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Communion on the hand or on the tongue?

Bishop Athanasius Schneider’s book argues for reverence for the Eucharist and concentrates the mind wonderfully

By on Thursday, 24 February 2011

A priest handing out Communion at Mass

A priest handing out Communion at Mass

This is a question I had not thought about until recently: is it more reverent to receive Holy Communion standing and in the hand or kneeling and on the tongue? The reason I pose it is because I have just come across a most moving and scholarly little book that makes a powerful plea for the latter mode of reception. It is called Dominus Est – It is the Lord! by Bishop Athanasius Schneider, who was the auxiliary bishop of Karaganda, Kazakhstan and is now the auxiliary of the Kazak capital Astana in Central Asia. (I add these geographical details because until I read the book I had not heard of Karaganda and although I had heard of Kazakhstan I had only the vaguest idea of its whereabouts.) It is available from Gracewing for £5. 99.

I guess that my question is a polarising one: on the one side are almost all the faithful who attend the Novus Ordo Mass; and on the other is the eloquent, passionate and often learned minority who attend Mass in the Extraordinary Form. I have friends in both camps but my own practice is to worship in our local parish church in the Ordinary Form. At the same time, I have always knelt to receive Communion on the tongue. Why? Because I could see no good reason to change the practice I had been taught as a child.

Reading Bishop Schneider makes me think that perhaps I was also clinging to the idea of a reverence that I did not think I would feel if I changed my custom. It so happens that I have rarely attended Mass where there have not been altar rails or at least a place to kneel and the priests I know have always made it clear that parishioners are free to choose either mode of reception.

Yet reading this book has concentrated the mind wonderfully, so much so that there now seems only one answer to the question I posed at the beginning of the blog. Bishop Schneider does not provide liturgical arguments in favour of the Extraordinary Form of Mass (though I suspect he is sympathetic to it); he simply asks, what is the reverence that is due to God at the supreme moment of our Communion with Him, and how do we properly show it? He begins with an affecting personal history: the story of three ‘Eucharistic women’, his mother, his great-aunt and a parishioner, all of who taught him by their example of “extraordinary love, care and the greatest reverence possible.”

The Schneider family, along with other German Catholics, were exiled after the war to central Asia. There they struggled to live their Catholic Faith, far from a priest, parish or church. A visiting priest once allowed the Bishop’s mother to have a consecrated Host to give to her dying mother; for this she wore new white gloves, held the Host with tweezers and burnt the envelope in which it had been kept. His great-aunt was allowed to retain a Host to display secretly for an hour’s adoration on the nine first Fridays of each month before reverently consuming it. The lady parishioner travelled several hundred miles every year to receive a pyx containing consecrated Hosts, which she would distribute on Sundays in her hidden ‘parish’ for 30 years.

In the second part of the book, the Bishop provides scholarly references to the Church Fathers and the saints concerning reception of Our Lord kneeling and on the tongue. He includes a quotation from Fr Faber while still an Anglican, deeply impressed by the sight of the Pope in the Church of St John Lateran in 1843, as he “descended from his throne and knelt at the foot of the altar…a scene more touching than I had ever seen before.”

The book’s preface is written by Bishop Malcolm Ranjith, secretary of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments. He writes: “It is now time to evaluate carefully the practice of Communion in the hand and if necessary to abandon what was never actually called for in the Vatican document, Sacrosanctum Consilium.”
Bishop Schneider himself concludes: “The Church must be reformed, starting with the Eucharist!”

There you have it; and I am at last able to give reasons for clinging to an old habit other than an inchoate sense that it was appropriate.

  • Brad

    Mary P: may God bless you. No one ordained, not even a bishop, can refuse communion on tongue. Full stop. EMHC volunteered to do what they do and were nominally trained: you don’t need to feel sorry or nervous for them. They need to buck up.

  • Anonymous

    MJCarroll,

    The manner of receiving Holy Communion is, of course, a matter of reverence but it is also much more. It is a matter of safeguarding the Blessed Sacrament.

    If we truly believe that we are receiving the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Christ, then we must ensure that no part of the Blessed Sacrament, not a single fragment, is lost, abused, dropped, remains on our hands etc.

    The very fact that any of these things may happen to a single host, should be enough to make us refuse to take any risks with the Sacred Species.

    There have been many instances of priests finding hosts lying around in churches after Mass. Indeed, not many years ago, although I forget the details of names, place etc. but someone else might recall, there was a case in England of a priest(s) who made the headlines in the Catholic press for announcing that he was no longer going to distribute in the hand after finding hosts scattered around. It caused quite a stir in the liberal Catholic newspapers at the time.

    And I’m afraid your interpretation of the tearing of the temple curtain is a Protestant one. The meaning of that event had nothing to do with the separation of priest and people by altar rails. At the moment of Christ’s death, salvation was open to all. Doesn’t mean there is no difference between priests and people. Indeed, while the Old Testament priests only had to abstain from sexual relations with their wives once a year, prior to entering the Holy of Holies, now Christ’s priests of the New Testament would abstain completely – because now Christ Himself, would be present in the Tabernacle, unlike the purely symbolic Holy of Holies. Far from diminishing the role of the ministerial priesthood, the tearing of the temple curtain raised it to a new importance.

