Tablet picks up on Card. Cipriani’s (Lima, Peru) ban of Communion in the hand

I posted on this issue back on 17 April, but The Tablet has it now.
 

Church in the World
26 April 2008
Peru

Cardinal bans Communion in hand

A Peruvian cardinal has banned the practice of receiving Communion in the hand in his diocese to guard against devaluing the Eucharist, an Italian website has reported.

Opus Dei Cardinal Juan Luis Cipriani Thorne told Petrus: "I maintain that the best way to administer Communion is on the tongue, so much so that in my diocese I have forbidden the host in the hand."

The cardinal, who is Archbishop of Lima and a member of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, said that "the relaxed attitude of many priests" was to blame for a decline in reverence for the Eucharist among the faithful. "In Masses with great attendance, in the past we even found hosts thrown on to the pavement of the church," he added.

A missionary priest working in Lima told The Tablet the ban "would only apply to his jurisdiction of the Archdiocese of Lima". "The remainder of the dioceses around Lima would not go for such a practice," he said.

Oddly, there is no more than that.  I suspect there will be editorials to come! 

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81 Responses to Tablet picks up on Card. Cipriani’s (Lima, Peru) ban of Communion in the hand

  1. vox borealis says:

    Yes, editorials will no doubt come. Note how he is identified as an “Opus Dei Cardinal”, which of course signals that he must be “hard core,” “conservative,” “fundamentalist Catholic,” and desirous to “turn back the clock.” He probably even whips himself or some other “medieval” practice that the mature church left behind.

  2. Tom Ryan says:

    May many more follow his example.

  3. FloridaJohn says:

    The Cardinal is right about the sacrilege of Hosts being discarded here and there. As a sacristan, I’ve found Hosts in the pews, sometimes stuck to the pages of the missalette, sometimes on the floor. A number of times I had to chase a person down the aisle because they didn’t place the Eucharist in their mouth. One man, when I asked him to consume the Host, said he wanted to show It to his kids! Whether we kneel or stand, all should receive on the tongue!

  4. Lee says:

    Our pastor keeps a close watch on whether the people who receive from him by hand quickly consume the host. If not, I’ve seen him follow the person down the aisle and tell them to consume the host then and there.

  5. Lee says:

    Our pastor keeps a close watch on whether the people who receive from him by hand quickly consume the host. If not, he follows the person down the aisle and tells them to consume the host then and there.

  6. RichR says:

    I’ve never understood why people want to make more work for themselves. It seems to me that by eliminating Communion in the hand, one does not have to resort to this intense monitoring. It’s the same with both Species on Sunday – why not just have the hosts and make the ablutions easier (and make it less likely for spillage during the Communion Rite, etc….)?

    Of course, it’s not merely about ease. One can argue that the casual nature of Communion in the hand has decreased the reverence due to the Blessed Sacrament. One can also argue that offering both species has led to a Protestant understanding of the Real Presence (Christ is not as present when only the Host is distributed). It’s about what this type of behavior does to the Catholic understanding of the Mass, despite what liturgists and catechists try to do to counter it or explain it away. Actions mean things, and you cannot try to give it an alternate meaning.

    I’m glad to see that this bishop, God bless him, is not afraid to look at options and decide what is best for his church.

    With all the options available to us (in some cases, thanks to disobedience), we have become a Church of the exceptions, not the norms. Extraordinary ministers, both species, communion in the hand, no sung propers at Mass, no pipe organ, no Gregorian chant, Responsorial Psalms instead of graduals, altar girls, no incense, no Asperges me, no Latin, lay readers, Mass facing the people, etc……. We have lost sight of the norms because we glory in the alternative options.

    Why not rediscover the norms in the Novus Ordo? It may reinforce a Catholic identity in a culture that sees no semblance of normality.

  7. Dave says:

    Godbless this and all our bishops. My parish held a meeting last week where it was mentioned by one of our parish priests that, upon cleaning the church, host were found stuck in missals, hymnals and under the pews! This was at the same time shocking yet, unfortunately, not entirely surprising.
    On the upside our parish is going to have the first of an occasional TLM this week. Our parish is blessed with three outstanding and faithful priests. Fr. Z I hope you don’t mind me posting the information for this Mass here. The more that show up the more regular the TLM will be at my parish. The information is here below:

    St Thomas the Apostle Parish in Crystal Lake IL (http://www.saintthomascatholicchurch.org/)
    Latin Masses – Tridentine Mass

    Please join us Monday, April 21, 7:00 pm at Oak Street Church for a special information meeting as an “orientation” for those who would like to learn more about the Latin Mass. We will offer a Latin Mass on Tuesday, April 29th, 7:00 pm at Oak Street Church.

  8. Fr. D says:

    “The remainder of the dioceses around Lima would not go for such a practice,”

    Was something lost in translation? Otherwise this is a very disturbing statement.
    I wonder where the missionary priest is from.

  9. EDG says:

    Fr D – I found that to be a disturbing statement, too, and I was hoping it was simply poorly translated. First of all, why would they object? Second, since when is it their decision to make?

    Peru seems to have a fair number of American missionaries, or at any rate, American priests who go there to work with social service missions of various types. I hope this missionary wasn’t one of ours.

