A Host found on the floor: a priest teaches his flock about Communion

This came from a reader:

It is from St. Paul’s in Philadelphia, where Fr. Gerald Carey is pastor.  The sender introduces the situation. 

Dear Father,
Due to recent sacrileges to the Blessed Sacrament at St. Paul Parish in Philadelphia, the pastor, Father Gerald Carey, had the following letter placed as a special insert into the weekly parish bulletin.  If only more priests would do the same.

In the following, my emphases and comments.


    Last week I was deeply upset about the fact that our maintenance man found a Sacred Host on the floor of the church while he was sweeping.  I can’t tell you how upsetting this was for me and how much this made me so sick to my stomach.  After speaking about this to a few people, they told me that this was not the first time that this has happened here at Saint Paul Parish.  I didn’t know whether to be upset with the individual who committed this despicable act of irreverence toward the Blessed Sacrament or myself for not being vigilant enough as a priest in watching people receive so as to ensure that they have consumed the Host completely in front of me at the Altar.  [Oh Father… you can’t watch everything.]

    I am not that old (41), and I remember as a child how the priests, nuns and my mother and father taught me how precious our Lord was in the Blessed Sacrament and how this was not just a “piece of bread” but truly the very Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus Christ – Bread from Heaven!  At that time no Catholic in my parish and most others would ever dream of touching the Host because of this belief[Amen and amen.  The priest’s hands are consecrated for this.]  I received my First Holy Communion in 1976 and was the last class only permitted  ["permitted"…. sigh…] to receive on the tongue then the Church granted an “indult” to receive both in the hand and on the tongue in 1977.  I remember us being told that this was an ancient practice and that both ways can be “just as reverent”.  [Right.  Yah.]  This may be true, and trust me I know that there are many who do receive on the hand reverently.  But, I also believe that overall, we as Catholics have gotten way too casual in our demeanor toward the Blessed Sacrament and I believe that those who do not receive Communion in the hand properly have in many ways diminished our understanding and belief in the Real Presence of Jesus Christ[It is a hard thing to have to say, but I agree.  It is not the fault of most people who do.  This has been a matter of creeping incrementalism, a nearly imperceptible shift.  When you change how we pray, right down to our posture and gestures for receiving Communion, you change our belief about the Eucharist.]  In every assignment I have had, I have encountered this problem.  Who would have ever thought that looking just 30 years back, we would even have to have this conversation; finding the Blessed Sacrament on the dirty floors of our churches, in hymn books, or taken God knows where else[That’s right.]

At the present moment, the Church allows for Communion given either in the hand or on the tongue.  The person receiving has the complete freedom to choose which way he or she wants to receive.  [Well… sort of.  If the priest thinks there is danger of profanation, he can insist, but generally he is right.  People do have rights.]  I myself, any priest and any Extraordinary Minister will always respect that decision and we will never look differently upon any individual for doing so.  I personally have always struggled in my heart with this decision by the Church to allow this to happen and I myself don’t prefer it and I struggle to believe that it has helped to increase reverence, awe and devotion among Catholics toward our Lord present in the Most Blessed Sacrament.  But, I must be obedient as a priest and I must allow for what the Church allows.  I have no authority to change this practice but as your Pastor, I do have an obligation to do all I can to safeguard and defend the Eucharist and to promote reverence toward Our Lord when I see an abuse.  [I think he is making himself clear.]

    With all this being said, [sounds like an ablative absolute… his dictis…] on the reverse side of this paper I have provided an instruction concerning the proper and reverent way to receive Communion in the hand in hopes that it will foster greater reverence to our Lord in the Most Blessed Sacrament if anyone chooses to receive that way[Though we hope they won’t.]  I remind you, that this manner of receiving is optional (not required) and the more time honored practice is receiving directly on the tongue.  Even our present Holy Father requires Communion on the tongue at his Masses.  I encourage all of you to really pray about this and to reflect upon what you are doing at the moment of receiving our Lord present in the Most Blessed Sacrament.  One Host lost is one too many for me.  May God help anyone who treats the Blessed Sacrament with such disrespect and may God help all of us to regain again a “sense of the sacred” in our Catholic churches.

