POLL: to chew or not to chew

There was a very spirited discussion in the last POLL post about Communion in the Hand.  There is also an active combox here.

The overwhelming response of readers of this blog responded that they prefer to receive normally on the tongue.  I applaud them.

I don’t think people who receive on the hand intend irreverence, but I contend that the generalized practice of Communion in the hand has severely damaged the faith of Catholic people in what the Church teaches about the Eucharist.

But there are other issues of reception of Communion which relate to the question of Communion in the hand or on the tongue.

Catholics believe that the Host and all small particles, the Precious Blood and small droplets of It, are the entire Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus Christ.  This is the perfect and infallible teaching of the Church.  Every Catholic is bound to believe this and those who deny it are heretics.

However, we don’t really know how small is small, in the sense of our ability to recognize the accidents of bread and wine which remain after transsubstantiation.

Because we can’t recognize precisely when the accidents of bread or wine cease and the Real Presence of Christ in what remains has ceased, it is entirely reasonable to be cautious and conservative rather than casual and careless about what is a great Mystery.

Another question is how to consume the Host once it is administered by whichever method?

Chew or not?

Allow it to dissolve, soften and then swallow?

Hosts vary in size and consistency.

People have differing abilities to swallow.

Many people of a certain age who attended Catholic were strongly admonished by their teachers, probably sisters, never to chew.  They might have been told that that helps to keep some of the Host sticking to teeth.  They might have even been told by the pious and well-meaning that you hurt Jesus if you chew Him.

Assuming that you are receiving Communion through some normal means, with reasonably normal Hosts and not those ghastly (in my opinion) homemade "substantial bread" things, how do you consume the Host?

It is assumed that the conditions would be a little different if you are consuming by intinction, but you can still answer the question.


How do you consume the Host?

  • Generally avoid chewing and allow It to dissolve or soften before swallowing (63%, 1,374 Votes)
  • Generally chew to some degree and then swallow (37%, 815 Votes)

Total Voters: 2,189

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
This entry was posted in POLLS. Bookmark the permalink.


  1. Bill says:

    Just as a general note, for me personally, the older I get, the harder it is to swallow. The thick, rather large, hosts used most places don’t help much, and they take a fairly long time to dissolve in the mouth (another characteristic as I get older is that my mouth is getting dryer).

    My vote, if I had one, would be for the smaller, thinner old-style hosts. Anybody know where to order them? I think our priest would consider ordering them if they can still be obtained.

  2. Tzard says:

    While for pious or otherwise good reasons, acceptable practice may change.

    I do recall that (in the Greek), Jesus commands us in scripture to not merely to “eat” his body, but to “chew” or “gnaw”.

  3. John Enright says:

    Bill: You’re not being irreverent if your particular condition requires that you do that. God knows, and I know that He appreciates your reception of the Holy Eucharist. God bless!

  4. Michael says:

    I’m 52, and I was one of those who were taught by the sisters never to chew. Funny how those little things stick with you (pun not intended). Anyway, as a middle-aged adult I find it easier to do since I started attending the TLM — they seem to use smaller hosts there. Just one more benefit…

  5. Jenny Z says:

    I’m a convert of 3 years, it never occurred to me not to chew… I guess I don’t understand why you wouldn’t?

  6. Marie says:

    Quite honestly, what possible difference does it make? Jesus told us to eat his flesh. Eating, for those with teeth, generally involves chewing. Whether you allow your teeth, or the enzymes in your saliva to dissolve the host would seem to be irrelevant.

  7. David says:

    I have long been told that the Greek word used in John 6 that we translate as “eat” was, in classic Greek, the same or similar to the word “chew”. If this is correct, I assume that John did so to convey more graphically that the Lord is really present in the Eucharist, and not to add certainty one way or the other to the chew on not to chew question. It is interesting though (if what I’d been told is, in fact, accurate).

  8. JimR says:

    I was taught by the nuns(back in the 50’s)to never chew and swallow as soon as possible. I have noticed at Novus Ordo masses that chewing/non-chewing correlates with age.

  9. Chris says:

    Father, I was having a good day before yet another depressing poll that shows how far we’ve really fallen. I don’t blame you — it just is what it is.

    Now, let the modernists say how they deserve to chew Jesus; how Jesus would want to be chewed and nashed; how they’re too affraid of chocking to not chew it even though all our ancestors some how lived through centuries of perilous dissolving and swallowing. Whatever.

    I feel like the Catholic Church, wrapped currently in a suffocating blanket of modernism, is like the world economy: we’re just sitting back and waiting to hit the “bottom” before we can get better.

    I can’t imagine we can go any lower than this. Let us pray this is the bottom.

  10. Jeff Pinyan says:

    I used to chew (especially when I received in the hand, but still after I started receiving on the tongue), but now I don’t. I have a couple reasons:

    * I don’t want any fragments to get stuck in my teeth (lest I accidentally spit some out while singing or speaking)

    * I’ve become a bit conscious of the act of chewing. In my versus populum parish, the priest and the EMHCs are all facing us when they are consuming the Host. The priest’s Host is usually firmer (“crunchier”) and audible. I try not to watch anymore, since there’s no reason to watch (in my opinion). I have my eyes closed or averted and I pray.

    * Chewing seems rushed to me. If I let the Host dissolve on my tongue, the very act of receiving Communion is prolonged for me.

  11. Dave says:

    While I don’t chew the Host, mostly out of decorum, we were also instructed to never permit it to dissolve in our mouths but to swallow it as soon as possible as the act of eating involves swallowing. Consequently, the argument went, it was necessary to swallow the appearance of bread in order to have actually communicated. Hope that’s not a rabbit hole!

  12. Two points:

    1. In the Greek text of John 6, Our Lord uses the word TROGO (“chew/gnaw”) in verse 54: “He who chews my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life.” In the previous verse, however, the Evangelist writes ESTHIO (“eat”): “Unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you.”

    2. In Jone & Adelman’s Moral Theology (Westminster, 1952), we read: “If the Sacred Species are retained in the mouth until They are dissolved one does not receive the Sacrament” (p. 349).

    Our Lord’s command to gnaw on His flesh in the Eucharist, under the species of bread and wine, assumes that the recipient would actually “eat” It literally, i.e. chew It and swallow It as food. It seems that if we merely let It dissolve in the mouth there is no eating, only mastication.

