From a reader…
1) I keep thinking that I should receive the Eucharist on the tongue, but am running into barriers, [you mean… like dopey priests?] to include the following: a) “how” to actually receive on the tongue, if you can offer any “pointers”; b) feeling self-conscious; and c) the fact that I did receive on the tongue one time in recent memory and I think I forgot to say Amen, and the priest seemed displeased—so I feel a bit traumatized from that experience.
Firstly, I am glad that you think you should receive Communion directly on the tongue. So should everyone. Communion in the hand, along with turning our altars around, has been one of the most powerful corrosives on our Catholic identity for the last few decades.
How to receive on the tongue. A lot of people have done this for a very long time. It can’t be too hard, right? While in some cultures there is a method of initially capturing the Host with the front teeth before drawing it into the mouth, the most common method is to extend the tongue a little way beyond the teeth so that the priest has a good LZ… landing zone, as it were.
There is a great illustration from a classic catechism which can help.
This is helpful if you are kneeling. And don’t worry about putting your hands under the “houseling cloth” draped over the rail. I get the sense that that isn’t going to be an issue for you.
If you are standing, use common sense with these same principles. You have to adjust for the height of the priest or deacon. Just make sure that there is a good, clear LZ for the Sacred Host.
In the Ordinary Form of Mass, you say “Amen”, when the priest says “The Body of Christ… Corpus Christi“, and then put your tongue out. In the Extraordinary Form, the priest will say the Latin prayer, which ends in “Amen”, which he says for both of you, When the priest comes near to you, if you are kneeling, tilt your head back and put your tongue out. He’ll take care of the “Amen”. If you are standing, and maybe a little away from the rail, lean forward if you are far away. Use common sense, but provide that good and obvious LZ on the tongue.
You may take fire for presenting yourself for Communion in this, if the priest is a modernist or a dimwit. Sorry… that’s a tautology. It is up to you whether or not you want to stick to your guns. Don’t make a public scene during Mass. Take your concerns to the priest afterwards and follow up with a letter summarizing your meeting. If liturgical abuses are being committed, create some paper in case you need to go to the next level.
In Redemptionis Sacramentum – an important disciplinary document from the Congregation for Divine Worship – we read:
[90.] “The faithful should receive Communion kneeling or standing, as the Conference of Bishops will have determined”, with its acts having received the recognitio of the Apostolic See. “However, if they receive Communion standing, it is recommended that they give due reverence before the reception of the Sacrament, as set forth in the same norms”.
[91.] In distributing Holy Communion it is to be remembered that “sacred ministers may not deny the sacraments to those who seek them in a reasonable manner, are rightly disposed, and are not prohibited by law from receiving them”. Hence any baptized Catholic who is not prevented by law must be admitted to Holy Communion. Therefore, it is not licit to deny Holy Communion to any of Christ’s faithful solely on the grounds, for example, that the person wishes to receive the Eucharist kneeling or standing.
[92.] Although each of the faithful always has the right to receive Holy Communion on the tongue, at his choice, [THERE IT IS!] if any communicant should wish to receive the Sacrament in the hand, in areas where the Bishops’ Conference with the recognitio of the Apostolic See has given permission, the sacred host is to be administered to him or her. [EXCEPT in the context of the Extraordinary Form, the Traditional Latin Mass! Current law doesn’t apply to that Form in regard to Communion.] However, special care should be taken to ensure that the host is consumed by the communicant in the presence of the minister, so that no one goes away carrying the Eucharistic species in his hand. If there is a risk of profanation, then Holy Communion should not be given in the hand to the faithful. [There is CLEARLY greater risk of profanation when Communion is distributed on the hand.]
[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.