Monday, October 7, 2013

Altar rails

Several months ago, my priest Fr. Vince Rogers had altar rails installed in our church and I love them.   I actually would have been surprised if I hadn't liked them.  He has had kneelers at the front of the church for years so that people would be more comfortable kneeling to accept the Eucharist so I had been kneeling for awhile---even when I was at other churches.

The reason I like kneeling at communion is because I believe it is more reverent.   I believe that our interior mind is a reflection of our posture. So I think there is a huge difference in reverence between standing and accepting in the hand kneeling and accepting on the tongue.  In the first you walk up to the priest, stick out your hands, take the Blessed Sacrament and put it in your mouth on your way back to the seat  (I realize you aren't supposed to be moving as you place It in your mouth but that is what you see people doing).  As opposed to kneeling down and receiving the Eucharist.   I just believe there is a lot more reverence in kneeling than standing.   This is God, who not only humbled Himself and allowed Himself to be sacrificed on the cross but to allow us to receive Him under the appearance of bread.   The God of the Universe.  My creator.  You're darn tootin I'm going to be kneeling.

The altar rails not only allow you to kneel but they encourage people to kneel.  They let people know that it is okay to take the Eucharist on the tongue---even encourages it.  They set the tone for a posture of reverence.  They help you realize that something special is going on here.

A couple other advantages of the altar rails are that they allow communion to move more quickly and efficiently.  Father is not standing there waiting for the next person to step up.  He is able to move up and down the line in a more efficient manner.

I also like the fact that it give me a few seconds kneeling there for extra preparation that I'm about to receive the Eucharist as opposed to just moving in line and then trying to get out of the way.  An added plus is that I get to receive communion with my wife, Abby, right next to me.

I've heard arguments that altar rails "separate the people from the sanctuary!"  I don't think that is necessarily a bad thing.   It should separate that way it is seen as something different than the rest of the church.  That way people see it as a sacred, holy place and not just a stage.    

Have you had experiences with altar rails?  What do you think??


  1. You know how I feel about it. :) I haven't thought as much about it since the rails were put in. I thought a lot about it beforehand, though. I cried when he put the kneelers there in the first place because I was happy to have a way to receive while kneeling. The altar rails were just an extension of what we had and I am very pleased with it. Have you noticed how packed our parish is? I think lots of people enjoy having the Altar rails.

  2. I'll start off with the quicker answer, no I have never had any experience with altar rails.

    I however much agree with you in that I think they are a good thing. I know exactly what you are saying when you talk about people going up getting communion and walking off while you actually put it in your mouth etc. Heck I've even been guilty of that. The way things are now in most churches you almost feel pushed by all the people behind you to hurry up and move it along.

    I've always thought about just taking communion on the tongue but hardly anyone does it anymore so I have never been sure as to whether it was still accepted and ok or if that had been done away with. I also love the symbolism and idea behind kneeling it reminds me of one of St Dominic's 9 ways of prayer.