Hand in Glove – 02: another Communion in the hand experiment

The entry on Communion in the hand, which had photos of a black glove before and after an unconsecrated host was placed on it, has generated a lot of comments.

Some people were concerned that experiment the photos showed perhaps wasn’t well conducted.

Another reader, a seminarian, took the matter in hand and gave this experiment another try.  I have here the message sent with the photos and the photos themselves.  You can click any of the photos for larger versions.

I recently saw the "black glove test" photos that you posted on your blog, and read some of the objections some people had to the experiment (felt glove, possibility of lint beforehand, etc.).  To help settle the issue, I performed a similar experiment using clean, black leather gloves.  I’ve attached "before" and "after" photos of the results.  For those interested in my experimental method, I observed the following points:

1.    I performed the experiment three times.
2.    Before each trial I ensured that the glove was free of any lint or other contaminant particles
3.    I gently placed a new, unconsecrated host in the palm of the glove.  I tried to reproduce the distribution of communion in the hand that one generally sees at mass, both in placing the host in the hand, and removing it several seconds afterwards.  I did not use excessive force, or rub the host against the glove in any way. 
4.    The results from all three trials were very similar, with four to ten particles of bread clearly visible to the naked eye

Here are the photos sent by the seminarian who conducted the experiment.

BEFORE

CLOSEUP BEFORE

DURING

AFTER

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79 Responses to Hand in Glove – 02: another Communion in the hand experiment

  1. Tom says:

    I overheard it said that “this wouldn’t happen with leavened bread.”

    Some solution. Take an indult, subject to abuse and correct it with illicit matter.

  2. AM says:

    Well, well, well!

    Hmm…

  3. That’s a better visual using cleaner material.
    Thanks, Seminarian! When you are ordained, you can
    incoporate these visuals into your homily on the projection
    screens! *me runs*

  4. I think this is a much more definitive demonstration than the first black glove test, and it agrees with my anecdotal experiences. I don’t know if every manufacture of host will universally leave crumbs in this way, it is clearly a possibility in each instance of communion in the hand.

  5. Thank you to the seminarian who took the time to do this, and thank you Fr. Z. for posting his results.

    Let the evidence speak for it’s self. There are particles that remain. It will be interesting to see how the comments go now.

  6. Bill says:

    At the risk of getting myself in trouble (given the strong feelings many readers here have against Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion, conceptually and personally), my own practice as an EMHC is to gently (emphasis on “gently,” folks — I know Who is in my hands) tap each consecrated host to insofar as possible remove any particles. Anyone who is or who has been an EMHC is well aware of the problem. I’m not comfortable with the necessity of doing this, but I’m even less comfortable with the thought of what happens to the Body and Blood of Christ if I don’t take the precaution.

    I wish we still used the old-style hosts (the ones that were a very thin, very “clean” wafer, rather than the thicker, coarser variety that seem to be the norm today). Obviously I never (in the old days) touched a host of the thin wafer variety, but they always seemed to be “particle-free.” With the new hosts, even if we only gave Communion on the tongue, and even if only the priest gave Communion, there would be a problem. All you have to do is look at the containers that the unconsecrated hosts come in, to see the “dust” of small and large particles. Those little particles can fall off or float away on air currents no matter how careful one is.

  7. Joseph C. says:

    Why in the world would any person receiving the Eucharist during Holy Communion, receive the Host while wearing gloves?

  8. Ruben says:

    In addition to what the experiment shows, which is significant, no matter what, the effect of moving a host from point A to point B is that there will be a great possibility of the separation of particles from the host. There’s no doubt that even with communion on the tongue that particles are separated from the host. This is very clearly observable by anyone who serves at the altar and correctly uses a paten. After communion the observable particles of host are clearly visible on the paten and the amount is often significant. Even one particle is significant since in it is contained the whole Christ. Being that as many visible particles fall to a paten, the amount that falls in the absence of a paten is inestimable. How much more then is lost when the host travels from hand to hand and finally to mouth with no paten? If this is truly Christ why is there not more concern over the risk profanation?

  9. Brian Day says:

    A much better test. Thanks.

    While it would be unseemly to do this additional experiment, it would be interesting to see what is left at the bottom of a typical ciborium used to distribute Holy Communion just before post-Communion purification. If four to ten particles are left behind with one Host, how many particles are in the ciborium after distribution of dozens, if not hundreds, of Hosts. Does the number of particles “scale” with the number of Hosts involved?

  10. Maureen says:

    Does anybody seriously believe that particles that small actually count as particles? I don’t recognize those as even being crumb-sized, and that’s not bread anymore when it’s that small.

    Criminently, people. Are you really trying to make me paranoid about how much Jesus is left in my mouth on days I don’t have much saliva? I mean, if we’re going to haul out the microscope, let’s all get a case of the heebie-jeebie scruples right now, because eensy-beentsy molecules of food sticks around in your mouth something fierce. [You might want to do a little self-editing before posting.
    ]

  11. Brian Day says:

    Joseph C.,
    I see many a young girl wear gloves for First Holy Communion.

  12. Maureen,

    With all do respect, Jesus Christ is truly present body, blood, soul and divinity even in a little particle. Whether you think it still looks like bread or not.

    Further, any \”molecule\” should not \”stick around your mouth\” because YOUR NOT SUPPOSED TO CHEW THE EUCHARIST. [I think this goes too far. Some people prefer for various reasons not to chew, but rather to allow to soften or dissolve and then swallow. There are good reasons to do so. However, depending on the Host, there may also be a necessity to chew, even if only a little, so that the Host can be consumed in a reasonable period.]

    Of course with the hard and thick and large hosts used in most places that is more difficult. At my parish the host is about the size of a dime, white and melts on your tongue almost instantly. [That works fine, then, give that Host.]