    As for your contention that we will never go back to Latin – sorry, but Latin has always been and remains, the official language of the Church. That is a fact.

    Cardinal Ranjith – possibly our next pope, who knows, although I won’t bet money on it – has said openly that the new Mass will be gone in a generation. It’s already a failed experiment. Goodness, they’re trying to revive it with even more changes, as we speak – including, I believe, the inclusion of some Latin, as was originally intended. So, rest assured, the Traditional Latin Mass which they now term the “Extraordinary Form” is, indeed, “extraordinary” – they’ve tried to kill it off over and over again, and it just won’t die.

    Catholic Tradition will be restored, MJCarroll, and that includes the Mass that the martyrs gave their lives to defend. Unlike the outcome of the next conclave, that is a very safe bet.

  • Christina

    You are fortunate. Francis Phillips, in that you (presumably)live in the south of England. In my northern diocese it is impossible, without embarrassment or grave difficulty, to receive Holy Communion kneeling (even where there are still altar-rails), or on the tongue. It is even sometimes distributed to communicants standing and in the hand at Masses in the old rite…. “The bishop wouldn’t like it otherwise”.

    The reception of Holy Communion in the hand is not intrinsically irreverent, for it was customary in the Church in early times. However, as doctrine developed throug the centuries under the guidance of the Holy Ghost, Christians became more and more acutely aware of the divine nature of this Sacrament, and fear of desecration of the Host together with greatly increased reverence towards the consecrated Species led to Communion on the tongue being accepted more and more widely until, by the ninth century, it was accepted as the normal practice in the Latin Church.

    During the Protestant Reformation, Catholics were accused of ‘worshipping bread’, and the 1552 revised edition of the Anglican Prayer Book introduced the practice of receiving in the hand and also contained the ‘Black Rubric’ which stated that the act of kneeling involved no adoration and that the substances of bread and wine remaining, they were ‘…not to be adored, for that were idolatry and to be abhorred by all faithful Christians’. From that time onwards, and until the closure of the Second Vatican Council, Catholics testified to their beliefs in the sacred priesthood and the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist by reception of Holy Communion on the tongue, while Protestants showed their rejection of these doctrines by receiving in the hand.

    As soon as the Second Vatican Council was ended, rebellious, ‘ecumaniacally’ modernist clergy in Holland defied legitimate liturgical law and authority and adopted the Protestant practice. They were quickly followed by modernist clergy in Germany and other European countries, and, as has become the norm since the Council, Western Hierarchies failed to act against the rebels and the abuse spread like wildfire, with the predictable results of Protestant beliefs about the Eucharist becoming widespread in the Church. I know of two elderly ladies in my diocese who asked their priest if they could receive Communion kneeling and on the tongue, and he replied (facetiously?) “Oh go on, you old bread-worshippers”.

    Complaints, principally from the educated and aware lay faithful, reached Pope Paul VI, and in 1969, after consulting the bishops of the world who were overwhelmingly against this Protestant innovation, he approved of the promulgation of the Instruction Memoriale Domini by the Sacred Congregation for Divine Worship. This Instruction states that:

    ‘……with a deepening understanding of the truth of the eucharistic mystery, of its power and of the presence of Christ in it, there came a greater feeling of reverence towards this sacrament and a deeper humility was felt to be demanded when receiving it. Thus the custom was established of the minister placing a particle of consecrated bread on the tongue of the communicant.
    This method of distributing holy communion must be retained, taking the present situation of the Church in the entire world into account, not merely because it has many centuries of-tradition behind it, but especially because it expresses the faithful’s reverence for the Eucharist.’

    With characteristic post-conciliar weakness, however, the Holy See agreed that where the abuse had become firmly established it could be legalised by a vote of the national episcopal conference, and, as what is sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander, modernist rebels worldwide demanded it also for their countries. Thus defiance of liturgical law is rewarded, in the sickening process that has become all too common.

    In the Apostolic Letter Dominicae Cenae (1980), Pope John-Paul II, while clearly showing that in the prevailing climate of disobedience he was unable to force a return to legitimate custom, nevertheless wrote, that since the introduction of Communion in the hand

    ‘……cases of a deplorable lack of respect towards the eucharistic species have been reported, cases which are imputable not only to the individuals guilty of such behavior but also to the pastors of the church who have not been vigilant enough regarding the attitude of the faithful towards the Eucharist. It also happens, on occasion, that the free choice of those who prefer to continue the practice of receiving the Eucharist on the tongue is not taken into account in those places where the distribution of Communion in the hand has been authorized. It is therefore difficult in the context of this present letter not to mention the sad phenomena previously referred to……..’ (and further) ‘But one must not forget the primary office of priests, who have been consecrated by their ordination to represent Christ the Priest: for this reason their hands, like their words and their will, have become the direct instruments of Christ. Through this fact, that is, as ministers of the Holy Eucharist, they have a primary responsibility for the sacred species, because it is a total responsibility: they offer the bread and wine, they consecrate it, and then distribute the sacred species to the participants in the assembly who wish to receive them. Deacons can only bring to the altar the offerings of the faithful and, once they have been consecrated by the priest, distribute them. How eloquent therefore, even if not of ancient custom, is the rite of the anointing of the hands in our Latin ordination, as though precisely for these hands a special grace and power of the Holy Spirit is necessary!…….To touch the sacred species and to distribute them with their own hands is a privilege of the ordained, one which indicates an active participation in the ministry of the Eucharist’.

