This Sunday marks six years since the changes to the Roman Missal were put into effect. Most of the changes have been fully received, although here and there you will still hear “and also with you” in response to “the Lord be with you.” However there continues to be some confusion about how long to stand during the reception of Holy Communion. Most people stay standing until the ciborium containing the Blessed Sacrament is returned to the tabernacle, as if we were standing to show respect to Christ’s body present among us. Actually, however, the standing policy is intended to express the unity of the people of God as they are united with Jesus Christ in the act of receiving communion.
Sr. Loretta Manzara, C.S.J expressed this beautifully in the Winter 2011 edition of the Newspaper of the Diocese of London. She writes:
“The whole Communion Rite reflects the mission of the church: reconciliation of all in the heart of God. As we eat and drink of the Risen Lord’s Body and Blood we enact that vision of unity, the vision that proclaims hope in the eternal banquet. We participate in a two-fold treasure. We become what we eat. The Body and Blood of Christ fills us personally with the Real Presence. Walking toward the altar table of sacrifice and banquet feast and joining our voices in song ritualizes our assent and belief that we as one Body become what we eat. We are joined together in the Risen Lord by the power of the Holy Spirit. The church invites us to express this unity with joy and gladness. Our standing posture until all have received symbolizes this unity and our participation in song peals out our faith in this mystery of Oneness in Christ.”
It is sometimes difficult to see when the last person has received communion, but I think it is sufficient to keep an eye on the front of the church. When the priest stops distributing communion there, then the time for standing has also concluded.
—Fr. Jim Stenberg C.S.B.