr. Murray but I can say this: The orans position (called for for priests and expressly forbidden for deacons) was recommended in order to rid the diocese of the holding of hands during the Our Father. When I later questioned Fr. Murray about the practice he stated that it was not called for and that he was no longer recommending it.

I never heard him recommend embracing as part of the sign of peace. As a matter of fact he always said that we should do what is in keeping with our community. He did recommed it for clergy however since the kiss of peace is an ancient tradtion in the Church for clergy.

Kneeling or standing after Communion is ultimately a decision of the bishop, not the liturgist.

The rest of the article I cannot comment on. Thanks for sending the article - I just wanted to Give Fr.his due.

Cynthia Cook said...

Why didn't the Bishop simply issue a statement advising people to stop holding hands during the Our Father? Also, why did they not want people to hold hands during the Our Father? I genuinely don't know. Personally, I neither hold hands, strike the orans prayer pose (or, as I like to privately think of it, 'wave my hands in the air like I just don't care'), nor dance a quiet hornpipe like the old salts taught us to. But that's just me, I guess.