Church Militant protagonist Michael Voris has been taken to task by Catholic writer David Armstrong for being sloppy about the background to the practice of receiving communion in the hand whilst standing. Armstrong points out that in the Orthodox rites communion is normally received whilst standing, whilst the practice of receiving communion in the hand can be traced by to the times of the early church fathers.
Voris can be irritatingly sloppy at times but is not usually wrong in principle. We are talking
about signification here. Customs and gestures acquire meanings. Voris
understands this. The view is well supported by semiotic theory and
contemporary understandings in cognitive psychology. He may or may not
know this theory but he seems to have a sound overall grasp.
(Orthodox) Rite churches receive do indeed receive communion whilst
standing, but it is distributed in both kinds, using leavened bread, with the priest using a spoon, and it is received, of necessity, on the tongue. In addition, Orthodox liturgies use their own set of
symbols in order to establish the sense of reverence - in particular,
through the presence of the iconostasis in front of the altar, the
elaboration of ceremonial and the use of modal music with drones and quarter tones.
The overall presentation of the Latin Rite
Catholic liturgy is very different. The altar is open to view, the music is much simplified, and much of it is in an ordinary major or minor key.
In the Latin Rite, the
reception of communion kneeling and on the tongue has been the practice
for at least 1000 years, in which time it has come to acquire the
meaning "reverence". To jump back to the practices of 1000 years
previously was never how the church operated, since to do so would be to
ignore the meanings that the practice had acquired in that period. Within the
contemporary ie mid 20th century context, reversion to the earlier
practice has the connotation of a reduction in reverence.
that practice was perceived in patristic times is of interest but
irrelevant in the contemporary context. The overall liturgy at that time
would presumably have been closer to the Orthodox model. It does not do
to pick and mix, especially down to the lowest common denominator.
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