  13. Bill says:

    Brian Day: \”… it would be interesting to see what is left at the bottom of a typical ciborium used to distribute Holy Communion just before post-Communion purification.\”

    I have seen the bottom of the ciborium when Communion is over, and the answer is, \”a lot of particles.\” Father is very careful in his purification, and the ciboria are always scrupulously clean afterwards. At least in our parish.

    Our new priest is looking into getting patens and having the altar servers use them. Father is new here, and he\’s making a lot of very positive corrections. This is still a NO parish, but I think he\’s an example of a priest that does everything he can to make sure the OF is celebrated correctly.

    Maureen, those particles in your mouth aren\’t around very long. Molecules don\’t count. I believe that the understanding is that Jesus is present until the accidents are no longer present — as soon as the particles dissolve (which they do very rapidly), the Body and Blood are gone. I read somewhere that even for the Host itself this takes only two or three minutes. However, until that happens, crumbs, dust, specks all individually are the Body and Blood of Christ. There\’s no way around this.

  14. Flambeaux says:

    David in Toronto, yes we are supposed to chew. [This goes a bit too far.]

  15. On occasion I have seen fragments on my hand like this. It is why I scrutinize myself to make sure I do not leave fragments.

    This seems a better example than the former picture of gloves, and the results seem more plausible, though I seldom see so many fragments unless the host is in poor condition.

    The proper response is of course ensuring the faithful are properly educated about what the Eucharist is, and what they are to do.

  16. Beowulf says:

    “Does anybody seriously believe that particles that small actually count as particles? I don’t recognize those as even being crumb-sized, and that’s not bread anymore when it’s that small.”

    My bishop speaks about the “Eucharist as bread for eating”, he would say if it was corrupt it is “not bread for eating” ergo it is not the Eucharist, he would apply the same to small particles or even the Blood of Christ on a purificator or spilt.

    Is this correct?

  17. southbend says:

    @Bill, and all,

    I find this interesting. Bill said “crumbs, dust, specks all individually are the Body and Blood of Christ. ” Do we hold that **dust** is of sufficient quantity to correlate to the appearance of bread such that the Real Presence remains under those appearances?

    I think I might also ask that same question regarding “specks” too, but “dust” seemed the easier to begin with. I leave aside “crumb” since I would think crumbs most certainly have the appearance of bread (hence “crumb”!)

    Anyone have any thoughts?

  18. Khaled says:

    None of the Eastern Catholic Rites allow communion in the Hand, and after seeing this glove test I’m more convinced than ever that the Roman Church must ban this practice. In some cases, Seeing is believing!

  19. David says:

    Maybe you should send these findings to the Vatican and ask them to outlaw communion in the hand. As long as the Church says it is OK to receive communion in the hand, I will continue to do so.

  20. Flambeaux,

    Chew?

    Not what the Sisters of St. Joseph taught me 45 years ago.

    Some things were right then and still are right.

  21. Trevor says:

    Maureen,

    Particles that small are the ones that the Council of Trent speaks of when she says: “If anyone denies that the Venerable Sacrament of the Eucharist that Christ is present under every part of each Species when separated, let him be anathema.”

    The particles are no longer considered to be “particles” when they no longer have the appearance or properties of bread. Thus, when mixed with water or dissolved in saliva, they’ll undergo chemical transformations which will cause the Real Presence to “cease” in the Particle (I apologize for my bad terminology).

  22. The evidence is clear…one particle is one particle too many…tongue all the way.

    As far as chewing on the host, I was taught that we were until my re-education process began.

  23. J.G. says:

    I can’t imagine Christ at the last supper being concerned that when he was breaking bread with his disciples that a crumb or two may have fallen on the table or to the ground.

    If every particle of the Host is truly the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Christ (and I’m not arguing with this), then there is no way to escape having all of it in its entirety transferred perfectly from ciborium to communicant’s mouth…there will always be some micro-particle that falls. God knows this and it’s ok.

    We should be reverent with the Body of Christ and protect against sacrilege, but really… I think some of this is out of hand…and overly scrupulous. This does not mean we shouldn’t be as reverent and careful as possible. Christ chose the physical accidents of bread to become his Body. I think He was aware of these implications.

  24. Beowulf wrote: “My bishop speaks about the “Eucharist as bread for eating”, he would say if it was corrupt it is “not bread for eating” ergo it is not the Eucharist, he would apply the same to small particles or even the Blood of Christ on a purificator or spilt. Is this correct?”

    No, this is not correct.

    If it was why would a paten be used (they always were, in some places still are and should be everywhere used) to catch particles that now end up on the floor or carpet to be vacuumed up or dumped into the municipal sewer in mop water. Sorry, it’s still the Body of Christ!

    If you are quoting your bishop correctly, then ask him what is the point of the “purification rite” that is the mingling of water in the empty ciborium to remove the particles which is then poured into the chalice to mingle with the Precious Blood and then consumed by the priest.

    This is logic.

    Either we believe or we don’t and if we believe then we must all treat Him appropriately.

    Lex orendi, lex credendi!

  25. J.G.

    I can’t remember which bihsop, Sheen perhaps said, “that is what the Angels do at the Mass” is pick up the microsopic particles.

    That being said, it is one thing to be scrupulous about microscopic particles that cannot be seen it is quite another to be careless; and communion-in-the-hand leads to carelessness.

    The most repugnant is the theft of the Eucharist to be only found in hymn-books or under the pew with bubble gum or used to be desecrated at a black mass. For that reason alone, the Church must stop this practice and insist on easily dissolving, small hosts.

    How much more clarity do people need?

  26. GordonBOPS says:

    I agree that we should avoid receiving Communion in the hand, however, examining the picture it would appear there are particles on the glove where the ‘host’ was not placed…

  27. Nathan says:

    From the 13th Session of the Council of Trent: (translation taken from EWTN.com library)

    “Canon 4. If anyone says that after the consecration is completed, the Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ are not in the admirable sacrament of the Eucharist,[45] but are there only , while being taken and not before or after, and that in the hosts or consecrated particles which are reserved or which remain after Communion, the true Body of the Lord does not remain, let him be anathema.”