  13. Jeff Pinyan says:

    Chris @ 2:49 pm: “let the modernists say how they deserve to chew Jesus”.

    Is this really a “modernist” issue? I think you’re over-dramatizing the issue.

  14. Chris says:

    Jeff: Is this really a “modernist” issue? I think you’re over-dramatizing the issue.

    Right — everything traditionals are worried about is “over-framatization” and nothing you all do is modernism.

    Our Church is suffering the death of 1,000 cuts after the major heart-attack of Vatican II.

    But keep telling yourself that cut number 1001 isn’t that big of a deal.

  15. Therese says:

    Seeing people chew as they walk away horrifies me every time I see it. I was taught to let it
    dissolve in my mouth and swollow it as soon as possible. Seems totally irreverent to chew
    on the body of God.

  16. Hung says:

    I like the “Chew or Choke” instruction from the priest. What I liked about using communion rails is that you can just bide your time and chew without anyone seeing you and focus on consuming as a reverent act (which it is), then go back when you’re done. In the NO, it seems like a rush, and they’re just pushing you aside so the next person can get his fill of Precious Blood.

  17. Bill says:

    John Enright, thanks, but I’m not worried about being irreverent. (And I don’t chew, but I’m not pharisaical about it.)

    Mostly, I guess I’m just whining about getting older, and about the problems of the Cavanaugh hosts that the parish currently buys. (Besides being big and thick, they do produce crumbs and particles and dust during transit in their plastic cannisters, despite their touted “sealed edges.” This means the EMHC must be even more careful when giving the Body and Blood of Christ to communicants.)

  18. Jean says:

    Seeing people chew as they walk horrifies me every time I see it. I was taught to let it
    dissolve in my mouth and swollow it as soon as possible. You don’t play with the Eucharist.
    Seems totally irreverent to chew on the body of God. I also think it can get stuck between teeth.

  19. A hopeful soul says:

    I wouldn’t mind people chewing if they would do so with more decorum than an 8 year old eating popcorn.

  20. Jeff Pinyan says:

    (In case it really is a big deal, I don’t let the Host dissolve completely on my tongue, but enough to allow me to swallow it without incident.)

  21. Annemarie says:

    I was taught by the nuns not to chew. But the majority in our parish do chew the Host when receiving. What I don’t like to see are the people who are very sloppy about chewing, along with those who look like they are waiting in line at a fast food restaurant while in line for Communion. No reverence at all.

  22. David says:

    I’d like to know if there is a theologically right or wrong answer to this, or if it does not matter. There seems to be a real difference of opinion on a matter that I assume many of us (including me) have received no instruction; especially, in light of the reference by Mr. Wallace to not receiving the Sacrament if the host is left in the mouth to dissolve.

  23. Jeff Pinyan says:

    Chris @ 2:59 pm: “nothing you all do is modernism.”

    If you’re accusing me of modernism, or running with a modernist group, I would ask you to consider if you know me at all. I’m not detecting any charity in your tone.

    I’m also not sure it has been determined yet if chewing the Host is, indeed, a “cut”. [I don’t keep this blog open so that people can pick on each other. Not today, folks. Not today.]

  24. MargaretMN says:

    “I don’t think people who receive on the hand intend irreverence, but I content that the generalized practice of Communion in the hand has severely damaged the faith of Catholic people in what the Church teaches about the Eucharist.”

    I am not so sure. I think improper and bad chatechesis is more responsible for irreverence than the action itself. We have lost a generation here, Father.

  25. Mark M says:

    I must confess, I too was taught not to chew, but I do fold the host with my tongue and then swallow.

  26. Ben Douglass says:

    I break the host in half against the roof of my mouth and then swallow. This way it is sufficiently easy to swallow, and I can steer clear of the twin dangers of (1) catching particles of the host in my teeth from whence I might spit them out while singing or where they may simply remain to be dissolved into scum and (2) allowing the sacramental species to be destroyed before swallowing, in which case, according to Jone, I haven’t received the Sacrament.

  27. Mark M says:

    Ben, you’ve just described what I was trying to say.

    Wasn’t Jone a bit of a Jansenist? ;-)

  28. Xpihs says:

    People chew gum, but we don’t say that they are eating it. One can eat, consume the eucharist without chewing. As to particles remaining in the mouth, perhaps the Church should restore the custom of having cups for the purification of the mouths of the communicants.

  29. Susan says:

    I like to consider myself an orthodox Catholic, (at least I try,) but this “to chew or not to chew” discussion, and the scrupulous responses to it, leave a bad taste in my mouth. :) Really, this whole discussion is what allows the modernists to either complain about orthodox, or rejoice as they watch us argue about something so trivial. Please, can we just listen to the Church? As far as I know, there is nothing in the GIRM about chewing or not chewing.

  30. CB says:

    I never heard of not chewing until and old lady at church complained that everyone she saw coming back from communion was “chewing, chewing, chewing, and being so disrespectful.” After that I tried not chewing. However, I found that the Host takes so long to dissolve, that I feel like I am treating It like a cough drop. Just sucking on It and waiting for It to disappear. So I have gone back to chewing, but then I wonder what I am supposed to do when some gets stuck in my back molars… Yes, small and quickly disolving would be best.

  31. Bill says:

    “Chewing” vs. “Eating” in Greek: My practical mind suggests that in the early days of the Church, when the Body of Christ was under the appearances of a large unleavened bread, from which the people (or the priest, I wasn’t there so I don’t know) tore or broke off pieces, each of which was fully the Body and Blood of Christ, they had to chew. There was no other way. Even if the bread looked like a large matzoh (which I guess it did), the problem would be the same. Thus John’s use of the word “chew” as synonomous with “eat.”

    Later, things changed. Someone had the bright idea of manufacturing individual portions. But the context (eating) stayed the same.

    The nuns had their reasons for telling us what they did. It may also be that, as Sister Martha Mary says often on her blog, sometimes nuns made things up. Someone here can probably cite chapter and verse from Canon Law or other authority what we are supposed to do. If there aren’t any “rules” about it, then I think we can safely stop worrying about it, as long as what we do in receiving Our Lord is respectful and reverent. Am I wrong?

