Therefore God exalted him even more highly and gave him the name that is above every other name,
so that at the name given to Jesus every knee should bend, in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
and every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. Philippians 2:9-11
It seems of late the Lord has put piety on my heart. Piety is a gift of the Holy Spirit. Piety in it’s expression is giving due reverence to the Lord. Justice is giving God His due, religion is a subvirtue of Justice. Piety is a gift and a fruit. Pope Saint Gregory the Great said, “through fear of the Lord we rise to piety.”
Now I will admit when I was younger, I didn’t understand this. I didn’t understand proper fear of the Lord and I certainly found having to kneel and such as something annoying I had to do and I did it out of obligation. My sense of obligation was an opening for true piety, but on it’s face at the time, I was not a pious person. But once I came to experience the Lord, and I realized how big He is and how small I am, my only response could possibly be to fall down before Him. If I could lay prostrate that would not be low enough.
Back in 2018 when I went on pilgrimage to Medjugorje, I felt the Lord ask me to kneel when I received communion. As I usually do, I fought with the Lord about it. The norm in a Novus Ordo is standing, though the General Roman Missal is clear that people who kneel cannot be turned away. I already wore a veil and received communion on the tongue. I questioned the Lord on why He asked me to do these things of old. He remained silent on the why. I suspect He was waiting to reveal why for a time when my heart was more open. I am sad to report that I did not kneel down when I came back from Medjugorje. In looking back, I did not love the Lord enough, or fear Him enough. I ask the Lord to increase my love for Him. Fear of the Lord is the beginning of Wisdom as the saying goes. When COVID19 hit and the world and Masses were shut down, I sobbed at my lack of fear of the Lord, that I did not listen. When Masses reopened, I fell to my knees at communion. I did not care what everyone else thought, I only cared what the Lord thought and my love for Him increased when I realized the extent of His love and patience for me. My desire to lower myself also increased.
When I discovered the Latin Mass back in 2018, I realized this Mass had all the things the Lord had been calling me to do. The reverence, the awe, you could physically see something holy taking place and it evoked a sense of the Sacred. I have said before I don’t think the Latin Mass will save us, Jesus saves us, but I do have a great appreciation for that Mass. Of late, I have heard that the Latin Mass has been used in an, “ideological way to go backward.” This statement doesn’t make sense to me. Certainly people have ideologies, which can be formed out of truth or out of wounds. In this case, a genralization was made that all Latin Mass goers are into backwardness. That is itself an ideology. It seems to be born out of a woundedness. No, everything was not hunky dorey back in the old days, it is okay to acknowledge that and still appreciate and allow the old way of worship which gives God His due. The Liturgy itself is not an ideology, it is not backwards. If anything, it is upwards, an ascent towards heaven. All Liturgy should be this way, upwards. Degrading our history and tradition is a descent, a downward division.
When we receive Jesus in the Eucharist, no matter which Mass we attend, we are receiving the glorified body of Christ, body, blood, soul and divinity. It is His glory because the Mass takes us through the entire Paschal Mystery, passion, death and resurrection. I want you to think then about God’s glory and what scripture says.
Then Moses said, “Now, please show me your glory [ his manifest presence].”
The Lord answered, “I will cause all my goodness to pass in front of you, and I will announce my name, the Lord, so you can hear it. I will show ·kindness [favor] to anyone to whom I want to show ·kindness [favor], and I will show ·mercy [compassion] to anyone to whom I want to show ·mercy [compassion]. But you cannot see my face, because no one can see me and live.