    Pope Benedict gives the example of giving Holy Communion in the only fitting manner, but who is following him? People on this blog who can see that the Church is in crisis ask what can be done about it. To kneel for Holy Communion and insist on receiving It on the tongue would perhaps be a start, for those brave enough.

  • Anonymous

    It is highly unlikely that any Catholic would kneel to receive Holy Communion on the tongue, without realizing Who is is they are adoring and receiving. Conversely, it is painfully obvious that those who take Communion in the hand and wander back to their seats, have very little understanding of the enormity of the moment.

    Indeed, in the USA where studies have been done, the statistics have consistently, over the years, shown that upwards of 70% of Catholics no longer believe in the Real Presence. Go figure.

  • Anonymous

    Surprise, no surprise. Nuns just ain’t what they used to be.

  • Anonymous

    J,

    The fact that even one person pocketed the Host, is sufficient reason to restore the outright ban of this liturgical abuse.

    You are to be commended for kneeling in the face of that disgraceful priest’s abuse – but I’m afraid I would not have stood up. If a “face-off” as you call it, is necessary to proclaim your faith in the Real Presence and your refusal to have any truck with abusing the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Christ, then “face-off” it is. Better to return to your seat (having waited until the bitter end) to make a Spiritual Communion than to obey that bad priest.

    I hope you wrote to his bishop, to report his infidelity. Priests are forbidden to refuse Communion to anyone who kneels. Goodness, that priest would have given Holy Communion to co-habitees and others known to be living in publicly sinful situations, without batting an eyelid. He’s a scoundrel. Give me five minutes with one of these charlatans, before sending for help.

  • Christina

    But surely receiving in the hand is a greater abuse than standing, and I think that here, unfortunately, you will nevertheless find many communicants receiving in the hand.

  • Anonymous

    J,

    It’s understandable, not knowing what to do at the time, caught unawares. However, I do hope that – if you haven’t already done so – you write to that priest’s bishop. If you can print off this page and enclose it with your letter, then maybe he’ll grant me my requested 5 minutes. And if he doesn’t discipline that scandalous cleric, I’ll want ten minutes with him as well. At least.

  • Anonymous

    An excellent article – thanks for posting this, Francis.

    I’ve already replied to several comments below so I will simply point out here that Bishop Olmstead, Texas, once said: “if we could see Who it is that we receive, we would not kneel, we would crawl.”

    The same principle applies to reception on the tongue. If we truly believed that – as the Church teaches – Christ is truly present in every particle of the Host, we would not risk any accidents, whether dropping the Host, retaining particles in our hands, not to mention someone pocketing the Host to use in Black Masses or for whatever other purposed (J, below, witnessed someone pocketing the Host – as did the priest.) This is utterly shocking.

    Communion on the tongue, received kneeling, is the traditional practice of the Church. The Pope is trying to restore it, by example. What’s the problem?

  • http://twitter.com/tadoh Victor Oluoch

    i prefer the tongue

  • midwestmom

    I try to receive communion on the tongue whenever possible. However, recently when i attempted to receive on the tongue, the Eucharistic minister tipped the ciborium and scattered consecrated hosts all over the floor and on my person. It was extremely disturbing! Now whenever i have to receive from this EME, i opt for the hand because i never want to go through that ordeal again. Oh how I long for the days of the communion rail!

  • http://te-deum.blogspot.com/ Diane M. Korzeniewski, OCDS

    Thanks for the review Francis.

    Bishop Scheider has been to my parish in Detroit, Michigan and I was able to photograph him. He is a very humble, gentle and meek man. When he spoke to parishioners about his youth, and about Catholics in Kazakhstan it was very humbling.

    I have photographed him several times. I have permitted bloggers and others to use the photographs on websites, with attribution. The Catholic Herald may use some accordingly. If they desire any for print, have them contact me for high resolution. Some of them have circulated so much, I don’t think people know where they came from. Some of my favorites were at the 2009 Call to Holiness Conference just outside of Detroit at the Shrine of the Little Flower parish where I was able to capture him with St. Therese in the background.

    Others were taken at my parish, and another parish. In fact, the photo on the back of the book is one that I took. It is not the one I would have chosen for that spot, but it is still a decent profile shot. I had no control over lighting.