  10. TerryC says:

    I must say I just don’t understand these tales of abuse. At my parish we have never found the blessed body of Christ casually tossed about. Our light carpet bears no signs of the spilling of the sacred blood. EMCs neither casually drop the host nor do they come to serve with dirty hands.
    It seems to me solving problems by blunt instrument is no solution at all. Anyone can receive on the tongue at the present time as far as I know. If you want more people to do so or even all people to prefer to do so then teach them why they should. Imposing such a change when the Universal Church does not require it does nothing to teach the abusers what they’re doing wrong.
    Say you impose Communion on the tongue. The people who are leaving the body of the Lord “stuck in missals, hymnals and under the pews” obviously don’t have a well formed mature understanding of the Real Presence. The action of prohibition has not any any way caused their formation to become more mature. The failure of proper catechisis has been compensated for by what is in effect a punitive action.
    In effect you are proposing that we compensate for the fact that we have failed to catechize, rather than addressing the failure to catechize.
    I would start with the priest. I will not receive on the tongue if a platen is not being used. I am simply too afraid that I will drop the host. Since very few priest use platens any more I receive in the hand. If more priest would use an alter server with a platen when distributing Communion I would receive on the tongue.
    Receiving under one species is practically code for getting rid of EMCs. Since many places don’t have a deacon at every Mass even a place that typically wouldn’t use EMCs need at least one if the Lord is to be received under both species. I fully understand that receiving under only the single species of bread is fully receiving the Body of Christ. That being said I believe that it is more fulfilling for me when I receive under both species. Christians received under both species in the early Church. The practice is the norm in the N.O. for most of the Western Hemisphere and changing it in the hope that its lack will magically foster greater reverence for the sacred Body & Blood in the absence of real catechesis is, in my opinion, unrealistic.

  11. Guy Power says:

    Terry states, “ …I will not receive on the tongue if a platen is not being used. I am simply too afraid that I will drop the host. …

    I think if you open your mouth when you stick out your tongue, you will provide a much larger target and will not have to (unnecessarily) worry yourself about dropping the Host.

    :^pO

    I cannot envision a tongue being missed by a priest; and, due to the dryness of the Host against a moist tongue, I fail to see how it would not adhere.

    You have a much greater of dropping the Host when you use your hands. I would be interested in hearing from other comment-box-denizens their observations and/or experiences anent the “receive:loss” ratios of hand:tongue reception. I would wager a doughnut to a dollar that the vast majority of losses occur with hand reception.

  12. Jacques says:

    I was never able to understand why people (and a number of priests too) are so hooked up by this bad habit of Communion in the hand.
    Having the Body of Christ in their hands, what more does this bring to their faith. Do they really need to touch Him to better understand the mystery of Eucharist?
    When going to Communion, I often remember Christ just resurrected saying Mary-Magdalene: “Noli me tangere”, “Don’t touch me”. Isn’t this the right answer to oppose to the unconditionals who so often touch Him in a sacrilegious manner.
    My brother told me once that he saw a fallen host down before the priest (I guess this last one didn’t noticed it). The attendant person just to receive Communion before my brother, in a despising gesture pushed away the host with the tip of his shoe to avoid walking on it!
    I don’t speak about the number of desecrations that happen every day, the least one I was told was a host stuck with chewing gum under a pew !

  13. Alex says:

    I prefer intinction.

  14. mpm says:

    TerryC,

    “The action of prohibition has not any any way caused their formation
    to become more mature. The failure of proper catechisis has been
    compensated for by what is in effect a punitive action.
    In effect you are proposing that we compensate for the fact that
    we have failed to catechize, rather than addressing the failure
    to catechize.”

    Do you have any reason whatsoever to doubt that Cardinal
    Cipriani does in fact preach, teach and catechize about the
    rudiments of the Faith?

    From the article alone, does it sound like the Cardinal is intent
    on punishing, or rather on recalling his congregations to a proper
    respect for Our Lord in the Eucharist?

    Does it say that the Cardinal has forbidden the use of patens by altar
    servers when Communion is distributed? Do you believe he does not know
    what a communion paten/plate is?

  15. Exaudi says:

    Going from what Alex said, concerning Communion under both species, why don’t more priests go for intinction? I think it’s a fantastic idea that solves both problems, one completely, and the other to a certain degree. Just my 2 cents.

  16. TerryC says:

    My remark was not particularly directed at the Cardinal, but a response to the “we should be doing this everywhere” crowd, who state it must be done not out of a respect for the Sacred Body, but as a method to prevent sacrilege. I maintain that if such sacrilege is a widespread problem it is an indication of a lack of catechisis.
    I hope that patens are widely used in the Cardinal’s diocese. The fact is they are not widely used in diocese in the United States.

  17. Royce says:

    Terry,

    Quite to the contrary, communion on the tongue is the Church’s norm, and bishops may grant permission for the hand. It is then fully within this bishop’s right to revoke that priviledge for his diocese.

    I would imagine the ‘missionary priest’ was referring to the fact that the Archbishop of Lima’s actions do not directly impact those of the other dioceses in his conference or the country (I suppose the concern could be raised since he is the Primate).

  18. Johnny Domer says:

    I feel as though that last paragraph is a bit of Tablet editorializing. They can’t just report the news; they have to give the opinion of some “expert” (in this case an unnamed “missionary priest”) to tell us that not everybody’s “going for” this practice. Well, OBVIOUSLY other dioceses aren’t affected by this decision, so why even mention it, other than because you want to give the impression that the OPUS DEI Archbishop of Lima is the only guy who came up with this kooky idea?

  19. Hermione says:

    Unrelated but on the topic of female altar servers. One of our Cathedral servers is a stunningly attractice 17 yo who comes complete with eye shadow and vast quantities of make-up. She is a fine server but her presence on the sanctuary is potentially problematic to anyone remotely heterosexual in the congregation.

    I would also further add that at the EF Mass I attended today, there were far more men than women in the congregation. There is something supremely masculine and heterosexual about the EF.

    Communion in the tongue would give something for the servers (male please!) to do.

  20. TerryC says:

    I understand that it certainly is within the bishops right to revoke the privilege within his diocese, and am not arguing to the contrary.
    Universal was too broad a term. The American bishop conferences generally allow the privilege of Communion in the hand, I would expect for what is seen as pastoral reasons.
    Why do you suppose this was done?
    Most people I have asked receive in the hand due to what I would call the ick factor. They don’t want the EMC or priest to stick their hand in their face. At the bottom they don’t trust someone they don’t know to stick something in their mouth. I see it as a matter of control. (Certainly my greatest fear is dropping the Host, or causing the Host to drop out of my mouth because the EMC misses or I move at the wrong moment. By receiving in the hand I can control when it goes into my mouth and ensure I don’t drop the Sacred Body.)
    Since I’m sure someone will reply with this answer I’m just going to say it. If I was kneeling at an altar rail I would be much less likely to move at the wrong time and wouldn’t be so afraid of having a problem which would result in dropping the Host. If I was receiving at an altar rail I also would likely have a paten under my chin to catch any stray crumbs of dropped Host should the worst happen. Just a thought.

