More debate about Communion in the hand

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The debate on “communion in the hand” continues. Now it seems that the Holy Father, B16 is taking to giving communion with people kneeling and on the tongue in order to highlight the meaning of the Eucharist. I’m not sure how that follows. I was just at the Eucharistic Congress where we heard repeatedly that worship and adoration of the Blessed Sacrament is intimately related to respect and dignity of the person. What are we saying to people about that connection when we say that they have to kneel for communion before the Holy Father but can stand and receive the Lord from a priest or deacon? It would seem that the Lord would not object to someone receiving him standing and in the hand. I wonder what would happen if someone came up the the Holy Father with hands extended? I am sure he would not think twice and share communion with that person as he did with Br. Roger at Pope John Paul’s funeral.

You can read more about my thoughts regarding communion in the hand.

You may also want to look at an essay that considers this issue of communion in the hand as a “red herring”. It’s by a very interesting author, quite conservative, and also rigorous in understanding the issues. The author has a few interesting things to say about all sorts of topics as well. More and more I find solace in some of our more traditional/conservative brothers and sisters who are still “thinking” and understand the difference between conservative theology and rigidity. I find that those who are more rigid or simply determined to live in the past are not willing to enter into true dialogue. On the other hand, a thoughtful conservative will both show respect and be willing to listen. It’s with such people that I can can in turn try to understand, learn and perhaps grow. Thanks be to God for the Spirit still working among us.

14 comments

  1. Fr Rick,

    Perhaps B16 is leading by his actions. He is giving wittness. He is the Pope and must have some well thought out reasons for this. I’m sure that he will eventualy explain to all his reasoning. I trust that he knows something that we don’t.

    M.

  2. Hello Friar Rick,

    For many years I too received communion-in-the-hand; I do not anymore. I did as I was trained, to make a throne of my hands and bring my hands to my mouth.

    Moreover though, people just treat Him like a nacho or something.

    A few weeks ago I attended Mass at St. Michael’s Cathedral at 5:30 PM. The woman in front of me received in the hand and dropped Our LORD on my dirty steel–toe construction boot; the last person tried to walk away with Him, I pointed and the Father grabbed her to consume.

    How many times has He been found in a hymnbook or stuck to a pew with gum–have you checked your pews???

    Worse, how many times has the Eucharist been stolen only to be defaecated upon in a satanic ritual.

    The Church got rid of this practice over 1000 years ago because of a more developed theology of the eucharist. It was brought back as an “indult” (Memoriale Domini) because, for whatever reason, Pope Paul VI could not stop what was considered an abuse which began in Holland and then spread to Belgium and England.

    It is not the genuine Catholic who receives that is the problem. It is the abuse and sacrilege that can result.

    But I think that there is something deeper and it is “lex orendi, lex credendi” or “how we pray, is how we believe.”

    If we are so casual with the Eucharist as to pop it in our mouth as a RITZ cracker or have dirty hands or shook hands at the “peace” with someone with dirty hands then what are we saying about this “pure, unspotted, host?”

    I really do think that Pope Benedict is sending the message that the time of this little “experiment” with the indult is coming to an end.

    At that time, the debate is no more, all will receive on the tongue and eventually for those who are able, on the knees.

    I wonder if you would try something in your parish.

    For one month, tell people to line up across the sanctuary and you bring them communion instead of the usual Tim Horton line up. I guarantee that people will by instinct or perhaps better said, by grace, will kneel. If you give them the chance to kneel they will.

    I know this because I have seen it happen at two parishes in Toronto where 99% kneel and 90% receive on the tongue–and I’m talking Novus Ordo!

  3. Hey Fr. Rick,

    Once upon a time I was on of those who took communion in my dirty grubby paws. I got in line like everyone else and took the white wafer in chewed on it back to my seat.

    Well times change. I grew up and did some reading and praying. I came to see that if this is truly God (which I came to realize) I should show some sort of respect. Kneeling is a perfect form of showing humily, respect and reverance all at the same time. Its not the priest or the Pope who we kneel to but our Lord.

