From a reader…
Father Z, I have been diagnosed with oral herpes. It is fairly common and to my knowledge I am asymptomatic. With that said should I avoid receiving the precious blood ever? Also, can I still receive the Lords body on the tongue? Thank you
First, thank you for being concerned about other people. Herpes simplex is contagious. It can be transmitted through direct contact, such as kissing, and through sharing of utensils. That would mean partaking of Holy Communion from the chalice, even though the minister ought to wipe carefully the surface each time.
A huge percentage of people have HSV-1, many contracting it as children from their parents. Once you’ve got it, you’ve got it for life.
If you are symptomatic, I would decline receiving from the chalice. When you are symptomatic, the surface, etc., is highly contagious.
Could you still receive on the tongue? I think so, yes. However, be sure to extend your tongue well and tip your head back a little to present a good “landing zone” for Father to hit with the Host. Priests who celebrate the TLM regularly, therefore always on the tongue, generally know how to distribute without any finger/tongue contact provided that the communicant is also self-aware.
That said, you are never compelled to receive Communion at every Mass. You can decide not to receive even though you are in the state of grace and, thereby, could receive.
Folks, when you receive Holy Communion on the tongue, STICK OUT YOUR TONGUE.
Please please please make it easy for Father to give you the Host. Don’t do the tip of the tongue out of the tiny space between your lips as you present your forehead at him under the edge of your chapel veil.
You don’t have to channel Gene Simmons or do your best impression of the logo of the Rolling Stones. Just tilt your head back a little and stick your tongue out.
I know that some people from certain cultures have learned to take the Host in their teeth. Well… okay. That can work too even though there is also a long tradition of not breaking the Host with the teeth, but rather, if possible, letting the Host mostly dissolve before swallowing.
Think about other people, their well-being and their sensitivities. That’s charity, which always involves self-sacrifice for the good of others.