    I certainly agree that Holy Communion distributed in the hand is a problem for this reason. However, we can’t get on our high horse about this in the combox discussions. Laypeople and a number of priests have been told by pastors, seminary professors, and some bishops that the practice is in fact preferable to receiving on the tongue.

    It’s tough for tradition-minded Catholics to handle the implications of this (let’s see, 4 to 10 Particles per host, 200 Communicants in the Hand per Mass, four Masses per Sunday, 70 parishes in the Diocese, etc.–3200 minimum Concecrated Particles spread around in the hypothetical parish on one Sunday), much less for those who have without guile been following the instructions received over the past three decades.

    I’m enjoying the discussion, let’s just be kind about it.

    In Christ,

  28. Julie says:

    [“Chew?

    Not what the Sisters of St. Joseph taught me 45 years ago.

    Some things were right then and still are right.”]

    David of Toronto, Sister Virgilius, my catechism teacher, taught me the same thing forty years ago, so you are not alone.

  29. irishgirl says:

    We should go back to using the small white [dime-shaped] hosts, as David in Toronto said.

    I didn’t go to Catholic school-only for religious education and sacramental preparation. I remember the day before my First Communion in 1962, when the class rehearsed how to receive, using unconsecrated Hosts. One girl ‘caught you-know-what’ from the Sister because she took the Host out of her mouth!

    Brian C-I used to work in a Catholic bookstore, where First Communion items were sold. We had gloves for the girls, but in most parishes [if not all] they were not allowed to wear them, because the children are now taught to receive Communion in the hand almost exclusively.

  30. The main problem is the issue of what to do with the fragments, and how to avoid the unintended desecration of the Body of Christ.

    I don’t think that reception on the tongue necessarily avoids the issue however. Can we determine how many particles might fall from the host as the priest takes it and places it on the tongue. Of course the paten is supposed to catch these particles, but can we be sure they do catch them all?

    On one hand, we want to avoid the indifference of “Well, it doesn’t really matter.” On the other, we want to avoid scrupulosity over what is unreasonable to expect.

    When I served as a Pastoral Associate, one of my responsibilities was keeping the supply of the pyx for taking the Eucharist to the homebound. I would inspect them for remnants of the hosts, and bring them to the pastor for cleansing before allowing them to go out again. The ciborium used by the priest also had fragments and dust within.

    It seems that there is a reasonable limit to what we can control. What we can, we need to be careful over.

    I believe the proper teaching to be careful over what one can control, not to obsess over what we cannot control.

  31. ustalumnus says:

    David in Toronto: “Chew? Not what the Sisters of St. Joseph taught me 45 years ago. Some things were right then and still are right.”

    While they were eating, Jesus took bread, said the blessing, broke it, and giving it to his disciples said, “Take and eat; this is my body.” – Matthew 26:26

    While they were eating, he took bread, said the blessing, broke it, and gave it to them, and said, “Take it; this is my body.” – Mark 14:22

    Whoever eats 19 my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him on the last day. – John 6:54

    Eat: To bite or chew and swallow, as food. -Webster’s Dictionary (1828 edition)

    Sorry David, the Good Sisters were wrong. [I don’t think it is right to say that the sisters were “wrong”. They were right in that point, and for good reasons, but perhaps not right in absolutely prohibiting the possibility of chewing.]

    [1. a. To take into the body by the mouth for digestion or absorption. The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition Copyright 2006.]

  32. Chris says:

    I love a good fight, but this is useless.

    Jesus Himself could come down and tell most of these people that receiving Him in the hand is wrong and they’d arrogantly fight with Him over it.

    It’s time to just ban this horrible practice and let the modernist chips fall where they may.

  33. Merriweather says:

    We do not *chew* the Blessed Sacrament. I’ve heard of priests telling the faithful that eat means chew, and it’s appalling. Further proof of the breakdown in belief in the Real Presence. *Lex orandi, lex credendi*

    @Maureen

    Our Lord is equally present in the each particle.

  34. dominic1962 says:

    No, there is no need to be scrupulous. This is the advice of solid doctors to scrupulous priests when it came to purification-follow the rubrics as to how you are to purify and then call it good.

    This is why Communion on the tongue kneeling at the rail was developed (and probably also why the Easterns developed their own method for reception of Communion)-to provide the most reverent means of distributing Holy Communion as humanly possible. When only the priest(s) ever touch the Host and place it directly on the tongue at a convenient level (which is provided for in kneeling at the rail) with the paten involved, the utmost in respect for the Eucharist is provided for. When all of this is properly followed, there is absolutely nothing to be scrupulous about.

    When everything became a practical free-for-all, who knows. It is true that Communion in the hand is permitted by the Church. However, anyone who reads the history can see that it was a progressivist abuse that was then allowed seemingly because the progressivists whined enough. There are a lot more politics involved in this than any positive theological or pastoral reasons to allow this innovation.

