A There was never a rule or even an official suggestion that churches have Communion rails. They became common, in fact, only a few hundred years ago.
In his scholarly book From Age to Age: How Christians Have Celebrated the Eucharist (Liturgical Press), Capuchin Father Edward Foley traces the widespread use of Communion rails to the trend toward uniformity of Catholic liturgy, doctrine and architecture after the Council of Trent (1545-1563).
For example, until this time, tabernacles were liturgical vessels much like chalices, even sometimes hanging from the ceiling or wall. Cardinal Charles Borromeo, archbishop of Milan, a significant figure at that council, preferred the tabernacle to be placed on the altar where the Eucharist was celebrated. For centuries, his influence solidified both that custom and later law in parishes around the world.
Something similar happened with the Communion rail, when the faithful began to kneel to receive Communion. As Foley describes it: â€śAccording to Jungmann (Josef Jungmann, whose Mass of the Roman Rite is a classic on the history of the celebration of the Eucharist), these (Communion rails) seem to have developed from the practice of spreading a cloth for communicants kneeling at the altar; eventually these cloths ... evolved into the Communion rail.â€ť
As you indicate, new and remodeled Catholic church spaces today are more open, rarely with Communion rails separating the priest and the altar from the people. Perhaps the priest in the church you visited just feels for some reason there ought to be one.
Q Iâ€™ve been devoted to the Blessed Virgin Mary, and I question why her mother and father are almost never mentioned. She confides in her cousin Elizabeth, but not her own parents. Did I miss something? (Illinois)
A No, you didnâ€™t miss anything. The Gospels donâ€™t pretend to give us a life of Mary or of Jesus himself for that matter. Each Gospel in its own way tells the story of the good news (â€śGospelâ€ť) of the Fatherâ€™s love for us as revealed in Jesus Christ.
As far as we can tell, all choices of what to include or exclude in the Gospels were made on that basis. Writers were not interested in providing details simply to satisfy our curiosity.
Assuming that Maryâ€™s parents were living and available, she probably spoke with them and sought their advice as any other young wife would. But that was not relevant to the message.
Her relationship with Elizabeth and the words concerning her visit with her cousin in the Gospel of Luke help express the relationship between Jesus and John the Baptist, who would later play a major role in bringing Jesus to the attention of the people of Judea.
So we know nothing much for certain about the maternal grandparents of Jesus. Their names, Ss. Joachim and Anne, come from an early apocryphal Gospel of James. Their feast (July 26) has been celebrated universally in the Western (Latin) church only in the past few hundred years.