Papal Midnight Mass with no Communion in the hand

I was not able to watch all of the Papal Mass in the Vatican Basilica, but I have started to get interesting emails about something people noticed.

Among them was this email from a priest in Rome:

In a change to former practice, those distributing Holy Communion at
the Holy Father’s Mass tonight were told that ‘at all Papal Masses
Communion is to be given only on the tongue.’ The usual statement that Prelates receive in the same way as the Laity remained.
thought you might be interested.

Yes, indeed.

One of the emails from people watched the Mass said:

Did you notice that during the communion of the faithful during Pope Benedict’s Midnight Mass at least one priest refused to give Holy Communion on the hand? Instead, the security guard near this priest motioned for each communicant to receive on the tongue. If the communicants didn’t get the hint, the priest still did not give them the Host in the hand, but rather held It near their mouth until they finally understood. Some of the people looked very surprised when they held their hands out and didn’t get the Host.

This was apparently noticeble during the broadcast.

This is way it is going to have to be done.  Example… then buzz buzz buzz… then people will catch on and, over time, things will shift to a point where the change back to the NORMAL manner of reception of Communion can be effected without as much upheaval.

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49 Responses to Papal Midnight Mass with no Communion in the hand

  1. Katherine says:

    I wonder if this new policy is not only trying to restore reverence, but also host security. I wonder how many people have taken “communion souvenirs” from Papal masses?

  2. jlmorrell says:

    Deo gratias!

    This is a wonderful Christmas gift!

  3. Tom Ryan says:

    In response to this article: http://www.ncregister.com/blog/why-im-giving-up-communion-on-the-tongue, a priest friend says: By the way, the majority of the prisoners attending Mass at (______ Correctional Institute, where I’m the Catholic Chaplain), receive Communion on the tongue – Oh, and after non-stop Confessions preceding Mass (!!)
    Hmmmmm . . . I still wonder often if the wrong people aren’t on the wrong side of the bars . . . (!!)

    Late Advent Blessings,
    Fr. X

    – Fr. Joseph Klee

  4. Geoffrey says:

    I too, noticed this. I was very happy!

    But I am curious if refusing to give Holy Communion in the hand conflicts with the official indult allowing it? Is some “right” being denied? (I’m just playing the devil’s advocate.)

  5. Juergensen says:

    I read some time ago that the Holy Father was considering disallowing Communion in the hand, i.e., revoking the indult(s) that allowed it. I hope it comes to pass soon.

  6. Jackie L says:

    Putting a Communion Paten under their chin ought to give them the hint.

  7. Juergensen says:

    Geoffrey says: “But I am curious if refusing to give Holy Communion in the hand conflicts with the official indult allowing it? Is some “right” being denied? (I’m just playing the devil’s advocate.)”

    My understanding (and I could be completely wrong) is that the indult allowing Communion in the hand leaves the decision to the discretion of each individual Bishop. If so, then it would seem the Pope, as the Bishop of Rome, could allow it or disallow it at his discretion.

  8. Dr. K says:

    A good first step, but legislation needs to come soon to correct the abomination of Communion in the hand.

  9. Ralph says:

    This is timely for me. Tonight my family went to the vigil Mass. The lector announced that a consecrated host had been found in the parish hall. As such the pastor is requiring reception on the tounge. No reception in the hand will be allowed for the foreseeable future.

    That is one important argument for tounge only. Less chance of the Body being removed.

    We have experienced occult activity at our parish, so this is a scary situation for us.

  10. It has to be coupled with the restoration of the altar rail, though. I just don’t think that, as a general rule, receiving communion on the tongue goes with standing, for reasons we’ve explored here. I am encouraged to see this sort of leadership, however. Maybe the Pope is getting just a bit impatient and is going to start laying two bricks at a time.

  11. Midwest St. Michael says:

    Yes! Yes! Yes!

    Viva il Papa Benedetto XVI!

  12. awruff says:

    I don’t think this is any change in policy – I was at Midnight Mass there in 1985 and recall they only administered on the tongue to those standing to receive. I put out my hand out of habit (I was an undergrad) and the attendant said in Italian, “Not in St. Peter’s” so I had to receive on the tongue. I saw a woman who insisted on receiving on the hand and was denied Communion. This was 25 years ago, so it’s probably been the policy for some time now (unless if changed in between).
    Fr. Anthony, OSB

  13. Kate says:

    Thanks for bringing this to our attention – what a great Christmas present!

  14. benedictgal says:

    Whether it’s a new idea or not, it is a good policy. The Holy Father has every right to decide the manner in which the faithful are to receive Holy Communion. Recall also that RS has the provision that if there is a risk of profanation of the Sacred Species, then receiving Holy Communion in the hand can be rescinded. With tens of thousands of communicants at these Papal Masses, restricting the reception of Holy Communion to the tongue makes sense. Remember, too, that receiving Communion on the tongue is the default. I understand that receiving Holy Communion in the hand is an indult that can be revoked at any time.

