An oldie but a goodie

I was alerted to this from CathNews by an alert reader.  It is (in blogosphere terms) an oldie, but it’s a goodie:

New prefect favours communion on tongue

Published: December 18, 2008

Incoming Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, Cardinal Antonio Canizares Llovera has praised receiving communion on the tongue as recognising the real presence of Jesus Christ.

Cardinal Canizares Llovera made the comments in a telephone interview with a Madrid newspaper, Catholic Culture reports.

"What does it mean to receive Communion in the mouth? What does it mean to kneel before the Most Holy Sacrament? What does it mean to kneel during the consecration at Mass?" Cardinal Canizares asked in the interview.

"It means adoration, it means recognizing the real presence of Jesus Christ in the Eucharist; it means respect and an attitude of faith of a man who prostrates before God because he knows that everything comes from Him, and we feel speechless, dumbfounded, before the wondrousness, His goodness, and His mercy.  [before MYSTERY]

"That is why it is not the same to place the hand, and to receive Communion in any fashion, than doing it in a respectful way.

It is not the same to receive Communion kneeling or standing up, because all these signs indicate a profound meaning. What we have to grasp is that profound attitude of the man who prostrates himself before God, and that is what the Pope wants," the new Prefect said.

SOURCE

New Vatican Prefect praises traditional manner of receiving communion (CatholicCulture, 17/12/08)

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13 Responses to An oldie but a goodie

  1. malcolm says:

    The practice of communion in the hand is so entrenched as a practice that no guidance or suggestions to do otherwise would be accepted by the 90% of catholics who receive that way.

    I have heard many priests teach in Mass that communion in the hand is the ancient way to receive communion and that receiving on the tongue is a ‘childish’ way to receive our Lord.

    Only a direction that communion on the tongue is the only way that priests can distribute the body of Christ, along with an appropriate explanation, would lead to a change in the current practice.

  2. Fabian Ortega says:

    Brick by brick

  3. Gary says:

    Is Communion in the hand a practice that is approved by the Church?

    Is the following correct: If Communion in the hand is an approved liturgical practice, then surely it is a God-pleasing practice as the Church would never approve a practice that offends God?

    If Communion in the hand is not an approved liturgical practice, then why is Communion in the hand practiced at Papal Masses?

    Thank you.

  4. Maureen says:

    The Cardinal isn’t saying that communion in the hand isn’t an approved liturgical practice. He is saying that the practice of communion on the tongue, which is the default in liturgical law, should be the default in practice. He is also advising that the experiment of going back to communion on the tongue has worked out in practice not particularly well, and so he is advising that church approval be removed.

    I’m not particularly one way or another on this issue. But you can have something approved by the Church which doesn’t work out, or which eventually becomes misused and is thus withdrawn.

    You don’t see the deacon and the servers dancing and bouncing a soccer ball around in church at Easter while singing “Victimae Paschali Laudes”. And yet that was approved by the Church in France for a while in the Middle Ages; then they had permission for it removed. It must have seemed like a good idea at the time, but clearly it didn’t work out.

  5. Chironomo says:

    Maureen says:

    “He is also advising that the experiment of going back to communion on the tongue has worked out in practice not particularly well, and so he is advising that church approval be removed.”

    I’m confused… are you suggesting that Cardinal LLovera is recommending that approval for returning to communion on the tongue be removed? That seems very inconsistent with what I am reading.

  6. AM says:

    I don’t know from soccer balls. (!) But infallibility doesn’t extend to every detail of liturgical practice, it just doesn’t.

    When I kneel before an ordained who is administering Holy Communion to me, and receive Christ from his consecrated hand on to my tongue, among many other faithful who are doing the same, it is an act of common worship, in which we are oriented towards the priest-celebrant as to the person of Christ who, after the sacrifice is complete, is giving himself as our spiritual and holy food, which we do not touch.

    But when there are lay ministers of Holy Communion, who are not trained to administer on the tongue, and whose hands are not consecrated, and when in a congregation which uniformly receive standing and into the hand (and then convey the sacred to their mouth by fingers…) it rather seems as though to kneel and receive on the tongue means not common worship of Christ but is merely act of purposely-visible piety.

    I don’t know how to solve this problem, but I never receive kneeling-and-on-the-tongue in such a situation, but rather kneeling on the hand. And even then I am making myself “visible”. It doesn’t help to go to the priest’s “line” because the practice of reception is exactly the same there.

    Does anyone else receive differently, according to local custom? How should we view this?

  7. Gary: If Communion in the hand is an approved liturgical practice, then surely it is a God-pleasing practice as the Church would never approve a practice that offends God?

    Throughout history, prudential decisions have occasionally had unintended consequences that surely did not please God. This is probably an inevitable consequence of the wounded human condition.

    Incidentally, Bishop Athanasius Schneider, who called at the bishop’s synod for a return to the universal practice of communion on the tongue while kneeling, and whose book Dominus Est–It is the Lord! apparently enjoys much high-level approval, is an expert on practices in apostolic times, and was interviewed by Fr. Mitch Pacwa on EWTN in December.

