Monterey bishop issues pastoral letter on Holy Communion

Both the Ordinary and Extraordinary forms of the Mass are options for the faithful, but "we should not attempt to confuse aspects of the two different forms by adapting or promoting practice from one to the other"

Diocese of Monterey Bishop Richard Garcia

Dear Friends in Christ,

This Pastoral Letter on The Eucharistic Procession and the Reception of Holy Communion has come together at the direction of Bishop Garcia. With the encouragement of the Presbyteral (Priest) Council the writing of the Pastoral was begun in 2017. 

At its core this Pastoral Letter reminds us that the Ordinary Form (Post Vatican II Mass of Pope Paul VI) has its own beauty. In a different manner, so does the Extraordinary Form (from Pre-Vatican II 1962 Missal). Each of these two forms of worship are provided by our church as options for the people of our diocese in which they can elect to partake. Yet we should not attempt to confuse aspects of the two different forms of worship by adapting or promoting practices from one to the other.

Sincerely yours in Christ,

Peter A. Crivello, V.G.

Diocese of Monterey

Themes summarized:

1. The Eucharist is a call to unity and is communal in nature. Pope Francis has recently emphasized that the reforms of the Second Vatican Council are irreversible which calls us to amply understand their underlying principles.

2. Unity of posture is an important expression of the communal nature of the Eucharist. This certainly applies to the Communion Procession as well as to the other parts of the Mass.

3. The norm for receiving communion is to do so standing not kneeling.

4. The faithful may choose to receive the consecrated host either on the tongue or in the hand.

5. After the Communion Procession concludes, time for silence and kneeling is appropriate.

The following is an excerpt from Bishop Garcia’s Pastoral Letter: 

With this Pastoral Letter, I would like to draw our attention to and articulate the teaching of our Church regarding the beauty of the Communion Procession and the reception of Holy Communion. I address you, my brother priests, deacons, religious men and women and all the faithful of our local Church in the Diocese of Monterey. Please take these reminders to heart, implementing and practicing them in the celebration of the Eucharist.

Symbols and postures during the Eucharist help us to express the reality of our faith and our lives. Bread and wine made from many grains of wheat and many grapes, crushed and broken, become for us one bread, one cup, and in turn, Christ’s body and blood.

In the United States the adapted norm is for all to kneel during the Eucharistic Prayer. This adapted norm is common, widely used and has been customary for generations in our diocese and throughout the United States. While we kneel in adoration, our participation is essential, uniting our minds and hearts to the Eucharistic Prayer offered by the presiding bishop or priest while at the altar. However, the norm used by the Universal Church is for all to stand during the Eucharistic Prayer.

Standing is a posture which symbolizes that we are witnesses of the Crucified and Risen Lord present to us in the midst of our Eucharistic Celebration. With special permission from the Bishop, some parishes have chosen the posture of standing during the Eucharistic Prayer. When this is the case, proper catechesis should accompany this practice for the understanding of this posture, not as one less reverent, but rather one rooted in the ancient practice and spirituality of our Church’s legacy of the Christian faithful gathering to participate in the Pascal Feast of the Lamb.

A reminder to my brother priests that this moment of the Eucharist is not the appropriate time to instruct the faithful on their worthiness to receive the Eucharist. There are many other opportunities for instruction on the spiritual benefits of the Sacrament of Reconciliation. During the Mass itself we employ the Penitential Rite and at this point of the Sacred Liturgy we all acknowledge our unworthiness. Indeed, it is by the grace of God that we are all “healed” and made worthy to partake of the Sacred Banquet of the Eucharist. We must trust that the faithful will have already examined their own conscience as to their disposition to partake in Holy Communion.

Receiving the Eucharist is to be approached with awe and reverence. Yet it is not “a personal moment” of prayer or adoration. We must not lose sight that when we come forward for the Communion Procession we do this together united to our brothers and sisters in faith, who are a gift from God. With this as our basis of faith and worship we are not to make this time when our personal prayer or personal preference of posture take precedence over what is the Sacred Action of the Assembly, God’s gathered people. Yet exceptions for the elderly, infirm or disabled can be made when necessary. For this reason, the General instruction of the Roman Missal teaches us that together we come forward to receive Holy Communion and do so standing, as specified by the United States Catholic Conference of Bishops.