  21. craig says:

    Very well stated Terry: At the bottom they don’t trust someone they don’t know to stick something in their mouth. I see it as a matter of control.

    Someone they don’t know, a priest is very well known during Communion, he is called Christ. And as for control, perhaps you are more than correct. Too many folks spend too much time trying to control what is not their domain. Perhaps if they stop trying to form the Church Christ founded to their own vision, then the Church could in fact address the needs of the people more fully. How many parishes have a full time, or just part time liturgy director yet no director of evangelization? Or have a liturgy council, yet no community needs committee? Its abut priorities. The Church gave us the Liturgy with rubrics in place yet we constantly scream for more and more and more…control.

    Sorry for the rant, just switched parishes (OF to an EF) because of similar issues.

  22. Shin says:

    Well. It’s about time!

  23. TRP says:

    I suspect that one reason for the reluctance on the part of many bishops to reinstate communion on the tongue is that it would also require rethinking the whole idea of using extraordinary ministers. It would be hard to justify the casual approach to communion implicit in the frequent use of EM’s while at the same time insisting on the rigor and reverence of communion on the tongue. Besides, I think we can safely say that the number of people wanting to be EM’s would be much lower if they had to give communion on the tongue.

  24. Chironomo says:

    Terry;

    I don’t understand why you think we would need a “code” for getting rid of EM’s… and why that would necesarily be a bad thing. If they are not needed as a result of the Bishop returning to the Church’s traditional practice, why should they be there? Or is communion in the hand just an excuse to have EM’s? It can be seen both ways: Clergy are not the only ones to try to get “control” in the liturgy.

  25. TerryC says:

    I think you would need a code because the elimination of EMC is not something that would be seen as acceptable to the majority of Catholic laity, nor to a good percentage of the clergy, at least not in the U.S.
    The elimination of EMCs is seen by those who support a greater role for the laity as a prime issue. The use of EMCs diminishes the role of the priest.
    You are exactly on it is an issue that from the liberals side has very little to do with theology and very much to do with control. It is an issue whose framework could be greatly altered by proper catechisis and pastoral guidance.
    I have no problem with the concept of EMCs in the abstract, but believe that they should be much more limited in their use. At any Mass with less than several hundred people there is no reason to have more than one EMC, and then only if Communion under both species is offered. If there is a deacon serving then there is not reason to use any ECMs. In most parishes I would like to see a greater use of Instituted acolytes, as opposed to just any old EMCs.
    The real excuse to use EMCs is the reticence of priests to require parishioners to spend more than some minimum time at Mass. At the Church I typically attend for a typical Sunday Mass we have seven EMCs, so that we can have four lines for reception of the Eucharist in both species. Communion typically takes about ten minutes. Go to a single line and that extends to 40 minutes. So? People can’t silently pray for 40 minutes while others receive communion? Of I forgot that’s 40 minutes of music because we can’t possibly have silence during Mass.
    The problem is that we have become much too dependent on EMC’s. At a typical daily Mass with less than 30 people we have 2 EMC’s so that though father is the only one giving out Hosts there are two EMCs giving out wine. People can’t wait in one line instead of 2?
    I don’t see the need to eliminate EMCs in the N.O, but I also don’t have any problem limiting their use. I don’t, however believe that is the common stand of the majority of regular Mass attendees.

  26. John says:

    The real excuse to use EMCs is the reticence of priests to require parishioners to spend more than some minimum time at Mass.

    At Mass yesterday the Church was slightly more than 1/2 full. We had the priest and a daacon and then several additional EM’s. One of several problems is the fact that 1/2 the Church approaches the altar and the other 1/2 turn proceed to the rear of the Church where they can receive communion and exit all in one neat movement. As to the idea of saving time it seems that frequently priests distributes communion at about twice the rate of an EM. Factor in the preparation time to get the 6 EM’s ready and communion would have taken less time if the priest and deacon had just gone to distribute communion themselves.

  27. Fr W says:

    Catechesis only works on people who come to regular Mass. At weddings and funerals and 1st Communions and Confirmations tons of people come who have not have nor ever will have catechesis. Kneeling at a Communion rail and receiving on the tongue immediately teaches that what is being done here is very sacred. it would change everything.

  28. Jayna says:

    I would definitely agree with at least limiting the use of EM’s. At a typical Sunday mass in my parish I think they use about 10 or more EM’s (5 or 6 for hosts and another 5 or 6 for wine). The problem is that only one priest and one deacon serve each mass. I understand only having one priest, we only have three and one of them has spotty English while another has spotty health. We do, however, have six or seven deacons. I don’t know why they don’t have two or more deacons serve each mass with the one priest and have fewer than six lines for hosts and another six for wine. Communion at the present moment can sometimes take less than 10 minutes and they’ll be done with the entire mass in under an hour. I swear, sometimes it feels like they’re running a race.

  29. The fact that some want control is a bad thing…

    EOMHC’s need to be exactly that Extraordinary. Funny how some of the Bishops do everything in their power to undermind SP and make the Latin Mass Rare (or the EF)…They can’t have it bohh ways.

    EOMHC’s need to be for distributing Communion to the sick, and that’s it. Nothing else, nothing more. The priest and he alone (or if there are several priests at a parish they should help) should distribute Communion.

    Communion under one-kind needs to be restored. This would eliminate the need for EOMHC’s or Intinction which must be done by a priest.

    I’m glad to see Communion in the Hand banned, let’s hope many follow in this Cardinal’s footsteps.

  30. Trad Tom says:

    Joe of St. Therese: You said everything I wanted to say! Thanks! But could someone tell me when it all changed? (I don’t necessarily mean the date, but……) When did only a priest or deacon’s consecrated hands stop being the only hands that could touch the host? (or the chalice) How is it that just anyone in the parish can now touch either species? Is this more of the “priesthood of the people” nonsense? I have NEVER understood why this is permitted.
    A return to kneeling and receiving on the tongue is the best idea I’ve heard.

