Sophia’s wisdom?

Queen Sofia of Spain declined to kneel or receive Holy Communion on the tongue, as the Pope prefers. Hmm, why do you suppose she did this? I honestly don’t know.   – awr




  1. Her Royal Highness certainly is making a profound bow though! She could have somersaulted over the precipice of the step upon which the kneeler was. But contrasting this with Crown Prince Felipe’s more gracious acquiescence to kneel to receive Holy Communion , one can say his way of receiving was safer looking and others might say more reverent looking too!

  2. +JMJ+

    Wow, she looks quite tall.

    On another note, I don’t like the arrangement of all the clergy in the picture. It makes reception of Communion from the Pope a spectacle. It appears that they’re staring — a couple are craning their necks to see.

  3. This is very interesting on several levels.

    I don’t know what the rules etc are about whether a priest can refuse communion to a communicant who refuses to accept his prescribed norms (i.e. rather than those of the Church) but I do know this:

    Having not refused communion to HM, he can hardly now refuse anybody who does not kneel or he will be accused – and rightly so – of the worst kind of double standards.

      1. +OMG+

        Not that I know of, not even the Protestant Prior of Taize – seated – at Pope John Paul II’s funeral.

        What a difference 5 and a half years makes: then he was giving Communion to seated Protestants, now to standing queens . . . and who know’s what’s next?!

  4. He is of course a snob of the highest order; why do you think he dresses like royalty?

    Juan Carlos and Sophia stood up against the fascists; they can certainly make a point, graciously, against papal bullying.

      1. I think Mr. O’Leary might recall that when you point a finger, you always have three pointing back at yourself.

  5. I certainly do not know the Queen’s mind.

    Maybe she knows the Church’s documents which say a person has a right to decide how they will receive communion.

      1. Chris, If you look at the photo carefully, the skirt is not particularly tight. But we’ve no way to know how her knees, hips, or back felt just then.

    1. Perhaps she’s illustrating that she has a normal way to receive communion and she is doing what she normally does. Nothing wrong with it, or with her.

  6. From John Allen’s interview with Msgr Marini, the Pope’s MC.

    Q. You spoke about some more traditional touches in Pope Benedict’s liturgies, such as placing a cross on the altar and giving communion on the tongue. If I understand correctly, you’re not suggesting that these are harbingers of new liturgical policy for the whole church.

    A. The pope has proposed, and proposes, these solutions. It’s the style of the present pope to proceed not though impositions but propositions. The idea is that, little by little, all this may be welcomed, considering the true significance that certain decisions and certain orientations may have. …

    Whether sometime in the future, what the pope’s presenting in this propositional way should become more of a disciplinary norm, we don’t know and can’t say. Certainly, the style at the moment is to offer proposals for the celebrative style of the church. Nevertheless, when the Holy Father proposes, it is not simply his personal preference, but a precise and clear orientation for the whole church.

    The Pope recommends but has not commanded this practice. The laity still have the right to receive on the hand. Many at the papal Masses in the UK did so – though not those who received from the Pope. Could it be that there was no ‘statement’ on the Queen’s part, but simply the exercise of her legitimate prerogative?

  7. If we weren’t so preoccupied with Her Majesty, more of us might have noticed the preist without the amice. He’s probably happy that she has taken the attention off of his wardrobe nonfunction.

  8. The pride of the Queen is truly heartbreaking. If she cannot even kneel before the Lord, what sort of contempt must she have for her people?

    1. Please read what you wrote 100 times and ponder how it furthers the Gospel. The real one, not your personal one.

    2. Gee, priests (including the Pope) never kneel at the altar when they receive Holy Communion, do you really want to impugn all that to THEM? I would not assume that standing equals contempt for anyone.

      1. Fr. Anthony,
        I believe that your statement holds true only for the O.F. I watched part of an E.F. ordination, and event the concelebrant ordinati received kneeling, so your “never” needs some qualifying.

