Communion on the tongue, kneeling – Benedict XVI’s good example

Again for the Holy Mass for Sts. Peter and Paul, the Holy Father is distributing Communion only to people who are kneeling and he is giving It on the tongue only.

You could see them set up the kneeler.

This is such an important practice.

The Holy Father is setting the example for all bishops and priests everywhere.


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  1. Jason says:

    Beautiful. I hope he starts celebrating Mass ad orientem as well.

  2. Jason: Don’t we all!

  3. They say one picture is worth a thousand words. I know it’s a hackneyed expression, but it’s true.
    It is very good and very instructive to see the Pope distributing Holy Communion in the time honoured way.
    It is a most useful and timely reminder that Holy Communion received standing and in the hand is an indult, a derogation from the norm.
    What we see in these pictures is the norm.
    P.S. Is this the new papal pallium ? It looks a great deal more practical.

  4. Sorry. I ‘ve only just read Fr. Z’s previous post on the new papal pallium. Many thanks for the post, Father, and for all the photos.

  5. Philip says:

    The whole liturgy was beautiful and uplifting. To see the filial love and respect that the successors of Peter and Andrew have for each other was very moving.

    As always, the due reverence given to our LORD in the Most Blessed Sacrament by the Holy Father was very obvious and he is teaching the faithful to experience/rediscover this by inviting all of us to kneel before the LORD, who is worthy of all praise and glory. What’s so wrong or difficult to understand? With Father’s permission, may I mention that there is a Facebook group that is loyal to the Holy Father’s teaching and calls for a return to Holy Communion in this manner:

    There is also a debate about reception of Holy Communion at this blog, that might interest readers of this post:

  6. Cornelius says:

    Wonderful development. As an aside, I am an acolyte at a local EF Mass and communion is distributed over an altar rail to communicants kneeling who receive on the tongue. However, every so often someone shows up and stands at the rail, thrusting their hands out for the host. In every such case thus far the priest has offered the sacred host for reception on the tongue, ignoring their hands. No one has yet refused to open their mouths and receive on the tongue, though I do recall one man who presented himself this way (standing, hands out-stretched) with an attitude of manifest truculence who only reluctantly opened his mouth to the offered host.

    I wonder about this: can people assert a “right” to receive in the hands at an EF Mass?

  7. Sid Cundiff says:

    Is Holy Father doing now what he later will oblige?

  8. Sid: “Is Holy Father doing now what he later will oblige?”

    I sure hope so Sid, I think he is laying the “bricks” and someday soon will revoke the indult.

    The sooner the better.

  9. Cathguy says:


    That is a STUNNING story. Let me get this straight. This member of the laity shows up at the TLM, knowing that it is the TLM, and then insists on receiving the Eucharist in a way that is not found in the TLM.

    What gives? Is the man intellectually challenged? Can he not tell which Mass he is attending? [This sort of rhetoric isn’t helpful in the least. – Fr.Z]

    The Eucharist is Jesus Christ Himself. Receiving in the hand is problematic enough. To pridefully insist at a TLM that the priest allow one to receive in the hand is just impossible to comprehend. With his whole body, this member of the laity is showing up at Mass simply to communicate “I am not in communion with you… nor do I appreciate the TLM… I am here only to make scene.” [No. There could be other reasons. You can’t know them.]

    May I suggest that the priest ought to simply deny the Eucharist to the communicant? (After asking privately if the there is anything wrong with his knees) [For pity’s sake. No.] This member of the laity is politicizing the Mass to serve his own ends, acting as if he were superior to Christ Himself. This is hardly an indication of proper dispensation to receive the Eucharist.

    After all, if we do not discern the Body and receive unworthily, we eat and drink judgement upon ourselves.

  10. John6:54 says:

    I would hope Extrodinary Ministers are removed or swapped out for acolytes first. I’m thinking there is a proper order to lay those bricks.

  11. Andrew says:

    Let us hope and pray this happens in Australia next month too.