“There is a place near me where you may stand on a rock. When my glory passes that place, I will put you in a large ·crack [fissure; cleft] in the rock and ·cover [screen] you with my hand until I have passed by. 23 Then I will ·take away [remove] my hand, and you will see my back. But my face must not be seen.” Exodus 33:18-23
God’s glory is so great it will kill us, it was a mercy for Him to hide Himself. If that doesn’t bring you to your knees, I don’t know what will. Yet, Jesus came to us in human nature, and we have a face of glory. We spit on that face and we killed that glory on a cross, and He overcame death and now offers us His glory in His glorified Body, so we can live, truly live. It’s so humbling to even think about it. The face of Christ is now hidden in the Eucharist we receive. It is a mercy. Yet, I have heard from many of Eucharistic hosts being left under cushions in pews. I have seen it put in pockets. I have seen particles on the ground. It is bad enough that we abuse our own bodies with sin, but to do this to the Eucharist is such a great sorrow. For He took our sin and we stomp on his Body, again. Even in the precursor to the Eucharist, the multiplication of the loaves and fishes, Jesus tells them, “...Gather up the fragments left over, that nothing may be lost (John 6:12)”. And later in that chapter is says, “perceiving that they were about to come and take him by force to make him king, Jesus withdrew again to the hills by himself (John 6:15).”
Are we taking Jesus by force and making him the kind of King we want Him to be? Or do we truly want to follow his ways and receive the gift he gives freely to those who seek to do His will alone and do it in reverent humility? Are we grasping at the host the way Eve grasped the fruit? Or do we receive in childlike trust? I am speaking here of the disposition of your heart.
Friends, the world is in chaos and is backwards and upside down. There is a lack of faith among the people. We spend so much time trying to fight as the world fights. We spew at one another. But the answer lies in asking God to increase our faith. We must, in our hearts, believe what we say we believe, and our actions must reflect it so much so that people can see it. You will know they are Christians by their love. Start with showing that love to our Blessed Lord in the Eucharist and don’t be afraid of the gift of piety. Piety reverences the Sacred and strengthens belief.
Great article. If I may, you mention how big God is and how small we are. You mention Communion and the glory of seeing that glory of God the Father, how it would kill us due to its greatness to see his face. Jesus promised he would always be with us, and he is, but he doesn’t cause us death, he brings us life! We need to remember God isn’t so much in Communion, Communion truly and fully is God, and therefore deserves the full respect that is his due. Knowing what the Eucharist is, it shocks me (far to regularly) that my mind can wander when in the presence of God. I am blessed to have adoration daily during a rosary for Russia and the Ukraine. To get to pray not just to, but with Jesus himself is amazing. All the prophets of the old testament dedicated their lives for less than we get on a typical Sunday morning!
We need to contemplate just as you said “How big God is” particularly in his Eucharistic presence given to us. The phrase “One does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes forth from the mouth of God.“ comes from Matthew 4:4. This passage was spoken by Jesus when he was in the desert for 40 days to silence the devil who tempted him by offering bread. Jesus was referring to what was written in Deuteronomy 8:3 that stated “He therefore let you be afflicted with hunger, and then fed you with manna, a food unknown to you and your ancestors, so you might know that it is not by bread alone that people live, but by all that comes forth from the mouth of the LORD.” while the Israelites were in their exile in the desert during the 40 years after leaving Egypt. What a marvelous prophetic statement that is!
Jesus is the 2nd person of the trinity. Jesus is the word of God made flesh, John 1:14 tells us “And the Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us, and we saw his glory, the glory as of the Father’s only Son, full of grace and truth.” Many think of Scripture as being “the word of God” (forgetting that Jesus is the true Word of God), and it is the inspired word from God, and it contains some quoted words of God, but also that of Apostles, other early Saints, Prophets, etc. but scripture itself states it is incomplete. John 21:25 “There are also many other things that Jesus did, but if these were to be described individually, I do not think the whole world would contain the books that would be written.” And earlier in John 20: 30 “Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of [his] disciples that are not written in this book.” Yet Jesus gave himself completely to us, Body, Blood Soul, and Divinity. God is perfect and complete; God knows everything, and he is all powerful. Jesus is not just the messenger; he is the message. Jesus is, and always will be the complete word of God incarnate.
In John 6:48-58 we hear:
’48 I am the bread of life.
49 Your ancestors ate the manna in the desert, but they died;
50 this is the bread that comes down from heaven so that one may eat it and not die.
51 I am the living bread that came down from heaven; whoever eats this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world.”