  15. Young Canadian RC Male says:

    I’m in full agreement with Dr. K. You have to make it law else people won’t listen.
    Also, one has to take into account that the Pope has on hand a number of security guards as well as the fact that HE is at the mass. He wields the authority to do so while the average person likely won’t care about their parish priest (nevermind consider them an “authority”) . And not many parishes save some inner city ones with wealthy partons/donors in the piews could invest in that much security detail.

    Just doing by example alone might not be as effective at the parish level due to a) poor catechesis of the last two generations and widespread allowance of CITH b) parishes with a legion of liberal loving clergy & people in ministry, c) semi-poor instruction of the EMHCs and their sometimes odd reactions to COTT (this was discussed by numerous commenters yesterday-2 days ago in another post) and d) in this “I am special and no one else matters” era, a number of people might be offended and even go nuts at communion if the priests/EMHCs did that put the host near the mouth thing to send the message. Just imagine the # of phone calls to the parish rectory about EMHC or priest X. Many things could go bad unless this is put into law. Motu Proprio anyone???

  16. Father G says:

    Yes, I noticed it too!
    I just finished celebrating Midnight Mass in Spanish where the majority of communicants received on the tongue.

  17. dcs says:

    But I am curious if refusing to give Holy Communion in the hand conflicts with the official indult allowing it? Is some “right” being denied? (I’m just playing the devil’s advocate.)

    No, because Holy Communion is not to be given in the hand if there is a danger of profanation (Redemptionis Sacramentum #92). So we can assume that the Pope has judged that there is a danger of profanation.

  18. takosan says:

    I am watching this this morning and it seems it was not universal. In one shot there were two priests next to each other. One was ignoring outstretched hands and only allowing communion on the tongue. The other, though, was allowing communion in the hand.

  19. robtbrown says:

    Geoffrey says:

    But I am curious if refusing to give Holy Communion in the hand conflicts with the official indult allowing it? Is some “right” being denied? (I’m just playing the devil’s advocate.)

    There is no right to Communion in the hand that comes from nature (as, for example, marriage) or from Baptism. The “right” comes from the pope, and so he can take it away whenever he wants–either universally (document) or for a particular mass.

  20. Jason Keener says:

    Not to be the Grinch, but I wouldn’t read too much into this. The Pope, unfortunately, still believes in both Communion in the hand and Communion on the tongue, as he pointed out in the interview book with Seewald. The main reason why they aren’t doing Communion in the hand at St. Peter’s is because people often take the Hosts home for souvenirs, as was also pointed out in the Seewald book.

    Did anyone notice the trumpets before Mass as the Pope was processing in?

  21. bruceiniloilo says:

    I grew up Anglican and converted to Roman Catholicism, and I miss the higher Anglo-Catholic masses that I am used to. One way that my parish was higher was the way that communion was given in the hand. First, get rid of the bread line. You are kneeling at an altar rail or standing shoulder-to-shoulder facing the alter. Second, touch the bread only once. Right hand over left. The wafer is placed in your palm and you bring both your hands up to your mouth and partake, much like you would drink if you were drinking from a stream without a cup (remember you are kneeling). Third, you stay at the altar head bowed from bringing the palm and wafter to your lips while the cup is brought to you. In other words, there is not “popping” the wafer into you mouth like it’s a mint, with your right hand, as you turn on your heals and book it back to your seat. Rather, it is slow and deliberate while you present yourself at the altar of God, shoulder-to-shoulder with your fellow communicants, truly in communion. This is clearly far more respectful, dignified, meaningful, then the current breadline communion. We need to make sure that this debate is not just a dichotomy with two distinct sides. Rather there is a whole range of doing things — kneeling or standing, in a line or shoulder-to-shoulder, at the altar or scattered about the church, a rushed or a dignified speed, in the hand or on the tongue, etc.

    I prefer in the hand. It is what I grew up with. It is what is meaningful to me. But I am appalled at the current Catholic practice. Remember, the wafer is placed in my hand. I bow my head to bring it up to my lips, touching it only once. When it is placed in my palms and I look at God, I make a conscious decision to partake. I like seeing it. I like taking that little moment with me and God. I like the conscious act of bringing my right palm to my lips. I am not used to receiving on the tongue. All my senses, particularly my sense of sight, are not engaged.

    Much needs to be done to make communion more reverent. Much can be done while maintaining taking communion in the hand. We need to address everything that can be done (i.e. eliminating the bread line), not just be narrowly focused on hand versus tongue. Even the battle to return to on-the-tongue is lost, there are other battles that could be won (shoulder-to-shoulder for instance).

  22. bruceiniloilo says:

    Sorry the last sentence should read: “Even IF the battle to return to on-the-tongue is lost, there are other battles that could be won (shoulder-to-shoulder for instance).