  31. Tom says:

    [I]At Mass yesterday the Church was slightly more than 1/2 full. We had the priest and a daacon and then several additional EM’s. One of several problems is the fact that 1/2 the Church approaches the altar and the other 1/2 turn proceed to the rear of the Church where they can receive communion and exit all in one neat movement. As to the idea of saving time it seems that frequently priests distributes communion at about twice the rate of an EM. Factor in the preparation time to get the 6 EM’s ready and communion would have taken less time if the priest and deacon had just gone to distribute communion themselves.[/I]

    Exactly John:

    A local Domincan parish here has retained the communion rail and distributes with two priests. Granted in the Ordinary Form all they have to say is: “Body of Christ”, but they are faster than any number of EMs anywhere I’ve been.
    Rail is faster than line

  32. Trad Tom, you’re welcome…it all changed when the “spirit of Vatican II” entered parishes everywhere…I know that in other countries, such as Africa, only the priest distributes Communion…i’s not going to be the end of the world if the Mass goes an hour and a half :)

  33. Jayne says:

    My prayer is that we will soon be unified and stop all this bickering. God’s Word says we inheritenly (sp?) know the Truth. The Host is Jesus’ True Presence…the priest is our shepherd..(you) feed my sheep…and…I wish all EMs would wear Albs!!! Love and God’s blessings on us all!!

  34. Sharon says:

    I suspect that poor catechesis is at the root of the problem but until that is remedied mandatory communion on the tongue will reduce and instances of desecration. My parish priest has requested us not to present for Communion on the tongue because of the yuk factor.

    In Australia communion under both species is not so common. My parish does it during and week and it works well except when people from other parishes attempt to self intinct.

  35. John says:

    i’s not going to be the end of the world if the Mass goes an hour and a half :)

    Having a few extra minutes to pray after receiving communion would be nice especially since most people in Church must have knee problems because we rush to complete communion so everying can sit down and get off their knees. However, the only drawback to taking more time is that rather than peaceful silence or a soft hymn we would have the choir belting out more of the banal ditties from the Gather hymnal.

  36. Templar says:

    Sorry, but the yuk factor argument is the worst excuse I’ve ever heard offered for not wanting communion on the tongue. These same people who don’t want the consecrated hands of a priest, placing the body of their Lord on their tongue, all line up to sip wine from a chalice that has had the lips of 100 other parishoners on it just seconds before. Yuk factor? What a lame excuse.

    The reality is, if you truly profess to believe you are recieving our Lord in communion you would gladly crawl on your knees to receive him. I feel such euphoria when I recieve it nearly brings tears to my eyes some days, I can’t even imagine anyone having room in their minds for “yuk factor” thoughts at that glorious moment.

  37. Richard says:

    “The Cardinal is right about the sacrilege of Hosts being discarded here and there. As a sacristan, I’ve found Hosts in the pews, sometimes stuck to the pages of the missalette, sometimes on the floor.”

    When I think of the days I decline to receive because I might not be in a state of grace…

    THis is really appalling.

    But is it surprising? Obviously many Catholics have essentially Protestant conceptions of communion – and saying even that may be an insult to Protestants.

    It’s a failure of catechesis. And how we celebrate the liturgy is itself a form of catechesis. And it’s ironic since we’ve been told over and over again that one of the advantages of the liturgy entirely in the vernacular – with the simplified translations – is that everything would be so much more readily understandable than it was in the class rite.

    Apparently not.

  38. Royce says:

    Terry,

    I certainly relate to your concern about the ick factor. Almost every EMHC I have received on the tongue from manages to get three fingers right onto the roof of my mouth. But the problem there is that they are poorly trained. Priests who are accostomed to giving communion on the tongue generally have no problem doing so without wiping their fingers all over your mouth.

    The other issue here is that receiving on the tongue really goes along best with standing. If the communicant receives standing is at all taller than the minister of communion the angle is bound to be inapportune and the probability of something invoking the ‘ick factor’ increases dramatically. If we could just get all three of these right together, the result would be very good.

  39. Royce says:

    Sorry, meant to say that communion on the tongue goes along best with KNEELING, not with standing.

  40. Patrick says:

    I agree we should move to Communion on the tongue. In churches without altar rails, this could be done quite well standing.

    As for extraordinary ministers, sometimes they are quite needed…at least until we have more priests. My parish has 1 priest and 1 deacon who is quite sick. We use 5 extraordinary ministers (4 if we have the deacon) to distribute under one species and Communion and the purification of the vessals takes about 15-18 minutes. The total Mass takes about 1 hour and 10 minutes which is just fine. If we had only the priest distributing, the distribution of Communion alone would take around 1 1/2 hours. This is an example of the correct use of extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion.

  41. Habemus Papam says:

    What about the particles of the Host which inevitably fall from hands onto pews and floors, clothing? These may be very small to the naked eye but are the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Our Blessed Lord. Receiving Communion is not about “what is more fulfilling for me”. It about reverence and avoiding sacrilage to Him.

  42. Todd says:

    How one receives Communion is practically irrelevant, assuming a general reverence and sense of prayer. I found it interesting the cardinal blamed his clergy. But I’m not surprised.

    Too often priests have a very callous demeanor when distributing the Eucharist. Rail EM’s are among the worst offenders. It’s far more rare to see this in lay people.

    I also add that like Terry, I never see any significant amount of abuse. I don’t think receiving on the tongue would prevent someone intent on disrespect or desecration. If those hosts reported were indeed stuck to missal pages, it’s likely they were wet. Dry hosts can be compressed, but on their own, they won’t stick to anything.

  43. TRP says:

    Communion on the hand is itself problematic, quite apart from any other unintentional abuses to which it gives occasion. It is not without reason that Mother Teresa said “the thing that makes me the saddest is watching people receive Communion in the hand.” I don’t think that she was talking about people dropping the Host.