52 The Jews quarreled among themselves, saying, “How can this man give us [his] flesh to eat?”
53 Jesus said to them, “Amen, amen, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you do not have life within you.
54 Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him on the last day.
55 For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink.
56 Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me and I in him.
57 Just as the living Father sent me and I have life because of the Father, so also the one who feeds on me will have life because of me.
58 This is the bread that came down from heaven. Unlike your ancestors who ate and still died, whoever eats this bread will live forever.”’
So, Jesus is the Bread of Life came down from heaven and if you eat of this bread, you will live forever. For the flesh of Jesus is true food and his blood as stated is true drink. Peter drove the point home in John 6:67-68 (after Jesus said he was giving his body to eat and many disciples left) ‘“67 Jesus then said to the Twelve, “Do you also want to leave?”
68 Simon Peter answered him, “Master, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.”’
So when God says “One does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes forth from the mouth of God.“ the word of God was made flesh and came and dwelt among us. Jesus, the complete word of God gave himself to us as the living “Bread”, the Bread of Life. It is this “bread”, the Eucharist, that literally is “every word that comes forth from the mouth of God” and these are the “the words of eternal life”.
The Eucharist is the “bread” that some of the Saints and a few noted Holy people, have lived on completely alone. It is a notable demonstration of the title “Bread of life”. Examples include Marthe Robin (Her only sustenance for more than 50 years was the Holy Eucharist, see: https://aleteia.org/2017/03/11/marthe-robin-her-only-sustenance-for-more-than-50-years-was-the-holy-eucharist/ ), Blessed Alexandrina da Costa (who lived exclusively on the Eucharist for 13 years See: https://catholicstrength.com/2016/02/01/this-modern-woman-lived-exclusively-on-the-eucharist-for-13-years/ ), Servant of God Floripes de Jesús (Lola) (Brazilian laywoman who lived only on the Eucharist 60 years, see: https://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/46718/the-woman-who-lived-for-60-years-on-the-eucharist-alone ), St Joseph Cupertino lived for 5 years on it, St Catherine of Siena lived on the Eucharist alone for her last few years, Blessed Anne Catherine Emmerich subsided entirely on the Holy Eucharist for many years (she was extensively watched and monitored by Protestants in Germany to try to disprove the Catholic faith), as did others.
It is interesting that the original bread from heaven, mana, while it fed the Jewish people as they wandered in the desert was not the equal to the Eucharist. As we are told in John 6:49 “Your ancestors ate the manna in the desert, but they died;“. Each time Jesus fed a crowd (both the 5000 (Matthew 14:15-21) and when he fed the 4000 (Mark 8:1-13) ) he also gave them fish, he did not give them bread alone. No bread but the Eucharist (John 6:50 “this is the bread that comes down from heaven so that one may eat it and not die.“) gives the eternal spiritual life Jesus was telling us about.
When we say the “Our Father” we note the Kingdom of God will come when God’s will is done on Earth as it is in heaven. The first point after that is for God to “give us this day our daily bread”. The Kingdom of God was established on Earth in the Catholic Church, where God’s will is done on earth as it is in heaven, and is the full expression of the Will of God left to us on Earth that is the conduit of truth and grace that provides the “daily bread” that is not just bread alone, but is “every word that comes forth from the mouth of God.”
I love this article and your words about reverence; it makes my heart almost burst with love and adoration for Our Lord. I have had some of the same experiences as you, but my Medjugorje was right at home reading a book about it and the messages. As well, I felt called to receive Communion kneeling, but didn’t know how to go about it. One time our pastor dropped my Host at Communion and I fell on my knees and consumed it. He told me later he didn’t mind if I received on my knees. At another church for a conference I knelt for Communion and the priest chastised a couple of us who knelt to receive. You never know! Come Holy Spirit!! Bring your light!
God bless you!
God Bless you too!