    Might I ask what is so wrong/conservative/traditional about communion in the hand? I think it has to do with adoration and worship. Are you saying that these traits don’t fit with the “liberal” set? It would seem consistent with my experiences.

  4. Well, if this really is our Lord in the eucharist, and every particle is fully Christ in Body and Blood, then I wouldn’t want to take any chance of leaving any crumb or particle in my hand. I watch the priest after communion and I watch how the chalice is cleaned with the Priest’s hands. There is purpose to this cleaning so that the every drop and crumb is consumed. The laity who use their hands does not do the same.

    Also, shouln’t everyone kneel in front of our Lord?

  5. It’s difficult to judge what is really in the heart of the recipient as one receives communion. But, I do feel sad when seing one chewing the host as if chewing buble gum.

    The comments make sense though it is also difficult to judge what is really in the heart of the recipient but our belief on the Eucharist can be gauged also by our action in handling it. It makes me sad seing some our brothers and sisters chew the Blessed Sacrament like chewing bubble gum.

    Seemed like there are those move to the extreme which shows inreverence to the Body of Jesus. Maybe we need again, and again a thorough Catechesis of the Sacraments, esp. the Eucharist as our main subject here. Our actions are very much condition on what we are deeply convinced of.

    I strong believed that the Church should be observant to maintan the balance of being “progressive and conservative” otherwise we will lost the ‘essence” , the “groundedness” what we truly believed.

  6. See, it’s when you refer to the Communion Procession as a “Tim Horton’s line up” that you cross the line into sacrilege. Please don’t mock something so sacred. I think we can have a reasoned discussion without that kind of talk.

  7. Friar Rick,

    I certainly meant no offense to the Holy Eucharist. I have heard it referred to as a McDonald’s line in the past by some fine Catholics. If you observe it compared to the alternative you’ll understand the reference.

    I am older than you and I can remember as an altar boy in 1966 how things changed. Why did we take out the communion rail? Why did we change how we received the Eucharist from our knees to standing?

    There is not one document from the Second Vatican Council where this was mandated. Not one document where this was recommended. How did it happen? How do we know that it was right then or right now?

    You see by getting us in a “line” we could not kneel. Not kneeling over the last 42 years has affected how we believe. Surely, the fact that less than 30% of Catholics attend Mass on Sunday has a root cause? So do the lack of line-ups for confession, we are all not continually in a state of grace. Yet, there is no shortage in line for Holy Communion.

    All of this is linked, “lex orendi, lex credendi.” This is no mantra, it is what we become by our actions. I am not saying in the least that many of those who receive standing or in the hand are not believing, loving committed Christians, however, on a macro level it affects our respect and belief for the “Real Presence” and it permits, if not outright promotes, sacrilege.

    Even Blessed Mother Teresa believed that it was wrong and the Seraphic Father Francis never felt worthy to be ordained or to even touch the Body of Christ.

    He knew himself of the holiness of the priest’s hands. When told of a priest who was in sin and had a concubine he went to him and kneeled at his feet kissing his hands because they consecrated and touched the Sacred Species.

    Are my hands or am I holier than Francis?

  8. I cannot forget the comment of a Theologian who was teaching Sacraments to us. Picking up the issue why kiss the hands of a priest to get blessings and why go to confession when priests are also humans, thus, also commit sin.

    HIs theology and comments make sense to me. “We look at it this way: It’s like a rusty faucet but the water flows from there is still clean and drinkable.”

    A flawed human instrument chosen by God but God make the Grace overflow in the life and hands of a minister to administer the Sacrament that no one else can do. Thus, no priest, means no Eucharistic Celebration.

    We can have what we call “Dry Mass” no consecration, use the Consecrated Host /Blessed Sacrament inside the tabernacle for communion which could be done by lay minister. It is just purely Liturgy of the Word with communion. This is happening in many remote places with shortage of priest. Lay ministers go there during Sunday to celebrate the Liturgy of the Word with Communion to the faithful.

    Are the hands of the Priests are Holy? Yes, of course.