    I noticed one day, the bishop’s ring he was wearing. I asked to see it and was amazed to see a simple metal ring which was formed into the Miraculous Medal. The ring can be seen in this post if you scroll down:
    http://te-deum.blogspot.com/2008/07/bishop-athanasius-schneider-on-his-book.html

    Here is my “Bp Schneider” label at Te Deum Laudamus (1st link below). People may scroll through my posts, some of them with original content covering his visits to Detroit. I have also set up a blog which carries reviews of Dominus Est, as well as original content by Bishop Schneider (2nd link below). I have his talk from Detroit, recently sent to me, and will be posting it soon on that blog. That blog is a little behind. I need to update it to include his recent address, as well, in which he suggested a syllabus of errors be made to cover misinterpretations of Vatican II.

    http://te-deum.blogspot.com/search/label/Bp%20Schneider

    http://bishop-schneider.blogspot.com/

    (Note: When coming upon a “photopost” of his Detroit visits, I usually have a link to the full collection of photos at my online storage site, Smugmug).

  • http://te-deum.blogspot.com/ Diane M. Korzeniewski, OCDS

    Oh – and I’ll be sure to add a link to your review of his book in the Bishop Schneider blog.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_754KCWR4G4GJ4NQRXDQ4SSZ2NM John

    Thank you. The spirituality of Catholicism, Roman Catholicism has been relegated to q minor, theological position. I think this posting should be “must” reading for Seminarians, we all pray for their discernment and formation and the all children so the majesty of the Redemptive Act, the Crucifixion of Christ is duly placed in our consciousness, we have been deluded by the “ecumenical movement” which in its entirety I find flawed, specifically the change from the Extraordinary to the mishmash we have endured since 1963 and the sloth of Catholics who condescended to personalities which embraced Vatican II without thinking out its repercussions against Mother Church. I cannot thank you enough, this is a concise repudiation and support of true Catholicism

    Sic Transit Gloria.

  • Onthewallaby

    Surely what is important is the state of one’s conscience. Do we not stand when someone we respect enters a room? As an Extraordinary Minister, I never fail to be humbled by the hands reaching out in deep respect for “the Lord to enter under my roof” . Hands roughened by honest hard work, black hands, white hands, brown hands, Hands which save lives, hands which build aeroplanes, hands which nurture infants…Hands reaching out for God. I have also been shocked by some who having received holy communion on their tongue not 10 mins before, using that same tongue to denigrate others, including on occasion our humble. holy and very orthodox parish priest… suit yourself, No-one is worthy to receive holy communion…ever…that’s why it is such a wonderful God-given gift. Receiving communion on the tongue or in the hand makes no-one more worthy…

  • TeaPot562

    And if someone receiving Holy Communion has a cold, does this place the Eucharistic Minister in the position of transmitting viruses to all the later communicants in line?
    If your parish allows reception of the Sacred species under both forms, absention from the Cup is recommended for anyone who might have a cold.
    TeaPot562

  • Mary Pettifor

    Please, please, please…on the tongue.
    Receiving in the hand is so much more open to abuse particularly in city churches. I apprehended someone once who had the host in a little pouch on the front of her handbag. To say that she was reluctant to hand it back to me outside the church is an understatement.

  • Bender

    True reverence for God does not concern itself with what someone else is doing.

    One person might receive on the tongue while kneeling or even prostrate, and he would profane the Eucharist if in doing so he was prideful and hard-hearted.

    Meanwhile, another person might receive in the hand while sitting (someone infirm might sit), and because of the love in the heart that he has for the Lord, such reception is of the highest degree of reverence.

    Reverence is done by external action, but internally, with the heart.

  • Bender

    If you see someone pocketing the Host, your duty is not to go tell the priest, your duty is to admonish the person yourself. Especially as an EMHC, you have a duty yourself to protect the Host, and not merely “let Father take care of it.”

  • Bender

    Correction —
    Reverence is NOT done by external action, but internally, with the heart

  • Fr Dickson

    It is obviously true that interior disposition is the core requirement for worthy reception of the Lord, but externals give witness to interior disposotion, expressing an integration of body and soul in adoration and love of the Lord. In asking people why they don’t receive on the tongue and kneeling” the reply I have always received is invariably “its not very dignified for me to stick out my tongue Father”, indicating that what concerns the person is their own dignity rather than the Divine Dignity of the Lord.

  • Martin

    Why am I a liberal from simply making a comment about not liking people put things in my mouth? I would simply prefer to put the host within in my own mouth.

    As a side note i wish people would make as many heart felt comments about the honouring of the Holy Spirit (who lives in us every day) and who’s Temple we are. We dont ‘seem’ to worry too much about offending the Holy Spirit through sin (who is as very God as Jesus) with how we live our lives every day. In a spiritual or physical comparision, both are God and both should be honoured correctly. I would argue that if we honoured the Holy Spirit right then the churches would be full enough for the issue of ‘on the tongue or not’ to be really of paramount importance.

    As i said, both are equally God. And both are truely present.

    It maybe worth considering that is the Holy Spirit that empowers a believer to preach the Gospel, (through Christ). It is the Holy Spirit that Convicts the world of Sin, it is the Holy Spirit who through the actions of humans working in unison with his Spirit that will really make the difference in the church by being effectively able to preach the Gospel.

