Sean and I started to go to mass together (regularly) at the beginning of June. I liked to go to the Sunday 9 am mass and sing in choir, and he hated to get up that early, so he usually attended Sunday night college mass at 8 pm (it was too late for me, since I used my Sunday nights to do homework). So, we agreed on Saturday evening. I noticed that after we sang the Agnus Dei (or Lamb of God), he would kneel. I gave him a questioning glance, and he forcefully whispered back, “I’m kneeling in defiance of the Bishop.” I shrugged my shoulders and dropped to the kneeler beside him, enjoying my bit of rebellion. So, every week, we groan, go to reconciliation (usually every-other week), and then Saturday evening vigil at 5 pm. I’ve given up on choir for now – cancer kind of takes early mornings out of you. Regardless of what mass we attend, the Eucharist is a special time for me.
There IS a point to this story, I promise. The point is, our parish kneels at the Consecration of the gifts, like any other Catholic Church. Strange? No. Expected? Yes. Back home in California, this is NOT the case. They don’t kneel at all during the mass. You’re expected to stand through the Consecration, and after receiving Communion, until the Priest sits. What the hell? When I was at home during Christmas in 2005, I distinctly remember being told before the midnight mass by the new Father at St. William’s, “In this diocese, we stand throughout the Eucharist.” What? We do? Since when? Since Bishop McGrath said so in this letter. I had thought St. William’s was just being hokey at the time, since St. Simon’s down the road did kneel, as did St. Nicholas and St. Joseph. This bothered me whenever I went home and went to mass, but I thought, “Hey, it must be okay, since the Bishop said so, and no one’s complaining.” It did take some of the magic and mystery out of the mass, unfortunately, and it made me feel distanced from the Host, and almost like Jesus wasn’t there.
Back to Sean, he quoted me Philippians 2:6-9, about how every knee should bend at the name of Jesus. That was a good reason to kneel after the Agnus Dei, and during the Consecration. Because He’s there, and yeah, if you saw Jesus, you’d kneel too. I found an article explaining how kneeling after the Agnus Dei is optional, and how it’s okay to do it either way. It also said how kneeling during the Consecration is mandatory, and if a diocese illegally decides not to kneel at that time, well, bad times for them (I’m paraphrasing). Authority in the Liturgy says that Bishops can’t change the liturgy without the body of the Church behind them (ie: the Pope and the Vatican), and I doubt Bishop McGrath really got permission.
I was a bit incised. Granted, it’s not really my place to say anything since I’ve moved away and belong to a new parish (which I love). But, my parents still live there, and they never said a word. Not one word! So, to make a very long story a bit shorter, I had to find who was in charge of Bishop McGrath, who turns out to be the Archdiocese of San Francisco and Most Rev. George H. Niederauer. Hooray! Seriously, it took me 2 days to find that out. Catholic hierarchy is hard. Well, you can’t email their Archbishop, unlike the Portland Archdioceses‘ Archbishop (I totally emailed him asking him something… and I know I won’t hear a response, but it’s nice to be able to do that). But, they have a general email, and a list of offices within the Archdioceses. I found the Metropolitan Tribunal and Department of Canonical Affairs to be promising, so I sent them an email a few hours ago, and maybe I’ll hear back sometime tonight. Actually, I won’t, since it’s the Feast of the Assumption (Holy day of Obligation!), but maybe next week.
I feel better after emailing because I’ve done my part to point out an error. If he says, “Oh, well, we think it’s okay and don’t tell anyone,” I’m calling the Vatican. I don’t care how long distance it is, or that I don’t speak an ounce of Italian. I just wouldn’t know who else to tell, because it doesn’t seem right.
After this VERY long-winded entry, I’m headed to bed. It’s 3:55 am, my tummy hurts, and it’s about 75-80 degrees right now. Ouch.