      May the Heart of Jesus in the Most Blessed Sacrament be praised adored and loved with grateful affection at every moment in all the tabernacles of the world, even until the end of time.  Amen.

Sincerely yours,

Father Carey

Huge WDTPRS kudos to Fr. Carey.   Good job Father!

We are in your corner and thank you for your firm and charitable instruction.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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

    About a year ago it was discovered that someone was taking the Blessed Sacrament in their mouth back to their seat and (I shudder to even type this) . . . was spitting it out into the front cover of the hymnal, where it would stick and harden into the paper. It happened more than once.

    How was it handled? Our doyenne of sacramental prep and formation for first sacraments, a paragon of the typical thinking of the progressivist aggiornamento dismissed it as an act of defiance by a teen in the congregation, probably intended to get the parent mad. Nothing about the sacrilege or the scandal it may have caused others who witnessed it or knew about it.

    Although the Pastor expressed his sincere upset at the action of this unidentified teen, he nevertheless did little to correct the rather patronizing, touchy-feely, psychobabble attitide of the staff person.

    If it happens again I have no idea if we’ll hear about it, or if it will be addressed with the kind of exacting and direct language displayed here.

  2. Jenny Z says:

    God bless Fr. Carey a million times!! What courage it takes to write such a letter!

  3. Thank you Father Carey for this letter. One of the saddest things for me to see is acts such as these.

    This letter is clear, though I would stress receiving in the universal norm, since it could be argued that there\’s a risk of profanation.

  4. Becky says:

    Blessed be God forever. What a wonderful, faithful priest. This happened in our parish as well & our priest addressed it at the end of a Mass and in the bulletin in much the same way. For all the craziness we hear about in some places, there are many, many faithful priests. We need to pray for them always for the courage to continue to preach the truth.

  5. Luke says:

    It saddens me to have to say this about my own parish, but two Sundays ago an Extraordinary Minister (though they insist on calling them Eucharistic Ministers here…) dumped a tray of Our Lord on the floor. No one skipped a beat. No one even mentioned it. They even failed to pick one Sacred Host from the floor for an extended period of time before anyone noticed (read cared?). I talked to several people about this in my parish, including the individual in charge of religious education and the best answer I received, sadly, was “what can you do?”

    I also had the opportunity to visit the chapel at my local hospital on the occasion of my niece’s birth to spend some time praying before Our Lord in the Tabernacle, and found that the alter linens in this non-denominational space were still in place. Apparently the priest had spilled a large amount of the Precious Blood on the linens and just left. I reported it and it was immediately fixed, but I just don’t know what to do. It seems that there is a huge failure in my diocese and I am at a loss.

  6. Jon says:

    We just had a similar incident happen in our parish in Augusta, Ga. On November 9, our priest wrote this into our church bulletin:

    “My Dear Friends in Christ Jesus,

    “Yesterday at the end of the 10:00 a.m Sunday Mass, we received the disturbing report that a Host was found underneath the pews. This is an extreme sacrilege and a serious profaning of the Body of Christ. Whether by accident or design, the sacred Host is not to be taken lightly. I encourage the parents of our children to make sure that they instruct their children in the proper handling of the Eucharist, and I remind our communion ministers that they should watch each communicant to make sure that they are consuming the Host immediately upon reception of the Sacred Body of Our Lord. There have been times in my life as a priest where I have had to stop someone and make sure they are consuming the Host on-the-spot. Years ago, I even had to reach out and stop a man who was putting the Host in his shirt pocket!! Let us all be mindful that the Eucharist is something holy and supernatural, and let us take greater care to be reverent to the Real Presence of Christ in His Body and Blood.”


    Maybe if this happens enough, on-the-tongue will begin to be demanded by our good priests and laity. Would that it were so!

  7. Charivari Rob says:

    Luke – “…but two Sundays ago an Extraordinary Minister …”

    Wow! That is rough.