    I would argue that the greatest reason for atheism or apathy is us Christians ourselves, who honour Jesus their lips and then walk out the church door and then deny him through our life styles. That is what i believe is a greater issue that what is being discussed above. It is because of this and not how we recieve communion that an unbelieving world truely finds christianity unbelievable.

    Do not mistake my comments to mean that i now believe the Holy Spirit to be more effective that the role of Jesus, or that communion is not of the highest importance. Far from it. The Trinity is equal. What i am saying is that we are straining out a Camel when there are wider concerns that have greater consequences for the rest of humanity. Maybe we should be discussing those with equal passion without being pharisaic (hope i spelt that right). God Bless and i look forward to peoples thoughts

  • http://www.saintsworks.net Shin

    Here’s to hoping for a return to reverence and devotion!

  • Linen on the Hedgerow

    All priests who distribute Holy Communion within the Vatican are given clear instructions to only give by mouth (kneeling is impractical due to the crush).
    That is surely the clearest guidance possible given by the Holy Father himself.
    We kneel before the Queen to be knighted, we should surely kneel before God to receive His Son.

  • Chris Moore

    Just for the record, I would accept neither a knighthood nor a medal from the Queen, nor am I ever likely to be put forward for such an award!

    There is a difference between the chalice which is purified after each communicant receives the previous blood and trying to place a small host on a tongue. As an Extra-ordinary Minister myself, it is inherently difficult to do the latter and on some occasions it can be rather like posting an item into a letter box. Hardly reverent. Much better to place it in the palm of the communicant and watch to ensure it is consumed there and then.

    What happened to the crumbs after the last supper I wonder?

  • Jimbo

    I know the church! It is a beautiful church and agree with your sentiments wholeheartedly. AMDG.

  • Jimbo

    Absolutely spot on! And some are still at it.

  • Jimbo

    I remain certain that within 50years after I have gone back to God catholics will look back and wonder why and how the church got itself into this NO mess. AMDG

  • Jimbo

    Why is this an issue ? How many reported cases have there been about transmission of infection and disease through the distribution of Holy Communion?

  • Anonymous

    I don’t want to sound too overly pious on this. So I will just say that quite a few people I know would say that those who really believe in the blessed sacrament would state that it was quite simply impossible to have the transmission of any disease or virus via either species.

  • Ratbag

    You know what, Bender, I agree with you. Oh, how I wholeheartedly agree with you!

    I am simply imparting advice here ( re telling Father about abuses etc.) which I was given by my trainer (the parish priest) 17 years ago. I was told not to take matters into my own hands. How frustrating! How painful! How sick-making! Even knowing that abuses of the Sacred Substance like this is like watching someone beat up your nearest and dearest with an iron bar – wouldn’t you intervene? Yes, that’s how it is.

    Actually, I’d happily walk up to the perpetrators, demand they hand over the Sacred Substance and then frogmarch them to the priest in such a way as they’d be begging for forgiveness. They’ll think twice before they do it again.

    Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do…

    You know what, Bender? Thank you for your reply. I really appreciate it. I’m going to deal with these matters if and when it happens … and take the rollocking afterwards! But knowing that I go before my Lord and my God with a clear conscience – quietly with no trumpet blast.

  • Anonymous

    Martin,

    1) who, precisely, has put his fingers in your mouth? Was it a priest or a layperson?

    2) If a priest put his fingers in your mouth, was it at a novus ordo or a traditional Mass?

    3) When did this happen – before or after Vatican II?

    I did not accuse you, personally of being a liberal. Read my post again.

    I will respond to your comments about the Holy Spirit, once I have received the answers to the above questions.

    God bless.

  • Anonymous

    Well done, Mary for demanding that this scoundrel hand back the Host. This seems to be an increasingly common scandal at novus ordo Masses. The very fact that it MAY happen, is reason enough for priests to refuse to distribute in the hand altogether. The Pope and bishops are doing sweet nothing about the dissenters who are wrecking the Church worldwide, so let some sound priests test their apathy by insisting on tongue/kneeling only. God help them!

  • Zara

    Are you really SURE that you know how He gave it to them?

  • Anonymous

    You should not be handling the Blessed Sacrament at all, let alone judging those who receive in the traditional manner, on the tongue.

    Reception on the tongue is not about making anyone “more worthy” – and frankly, I don’t take kindly to Extraordinary Monsters lecturing me on anything to do with the Eucharist – but it is about safeguarding the Sacred Species from abuse and profanation.

    So, no, what is most important is NOT the “state of one’s conscience” – what is most important is that we protect the Blessed Sacrament from falling to the ground, from particles remaining on the hands of the “honest workers” you mention and from idiots who pocket the Blessed Sacrament to take elsewhere, quite possibly for desecration at a black Mass or similar atrocity.

