Want a Truly Catholic Vote? Bring Back the Altar Rails!

Allow me to digress from explicitly political commentary for a moment and speak about something more deeply Catholic, and how the two intertwine.

I’ve been attending the Traditional Latin Mass (a.k.a. “the Extraordinary Form”) for most of the last decade. I’ve written about this elsewhere, and won’t clog up this space with my reasons. (That’s what Google is for.)

Lately, though, I’ve found myself attending the Novus Ordo (a.k.a. “the Ordinary Form”) more often on Sunday, primarily because of timing. It’s hard to find a TLM anywhere nearby earlier than 12:30PM. That’s a day killer, and it’s not a small-child-compatible time.

I’m blessed, living in the Diocese of Arlington, Virginia, with a number of solid parishes with good priests. I’m not a fan of the new Mass, but if you’re going to go to one, this is one of the better places you can do it. And there has been a trend here of late to build new parishes in one of several neo-classical styles. We have several impressive examples in recent times.

Going to these new, beautiful parishes, hearing the new translation of the Mass, I can’t help but be struck by the feeling that we are getting so close to meaningful reform. We’re inching toward classical orthodoxy, and peeling back some of the accumulated layers of non-organic reform that Pope Benedict has been critical of.

Which is why it’s jarring, among other things, to receive communion standing. After years at the TLM, this is something I take for granted. In the ancient rite, we receive Our Lord kneeling, and on the tongue. This is appropriate. This is the tradition of the Roman Rite. It shows a reverence befitting of a Divine Sacrament.

So when I go up to communion at a parish of the new rite, I still receive kneeling. I try to do this surreptitiously and not too awkwardly. I don’t want to cause a scene, and I certainly don’t want to draw attention to myself. I simply want to do things the right way. The way my conscience and my heart tells me is most pleasing to Him, and demonstrates the proper relationship between man and God.

But oh, how I wish they would just bring back the altar rails! And so I was gratified this morning when I came across this clip from Cardinal Burke, talking about the preference of the Holy Father, and in fact, the Church herself:

I truly believe that this simple change would be a big step in the right direction. It could make such a profound difference in the life of the faithful, a difference that would help people remember what they believe in. The faithful in this country are in perilous danger of being not so faithful at all. And you’re kidding yourself if you think that doesn’t affect our politics.

It’s why the Catholic Vote is so divided. Why so many Catholics think that forming their consciences is a matter of feeling, not of intellect, will, and assent to the divine law. And if we believe in the truth of, “Lex orandi, lex credendi,” (the law of prayer is the law of belief) then how we pray influences what we believe in, and consequently, how we act as citizens.

Christ’s social Kingship is one of the most neglected aspects of American Catholic political discourse. In his encyclical on the topic, Quas Primas, Pope Pius XI wrote:

We remember saying that these manifold evils in the world were due to the fact that the majority of men had thrust Jesus Christ and his holy law out of their lives; that these had no place either in private affairs or in politics: and we said further, that as long as individuals and states refused to submit to the rule of our Savior, there would be no really hopeful prospect of a lasting peace among nations. Men must look for the peace of Christ in the Kingdom of Christ; and that We promised to do as far as lay in Our power. In the Kingdom of Christ, that is, it seemed to Us that peace could not be more effectually restored nor fixed upon a firmer basis than through the restoration of the Empire of Our Lord. We were led in the meantime to indulge the hope of a brighter future at the sight of a more widespread and keener interest evinced in Christ and his Church, the one Source of Salvation, a sign that men who had formerly spurned the rule of our Redeemer and had exiled themselves from his kingdom were preparing, and even hastening, to return to the duty of obedience.

Christ’s rule over the social order is real and proper. He is not a president or a prime minister; He is a King. And before Kings, one doesn’t merely shake hands or salute. One kneels. Paying proper obeisance to God is just one essential component to rightly ordering ourselves in relation to the world, and all of creation. Doing this is an essential foundational step toward establishing a just and secure social order.

As Catholics, we need to restore this sense in our spiritual lives and in our political lives. Love Him, love His Church, obey His teachings, and the rest will follow.



  • Michael.

    You people are very lucky that you have the opportunity to attend a Latin Mass. Here in Ireland this form of Mass is as rare as the cuckoo despite the wishes of the Pope that it should be made available to all those who want it. Talk about obedience!! In actual fact they are planning to abolish the weekday masses here in favour of communion services run by laypeople. Michael.

    • kathryn

      The Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest is coming to Limerick. I believe they are going to restore St. Patrick’s. I don’t even know if it is clse to you, but it is a start.

  • Joe B.

    As I learned from a missionary priest in South Africa in 1973, Jesus said “Take this and eat…” He did not say, “Stick out your tongue.”
    Who would pass up the opportunity to hold the baby Jesus their hands? Who would pass up the opportunity to hold His broken body in their arms?
    How reverent is it, when in the presence of Christ, to stick out your tongue?

  • Tyme

    By the way, read about the apparition at Fatima and then read the Church approved one from Akita, Japan and then watch Glenn Beck’s special on Wednesday and Thursday 9/26-9/27 at 8 PM on the Blaze about the Muslim Brotherhood. There was a REASON that Our Lady asked that the secret be revealed before 1960.



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