    More than the DRE or ‘people’, what did the person who trains/supervises the ECMCs say? Or the celebrant (assuming it didn’t happen in front of him)? Or the pastor?

    I still remember the one and only time I served in that capacity.

    I was probably about 16, and this was one of our gym Masses (Our Lady of the Hoops) at the same time as a Mass in the main Church. The usually functional system failed that day – none of the scheduled Eucharistic Ministers (this was before the terminology was corrected) presented themselves except one nun. No non-scheduled ministers presented themselves. No deacon on at this Mass. No priest walked over from the rectory. Father (R.I.P.) looked out from the altar, searching for anyone he thought could help (normally there would be at least six people, including himself, to distribute under one species to the 600-700 present). Finally, he beckoned me from where I was sitting in the front half of the gym (he knew me as a reasonably competent altar boy) and drafted me as an emergency extraordinary etc, etc…

    I was so nervous as I stepped to the head of one aisle that I had a white-knuckle death grip on the ciborium. My hand was shaking so badly as the first person on line presented themselves (I think it was my sister, R.I.P.) that I dropped four hosts. I banged down on my knees to pick them up from the floor and held them clamped in my other hand against the outside of the ciborium until I was done and could return to the altar.

    I suppose I would be a little more composed if ever I become an ECHC, but appropriate respect, awe and healthy fear for the preciousness of what is distributed is never amiss.

    You’ve really given me something to think on, Luke. You’ve made me examine whether I bring the same respect to receiving the Lord that I would to distributing.

  8. Jonathan says:

    Ever since listening to Fr. Z’s PODCAzT interview with Fr. Nolan about the consecrated hands of the priest, I have only received on the tongue, and only from a priest. [God Bless you.] This requires some significant herding of the family and upsetting of ushers as it is very unpredictable where the priest will stand to distribute communion at the happy-clappy church we attend about half the time. But I do feel my sense of reverence has significantly increased by these simple practices.

    About the same time I started attending an EF church, which is where my heart is, and where we go the other half of the time. As a Roman Catholic convertee I had no experience of receiving on the tongue, and we certainly were not instructed on this at RCIA classes. I was a bit intimidated and afraid I would do something wrong. My good friend gave me the following advice, which has worked well, and is worth repeating:

    “Open your mouth wide, but not so wide that it is uncomfortable. Stick your tongue out, but not so far it is uncomfortable. Leave the rest up to the priest; it is his job to get the host in there safely”

    Perhaps Father Z could weigh in on how properly to receive on the tongue?

  9. Mark says:

    I guess I will act as devil’s advocate here. On the one hand, I understand why everyone feels the way they do about receiving on the tongue, I mean it is the body of Christ after all and should be treated with respect and handled with consecrated hands. On the other hand, Jesus came here to earth and allowed anyone to approach and touch him, even the lepers, so what is so wrong with receiving him in our hands?

  10. Bob says:

    Father Z, you and Father Carey are so “Right-On.”

  11. kat says:

    Jonathan, We do the same thing when there is not a TLM in our area (all summer in Maine). If it is too difficult to get into the line with the priest (at churches in the round they bop all over the place) then we just make a spiritual communion.

    It is a bit of a cultural jarring when after 9 months of receiving on the tongue at the altar rail we go to a NO and get comments afterwards, “You are that guy who kneels at Communion,” or “You are that lady who wears a hat to Mass.” Yeah, we stand out, especially with the 6th kid obviously on the way, but I can be hopeful that we are planting a seed in someone’s heart by our actions.

  12. TJB says:

    Michael Davies’ “A Privilege of the Ordained” is a good resource on this topic. It really opened my eyes and changed my heart. It can be found at many Catholic book stores and online.

  13. Liam says:

    And it should be remembered that receiving on the tongue is no failsafe against profanation and sacrilege – mostly it may be a help against inadvertent, unintentional incidients. People who were intent on it in the pre-indult days most certainly knew how to do so and did.

