Tuesday, 26 January 2010
Communion In The Hand...
"Communion on the tongue" seems to be one of those phrases which, to the proponents of "the Spirit" of Vatican II, is the embodiment of all that is wrong with the pontificate of Benedict XVI.
It is cited as an example of how some people want to "turn the Church back." Conversely, Communion in the hand is explained as "more hygienic," "easier," "faster" and "a more adult way to receive Communion."
Curiously, for the "turning the Church back" brigade, there is often an appeal to the practice of the "early Church": how early is rarely made explicit.
Personally, I think that Communion on the tongue is a far more reverential way to receive Communion. I didn't always think this way. When I first returned to the Church, I was on crutches, and so had no choice in the matter (unless I wanted to fall over!) As soon as I was off the crutches, I hastened to avail myself of the opportunity to receive Communion on the hand, encouraged, I might add, by my Parish Priest (not my current PP, I hasten to add!)
However, I soon became uncomfortable with this. First of all, there was the matter of making some sign of reverence: if I waited until I reached the priest, I held up the queue (genuflecting is difficult for me, if I have nothing on which to hold) and if I genuflected while in the queue, I risked being trampled by the person behind me. Secondly, I became acutely aware that, by failing to move away until after I had placed the Host in my own mouth, I was holding up the queue (albeit for only a few seconds), and quite a few priests seemed to want to hurry me along.
Finally - and this was the clincher - I became conscious of a grainy, gritty feeling where the Host had been on my hand and my fingers. Where there is a grainy, gritty feeling, there are particles which are causing that grainy, gritty feeling... and Our Lord is present, whole and entire, in His Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity, in even the smallest of particles of a consecrated Host. Licking my hand and fingers after placing the Host on my tongue seemed to negate the whole "it's more adult" argument, and I decided to cut out the middle-man, so to speak, and returned to receiving Communion on the tongue.
As I said, I think it is more reverent to receive this way. However, while the Church allows people to choose how they receive, then I have no problem with someone who chooses to receive in the hand. I cannot understand, though, why anyone who truly believes that Our Lord is present in the Blessed Sacrament would find kneeling at altar rails to receive Communion objectionable. I would dearly love to be able to kneel in adoration, but I physically can't manage it.
Anyway, Bishop Schneider has some very interesting reflections on the reception of Communion:
With the Swine Flu scare we had here in England, some dioceses actually went as far as banning Communion on the tongue - they also ditched Communion under both kinds, the Sign of Peace and holy water. It seems to be acknowledged that these draconian precautions were rather an overreaction. I heard, through a friend of mine, that, at Sunday Mass in a church in the diocese of Portsmouth, the precautions were to be rescinded from the beginning of February.
But the priest pleaded with the congregation to continue to receive Communion on the hand. The reason given was that it was so much easier for the ministers to give Communion on the hand than giving Communion on the tongue. I have to say that this really beggars belief.