  23. Hidden One says:

    It is meet and just.

  24. E says:

    On the front page of The Washington Post, below the fold, an article on Monsignor Guido Marini, Master of Pontifical Liturgical Celebrations:
    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/12/24/AR2010122403008.html
    Happy Christmas, everyone.

  25. pjsandstrom says:

    If it is true, it is even more revolutionary if ‘prelates’ &/or priests were expected to receive as ‘lay people’. Is there not a denial of the Sacrament of Orders here? This is exactly the canard that the ‘traditionalists’ hold against clergy who ‘attend rather than celebrate Mass by themselves.’

  26. Mitchell NY says:

    This should start happening in our Cathedrals as well. The trickle down effect will happen.. It works…I hope Bishops pay mind to what the Holy Father is trying to do and I pray even more that into the future this practice in Rome is here to stay. Once a brick is put back it must be cemented in place so it can not be removed again by anyone.

  27. cpaulitz says:

    We don’t watch Papal Masses, but I was told that, while incensing the altar, the Pope’s lips were visably moving.

    Is it possible that he was saying the old incesation prayers?

  28. Does anyone know if a Communion plate was in use for the faithful?

    At my parish we all receive kneeling at a Communion rail (except physically disabled), and on the tongue, regardless of whether Mass is in ordinary or extraordinary form. With all of the experience the priests have distributing Communion there and getting it down to an art (they can deliver quickly and never touch finger(s) to tongue), I have had a Host drop on the plate. Also noticeable, at times, are the Particles.

    I had the Mass on, but was not sitting and watching it.

  29. I wonder if archived video will be available, or if someone was recording it to put some clips up of Communion.

  30. Ralph says: This is timely for me. Tonight my family went to the vigil Mass. The lector announced that a consecrated host had been found in the parish hall. As such the pastor is requiring reception on the tounge. No reception in the hand will be allowed for the foreseeable future.

    God bless your pastor for taking this step. He should consider calling on parishioners to join him in making an act of reparation in the form of a holy hour during Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament. It is a good way to cure ignorance of the Real Presence and we need to get familiar with the need to make reparation when the Sacred Species is mistreated, even if only by ignorance (which is typically what you are dealing with when you find Communion laying in the pews or elsewhere about the parish… those who deliberately want to desecrate do not leave it behind).

  31. Henry Edwards says:

    I am curious if refusing to give Holy Communion in the hand conflicts with the official indult allowing it?

    There is an indult allowing communion in the hand in various countries, including the U.S., but I don’t know of such an indult for Vatican City. If not, it’s an occasional privilege, not a right there.

    If it is true, it is even more revolutionary if ‘prelates’ &/or priests were expected to receive as ‘lay people’. Is there not a denial of the Sacrament of Orders here? This is exactly the canard that the ‘traditionalists’ hold against clergy who ‘attend rather than celebrate Mass by themselves.’

    This is confused if not backwards in several ways. Traditionally, only the celebrant of a TLM self-conmunicates. All other priests in attendance, including prelates, whether in choir or among the people, receive on the tongue while kneeling.

    While traditionally priests are encouraged to celebrate individually each day, none would ever be discouraged from attending other Masses.

    The traditional attitude toward the new Mass might be in favor of additional priests attending in choir — that is, in cassock and surplice within the sanctuary — rather than concelebrating. In short, the predisposition of traditional attitude would be against concelebration, not against attendance of priests at Masses they are not celebrating.

    Finally, I personally know of no more wholesome sight than multiple (non-celebrating) priests kneeling in choir at Mass, then setting a good example by receiving on the tongue while kneeling, as the bishop who’s a native of my parish did upon his first return home after his episcopal ordination.

  32. Henry Edwards says:

    Did anyone notice the trumpets before Mass as the Pope was processing in?

    Yes, the silver trumpets for the whole procession–until the introit chant beginning when the pope was at the altar–and also preceding the Gospel allelulia.

    The stunning improvement in the sacred music, in the month the new Sistine choir director has been in place, was I thought the most significant aspect of this Mass. What we heard throughout the Mass yesterday would have been hard to believe a few months ago. The special Et incarnatus est sung as everyone knelt during the Credo was perhaps the most impressive to me.

  33. Catholic girl Kate says:

    I am sure I saw people receiving on the hand.

  34. DBuote says:

    I know I saw one priest giving communion on the hand.

  35. Geremia says:

    The scene is up on YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XjQ-qxgC3zg
    Notice one priest gives both communion in the hand and on the tongue, while the assistant of another, who distributed on the tongue only, points to his mouth as one man wants to receive in the hand.

  36. techno_aesthete says:

    Geremia, thanks for the link to the online recording. What I liked about the Mass as I watched it was the lack of applause during the Mass, especially after the sermon.