    Bishop Schneider emphasized that communion in the hands as we know it today bears no resemblance to communion in apostolic times. Back then, the Host was placed on the open palm of the right hand of the communicant; curiously, he said that its touching the left hand would have been unthinkable, as would touching the Host with one’s fingers. So no lay person picked it up off the palm and “placed it in his mouth himself”.

    Instead, the communicant bowed profoundly toward his extended hand and took the Host directly into his mouth. This way might better be described as “communion in the mouth” (if not on the tongue) rather than “communion in the hand”.

    The communicant’s hand was purified both before and after communion. The Host was placed on a corporal that covered a woman’s hand — so her own hand never touched the Host itself — and the corporal was purified afterwards

    Bishop Schneider’s research indicates that communion in this manner from the very beginning of apostolic times exhibited the deepest reverence for the Blessed Sacrament that one can describe. If communion in the hand were carried out in this manner today, perhaps there would not be such a growing recognition that the Church must cease to indult this exception from the universal norm of communion on the tongue.

  8. Phil Onochie says:

    Is this view different from that of Francis Cardinal Arinze’s?

  9. Mike Morrow says:

    AM wrote: “…it rather seems as though to kneel and receive on the tongue means not common worship of Christ but is merely act of purposely-visible piety. I don’t know how to solve this problem, but I never receive kneeling-and-on-the-tongue in such a situation, but rather kneeling on the hand…Does anyone else receive differently, according to local custom? How should we view this?”

    This is the sign of yet another problem with the vulgar “communion of the hand” post-Vatican II innovation: Those showing the proper respect may be disparaged by others for an “extraordinary show” of piety.

    The optimal solution would be to attend only the Extraordinary Form (EF) Masses, or at least receive communion only at those Masses. You’ll find no such aspersions cast there.

    That raises a tangential discussion: Why is receipt of communion almost universal in novus ordo services, and now apparently in most restored EF Masses? This was not typical before the Vatican II new-church was created. Before then it was common for a large portion of the congregation to not take communion at any particular Mass. The reasons could be many, such as not having satisfied the fast from midnight (later, the fast of three hours). It could be due to some feeling of unworthiness or some concern for being of the proper mind before reception. It could be because of some odd personal quirk…one of my fellow altar servers would never receive communion at a Requiem Mass, even when serving. In any event, communion was not just some automatic action taken without thoughtful consideration of its significance. Today, it appears much more routine, thoughtless, mechanical, and ant-like.

  10. TJM says:

    I don’t receive Communion in the hand since the practice was born out of rank disobedience. Tom

  11. GH good boy says:

    As a priest, there is nothing that causes me more suffering than to see people receive Communion on the hand. I do not judge anyone, because I believe most people who receive on the hand were taught that that was the way to receive Holy Communion, and they simply don\’t know any better. For years I prayed to Lord about the way I felt, although it seemed to me that He himself was not too pleased with the practice. Then, I finally realized that what I was experiencing when I saw people receiving in the hand was the same experience that Mother Theresa of Calcutta had felt.

    Even Pope Paul VI who opened the door to giving Communion on hand had advised against it and said that the traditional practice of Communion on the tongue should be conserved. We know that John Paul II was no fan of Communion on the hand. And now, it is very obvious that Pope Benedict wants to return to the traditional way of receiving Holy Communion. But, Pope Benedict knows if he were to impose his desires that there would be mass rebellion in the Church.

    As a last thought John Hardon, J.S. said: “Whatever you can do to stop Communion in the hand will be blessed by God.”

  12. Maureen says:

    The anti-spam word says “think then post”….

    What I meant to say was “going back to communion in the hand” — ie, going back to one of the early Christian practices (receiving in the hand) that apparently didn’t work out back then and now may also not have worked out.

    Sorry about that!

  13. Robert says:

    My wife and I always receive in the mouth and pretty much have since finishing RCIA class in 2007. (Of course, we had to learn this was OK ourselves, in our classes we were taught to receive on the hand.) This Sunday my family and I took our usual spot in the front row so our kids (3 yrs & 18 months) can see our priest rather than the backs of others’ legs. (This is probably the only good thing about our “theater in the round” style church – lots of front row seating for the kids.) Just before Mass started, an elderly couple with walkers sat next to us. They obviously wouldn’t be able to rise and join the congregation to receive Holy Communion and as we knelt for the consecration I was started wondering how we would get back to our spot. Luckily, our wonderful young parochial vicar solved the problem for us.

    He came right over to us where we were still kneeling and we received in the mouth and kneeling. Receiving in the mouth while kneeling is about the only thing I miss from my days as a Lutheran – that and the altar rail we had at our old ELCA parish.

    Almost forgot, he used incense prior to the consecration, too. About the only thing more rare than incense at our parish is the TLM. Now, if only we hadn’t had 8-10 EMHCs…