  14. Ben says:

    Glad to see the priest standing up for Our Lord, and being faithful and obedient at the same time.

    And yes, as a classicist, the “his omnis dictis” really made the letter for me. :-D

  15. Ray from MN says:

    Thank God for our priests in their 40s and younger who unlike their seniors are quite aware of the history of the Church and revere it.

    It sure would be nice if someone could post the “back” page of Father Carey’s letter, containing the “instruction concerning the proper and reverent way to receive Communion in the hand”, so that it could get distributed to other blogs and parishes.

  16. Chris says:

    While I feel for this priest, I’m not firmly in his corner. If he really, really wants to do something about this, have people kneel and receive on the tongue. Go even further and build an altar rail. And distribute the Communion yourself and get rid of laymen doing the job to ensure it is done right. Them handing it out is not a right either. [Brick by brick, Chris. Don’t let the perfect become the enemy of the good.]

    It is not anyone’s right to receive in the hand. And if that’s not the case, then our Holy Father is breaking his own rules. Try standing and receiving in your hands at one of his Masses now. It has been made clear that will no longer happen.

    We need to start being men and stand up to this nonsense. And if that means this priest is reprimanded by his bishop, then so be it. He should wear it as a badge of honor. [Easy for you to say.]

    I’m not being negative. I am following the example of our Holy Father. While I believe in full restoration and not the reform of the reform, if all of you that do believe in reforming the reform really believe the pope is leading that effort by example, then here is your chance to follow his lead. And if you don’t, it’s all just empty rhetoric.

    This is Our Lord we’re talking about here folks. And protecting him from being thrown on the floor like litter is more important that honoring the ’83 Code.

  17. Susan Schudt says:

    A wonderful solution – Holy Communion by intinction. [Unless you go here.] If the pastor has an associate and a deacon this wouldn’t be a time burden. It solves many problems – no more EM’s and Holy Communion only on the tongue! Can you imagine the reverence that would return to this Parish? :)

  18. Mitch says:

    The allowance for receiving in the hand should be recinded…Times have changed and people respect very little anymore and many would not think twice about “carrying the host off”. If receiving on the tongue prevents one less Host from hitting the dirty floor or being put in a pocket headed for the washing machine then we are all the better off for it. Maybe there was a time where people would think twice before doing something like this, but sadly these times are gone, and so should be the indult allowing this…….

  19. Ed the Roman says:

    It might be instructive to refer to Our Lord being assaulted by these incidents. Sacrilege has a connotation of unreality for some. [Right. We have a lot of remedial catechism to do.]

  20. PreVatII says:

    As a former Marine Corps infantry officer, I tend to take the direct approach to problems. For the life of me, I can not understand why the Holy Father, Keeper of the Keys, doesn’t respond in a letter, worldwide, to his bishops. It should say the following:

    “My brother bishops: The indult allowing reception of “communion in the hand” these past several decades has led, not only to outrages sacrilege, but also to a dramatic loss of faith in the Eucharist. Therefore, I am immediately ending the indult worldwide in the Roman Rite. Communion will be administered to the faithful on the tongue and kneeling. It will be administered only by a priest or deacon. Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion are no longer allowed.

    I know that for many of you, proper catechesis of your faithful will take time, and that a return to altar rails will also be difficult. However, I have the utmost confidence in you.

    I expect these changes to be made within six months of receipt of this letter. If, for any reason, you can not, or will not comply with my wishes, I will relieve you of your duties, and replace you with another bishop of my choosing.”

  21. Patrick says:

    Great letter. I pray that we will see more of these in the coming months.

    Unfortunately, until we have many, many more priests, we will need extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion.

  22. Carlos says:

    WOW! If only ALL pastors were like this! =]

  23. Paul Haley says:

    With the most profound respect for the Vicar of Christ on earth and the moderator of this Forum, an “alter Christus” for certain, and having in mind the abuses we have heard of in the celebration of holy mass and in the reception of the Eucharist I, with abject humility, offer the following prayer:

    Dear St. Joseph, Protector of Holy Church, inspire your namesake Joseph, now Benedict, to govern the Holy Church with a firm and resolute hand, to remove those who openly preach and practice against the Holy Faith, to reject any and all heresies, to welcome without delay those who have for years fought to retain Tradition in practice and belief, to render Justice to those who have been mistakenly identified as outside the church, and to provide for the continuation of Holy Tradition in liturgy, practice and belief among all those who your Son has won for His Father in Heaven.

