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On Recieiving the Blessed Sacrament a Parishioners view.

On Recieiving the Blessed  Sacrament a Parishioners view.

A View from the Pew


How can we as a parish community at our Sunday Mass be more reverential in approaching the altar to receive the Blessed Sacrament?. We all want to receive the Blessed Sacrament with reverence and solemnity and be least distracted in our thoughts at this most important part of our spiritual lives. We currently leave at both ends of the pews to process to the altar at the point when the priest and ministers of Holy Communion come down to the altar rail. The front two or three rows of pews leave the pews into the centre aisles in a sequentially orderly way and then the remainder of the faithful leave at each end of their pews simutaneously to queue in the aisles as best as we can. Approaching the altar rail from both the centre and side aisles and with the ministers of Holy Communion with the chalice at the ends of the rails there is occasional congestion and confusion which is exacerbated by communicants queueing in the side aisles to receive the chalice.

From observing practices in other parishes there are a number of ways in which we could improve the simple but important way we approach the altar. If we start to approach the altar rail from the front pews into the centre aisles when the special ministers are receiving Holy Communion we will be ready when the celibrant and special ministers come to the rail. Also if we leave a space along the rails of two metres or so from the walls it will enable access for communicants to approach the special ministers with the chalices. If we leave the pews sequentially and enter the centre aisles only when the people in the pew in front are all in the aisle we will reduce queueing in the pews. After receiving Communion we can then return to our pews along the side aisles with the minimum of distraction.

Another simple solution to avoid confusion and distractions would be for the celibrant and special minister with Holy Communion to stand between the altar rails and communicants process from the centre aisles to receive the Host. Those wishing to receive Communion under both kinds could then walk to the special ministers with the chalices and avoid further queueing and return to the pews via the side aisles. This is how we receive the Blessed Sacrament when Bishop Declan visits our parish and is normal in the majority of parish churches and cathedrals I visit in England and Wales.



Gordon Hodgson

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