    These days, it seems to me, what we are supposed to be is respectful of the Body of Christ in our reception and consumption. And I suspect that we are also supposed to pay more attention to our own reverent reception and consumption and adoration than to whether we can detect jaw motions in our neighbor that suggest he or she may be chewing. Judge not lest … Personally, I don’t look at anybody else after Communion, to avoid being distracted from my meditation on the profound mystery and great gift that I have received. My eyes are either closed or directed downwards as my mind repeats three times the prayer of the Angel at Fatima: Most Holy Trinity, I adore You. My God, My God, I love You in the Most Blessed Sacrament.

  32. Maureen says:

    The authors of that Moral Theology book quoted above are clearly somewhat mistaken. Priests have been giving sick people particles of Hosts for a gazillion years, and I don’t think it was ever an issue as to whether they could swallow, so much as to whether the Host would accidentlaly choke them. Ditto for the Precious Blood.

    On the whole, it seems crazy to insist draconically that people chew or not chew. That’s not something that seems to have been a concern of the Church throughout the ages and in all rites, and everybody involved has had a mouth, teeth, and a gullet. It’s laudable for private devotion to worry about such things, but there’s a point where you quit worrying so much.

    And yes, that Host-making company is the pits. I miss the old Hosts that didn’t
    act like they were made out of plastic packing popcorn. (Some of which is edible and made out of corn, so it’s actually a fairly close analogy.)

  33. I cannot see how chewing can be deemed per se irreverent. And, no, I am not saying people who do not wish to, ought to. That is no concern of mine.

    If you’ve noticed, there are times a priest needs to consume several hosts: if he is offering Mass in a place where a tabernacle is not available, and so he must consume what remains. Also, I tend not to put broken hosts into people’s hands, because of the fragments, but I see no danger of profanation if I put a broken host into someone’s mouth. After distributing communion, if I have any broken fragments, I consume them.

    My point is, as common as this is, do you really expect the priest not to chew? How can he have several hosts in his mouth and do otherwise?

    We have heard about folks who find it difficult to swallow; I find it very hard to justify faulting them on this count.

    It seems to me those who would elevate what is a preference or custom to some sort of law that binds others, have the burden of supporting their claims with positive evidence, or else not refrain from impinging on anyone’s conscience.

  34. David says:

    From the venerable old Baltimore Catechism #4 (Q 250):

    “The particle that is given to the people is about the size of a twenty-five cent piece, so that they can swallow it before it melts. In receiving Holy Communion you must never let it entirely dissolve in your mouth, for if you do not swallow it you will not receive Holy Communion at all.”

    As an explanation of the Catechism, this carries only so much weight, but it is at least indicative of the sensus fidelium around 1900. It does not address the question of chewing but does speak against letting it dissolve in your mouth.

    The Gk in Mt 26:26 is phagete–which means simply “eat.”

  35. Cory says:

    At the Shrine of ICK in Chicago, they use hosts that are very thin so they dissolve very fast. I believe this is customary in all ICKSP parishes.

  36. DavidJ says:

    If Jesus is asking us to consume Him, I think it’s a far far stretch to say that chewing Him is somehow disrespectful. Anyone thinking that this actually _hurts_ Jesus should consider what kind of pain digesting Him in our stomachs causes him. I mean come on, people.

    Granted, anyone walking around chewing with their mouths open and still full of the Host is being rude and inconsiderate, and I can see THAT being an issue since Jesus could certainly be spewed out inadvertently.

  37. Alan says:

    Jesus says several times that we must eat (in Greek, “phago”) His flesh to gain eternal life (which literally means “to chew”).

  38. Basil says:

    I usually chew because I am usually serving as an acolyte, so I receive from the chalice immediately after receiving the Host, and I find it difficult to carefully drink from the chalice with a whole host in my mouth. I often can tell some of the Host remains in my back teeth afterward, though, which I’ve always been a little uncomfortable about.

    I was actually wondering about this question when the Pope was visiting the US, so I paid particular attention when watching his Mass at St. Patrick’s. He appeared to me to chew a bit (though I could be mistaken), so I have not worried much about it since.

  39. Andrew, UK and sometimes Canada says:

    As long as respect for the Blessed Sacrament is maintained, I don’t think it matters. Rubrics and guidelines are important, but only insofar as they point us to the true meaning of our actions.

    I normally let the Host dissolve unless it’s taking such a long time that I would absent-mindedly let It fall out of my mouth. This is also why I particularly love Communion in the Byzantine rites where this isn’t an issue.

  40. Simon says:

    I’m a not-too-recent revert to Catholicism, now in my early twenties. My mother is not twice my age, and always taught me as a child three things about taking Holy Communion:

    1. Never eat anything before receiving Holy Communion.
    2. Never touch It.
    3. Never chew It, but let It soften for a moment and swallow as quickly as possible.

    I didn’t understand all these rules, but I appreciate being taught them, and I still keep this practice up all these years later, keeping to them when I came back to the Church. Now I understand why I was taught to receive in this manner; I love the Blessed Sacrament very dearly when receiving It, and adoring It in the tabernacle.

    Interestingly, she was brought up as a Catholic in the 1970s and early 80s in the German Church. It’s sad to see that she has forgotten many of things she remembers when she was little. For example, she had forgotten all about altar rails until I took her to the London Oratory once. It was really nice to see her rediscover so many things about the faith that have not been kept alive by many pastors. To the loss of the faithful I think.

  41. Legisperitus says:

    My mother was told by the nuns in the 1940’s that if the Host touched your tongue It would “turn to fire.”

    Top that!

    I’m sure they meant well…

  42. Legisperitus says:

    Not tongue! I meant TEETH!

  43. Mark says:

    Generally I can’t avoid some chewing, although I try to keep it to a minimum. Our Lord is, after all, not just a snack.
    But when I’m serving, for example, and receive both the Body and the Blood of Christ, there’s usually no time to let the Host dissolve before receiving the Blood of Christ. So I try my best to swallow before taking the cup.

  44. Frank H says:

    “My mother was told by the nuns in the 1940’s that if the Host touched your tongue It would “turn to fire.” ” – Comment by Legisperitus

    Huh? How could it NOT touch your tongue?

  45. Frank H says:

    Sorry, Legisperitus. I was too slow.