  35. Any handling of the host will generate particles, which after consecration, are the Body Blood Soul and Divinity of Our Lord Jesus Christ. As one who handles said host on a daily basis and does so very carefully, I am experienced in the matter with lots of observation. No gloves are needed to see – although that helps for photographs here. There are always particles on the paten and corporal. Always. These small particles, as will happen with Communion in the hand, are guaranteed to be trampled upon as they fall from hand to floor, or thrown in the wash later after wiping hands on clothes, or other sacrileges, such as thrown in pockets or in pews. And don’t forget to include those who sell the Host for money for black masses. In the EF, the priest had to keep his thumb and forefinger joined to minimize particles at risk for falling here or there. Eastern Catholic Churches do not have this problem because of the method whereby they distribute Holy Communion. Communion in the hand was stopped centuries more than a millenia ago because of these profanation risks. What is interesting is that in 1969, the Pope and Bishops voted to retain Communion kneeling and on the tongue (http://www.ewtn.com/library/CURIA/CDWMEMOR.HTM). That is STILL the norm, although you wouldn’t know that today. Communion in the hand was given an indult to deal with the “pastoral problem” caused by certain Bishops being disobedient in introducing the practice contrary to the laws of the Church, so how would they handle this rejection of Communion in the hand? Others claimed that it was in practice when it wasn’t to obtain said indult. What started as disobedience has become the defacto practice. Look at the fruits – has there been in increase in the devotion to the Eucharist? Exactly the opposite is the case. In fact, this method was what the Protestants did to make people think that the Eucharist is only a symbolic meal back in the days of Reformation England. We even have Bishops and priests objecting to the faithful kneeling to receive Our Lord, which required a Vatican instruction to explicitly give the right to kneel to receive. The next time you take Communion in the hand, think about throwing Jesus in the wash or walking on Him. The indult allows a local Bishop to decide to allow this practice, but it can be practiced only if there is no danger of profanation. In forming my conscience, I cannot foresee a case whereby the danger of sacrilegious profanation is not likely. We will see this practice stopped (again) in the future. Pope Benedict XVI has fired his shot over the bow with on the tongue being his preference.

  36. Nathan says:

    To chew or not to chew? Interesting discussion. [And NOT the topic of this entry, either.] Certainly the traditional practice in the US has been to let the Sacred Host dissolve on the tongue, but a quick look didn’t reveal any official ruling from the Church. My guess is that the practice of not chewing developed organically as the Faithful tried to receive Holy Communion in a way that shows devotion to the Treasure they were receiving. Of course, Sister (in the examples here in the combox) was following the logic that my very, very trad friends at Fisheaters.com used:

    “Please note that the Eucharist is not chewed, but is allowed to soften in the mouth and then swallowed. This is to avoid having the smallest particle stuck in one’s teeth where it might be desecrated later by coming into contact with the profane. Having the very Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Christ mingle with a gulp of Mountain Dew is hardly the treatment He deserves — but pondering the very possibility of such a thing is to induce gratitude for the amazing humility with which He comes to us under the appearance of bread; why, if He were to come to us in a way that revealed His glory to our senses, we would no doubt die from being in the Presence of such obvious Holiness.”

    They then put in a note: “If you take medications that dry the mouth, or otherwise lack enough saliva to swallow the Host without chewing, go ahead and chew. We’re not Pharisees.”

    Seems sensible to me.

    In Christ,

  37. Merriweather says:

    @ustalumnus

    Posts like yours are a stark reminder, than when you put all the happy talk about unity aside, we are really dealing with two different Churches with totally opposing world views.

    Your grandparents didn’t chew the Blessed Sacrament–aren’t you a tad concerned that you are doing things differently?

    God is in the details.

  38. Henry Edwards says:

    John C: Why in the world would any person receiving the Eucharist during Holy Communion, receive the Host while wearing gloves?

    As I recall, all women in pre-Vatican II times (at least where I was) wore gloves for holy communion.

    At any rate, back in the early centuries — when people people received from their enthroned right hand, with reverence that eclipses even present day communion on the tongue while kneeling, bowing deeply to take the Host with the tongue, because to touch it with their fingers would have been unthinkable — women had their hands covered with a cloth, which was purified immediately thereafter. Men did not require a covering cloth preventing the Host from contact with their flesh, but their hands were purified immediately after communion.

  39. @ Chris

    “Jesus Himself could come down and tell most of these people that receiving Him in the hand is wrong and they’d arrogantly fight with Him over it.”

    Alternately, Jesus could come down and call the dispute a man made custom over which we set aside His commandments over and some would call Him a modernist and a heretic.

    Arrogance can exist on both sides of this.

    As I said on the last thread, What the Successor of Peter has loosed, we do not have the right to declare bound.

    It is one thing to say you prefer the Eucharist on the tongue and would prefer to go back to it. It is another to call those who receive in the hand “Modernist.”

  40. I overheard it said that “this wouldn’t happen with leavened bread.”

    (I realize you’re quoting someone else, so this isn’t directed at you). I’m Orthodox, so I know something about this. As you may or may not know, in the Eastern Tradition (the Byzantines do this, too), the leavened bread is divided, and some is consecrated to become the Body, while some is blessed, and becomes the antidoron. After we commune we take a piece of the antidoron and a sip of wine, and at the end of Divine Liturgy, after we go forward to reverence the cross and receive the priest’s blessing, we take a piece of the antidoron (any visitor, by the way, is welcome to the antidoron). Leavened bread crumbles, and you have a hand full of crumbs, which you are expected to respectfully consume. So yes, it not only happens, it is enough of a problem that you can go to any Orthodox or Eastern Rite forum and see extensive discussions on how to respectfully consume the antidoron.

    May you all have a blessed Lent.

  41. Henry Edwards says:

    Nathan: Laypeople and a number of priests have been told by pastors, seminary professors, and some bishops that the practice [on the hand} is in fact preferable to receiving on the tongue.

    Do you ever wonder what is the motivation of these types? Or why many of them insist on it so stridently, as though some personal belief (or non-belief) of theirs is at stake?

  42. Tom says:

    Thank you rightwingprof. I was aware of the Eastern Tradition

  43. ustalumnus says:

    Merriweather: “God is in the details.”

    Odd, I have always heard that proverb as “The Devil is in the Details”.

    God knows our hearts and intentions. Read Luke 18:10-14

  44. David said: Further, any “molecule” should not “stick around your mouth” because YOUR NOT SUPPOSED TO CHEW THE EUCHARIST.

