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.

Twitch of the mantilla to His Hermeneuticalness (and Diane) for the video footage.


Joe of St. Thérèse said...

I used to be pro Communion in the Hand, and then I saw all the particles on the paten...

Jane said...

Mac, thanks for this post.
Bishop Schneider's book is excellent btw. Have you read it? I think one of the major problems, swine flu restrictions aside, is that in too many places (globally) the advocates of Communion in the hand do not extend your tolerance to those of us, who prefer to receive on the tongue. You are all right in Blackfen, thank God, but here in the Charente, it's difficult, apart from at the Abbbey at Maumont, where I go whenever I can. There, Communion is given by the priest and one of the nuns, who are both prepared to give Communion in either way without demur. In the local diocesan churches, in various ways which there is no time to describe here, it is made impossible to receive on the tongue.
I sometimes wonder whether people round here know that we've had a 'new' Pope for five years! Sigh....!

Dominic Mary said...

whilst in principle it is better to avoid this solution, it is the undoubted right of all the faithful to have recourse - if necessary even to the Holy Father (in practice, of course, to the relevant dicastery) - if their legitimate rights are being interfered with.
The right to receive Holy Communion on the tongue is not a right which it is open to Bishops or Priests to withdraw; so if you are really having trouble with that, and an approach to the Bishop gets you nowhere, then write to the CDW - it's been done in the US, and succeeded splendidly !

invocante said...

Communion on the tongue as well as being more revert is actually quicker than receiving in the hand. When receiving by hand one has to wait on speed of queue but on the tongue the priest can communicate each communicant at the altar rail and instantly more onto next person, which is far quicker. Indeed it is so much quicker that is does away with the need for Eucharistic Ministers and perhaps that is the reason we are stuck with this dreadful practice – the ladies and their liberal allies among the priests and bishops would never stand for it!. Lastly, one might observe that kneeling inculcates reverence in children far better than standing and has the advantage (spiritual and psychological) of putting the little ones literally on the same level as adults when at the altar. So strong are the arguments against reception in the hand it is a mystery why Pope Benedict doesn’t instantly and universally ban this practice. If the liberals object let them eat Protestant cake with the Anglicans as that good catholic queen Marie Antoinette might have said!

gemoftheocean said...

One quibble, invocante, you're not irritated by MALE EMs as equally?

Mac: I think the priest who said giving on the tongue is harder was an idiot!!! Both ways of conveying the Host have their own difficulties!

Amongst the "recieve on the tongue" types you have the following types: "apple bobbers" "lizard tongues" (the ones who stick the tongue straight down and await the Host who sometimes manage to flick the Host off with their teeth (the WORST kind, but fortunately, rare), the people who barely OPEN THEIR MOUTHS, etc.

And with the "hands" people you have the ones who want to one hand snatch, the idiots who walk more than a step with out putting it in their mouths, and the person who wants to make the sign of the cross with the Host before consuming, and the people who won't hold their hands out flat.

Maybe 1 in 20 people will be a "problem" type, but it's pretty even. Any EM (or priest or deacon) for that matter who can't distribute Communion to either type of person, probably shouldn't be doing the job!

In the US the instructions for Communion in the hand are: [The hand to be used to put Commion in the mouth is to be held UNDER the other hand and the "other hand" is the one to be held flat. In other words, if you are a lefty, put the left hand under the right hand, if a righty the left hand goes on top. You are to immediately take one step to the side, still facing the priest/deacon/EM and consum it so they don't have to chase your butt down the aisle. That way the next person can be taking up the spot where you were, as out of the corner of the eye you can easily be spotted.

Also in the US, people are supposed to make a bow of the head before they recieve. The idiot bishops said "when the person in front of you is recieving" -- but I've always done it just when the person has moved, because I'm not bowing to the back of anyone's head!

As it is, my right knee doesn't cooperate to kneel. When I go to the EF form, I stand "aright and in awe" -- but recieve on the tongue, as I don't want to trip out the FFSP priests. In theory I could kind of genuflect without putting any weight on my right knee if I put most of the weight on my left (straight leg) and on the marble altar rail -- but I know, from having helped distribute Communion for many years is that the priest does not want to have to try and hit a moving target, nor have to have 2 burly ushers help me to my feet if I slip and that knee gives out.

[And SOME priests, evil things! ;-D, don't clean out their ciboriums nearly often enough -- sucks to them, and a pox on their rectories or in your case, "priest's house." And I won't even go into stupid deacons who "clean" the ciborium by carelessly holding the ciborium over the chalice whilst slapping the purificator in the ciborium in vain hopes that all the particles are going in the chalice, instead of all over the altar. Don't start me. :-D]

J.Samuel Ross. said...

I always thought it was quite weird that there seem to be three things that 'early church' lovers forget about communion in the hand:

1) Women were not allowed to touch the host.Men were.For women, the communion cloth was put on their hands.

2) By the mid fourth century NO ONE could touch the host.Everyone used the communion cloth.

3) They never touched the host with their fingers, only the palms were used.They bent their heads down to the host and picked it up with their tongues.They licked away any crumbs.

Certainly, a parish that did numbers two and three would get my approval, but I don't think many of the advocates of communion in the hand would like it much.

gemoftheocean said...

I'm not so sure about #1 -- because if women had been doing it all along, they wouldn't have had to issue the injunction.

Elizabeth said...

"We were at concelebrated Mass with the Holy Father, and we were absolutely forbidden to give Communion in the hands. Communion in the hand, Communion in the hand began, in the hand, with the publication of the Dutch Catechism with nobody's permission except the bishops—in effect, in principle separated themselves from the Holy See. One country after another began then to ask for permission, which the Dutch bishops never asked for, permission to receive Communion in the hand. I was asked by the [U.S.] bishops' conference to write a defense of Communion on the tongue, and I can again talk for hours.
"In the very, very early Church, Communion was given in the hands. However, as the faith of the Christians weakened in the Real Presence, by the 5th, 6th centuries Communion on the tongue became mandatory—remained mandatory until the present century. Behind Communion in the hand—I wish to repeat and make as plain as I can—is a weakening, a conscious, deliberate weakening of faith in the Real Presence.
And the American hierarchy took most—three times, those wanting Communion in the hand kept pushing and pushing. Finally, meantime, I was asked by the vice-president of the Catholic Conference of Bishops to defend Communion on the tongue, which I did. To get enough votes to give Communion in the hand, bishops who were retired, bishops who were dying, were solicited to vote to make sure that the vote would be affirmative in favor of Communion in the hand. Whatever you can do to stop Communion in the hand will be blessed by God.”

- Fr. John Hardon, S.J., November 1st, 1997 Call to Holiness Conference

Elizabeth said...

I read this and thought about Our Lady and how we treat Her Son with such contempt when we receive Holy Communion in the hands.
I don't know if these apparitions have been approved but the words still ring true:

"Communion in the hand has not been, and will not be accepted by Heaven. This is a sacrilege in the eyes of the Eternal Father, and must not be continued, for you only add to your punishment when you continue on in the ways that have been found to be unpleasing to the Eternal Father." - Our Lady of the Roses, June 30, 1984

gemoftheocean said...

Elizabeth, NO Catholic, EVER, is required to believe in someone else's "private revelation."

You can look it up.

Elizabeth said...

Thank you gemoftheocean, but the fact that, in many cases, when Our Blessed Lord is taken into the hands there is contempt and signs of total ignorance, as to Who is actually being received, is undeniable.

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