Rodari on Benedict and Communion in the hand

For those of you who read Italian, Paolo Rodari has an interesting piece on Communion in the Hand and what Pope Benedict is doing.

I don’t have a lot of energy for translation today.  Maybe later. 

In the meantime, I hope may one of the other interested blogs will dig in and help us all out, if they haven’t already.

I think that Pope Benedict, in shifting to distributing Communion only on the tongue of people kneeling, is not only trying to remind us that this posture is acceptable – in face of decades of false archeologizing progressivists haranguing us that everyone must stand with outstretched blah blah – he is trying to help us summon the courage to buck the status quo and return to the more reverent usage.

In any event, Rodari has a brief history of how the Italian Bishop’s Conference voted into possibility Communion in the hand even in Italy.  He show

Oh, how I remember that day when it went into effect for Italy.

I was in seminary.  I recall having a bit an argument with the rector about Communion in the hand.  He was against it and thought it would never catch on.  I said to him that in the USA we had had it for years and, mark my word, it would catch on in Italy too.  It would start with curiosity for some and then become habitual and that the progressivists would impose it on the young.  Impossible, he declared.  Then, as we were walking into the chapel we over heard two seminarians conversing about it.  One said to the other, "I think I’ll try receiving in the hand… to see what it is like!"

What a scourge this has been for the Church.  What damage it has done.

So long as the law remains that people have the option, priests must not explicitly deny people their right.

However, by catechesis and by example of how priests say Mass and handle the Blessed Sacrament, they should move people more and more away from this imprudent practice.

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29 Responses to Rodari on Benedict and Communion in the hand

  1. Jeff Pinyan says:

    I don’t get it. Was CITH already happening illegally in Italy? Because that seems to be the pre-condition for getting the indult from Rome:

    Where a contrary usage, that of placing holy communion on the hand, prevails, the Holy See — wishing to help them fulfill their task, often difficult as it is nowadays — lays on those conferences the task of weighing carefully whatever special circumstances may exist there, taking care to avoid any risk of lack of respect or of false opinions with regard to the Blessed Eucharist, and to avoid any other ill effects that may follow.
     
    In such cases, episcopal conferences should examine matters carefully and should make whatever decisions, by a secret vote and with a two-thirds majority, are needed to regulate matters. Their decisions should be sent to Rome to receive the necessary confirmation, accompanied with a detailed account of the reasons which led them to take those decisions. The Holy See will examine each case carefully, taking into account the links between the different local churches and between each of them and the Universal Church, in order to promote the common good and the edification of all, and that mutual good example may increase faith and piety. (Memoriale Domini)

  2. Interesting how semmingly “little” practices that are taken for granted can have such damage to the faith when changed. Did St Thomas Aquinas write something about changing even a minor matter of practice can have a huge effect?

    What was Paul VI thinking?

  3. Deusdonat says:

    Excellent post, Father. I don’t know the year in question you are referring to, but when I made my first communion in Italy, the norm was communion in the hand (yes, it was a very “progressive” parish as you mention). The church was built in the 70’s, so no communion rail or statues around. We were instructed to receive in the hand and shown the “proper” way. For some reason, when it came time for me to partake, I don’t know what came over me. I opened my mouth just as I had seen the old people do (my family had long adopted the communion in the hand as natural). There have been times subsequently during my youth that I did partake in the hand, but I think I stopped around age 9 for personal reasons. I have never been refused it in the mouth, but the absence of communion rails did make it a bit more out of place as it were.

    God bless our Pope Benedict. I cannot say this enough times a day.

  4. Wm. Christopher Hoag says:

    Here is a link to the text of a pamphlet that Michael Davies wrote on communion in the hand years ago:

    http://www.catholictradition.org/Eucharist/communion.htm

  5. John6:54 says:

    I was born in 1973 and received my first communion 1981 or 82. The nun who prepared us for first communion told us that our hands were for praying as we received the Body of Christ.

  6. George Festa says:

    It is interesting to note how quickly these trends “take off” (My example is thanks to films of our first communion).
    I received my First Holy Communion in 1972, was one of the last classes in my parish to be instructed in CCD by nuns(Thank Goodness). I received communion kneeling and on the tongue. My sister who is two years my junior received her First Holy Communion in 1974 still on the tongue but in a standing posture. My youngest sister received her First Holy Communion in 1975 standing and in the hand.