While those who choose to receive Holy Communion kneeling should not be denied, I urge pastors, as does the United States Catholic Conference of Bishops, to provide proper catechesis for the faithful to address the reasons that standing is the norm to receive Holy Communion.

As each communicant approaches the priest, deacon or extraordinary minister of Holy Communion, he or she is encouraged to bow his or her head as a gesture of reverence for the Sacrament before receiving the Body of the Lord, and again when receiving the Precious Blood. When receiving the Eucharist, the faithful have the option to do so either in the hand or on the tongue, at the discretion of each communicant. One way is not considered better or more holy or preferred by the Church, as long as either is done with reverence. The Precious Blood should be offered as often as possible. Pastors should strive for ongoing liturgical formation so that extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion are available in order to distribute the Precious Blood at various communion stations. This should be the norm as often as possible.

As is the teaching of the Church and has been taught in our diocese for many years, everyone is to remain standing while singing with grateful hearts until all have received Holy Communion. Again, this is another sign of the unity we share in Christ. In some parishes, it may be customary to wait until the Blessed Sacrament has been returned to the tabernacle for the faithful to be seated. This is not necessary or obligatory. Rather, after all have received, the faithful should be encouraged to offer a prayer of thanksgiving. At this point a time of Sacred Silence should be allowed for and encouraged. At this moment in the Liturgy of the Eucharist either kneeling or sitting is most appropriate.

+ Most Reverend Bishop Richard J. Garcia, Diocese of Monterey

Full story at Diocese of Monterey website.


  1. Loretta Davi says:

    I prefer to be respectful and kneel for the Christ, with head covered, kneeling to receive Our Lord who is coming to me. I wish to be respectful, receptive and show reverence at all times during the Mass. If I choose to be a Protestant then I will go to their church. But I will always remain faithful to Jesus Christ by being respectful. And being Traditional as it was given to us for the last approx. 2000 years established by the Christ and the Apostles.
    Thank you Jesus for choosing me.

    • And all who kneel before Christ to receive will definitely receive Him from me when they approach without reproach. When I am in the assembly rather than celebrating, I receive on the tongue to show reverence and example to those around me who don’t know who I am, although I certainly have every right to receive in these consecrated hands.

  2. Robert Lockwood says:

    The good Bishop must be living in a box. What about all the people who are not Catholic who attend a funeral etc

  3. Typical modernist obfuscation.

    “…extraordinary ministers … available … to distribute …. This should be the norm…”
    If they’re the norm, shouldn’t they be called Ordinary Ministers? Why the deception?

    “The Precious Blood should be offered as often as possible…”
    Why? Our Lord is fully present, Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity” in the host. The Church, in Her wisdom, eliminated the praxis of The Cup because it was problematic, just as we’re rediscovering today.

    And I’m sorry, dear Bishop, I will always kneel before my King and my God.

  4. St. Christoper says:

    It does not matter what Pope Francis says about Vatican II reforms: They are NOT irreversible (just as, apparently, almost everything about the Catholic Church prior to the mid-1960’s turned out not to be reversible). The Novus Ordo certainly will not stand up over time and will be left in the dust bin of Church history. So, too, the notion of the almost exclusively “communal” nature of the Eucharist must be deleted, or ignored where demanded by ignorant bishops. Each person is responsible to Christ to be free from mortal sin and able to receive, and each person must give proper reverence in receiving (on tongue, kneeling or genuflecting). Bishops reject these signs of humility to soften up people for sacrileges yet to come (like…

    • Right. Whenever someone denigrates the Sacrament like this (“The Novus Ordo will be left in the dust bin”), you know that person is not speaking and thinking with the whole Church. Far from being left in the dust bin, the Ordinary Form is here to say, whether or not folks like St. Chris likes it. There will never be a stampede to the Extraordinary Form, admit it folks. The hope of the Church is the continued progression towards a more reverent, devout, tradition-inspired and transition-informed celebrations of the Ordinary Form, informed by the celebration of the EF. Another thing folks like St. Chris does not like about the Catholic Church is that the Church is governed by the Magisterium (the Pope and the Bishops united to the…

      • Holy Father). They oversee the liturgical life of the Church, and their rulings on liturgy are totally legitimate. What this Bishop has decided for the liturgy in his diocese DOES NOT contradict Scripture nor tradition.

