17 Feb: USA Curling woes

"Where did that earring go??"

The USA gals lost a heartbreaker to the gals of Sweden.


At exactly the wrong moment a USA stone hit something (the missing earring?) on the sheet and went its own way or "picked", leaving Sweden with the win. The USA squad is in danger of elimination!

The trajectory of a stone can be deflected by the tiniest little piece of debris on the sheet of ice.

Hmmm…. consider this: if we can lose a curling match because of lack of respect for the tiniest particle that may have escaped our attention, how much MORE can we lose by not paying proper attention to even the tiniest particles of the Blessed Sacrament?? Each and everyday fragments of Hosts, whole Hosts themselves, are subjected to sacrilege because of inattentive distribution of Communion or, as is more likely, inattentive or careless reception of the Eucharistic Lord. It doesn’t take much for a person receiving Communion in the hand (brrrrrrrrr…..) for some particle of a Host to be lost upon the floor or on clothes or, who knows where else. Yet we Catholics believe that the price of the whole universe and the payment for every sin ever committed in the past or future is to be found even in the smallest droplet of the Precious Blood or the tiniest morsel of a consecrated Host. What on earth possesses people who know this… who know better… to receive Communion in the hand? It boggles the mind.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. Kathy says:

    I receive Communion in the hand, with tremendous care. If I thought I was in great danger of dropping the Eucharist I would not receive in the hand. But I am not, nor am I irreverent. Admittedly, abuse is possible and probably widespread, but why the automatic assumption of untrustworthiness?

  2. Henry Edwards says:

    Father Z: Over at COL the other day, I posed a rude question or two about the general position of curling on the world-wide spectrum of human sport. But now your adroit conversion, of a typical curling situation into a profound “teaching moment most needed”, shames me into retracting my ignorant and churlish remarks. Hmm … Wonder when I can catch NBC’s next segment on curling. I can hardly wait! :lol:

    Seriously, your deep and beautiful reminder “that the price of the whole universe and the payment for every sin ever committed in the past or future is to be found even in the smallest droplet of the Precious Blood or the tiniest morsel of a consecrated Host” really hits home, brings the whole question of communion norms into focus. Do we practice what we believe, or not?

    Anyone whose ever held a paten for communion — whether on the tongue or in the hand — knows there’s really no practical possibility of avoiding falling particles of the Host, whatever the reverence or “trustworthiness” of both minister and communicant. (I shudder to even think of it, but those who vacuum the carpet in the communion area surely know this just as well.) What price communion in the hand? What price communion without a paten? However sincere and reverent and trustworthy everybody is.

  3. Kathy says:

    Henry, the good Father wasn’t only speaking of particles that might fall incidentally, but also of careless reception. Which he seems to presume.

    By the way, there are reasons of reverence for taking Communion in the hand.

  4. The Angelic Doctor wrote that only what has been consecrated should touch the Blessed Sacrament. While we are not (as humans) worthy of that which is divine, God through grace and by congruent merit, “re-proportions” the priest – through a sacrament to handle that which is in Itself sacred.

    By another sacrament, the foundational sacrament baptism, we are consecrated to receive the Sacred One in Holy Communion, but not to lay hands upon it.

    In recognition of this, Pope John Paul wrote: “To touch the sacred species and to distribute them with their own hands is a privilege of the ordained, one which indicates an active participation in the ministry of the Eucharist” (Dominicae Cenae, 11).

    The “ministry of the Eucharist” is rooted in the priesthood.

  5. Kathy says:

    Thank you, Fr.Z., that is a fair argument.

    On the other hand, deacons receive in the hand and are meant to distribute and collect the fragments (GIRM 137 & 138.) So priestly ordination does not seem to be as significant as ordination–i.e. the deacon’s own kind of reception of the Sacrament of Holy Orders. (I think this can be seen in the continuation of para 11 of DC.

    Also, I think that it is possible for St. Thomas’ remarks here to be taken as a time-specific reference to a liturgical discipline. As is well known, St. Cyril presumed Communion in the hand–although his oft-quoted prescription is specifically aimed at increasing reverence. In other words, reverence and Communion in the hand by the laity have been joined before, and on good authority.

    When I take Communion in the hand, I have a moment to adore the Lord before consuming. If I receive on the tongue, my eyes are closed and I can’t see the Eucharist.