  46. depeccatoradvitam says:

    I line up with the language across the times–Aramaic, Greek and Latin and ever so careful with my native English which hap-hazzardly meanders across meanings merging and greying where other words were more precise etymologically.

    From the Vulgate, John 6:49-59 uses manducar (gnaw, chew) manducaverunt, manducaverit, manducandum, manducaveritis, manducat, manducaverunt

    Christ himself chooses “si quis manducaverit ex hoc pane

    The context is like that with manna, the bread from heaven. We chew bread and likewise we are to manducar[sic] chew him of which the bread has be transubstantiated to His very flesh.

    to me, Jesus was very clear in His teaching, just as the Church He founded is clear in her teaching on the Holy Eucharist being the actual Body and Blood of Jesus Christ. Jesus, when He first mentioned eating His flesh, used a word in Aramaic maybe leaning toward a meaning of “to accept as food into the body.” But, the second time (Truly Truly…) He was much more specific, for He clearly used the Aramaic word for the verb to chew, or gnaw. There was absolutely no question in the minds of the Apostles about what He meant, even though it was difficult for them to comprehend. Why else would they some turn in disbelief of what He had asked them to do? The same continuity existed through the Didache and through early councils as various heretical and misleading teachings were surfacing.

    I myself, reverently chew with my mouth closed. I “wash” this precious gift down with an anima christi and by then some 10+ minutes have lapsed and I close my prayers with a piece I borrowed from Servant of God, John Paul II, mane nobiscum domine my own mane meum domine and again his mane nobiscim domine reflecting on His presence within me and my call to go out to the world with His gift of Himself within me, body blood, soul and divinity.

  47. Legisperitus says:

    Wish we could edit on here. :)

  48. depeccatoradvitam says:

    I am wondering if any Easter Catholics or Orthodox are here and could comment on the nature of this topic in regards to leavened bread that has been long accepted.

  49. sandy says:

    Yes, the nuns taught us not to chew. I let the Host become soft enough to swallow. What I have gone back to that we were also taught, is to take a drink of water after Mass. We know that the particles (in the mouth) don’t remain the Body of Christ indefinitely, but it just feels reverent to do this.

  50. Jim says:

    I was taught not to chew, so as to show respect for the body of Christ.

    No chewing here!

  51. Irish says:

    With old-style hosts, it’s easy to let it dissolve. It practically disappears as it hits your tongue. With new-style hosts, which seem to be a little thicker it takes longer for it to soften. Some time in the 1970s, it seemed like hosts began to be made with whole wheat flour. I suppose the matter is the same, but the end result with the whole wheat is a little thicker. I love whole wheat bread. In fact I just made some whole wheat soda bread for tonight’s corned and cabbage dinner. But I prefer my hosts to be old-fashioned white flour that dissolves within a few seconds.

  52. Jim says:

    Sandy….I had forgotten the tradition of taking a mouthful of water before going on to other food and drink.
    My mother was clear about this.


  53. Dr. Eric says:

    I went to St. Francis de Sales Oratory in St. Louis for an EF. The Host practically evaporated as soon as the priest put Him on my tongue!

  54. If there was a way that Catholics are “supposed” to do it, I’ve never run across it. I’ve always let it soften in my mouth then swallow. I would be dubious about anyone saying you had to chew it however to be a valid reception.

  55. Allan says:

    I can’t stand the thought of biting, and chewing up our Lord and Savior. Even with a sore throat, I manage to swallow the host without chewing it.

  56. RBrown says:

    2. In Jone & Adelman’s Moral Theology (Westminster, 1952), we read: “If the Sacred Species are retained in the mouth until They are dissolved one does not receive the Sacrament” (p. 349).

    Our Lord’s command to gnaw on His flesh in the Eucharist, under the species of bread and wine, assumes that the recipient would actually “eat” It literally, i.e. chew It and swallow It as food. It seems that if we merely let It dissolve in the mouth there is no eating, only mastication.
    Comment by David M. Wallace

    That equates–mistakenly, I think–reception of the Sacrament with chewing it: It must be chewed or it’s not received. That makes no sense.

    What happens with someone with no teeth?

    Moral theology manuals like that created the situation that caused the present mess. We went from rigorism to laxism.

  57. DG says:

    Many of these commenters seem to have bitten off more than they can chew, which is probably a hard thing for most of them to swallow.

  58. Ray from MN says:

    I don’t recall ever having received instructions vis a vis chewing in 1950 or so when I made my First Communion.

    As far as I can remember, I have always pushed the host to the roof of my mouth and slid it back to the point where I can swallow it.

    Sometimes when my mouth is dry, that is somewhat difficult. On those occasions I am grateful when I can receive under both species.

  59. Nick says:

    The Lord directed that we “eat” his Body which presumably involves chewing if we have teeth. If we don’t have teeth we should make a noble effort. I believe priests chew don’t they or is this a clerical privilege?

  60. Genna says:

    I was taught before First Holy Communion never to chew the Host. But that’s a long time ago, so it does seem to be a generational thing. But it did mean that you had to kneel longer after receiving and had time to contemplate what you had just received.
    I think that a lot of people watch the priest consuming and, seeing him chew the large Host, are following suit with the best of motives. That’s one of the probs of v. pop. Even worse is seeing people chew gum on their way to Holy Communion.
    The dilemma of the time it takes for the Host to dissolve in the mouth would be solved if there were a prolonged time of silence at the post-Communion as was the practice many years ago.
    Now it seems that quite a few priests speed up to get to the end of the Mass, so the later communicants are caught with the Host still in their mouths during the closing prayers.

  61. trespinos says:

    “It seems to me those who would elevate what is a preference or custom to some sort of law that binds others, have the burden of supporting their claims with positive evidence, or else not refrain from impinging on anyone’s conscience.” — Fr. Martin Fox

    I believe did not mean to include the “not” in the last phrase. That understood, he has made the most important point to be made here, and I thank him for it.

  62. Tom says:

    This all sounds like Blarney to me.

    Happy St. Patrick’s Day!


  63. Alessandro says:

    I remember reading somewhere that the priest was not allowed to chew the host, but had to break it with his tounge, and then swallow. Fr. Z, have you ever heard something to this effect?

