Dear Parishioners, +JMJ
A couple weeks ago, I wrote Bishop Thomas to ask his direction and permission regarding two liturgical items at our Payne campus.
I believe it was within my first year at Divine Mercy that Chris and Charles Schaefer took me to their Morton building to show me the old communion rail and ambo (a.k.a. pulpit) stored there on pallets. Although the old communion rail and ambo have endured some heat and cold, they seem not to have suffered any damage from water. I think the wood can be restored. A couple of parishioners volunteered to do the restoration. Restoring these two items would add beauty to our church. Also, since we celebrate the pre-Vatican II Latin Mass at Payne (called now the “Extraordinary Form”), the Communion rail would be very, very helpful; because in that ancient Mass, people receive Communion on their knees at the communion rail. (Of course, if somebody has a physical problem that prevents kneeling, there is no requirement to kneel.) Now, it is more difficult for people to get on their knees and rise again, without a communion rail. I could also imagine us using the communion rail in our English Masses, because distributing Communion at the rail is more efficient than the line at the aisle. Only the priest or deacon moves back and forth along the rail, and this takes much less time. Of course, since the Vatican II English Mass (called “Ordinary Form”) does not require kneeling, we certainly would not require people to kneel at the communion rail in the English Mass. So, I am asking the Bishop for permission to restore the old communion rail.
This project is been on the back burner for about four years at least. About a month ago, I had two independent sources send me notice that the Visitation Monastery Sisters in Toledo were restoring their communion rail. That lit a bit of a fire under me for this project.
The old ambo used to be attached to the wall directly to the right, and in front of, the altar of St. Joseph. You might say that the communion rail ended at the ambo on the right side. There were statues of the four evangelists placed on small shelves around the ambo. (Beautiful, when you consider that we read those evangelists’ gospels from that ambo!) I believe that restoring the ambo would also be beautiful!
The second item I Included in my letter to the Bishop was the current confessional at Payne. I believe that not long after I arrived at the parish I made it known that I was not comfortable with face-to-face confessions. I have heard them plenty at Payne, but I have never felt comfortable. Unfortunately, in our age, with so many accusations happening against priests, it simply does not make sense for a priest to sit behind a closed door, where he is not allowed to say anything of what happens behind that door – because of the seal of the confessional – yet anybody who uses the confessional can say whatever they want. And, I’ve known cases where false accusations have been made. Furthermore, some of them have hit close to home. I can add that I believe the Vatican II Council never intended confessions to happen without a screen between the priest and the penitent. I have read the most pertinent document, even in Latin.
With these reasons in mind, I’ve asked the Bishop for his guidance. This is a liturgical matter in which I knew he would want to have a voice. I suggested to him two options. One option would be to build a confessional back in the corner where the wall juts at the end of the short pews on the St. Joseph side of the church. The confessionals used to be in those back corners on each side. I would make sure that the confessional built there would include a seat for people who are not able to kneel at the screen. The second option I suggested to the Bishop was to build a wall within the current confessional room. As is the case now in that room, people would be able to kneel at the screen, or sit in a chair.
So, I am awaiting the Bishop’s response. I am not sure how long it will take to get a response. I just wanted to let you know that I have finally moved on these projects.
Have a blessed week!
In cordibus Iesu et Mariae,