  9. Karl,

    The Gospel says,

    “You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.
    This is the greatest and the first commandment.
    The second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. ”

    Now how is what I said at variance with that? Queen Sofia had a unique opportunity to demonstrate publicly her devotion to the greatest commandment. That she chose to pass up this opportunity is an indication that she may likewise not do so well with the second commandment since Our Lord tells us they are alike.

    If she does not see the majesty of the Lord in the Eucharist with whom she is about to commune, how likely is she to see His majesty in the poor?

    Fr. Ruff,

    I’ve seen priests prostrate on the floor as a sign of their devotion and submission to Jesus. The eternal memory of this gesture makes their situation different. It seems that one who is heiress to the title of “Her Catholic Majesty”, and who used the privilege of this very title by wearing white on this occasion, would do well to show her most profound respect to her God in the consecration of the Sagrada Familia.

    1. Your answer begs the question of what devotion to the greatest commandment necessarily looks like. Answer fail.

    2. If anything is shocking in this picture, it is not the attitude of Queen Sophia, of Pope Benedict or of the two priests next to him, who are all focused on giving and receiving communion, everything being done in an appropriate (and allowed) manner.

      But the expressions of the other priests are a little bit shocking. They are frowning: they are not paying attention to communion, but to the choice of Queen Sophia to receive in the hand. They let themselves be distracted by unimportant details. If you really want to make a fuss about this picture, I would say that they are the ones who are showing a lack of reverence and respect.

    3. Ben, you’ve decided that loving God with your whole heart requires kneeling to receive communion. That’s your opinion but it’s a very foolish opinion. How do you feel about the Church fathers? Were they lacking in devotion? Taking communion in the hand, standing, was common practice in the early centuries. Do you feel that no one in the Church loved God with a whole heart until the middle ages? If you want to be taken seriously, you shouldn’t say things which imply obvious falsehoods. How do you feel about your fellow Catholics who receive standing, and in the hand — your brothers and sisters by baptism, sharers in the eucharist with you? Obviously you do not regard them as having a faith worthy of the sacrament. How arrogant to take this attitude, and how unnecessary.

      The idea of an “eternal memory” of prostration at ordination taking the place of kneeling for communion doesn’t deserve comment perhaps, because it is so far-fetched, but let me simply note that romancing leads to misunderstandings about the ordered structure of the sacraments. Eucharist is the culmination of Christian initiation, it is not a display for edification, nor something which changes in its fundamental nature when the communicant is ordained.

      What you seem to be saying is that Queen Sofia has to prove something to you by how she receives. She doesn’t. Your uncharitable assumption here should be examined, as Karl suggests.

    4. ‘I’ve seen priests prostrate on the floor’

      Haven’t we all!

      And some of them did it during the liturgy too.

      (Where else but the floor . . . ? But I digress . . . )

      I think the subject is posture while receiving Communion, and I doubt anyone would seriously expect priests – or anyone – to receive while prostrate.

  10. I wish the bishops (flunkies) of the USCCB had the same spunk as her majesty. The church would be better. Rome cannot walk all over the rest of the church, just because they think or want something. Like translations that make no sense, no matter how you prepare them, or how you proclaim them, some just dont make it.

  11. She is perfectly within her rights to receive standing in the hand. The pope has a preference but has not changed the law.
    Last night I received kneeling on the tongue from Bishop Tod Brown of orange County, California. Same point: properly disposed. (Google Tod Brown and kneeling if you have some time to spare.)
    It is interesting that the king chose not to receive but again he is within his rights or may even have been obeying church law – interesting but ultimately none of our buisness.

  12. I think the mystery is solved:

    “I did think it was unfortunate for the Queen to take communion in the hand [shudder], rather than kneel at the prie-dieu in front of her to receive. Was this voluntary, though? There was no way she could come down from the riser she was on to be at the same elevation as the Pope in order to receive on the tongue, so perhaps the reception in the hand was an instant calculation based on the logistical difficulty of she and the Pope getting to each other and she did not think of the kneeler. The placement of the thrones – really just side chairs – for the King and Queen seemed rather awkward, quite frankly, and they should have been moved elsewhere.”