    This is want I do, anyway.

  64. DeborahAnne says:

    I received instruction in the 1950’s from our parish sisters that taught we should not allow the host to touch the roof of our mouth, or our teeth to ensure no profanation. Once we received, we were to make the sign of the cross, allow the host to dissolve until softened then swollow and pray the Anima Christi.

    The hosts from long ago were thin, very delicate and easy to swallow.

    A bit of nostalgia: Our sisters and priests used Necco candy (little colored wafers) to help teach us how to properly receive the host on our tongues for our First Holy communion.

  65. Geoffrey says:

    It varies for me… I usually try to encourage dissolvement with my tongue. I try not to chew, just because I don’t like looking like I’m eating dinner!

    For those who receive Holy Communion under both kinds, that does aid tremendously in the dissolving of the Host. Fr. Z: Perhaps Holy Communion under both kinds could be another poll/entry? ;-)

  66. Lirioroja says:

    I don’t chew, not because I think it’s wrong, but because food gets stuck in my back teeth every time I eat something. I’m not talking little bits of food – I’m talking large chunks that need to be picked out. I hate the thought of picking out my Lord and Savior as if he were a piece of sandwich bread that got stuck. So I break the host against the roof of my mouth with my tongue, soften it a bit with my saliva, and then swallow. I would chew Him, as it’s a lot less work (some hosts don’t break easily), but I won’t risk a chunk of Him getting stuck in my back teeth. And I always swallow before it dissolves completely. Again, not because I was taught not to (I wasn’t), but because it seems disrespectful to turn Him into a solution like a mouthwash of sorts.

    This question seems to be one of those where a little logic and reason go a long way.

  67. Helen says:

    “From the Vulgate, John 6:49-59 uses manducar (gnaw, chew) manducaverunt, manducaverit, manducandum, manducaveritis, manducat, manducaverunt.”

    Actually the etymology of this verb has nothing to do with chewing. It comes from “manu ducere”, to lead to the mouth by the hand, from which we get Italian mangiare, French manger, etc.

    But that takes us back to the in the hand/on the tongue problem, where we probably don’t want to go…

  68. Concerned Catholic says:


    What part of “take and eat” isn’t clear to those who do not chew?

    Also, Fr. Z., you’re partly there. At least you got the second part right, when you wrote: [No. I got the whole thing right.]

    Catholics believe that the Host and all small particles, the Precious Blood and small droplets of It, are the entire Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus Christ. This is the perfect and infallible teaching of the Church. Every Catholic is bound to believe this and those who deny it are heretics.

    However, we don’t really know how small is small, in the sense of our ability to recognize the accidents of bread and wine which remain after transsubstantiation.

    So long as the first part is read in reference to the second part, you’re fine. [I am glad you recognized that.]

  69. W. Schrift says:

    I don’t chew since I remember that prophecy that none of Our Lord’s bones would be broken on the Cross. I know that the Host is broken during the Mass, so it’s not as though this is some sort of very relevant analogy (i.e., that breaking the Host is somehow akin to “breaking Jesus”), but it’s something that has just sort of embedded itself in my personal piety. [Which is perfectly fine!]

  70. Really?!? Come on, people… This debate is embarrassing to all level-headed Catholics.

  71. AuroraChristina says:

    No big theological point here. I let the host rest a few moments before I swallow, just so I’m mindful of the presence of Christ. Pas de chewing. And, Jeff, I lower my eyes and pray for the priest when he communes. It seems to me that communion between God and His priest is a highly personal thing, even if it’s on display before all the assembled multitude.

  72. Kathleen says:

    In 1947 I ws taught not to chew. As I recall, we practiced for our First Communion
    with fish food.

    At the NO I break the Host with my tongue, then it can be swallowed. I once received
    two Hosts (on the tongue) and was still able to consume quickly without chewing.
    At the TLM the Host is smaller and lighter and can be swallowed whole right away.

  73. Christa says:

    You know, this is getting to be depressing. First there was a huge long discussion about hands vs. mouth reception (and I discovered that because I receive in the hand I am not reverent, when that is WHAT I WAS TAUGHT in RCIA) and now I am not to chew.

    I have a dry mouth, and sometimes I cannot receive the Precious Blood, either because I have a cold and don’t want to pass it along, or because the cup is empty (which sometimes happens in masses with large attendance). I am forced to chew, unless I want to choke or carry the Lord around in my mouth for 15 minutes.

    I think I am going to absent myself for a while. I am not a good person to participate in these types of discussions.

  74. Subvet says:

    I\’m 56 and was taught to let it dissolve and then swallow. Even after almost thirty years away from the Church that teaching stuck with me when I returned. Nowadays, when I see others come back from receiving the Eucharist and chewing like they\’ve got a stick of gum I want to jump up and shout, \”Hey numbnuts, that\’s Jesus and NOT Juicyfruit!\”

    But in all honesty, I doubt the issue is really important. What matters is the condition of the soul of the receiver. In that regard I\’m sure I\’m much less worthy than the guy/gal who look like they\’re ready to start popping bubbles!

    Another way to exercise humility. And mind my own beeswax!

  75. fortradition says:

    In 1955, the good Sisters were very clear…we were NOT to chew the Sacred Host. I’m sure the reason was that the Host could very well become stuck in our back teeth and remain there too long. Frankly, I never saw anyone chew the Host until after the Second Vatican Council. Today, I see very many chewing and I cringe, but that’s because I was taught differently. I’m sure people who have swallowing difficulties, have good reason for chewing.

  76. prier says:

    This conversation really is pretty trivial.

    Our Lord condemned the legalistic approach to religion. I think what matters most is ones internal disposition not whether the sacrament is chewed or swallowed.

    Even if it did get stuck in the teeth the particles would be so small that they’d dissolve quickly anyway.

  77. DeborahAnne says:

    I think it is evident from these posts that the manner and method by which the host is received and eaten is varied based on how people have been taught. Whether by nuns long ago, or RCIA lay instructors there are clearly differences.

    The person receiving is not at fault for doing that which has been earnestly (perhaps wrongly, or not) taught. We need to be charitable always and try not to judge the individual. Most people who go to communion are going for the love of Christ and not with the intent to be irreverent.

