ASK FATHER: Even after continuous sacrileges, Bishop forces Communion in the hand

From a priest…

QUAERITUR:

At my parish since March of this year, the Holy Eucharist has been found on the floor 14+ times. Initially, when our Lord was found, I addressed it from the pulpit, asked certain parishioners to watch, inform me of any suspicious behavior, and wrote about the implications in the parish bulletin. When the sacrileges continued, I required all communicants to receive on the tongue until further notice in light of Redemptoris Sacramentum, 92. [“… If there is a risk of profanation, then Holy Communion should not be given in the hand to the faithful.”] A few weeks later, I received a letter from my bishop that stated I must allow parishioners the option to receive on the hand. If parishioners were adamant to receive on the hand, I would give holy Communion on the hand.

However, this past weekend, two sacred hosts were found. Now, I believe the only option is to not distribute holy Communion until the perpetrator is turned in.

Would you know if canonically, I am able to do this?

Please pray for me.

Know of my prayers for you and the Diocese of Madison!

It is hard to imagine how this happens.  At the same time, given our state in the Church after decades of disaster it is not hard at all.  Things will get worse before they get better.

It is also difficult to imagine a bishop not making the connection here.  But it really isn’t, I guess.

Alas, you are in a tough spot.  If the bishop insists that you disobey Redemptionis Sacramentum 92 – I am glad he put that in writing – then you might try one of those old fashioned solutions.   You know the sort I mean, when there are one or two screw up in the platoon, then weekend leave is cancelled for the entire platoon until the screwing up stops.

If the mandate from the bishop is that you must permit reception in the hand, then you might significantly slow down the distribution of Communion.

Have ushers on either side of the priest distributing. As an individual comes up to communicate, require that those who opt to receive in the hand place the Sacred Host in his or her mouth and swallow before the ushers permit the individual to return to the pews.

This will also give the organist time to make it through all 57 verses of “Whatsoever You Do.”

 

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35 Responses to ASK FATHER: Even after continuous sacrileges, Bishop forces Communion in the hand

  1. mhazell says:

    I appreciate that there are reasons why this might not be possible or desirable, but distribution of Holy Communion by intinction could act as a temporary solution here. It would mean no distribution in the hand, and, per GIRM 245, Redemptionis Sacramentum 103-104, and Norms for the Distribution and Reception of Holy Communion under Both Kinds in the Dioceses of the U.S.A. 49-50, I see no possible lawful objections to it.

    Fr Zuhlsdorf’s suggestion is probably better, though!

  2. Gab says:

    The bishop is wrong and is enabling this sacrilege to continue. God grant us more like Bp Morlino (may he rest in peace).

  3. leftycbd says:

    As is the case in our parish, have altar servers use patens, even under the hands of those receiving that way. Our altar servers sometimes follow a ‘communicant’ back to the pew if they do not obviously swallow. This alerts the ushers too.

    Have someone in law enforcement train priests and altar servers in what to look for (sleight of hand).

    Check the floors after each mass. Map out where the hosts are found. If you can, video record communion time to correlate.

    I mentioned patens. If you aren’t using them, start. If that means reducing the number of communion stations, so be it. Just doing so may discourage someone.

  4. Man-o-words says:

    crazy. This stuff makes me crazy. Someday when we all die we will understand fully the horror of what now we can only guess at.

    On a lighter note, the commemt about the organist was just what I needed on a Monday. Thank you for that.

  5. In my experience, this kind of thing usually involves young children. In my experience they are virtually the only communicants who walk off with the host. The other group—-very rare—are visiting non-Catholics who don’t know what to do after they are handed the host.

    I would suggest that you ask ask parents to have their children receive first and not to return to the pew unaccompanied by the parent. This will give you time to direct the children holding the host to consume it.

  6. Therese says:

    “…all 57 verses of ‘Whatsoever You Do’.”

    Oh my, yes. ALL the verses.

    Bless you, bless you, Fathers! Our own pastor complained some months ago about the frighteningly low percentage of churchgoing Catholics that believe in the Real Presence, but he refuses to do a thing about it. (This would entail such unacceptable measures as emphasizing the current norm for Holy Communion–kneeling, with reception on the tongue–cutting back, way back, on the use of so-called ‘extraordinary ministers’ as previously instructed by the Vatican, regularly scheduled Benediction, more homilies on the subject, and instruction on reverence in church.)

    I did beg for the option to kneel to receive and was dismissed. (It’s difficult for me to kneel down and get back up, even with help.) But Father wrote recently to say he has remembered my concerns and was sorry that the parish is not “currently practicing” these forms of reverence. Perhaps his conscience is bothering him. Yet I know he will continue to do nothing about it.

