The Altar Rail, Part 1

The Altar Rail, Part 1

As you approach the sanctuary for Communion, you will see that there is the option provided for kneeling as you receive Holy Communion. While Catholics in the United States have the option of standing to receive Communion, we also want to provide for those who choose to receive Communion according to the universal norm. The communion rail has been known by many names throughout history, but most popularly known as the “altar of the faithful.” As the priest leans on the altar as he offers the sacrifice, it is on the communion rail that the faithful lean as they offer the sacrifice of their lives when they receive Holy Communion. As we kneel to receive—a sign of our humility and weakness before God—we lean on the rail which symbolizes the strength of Christ. Practically, as the priest moves from person to person, whether the faithful choose to kneel or stand, distributing Holy Communion at the rail is an objectively quicker way to communicate the congregation.

 

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