    And the Lord’s words were “TAKE and eat.” Of course this is made possible through the ministry of the priest on behalf of the Church, but it seems to me that there should be an active taking on the part of the communicant. This is probably the main reason I receive in the hand, not to TOUCH the Eucharist but to TAKE It.

    And (last point) what I have never really understood is why my mouth is considered to be cleaner or purer than my hands. None of us is worthy, but the Lord is pleased to come into the most intimate contact with us.

  6. Then I think we should conclude that deacons ought not receive Communion in the hand. After all, they are not priests, as you point out. Furthermore, a priest who is not the celebrant probably should not receive in the hand. in the Latin Rite deacons never did receive in the hand, in the older form of Mass, that is. Nor do they or did they in Eastern Rites. The Church grew up and grew out of Communion in the hand for both practical reasons and theological reasons.

    You are also quite wrong about Aquinas statement being relevant only to a time period. That was certain NOT the Angelic Doctor’s intention in his explanation. However, if you wanted to get time sensitive, Cyril lived in a time when it was dangerous to be a Christian. Harking to this were the interventions of the Bishops from countries that suffered under Communism during the last Synod which focused on the Eucharist. Many of those bishops said that Communion in the hand was a negative thing, coming into their regions, and the Council Fathers would do well to consider eliminating it. Keep in mind that the NORMATIVE way of receiving Communion is on the tongue. Placing the Host on the hand of a communicant is a permission given that is different from the norm.

    I also note with a measure of alarm how easily you say “take Communion” rather than “receive”. That is indeed alarming. You may be overly conditioned by English, namely “take”. I will create another post about that in this blog. However, the Latin Vulgate and liturgical texts and the Greek of the New Testament more than like indicate the Lord saying “receive” rather than take.

    Remember, Kathy, this is not all about “you” and how worthy you might be or how clean or worthy you may think your hand to be, etc. This is, at its root, all about the sacral and the “profane”, properly understood. In this first part of the third millennium of the Christian experience the sense of the sacred and its relationship with the profane has been pretty nearly lost. These categories need to recovered and reintergrated.

  7. Henry Edwards says:

    Possibly communion in the hand was uniformly reverent at the time of St. Cyril. But that’s clearly not the case now. At any crowded Sunday Mass, we are surrounded by careless, inattentive, and even irreverent communion in the hand. In a recent EWTN interview, Archbishop Burke identified routine sacrilegious communion as a very serious problem in today’s Church. Fr. George Rutler quotes Mother Teresa as saying that the prevalence of communion in the hand hurt her more than the prevalence of abortion.

    Kathy, I recall several years ago thinking precisely the same as you, “When I receive communion in the hand, I have a moment to adore the Lord before consuming.” For a while I thought I preferred this. Then I began to realize it’s not about me, not about how reverent I feel, or even about how reverent I am. I realized I could either continue to go along with a practice that’s clearly disastrous in its consequences today, or refuse to. Good people should refuse to just go along.

    Those bishops who approved the exception of communion in the hand may have had good intentions, but the results have proved their action destructive of Eucharistic faith. They should correct their mistake. In the meantime, we should correct it, one communicant at a time, if necessary.

  8. Kathy says:

    Thanks, Fr. and Henry for your patient if somewhat pedantic replies. I’m unconvinced by your arguments from authority, especially since, as you must know well, paragraph 11 of DC not only allows for deacons to distribute Communion but also for laity (properly trained, when there is a need, etc.)

    I believe that the Catholic moral dictum is relevant here: Abusum non tollit usum. The tendency that some have to receive irreverently does not mean that this permission is taken away on that account. By the way, is Communion in the hand outlawed in St. Louis?

    There is more than one way to break Communion, and an exclusive, chastising emphasis on the distinction between the sacral and the profane is one way to do that–as the Lefebvrites have shown us. We must ALL be obedient.

    I certainly don’t mean to argue about whether my hands feel clean. My question is whether my hands are very much cleaner than my mouth. Overall, I’m VERY much unconvinced by arguments that “it’s not about you.” Of course it is–in the greater, ecclesiastical sense. The Lord gives us the Eucharist as a gift. It is for us, for His glory.

    I will give more thought to your comments, Fr. Zuhlsdorf, on the meaning of accipio/ lambano. By the way, what is the citation from St. Thomas? (I am completing my STL at a Dominican Pontifical Faculty.)

    (Sorry if I sound cranky above, but there is a small problem with the comment box–it runs off the page and I can’t reread what I’ve been writing.)

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