  5. FrMichael says:

    I probably should read the document in full before commenting, but this one line is a howler: “However, the norm used by the Universal Church is for all to stand during the Eucharistic Prayer.”

    Uh no, it is not. Reading General Instruction of the Roman Missal number 43, the universal norm is for the congregation to kneel during the Consecration. How that happens varies by Episcopal Conference. In the US, we kneel after the Holy Holy and remain kneeling throughout the Eucharistic Prayer, which is explicitly stated in American missals. It is done differently elsewhere: often people begin to kneel at the Epiclesis (the calling of the Holy Spirit in the Eucharistic Prayer) in Mexico, for example. But I am unaware of any Catholic…

    • Anonymous says:

      You’re wrong, Father. The Eucharistic Prayer is more than the consecration. The universal norm is to stand “from the invitation, Orate, fratres (Pray, brethren), before the prayer over the offerings until the end of Mass, except at the places indicated below.” GIRM 43. One of the exceptions is the consecration, which is but a small part of the Eucharistic Prayer.

      • FrMichael says:

        “One of the exceptions is the consecration, which is but a small part of the Eucharistic Prayer.” I see we have either an agent provocateur or a misguided liturgist wanna-be. What faithful Catholic would consider the Consecration “a small part of the Eucharistic Prayer”?

  6. This is a completely unobjectionable set of pastoral guidelines.

  7. And I thought the rules were the same everywhere. Oh, my!

  8. Muchas Garcia, but the bishop was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s.

  9. Carmelita says:

    Bishop Garcia has Alzheimer’s disease. Please pray for him. He will likely resign for health reasons. He was a good bishop in Monterey.

  10. Anonymous says:

    Within the Diocese, there are serious doubts that our beloved Bishop even wrote this pastoral letter attributed to him. It’s tone bares little similarity to his previous pastoral letters, and the directives given herein contradict many private conversations he has held with individuals over the years. Timing is also a concern, giving the Bishop is being cared for in a nursing facility. Machinations are afoot. An investigation is needed.

    • FrMichael says:

      Bishop Garcia has been sidelined from his job by this sudden-onset Alzheimer’s. Why would he be putting out such a document at this time? Seems a strange use of his limited energy. I’m not surprised that people are asking questions about the issuance of this document.

    • Phil Van Delay says:

      I AGREE! If one takes the time to actually read the PDF, it has vicar general Peter Crivello’s fingerprints all over it. He even put his photo on the inside of the front cover. The very priest that gave us the micro glass saloon doors in front of the tabernacle at the Cathedral in Monterey, CA.

      It’s also very clumsily written from a pure style standpoint. Disgusting!

    • Anonymous says:

      Since Bishop Richard Garcia just passed to his eternal reward, I doubt he even saw the document, or would have understood it had he seen it. May his soul, through the mercy of God, rest in peace.

    • Anonymous says:

      It is not claimed that he wrote it.
      It is said that he approved it in February of this year.
      The contributors are on the last page.
      Click the link.

  11. Patrick says:

    Hopefully we will soon be saved from this catastrophic pope and his heterodox bishops.

  12. St. Christopher says:

    “jon,”: what is your point, exactly. Did you even read what I wrote? The VII “implementers” beginning with Paul VI simply sought to wipe away centuries of Catholic Tradition with the Novus Ordo. Yes, the NO can change in an instant, and should. The Church did not begin, as you obviously believe, with VII.

    You blather, like other VII worshipers blather, about the “irreversibility” of the nutter “exhortations” and worse from Francis and his minions, but fail to address their obvious failings. Even those within the counsel, such as Benedict, agreed that much was purposefully “ambiguous” and needed clarification.

    • SC, my point is very simple: that you’re wrong. First you’re wrong in denigrating the Ordinary Form; you’re wrong for ascribing mal-intent upon the Fathers of V2; you’re wrong that I want to stamp out tradition; you’re wrong about bishops only exclusively teaching about the Eucharist as communal; you’re wrong that receiving while standing is sacrilegious or irreverent; you’re wrong that bishops reject simples signs of reverence. You’re wrong on so many counts: that’s my point!