    While a server at the cathedral in Central, MA I noted an that often an EMC would consume the Precious Blood while walking from their station back to the creedance table, as if it were a cocktail at a garden party.

    Both EMCs and Communion in the hand have to go !

  7. Fr Ray Blake says:

    Forgive me Fr Zuhlsdorf if I have this wrong, but hasn’t this practice started since the US visit? Is it possibly a way of vetting beforehand and catechising those who will receive Holy Communion from the Pope and avoiding “political” communions?
    It seems strange that the Pope alone at Papal Masses distributes the Blessed Sacrament in this way. As I haven’t seen pictures I presume standing and in the hand is the usual method for most communicants, even in the Pope’s presence.

  8. Jim says:

    I abhor anything born out of disobedience.

  9. Father Z: So long as the law remains that people have the option, priests must not explicitly deny people their right.

    We all know that sometimes “the law is an ass”, whether it be church law or secular law.

    So whereas I’d not argue strenuously with you on this as a matter of principle, it occurs that we need less emphasis on doing what is our right, and more on doing what is right.

    So as a practical matter I will applaud not only Pope Benedict, but also any TLM priest who insists on giving communion only the tongue (though of course I’ll remain kneeling as I do so).

  10. Kazimer says:

    Receiving communion either by tongue or by hand is acceptable as long as reverence is exhibited by the recipient.

    One method does not trump the other in matter of physical reception of The Eucharist.

    Analysis and debate over which method of receiving communion is focusing on form vs substance.

    The key is the reverential disposition of the communicant interiorly and expressed exteriorly.

  11. Matt says:

    One more step back to sanity! – Matt

    Communion in the hand falls into this error:

    But such is their activity and such their unwearying labor on behalf of their cause, that one cannot but be pained to see them waste such energy in endeavoring to ruin the Church when they might have been of such service to her had their efforts been better directed.

    Their artifices to delude men’s minds are of two kinds, the first to remove obstacles from their path, the second to devise and apply actively and patiently every resource that can serve their purpose. They recognize that the three chief difficulties which stand in their way are the scholastic method of philosophy, the authority and tradition of the Fathers, and the magisterium of the Church, and on these they wage unrelenting war. Against scholastic philosophy and theology they use the weapons of ridicule and contempt. Whether it is ignorance or fear, or both, that inspires this conduct in them, certain it is that the passion for novelty is always united in them with hatred of scholasticism, and there is no surer sign that a man is tending to Modernism than when he begins to show his dislike for the scholastic method.

    Let the Modernists and their admirers remember the proposition condemned by Pius IX: “The method and principles which have served the ancient doctors of scholasticism when treating of theology no longer correspond with the exigencies of our time or the progress of science.”[22] They exercise all their ingenuity in an effort to weaken the force and falsify the character of tradition, so as to rob it of all its weight and authority. But for Catholics nothing will remove the authority of the second Council of Nicea, where it condemns those “who dare, after the impious fashion of heretics, to deride the ecclesiastical traditions, to invent novelties of some kind…or endeavor by malice or craft to overthrow any one of the legitimate traditions of the Catholic Church”; nor that of the declaration of the fourth Council of Constantinople: “We therefore profess to preserve and guard the rules bequeathed to the Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church, by the Holy and most illustrious Apostles, by the orthodox Councils, both general and local, and by everyone of those divine interpreters, the Fathers and Doctors of the Church.” Wherefore the Roman Pontiffs, Pius IV and Pius IX, ordered the insertion in the profession of faith of the following declaration: “I most firmly admit and embrace the apostolic and ecclesiastical traditions and other observances and constitutions of the Church.”

    Saint Pius X – Pascendi

  12. leo says:

    i made my first holy communion in 1979 standing at the altar rail but on the tongue i thank God that i can say ive never recived communion in the hand. The damage this has caused is incredible , my students used to call the host the bread thing , the preparation for first holy communion today is dreadful. I know that utter rubbish takes place for confirmation preparation 13 year old grammers school boys drawing mr confirmation cartoons and chosing the most obscure saints name simply for a joke and going unchallenged by the catecists

  13. This is a welcome development and while I would like to see the take effect immediately and by papal edict I understand that it will take time.