    It will be a powerful example there, in a country very well known for its liturgical excesses, but at the same time a growing band of younger Catholics (both priests and laity) who want to see a return to tradition.

    Seeing communion distributed from the Pope the way it has today for the feast of St Peter and Paul in the Vatican in Sydney, will melt their hearts, and be an encouragement in the other battles they must often fight daily

  12. Do the other priests in these papal masses also give communion only to kneeling
    people and on their tongues?

  13. Rellis says:

    Doesn’t the Bascilica have its own communion rail? [No. But historically Communion was never distributed on this scale in the Basilica before, either. – Fr.Z]

  14. Matthew Mattingly says:

    Why doesn’t the Pope just mandate a return to this practice for the UNiversal Church by a decree, rather than jsut by his own personal preference.
    Nothing will change, especially in the USA until he does.

  15. Jeff Pinyan says:

    I think I’ve figured it out. The Pauline year, the call to re-examine the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, the liberation of the Gregorian Rite, Communion on the tongue and kneeling…

    It’s all coming together beautifully!

  16. Fr Ray Blake says:

    A good development but what about the distribution of communion by the other clergy? I would like to see this a “Papal Mass thing” not just a “Pope thing”. Then it might have a chance of being taken up everywhere, because the Lord is being received, rather than the Pope giving.

  17. Cornelius: can people assert a “right” to receive in the hands at an EF Mass?

    At this point, yes, in those places where Communion in the hand (CITH) is approved.

    What we need to do is educate people away from it, which should be to hard if priests do their job in preaching and the are celebrandi. It’ll take a while, but the effort would be worth it.

  18. Mitchell says:

    I agree with Matthew, unless the Holy Pope actually mandates these things, here in the USA, letters will be relegated to the dustbins of history…In a country notorious for ambiguity, “You must do this” is the only words that leave no room for wiggling. I pray that Rome understands this in their dealings with US Bishops..Sometimes choice simply should not be an option, and in the future I hope that Rome is very careful about the way they way they dispense “exceptions” for the past has taught us they become norm and in the eyes of the faithful, Church law, albeit incorrectly.

  19. Alessandro says:

    I’m sorry Rellis St Peter’s Basilica doesn’t have rails, i think never had

  20. Brian Day says:

    Interesting timing. I just got back from Mass this morning where I was a lay reader. The woman who I was reading with (I know, I know), before Holy Mass started asked if Pope Benedict was trying to stop communion in the hand.

    I replied that Pope Benedict was emphasizing that Communion on the tongue was the universal norm, and that CITH was an indult. Thus with Communion on the tongue, Pope Benedict was leading by example for the Bishops and Priests to follow. After a couple of seconds of thought, the woman nodded her head in agreement. :^)

    I also mentioned that Benedict was trying to re-invigorate our Catholic identity, because we cannot be a force in the public square if we do not know who we are as Catholics. On this she heartily agreed and the conversation quickly moved to politics. By this time Mass was about to start and we had cut the conversation off.

    I don’t think that I could have made these statements without this blog. Thank you Fr Z for all that you do, and don’t even think about hanging up your spurs. ;^)

  21. Brian: I don’t think that I could have made these statements without this blog.

    Thanks for that! It is nice to know this is useful in a practical way.

    We need liturgical catechesis for the true renewal to take place.

  22. Using intinction sets to administer Holy Communion has solved the difficulty in our parish for the past twenty-five years. Even with the tremendous number of visitors we have each week, it is apparent to all present that receiving on the tongue is the only option when the Sacred Host has been touched to the Precious Blood.

  23. sacredosinaeternum says:

    Fr. Z, by having Holy Communion administered on the tongue and KNEELING, you said, “The Holy Father is setting the example for all bishops and priests everywhere.”


    “The norm for reception of Holy Communion in the dioceses of the United States is standing. Communicants should not be denied Holy Communion because they kneel. Rather, such instances should be addressed pastorally, by providing the faithful with proper catechesis on the reasons for this norm.” (Institutio Generalis)

    May our Bishops be formed by the Holy Father and change their unjust norm soon!!