  44. Todd: Too often priests have a very callous demeanor when distributing the Eucharist.

    “Callous demeanor”? Could you add more details about what is involved in being callous while distributing Communion, and what you think is better? What should the priest be doing so as not to be “callous”?

  45. gsk says:

    “I maintain that if such sacrilege is a widespread problem it is an indication of a lack of catechisis.”

    I think it’s all been said quite well above, but wanted to point out that the catechesis begins with who should be receiving. There is almost a hint of “rights” here, in that a parishioner maintains that control and speed are priorities, rather than disposition and state of soul. It seems as though the burden is on God to make Himself available conveniently for the person who deigned to take 45 minutes (this week!) to stop in.

    If the EM being a “stranger” is the problem, all the more reason to allow the priests to distribute alone; and if he is a stranger, then perhaps the person needs more “face time.”

  46. ALL:  Leaving aside the way our physical reception of Communion affects, over time, our interior approach and attitudes about the Eucharist…

    Objectively speaking, there is always danger of profanation of the Eucharist. No human being is worthy to handle a Host, but Christ in His continuing condescension and self-emptying not only permits this but desires it for our good.  Holy Church responds to this reality and gift by consecrating the hands of priests for the awesome task of handing the Eucharistic Species.  Again, objectively there is a risk, even when priests hand the Host.  This is why precise rubrics governed everything the priest would do with a Host during Holy Mass.  This is why, for example, after the consecration the priest would keep his hands over the corporal on the altar. This is why he would keep his thumb and index finger pressed together after the consecration until the final ablutions. There were entirely reasonable requirements, if you consider carefully WHO a Host is.

    So, objectively there is a risk, which has always been carefully managed.  The subjective dimension is another matter: people may not intend that disrespect be shown to the Blessed Sacrament, though objectively speaking they could have done a lot better.

    It seems to me that we should do everything from our point of view to reduce, as must as possible and is reasonable, risk of profanation of the Sacred Species. 

    The more people who handle a Host, the greater the risk there is of profanation, intended or not.  Unintended profanation is still a bad thing.  Communion in the hand increases, objectively, the possibilities of profanation, even if unintended. 

    The Church says that people have rights in this regard, however.  We must uphold the law.  However, I hope that people who usually receive in the hand will, through their own reading and reflection, come to a better decision.  I hope that priests and catechists will teach about the Eucharist and that, because of their catechesis, people will of their own accord begin receiving directly on the tongue rather than in the hand.

  47. Patrick says:

    To Father’s last point…

    My parish is an ordinary form parish that maintains some pretty traditional elements. We have always had Communion under one species and servers using pattens. We also have had priests now and in the past who emphasize the Real Presence, and we have had Perpetual Adoration for more than 10 years. Not coincidentally, I would guess that 50% maybe more receive on the tongue. I think this reflects the better than average catechesis we receive through a reverent liturgy accompanied by appropriate music.

  48. Dennis says:

    Would there be any bishops, in this country with the guts to ban communion in the hand?

  49. Linda says:

    Communion in the hand should be done away with. Many Satanist’s use the Host for their demonic worship. We Catholic’s need to be more respectful when it comes to the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Our Lord in the Eucharist. God Bless this priest for his courage.

  50. Susan Peterson says:

    I was an EMHC (called EM around here) for several years. When I was first trained the priest told us to watch and make sure that no one walked away with the host, and if they did, to follow them and tell them to consume it. Bit when I served at a different parish, there were several occasions in which this happened. I was able to observe that the people did consume the host when they returned to their seats. In each case I spoke to them afterwards. One was very pleasant, said she had trouble swallowing. She was sitting in her seat breaking the host into smaller pieces and eating them one by one. I suggested to her that she speak to the priest and several of the EMs who usually serve at the mass she attends, so that they would offer her only a small piece. But she saw nothing wrong with what she was doing. Another was a boy of about 12, who stared at me in astonishment, then shrugged and said “OK”. But the man with him pulled me aside and said “We are just glad the kids come to church at all-we don’t want to go criticizing them or they won’t want to come.” I said I thought that kids needed to see that adults took church really seriously and that would make them think it was worth coming to. He obviously didn’t agree and remained annoyed with me. The last person said she had just gotten new dentures and didn’t want to open her mouth while walking. I told her she could step aside and pause, but that the EM’s had to make sure no one treated the host disrespectfully and it was difficult to do that while going on handing out communion, and she really shouldn’t take the host back to her seat. She started crying, she and her husband left the church early, and I felt miserable. A woman who had some position in the parish (I never got who all these paid people were besides the DRE, what they were supposed to do…) told me I ought to apologize to the woman. She didn’t see anything wrong with what the woman did. And besides, it was up to Father to say something to her if anything needed to be said. (Father hadn’t noticed what she did, and is too laid back to let much of anything bother him….) About that time I left the parish and began attending a Byzantine rite parish, where only the priest or the deacon give communion, [the accidents of]which is intincted leavened bread put in the communicant’s mouth on a special long handled golden spoon. No need for EMHC’s, communion in both kinds, no problems with people removing hosts. And everyone says before communion “I also believe and profess that this which I am about to receive is truly your most precious body and life-giving blood, which, I pray, make me worthy to receive for the remission of all my sins and for life everlasting. ”

    In the Anglican Use parish I sometimes attend, the people kneel (the church the diocese gave them has had the altar rail removed, but the priest wrote in his monthly letter to them, don’t worry, we will eventually have an altar rail) and receive the intincted host on the tongue. This works very well.

    When I was an EMHC I performed my duties as reverently as I could and felt that it was an honor, and I don’t doubt that many if not most people who fill this role do so in the same spirit. But I am very happy to be in my present situation. After developing an Eastern rite sensibility I find it difficult to return to Latin rite parishes where all sorts of unvested people of both sexes are doing all sorts of things around the altar in a somewhat chaotic way. Which is much more the norm than the exception in my part of the country.

