Oldie PODCAzT 51: Communion in the hand

I got some really nice feedback from via e-mail:

Dear Father:

After being a Protestant for many years I was confirmed into the Catholic church 5 years ago….  I have always struggled with the communion issue–in the hand or by mouth…  your PodCast gave the best convincing arguement I have ever heard on why it was better to receive by mouth.  So I have been partaking by mouth for the past week.

Apparently I made the right decision as I was spiritually attacked all last week, which I endured without discouragement.  I will pass your podcast along to my friends that they may listen and be informed.   This will also help me in my spiritual growth as a lay Discalced Carmelite.

May God Bess you…I pray for you and for all priests daily.

This nice note from a kind reader has motivated me simply to repost my PODCAzT about Communion in the hand, in case some new visitors to WDTPRS haven’t seen it:

We tackle a thorny issue: Communion in the hand. 

To help us drill into this practice, which we can only hope will diminish over time, we have the help of comments by His Excellency Archbishop Malcolm Ranjith, Secretary of the Congregation for Divine Worship and Discipline of the Sacraments.

We also will hear from Thomas E. Woods Jr., in his fairly new book, Sacred Then and Sacred Now: The Return of the Old Latin Mass.

In case you are wondering, I add plenty of my own thoughts on the matter.


 
http://www.wdtprs.com/podcazt/08_02_25.mp3

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15 Responses to Oldie PODCAzT 51: Communion in the hand

  1. TKS says:

    To me, if we believe in the Real Presence, how could we possibly ‘touch’ Him. Of course I grew up when that was a grave sin – no one except sacred hands ever handled The Host and if It fell, It was guarded until the Priest took care of the situation. And you would probably not be surprised to find that I quietly make my way to the line where the Priest gives Holy Communion.

  2. Limbo says:

    Any chance of this pod cast in print ?

  3. David O'Rourke says:

    I don’t share the opinion of TKS that belief in the Real Presence precludes Communion in the hand. Receiving Communion in the hands and then puttinng the cupped hands to the mouth (as is the Anglican custom) appears to have been the norm in the early Church. Furthermore, what we “physically” feel are the accidents.

    That said, I have memories of kneeling with my hands under the houseling cloth with a golden paten under my chin as a richly vested priest placed the Host on my tongue. I was a young boy in those days and I find it difficult to believe that young children today who walk down the aisle putting the Host in their mouth as if it were a potato chip receive the same sense of holiness that I received.

    I receive on the tongue.

  4. David:I don’t share the opinion of TKS that belief in the Real Presence precludes Communion in the hand. Receiving Communion in the hands and then puttinng the cupped hands to the mouth (as is the Anglican custom) appears to have been the norm in the early Church.



    No, it wasn’t the norm in the early Church, though that is often claimed.  Also, the manner of receiving Communion in the hand is described carefully by the conferences of bishops which permit it: putting your cupped hands to your mouth is NOT the way to do it.

    Furthermore, what we “physically” feel are the accidents.

    I am not sure why this is relevant to anything.  We don’t chose to receive the Host because of the physical accidents.

    I find it difficult to believe that young children today who walk down the aisle putting the Host in their mouth as if it were a potato chip receive the same sense of holiness that I received.

    I don’t think the purpose of reception of Holy Communion is to “receive a sense of holiness”, though surely that should be a component: that something profoundly Holy has come to you.

    I am very pleased to read that you receive on the tongue.  Would that everyone did.

  5. Jayna says:

    I’m listening to the podcast right now and I have to say I really wish more people in my parish agreed with the practice. I am definitely the exception rather than the rule by receiving communion on the tongue. Actually, I can probably count on one hand the number of people who tend to go to the same masses as I do who also take communion that way. I definitely get looks when I step up to receive communion (especially since I’m 23 and the only other people who don’t take communion in the hand look to be pushing 150).

    Of course, it also doesn’t help that one of the priests in the parish clearly doesn’t like it when I don’t put out my hands to receive communion. It’s gotten to the point that I avoid masses when I know he’s celebrating (not to the point of not fulfilling my obligation, of course, rather rearranging my schedule to go at a different time). I have thought about taking up the issue with the pastor, though I’m not entirely sure that won’t do more harm than good knowing this particular priest as I do.