    **********

    Jesus said: “Take and eat….” He did not say, “let it disolve in your mouth.” Of course, one must chew. [This is the sort of erroneous comment which makes my DELETE and BAN button finger twitch. Don’t tell a person he must chew a Host. ] Though I can understand that you might have been taught not to, years ago.

  45. Nathan says:

    Henry Edwards: “At any rate, back in the early centuries—when people people received from their enthroned right hand, with reverence that eclipses even present day communion on the tongue while kneeling, bowing deeply to take the Host with the tongue, because to touch it with their fingers would have been unthinkable.”

    Henry, fascinating! How widespread was the practice? I’ve read that, in the early centuries, Communion in the hand was not the universal practice, and that receiving on the tongue was the Roman norm. Is that correct?

    Henry, again: “Do you ever wonder what is the motivation of these types? Or why many of them insist on it so stridently, as though some personal belief (or non-belief) of theirs is at stake?”

    Yes, I’ve often wondered about this, especially since I entered the Church in 1980, in the midst of the liturgical confusion. What changed in the 1960s to make what, by all accounts, were an especially theologically conservative group of U.S. bishops and “on-the-move” priests so completely embrace the “spirit of the Council” and insist on disobedience? And not even bat an eye when Pope Paul VI wrote the document authorizing Holy Communion in the hand, which contains pages of reasons why you shouldn’t, followed by the indult that “in places where it is already practiced, it may continue.”

    In my younger days, I’d show Pope Paul’s letter to parish priests, who would tell me (pleasantly) that Communion in the hand was the practice, live with it. Since then, I’ve figured that prayer and example are the best way to keep the traditional practices alive.

    This is a topic to discuss over a nice bottle of red wine. I’m not sure the combox can do it justice.

    In Christ,

  46. ALL: Chewing the Host is not the topic of this entry. I can start another entry on this matter. Comments on chewing the Host will be deleted.

  47. Ouch, Fr. Z! Obviously, I didn’t mean he MUST chew… Sometimes, it is necessary if the Host becomes caught among the teeth. Please don’t think for a moment that I disrespect Christ’s Body… [I rather more concerned at the moment about respect also for Christ’s faithful.]

  48. Nathan says:

    This discussion led me to look up the original indult for Holy Communion in the hand, the 1969 document “Memoriale Domini,” which was a Congregation for Divine Worship, not Paul VI, document. It’s germane reading for anyone interested in the topic:

    http://www.ewtn.com/library/CURIA/CDWMEMOR.HTM

    Father Z, mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa. Chewing was a very tempting rabbit to chase down the hole.

    In Christ,

  49. momoften says:

    Even if one believes there is no HARM in the particles of the host left behind, you can NOT
    escape the fact that eucharistic desecration has increased since the reception of the Holy
    Eucharist was approved via hand. Not to mention the lack of belief that the Holy Eucharist
    is the REAL body blood soul and divinity of Christ since the hand reception began. I have always felt in watching people receive by hand, most (not all) look like they are grabbing and
    eating food just as they would be doing as if it is just that…food. I am opposed to Communion in the hand, and always will be.

  50. Hi folks,

    I have a good, devout, even somewhat learned friend who says he likes to partake in the hand so he can take a moment more to adore Christ in the Host before consuming. It is an interesting thought, IMO, though I still receive on the tongue myself for all the many reasons to.

    In any case, it seems to me that the appropriate course of action is to just lead by example here. Devoutly (but not exhibitionist-ly) receive on the tongue. Encourage your friends and family to, when the topic arises. Maybe talk to your priest about preaching about the ways to receive (to ensure folks know they can still receive on the tongue). But all this barely-civil diatribing on blogs certainly is not appropriate or Christ-like, IMO.

  51. The evidence is very clear. Great job by a good seminarian. We all know the evidence is clear. This is why I always tap the consecrated host against inside of the ciborium before distribution. I have trained our Extra-Ordinary Ministers to purify their fingers after returning the ciborium to me at the tabernacle. All of this aside, I think the example of the Holy Father is a preparation. The Church tends to move slow in all things (except after VII). I believe we will see Pope Benedict XVI bring about a change. I can already see that his teaching and example ARE having a strong effect among the people who are serious about their faith. I see more genuflecting and receiving on their knees. Viva il Papa!

  52. I must add. This is why we use communion patens!

  53. Merriweather says:

    @ustalumnus

    Only if you’re a pessimist.

    We manifest our intentions by our actions. If I *intend* to be a saint, I will pray. If I intend to keep the state of grace, I will avoid even the near occasion of sin. etc…

    If I truly believe that Jesus is God and that He is present in the Blessed Sacrament, that at the mention of His name all knees should bend, I will….?

    I will what? I will genuflect in His presence and reverently receive *on the tongue*. No chance of crumbs falling, no chance of profanation. And, no chance of undermining the priesthood–which is what communion in the hand does. It undermines the role of priests and what was once (and should still be) their exclusive privilege: being able to touch God.

    Sheesh.

  54. Henry Edwards says:

    Nathan: What changed in the 1960s to make what, by all accounts, were an especially theologically conservative group of U.S. bishops and “on-the-move” priests so completely embrace the “spirit of the Council” and insist on disobedience? And not even bat an eye when Pope Paul VI wrote the document authorizing Holy Communion in the hand

    What changed in the 1960s was not entirely what the bishops and priests thought, but perhaps more so how decisions were made and implemented. In an article in the Fontgombault conference volume, Cardinal Ratzinger says that in this period the bishops lost control of the liturgy — that an extra-hierarchical structure of committees of experts took over, so that decisions were no longer passed down the hierarchical chain of command, as had been the mode in the Church before the Council.

    For instance, it was surely via this parallel network (and not by bishops) that were distributed the over 300 different Eucharistic prayers that were in common use before (and perhaps partly because of which) the Novus Ordo was promulgated.