    Sit beside Joseph, now Benedict, and watch and inspire his every move that he may accurately and faithfully govern the Church here on earth. Give him the courage to do what must be done as you did when you left everything and went with your beloved spouse Mary and the Holy Infant, Jesus, to the safety of Egypt. Do not allow the enemies of Holy Church to influence Joseph, now Benedict, in any way with the heresies of Modernism so accurately described by the saintly St. Pius X in the encyclical Pascendi Domenici Gregis, a warning given to us over 100 years ago.

    Inspire all our spiritual fathers to do what must be done to set on proper course our Holy Church on earth and together with Joseph, now Benedict, to proclaim the truth throughout the world and gain many souls for your Beloved Son. St. Joseph, you have never failed us and we ask for your special attention and concern now with the enemy of the Cross at our doorstep. Together with the Holy Angel, St. Michael, fight those enemies with every weapon in the heavenly arsenal and preserve us in our faith now and forever, Amen.

    As a Catholic boy raised in the Faith in the late 1940s and early 1950s, humbly serving the Extraordinary Form on my knees as reverently and capably as I could, and viewing the priest celebrating the Mass as an “alter Christus”, I find myself now, today, with no other option but to pray for a return to the Faith that I once knew, holy and undefiled. Will you join me? Thanks be to God.

  24. Rudy of CC says:

    I have stopped my children from receiving in the hand. I feel that the reception of Our Lord on the hand is profane,and we must respect his most Holy presence of Our Lord Jesus Christ.

  25. A Priest says:

    I’m a priest who was deeply saddened by certain acts of sacrilege against the Blessed Sacrament. Over half of the congregation in the church I serve were receiving Holy Communion in the hand, and regularly I was having to stop people from walking away with the Sacred Host. Since the summer I have made a statement at every Mass explaining the danger of profanation, and asking the congregation to receive the Blessed Sacrament on the tongue. I also reintroduced the Communion plate at Masses where there is no server, asking communicants to pass it from one to another. Now hardly anyone ever attempts to receive in the hand, and I have been able to administer Communion exclusively on the tongue for the last few months.

  26. Maureen says:

    Re: Why not just lay down the law?

    If you lay down the law in a way which provides more options , without catechesis, people say to themselves, “Okay. More stuff is good.”

    If you lay down the law in a restrictive way without catechesis, and plenty of time to get used to the idea, too, people will think you’re just being a meanie — and they’ll break the law all the time, get defiant, or walk off in a huff.

    My early 70’s generation was never taught why we received communion on the tongue in the first place, or why we switched to hands a few years later. We never learned about the priest having consecrated hands, or any of that stuff — not at First Communion time, not at any later time. We were formed to do whatever the pastor or the bishop or whoever was in charge told us to do, and not given any scriptural or traditional backing for anything we did in a sacrament. (Except Pentecost for Confirmation, and Baptism, which we’d already gotten, and the institution of Communion at the Last Supper.)

    However, that’s relatively a mercy. At least we weren’t bombarded with propaganda explaining how the old ways were evil and the new ways the only good.

    But we’ve had time to get used to it — years and generations of time — and the natural laudable conservatism of people in the pews will now tend to work against changes, except with the kids.

    So if you’re going to institute communion on the tongue and only on the tongue, you’re going to have to spend a lot of time justifying it to adults, or you will hear nothing but complaints and see nothing but people walking out. If you explain and give time for people to think about it, they’ll start thinking it’s not just a good idea, but embrace it as their own.

    That’s why the Holy Father is taking his time.