  6. Lance Patrick says:

    Jayna,

    Hope this helps. We attend a progressive parish in a progressive diocese in the SE(Georgia) and have learned to go ahead and do what you know is right regardless of how the priest reacts. Remember that the function they perform is to serve the flock. If you have a TLM nearby I would suggest that you go there occassionally to remember what the purpose of Mass really is(worship of God, ot self). It is easy for those who have options to criticize those who have to faithfully endure day in and day out the effects of the rebellion fomented by the lack of guidance from our shepherds. The bottom line is ‘You Are Not Alone’. We will pray for you and we ask your prayers for us. Be the example, and even priests need to see that. Pray for them too and be assured that you are touching the hearts of someone who is watching. You may never see the fruits but our Lord does and that is so much more important than anything else. God must be pleased by your reverence. Your devotion to God will not be popular but rejection by the worldly was guaranteed by Jesus himself. You are in good company with all the persecuted and the Saints.

    Omnia possum in eo qui me confortat.

    God Bless You and All who suffer for the Kingdom.

    Lance Patrick

  7. Jayna says:

    Lance,

    Thanks for the support! There is a TLM parish south of me (I’m also in Georgia, by the way!), I think about a 45 minute to an hour drive. I keep planning on making it down there, it’s just that their mass times are in constant conflict with my work schedule.

    The thing that’s the worst about the whole situation is that I really like the parish, I like the people and the priests are really good guys on the whole. There are just times when one of them will say something that I just can’t wrap my head around a priest saying. For instance, I was speaking to one of the priests about two or three weeks ago and he was complaining about having to do a confession outside of the normal time the church sets aside for doing them. (I might add that they only do them for about an hour one day a week.) I kept thinking that he should have been pleased that this person even made the effort to go to confession at all.

    Ah well, I doubt I’ll be changing their minds anytime soon, but maybe through my actions I might be able to find some other people in the parish on the more traditional side who will band with me in my constant requests for an EF mass at our church.

  8. Shane says:

    No, it wasn’t the norm in the early Church, though that is often claimed. Also, the manner of receiving Communion in the hand is described carefully by the conferences of bishops which permit it: putting your cupped hands to your mouth is NOT the way to do it.

    It may not have been the norm, but it was certainly not… not the norm. There was a great diversity in the early Church as to how Communion was received. In some places, Communion in the hand was the norm. In fact, the Council of Trullo actually forbade receiving Communion without receiving it in the hand. I don’t think that it is possible to say that any method was the norm. It was done in different ways, and I don’t know of any evidence which would suggest that any one particular method was more common than others.

    Unfortunately, it is correct that putting the cupped hands to the mouth is not the way the conferences proscribe the method. The USCCB says:

    “If Communion is received in the hand, the hands should first of all be clean. If one is right handed the left hand should rest upon the right. The host will then be laid in the palm of the left hand and then taken by the right hand to the mouth. If one is left-handed this is reversed. It is not appropriate to reach out with the fingers and take the host from the person distributing.”

    This is not the method of reception in the hand that was present in the early Church – at least not as far as the evidence suggests. As I said, there was a diversity and so I suppose that this may have been the case in some areas, but the evidence that we do have for Communion in the hand is that it was to be done in the method that David described. He was correct to say that this is what we see happening in the early Church. Cyril of Jerusalem wrote:

    “When thou goest to receive communion go not with thy wrists extended, nor with thy fingers separated, but placing thy left hand as a throne for thy right, which is to receive so great a King, and in the hollow of the palm receive the body of Christ, saying, Amen.”

    I have no problem with Communion in the hand, because it is very apparent that the early Church not only did not have a problem with it, but in many places encouraged or even required it. I think that I do have a problem with the USCCB permitting it in a manner inconsistent with the early practice.

    Peace and God bless

  9. I used to receive in the hand, and then I learned what VII had to say, and my inspiration is St. Therese, and I’m not more worthy than her to be standing, as well as received in my hands

    Communion in the hand wasn’t the norm in Rome.

    I saw a kid in Mass eating Jesus like a cracker, and for that, Communion in the Hand should be banned, (deo gratias Cardinal Cipirani)

    For me Communion in the Hand is simple, if you love God so much, you want him to come to you through the hands of the priest.