    My favorite comment, from Michael O’Connor at CMAA:

    “It’s obvious that the Queen doesn’t believe she’s recieving the actual Body of Christ!”

    How anyone’s beliefs would be “obvious” to anyone based on posture is beyond me – I guess my mindreading skills are lesser than others’.


  13. A neurosis about transubstantiation lies behind all this. Benedict thinks that those who receive communion in the hand will lose faith in the real presence. I followed his course on the Eucharist in the Gregorian University in 1973, and he did consider more integrated theologies of the eucharistic presence, as a transformation of the entire meal-event into a participation in the paschal mystery; but his consideration seems to have been just a prelude to turning away from any such rethinking. The theology of the real presence has become a taboo area in theology and an albtross around the neck of eucharistic worship. It is one of many factors that have made our liturgies opaque and lifeless.

    1. +JMJ+

      He writes (or rather, speaks) at length about the Eucharist as todah in Feast of Faith. I hadn’t gotten the impression that he had “turn[ed] away” from all other ways of considering the Eucharist.

  14. I literally laughed out loud at this one! And I can’t stop!!!

    Only comments with a full name will be approved.

    Chris Grady :

    Not that I know of, not even the Protestant Prior of Taize – seated – at Pope John Paul II’s funeral.
    What a difference 5 and a half years makes: then he was giving Communion to seated Protestants, now to standing queens . . . and who know’s what’s next?!

  15. Ioannes Andreades :
    Fr. Anthony,I believe that your statement holds true only for the O.F. I watched part of an E.F. ordination, and event the concelebrant ordinati received kneeling, so your “never” needs some qualifying.

    Anthony was talking about real liturgy, not ‘let’s all dress up in lace and pretend it’s the 1950s’ stuff.

    1. And perhaps I.A. was referring to the other completely valid form of the mass. Your comment has just discredited any other argument you could make. Your false assumption that the OF is the only real liturgy leads me to question just how much you actually know about liturgy at all…and just how much hot air you may produce in a given day.

      1. There was no such thing as the OF and the EF until the invention a few years ago. Was it Caligula or Nero who made his horse a senator? It was John Paul II who similary invented Rosary mysteries. It’s all literature, really.

      2. There absolutely was “such things” before a few years ago. The only invention was the new naming convention. I can’t believe you would be hung up on a technicality such as that as a means to justify your false claims.

    2. Judging from his posts, I doubt Chris has ever even been to an EF Mass (and I’m not being the least bit sarcastic).

      As for the discussion at hand – I wouldn’t assume anything bad about the queen’s actions. I’m thrilled that communion kneeling is more and more becoming an option (an option that never ever should have went away), but don’t necessarily wish to deny the other way to people provided there is always reverence. I receive both ways depending on the Mass I’m attending, though I prefer kneeling and wish it to be more common as it better shows the communal nature of Mass in my opinion.

    3. Chris,
      I can’t help but consider that if your diatribes came from a different side of the ecclesiastical spectrum you would be placed on moderation.

  16. I live in Spain and would like to add a few observations. First of all it is quite normal and considered most reverent here to stand at important parts of the Mass such as the entire canon (though some people do kneel for the consecration). It holds no suggestion of lack of devotion or belief, on the contrary in fact. Queen Sofia is noted for her loving and caring attitude and actions to people in need. Obviously I do not know her personally, so cannot speak of her views on this matter, nor would I presume to do so.

    Anne Hargreaves

  17. In the EF the concelebrant ordinandi recite the Eucharistic Prayer kneeling with the ordaining Bishop — but they receive under only one species, the host. They can be given a sip from an unconsecrated chalice according to the rubrics. This is not at all concelebration as it has been understood and practiced since the Second Vatican Council. It is only a sort of vestige of the original ritual — the newly ordained are receiving communion as laity and not as clergy. At least they are given hosts consecrated at the ordination Mass and not from the tabernacle. This one of the reasons why there is such concentration on the newly ordained’s First Mass on the day or in the days after the ordination ceremony.