    At the local level — where I was a parish “liturgy leader”, parish council member, etc. — it appeared to me (perhaps incorrectly) that we got our marching orders not from our bishop but from “circuit riding” liturgists and assorted experts who roamed the Catholic landscape, supervising wreckovation of churches, gutting of religious education programs, and the like.

    I believed then (and still do) that the motivation of these “experts” was quite different from that of the bishops, most of whom I believe wished to preserve the Faith.

    In regard to the matter of communion in the hand, I have a vague recollection that the bishops were polled, with the bishops of this and most countries voting against it, shortly before Paul VI allowed it (against his own preference, obviously). Perhaps some one can did up some facts on this.

  55. Stephanie says:

    I feel like a big idiot even typing this…

    But I grew up receiving in the hand, I’ve received in the hand at every Mass I’ve ever been to (except when I studied abroad in Mexico…), and the more often I see threads like this, the more I realize that we shouldn’t receive that way.

    Forgive my ignorance, but how do you receive on the tongue? Is there a proper way to “stick your tongue out”?

    Thanks, folks, for your guidance…

  56. Nathan says:

    Henry, “Memoriale Domini” has the results of the bishops’ poll in 1969, and the resuts were interesting: “When therefore a small number of episcopal conferences and some individual bishops asked that the practice of placing the consecrated hosts in the people’s hands be permitted in their territories, the Holy Father decided that all the bishops of the Latin Church should be asked if they thought it opportune to introduce this rite. A change in a matter of such moment, based on a most ancient and venerable tradition, does not merely affect discipline. It carries certain dangers with it which may arise from the new manner of administering holy communion: the danger of a loss of reverence for the august sacrament of the altar, of profanation, of adulterating the true doctrine.

    Three questions were asked of the bishops, and the replies received by 12 March 1969 were as follows:

    1. Do you think that attention should be paid to the desire that, over and above the traditional manner, the rite of receiving holy communion on the hand should be admitted?

    Yes: 597

    No: 1,233

    Yes, but with reservations: 315

    Invalid votes: 20

    2. Is it your wish that this new rite be first tried in small communities, with the consent of the bishop?

    Yes: 751

    No: 1,215

    Invalid votes, 70

    3. Do you think that the faithful will receive this new rite gladly, after a proper catechetical preparation?

    Yes: 835

    No: 1,185

    Invalid votes: 128

    From the returns it is clear that the vast majority of bishops believe that the present discipline should not be changed, and that if it were, the change would be offensive to the sentiments and the spiritual culture of these bishops and of many of the faithful.”

    Stephanie: You are NO idiot, that is a legitimate question. I have an old comic book, “Know Your Mass” that I use to teach my boys. Approach, stick out your tongue and keep your mouth open enough to receive the Host. Close your eyes, it helps to keep your chin slightly elevated to reduce the risk of dropping the Host out of your mouth. It does feel funny the first few times (I’m a convert), but I think there’s potential to use the act to humble yourself before our Blessed Lord. God bless you!

    In Christ,

  57. Bill says:

    Fr. Jay – We EMHCs also purify our fingers if we have been the ones who give the Precious Blood to communicants. Since we wipe the rim of the cup or chalice with a purificator after each communicant, we cannot avoid having the Precious Blood on the fingers of at least one hand. If distributing the Precious Body we, like the priest, have been instructed to keep the thumb and forefinger of the right hand together until we purify our fingers after returning the ciborium. A lot of details and care in what we do, about which those who do not serve as EMHCs are completely unaware. Lots more details than are the subject of this thread.

  58. JohnE says:

    The host in this example looks fairly clean. As an extraordinary minister I have also noticed that the hosts in the cyborium that have been in there for a day or two can often produce even more particles — especially if they are moved about or extra hosts are poured in (including all the particles on the bottom). I can feel the “grit” on some of the hosts and try to gently tap them in the cyborium before I distribute them.

    I thought I heard somewhere that Christ is present under wine as long as it is discernible as wine. Once it has been diluted to a point where it is no longer wine, then Christ is no longer present. Is this true? If so, is there a point where the bread is broken down into particles of small enough size to where it is no longer considered bread and Christ is no longer present in this way?

  59. jennifer eva says:

    I saw once a person who received on the hand then examine his hand and lick it. if I have a bad cold I will receive on the hand and also examine and as inconspicuously as possible lick my hand. Now that I type it it sounds awful.

    A poster above asked about proper way to receive and there is a parish back in the DC/maryland area that has a website article on proper position. Tilt head back open mouth, stick out tongue and close eyes. That way with eyes closed you allow the priest better control to place the host on your tongue without you prematurely closing your mouth on his hand, etc.

    Jenne

  60. John says:

    Please someone, get this information to Pope Benedict and the Congregation for Divine Worship!

  61. ustalumnus says:

    Merriweather wrote: “We manifest our intentions by our actions. If I intend to be a saint, I will pray. If I intend to keep the state of grace, I will avoid even the near occasion of sin. Etc…”

    “…many persons clothe themselves with certain outward actions connected with holy devotions and the world believes that they are truly devout and spiritual whereas they are in fact nothing but copies and phantoms of devotion.” – St. Francis de Sales (Introduction to the Devout Life)

    What is in your heart is what counts.

    Merriweather also wrote: “…we are really dealing with two different Churches with totally opposing world views.”

    No we are not. We are ONE Universal Church, dealing with people from all cultures, backgrounds, and views from around the world. My grandparents were born in the 1880’s – the world has changed quite a bit since then, so have people’s views, and so has the Church. The only thing that does not change is God.

  62. Michael Thoma says:

    What some of the Orthodox (I know of some Syriac and Indian Orthodox specifically) and Eastern Catholic parishes do is give the communicant a small cup of water or unconsecrated wine to drink immediately after the Eucharist is consumed, assuring that the mouth is ‘clean’.

  63. Merriweather says:

    @ustalumnus

    The protestants think that all you have to do is love Jesus in your heart, and that’s all that matters. Obviously as Catholics we know that Faith without works is dead.

