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US Catholics prepare for change to Communion ritual

American Catholics are about to experience major changes in the Communion rite as dioceses begin implementing updated General Instruction of the Roman Missal.

The major change will require the faithful to break the habit of immediately returning to their pews to kneel in prayer after Communion. Communicants returning to their pews will be asked to stand and sing until everyone has received Communion and the priest has sat down to pray.

Other changes include asking worshippers to raise both hands upward at the Lord's Prayer. The raised arms go back to the way Jesus and early church members prayed, diocesan liturgists said. They are a symbol of surrender to God and Christian belief in Jesus' victory over death, Woost said.

In the Cleveland Diocese, about 900 parish workers gathered last week to learn about the changes. The region's more than 800,000 Catholics will begin hearing about the changes in their churches the last two weeks in September and receive instruction in sermons and bulletins through October and November.

Fr J. Glenn Murray, director of the diocesan Office for Pastoral Liturgy, said the changes will unsettle many Catholics, but the diocese hopes the uniform guidelines will help people in the pews have a richer experience of the sacrament.

"I think the current rite stresses presence and holiness in a very powerful manner," Murray said. "I think it's a vast improvement."

Plain Dealer

US Conference of Catholic Bishops' Committee on the Liturgy
"American Adaptations" Approved: Adds Another Layer to Liturgy Changes (Adoremus)
Norms for the Distribution and Reception of Holy Communion and Reception of Holy Communion of the United States of America
Catholic Diocese of Clevaland

26 Aug 2003