    Susan Peterson

  51. TRP says:

    I’ve seen the Host dropped on a number of occasions and the EM did not look for fragments or consume the Host after it was dropped. It’s not an unusual occurrence.

    The worst experience was a 5pm Sunday Mass at the St. Paul Cathedral in Minn. An EM was left with no parishioners in his line and he began walking down the neighboring communion line, chatting with the people lined up and handing out Hosts in a very casual manner. At one point he tripped and a number of Hosts fell on the ground. I don’t think he intended any harm–it seemed to me that he was mentally unwell and not completely aware of what he was doing–but harm was done. It was one of the the most bizarre and depressing experiences of my life.

  52. Todd says:

    “Could you add more details about what is involved in being callous while distributing Communion, and what you think is better? What should the priest be doing so as not to be “callous”?”

    “Callous” was not the best term I could have used. Most often, clergy are the quickest distributors. At times they seem indifferent to both the people who approach to receive and the Sacrament they are entrusted with distributing.

    What would be better? A mindfulness and prayerfulness in what they do. The pre-conciliar Mass covered a lot of clergy faults and abuses by masking them with ritual. Poor presiders are a lot more noticeable in the Roman Rite since the Council.

    Priests should also set an example, both for the congregation and for extraordinary ministers. The priests at my parish are exemplars of this. But I know otherwise good guys who seem to have allowed ten, fifteen Masses per week harden their bad habits.

  53. gsk says:

    “The pre-conciliar Mass covered a lot of clergy faults and abuses by masking them with ritual.”

    Fascinating. True in many settings, for example the ritual and tradition surrounding death show people what to do who otherwise would be “bumps on logs.” But in the end, the “ritual as mask” is a crutch — very helpful but not essential. I know what you mean by the officiousness of priests who matter-of-factly distribute the sacraments . Without ritual, what would serve? Emotion? Meaningful sighs? Intent eye contact? God bless the priest, but what I want is Jesus — not an encounter with the one providing Him. Officious is fine with me — as long as he reads the black and does the red.

  54. Todd: At times they seem indifferent to both the people who approach to receive and the Sacrament they are entrusted with distributing.

    They “seem indifferent”.  What should they be doing?  Should they study the communicant for a while?  Have a chat?  What would make them seem to your judgment to be interested?

    Also, is there any consideration in this for communicants who simply want to receive Communion without having a priest’s “interest” pushed on them or be subjected to a “meaningful” moment?

    clergy faults and abuses by masking them with ritual. Poor presiders are a lot more noticeable in the Roman Rite since the Council.

    They were noticeable before the Council too.  The Council is not the solution to this.  But, more seriously, is this now to be blown up to the level of “abuse”?  “Father didn’t seem interested in me.  Abuse!”

    But I know otherwise good guys who seem to have allowed ten, fifteen Masses per week harden their bad habits.

    It may not be merely ten to fifteen Masses a day, but rather that number of Mass for years.  All this does is underscore that priests are human beings, and they are easy targets for snipers.

  55. Ray says:

    These discussions cover the reception of Holy Communion. I agree with receiving on the tounge while kneeling. My biggest concern is – are all these people really prepared to receive Holy Communion? When was the last time some of these (most?) went to confession? Most parish allot one or two hours a week for confession. This also is where most priest fall down – instructing on proper disposition for reception of Holy Communion.

  56. John says:

    I also add that like Terry, I never see any significant amount of abuse.

    Because you have not personally seen it doesn’t mean it doesn’t occur. On Good Friday after the service I noticed a host underneath the kneeler obviously left over from Holy Thursday Mass. (or another previous Mass as there was no one sitting there Good Friday.) I went to the priest who can and picked up the Host. Now there was nobody left in Church so nobody saw this either. Several hundred people didn’t notice it yet it still happened.

  57. John says:

    I also add that like Terry, I never see any significant amount of abuse.

    Because you have not personally seen it doesn\’t mean it doesn\’t occur. On Good Friday after the service I noticed a host underneath the kneeler obviously left over from Holy Thursday Mass. (or another previous Mass as there was no one sitting there Good Friday.) I went to the priest who came and picked up the Host. Now there was nobody left in Church so nobody saw this either. Several hundred people didn\’t notice it yet it still happened.

  58. Dave Deavel says:

    I belong to a parish known for general orthodoxy, though not traditionalism, and in one period of several months my wife found two hosts on the floor and quickly picked them up and consumed them. If she has herself found that many, I’d be curious how many other people have found them.

  59. Todd says:

    “What should they be doing?”

    I think I answered that one already. Priests should be prayerful and reverent in distributing the Eucharist. There should be no appearance of rushing, as if something after Mass were more important.

    “Should they study the communicant for a while? Have a chat?”

    No. That would be the opposite extreme of a callous disregard for the Eucharist. I advocate a middle ground: prayerful and reverent without being too rushed.

    “What would make them seem to your judgment to be interested?”

    No idea what you mean by this statement. I remarked that the cardinal blamed the clergy of his archdiocese, not the laity. On that I tend to agree: I see lay EM’s as generally more prayerful than clergy. The latter group tends to rush.

    “But, more seriously, is this now to be blown up to the level of “abuse”?”

    When the clergy rush through the Mass, yes, this is a grave abuse.

    “All this does is underscore that priests are human beings, and they are easy targets for snipers.”

    For cardinals, too, it seems. No wonder clergy morale is as low as it is. One would think that the cardinal would sit his priests down and have a father-to-sons talk with them before going public with his lack of confidence in them.

    “Because you have not personally seen it doesn’t mean it doesn’t occur.”

    Indeed. And by the same token, just because every internet Catholic has a horror story to share doesn’t mean abuse is widespread or likely to occur in your average parish.

  60. Todd: There should be no appearance of rushing, as if something after Mass were more important.

    That’s reasonable.  However, it is also important that Mass not be extended beyond a reasonable length.  People have families to attend to, for example.  Take the case of a man who goes to Mass after work.  Take the case of someone who goes to Mass on his lunch break.

    “What would make them seem to your judgment to be interested?”