    It was painful to be refused Holy Communion in Toronto Canada (my father in law was dying and we were visiting) because I wanted to receive Holy Communion on the tongue. (and was holding a one year old baby as well!). When I wrote to the Bishop he reinforced the priest’s refusal. I was told that I would spread “disease” by the priest and that there must have been something wrong with me by the bishop. hmmmm.

    I think the fact that I was also kneeling and wearing a chapel veil did not much improve my chances of receiving on the tongue either. Ironically my children and husband were not refused Holy Communion by the Eucharistic Ministers.
    Mary
    Townsend, MA

  14. Kazimer says:

    Matt, your post ending in ” Saint Piusx X – Pascendi is neither concise nor precise.

    Respectfully, so that I may understand your position on the subject, I would like to read your comment ie your thoughts in language that can be understood and not a theological treatise that is simply a cut and paste extraction.

  15. Fr. Blake: What a pleasure to hear form you, my friend!

    Forgive me Fr Zuhlsdorf if I have this wrong, but hasn’t this practice started since the US visit?

    Yes. That is the case.

    Is it possibly a way of vetting beforehand and catechising those who will receive Holy Communion from the Pope and avoiding “political” communions?

    Very interesting point.

    I had not made this connection. However, I know that there are already controls on who can receive Communion from the Holy Father. There is little chance that someone who is a “Catholicly controversial” Catholic would be allowed publicly to receive directly from His Holiness, either in the USA or in Italy, for that matter.

    Still, you raise a very good issue. Thanks for the insight.

    I think that this recent move by His Holiness could serve both purposes, reviving Communion on the tongue and thereby helping to foster faith in the Real Presence, and also make sure of who will be approaching. But I would put my money as the former, rather than the later, as being the main motive.

  16. B. says:

    Fr. Zuhlsdorf:

    So long as the law remains that people have the option, priests must not explicitly deny people their right.

    Redemptionis Sacramentum states (§ 92):
    If there is a risk of profanation, then Holy Communion should not be given in the hand to the faithful.
    How should this be viewed in light of your assertion that priests must not deny people their right? Would not the distributing priest be the competent person to decide whether “a risk of profanation” exists and would he therefore not only be allowed but even recommended (“should not”) to deny people communion in the hand?
    And if the priest was to argue that Holy Communion in the hand would always result in “a risk of profanation” and should therefore never be given, wouldn’t that be a quite reasonable argument?

  17. Kazimer says:

    The wailing and nashing of teeth regarding reception of The Eucharist via the hand vs on the tongue is contingent upon the background of one’s position.

    To state someone’s experience that reception of The Eucharist via the hand has caused great harm is their truth.

    However, this person’s truth, while their reality, does not negate another person’s experience , their truth, in the reverential receipt of Holy Communion in the hand.

  18. Trey says:

    “However, this person’s truth, while their reality, does not negate another person’s experience , their truth, in the reverential receipt of Holy Communion in the hand.”

    – I don’t mean to be rude… but I don’t know how else to say it…

    That is post-modern hogwash…

  19. Dennis says:

    As a CCD teacher I was assigned to prepared pre-teens for first confession and First Communion I did what I can to encourage these students that when they approach the altar for the first time in their young lives to receive our Lord on their tongue. I taught them about the tradition of Communion on the tongue and that it is the norm of the church. I gave as an example : things which are held to be very precious we just don’t allow anyone to handle it and also if the sacred host is indeed the Body and Blood of of Christ then it is more precious then any worldly object and therefore should not be handled but taken on the tougue. In the end all these kids received Communion in the hand because everyone they see go to communion take in the hand , they did not want to look out of place and most felt receiving on the tongue was odd.

  20. Kazmier says:

    ““However, this person’s truth, while their reality, does not negate another person’s experience , their truth, in the reverential receipt of Holy Communion in the hand.”