    Communion in the Hand is against the understanding of how God came to us, not us to him. :)

  10. Shane says:

    Communion in the Hand is against the understanding of how God came to us, not us to him. :)

    I think I agree with a lot of what was in this post, but not this point. Communion in the hand has to be received just as Communion on the tongue does. One cannot take Christ from the priest’s hands – He must be received. You hold out your hands and He is given to you. That’s an important distinction.

  11. Oh how often i’ve seen people snatch Jesus from the priests hands…sigh

  12. RBrown says:

    It may not have been the norm, but it was certainly not… not the norm. There was a great diversity in the early Church as to how Communion was received. In some places, Communion in the hand was the norm. In fact, the Council of Trullo actually forbade receiving Communion without receiving it in the hand. I don’t think that it is possible to say that any method was the norm. It was done in different ways, and I don’t know of any evidence which would suggest that any one particular method was more common than others.

    Is this the same Council of Trullo that condemned weekday masses during Lent, celibacy, and the depiction of Christ as the Lamb?

    Is this the same Counil of Trullo whose documents the pope refused to sign?


    This is not the method of reception in the hand that was present in the early Church – at least not as far as the evidence suggests. As I said, there was a diversity and so I suppose that this may have been the case in some areas, but the evidence that we do have for Communion in the hand is that it was to be done in the method that David described. He was correct to say that this is what we see happening in the early Church. Cyril of Jerusalem wrote:

    “When thou goest to receive communion go not with thy wrists extended, nor with thy fingers separated, but placing thy left hand as a throne for thy right, which is to receive so great a King, and in the hollow of the palm receive the body of Christ, saying, Amen.”

    I have no problem with Communion in the hand, because it is very apparent that the early Church not only did not have a problem with it, but in many places encouraged or even required it. I think that I do have a problem with the USCCB permitting it in a manner inconsistent with the early practice.

    Peace and God bless
    Comment by Shane

    The “Early Church” argument can be used to justify almost anything, including Gnosticism.

  13. Shane says:

    The Council of Trullo has some interesting and I would prefer to say – if I felt I had the authority to do so – unfortunate things in it, but it was nevertheless a valid council. Pope Adrian recognized the council (and if I am not mistaken Gregory did as well), and it is not disputed by anyone I have ever seen that the the Seconnd Council of Nicaea recognized and approved the council. In fact, it formed the basis for Eastern Catholic canon law and the canons of the Eastern Catholic Churches continue even to this very day to be based upon the council.

    The “Early Church” argument can be used to justify almost anything, including Gnosticism.

    Certainly it can, if one wants to quote early gnostic sources. All of the evidence of which I speak is from saints and writers of repute: Tertullian, St. Basil the Great, St. Ambrose, St. Cyril of Jerusalem, etc.

  14. magdalen says:

    Not long after my re-conversion, I began to receive on the tongue. I had
    fallen in love with Jesus Hostia and it just seemed the proper way.
    However, I was an EMHC for over 20 years and served at Mass. So many
    dirty hands! So many nonchalant! So many with little clue as to WHO they
    are receiving but then when there is almost no reverence even on the part
    of the priest, what can be expected. We are all holy, we are told!

    I still visit the hospital and homebound and bring Communion; our priests
    do not do this. If the lay folks did not help out here, our sick would
    not receive Holy Communion. So I continue there but do not serve at Mass.

    Recently during the Triduum, a woman in jeans slammed the Host on my tongue and
    let me know what she thought of communion on the tongue. Father sat out.

    I love a communion rail when I can get to a Mass when that means is
    available.

  15. Diane says:

    CLARIFIATION ON EARLY CHURCH AND COMMUNION IN THE HAND

    Bishop Athanasius Schneider, in a video in which he speaks of his book, Dominus Est, speaks about the early Church and Communion in the hand. Sure enough this was done as St. Cyril quoted.

    However, the bishop points out in his video that we have to understand it in full context.

    He says, in the video, that Communion in the hand was not done the same way we see it today. A lay person’s fingers were not permitted to touch the Host. Rather, they had to immediately pull their hand up to their mouth and consume the Body of Christ that way. Here is the most important part: The hand was purified afterwards.

    This is very different from the practice today.

    I’m working on getting the source of that info, which may be in his book. I have an excerpt which originally appeared in L’Osservatore Romano and was reprinted in English in The Catholic Response. I got permission to post the full article in my blog in this post.

    See that video here