    No idea what you mean by this statement.

    You should have some idea, since you were the one who said that you know priests who seem “indifferent”.  I am not sure what antonym should be used for “indifferent”.  Perhaps, “concerned” is better.



    “But, more seriously, is this now to be blown up to the level of “abuse”?”

    When the clergy rush through the Mass, yes, this is a grave abuse.

    I don’t think this one wound up in Redemptionis Sacramentum.  It certainly has to do with ars celebrandi. But since you so define it, perhaps you could lay out parameters by which priests will know they are not, in your eyes, committing a grave abuse.  How long should Mass take?  Is there are words/min pace which is best?

     

    “All this does is underscore that priests are human beings, and they are easy targets for snipers.”For cardinals, too, it seems. No wonder clergy morale is as low as it is. One would think that the cardinal would sit his priests down and have a father-to-sons talk with them before going public with his lack of confidence in them.

    I don’t know what happened in Lima before the Cardinal did what he did.  Do you?

    “Because you have not personally seen it doesn’t mean it doesn’t occur.”Indeed. And by the same token, just because every internet Catholic has a horror story to share doesn’t mean abuse is widespread or likely to occur in your average parish.

    That is true enough.   It is too bad that any abuse of any kind takes place.  It is also impossible to please everyone.  Some people are overly picky.

  61. Todd says:

    “But since you so define it, perhaps you could lay out parameters by which priests will know they are not, in your eyes, committing a grave abuse. How long should Mass take? Is there are words/min pace which is best?”

    A good mindfulness would rarely find the priest in a situation I saw avoided yesterday. A young man brought his two boys with him in the Communion line. Just as the EM was about to present the host, one of the boys tugged on dad and distracted him for a few seconds. A mindful communion minister would be aware of that sort of thing happening and would not have automatically presented the host before the communicant’s attention returned.

    A more frequent problem is when Communion is offered under both forms and a whole family or group receives from the Cup, creating a bit of a traffic slow-down. I’ve seen priests continue to distribute hosts without pausing or slowing to alleviate the pile-up. It seems some people think they have a task and they need to be timely about getting through it.

    I’m glad you bring up ars celebrandi. That is exactly the positive description I was looking for. It can also be seen in the casual choices clergy may make for the liturgy: choosing the shorter gospel, an over-reliance on EP III, failing to use I or IV much, not taking silence at the proper times and for not taking enough of it, instructing musicians to end at two verses–things like that. Piled up, this is grave abuse I have no problem labeling as such.

    My experience is that Roman Rite clergy have improved at this over the past twenty to thirty years. I have to confess I’ve seen one traditionalist-leaning priest I know do a tragic job at celebrating the Mass. That he confided his parish wanted to be out of church in forty minutes did not help his case.

  62. Pre-Boomer says:

    RE: receiving the Eucharist on the tongue or in the hand, I believe in the traditional method of receiving on the tongue as a matter in my own way of thinking of being more respectful to Our Lord in receiving him in the most Blessed Sacrament. The time when I will make an exception is when I have a slight cold or am recovering from some form of bug or another – when I’m not really sick enough to stay away from Mass yet I want to avoid having the priest or EM accidentally touch my tongue and maybe pass my germs on to communicants after me. I also believe that if I receive in the hand it is a good practice to carefully examine my palm and fingers after consuming the host to make positively sure that no minor fragments of the host remain there.

  63. TRP says:

    Todd,

    What harm would result from making communion on the tongue mandatory? Even if EM\’s could no longer distribute communion, what would be the harm? There seem to be good arguments for a change of the sort instituted by Cardinal Cipriani. What are the arguments against it?

  64. Todd says:

    “What harm would result from making communion on the tongue mandatory?”

    Technically speaking, people receive in the hand by indult. That could change at any time. I think Communion in the hand is better, mainly because it avoids the rather childish exchange directly into the mouth.

    While true we are all God’s children, I think the aim for us is to cultivate confident believers who will have an adult approach to living their Christian life in the world. If Communion in the hand has a prayer of adding to that urge, I would find it the preferred way.

    “Even if EM’s could no longer distribute communion, what would be the harm?”

    Ideally there would be enough priests and small enough parishes so that the presider himself would give Communion to all. Practically, most suburban parishes today would not be able to complete Mass within current timetables without lay people distributing Communion. At my current parish, the Sunday Communion procession lasts five to ten minutes. Multiply that by four to get what our priest could accomplish on his own.

    People would complain. And the pastor would cave. That’s how it normally happens. The benefit of lay EM’s is too great for pastors to want to risk alienation that would likely follow.

    On a similar bent with liturgical abuse, another priest friend of mine discontinued the Cup for the laity. His reason? He actually told me he didn’t want to be bothered purifying two extra chalices.

  65. TRP says:

    Todd,

    Believe it or not, distribution at the communion rail is very efficient, and moves quite quickly. Fr. Z. can probably give you a more accurate sense of the mechanics of it, but if time is your main concern you might consider some variant of it at your parish–it can be done without a rail too.

    I really don’t understand the claim that communion on the tongue is unconducive to being a “confident believer” or having an “adult approach” to the Christian life. In what way? It’s an age-old practice in the East and in the West. Were all Christians child-like and lacking confident belief before communion on the hand? Really? The martyrs too were lacking confidence? Very puzzling!

    Viva il Papa!

  66. Todd says:

    TRP, what would be slightly more efficient is Communion distributed as people approach the altar in a church designed antiphonally or in the round.

    While Communion on the tongue has a long historical pedigree, its roots are in fear and a loss of control. Christians received in the hand originally, and I think it’s a laudable practice to be retained for the present day.

  67. cor ad cor loquitur says:

    A question for Fr Z and other priests: when you attend Mass in the extraordinary form but are not the celebrant — in choir, for example — and receive communion, do you receive the Host on the tongue or in the hand? Do you receive in both kinds? What do the 1962 rubrics say about priests’ reception?

