By Tom Quiner
I grew up in the Episcopal Church. A communion rail was used during communion.
By the time I joined the Catholic Church, communion rails had pretty much been banished. I’ve never taken communion at a communion rail in a Catholic Church, and I’ve attended a lot of churches around the country.
I read that communion rails are beginning to make a comeback. I wasn’t quite sure how to react. My wife thought it would be taking a step backward. I’m not so sure.
What I love about Catholic Mass is that everything has rich meaning, including the communion rail. A church designer by the name of Denis McNamara explains it well. He is a professor at the University of Saint Mary of the Lake in Mundelein, Illinois:
“(The altar rail) is still a marker of the place where heaven and earth meet, indicating that they are not yet completely united…But, at the same time, the rail is low, very permeable, and has a gate, so it does not prevent us from participating in heaven. So we could say there is a theology of the rail, one which sees it as more than a fence, but as a marker where heaven and earth meet, where the priest, acting in persona Christi, reaches across from heaven to earth to give the Eucharist as the gift of divine life.”
When Pope Benedict XVI was still a Cardinal, he made a strong case for the communion rail:
“the practice of kneeling for Holy Communion has in its favor a centuries-old tradition, and it is a particularly expressive sign of adoration, completely appropriate in light of the true, real and substantial presence of Our Lord Jesus Christ under the consecrated species.”
What do you think? Should the communion rail make a comeback?