  78. Deacon Larry says:

    The good Dominican nuns are still influencing me after all these years and chewing I cannot. One of our “Catholic” faculty member during our deacon formation told us, “Jesus said to take and eat not take and disolve.” What goes through my miond is that this is Celestial food , not a piece of bread. Another problem I encounter when distributing the Precious Blood is the residue left on the cup from a chewed Host. We were also told, by said faculty member, that there were crumbs at the Last Supper and Jesus didn’t mind, so don’t fuss about the particles.

  79. ssoldie says:

    It is amazing to me that we can get DNA of a human being off of ‘skin cells’, and so to me the smallest particle of the Sacred Host is truly the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of our Lord Jesus Christ.

  80. ssoldie says:

    Christa , I have had false teeth since I was 24, and believe me my mouth is very dry and has been since I got my store bought teeth. My Lord lays on my tongue, I thank God for being able to recieve him, the saliva comes and it dosen’t take 15 min. Oh! by the way iam 73 now.

  81. Matthias says:

    “I am wondering if any Easter Catholics or Orthodox are here and could comment on the nature of this topic in regards to leavened bread that has been long accepted.”

    I have to say, I don’t really know. In my own opinion, I can not imagine receiving Communion in the Byzantine way and not chewing. You would have to be waiting quite a long time for a such a portion of the Eucharist to dissolve.

  82. Matthias says:

    I apologize, I miss spelled my own website in the previous comment : (

  83. Christa says:


    I knew I should not have returned to read this thread. I am very happy for you that you don’t have problems. I do, and I am simply aghast at this entire discussion.

    From now on I am skipping these types of threads.

  84. ssoldie: … we can get DNA … so to me the smallest particle of the Sacred Host…

    Let’s back up for a moment. Catholics believe that the Eucharistic Lord is truly present so long as we are able to discern the accidents of bread and wine which remain.

    When a priest says Mass, he can usually discern with his eyes, particles on, for example, the corporal or paten which he knows are from the Host. He sees droplets in the chalice (or elsewhere perhaps) he knows are of the Precious Blood. He can discern them, because he can discern the accidents. He takes proper and reasonable steps so that within a reasonable doubt, he has preserved the Eucharist from intentional and unintentional profanation. The old rubrics really help in this regard.

    We could find reeeeeally small particles and, with the help of some instruments or chemical agents, discern those accidents. I could whip out a magnifying glass or text a droplet with litmus paper to see it is merely water. Does that sound anywhere near to being right or what we intend by being able to discern the accidents of bread and wine?

    We push this too far when we get to the molecular level. The evidence of our eyes and touch and taste are pretty good to go by. Magnifying glass? Microscope? Electron microscope?

    That seems like a, pardon the pun, reductio ad absurdum.

  85. I am blessed to typically have access to both species when I receive. So typically I will received the Body, then the Blood, and then as flesh and blood mingle in my mouth I pray, “Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, may the whole world burn with love for Thee.” I then offer a prayer from St. Louis de Montfort’s True Devotion to Mary, and then I pray the Anima Christi. At that point whatever is still in my mouth I swallow, and continue with my silent adoration.

  86. I agree with Margaret. The lack of reverence for the Eucharist has nothing to do with receiving in the hand, in my opinion. It’s difficult to say the early Church demonstrated anything like the lack of reverence we see today even though they more often than not received in the hand. But that’s because they were much better cathechized in Eucharistic teaching. I believe proper catechesis, and not simply reverting to only receiving in the hand, is the answer. While we are right to lament the state of the liturgy in practice post-Vatican II, I believe an even bigger problem, and one which is intrinsically connected, is the state of catechesis in the Catholic Church post-Vatican II. What we have now is not a Vatican II Church at all, and it will likely take decades, even centuries, for the Church to become a truly Vatican II Church, as she should be.

  87. Evelyn says:

    I let It soften in my mouth for a moment and then gently chew once or twice and swallow. Chewing does not bother me, but when people crunch, I do find that distracting.

  88. chris p says:

    I usually break the Host against the roof of my mouth twice (essentially, making four particles). For some reason, this helps me produce enough saliva to get the Host moist enough so that It becomes easy to swallow. I try not to chew.

    When I receive from the cup (which I do whenever it is offered–I always sit up front, so there’s plenty), that helps to get my mouth good and moist, too.

  89. Alice says:

    If Jesus found being chewed offensive, He would not have chosen to take the form of bread. That said, unless the Host is huge or something, I don’t need to chew, so I don’t. I was taught not to chew, so that may be why I don’t. I was also taught that unless one swallowed, one had not received the Sacrament.

  90. One strange thing I am seeing here is with this erroneous theology that if one allows the host to dissolve completely that the Sacrament is not communicated. This is strange because those who say this are implying that some how the Eucharist is not swallowed. Of course it is. It might be a more passive swallowing, but every single bit of the Eucharist that goes into the mouth still travels the same path down the digestive tract. This is poor theology and biology that is being spread, so I hope people stop spreading it. If you allow the Eucharist to dissolve completely, you have received Christ no less than anyone else.

  91. Luigi says:

    It would seem to me that the text of John 6 should be enough to put to rest any and all speculation that chewing is somehow offenseive or irreverent.

    This same discourse also tends to undermine the idea that allowing the Eucharist to dissolve in the mouth somehow makes it such that Communion isn’t truly received. I gather this concept comes from the thought that the accidents are no longer recognizable once dissolution takes place, but are we to believe then that the Eucharistic Christ only dwells in those who eat his Flesh for only the several seconds it takes for the Eucharistic species to become unrecognizable even in those who chew? Does either the person who chews or the one who does not receive more Life than the other? These lines of thought become absurd when you carry them only slightly further.

    It seems pretty clear to me that receiving the Eucharist with the proper disposition makes the choice entirely personal.

    Also, I don’t put much credence in arguments that say, “If you were focussed on Christ you wouldn’t notice [fill in the blank] at Mass.” That is often an excuse for lack of decorum. However, in the case of watching others chew the Eucharist, something seems wrong to me. It’s one thing to notice, but how can we really get our back up over this when it is either in the moments during which we should be prayerfully preparing to receive the Lord, the moments directly afterwards during which we should be submersed in prayerful Communion with Christ, or for those who must make a spiritual Communion the entire time of which should demand our greatest prayerful attention.

