When this question and answer was given, it was 2008.
However, in 2011 the Pontifical Commission “Ecclesia Dei“, which has competence, issued a document called Universae Ecclesiae – English HERE, or Latin HERE – which helps to interpret and to implement Summorum Pontificum.
In Universae Ecclesiae we find that the practices at the time when the 1962 Missale Romanum was issued are to be used. For example, at the time, 1962, it was forbidden to distribute Communion in the hand. An indult for Communion in the hand as an exception to the proper practice would be given many years later. However, in 1962 it was NOT done. Therefore, it is NOT permitted to give Communion in the hand during a TLM.
What to do in the case of some communicate who insists? That’s another matter.
Meanwhile, priests should start catechizing about Communion in the hand and, at TLMs have a statement in the bulletin or occasionally remind people.
___ Published on: Mar 4, 2008
A while back I posted a PODCAzT concerning the widespread grave problem of distribution of Holy Communion in the hand.
I got an interesting e-mail from a sometime poster here on WDTPRS, Brian Mershon, who had comments for me.
Here is the e-mail with my emphases and comments.
Dear Fr. Z,
If there is one innovation that is applied to the TLM that will surely send traditionalists outside their parish boundaries, it is the reception of communion in the hand at the TLM.
Our parish in SC, which now has 700 or so attend when Fr. offers it at 11 a.m. Mass, there are many who kneel at the makeshift altar rails (front pews) but continue to receive communion in the hand.
I know there is a letter from Cardinal Hoyos to Michael Davies saying this cannot be prohibited (I can’t find it on the web currently for some reason), but this certainly needs to be addressed by the PCED. Father (now Msgr.) initially gave communion on the tongue to those who put their hands out, but now in his catechesis from the pulpit, he has repeatedly emphasized the traditional practice of receiving communion kneeling, but mentions NOTHING WHATSOEVER about the traditional practice of receiving communion on the tongue. [I find that a little puzzling. It strikes me that these issues go … ehem… hand in hand. I also believe it is within a priests right to preach concerning how he prefers to see people receiving Communion.]
And this goes on and on. I am probably the most “extreme” of all the traditionalists who attend Mass there, but I have heard from several friends who are absolutely scandalized by the practice. This is one of those “rubber meets the road” issues that will drive people exclusively to the SSPX chapels, and frankly, the FSSP and ICR also. [I wonder if that isn’t and exaggeration. I am reminded of the story told by the son-in-law of St. Thomas More about upholding the law. This story was part of the great movie A Man For All Seasons, but it is really part of Roper’s biography of St. Thomas.]
I know a priest cannot refuse to give communion in the hand even at the TLM, [Right.] but he certainly can catechize his faithful on why reception on the tongue is the more traditional and reverent practice. [Right again! I think priests can and should. We are in perfect lock step on this.]
I don’t mind you making this a post if you see fit, but expect a couple hundred comments if you do. [We’ll see!] This needs to be addressed by the PCED and NOT by accommodating communion in the hand. [I agree. This must be addressed also by the PCED. And I know this will be read there.]
Brian C. Mershon
Here is the little exchange between St. Thomas and his son-in-law:
William Roper: So, now you give the Devil the benefit of law!
Sir Thomas More: Yes! What would you do? Cut a great road through the law to get after the Devil?
William Roper: Yes, I’d cut down every law in England to do that!
Sir Thomas More: Oh? And when the last law was down, and the Devil turned ‘round on you, where would you hide, Roper, the laws all being flat? This country is planted thick with laws, from coast to coast, Man’s laws, not God’s! And if you cut them down, and you’re just the man to do it, do you really think you could stand upright in the winds that would blow then? Yes, I’d give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety’s sake!
People who are “scandalized” when a priest doesn’t talk about Communion in the hand at TLMs or that people avail themselves of their rights, should remember that law also defends their own rights to have the TLM, and to kneel, and to receive on the tongue.
Thus, I agree with what Brian wrote. People have the right, yes, but I think that priests should, though sound catechesis and their own example of handling the Blessed Sacrament with supreme care, shift people away from Communion in the hand in both the Novus Ordo and the “Tridentine” form of Mass.
I invite you also to listen to that PODCAzT on Communion in the hand.