Wednesday, March 29, 2006


To tear down Communion rails? Vatican II never called for such a wreckovation. In fact, I highly doubt any liturgical document written since Vatican II called for the tearing down of altar rails. Of course, it never said that newly-built churches needed them. But it never said "tear down the existing altar rails". Did Vatican II actually intend for Holy Communion to be received on our feet instead of on our knees? Perhaps the current logistic scheme of things is the cause of hardly ever hearing the classic Spiritual, Let us break bread together on our knees?

I thank the good Lord that some churches still have those beautiful altar rails. I can name a few in my own diocese, albeit most of them are not in use. Saint Mary of the Immaculate Conception (my aunt's parish), a historic church in Pawtucket, RI, has a beautiful altar rail with an angel statue popping up about every 3 to 4 feet. Precious Blood (where I was music director for eight years), a French-Canadian parish in Woonsocket, RI, has a nice marble rail. As does Saint Joseph (where I made my First Communion), a Polish parish in Central Falls, RI.

Holy Name of Jesus Church in Providence, where I was organist and music director for four years, has a wooden rail (replacing a marble one that was destroyed by a fire in the mid 1960's), but will have a marble one installed by 2008. Holy Name still uses its altar rail, as it is the ONLY parish in Rhode Island with a diocesan-approved Indult (Tridentine) Mass.

Dr. Phil Blosser, the Pertinacious Papist, has more on this topic. My condolensces to Dr. Phil, btw, and his son Christopher, on the loss of their adopted brother/uncle.


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