  92. depeccatoradvitam says:

    Words are a slippery thing. Being an English-speaking native, I am very used to poor translation and misinterpretations such as comfort as something soft and cuddly as opposed to being with strength. I could go on and on with poor uses, misuses and mal-adoptions of words and terms as meaning one thing or another in English or in other languages wherther common words, phrases or idioms. The core word and history are important to the continuity of language much like what Father Z is illustrating for us day im and day out on this blog in regards to Liturgy and the faith handed down by our forbears of faith from God.

    Helen, I beg to differ in that the etymology does not lead us directly to manu and to hand nor to “hand to mouth” as suggested, but actually beyond to the core of the root word which is mandere to chew, chomp, masticate. This is the same place from which we get mandible from the old OFr. and LLatin mandibula which is of course the lower jaw used to chew and the still used manducar in Spanish and Portuguese of today.

    — derived from the Latin word manducare (chew, masticate, gnaw) — derived from the Latin word manduco (glutton, gourmand, big eater) — derived from the Latin word mandere (chew, chomp, masticate) This was Jerome’s choice in keeping to the Greek Scripture.

    Greek: ????? ((literally) to eat) and ?????? (to eat), but more importantly is ?????? (trogon) which carries the meaning not just of “chewing” or “munching” but also of “intimate, sustained, eating and total consumation,” as opposed to “phago” which is usually only a general reference to eating without further description. As captured by the author of the Gospel of John, Jesus repeats the claim using two terms for “eating”. Once the murmuring starts, Jesus switches to a more physical word, trogon, which suggests the action noted above. It is seen in John 6: 54,56,57,58. The author of this Gospel thought these Greek words accurately translated the actual Aramaic words that Jesus spoke. “Gnawing” is physical, and would be difficult for anyone to take figuratively.

    Likewise, O.T. precursors to our Lord’s sacrifice in Passover (lamb) and the Bread of Presence (bread) and the manna (bread from heaven)–all are related to eating and devouring in context (akal).

    These words serve a purpose. Christ’s own words serve a purpose for it is more than just the accidents of bread.

    In all cases, the mouth is active and the tradition of the language shines through. These are the words used–in Latin and Greek and Aramaic and Hebrew. Eating has always been about induction of food, but we never equate eating in any language as sipping, dissolving, or melting away of what is received to our mouths because there are other words that describe those. Savoring perhaps.

    In the absence of clear and ordinary teaching on rubrics, it is our duty to be as reverent as is possible precisely because it is our Lord who arrives to us and Domine, non sum dignus ut intres sub tectum meum.

    Whichever way we receive our Lord–Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity—no matter the method received whether by imbibing, by eating or by intinction, let it be reverently with the utmost care and adoration and humility.

  93. Merriweather says:

    FWIW, I have never attended anything but the TLM, and I was taught by the priest, never to bite the Blessed Sacrament. If you need to, use your tongue, and then swallow as soon as possible.

    Is it a coincidence that we are divided along the same lines on this as we are on communion in the hand?

    chewers/’communion in the hand’ versus non-chewers/’receive on the tongue’?

    It is so obvious to me why we don’t bite and chew, I can’t believe there is any debate over it.

  94. Merriweather says:


    What difference does it make?

    It has been the traditional practice for Latin Rite Catholics to receive on the tongue and its obvious that the traditional practice was not to chew. We don’t need to “go back” to the root of the greek words to know what to do, we should be doing the same thing our grandparents did: receive on the tongue, swallow without biting/chewing.

    I can’t believe people even need to chew—it’s not that big! Once it becomes wet with saliva, it slides down the throat.

    What you are advocating is false archaism, something Pius XII condemned in Mediator Dei.

  95. Merriweather says:

    @Michael Hallman

    It is not necessary to receive under both species. Our Lord’s body and blood are both present under the appearance of bread. It is not accurate to say that you receive the body and then the blood.

    Speaking of receiving under both species–that’s another post V2 novelty that has to go.

  96. Just as the Body of Christ isn’t really broken in the fraction, so likewise, it isn’t possible to chew the Body of Christ. Sheesh.

  97. “Speaking of receiving under both species—that’s another post V2 novelty that has to go.”

    Actually, reception under one species is another post L4 novelty that has to go–as evidenced by the fact that Orthodox and Eastern Catholics receive under both species, Hebrews speaks at length about the cup, in reference to all the baptized, and Christ says that all of us should drink of it.

  98. MenTaLguY says:

    Several thoughts, I suppose.

    1. It seems to me that there is legitimate concern about not permitting the host to dissolve completely before swallowing. It is swallowing that completes the act of eating, and it would seem that the act of eating ought to be completed while the accidents of bread can still be discerned. Note that the prescribed procedure for a priest to dispose of a consecrated host when it cannot be eaten is to dissolve it in water until the appearance of bread is no longer discernable, and then dispose of the water with suitable care (ordinarily, pouring it into the sacrarium, something which could not be legitimately done even with particles of a consecrated host). In any case I would be inclined to take the Baltimore Catechism seriously (it’s the Baltimore Catechism for crying out loud!) and err on the side of caution in this regard.

    2. Chewing is often involved in eating, but plenty of ordinary foods may be eaten without chewing. I would never suppose that chewing is a necessary part of eating as such, and refraining from chewing out of respect certainly seems a worthy thing to do. I really wonder whether the nuns in the early-mid 20th century went a little too far, though; the issue of inappropriate archaism has been raised with regard to chewing, but conversely how new must an absolute obligation unattested in canon law have to be before it constitutes a novelty?

    3. Chewing, while not a necessary part of eating, is an ordinary part of it. We were commanded to eat the Lord’s flesh, so it seems that (absent more specific instruction) chewing is permissible as long as it is not careless or intended irreverently. That being said, it seems that chewing is something to minimize at least; Our Lord is not a stick of gum, and we really want to avoid the situation where we discover bits of Him when flossing.

    4. This would really seem to be an issue of prudence rather than obligation. A prudent reason not to chew is to avoid the potential for profanation. On the other hand, there are conceviably situations where chewing carries less risk of profanation than swallowing whole, due to the possibility of coughing or choking as a result of size or consistency. It is sometimes necessary to break a large host with the tongue at least.