    It’s relatively easy for him to make communion on the tongue a personal privilege, because he’s the Pope and people want and expect weird cermonies and unusual solemnity, when it comes to high office. Yet notice how slowly he took even that!

  27. a catechist says:

    After listening with an open mind to the audio that Jonathan refers to above, I was still unpersuaded. But my husband suggested that I just try receiving on the tongue for a bit. And you know what? I find I have greater peace and (when the kids are quiet enough) deeper contemplation after Communion. I’ve concluded from this experience that regardless of this or that argument, it is more pleasing to God that I receive this way. I think it’s a clear case of liturgy being itself a form of catechesis.

    Maybe inviting folks to try it, without making arguments, will be helpful to some. I’m not contradicting this good priest or his efforts. But I think it’s worth remembering that an invitation to try something traditional can create an opportunity for the Lord to do his own teaching and make his points himself.

  28. Byzshawn says:

    Alas, these episodes are all too common. I am the former music director at a minor basilica (and national shrine). Our sexton would often find hosts on the floor, thrown behind statutes, etc. Although she was legally blind, she found them because she claimed she could see them glowing. She wasn’t the kind of person to make things up, so I’ve always counted this as further proof of the true nature of the Eucharist. All of us, priests and laity, need to keep praying and teaching so that this shameful behavior will cease.

  29. I too am interested in the “instruction concerning the proper and reverent way to receive Communion in the hand” on the back of the paper.

  30. Paul says:

    There is an instruction from the Vatican from the late 1990’s, (I don’t have it at my fingertips, but I saw, and I used it once). It is brief and to the point,if the priest has any indication that the Most Holy Sacrament may be profaned in a given community, he has the authority to insist on Holy Communion distributed on the tongue. The Church backs the parish priest in these circumstances.

  31. Mike B. says:

    God Bless Fr. Carey indeed. I must admit that his concluding sentence brought tears to my eyes as I sat here in my office.


    PS Well, once again the literature professor in me emerges: I wonder if Father Carey is a descendant of Mathew Carey (that’s the way he spelled his first name, by the way), one of the leading publishers in Philadelphia during the early nineteeth century? A Catholic, Carey remains best known for publishing “the Carey Bible,” the first American edition of the Douay-Rheims bible. His son, Henry, took over when Mathew retired in 1822, and the firm (under a different name) went on to publish Poe’s collection Tales of the Grotesque and Arabesque in December 1839. Please excuse me for the brief lesson in American literary history!

  32. Daniel Latinus says:

    Somebody petitioned for the indult permitting Communion in the hand. Who do we need to talk to to petition to have the indult recinded? A public campaign on this would be an excellent opportunity to catechize those who have been misled about this.

  33. RichR says:

    You can almost feel the grief of this priest as he writes the letter. You can also feel the frustration as his hands are tied behind his back with the letter of the law. He knows that he can only do so much to instill a love of the Blessed Sacrament into the hearts of his flock.

    As long as CitH is allowed, it will, IMHO, continue to erode away reverence for the Blessed Sacrament because it is, by nature, too similar to banal acts of feeding oneself. People who take no interest in sacramental theology (or basic catechesis) will learn by what they do. If they are strongly encouraged to receive on the tongue, and they actually do it, they will immediately be aware that something different is going on.

    It’s the same with incense, priestly vestments, gregorian chant, Latin, etc….. It’s a chance to experience something apart from the casual, daily grind. Your actions are different, and that reminds you (as it did countless ages of saints) that you are meant for something beyond this “vale of tears”.

  34. Larry says:

    People might want to recall that the stories of many miracles of the Eucharist involved profanations by those who had received our Lord on the tongue. So it is true that this method does not preclude those possibilites. None the less things can be done to limit profanations by those who receive in the hand. At our Cathedral Parish the ushers become Communion Sentries who stand to the side of the priest and observe those who receive. No one is to pass these sentries without having consumed the Sacrament. It is effective.

  35. Michael J says:

    Honestly, have most Catholics lost all sense of proportion? Before introduction of Communion in the paw, perhaps a dozen instances of profanation can be found over hundreds of years.

