Tradition for the sake of tradition is folly. But, the guidance of sacred tradition can also be very powerful in our spiritual development and ensuring that we worship God as we should. The ordinary form of the Mass as we think of it today is known as the Novus Ordo. In this post, I explore the Tridentine Rite and how two of its detail oriented practices can accentuate the sacredness of the Eucharist.
The Tridentine Rite, which is in many ways unrecognizable to most Catholics now, was practiced from 1570 A.D. to 1969 A.D. and has been optional since 2007. There have been many liturgical abuses of the Tridentine Rite just as there have been for the Novus Ordo: i.e. reported cases of the priests murmuring the Latin words or skipping over parts of the Mass. BUT it has a lot of benefits, especially in accentuating the how solemn the Eucharist really is.
Did you ever notice that at any Catholic Church, the altar is(or is supposed to be) at least one full step higher than the remainder of the sanctuary? In the Tridentine Rite, that step or platform on which the altar sits is called the predella. The priest, who acts in the person of Christ during Mass, steps down from that platform to give Communion to the people. In this action, we remember that God, in a profound act of charity and humility, came down from Heaven and became man. Jesus came to us just as He continues to do in the Eucharist.
Reception of Communion
The second practice I want to explore are the normal conditions for receiving the Eucharist in the Tridentine Rite which include kneeling during reception, receiving on the tongue, and a fast that began at Midnight prior to receiving the Eucharist.
“In fact, as His Eminence, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger has recently emphasized, the practice of kneeling for Holy Communion has in its favor a centuries-old tradition, and it is a particularly expressive sign of adoration, completely appropriate in light of the true, real and substantial presence of Our Lord Jesus Christ under the consecrated species.” -Archbishop Francesco Pio Tamburrino(EWTN)
In these modern days, the normal position to receive the Eucharist is standing and it must be received either the tongue or on the hand. Both are entirely acceptable and licit, but I personally enjoy receiving it on the tongue because it eliminates most accidental cases of particles of the most holy Eucharist ending up other than in our mouths. In just one particle of the Eucharist, there is the fullness of the physical presence of Jesus Christ’s flesh.
Personally, I believe that kneeling for Communion during the Novus Ordo is somewhat distracting, so it is good that we are instructed to make a sign of reverence BOTH before and after receiving the Eucharist(e.g.: bowing, making the sign of the cross). Genuflecting during the Mass itself is discouraged by the Church, but not prohibited. The Church does not tolerate denying Communion to those who genuflect before or kneel to receive(EWTN). They use the word “orthopraxy” which means that we should strive to make a correct action as opposed to simply an “orthodox” action (CUF).
As always, our desires for the correct practice of the Mass should be guided by our charitable desire to worship God as best as we can. Thank you for reading!