Rorate Caeli

Cardinal Ranjith to his clergy: communion on the tongue only and while kneeling is mandatory

Chrism Mass 2012 in the Archdiocese of Colombo.

As reported last year on Rorate the Archbishop of Colombo in Sri Lanka, Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith, has restored in his archdiocese the practice of communion on the tongue only and while kneeling. Last month, on the Feast of St. Joseph, he reiterated in an address to his clergy that this manner of receiving communion is mandatory for all of the faithful in his territory, even during outdoor Masses (emphasis mine):

May I also remind you once again that in all Churches and Chapels in the Archdiocese Holy Communion is to be administered only on the tongue and kneeling. This should be implemented as normal use even at Holy Mass celebrated with the participation of a big crowd outdoors. On such occasions at least the youth and the children as well as the “youthful” should be called upon to kneel and receive the Lord. This is the most appropriate way of expressing our profoundest belief in the continuous and personal presence of the Lord in the most Sacred Host as we acclaim “down in adoration falling, lo! the Sacred Host we hail”. And in all our Churches, as an expression of that faith our people should be called upon to receive the Holy Communion, kneeling. And so kindly take steps to fix the altar rails and a cushion line fixed to the ground before the railing so that all could kneel and receive easily. It is also good for us to explain to our people about the teaching of the Church on the Most Holy Eucharist as found in the Catechism of the Catholic Church Nos. 1373-1381.

The Archbishop also announced that he will personally take charge of the effort to correct liturgical abuses regarding Mass vestments in the Archdiocese of Colombo:

I would also like to insist with you on the culture of priestly vestments at Holy Mass. In a sermon Pope Benedict gave at the Chrism Mass held at St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome on 5th April 2007, he explained this need in relation to what happens at Baptism where we put on Christ. St. Paul said so: “for as many of you as were baptized into Christ, have put on Christ” [Gal. 3:27]. The Pope continued: “This is what is fulfilled in Baptism; we put on Christ, He gives us His garments and these are not something external. It means that we enter into an existential communion with Him, that His being and our being merge, penetrate one another” [Priests of Jesus Christ, Family Publications, Oxford 2009 p.31]. The challenge to let Christ live in us is indicated by this putting on of Christ – “It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me” [Gal. 2:20]. The Priest is one who is called upon to live that intimate spirit of communion with Christ even more intensely, especially when he celebrates the Eucharist. It is the highest point of our communion with Him, when we become totally identified with Him in His salvific sacrifice on Calvary. States the Pope “at the moment of priestly ordination, the Church has also made this reality of “new clothes” visible and comprehensive to us externally through being clothed in Liturgical vestments……the “putting on of Him” is demonstrated again and again at every Holy Mass by putting on the Liturgical vestments……the fact that we are standing at the altar clad in Liturgical vestments must make it clearly visible to those present that we are there ‘in the person of Christ’ ”[ibid p.32]. Indeed we ought to recall how Jesus explaining the parable of the wedding feast stressed on the need to be attired in a proper garment. He who was not thus dressed was ordered to be thrown with hand and feet tied into the dark where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth. [cfr. Mt. 22:13]. The Vatican Instruction Redemptionis Sacramentum of 2004 states on the matter: “the vestments proper to the priest celebrant at Mass, and in other sacred actions directly connected with the Mass, unless otherwise indicated, is the Chasuble, worn over the alb and stole” [123] and then it states “the abuse is reprobated whereby the sacred ministers celebrate Holy Mass or other rites without sacred vestments or with only a stole over the monastic cowl or the common habit of religious or ordinary clothes” [126]. The same document states that the “ordinaries should take care that in all Churches and oratories subject to their jurisdiction there is present an adequate supply of Liturgical vestments made in accordance with the norms” [ibid]. And so dear fathers, kindly ensure that in each Church in your parishes there is an adequate supply of a sufficient number of amices, girdles, stoles and chasubles for daily use. When I come for my parish visits starting from January next year, I will check on this matter personally. Kindly begin celebrating your daily sacrifice of the Eucharist properly clad and that means dressed with the alb, with or without the amice, the girdle, stole and chasuble. This should start immediately. The Auxiliary Bishops and Episcopal Vicars should kindly ensure that this is strictly followed in your areas.

His sharp remarks regarding abortion should be noted as well.