I too wore a veil and received on the tongue before covid. After the lockdowns,(mercifully, which were not too long where I live), I also chose to receive kneeling in reparation. We attend a beautiful old church where my husband discreetly places a kneeler at the front of the pews before Mass. At communion time, we go last and my husband carries the kneeler and places it at an angle in front of the priest, where I and several others use it. My sons serve at the altar and one of them takes the kneeler back to the side altar where it came from straight after communion. No fuss.
Unfortunately, we used to have visiting priests offer the Latin Mass about once a month, but even that has stopped. Our bishop is in lock-step with Pope Francis. What is encouraging though, is the increase of people receiving on the tongue, little by little.
I too felt a calling from the Lord to kneel when receiving Him in the Eucharist. I had been praying to Him for a few years to know with my heart that He was truly present in the Eucharist. I believed it was Him because that is what I had been taught as a child but I didn’t “get it”. I believed with my head but not my heart and that troubled me. It was during the first Mass back in church after Covid when the grace was given to me. In an instant I understood. And it overwhelmed me. How good is the Lord.
After that there was no going back. I knew I had to kneel when I received Him. For me when I receive Communion now that is Christ standing there waiting for me as I approach the Eucharist. My eyes see a host but my heart now sees Christ. How can I not kneel before my Lord!
It’s not always easy though, I’m not going to lie. Luckily my church has many people that kneel as I do so it’s not perceived as strange there. But when I travel, I’m usually the only one and I don’t like to call attention to myself ever so it’s difficult. But I know that with the gift of this grace came a responsibility to be a witness to His true presence. And I just love Him so much.
I understand about the travel. Courage!!
I too have been heartbroken and dismayed by the mishaps and non-reverence that I have witnessed towards the Consecrated Wine and Holy Eucharist at the Novo Ordo Mass.
Thus, some years ago I started attending a Latin Mass Parish. I still remember, vividly, the first time I received Holy Communion at my new parish, Saint Anne
After I knelt down at the altar rail awaiting my Eucharistic Lord, I felt an immediate sense of smallness to my surroundings. When kneeling, the tabernacle and the Blessed Sacrament were above eye level, not at or below. It was a child’s eye view, a subservient position. I felt humbled, and I felt, that in every sense of the word, God was bigger than me. And, I thought, this is how it should be!
Even though I had been receiving Communion on the tongue at the Novo Ordo Mass I had been attending, I did so while standing which prevented this grace of being small before the Lord.
Saint Anne has been my parish for some years now and I pray that Latin Mass will be no further curtailed but allowed to remain and flourish. I know, Susan, that you will continue to kneel for Communion and I pray that this pious practice will be an inspiration to others at your parish to do likewise.
Thank you. Amen.
From a friend;
I tried to publish this comment, but it was asking me to log into WordPress for some reason:
The prophet Joel exhorts us to “Rend your hearts, not your garments” (Joel 2:13). And our Lord admonishes the Pharisees who are like whitewashed sepulchers but inside full of dead men’s bones (Mt 23:27). So when we approach the Lord in Communion, we must approach as the publican, “God, be merciful to me a sinner” (Lk 18:13). The heart reflects the external disposition—and you have the right heart, Susan.
What’s interesting is the lex orandi, lex credendi (the law of praying is the law of believing) posture implicit in the Mass itself. It’s not about trad-jockeying or purity signaling: the vast majority of those I know who attend the Latin Mass with us are seeking that outward affirmation of their hearts which are inwardly reverent. And that reverence is baked into the Liturgy itself in the externals. So that “settling the heart” in a worthy liturgical vessel, so to speak, is natural, as you imply in your preference for the Old Mass.
What is interesting is that many of us don’t have the PTSD of the “1963 to Summa Pontificum” era because we didn’t live through it. We sit on shoulders like kids at a parade. What’s old is suddenly new, and there is opportunity in our age to take the best of both: Tradition AND Charity! The heart AND the posture! The wisdom AND the zeal!
God bless you! I have more to add but have to put my little guy to bed. Here’s some expansion I wrote on this here:
You’re correct to point out we didn’t live through it. I have met many an older person who seems wounded from those times. And again, it is the heart that matters!