  24. Mitchell says:

    Father Z,

    Let me second that this blog and your insight is something that I repeat often to people I know of all faiths as a way to educate not only people on my opinions but Catholic identity as a whole. When people ask “How do you know that?” I simply say. “Father Z, look him up on the Internet”..Thank you for always bringing us clear information and opinion based on something solid..Your words reach far further from the room in which you sit and the people who are logged onto your blog…
    Also after receiving now on the tongue and kneeling I do not wish to go back to to practice of standing. I attend the TLM but once in a while go to the NO across the street (BTW refuses to have TLM, I asked) and feel awkward receiving while standing..So I continue to make the trip to another Diocease to go to the TLM. Are you of the opinion Father that this will change here in the US? A revocation of the allowance for standing? Do we have precedence for other allowances that have been reversed by mandate??? Peace and Blessings………

  25. Jill of the Amazing Wolverine Tribe says:

    Yes, let’s make receiving on the tongue the number one priority of concern. After that we can tackle forcing women [Typical. Turn it into a “power” issue. Game over. – Fr. Z] to wear veils. Some of the people on this blog would get their jollies for weeks. Meanwhile….how many abortions have taken place? How many literal CHILDREN are having sex? How many broken marriages? How many think it’s okay to cheat the employer? How many think it’s okay to vote for an immoral congressman/woman because he/she gets goodies for the district?

  26. Jordanes says:

    Tribal Jill said: Yes, let’s make receiving on the tongue the number one priority of concern.

    “Yes” indicates that you’re agreeing with something that someone said. I wonder who here, besides you that is, believes that receiving on the tongue should be the number one priority of concern.

    Seriously, though, just because these other moral crises in the world today need to be addressed, that doesn’t establish that communion on the tongue is a matter of unimportance in the Church’s liturgical tradition. So, since you appear to care so much about these other matters, and have only mockery for those who prefer communion on the tongue and chapel veils, how about you go and focus your attention on those matters and not trouble yourself that there are Catholics who disagree with your liturgical preferences?

  27. Jospeh says:


    It is only through a right understanding of our relation to God that we understand how we are to conduct ourselves as humans, and where do we relate more directly with God than in the Eucharist?

    If people don’t bother to receive God, truly present in the Blessed Sacrament, with reverence, why would they treat life with reverence?, or sexuality, or marriage, or their employer, or their duty as a citizen?

  28. Joseph: Jill won’t be joining us for a while. When the personal remarks start, I block people from the blog.

  29. Cornelius says:

    Fr. Z – “What we need to do is educate people away from it, . . . .”

    Yes, I entirely agree, though in the few instances where people presented themselves to receive communion this way (standing, hands out) I don’t think it was a matter of ignorance. Their facial expressions were curiously defiant, with an air of belligerence. Also, I know most of the people who frequent the EF, and these people I had never seen before. They were older too – mid 60’s, I’d guess. I wish to be charitable, but I think they were trying to make a point.

    The point didn’t take with the priest, though. Talking with him afterwards, he said that they should receive kneeling and on the tongue for the EF, but he would give them communion on the hand if “they really insisted on it,” i.e., if they kept their mouths clamped shut when he held the host to their lips. So far, no one has insisted in this way.

  30. Maureen says:

    I do wish one could get some practice kneeling at a prie dieu. I mean, sure, I could kneel at one no problem back when I was in 2nd grade, and I could take communion in the mouth pretty well back then also. But I’d never done both at the same time before last week.

    I’m not particularly large and I wasn’t moving particularly fast, but I almost knocked the prie dieu over when I was trying to kneel on it and then get up again. (Graceful sylphlike motion not being my strong point.) I’m sure I’m equally clomping in my movements at a communion rail, but they’ve got actual floor or long kneeler to absorb this stuff. A prie dieu doesn’t. This tends to make either the prie dieu or me sway, which is a bit dangerous for others nearby.