    May God have mercy.

  7. Luminis says:

    We should stop the practice of Communion in the hand. Full stop.
    We have beautiful altar rails in our beautiful church that are never used.

    My church is St Agnes in West Chester Pa.
    It makes me so sad to see the empty altar rails. Also our Communion lines are often unorganized and annoying. Our church was not made for this type of standing in line and receiving Our Precious Lord in the hand.
    We need to get back to kneeling and on the tongue so the others who don’t believe in The Real Prescence will wake up.

  8. Lucas says:

    “If you believe a person is going to do something improper, don’t serve them communion. Otherwise, you have absolutely no legal right to take a host away from someone after you have freely given it to them.”

    That’s a hard one, because sometimes you can’t tell. I knew somebody who would collect hosts. He’d go to 5-6 masses a weekend, dress up nicely and just bring them home. He had a whole jar of them in his room.

    Obviously he wasn’t all there and when his parents found out they gave them all to a local church, but still if you saw him come up you just wouldn’t tell he had bad thoughts.

  9. tho says:

    These comments remind me of the utter chaos our church has devolved into. So many illogical decisions were made after VII that it bogles the mind. It is as if Trotsky and Lenin couldn’t agree on what level of terrorism would be necessary to make communism viable. We are sorely in need of strong Traditional leaders.

  10. Ed S says:

    Utter chaos is an appropo term. I begged our pastor to address the lack of respect for the Presence of Christ in the Host. He chastised me for being judgmental. As I watched those approaching for the reception of Christ at Communion while chewing gum I was torn. I asked if I could refuse the recipient and was told that it was not my place. That was the day that I politely excused myself from further participation as an EMHC. I wish Father had taken a stand.

    I respectfully disagree with Ultrarunner. Doing nothing is simply condoning the action. Call me judgemental. We are talking about Our Lord and Saviour. Will we not someday be judged?

  11. Ed S says:

    Utter chaos is an appropo term. I begged our pastor to address the lack of respect for the Presence of Christ in the Host. He chastised me for being judgmental. As I watched those approaching for the reception of Christ at Communion while chewing gum I was torn. I asked if I could refuse the recipient and was told that it was not my place. That was the day that I politely excused myself from further participation as an EMHC. I wish Father had taken a stand.

    I respectfully disagree with Ultrarunner. Doing nothing is simply condoning the action. Call me judgemental. We are talking about Our Lord and Saviour. Will we not someday be judged?

  12. Titus says:

    Have ushers on either side of the priest distributing. As an individual comes up to communicate, require that those who opt to receive in the hand place the Sacred Host in his or her mouth and swallow before the ushers permit the individual to return to the pews.

    This is essentially what the priest for whom I sometimes serve at a downtown parish does: for those receiving in the hand, he watches each Host from palm to mouth and prompts folks who legitimately try to walk off without consuming (or who maybe are just a little slower than normal).

  13. jflare29 says:

    “Have ushers on either side of the priest distributing…..”
    I understand the idea in mind, yet I think this a remarkably bad idea. Negative reinforcement in this sort of context usually more provokes battles, not satisfactory resolutions. I think we don’t need any more liturgical wars, if such might be avoided. I see this as almost more a fight between reverent priest and careless bishop as between reverent priest and poorly formed flock. If one has already sought a different answer from his ordinary, …perhaps a request to transfer to another diocese or order would be a better tack. If a bishop must reconsider means of ministry to his flock because his priests actually take the Church’s teachings–and discipline–seriously, perhaps he’ll have cause for some soul-searching.

  14. Atra Dicenda, Rubra Agenda says:

    Get opportunity to stop using EHMCs and have a pair of ushers watching like hawks.

  15. tzard says:

    Speed is an enemy – it’s what pushes pastors to use EMHC during mass, even though it doesn’t make much of a difference.

    Don’t let people just spin around quickly while your eyes are on the next communicant. Insist they communicate right in front of you. Have members of the Knights of Columbus there with sabres making sure they don’t leave until they put Our Lord in their mouth.

    And a last bit of catecesis – get the people in the pews involved. Encourage them to not be afraid to make a scene if they see something.

  16. mattg says:

    I would echo a comment above, and state my opinion that this is likely the work of young children. Children perhaps catechized well enough to know when they are not in a position to receive the Eucharist, but not well enough to know to remain in the pew (or maybe the shame of Piux X’s frequent communion is too much for them to bear).

    My gut tells me that this is more of a misunderstanding than true sacrilege. Nefarious types tend to abscond with the Eucharist, rather than leave it on the floor.