    Too much sentimentalism where faith and true reverence should be. Stop thinking about the owners of the hands you so admire or the parishioners with uncharitable tongues you so despise, and start thinking about the well founded reasons why the Church has for centuries insisted on Communion being administered to the faithful kneeling and on the tongue. That is STILL the norm for us and the standing/hand has come about due to disobedience to Tradition repeated in various Vatican instructions in our times. But for this disobedience, you, Onthewallaby, would be out of a “job.”

  • Anonymous

    Why on earth don’t you go to the priest? These laypeople should not be giving out Holy Communion at all. The Vatican tried to stamp them out in the 1997 Instruction on the roles of the laity/ordained but the bishops, as usual, ignored it and the Vatican, as usual, did not enforce it. Article 8 stated clearly that even a packed church is no reason to use them. Only if there is no priest available, may they be used. Personally, I’d prefer to make a Spiritual Communion rather than take the Blessed Sacrament from the hands of any of these people. It is a shocking liturgical abuse, now institutionalized in the novus ordo Church.

  • Anonymous

    See my comments above about these lay people giving out Holy Communion. Please go to the priest – or better still, go to a Traditional Latin Mass where neither of these abuses (Communion in the hand/lay people giving out Holy Communion) occurs.

  • Zara

    I am afraid to say I have attended at least two Novus Ordo Masses where the priests have permitted, and/or encouraged the …yes, sticking of fingers INTO the ‘bowl’ (not the correct term) by the parishioners, who TOOK OUT A HOST from the selection, and consumed it. In one case, the priest merely HELD the ‘bowl’ as the people walked up 1 by 1 and ‘served themselves’. It was a small outdoor Mass. (I signalled to receive on the tongue and it was given.) In the other (worse) case of the two, the small group of people walked AROUND the back of the altar in a kind of ‘white magic’ ritual and took the host from the ‘bowl’ on the altar itself!!!! No kidding. I declined to commune on that occasion and did not leave my seat. I knew the priest quite well, a reverent man who has been co-opted almost entirely by a Neo-Catechumenate group which totally dominates his ‘parish’. This group had also provided a huge sum of money from outside, to totally remodel one of the oldest churches (over 300 years) in the entire region. Priceless old architecture was remodelled to an eclectic museum-style eg the painting of Our Lady of Jasnagorje is without a kneeler or altar, it is a mere pious decoration), and the High Altar has been entirely lost… Does this sound familiar? Oh, and the Stations of the Cross are partly obscured by a VERY expensive acoustic cabinet for the prominent bank of electrified instruments/ drums/ microphones which now form the ‘heart’ of the ‘worship service’. Later I quietly asked him how he could have allowed this. Part of his response was that they had requested it; they wanted a circular parade arounfd the altar and a ‘self-serve salad bowl’ on the altar (my metaphor), just as they pushed through an anti-historical forced remodelling of a major historical treasure. They’ in this case are people who are socially and economically vastly more powerful than this conscientious priest is. He also suggested that they said it was what they wanted and preferred (that they were ‘outsiders’ and he did not wish to challenge other usages unfamiliar to him). Is he too ‘afraid’? I can assure you, he had very little choice. In the earlier case, the priest was a Jesuit who surely had the duty to instruct his faithful (they were on a small pilgrimage) to receive better than that!

  • Anonymous

    Chris Moore,

    Oh I think you could easily get an award. I mean, maybe you are the most humble man on the face of the earth, just maybe, but, reading your post in reply to Ratbag, I’d say you are definitely in the running for the AAA (Amazing Arrogance Award.) Don’t blush.

    Everything in your post confirms my horror of lay people giving out Holy Communion. It should never have been allowed and it should be ended as a matter of urgency. Of course, it would have ended in 1997 if the Vatican had enforced its own instruction on the roles of the ordained/laity, which stated in article 8 that even a packed church was no reason to use lay people to handle the Blessed Sacrament.

    Your final sentence reveals that you have fallen into the heresy of Quietism – the condemned practice of harking back to early practices, ignoring the role of the Holy Spirit in the development of the Church’s understanding of doctrine – in this case, the doctrine of the Real Presence. Hence, the Church set in place safeguards for the Blessed Sacrament and that included a ban on reception in the hand.

    That you are one of the proud band of lay interlopers, playing at being priests in Catholic sanctuaries, is bad enough. That you can say something so disgracefully irreverent as “what happened to the crumbs after the Last Supper?” to dismiss justifiable concerns about liturgical abuses, about the Host falling and being trampled underfoot or pocketed by someone heading for a Black Mass, screams out that you believe in the Real Presence about as much as I believe that wee green men from Mars will bring me breakfast in bed tomorrow.

    Please – take yourself out of the sanctuary, without delay. Find another hobby.

  • Anonymous

    Well said. Hindus and other non-Christians bow towards their various idols. Catholics genuflect in adoration.

  • Anonymous

    Wrong on just about every count.

    Firstly, the Mass is essentially the Sacrifice of Calvary. The faithful received the Blessed Sacrament kneeling and on the tongue for two thousand years, without any instances that I’ve ever heard of, of disease, germs, etc. What a nonsense. This is an argument that smacks of desperation. I’ve heard “liberals” called “desperate” before – I just never understood why until now. Crazy.