      1. Every time I attend an E.F. I recognize both things that neded reforming and things that I wish had not been removed.

    1. I was aware of all of your excellent points, Mr. Sandstrom, but they are still priests. Moreover, in the E.F. everyone except the celebrant, even other priests in choir or those fulfilling the role of deacon and subdeacon, receive kneeling. The celebrant/presider receives standing in the persona Christi Capitis.

      It was a post-Vatican II change that opened the door for priests–even those in choir–and laity to receive in two different postures. Am not convinced of the benefit. I think I’d pefer the old use.

      1. “even other priests in choir or those fulfilling the role of deacon and subdeacon, receive kneeling” This reveals (even though customary) a serious abuse of the sacrament of Orders. To ask a priest to serve dressed as a deacon or sub-deacon is like to asking a butterfly to return to being a caterpillar or a chrysalis. This has nothing to do with ‘diaconia’ but rather the Order in which one is.
        No other part of the Church East or West allows this. And it is one of the better clarifying reforms concerning the sacraments which were implemented after Vatican II for the Western Church.

  18. Rita,

    Why do you impute things to me that I did not say?

    I said nothing about the early church or the middle ages. However, I think that it is obvious that in the context of a European Monarch of our time that kneeling is a greater sign of submission than standing. Furthermore, the Pope has made it clear that this is the sign that he prefers. That should be sufficient to end the conversation. Obedience is a virtue.

    I think it is unfortunate and sad that Her Catholic Majesty did not receive in the manner that, according to this Pope, in this time, best indicates her reverence and submission to Christ and His Church.

    1. What absolute nonsense.

      And Ben if you’re going to insist on using the (totally UNused today) title of the Spanish monarch, it’s ‘Her MOST Catholic Majesty’ princess.

      Obedience IS indeed a virtue, but it’s not at all a matter of obedience when the Pope has made it clear that it is his personal preference, not an order, and the kneeler is placed there as an option – obviously.

  19. I’m sorry I offended you Chris. That was not my intention.

    I see that my participation in this forum is neither welcome nor constructive.

    I’m sorry for having disturbed you.

    God bless you all.

    1. Hey, Ben, don’t worry, it’s impossible to offend Chris Grady. That was a pretty gentle comment for him. (There weren’t any scatological puns.)

      I personally feel communion postures are a matter of prayer, not obedience, but all kinds of attitudes are tolerated around PrayTell.

  20. Carl Opat said I wish the bishops (flunkies) of the USCCB had the same spunk as her majesty.

    Anyone notice that all the bishops during the British Papal Visit received by intinction? — except for Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor, who seized the chalice and drank from it! Intinction is normal for concelebrating clergy in Rome, but it so happens that it’s a clear breach of liturgical law in England and Wales. Intinction is not permitted under any circumstances. Kudos to +Cormac for his stand.

    According to liturgical law in England and Wales, the posture for receiving Communion is standing, whether on the tongue or in the hand. Congratulations to +BXVI for breaching this law with his own personal preference (or perhaps that of his extraordinary MC). Does anyone know if the Spanish episcopal conference have legislated on the posture for receiving Communion?

    1. Paul,

      I thought, based on what you’ve commented previously here, that intinction was only forbidden in E&W if that was the only way made available to receive the Precious Blood. But if intinction were merely an option, then it would be permitted. Right? (as opposed to forbidden “under any circumstances.”)

  21. “Because every one that exalteth himself, shall be humbled; and he that humbleth himself, shall be exalted.” (Jesus Christ)

    When I see beautiful photos of Grace Kelly and the Blessed Pio kneeling to receive, and then see this acrobatic publicity stunt!!, it occurs to me that this Pope’s gentle reforms must be particularly offensive to the high and mighty.

  22. Notice she is also wearing white. Protocal dictates that she is one of only a handful of women in the world that neither has to wear black, not a mantilla/head covering in the presence of the pope. She is the Catholic monarch… The crown she and her husband represent are the defender’s of the Church. Let’s also not forget that she is in her 70’s and still getting around in 3 to 4 inch heels. a little slack! Back off of the queen… do some research! she is probably the most human and humble royal in the world.

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