  17. John the Mad says:

    At my parish in Ontario one has the option of receiving in the hand or on the tongue. Additionally, there are prie dieu available to allow parishioners to kneel to receive on the tongue (an option I exercise out of respect for the holiness of the sacrament, recognition of my unworthiness and love of my Lord and Saviour).

    Knights of Columbus are present (without sabres – we have strict anti-sabre laws here in the Great White North) to ensure no one leaves without consuming the host. I see them stop folks who try to leave with the host and ask them politely (this is Canada after all) to consume it. I have yet to see anyone refuse. In some cases they look confused and may not be Catholics. The process is orderly, reverent and, as far as I can tell, there are no hosts found on the floor after mass.

    It can be done.

  18. John the Mad says:

    At my parish in Ontario one has the option of receiving in the hand or on the tongue. Additionally, there are prie dieu available to allow parishioners to kneel to receive on the tongue (an option I exercise out of respect for the holiness of the sacrament, recognition of my unworthiness and love of my Lord and Saviour).

    Knights of Columbus are present (without sabres – we have strict anti-sabre laws here in the Great White North) to ensure no one leaves without consuming the host. I see them stop folks who try to leave with the host and ask them politely (this is Canada after all) to consume it. I have yet to see anyone refuse. In some cases they look confused and may not be Catholics. The process is orderly, reverent and, as far as I can tell, there are no hosts found on the floor after mass.

    It can be done.

  19. AA Cunningham says:

    I understand the idea in mind, yet I think this a remarkably bad idea. Negative reinforcement in this sort of context usually more provokes battles, not satisfactory resolutions. jflare29 says:
    17 December 2018 at 6:00 PM

    Right, because preventing the profanation of the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus Christ is always a remarkably bad idea. While we’re at it, why not remove the locks from the tabernacles as well and turn them in to self-serve kiosks.

  20. Hidden One says:

    I like Father Z’s idea. “Unduly prolonged” is a long time.

    When distributing Communion in the OF, I categorically do not distribute the Host to someone until the previous person has consumed the Host. This is doable. But it must be intentional. It’s really obvious to anyone else watching–such as the next person waiting to receive Communion, whether in the hand or on the tongue–while I (when needed) turn my head, take a step, or even (very, very occasionally) follow someone even as far as that person’s spot in the relevant pew. To third parties, it’s non-verbal catechesis… I believe St. Francis, among others, had a soft spot for that.

  21. MrsMacD says:

    I suggest Catechizing parishioners about why receiving on the tongue was originally instituted and who/what Jesus is in the blessed Sacrament, both as an insert in the bulletin and from the pulpit, would help.

    Maybe have a piece of linen for those who want to receive ‘in the hand.’ A server or two can hold the linen on top of the person’s hands and the host can be placed on the linen on top of the person’s hands and the person will have to put Jesus in his mouth before he processes back to the pew.

  22. jflare29 says:

    AA, I did not suggest that I consider this situation acceptable. Rather, I’m pointing out how the context indicates that much of the conflict has been resolved already. Negatively. While bishops and laity continue to seek…carefree…ways, individual priests will have tremendous difficulty instilling more traditional norms. Rather than fighting a fight which will almost certainly be spiritually bloody and may not be won ultimately, I’m suggesting this priest consider seeking an environment which more readily accepts the Church’s actual law and teaching.

  23. Suburbanbanshee says:

    I like Fr. Z’s idea. It is perfectly normal to have one Communion line, even if it is no longer usual. And there is no reason to let it devolve into any kind of passive/aggressive fight with anyone. I am sure that almost everyone in the parish wants to help. And it is usually more likely that there is unintentional sacrilege, or that someone is of unsound mind.

    Make the change, and make the homily that weekend a loving review of how one receives Communion.

    If you think little kids too young to receive are doing it, you could include some kind comments to the munchkins first. (And obviously, time for them to get some catechism if you find out who. I have noticed that some very young kids nowadays, even three and four year olds, can look like they are seven or eight until you talk to them. And some are taller than I was in second grade! I was short but not that short! They are giants!)

    You might mention that if people are Catholic and over the age of reason, but never received Communion classes, that the parish has stuff for that. (And then have at least a workshop or a few class times.)

  24. Suburbanbanshee says:

    Oh, and of course don’t forget to find out if there are Byzantine Rite kids who have a right to receive, to prevent stopping them. I do not think they are ever the problem.

