06 September 2007

An Apt Word

Rembrandt, The Apostle Peter Kneeling, 1631

From Fr. Powell's Blog:

Before you leave a comment disagreeing with me about kneeling, read this carefully: Can you kneel? Yes. Can you say, "Thank you, Father" as a response to "The Body of Christ"? Yes. Can we sing happy birthday, clap, roam around during the peace, and let lay folks preach? Yes, yes, yes, yes. . .we CAN do all of these things, but the bishops have asked us not to do these things and as a matter of obedience we should not do them. Should you be denied communion for kneeling? Absolutely not. But don't think for a second that your apparent reverence for the Lord negates your demonstrated disobedience to his apostles. Is kneeling more reverent? I don't know. Reverence is a matter of intent. If you are kneeling to show us all how holy you are, then there's no point in you kneeling. If you are truly reverent, then show it by being obedient. If I were a bishop, my own choice would be to allow and encourage kneeling for everyone! The reasons I have seen for discouraging kneeling are vacuous at best. However, there is more at stake here than the Protestant notion of "having it my way" and the liberal democratic notion that "I have a right" to kneel. What's at stake is whether or not we believe the bishops are the successors of the apostles and whether or not we believe they have the authority to regulate our public worship. To be absolutely clear: you are free to think that the bishops are mistaken in asking us not to kneel to receive communion. (This is my position.) However, this freedom to disagree intellectually/academically does not translate into a blank check for behaving liturgically in ways that contradict their teaching. You cannot, in other words, gripe and moan about Fr. Hollywood prancing around the church at the Peace, pointing out that the bishops have frowned on this practice AND AT THE SAME TIME kneel for communion and claim that it is your choice. The bishops are in charge of the liturgy, or they aren't. Picking and choosing what WE want them to be in charge of, or worse: simple deciding on our own what we think they've gotten right and wrong is Protestantism at its best. Every man is his own Pope, every woman her own Bishop.

I remember making this argument once and having a RadTrad scream modernist! and neoCatholic! at me. LOL. As the good Father notes, this attitude is protestantism at its best.