    Nobody is disagreeing that those intent on profaning Our Lord will be entirely stopped by revoking the indult, but lets get real. Should we make it easier for them? Seriously, nobody can disagree that if a burglar really wants to break into your house, he will be able to do so, but is anyone willing to leave their door open and unlocked?

  36. From Fr. Fryar’s Scribble Pad (www.scribblepad.us):

    I Dropped Him ….

    It was the lunch break Mass, and many people in the congregation had to be back at work on time. So being faced with a few hundred communicants and not having another priest to help with the distribution of Holy Communion, I was trying to find the balance between a steady pace and the reverence that Our Lord deserves.

    I am not sure how it happened, but the host slipped out of my fingers, and sooner than I could gasp He had bounced off the corner of the ciborium, helplessly bounced off my fingers again as I reached for Him, and there the Sacred Host went, tumbling, tossing and floating down at the mercy of gravity, all in slow motion, until He came to rest on the floor.

    The world had been paralyzed around me. I no longer heard the music of the choir. From the corner of my eyes I noticed the look on the altar boy’s face as he missed catching Our Lord on his paten. The communicant knelt struck with shock, and then the altar boy looked at me with a question of what to do.

    I quickly lifted Our Lord from where He had come to rest. The server went to fetch a purificator, and another altar boy brought over a lit candle to mark the place. Once the spot had been covered with the white purificator I finished distributing Holy Communion, my hands shaking all the while.

    I finished Mass with a different tone of voice. I could not believe what I had just done. After Mass I removed the chasuble and went back to purify the spot, getting down on my hands and knees and washing the location three times as I prayed the Miserere.

    For the rest of the day all I could see was the sight of the Sacred Host tumbling hopelessly to the ground while I could do nothing about it, and knowing that it was all my fault. ….. And when I celebrated Mass again in the evening, as I raised the Host for the Ecce Agnus Dei, I had to fight with all my strength to stop my eyes welling up, all the while seeing that Holy Host falling… falling.. falling.

    In the evening I received a few phone calls from some of the people present. Having never seen a Host fall before, they were impressed with the ritual of marking the spot and purifying the floor later. And all the while that they were telling me what a lesson this was of the sacredness of the Blessed Sacrament, and how they were moved to devotion from what they saw…

  37. Chris says:

    Wow, thanks for sharing that Henry.

  38. Mila says:

    Thanks be to God, and God bless Fr. Carey and all priests who try to make people more reverent towards the Blessed Sacrament. In our parish, the new vicar once at daily Mass told the congregation that he wanted to see those who received in the hand to consume the host before they went back to the pew, or else he would come after them to make sure they had. Thank God he’s never had to do it, but it was wonderful to hear him say it. Most people don’t really know what they’re doing due to poor catechesis.

  39. Mary says:

    Henry, your story reminds me of a slight change I’ve noticed at my parish. My new pastor, when a host is dropped, purifies the spot before Mass is over. I’ve seen it twice in four months at a Sunday Mass (perhaps he is preparing the congregation for a return to using patens? Twice in four months is kind of a lot). You can feel how everyone watches him and I believe that it does make them think again, “Yes, this IS Jesus!”

  40. MargaretC says:

    I, too, am interested in your thoughts on receiving communion on the tongue. Specifically, after receiving in the hand, how does one go about making the switch?

    My concern about reception on the tongue is that, without kneelers and patens, it seems somewhat insecure. I’d receive on the tongue gladly, if somebody would bring back altar rails.

    By the way…I was an Episcopalian for 35 years, and always received in the hand while kneeling. Looking back, that seems very odd.

  41. paul says:

    I would love to receive communion on the tongue but am afraid to do so unless there are patens. I have a great fear of the Priest or Eucharistic Minister missing my tongue — with my hands cupped that cannot happen.

    I agree, please bring back the communion rail and discontinue Eucharistic Ministers.