  25. When I attend Mass I sit on the front pew; I was raised on the front pew and I raised my kids and granddaughter on the front pew, so it is easy to watch folks as I am speaking to Jesus after receiving. There have been quite a few occasions that I witnessed people trying to put Jesus in their pockets and once someone broke the host in half and consumed and then tried to put Him in their pocket. I chased then down and told them to consume NOW.

    Once someone came from the rail and started to put Jesus in their mouth and then decided to take him out and look at Him. The person was right next to me as I was on the front pew. I stopped him in his tracks and told Him to consume NOW. I am not a very soft spoken person and have a distinct voice. I also told the person that he was holding Jesus and was disrespecting Him. I guess I lectured him right there. Of course Father had his back to me and never turned around because he told me later that he knew it was me and he figured I had things under control lol.

    Pope John Paul II, Saint, wrote before he passed away that we were to protect Our Lord any time we saw desecration and disrespect toward Him. It is our duty.

  26. AA Cunningham says:

    I did not suggest that I consider this situation acceptable. jflare29 says:
    18 December 2018 at 2:00 AM

    “Have ushers on either side of the priest distributing…..”
    I understand the idea in mind, yet I think this a remarkably bad idea. jflare29 says:
    17 December 2018 at 6:00 PM

    Not acceptable yet you reject a viable solution.

    I volunteered as an usher at the Cathedral in Denver for over a decade, acting as a sentinel during the distribution of Holy Communion. So speaking from objective experience I can assure you that the practice of ensuring that the host is immediately consumed is not only not a bad idea but is a necessary one. Stopping those with nefarious, demonic intent or those who are just plain ignorant is never a bad idea. Perhaps engaging in some edification on the now suppressed minor order of the Porter in the Church and resurrecting it would be helpful to you.

    In the extraordinary form the abuse of the Eucharist is, for all intents and purposes, nonexistent. That can’t be said for the ordinary form.

  27. Sonshine135 says:

    Father, may I recommend that you also sponsor a Chaplet of Divine Reparation before the particular Mass? It should be made clearly known that sacrilege is occurring during that Mass. All the faithful should know, and they should be asked to show up a half hour early and pray the chaplet before the Blessed Sacrament. Reparation should be on the heart of all to Our Lord.

  28. monstrance says:

    What’s motivates a bishop to behave in this manner ?
    To whom or what is he catering to ?
    A priest at my previous parish demanded that the Eucharist was received in the hand.
    If you attempted to receive on the tongue, he might have to counsel you after Mass.
    This warning was in print in the Church bulletin.
    We were also instructed to bow instead of genuflecting when entering the Church.

    What do the modernists have against acts of humility ?

  29. jflare29 says:

    “Not acceptable yet you reject a viable solution.”
    I’ve already explained that I don’t consider it a viable solution, AA. I have never seen ushers stand guard over distributing the Eucharist and wish to never see such. Were I still motivated by the mentality I grew up with, I would be as likely to rebel against the ushers’ purported authority as I would to abide by it. In this context, where the bishop won’t back the priest, I see this creating more trouble than it solves.

  30. Andy_P says:

    Funny, that not two days ago I wrote the parish pastor and associate pastor about abuses like this. There was some guy acting weird as Mass last Sunday and I saw he received in the hand but walked away from me (and behind people in line so he was instantly blocked) and I could not tell whether he ate the Sacred Host. I also had to instruct a boy about a year ago who received in the hand and walked away to put the Eucharist in his mouth. Good news is I received a reply by the associate pastor and told me they were aware of these things happening. I suggested going back to the traditional way to avoid such things but no reply on that account.

  31. Nan says:

    I assume you used your indoor drill sergeant voice?

  32. Nan says:

    I have twice seen a priest chase down someone who walked away without consuming.

    It isn’t an issue at my Byzantine church since we receive both species on the tongue, by spoon.

    I’m thankful that the local diocese isn’t particular about receiving while standing or kneeling, in the hand or on the tongue. People do what they do and nobody comments and that seems to be true throughout the Archdiocese, with the exception of the Extraordinary Form.

  33. Hidden One says:

    Jflare29,

    I have seen it used often, especially in cathedrals, usually discretely. Perhaps your opinion may change once (if) you observe it.

  34. jflare29 says:

    Hidden One,
    I suspect your comment has all the best intentions. I see matters from a rather different view. I have, like many others, witnessed any number of abuses, encountered…unfortunate attitudes…in defense of such abuses. After years, I finally grew thoroughly annoyed with the requirement for a battle of battles to resolve even the smallest troubles we might witness.
    …I finally gave up and sought a traditional Mass.

  35. Hidden One says:

    jflare29,

    That is a very good solution, albeit not universally accessible at this time.