    It is a Protestant heresy to separate Christ from His Church. Christ bequeathed His own authority to His first Magisterium when He said “He that hears you, hears Me.”

    Also, he said that he had not come to destroy the (old) Law but to fulfil it, and, further, that “not one jot or tittle of the law would pass away…” So forget that stuff about Jesus being none too impressed with those who enforced the rules – He wasn’t unimpressed because they enforced the rules – read your Gospels again, this time without a Protestant commentary by your side.

    Protestants use Scripture to drive a wedge between Christ and His Church, so when Extraordinary Monsters like you do so as well, you show where your natural allies reside – in the various Protestant communities. No truly educated (in the faith) Catholic, ever separates Christ from His Church.

    Indeed, Cardinal Newman said: “Christ gave us the Church to save us from ingenuous speculations and reasonings of our own.”

    The Church says we should receive Holy Communion kneeling and on the tongue – and from a priest.

    Put all of this together, Chris Moore, and reflect.

  • Theresa Rose

    I wonder if anyone on this blog has ever heard of the Eucharistic Miracle of Lanciano in the 8th century.
    One morning a monk who was having a strong attack of doubt, as he began the Consecration of the Mass for the people of the town, using the same size of Host used in the Latin Rite Mass of today. During the Consecration the Host turned into flesh and some drops of blood appeared. The people of the town witnessed this. This Host, turned into Flesh has been tested and shown to be muscle of the myocardium of the Heart – It has been tested in the 20th century.

    That Consecration of the Mass at Lanciano was not a memorial meal at a table. It was and is Bloodless Calvary in which the Host became the Body and Blood of Christ. That I see as the reason for giving Reverence to God when I receive Holy Communion, therefore I kneel and receive the Host on my tongue today.

    If for any reason (which is most unlikely) that I were to be introduced to Queen Elizabeth. What form of respect would I be expected to give? A curtsey would be appropriate, I would be most polite in my speech.
    It is easy to show respect towards the Queen because you see her standing there before you.
    The difference is that many people at Mass see the Host merely as a remembrance a memorial meal at a table rather than the Consecrated Host becoming the Body and Blood of Christ. Certainly the outward appearance of the Host has not changed following the Cosecration. Yet that change has been enacted.

    I leave you with this link about the Eucharistic Miracle of Lanciano, Italy.

    http://www.trosch.org/inx/lanciano.html

  • Bender

    Actually I meant stopping the person, and politely but firmly insisting that they either return the Host or consume it. Politely admonishing them that they CANNOT walk away with the Body of the Lord in that manner. And if they protest, tell them, “no sir, I must insist.” It might be that they are intentionally abusive, knowingly committing an act of desecration, but it may also be that they are well-intentioned, but ignorant, erroneously thinking that it is permissible to take the Host home to a sick person.

    No need to be aggressive about it, especially if you have a ciborium or bowl paten in hand. Polite insistence will suffice. Charity in all things. Even the biggest guy will back down. If he does not back down, then it will be necessary to ask someone during Communion to get the priest.

    And then tell the priest afterward, as well as fellow EMHCs, to keep an eye out for the guy in the future. If the person is clearly not acting in good faith, then he needs to be spoken to after Mass is ended, and then taken to the priest if necessary.

  • Bender

    Yes, they were bishops (not priests, who are the bishops’ assistants). But they were not consecrated until they received the Holy Spirit some 53 days later at Pentecost.

  • Martin

    EditorCT,

    Thank you for your email.

    My replies are as follows

    1) who, precisely, has put his fingers in your mouth? Was it a priest or a layperson?

    Neither, I was simply making the statement that some including myself prefer to put the host into their own mouth. My comments throughout the thread indicated that it more important to receive the Host in a right state of reverence rather than argue about whether or not it is received in the mouth. Neither in my opinion makes you Holier or more humble in heart. It may appear to the watcher that if you desire the priest to put it directly in your mouth then you are somehow doing it more right than others, but ultimately it is how you receive on the inside that counts. Appearances count for very little.

    Questions 2 and 3 are already answered in that i have never had someone stick a finger in my mouth.

    I did not accuse you, personally of being a liberal – Thank you as i don’t consider myself to be one and i am sorry for taking your words out of context.

    I look forward to your comments about the Holy Spirit. Please note within your comments that it was as an aside and not as a challenge to communion. It was centred on Both are truly God but we seem to get more outraged over one being “apparently” dishonoured than the other.

    God bless.

  • Martin

    EditorCT,

    Having read a few more of your comments, can i ask if you are a member of the Clergy? I only ask because i am reasonably new to this site and would like to know with what authority you are making your comments.

    For someone who has an issue with “Quietism” as stated in an early thread you seem to negate it any view that isnt your own. (i am not disagreeing with you, only pointing out a confliction).

    To call someone a monster is a bit out of place for someone (if indeed you are clergy or indeed lay) who should correct someone out of love and depending on their age, as a Father or Mother, Sister or Brother.

    What authority are you negating anyone elses comments/thoughts/feelings on the Eucharist or how it is handed out?