    – I don’t mean to be rude… but I don’t know how else to say it…

    That is post-modern hogwash…
    Comment by Trey ”

    Trey: You are entitled to you’re opinion. I assert that my statement is indeed correct and with merit.

    So, that I may better understand the position you take for your remark, specifically, how is what I stated post modern hogwash ?

  21. Atlanta says:

    This is interesting. I don’t think the Orthodox ever had this issue. As you know in the Orthodox church the priest or deacon serve communion to the laity with a spoon from the chalice, and it is the Body and Blood of Christ.

  22. Joanna says:

    I am Melkite Greek Catholic, and I remember one time that our pastor requested of us that whenever we visit a Roman Catholic parish for Mass, we always receive on the tongue. Once or twice at the beginning, I got a little rebellious and received in the hand , but pretty soon I realized he was right, and I have never received in the hand since.

    It is wonderful to see the example given by the Holy Father. I wonder what he will do next.

  23. Fr W says:

    These days, children are given no option. They are required to receive their First Holy Communion in the hand. Options ‘would be too confusing,’ we are told.

    So, I guess there could be nothing said if a DIFFERENT pastor decided that ALL children will receive on the tongue.? After all, the precedent has been set for denying an option.

  24. walter says:

    “These days, children are given no option. They are required to receive their First Holy Communion in the hand. Options ‘would be too confusing,’ we are told.”

    Neoither are adults. In our RCIA class we were only taught by the priest to receive communion in the hand. Without blogs like Fr. Z’s I would never really have known you cold receive on the tongue. So sad how those who are suppossed to uphold the Faith are responsible for debasing it.

  25. leo says:

    its also tricky to step forward say amen and stick your tongue out, when kneeling the priest is not faced with some peoples bad breath

  26. Paula says:

    My husband, although a lapsed Catholic and seminary dropout, was appalled to learn we now receive in the hand. He said, “Only the priest should touch the Host! His hands are consecrated!” I’d like to start receiving on the tongue and kneeling, but a.) I don’t want to hold up the line, b.) I’m afraid I’ll have trouble getting back up without a rail to grab onto, and c.) I feel weird about receiving in this way from an EMHC, who is, after all, another layperson, but is touching the Host him/herself.

  27. Templar says:

    Paula I sympathize with you. I too would love to receive kneeling (I abandoned communion in the hand a long time ago) but have for the past year contented myself with a genuflection immediately before receiving for the very same reasons you state. I do not want to kneel and cause a disruption and turn this into something about me.

    I also flatly refuse (and have for at least a year) to receive from an EHMC. Oddly enough I was struck this past Sunday at how at the Consecration the only people in the Church standing are the 6 EHMCs they use, the Priest and the Deacon. It’s not like it was something new, it’s been that way for a longtime, but Sunday it struck me. By what right are they standing in His presence as if they were ordained into the Priesthood? We sent them to a training class and made them quasi-priests (or priestesses)? It was just so profoundly wrong to me last Sunday.

    If it is “legal” to receive either way, why is there no provision made for those who would like to receive kneeling? Why does the set up force us to receive standing while implying there is a right to do otherwise? I had to say it this way, but “what about our rights”?

  28. SuzyQ says:

    So, I guess there could be nothing said if a DIFFERENT pastor decided that ALL children will receive on the tongue.? After all, the precedent has been set for denying an option.

    That is exactly what happened when my youngest daughter received her First Holy Communion in 2000. The children all lined up along the steps to the sanctuary (the altar rail is gone) and received Communion on their tongues while standing as Father moved along the line accompanied by a server holding a paten.

  29. Ted says:

    I recall in a huge basilica in Quebec during the late 1980’s when the whole choir would come down from the choir loft after Mass to receive Communion. We would kneel at the old altar rail and the older priests would oblige us by giving us the Lord on the tongue kneeling. Except for one curate fresh from seminary who would walk behind us and with his back towards us wait for us to stand up and walk around him to receive the Lord only in our hands standing. We did not want to make a fuss, but it shows how divided the Church was and still is ideologically. Benedict is very cautious and wise to do introduce changes very slowly. I think today people would make a fuss, which can be both dangerous in testing charity and yet rewarding in restoring Catholic tradition.