    Lay people are also Holy as we all know that the HOly Spirit we received in Baptism dwells in us. We are created in the image and likeness of God. We belonged to the Common Priesthood. The priests belonged to the Ministerial Priesthood being Ordained, Graced/chosen by God to answer such especial calling.

    Thanks.

  9. This Sunday it struck me how prayerfully and gracefully people came forward to receive the Eucharist at the Sunday Liturgy. They took the Lord in their hands and ate. For the vast majority of Catholics this approach works well. Those who prefer on the tongue should have their rights respected. But so should those who have found this approach to be meaningful and faithful to the meaning of the Eucharst; Receive the Body of Christ, Receive what you are, become what you receive!

  10. Now it seems that the Holy Father, B16 is taking to giving communion with people kneeling and on the tongue in order to highlight the meaning of the Eucharist. I’m not sure how that follows.

    —Well, its really quite simple: It maintains that the priest is set apart from the faithful, and also, that Jesus Christ is to be received humbly by His children. It is also quite prudent, especially considering that a one of my friend’s universities, some jerk took Our Lord to his residence and held it hostage (apparently He has now been returned).

    I was just at the Eucharistic Congress where we heard repeatedly that worship and adoration of the Blessed Sacrament is intimately related to respect and dignity of the person.

    —Now, I’m not sure how these two realities (worship of the Blessed Sacrament and one’s dignity) tie into each other. Some further extrapolation is required I’m sure.

    What are we saying to people about that connection when we say that they have to kneel for communion before the Holy Father but can stand and receive the Lord from a priest or deacon?

    —‘We’ aren’t saying anything. The Holy Father on the other hand, is, as another commentator pointed out, leading by example. He wants priests to encourage this practice because it is the most prudent for handling the Eucharist, and for the formation of one’s soul. It makes one bend interiorly to receive Our Lord – and, working like grace in the soul, allows one to have Christ visit us by His own hand.

    It would seem that the Lord would not object to someone receiving him standing and in the hand.

    —No, probably not. But that isn’t the point. The question we need to ask ourselves is this: Does this practice (communion in the hand, communion on the tongue while kneeling) communicate in an obvious yet subtle way the actual presence of Our Lord in the Sacred Mysteries, and our metaphysical relationship to Him?

    I am sure he would not think twice and share communion with that person as he did with Br. Roger at Pope John Paul’s funeral.

    —I’m curious to know what standing Br. Roger (of Taize, if I am correct) is with the Catholic Church. Do you know if he has come into full communion?

    I find that those who are more rigid or simply determined to live in the past are not willing to enter into true dialogue.

    —Those who are “simply” trying to live in the “past” are the inheritors of the liturgical revolutionaries who worked on the Novus Ordo Missae and who were brainwashed by false archaeologism in the name of “Reform” and “The Council”, and who want to suppress the organic growth of liturgical custom, practice and order: Those who insist that older things, such as communion on the tongue, are better because they are closer to “the source” chronologically, and because it was once widespread in the early days when the liturgy was one big community celebration.

  11. “Every knee will bend” If we are commanded to knee at the Name of Jesus,( please do not defend wrong by saying nobody does it) then is not kneeling to recieve His Body the proper way.

    Also, please remember that for Catholics, it is the Pope who stands in the shoes of the fisherman and not some gathering–even one so pious as an Eucharistic Congress.

    Be not affraid, this Pope is for the Church as John Paul was for the world. John Paul II, by his univeral popular appeal, called all to the Church. Now God has sent Catholics a pope for the Church so that we might cease experiementation and return to the true faith of our fathers.

    Be not affraid, the path back has been marked by others before us. It is a humble narrow little footpath with many holes for those who will not leave pride behind, but at its end is the Faith, the glorious Faith of our fathers.

    Pax vobis

  12. Since I started communion in the hand abou 3 years ago, it has been rough going. One paster dropped the host 3 x and let me pick it up while sighs from behind me. One day I saw a young man,physically fir come up and kneel down coss his arms and recieved/ It was a beautiful sitge. We all talked abouy iy for some time. I say all this because this is what I have intentions doing ,,,,,,please pray fro me to witess for our Lord . I painfully shy and want to do this very badly.

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