    Whilst you have no need to listern to my advise, it would be nice for the sake of those commenting that you should temper your zealousness with some brotherly/sisterly love in your comments.

    Even if your opinions are right, you are not coming across as being very far advanced in charity.

    I am honestly sorry if this offends but this is how you are coming across.

  • Adolfocosta

    What a stupid priest!

  • Anonymous

    But, Martin, I never claimed to be “advanced in charity” – far from it. I’m awful. I’m a terrible sinner (or rather, I’m a “great” sinner!)

    Actually the term “Extraordinary Monster” was coined by a blogger on the Catholic Truth blog and I thought it was very funny, so I stole it!

    Martin, perhaps you are more concerned about what might well be a FALSE charity – “charity” is often confused with being nice to everyone, saying nice things or couching what we say in very diplomatic language, avoiding the “scribes, pharisees and whited sepulchre” straight talking approach – in which case, you will certainly not like my posts. I am a very busy person and don’t have much time for blogging. I’d have even less if I have to think about everyone’s feelings all the time. I always think that it is an advantage of blogging that we don’t know each other personally. If we were sitting down to a cup of tea, I couldn’t really indulge in calling you an “Extraordinary Monster” (you might whack me!) although I would waste no time in telling you that you should not be participating in this liturgical abuse. Personally, I prefer to discuss with people to are not of the “sensitive” hue. I like the cut and thrust of debate, where we can get to the truth and focus on the issues, not on personal feelings.

    As for “by what authority” do I hold my views. Well, the traditional teaching of the Church has to be the litmus test for us all, me included. Here’s a recent Vatican document on the subject of Communion in the hand/tongue, and I’ll finish with this:

    92.] Although each of the faithful always has the right to receive Holy Communion on the tongue, at his choice,[178] if any communicant should wish to receive the Sacrament in the hand, in areas where the Bishops’ Conference with the recognitio of the Apostolic See has given permission, the sacred host is to be administered to him or her. However, special care should be taken to ensure that the host is consumed by the communicant in the presence of the minister, so that no one goes away carrying the Eucharistic species in his hand. If there is a risk of profanation, then Holy Communion should not be given in the hand to the faithful.[179] [93.] The Communion-plate for the Communion of the faithful should be retained, so as to avoid the danger of the sacred host or some fragment of it falling.[180] (from Redemptionis Sacramentum)

  • Adolfocosta

    Christina, your posting is very illuminating, at least for me.Thank you.I always receive communion on the tongue,but standing. I do not see any less reverence in communicating standing since the priests and deacons do not kneel themselves.Also is more expeditious not to kneel when you have many people waiting behind to receive communion.So I adhere to the Vatican norm.

  • Anonymous

    Martin,

    Given your comments about my perceived lack of charity elsewhere on this blog, I have to say that I find it rather dishonest of you to say that you take Communion in the hand because you don’t want the priest’s fingers in your mouth, without stating clearly that this has never happened. I presumed this had happened – and I also presumed it was a lay person who was the guilty party. Charity can never be separated from truth.

    So thanks for your belated admission that nobody had thrust fingers into your mouth (except, presumably, your dentist.)

    I can assure you that it is highly unlikely to have ever happened to anyone else, either; I’ve been receiving on the tongue for centuries (don’t let my youthful glamour fool you) and the only time I’ve ever had the slightest discomfort was when a modern, novus ordo priest, who clearly hadn’t been taught how to administer Communion on the tongue, pressed the host to my tongue rather roughly. Read into that what you will.

    My advice to you is to get yourself back to the Mass that the martyrs died for, preferably to a chapel run by traditional priests, and you won’t have to give another thought to the liturgical abuse of Communion in the hand or priests who haven’t been taught properly how to administer the Host on the tongue.

    As for your comments about the Holy Spirit – very briefly, because I should be elsewhere right now – two things spring to mind:

    1) The Holy Spirit is not in competition with Christ, and neither Father nor Holy Spirit is pleased when Christ, in His Real Presence, is insulted and treated with contempt.

    2) Christ is present in the Blessed Sacrament in a unique way. God is everywhere – Father, Son and Holy Spirit. But in the Blessed Sacrament Christ is present, Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity, whole and entire under the appearance of bread and wine. This is the teaching of the Church. Always has been, always will be: “The mode of Christ’s presence under the Eucharistic species is unique… (this presence) is called “real” because it is presence in the fullest sense: that is to say, it is a substantial presence by which Christ, God and man, makes himself wholly and entirely present.” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, # 1374).

    I hope that clears up the matter of appearing to favour Christ over the Holy Spirit. We are debating whether the reception, by the faithful, of Christ in Holy Communion, Christ who is really and truly present under the appearance of bread, is more acceptably administered on the tongue, to safeguard every fragment of Christ’s Real Presence, or if we agree with those, like the Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion on this blog, who contemptuously dismissed all such concerns of safeguarding the Blessed Sacrament with an insulting (some might argue, blasphemous) remark about the crumbs left after the Last Supper.