    Also, this confusing business of not saying Amen, not bowing the head, not doing this or that — honestly, I’m afraid I’ll take out Father or his fingers someday with my teeth, or possibly a couple servers with my head!

    So if somebody could institute a physical training program for not taking communion in the hand, I think a lot of us would find it helpful….

  31. Supertradmom says:

    Re: comment by Father Phillips above-I thought intinction was proscribed. I may be misinformed. Father Z, could you elaborate, please.

  32. Rose says:

    Had to laugh Maureen because I had the same experience a few weeks ago. I think practice will help but a stable communion rail or a prie dieu with sides (like a monk’s choir stall) for stability and for holding onto, will help a lot more.

  33. Patricia Maria says:

    Maureen, I nearly died laughing!!! Sometimes people “zone out” and you’re right, one could bite the fingers of the priest–by accident!!!! The part about “taking out the servers” is incredible!!!

  34. Baron Korf says:

    Jill’s post is not an anomaly. A lot of people I talk with do not think that liturgy is really what we should be spending time on, but going out and affecting the world positively. That’s when I try to do my best Lombardi: “Gentlemen, this is a football.” Except in this case it would be “Ladies and Gentlemen, this is a kneeler.”

    Good, simple, pious liturgy is our fundamentals. If that is rock solid, then we can be a stronger, wiser, and more united front against the ills of this world. It seems a little silly to most people that proper reverence can really help combat these problems. But most fundamentals training seem of little help at first. Yet they can make or break you.

    (My apologies for the sports reference if it came off wrong. It’s not my usual M.O.)

  35. mwa says:

    supertradmom: “The Blood of the Lord may be received either by drinking from the chalice directly, or by intinction, or by means of a tube or a spoon.” (GIRM 245) and “The norms of the Roman Missal admit the principle that in cases where Communion is administered under both kinds, ‘the Blood of the Lord may be received either by drinking from the chalice directly, or by intinction, or by means of a tube or a spoon’.[191] As regards the administering of Communion to lay members of Christ’s faithful, the Bishops may exclude Communion with the tube or the spoon where this is not the local custom, though the option of administering Communion by intinction always remains.” (Redemptionis Sacramentum 103)
    It is SELF-intinction that is forbidden:”If Communion from the chalice is carried out by intinction, each communicant, holding a communion-plate under the chin, approaches the priest, who holds a vessel with the sacred particles, a minister standing at his side and holding the chalice. The priest takes a host, dips it partly into the chalice and, showing it, says, Corpus et Sanguis Christi (The Body and Blood of Christ). The communicant responds, Amen, receives the Sacrament in the mouth from the priest, and then withdraws.” (GIRM 287) and clarified in Redemptionis Sacramentum (104): “The communicant must not be permitted to intinct the host himself in the chalice,….”

  36. Jim says:

    I find the Pope’s strength in this matter very enlightening. I grew up as an Altar Boy in the Latin Mass. The Novus ordo has always made me feel uncomfortable and I had tried to be active as an extraordinary minister and sacristan, all the while feeling a great discomfort. But in light of what I saw others doing in these positions, I was compelled to reduce the number of people who lacked the reverence and Fear of God that is required of any lay person. I eventually could not continue because, due to my upbringing, I could not overcome my inadequate human nature.

    About the order of “precedence.” I believe that there is an order, if I’m not mistaken, and it is in the Canon Law. Or at least I remember one in there somewhere. And the laity is at the bottom of the rung. Acolytes, although rare in the secular world, can be appointed by a Bishop after training. Altar boys are, I guess temporary acolytes, but limited to the functions they perform. My feelings are, let the priests be priests to the fullest extent. And make sure these men act and portray themselves as “real” men.

    I hope everyone will have a blessed and grace filled life. And let us all keep praying that the momentum that is growing for the return to Tradition we all need will pick up speed.

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