  68. Patrick says:

    TRP,

    I am fine with going back to Communion on the tongue. But there will still be a significant need for extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion in larger parishes. It won’t work if Mass takes 2 1/2 to 3 hours with 1 1/2 hours or more of that just being the distribution of Communion. You need about 1 person distributing for every 150-200 communicants, and that’s if you’re quick.

  69. TRP says:

    “its roots are in fear and a loss of control”

    Ah, that old chestnut. First of all, the claim that communion on the tongue was a very late introduction is not supported by the evidence. I won’t rehash it all here–you can get it yourself on google; here’s something my own search brought up: http://www.unavoce.org/cith.htm

    The other claim, that communion on the tongue has its roots in “fear and a loss of control” is pure fantasy, as is the claim that communion on the tongue instills a childish or fearful faith. My personal experience is that acts and bodily postures of reverence help me to be less fearful and more mature, and I have seen no evidence of the contrary effect in others. I’m not denying that there are ways of making the Christian faith frightening, especially to kids, and I agree that doing so is a terrible abuse, but communion on the tongue is not an example of this dynamic.

  70. henricus says:

    cor: when you attend Mass in the extraordinary form but are not the celebrant—in choir, for example—and receive communion, do you receive the Host on the tongue or in the hand?

    At every EF Mass I’ve ever seen, everybody but the celebrant — including the deacon and subdeacon at a solemn Mass, priests and others in choir, including any bishop who was present — has knelt for reception on the tongue (Body only).

  71. Todd: While Communion on the tongue has a long historical pedigree, its roots are in fear and a loss of control.

    B as in B. S as in S.

    Many of a more progressivist tendency tend to read things through the lens of power and struggle, etc. Sad, really. The deepening understanding of what the Eucharist is, lead to development of many or our most important liturgical practices.

    Christians received in the hand originally, and I think it’s a laudable practice to be retained for the present day.

    This is an inaccurate generalization. Not all early Christians received in the hand. Furthermore, just because something is ancient, doesn’t mean that it is therefore better or more authentic.

  72. cor ad cor: A question for Fr Z and other priests: when you attend Mass in the extraordinary form but are not the celebrant—in choir, for example—and receive communion, do you receive the Host on the tongue or in the hand? Do you receive in both kinds? What do the 1962 rubrics say about priests’ reception?

    This is slightly off topic, but.

    I NEVER receive Communion in the hand. I think the last time I did was when I was in seminary and I would have been thrown out had I received on the tongue. I was thrown out anyway, but that is another long story, involving my belief in the Real Presence, that women shouldn’t be ordained, and that active homosexuals shouldn’t be in seminary, that Latin should be used and taught, etc.

    Also, when in choir, I usually don’t receive Communion if I have already said Mass that day.

    Priests in choir may receive Communion at a TLM. At both the TLM and the NO they should wear a stole to receive.

    I have a good memory from years ago of priests receiving Communion, then removing their stole, kissing it, handing it to the next guy who kissed it, put it on, received, removed the stole, kissed it, handed it to the next guy, etc. Wonderful.

  73. Habemus Papam says:

    TRP; Thanks for the unavoce link. The reference to the Last Supper is very interesting. A Middle Eastern sign of hospitality was the host placing a morsel of food in the guests mouth. Jesus dipped a piece of bread in wine and gave it to Judas, surely not in the hand. Would he have done different when giving the consecrated Bread to Peter, John and the other Apostles later in the same Supper? The more one investigates the claim that Communion in the hand is ancient practice the less likely it seems.

  74. I don’t know what the concern is since what these individuals are discarding is bread and wine and not the body and blood of Our Lord!

  75. Patrick says:

    Habemus,

    Going down the road of discovering what was likely to have occurred at the Last Supper seems problematic. We are not attempting a historical re-creation of the last supper. Whether Jesus put bread in their hands or in their mouths is unknown and really irrelevant. It seems that once we start arguing how Jesus gave Communion to his apostles, we are lending credence to the erroneous idea that how it was done should therefore impact our posture of reception.

    Communion in the hand is not immoral, but in today’s unfortunate climate of unbelief, it may not be a prudent decision. The prudent decision may be restricting reception to on-the-tongue so as to emphasize the Real Presence.

  76. Habemus Papam says:

    Patrick; if restricting Communion in the hand were likely to happen anytime soon these arguments would be superfluous. As things are, I think its better to counter or at least challenge the claim that its allowed because this is how it used to be done. The more I look into this claim it seems to deserve a place alongside that other old canard; Mass said facing the people is how it was done origionally.

  77. TRP says:

    I must admit that, when I have no choice but to take the Host from an EM, I receive on the hand. Without a paten–and they never seem to be used in parishes with EM’s–I’m quite nervous that the Host will end up on the floor.

  78. D. S. says:

    laudetur JS&Ma!

    I still state that a was not “arguing about nothing” some days ago when I argued that Red. Sakr. 92 gives every priest the – legal [by positiv eccl. law] – possibility to reject giving HL. Communion onto the hands.

    The immediate responsible is not the bishop but the consecrator and distribuer of the Communion. If he comes to the conclusion, that there is generally a high risk of profanation, like now the bishop stated, then he can rely on RS 92 and reject giving – even more, he MUST do so/is OBLIGATED to do so!

    As a syllogism (now correcter than in my recent post):

    (i) If there is a risk of profanation, then Holy Communion should not be given in the hand to the faithful [from law – RS92 – “quaestio iuris”]
    (ii) But there is always such a great risk [not matter of law, but of own experience and opinion/judgement, “quaestio facti”]
    Concl.(iii): It´s not allowed (for me – I am not allowed) to give the Hl. Communion in the hands of the faithful.

    So (ii) as a matter of fact or personal judgement is to be judged and stated by the priest as distribuer of the Sakrament. And the syllogism and therefor the Concl. is valid.

    In CHo per Mam

  79. Limbo says:

    God Bless this wonderful man ! At last one lone voice in the wilderness of abuse !

  80. Limbo says:

    Very sorry he is an Opie though.

  81. Margaret says:

    Very sorry he is an Opie though

    Why, pray tell?