H.E. Archbishop Terrence Prendergast has directed the faithful of Ottawa to kneel throughout the canon at Mass -- not just at the Consecration, mind you, but for the entire five minutes.
"Is that all they have to think about?" asked Toddy Kehoe, a parishioner of St. Joseph's.
One woman said her husband will stop coming to Mass as a result.
Abp. Prendergast said he was doing this for harmony. It's a sign of reverence. We have to kneel for God. It's only a small thing.
So, opponents ask, if it's only a small thing, why are you asking us to do it?
Indeed. Back when kneeling through the Canon was universal and the reformers abused the faithful into standing, a different line was taken. Friends of mine say they were simply passed over for Communion when they knelt at the altar rail. One kneeling woman was yelled at by her priest right in the middle of Mass. Why is such a small thing such a big deal?
Because the size of a gesture is not a reliable indication of its significance. What matters more is the love and faith -- or lack thereof -- that animates it.
"Well done, good and faithful servant, because you have been faithful over a few things, I will place you over many things."
- Matthew 25:21
People recognize that kneeling is a sign of submission -- it is a deed that requires humility. When that virtue is in short supply, Bishops get screeched at and defied for asking for simple acts that manifest a unified sense of loving piety.
There's also simply the matter of the True Presence: under the appearance of bread and wine, Christ is really and truly present in body, blood, soul, and divinity. If you believe this article of faith, you will find kneeling and other acts of reverence to be no hardship at all; if you don't believe, being directed to kneel is an outrage. Archbishop Prendergast clearly believes; draw your own conclusions about the people standing in the pews.
Once upon a time Christ was a baby in a manger; at that moment what was inside the stable was greater than the entire world beyond the stable. The Host at Communion is a visible sign that in the Divine economy, what is inside is bigger than what is outside. And when we perform some small act in recognition of this truth, the Almighty takes a very personal interest.
"For I was hungry, and you gave me to eat: I was thirsty, and you gave me to drink: I was a stranger, and you took me in: Naked, and you covered me: sick, and you visited me: I was in prison, and you came to me. Then shall the just answer him, saying: Lord, when did we see you hungry and fed you: thirsty and gave you drink? Or when did we see you a stranger and took you in? Or naked and covered you? Or when did we see you sick or in prison and came to you? And the king answering shall say to them: Amen I say to you, as long as you did it to one of these my least brethren, you did it to me."
- Matthew 25:31-40