  37. Geremia, thanks.

    I noticed the priest in the foreground going over the hands of two people to their mouths. What I hadn’t noticed was the one next to him, distributing in the hand if they extended it.

    What I am puzzled about is that lack of use of Communion plates. This, I don’t understand. I know it would take twice as many people to distribute, but there are probably Particles all over the floor.

  38. catholicmidwest says:

    Diane,

    That’s exactly why I switched to receiving on the tongue. I was only taught to receive in the hand when I came into the church. Everyone did it that way where I went to Mass, and “on the tongue” wasn’t even mentioned. But my hands are very dry due to a medical condition, my favorite clothing color is dark blue and I’m an analytical chemist by training, so you know I’m aware of the crumbs that are produced when Holy Communion is received on the hand. And the more handling, the more crumbs–it’s a rather simple physical phenomenon……

    People don’t pay attention to any of this because they’re modern, ignorant & careless, but they should. Communion rails should be used again because they position the communicant to receive with one motion of the priest’s hand from the cup, and patens should be used to catch any falling particles.

  39. catholicmidwest says:

    The other thing Catholic churches should have is one or two human monitors standing along the path from each Holy Communion line back to seats, in order to insure that people don’t “take souvenirs.” I saw this in a mass at St. Peter’s in Rome a few years ago and I heartily approve. It would be very simple to implement. People who pocket a host would be courteously invited to hand over the host &/or wait for a visit with the priest immediately after mass.

  40. catholicmidwest says:

    It should also be announced that those not in union with the Church should not come up for Holy Communion, but wait for prayers at the end of the Mass where they will be prayed for and receive a blessing.

    I found a consecrated host in a songbook some years ago, probably put there by someone who either was a child or wasn’t Catholic, had gotten caught up in the line (because people do when they don’t know any better), and didn’t know what to do with the host that they had received.

    It doesn’t do people any favors to avoid telling them what to do. It only confuses them and leads to sacrileges. Catholic churches used to have prominent plaques on the walls that gave these directions. We need those plaques put back up again.

  41. JMJ2in1 says:

    It’s been a practice of his since he was called to the Papacy. Noticed it on EWTN with his first televised Mass after his election. A sign of things to come? Hope so!

  42. Eugenia101 says:

    To be sung: BeneDETto! Clap clap clap.
    BeneDETto! Clap clap clap. :)

    God bless you, Holy Father!

  43. letchitsa1 says:

    I went back and watched a video of the papal mass and there was at least one priest who was distributing communion in the hand. The video I watched was here: http://en.gloria.tv/?media=119297 and it was near the end – maybe around the 110 minute point somewhere.

    That said, though, there was certainly a lot more folks receiving on the tongue than in the past, that is for certain. Some were surprised, I’m sure, but the ones I saw on that video seemed to recover pretty quickly.

  44. Michael Webb says:

    I receive Communion on the tongue however, I think it very childish and caste-like to mistreat fellow Catholics who are familiar with and practice Communion in the hand- already approved of by the Church.
    I am opposed to spiritually arrogant treatment of fellow Catholics. There is no 1st and 2nd class Catholic caste system in the Church for those who receive on the tongue or in the hand; nor for those who attend the Old Rite and theose who attend Novus Ordo Mass.
    Enough of this arrogant, haughty, smug and disgusting one up manship towards one’s fellow Catholics!

  45. irishgirl says:

    I didn’t see the Mass myself-but this is wonderful news!
    Brick by brick indeed!
    Thank you, Holy Father!

  46. kolbe1019 says:

    Redemptionis Sacrementum par. 92

    If there is a risk of profanation, then Holy Communion should not be given in the hand to the faithful.
    [93.] The Communion-plate for the Communion of the faithful should be retained, so as to avoid the danger of the sacred host or some fragment of it falling.[180]

    Unless the faithful are taught to examine their hands after receiving communion in the hand and why then par. 92 should be enforced. The Canons of the Council of Trent make it pretty clear that those who do not follow par. 92 and 93 are lacking in Eucharistic faith.

  47. Maria says:

    As yet, we, in my home Church are not yet encouraged to receive The Body and Blood of Our Lord directly on the tongue, but have the option of receiving either way.

    I would so welcome if Pope Benedict declared that we are all to receive in the same manner if possible.

    I dislike The Host/The Eucharist being described as a wafer as well.
    I feel it is appalling to speak of Our Lord in this way.

  48. kolbe1019 says:

    Sorry Mr. Webb, but those who receive on the hand and don’t examine their hands are doing something wrong and the ones who are receiving on the tongue are doing something right. I understand that most people don’t know better… Including those who receive on the tongue simply out of habit. If impatience is taken for being haughty please forgive us. We are simply outraged that somebody we love is so little loved in return. I am also very sad at the lack of fortitude in the church today. We all need to pray for fortitude.