Being an Anglican, and not a very good one either, I'm venturing into strange territory by giving an opinion on this subject, but here goes: I understand that it's common in the Novus Ordo Mass in the Roman Catholic Church for the priest to stand facing the people and also for there to be no altar rails. The people instead come up and stand in lines and receive the Host while standing. As I understand it, one point of both practices is to increase a sense of "community" among the people and to emphasize the fact that the original Last Supper was a meal and that the early Church combined the celebration of the Lord's Supper with a meal.
Both of those latter facts are undeniably true as an historical matter. But it's not at all clear to me that they imply that our current liturgical practice should be a self-conscious attempt to "encourage community," still less that this is best done by having the celebrant face the people rather than facing the east and praying on behalf of both himself and the people to God. And how does having people stand in line to receive the Sacrament make them feel more connected to one another?
For whatever this is worth as a fact of personal psychological experience, it occurred to me this morning that, when I go up to the altar rail and kneel with other members of my own small congregation, this gives me a very strong sense of community. It is not a self-conscious thing, not forced in any way. It's just that, in fact, we are going and kneeling together, different though we all are from each other, to receive the Eucharist. Our commonality, our sense of community, does not come from celebrating that community per se. Rather, it comes from a shared focus on God, on our need for God, and our need to kneel before God and receive Holy Communion.
This seems to me to be a fact of human life which C.S. Lewis referred to as "them that asks don't get." What I think he meant was that when we demand a certain feeling as an end in itself, we don't get it. Hence, joy comes not from insistently demanding that life be enjoyable but from focusing on something worthwhile outside of oneself. If we go around demanding peace we probably won't feel peaceful. And so on through the whole gamut of human emotion. And so with community. Esprit de corps is not going to arise from saying, "Okay, folks, we're all one community. What can we do to emphasize that?" Rather, it's going to come from having something that, in fact, we really are all trying to do together.
I suspect I'm preaching to the choir if I tell any of my Catholic readers that you have my sympathy if you don't have altar rails. I hope you get them back again. And if you have anything to do with the decision, definitely plump for the altar rails and for having a bunch of people kneel at them together to receive. Among other things, it's good for community, because it's about Something Else, something much more important, than community.