    You are using de Sales in a way, that does not apply. Obviously, if your intention is to have a pious reputation, your good works merit nothing–you have your reward already.

    A prime example of an outward expression of our interior disposition is the way we dress for Mass. Does a person who really cares about worshipping God, and who has reverence for the Blessed Sacrament, show up for Mass in shorts, a tank top and flip flops? Sorry, but saying that “what’s in their heart is all that matters” doesn’t cut it. No one would go to meet the President looking like that, but they justify going to Mass that way, with the same expression you use: Jesus knows our heart. Not acceptable.

    The operative word is *Universal*. There was a time, not that long ago, when a Latin Rite Catholic could go into any Church in the world and know exactly what was going on. Unity in prayer, is unity in belief. That’s not the case anymore.

    Your grandparents prayed the same prayers and received in the same way as their grandparents and their grandparents before them. Did the world not change at all from the 1780s to the 1880s? Of course it did. The world changed, but the Church never did—until recently. And what has been the result? The devastation is all around us.

    Time to go back to the tried and true: communion on the tongue, while kneeling. No EMs! No altar girls!

    Communion in the hand undermines the priesthood, undermines faith in the Real Presence and diminishes devotion. It’s been nothing but bad for the Church.

  64. Jenson says:

    “The next time you take Communion in the hand, think about throwing Jesus in the wash or walking on Him” – Fr. Marie-Paul

    Many years back when I first read about possible sacrilege resulting from communion in the hand, I did my own experiment. Out of 10 times receiving on the hand, there were at least 6 times white fragments were left on my palm; and it didn’t help that I’ve got sweaty palms. The desire to receive on the tongue should not be viewed upon as Trad-fanaticism, but rather, as a sign of love and devotion for the Eucharistic Lord, and for the fear of possible sacrileges.

    May I suggest that more readers do this simple experiment on their own, and share their firsthand accounts with their friends? (However, please do so prudently, lest scandalising your parish priest/fellow parishioner; Always emphasise that unconsecrated host was handled)

  65. Luigi says:

    Forgive me if this has been said earlier…

    Take a look at the particles on that glove and multiply what you see by 1200 or so, (300 people per Mass X 4 Masses) and you’ll get a better sense for what takes place on the typical weekend in my parish of record.

  66. At the weekday Mass i attend, communion is distributed to the faithful right after the Agnus Dei. Everyone stands in a half-circle and receives in the hand much in the same way as concelebrants, and then everyone wait to consume the host until after the Ecce Agnus Dei, at the same time as the priest. The first time I received on the tongue, but since that meant I consumed the host before the Ecce Agnus Dei and before the priest’s communion, I supposed I was basically forced to receive in the hand. And instead of making a complaint of this abuse (which probably wouldn’t be considered anyway), I have tried to receive in the hand as wortholy I can. If the hosts are good, they don’t produce much crumbles at all, and if they still do, I make sure to consume everyone of them. So for me, it’s not a problem (even if I always receive on the tongue otherwise).

    The problem is, I don’t think everyone else who receive communion in the hand make sure to consume every little crumb.

  67. ustalumnus says:

    @Merriweather…

    “Time to go back to the tried and true…”

    I was an altar boy pre-Vatican II. The main thing I remember is saying the latin prayers as fast as we could. That is what we were told to do by Father. Not much heart in that, is there? Do not think that the “N.O.” Mass holds a monopoly on abuse.

    Do not confuse Tradition with nostalgia, fact with myth, or Sacred with superstition. We would not even be having this discussion prior to 1905 because we would receiving Communion very rarely. Back then, Baptism was the sacrament that was emphasized, not Eucharist. Read Pope Pius X’s Encyclicals if you do not believe me.

    You want Tradition? Well, what is going to be? The Church of the 1950’s, 1920’s, 1800’s, 800’s, or even the time of the Apostles? You cannot pick and choose what the Church is. I see a lot of references here to the Council of Trent. Do you know why the Council of Trent took place? That is an interesting read.

    Please answer this question… Is a person’s relationship harmed because they receive the Eucharist in the hand?

    Couple Facts:

    St. Augustine wrote that men should receive the Eucharist in their hands, and women in the hands, covered with linen.

    A priest’s hands are consecrated for service to the Church, not the Eucharist. Read the prayers.

    A deacon is an ordinary minister of the Eucharist, yet his hands are never consecrated.

  68. Mac McLernon says:

    I stopped receiving communion in the hand when I realised that my palm felt “gritty” afterwards… I couldn’t see anything, but I could feel them.

    I would lick my hand to remove the particles, but I soon realised that it was simpler to “cut out the middle-man”, so to speak…

    I now receive on the tongue. End of problem.

  69. Paladin says:

    ustalumnus wrote:

    A priest’s hands are consecrated for service to the Church, not the Eucharist. Read the prayers.

    Do you honestly see “service to the Church” as having nothing to do with “offering the Holy Sacrifice”? I’m having a hard time fathoming your reasoning, here…

    A deacon is an ordinary minister of the Eucharist, yet his hands are never consecrated.

    Correction: a deacon is an ordinary minister of HOLY COMMUNION. No deacon on earth is a minister of the Eucharist; only a priest/bishop has that title (cf. Redemptionis Sacramentum, 154-156).

  70. Marcin says:

    I wonder whether there was an explicit instruction ever issued by the Church, together with the first indults, as to how technically receive on hand. After all it isn’t an immemorial custom. The most interesting for me would be opposition of consuming mouth-to-hand (as Byzantine clergy does) vs. hand-to-mouth (most prevalent among Latins in the US).

  71. ustalumnus says:

    Paladin. Thanks for the correction. Too early in AM – way before coffee.

    The Deacon statement: You are correct. I meant Holy Communion – mistyped it.