  42. Tony from Oz says:


    From the time Communion in the Hannd was introduced here in Australia after August 1976 until today, I have always continued to receive on the tongue (and, at OF Masses) standing. I have never even thought, let alone experienced, any anxiety about the host ‘missing my tongue’. If anything, it is a far securer way of reception than by hand. The sacred host always adheres, almost immediately to the tongue. By the way – in relation to the person who asked for the manner in which to receive the host – I would add that the best way is to open one’s mouth and rest the tip of one’s tongue on the bottom lip (sticking it out as far as one’s physiognomy allows!). My goodly Sr Elizabeth, an excellent Presentation sister who instructed me infor First Holy Communion (may she RIP) also told us to gently work the host off the roof of our mouths with our tongues – but never to chew the host – before swallowing.

    Of course, altar rails and communion patens are the ideal – but, I do think, at least in light of 32 years of receiving on the tongue in a standing position, I do think you are stressing needlessly on this issue, my friend.

  43. My preference is for the Ordinary Form of the Liturgy, solemnly celebrated, with reverence and sacred music from tradition. I seldom go to the E.F Masses my parish offers.

    But when I do, I am so glad that I can recieve kneeling! At the communion rail no less.

    I most ofter recieve on the toung. In the last five years I have recieved in my hand exactly twice: Once, when I had a horrible, lingering and painful Cold, and wanted to recieve at the same time I didn’t want to give my infection to everyone after me–so “just in case” I recieved in the hand. The other was in the Hospital, when the priest who came to give me the Sacraments placed the host in my (painful, restricted motion and drugged up) hand, befor I could indicate any preference.

    I’m still a trifle ticked about that last.

  44. Margaret: Specifically, after receiving in the hand, how does one go about making the switch?

    I’d say … Just go ahead and do it. In my local parish, large and typical suburban, with a very modern round church with no altar rail — where of course we stand for communion — a few years ago there were only a few of us receiving on the tongue, but I don’t recall any difficulties.

    About 18 months ago a new pastoral team began doing a number of things to make the atmosphere at Mass more sacral — tabernacle, crucifix, statues moved back into the sanctuary, Sanctus and Agnus Dei in Latin, servers in surplices and cassocks with communion patens, Roman canon on solemnities and important feast days, more bells and frequent incense, etc. Although quietness before, during, and after Mass has been mentioned in sermons, along with the fact that hand-holding during the Pater Noster is not part of the Roman rite, I don’t recall communion on the tongue ever being mentioned explicitly. But a number of people (inevitably, I’d say) have responded to the more sacred atmosphere by beginning to receive on the tongue, seemingly altogether on their own; now perhaps about half of the 50 to 60 daily Mass attendees do so.

  45. ssoldie says:

    To reverance our Lord and dismiss the profanation of Him, I would suggest, to have a communion rail, kneel, have an alter boy use a patin(w/handle) open mouth, gently protrude tongue,recieve our Lord, withdraw tongue into mouth.

  46. Josiah Ross says:

    This is a sad story.I know tat Fr,Carey is a good priest wit a heart for Jesus and the church.will keep St.Paul’s in my prayers. I’ve seen desecrations and near desecrations more than once. Once when I was going to a church(not my own parish)to practice organ, I dropped the keys and found a dirty, dusty host under a table, that and obviously been there some time. I dealt with it the way I could.
    Twice while serving mass, I’ve seen people attempt to walk away with the host. Another time, a lady recieved communion in the and and broke the host into pieces by accident. Luckily, we use communion patens at my parish, though I’m not sure if I caught all the pieces.
    I am a convert from protestantism, and I’ve never received communion in the hand and never will. I received my first communion kneeling, and every communion except the ones I’ve received wile serving mass since. I don’t feel self-conscious,and I wouldn’t have any problem doing it at other parishes.(so I do.)Especially at daily mass, I don’t feel self-conscious, since many of the people who go to daily mass at my parish receive communion kneeling and on the tougue.

  47. sergio says:

    I am a extraordinary minister of Holy Communion,I know that alot of people in my parish dont treat the body of chrit as they should,thats why we should be more vigilant.

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