    • Anonymous says:

      The Church did not begin with the Missal of Paul V either nor of John XXIII. The Apostles didn’t celebrate Mass in Latin. Face it, the Church grows and develops and adapts over time. You can’t select an arbitrary date and say it’s the final and exclusive arbiter of what is liturgically proper for the Church and that nothing afterward can depart from it. EF-ers do just that with the 1962 Missal.

      • Anonymous, they just don’t do that with 1962. They want to go back even further, to 1955-1956: as evidenced by last Triduum when some of the traditionalist communities celebrated the pre-1962 Triduum rites because they believe anything after that has been contaminated by the “innovations” wrought by the late-Bugnini.

  13. St. Christopher says:

    “jon” saying “you’re wrong” repeatedly is not an argument, but then you rarely make a pointed argument. As so many have written, VII itself, and certainly as implemented, was to make the Church more palatable to Protestants and acceptable to the world. These are wrong reasons as a pretext for subverting God’s own Church, an institution that had been a marvel to Mankind for centuries.

    You and “Anonymous” and others say, “well, things evolve.” Under this logic, National Socialism (Nazi’s to you) and Communism were advanced forms of government, given their modernity. Foolish position.

    • There you go again SC: wrong again. Bringing unity within Christendom–if that is what you mean as the intent of the Fathers of V2–is NEVER WRONG, though that is NOT the only reason for the documents of V2. Sad to note that you have been so wrapped up in the folly that the Fathers of V2 were meant to destroy the Church. So sad your delusion.

  14. St. Christopher says:

    (NB #2) We need to end the madness now, before the institutional Catholic Church is gone. Pope Francis was schooled in VII and is from Latin America, and he just does not see the obvious demographics. However, he is now concerned with the cancer of homosexuality which pretty much characterizes the Church leadership today.

    The Benedict Option is producing a return to Catholic roots all over the world. Many orthodox orders have evolved to carry on the True Faith (although the Church tries to kill them through various routes; see “Cor Orans.”). Time for a Holy Fire.

    • The Church is indefectible in matters of faith and morals: this is a doctrine of the Church; and the Church’s Magisterium is charged with the liturgical norms of the Church. That SC persistently calls into question the legitimacy of the Ordinary Form, and Vatican II, is heretical and un-Scriptural for Christ Himself says that the gates of hell will not prevail against His Church.

      • St. Christopher says:

        “jon,” you are consistently and purposefully wrong. I suppose if the Pope wanted to make golfing on Sunday the only way to show devotion to God you would clap along with all the other followers of Henry VIII. The Novus Ordo is a modern construct of Msgr. Bugnini and his pals. A Catholic can rely on the NO, however, through the Doctrine of Indefectibility, to the extent that it meets basic Sunday worship obligations. Still, the NO is seriously defective as many, many writers have concluded. What is heretical, however, are clergy and laity that elect to ignore the Faith and worship at the altar of, say, homosexual normalcy (among other perversions). The True Faith will prevail.

        • To say as you just did SC that the Ordinary for is “seriously defective” is WRONG, heretical, and irreverent. The faithful can rely that when the Ordinary Form is celebrated, and the priest intends to celebrate Sacrifice of Our Lord, then the faithful indeed and TRULY receive Our Lord’s Body and Blood, and that the graces of God are transmitted. Your casting doubt on this doctrine of the Church is totally WRONG!

  15. FrMichael says:

    RIP Bishop Garcia, one of the few prayerful priests of his generation at St. Patrick’s Seminary.

  16. I wonder how many of you actually read the document? Given the whiny, negative comments I’m curious about something. Did none of you catch the actual LITURGICAL ABUSE that’s documented by the photo on page 6 of the pastoral letter?
    Redemptionis Sacramentum [106.] However, the pouring of the Blood of Christ after the consecration from one vessel to another is completely to be avoided, lest anything should happen that would be to the detriment of so great a mystery. Never to be used for containing the Blood of the Lord are flagons, bowls, or other vessels that are not fully in accord with the established norms.

    • Anonymous says:

      Although a picture can be misleading, it does appear to be the Consecration with most of the wine in a glass pitcher.
      Good of you to bring this up.

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COMMENTS POLICY: Comments are limited to 750 characters and will be truncated at 750. Comments should not contain offensive or libelous language. Please strive to be civil. All comments are subject to approval by our moderator and to editing as the moderator deems appropriate. Inclusion of your email address is optional.