    The Consecration statement: It is PRIMARILY for service to the Church, working to sanctify the People of God. That includes Eucharist.

  72. Margaret says:

    We were taught to receive by folding the right palm over the left in the sign of the cross. The priest places the wafer on the palm and the communicant lifts the palm directly to the mouth without picking up the host in his fingers.

  73. Paladin says:

    Paladin. Thanks for the correction. Too early in AM – way before coffee.

    :) Been there, many times…

    The Consecration statement: It is PRIMARILY for service to the Church, working to sanctify the People of God. That includes Eucharist.

    Well… that’s true, in a blandly logical way–as one might say “Marriage *includes* a wife”; but the fact remains that you’re talking about the Source and Summit of our Faith (cf. Lumen Gentium 11), not simply an “add-on”. Your stated idea (if I understand it correctly) that a priest’s hands are somehow consecrated to “non-Eucharistic works of mercy” in any ways that exceed the “consecration for the Sacred Mysteries” strikes me as very strange and unsettling; the Holy Sacrifice is the *only* act which really has any merit in and of itself… and our own works are only meritorious to the extent that they are united with that One Sacrifice (cf. CCC 2011, etc.).

    To be sure: I’m not at all arguing that a priest is somehow *not* consecrated to “build up the Body of Christ”; but that’s more generally a function of *Baptismal* priesthood, yes?

    As for the text of the consecration, I assume you’re using the Novus Ordo text, and the ICEL translation, at that? I’ve no idea what the EF’s “rite” of consecrating a priest’s hands uses, re: specific language… but I’d wager it has much more emphasis on the Holy Sacrifice? (Could someone with knowledge of that chime in, for my sake?)

  74. raymond says:

    >>Please answer this question… Is a person’s relationship harmed because they receive the Eucharist in the hand?<<<

    Dear Ustalumnus,

    I fear your premise is all wrong here. Are people harmed by committing objectively mortal sins when their conscience says
    they’re not mortal sins? I don’t think they are. Are children harmed
    when they are unintentionally rude to their parents (perhaps calling
    them by their first names?) I don’t think they are.
    But what if in the cases above, the actors know what they are doing and do what they do deliberately in order to prove a point? Don’t you think
    that would change their culpability?

    If I understand you correctly, you see no harm in us
    treating what we know to be most Holy, i.e. the Crumbs, with in-
    difference. Am I understanding you?

  75. “What some of the Orthodox (I know of some Syriac and Indian Orthodox specifically) and Eastern Catholic parishes do is give the communicant a small cup of water or unconsecrated wine to drink immediately after the Eucharist is consumed, assuring that the mouth is ‘clean’.”

    Yes. Exactly correct.

    “Do not confuse Tradition with nostalgia, fact with myth, or Sacred with superstition. We would not even be having this discussion prior to 1905 because we would receiving Communion very rarely.”

    Weekly Holy Communion never developed as the norm in the East, and many among the faithful do not Commune more than three or four times a year. That’s changing here in the US and Canada, mostly due to converts. Still, in my parish on any given Sunday (or Wednesday or Friday evening, given that this is Great Lent), perhaps half of the congregation Commune, no more. Still, we are keenly aware that if we go to Holy Communion without being truly prepared, we risk the condemnation of our souls: It’s in our Communion Prayer.

  76. JACK says:

    Interesting experiment Fr. It definitely raises some things to consider, although it obviously isn’t conclusive.

    For example, it is not clear that the particles that remain broke off from the distributed host due to the act of placing it in the hand or were attached to the host and transferred onto the hand. If the latter, then obviously there is the risk that those same particles would fall from a host being placed on the tongue and are just not noticed because they do not remain in ready, easy view after the fact. So obviously real questions raised by the experiment, but it may be difficult to know for certain how to judge the meaning of the experiment’s results at this point.

    I didn’t weigh in on the prior thread. I personally receive communion in the hand where permitted. Although if the church were to decide to cease permission for that deviation from the norm, I’d probably not think twice about receiving on the tongue. There are some parishes where that is the norm and I’ve never had a second hesitation to follow that practice when attending mass there. In some ways, I think the concern about which method people prefer is a touch misleading. I think the vast majority of those who receive in the hand today would adapt quite well with minimal difficulties if tomorrow the church eliminated that practice.

    I appreciate this series of threads that Fr. Z has posted because they seem focused on the practical realities of fostering reverence for the Eucharist and the technical realties of how the distribution method does or does not mesh well with that. I’ve long thought that some of the complaint about communion in the hand as being irreverent was a canard. After all, one can receive on the tongue with a lack of awareness and proper disposition to the reality of the gift of the Euchaist just as is the case for receiving in the hand. I always thought that the story of Simeon and his waiting on the promise of God that he would see the Messiah before his death, but then is in fact given the privilege to not just see Him but hold Him in his hands (see that small verse in the midst of his canticle)could serve as a scriptural guide for the awe one ought oto have when receiving communion in the hand. Not to say that such spiritual instruction would solve all concerns about that distribution method, but clearly the people can be formed in a way that improves their disposition and reverence towards the Eucharist in the context of that method.

    But the concerns about the actual method and whether it respects the Eucharist is different and distinct from the concerns generated by a person’s improper disposition. So I applaud Fr. Z for raising some interesting questions. Like others and what I said above, I think people need to respect the limits of what this experiment can say (e.g., itself it can say nothing , by design, regarding the comparison of hand versus tongue distribution). But otherwise, interesting thoughts.

  77. Buzz says:

    Wow. Start with an unbiblical doctrine and soon you’re straining at gnats in a manner worthy of any legalistic pharisee.

    A question: what happens to these particles that might fall to the floor between priest’s fingers and parishoner’s mouth and then are trampled underfoot?

  78. @ Buzz – You use a paten ;-)

  79. Buzz says:

    Jeff

    And the ones that miss the paten?