  99. Mike says:

    I think the whole issue is the way hosts are made. You can not help but chew the thick hosts which are manufactured today. I’m a convert from the Episcopal Church. The hosts they used dissolved almost instantly. In my current Catholic parish you can compare them almost to ritz crackers they’re so thick.

  100. plisto says:

    This maybe a bit off-topic (sorry!) but I just have to wonder why those “orthodox” catholics ( often liturgically traditionalists) so often have that demeaning “holier than thou” attitude?
    I receive Our Lord on the tongue and don’t chew, but would never judge anyone who receives otherwise. It is between them and God, and the same goes for me and for anybody! We should help each other. we should LOVE each other; traditionalists, “modernists”, atheists, all. Isn’t christianity about love, and truth? We do not come to truth without love. (and vice versa)

    Peace to everyone!

  101. Ellen says:

    I chew. I don’t chew like a cow with cud, but I chew. I’m 57 and I can’t dry swallow anymore.

  102. peregrinus says:

    Next, some people will be discussing how long the consecrated host can be left on the tongue before it becomes irreverent?

    We may have our preferances, that’s completely fine. But since the Law of the Church has never specified on this matter (nuns, no matter how pious do not form the Magisterium of the Church), let no one disturb his brother’s conscience and cause him to sin by exalting his own opinions over the norms of Holy Church. Sentire cum ecclesia is more pleasing to God.

  103. Paladin says:

    Concerned Catholic wrote:

    What part of “take and eat” isn’t clear to those who do not chew?

    With all due respect: that argument makes very little sense. Chewing isn’t a necessary component of eating (unless you chew your soft-serve ice cream, your tomato soup, and your whipped cream?)… but worse, it’s just such false equivocation which led some priests of my wife’s acquaintance to prohibit Eucharistic Adoration; “After all,” they said, “Jesus said ‘take and eat’, not ‘take and look at’!”

    Illogical, and heresy-producing: do you really want to go there?

  104. Prof. Basto says:

    I let the Host stay for a few moments in my tongue or in the roof of the mouth until it softens a bit, and then I swallow it without chewing.

    Given that the softened Sacred Host often gets stuck in the roof of the mouth, I usually use the point of the tongue to move the Sacred Species down and swallow It.

    But I absolutely refrain from using the teeth.

  105. Ohio Annie says:

    merriwether, we are not divided along the same lines on two issues. i receive on the tongue and chew. i am also a lumper, not a splitter.

    hand/tongue, chew.dissolve. one issue is more important than the other i think.

    sorry about keyboarding today, my computer is barfing.

  106. Prof. Basto says:

    Concerned Catholic wrote: What part of “take and eat” isn’t clear to those who do not chew?

    Well, the reason why nuns, priests and catechism teachers in the 50’s told people now to chew when consuming the Sacred Host, and even not to breath over the host when receiving, was reverence towards the Eucharist.

    It seems to me that the instruction to refrain from chewing is very old indeed, and was passed on from generation to generation. My grandmother, who was born in 1911 and who received first Communion in the pontificate of Benedict XV used to say “we were always instructed not to chew, but now the Church (sic) says it is ok”.

    It seems to me that saying it is ok to bite and chew the Host is contrary to the tradition of the Roman Rite formed in the second millenium.

    It follows a general and disturbing trend of the post-Conciliar praxis of rupture of abandoning the settled tradition of the Latin Church developed organically in the second millenium and second half of the first millenium in favour of supposed practices of the Apostolic Times.

    It follows a trend of dowsizing of the measures of respect, devotion and care towards the Eucharist in the praxis of parishes and communities after the introduction of the liturgical reforms.

    So, I rank the modern practice of allowing the chewing of the Sacred Host together with other disturbing elements, such as fact that there is no longer a chapter “De Defectibus” in the Roman Missal (Ordinary Form), the fact that Communion in the Hand was allowed, the fact that the Roman Rite practice of receiving Communion kneeling was almost altogether abandoned in the Latin Church for 40 years in favor of standing, the fact that kneeling during the whole Canon was abandoned in the Latin Church outside of the USA in favor of standing during most of the Canon, etc. Those are all factors in the loss of reverence towards the Eucharist, and of a downsizing of the exterior signs of belief in Transubstantiation, which were also pedagogical signs.

    The fact that there was a general fear of using the teeth helped people remember the Mystery, helped them focus on what we are dealing with, the Body, Bood, Soul and Divinity of the Saviour. It also helped children and converts to learn about the dogma of the Real Presence, and contributed to the sense of majesty, of awe, of doxology towards the Eurcharist.

    The anti-spam word is hermeneutic. A hermeneutic of continuity must be followed by a praxis of continuity. Which leads me back to the question posed by Concerned Catholic, quoted above. The Church is the authentic intepreter of the voice of her Divine Husband. She has never said that consumption of the Host needed to include chewing. So there is no point in asking what part of the Commandment of the Lord we didn’t understand when we refrain from chewing. Chewing is not required for receiving and eating. What is disturbing is that the constant praxis of the Roman Church (that said, in the old days: refrain from chewing; consumption without chewing is more reverent and appropriate vis a vis the Real Presence), is now placed under question and abandoned by many. When interpreting what we should do, we must look to the settled praxis of the Church, instead of simply trying to re-interpet every word in the bible as if the Church didn’t have a 2000 year old history of biblical interpetation and liturgical praxis behind her.

  107. JuliB says:

    I receive on the tongue most of the time, and chew most of the time. Well, not chew like I do with other food, but like I do with raw oysters. It is a light, gentle and partial chew.

  108. Sarah L says:

    “If Jesus is asking us to consume Him, I think it’s a far far stretch to say that chewing Him is somehow disrespectful. Anyone thinking that this actually hurts Jesus should consider what kind of pain digesting Him in our stomachs causes him. I mean come on, people.”-comment by DavidJ LOL

    I always was a “dissolve and swallow” person, but after reading the discussions of the original Greek here I think chewing is not irreverent. All this brou-ha-ha has gotten me thinking about how the Eucharist is a truly physical sacrament in which Christ Himself is willing to enter our bodies with all their teeth, saliva, and stomachs. Pretty profound!

    Receiving under both species may have already been one of these crazy debate threads, but I am very confused about why that would be some post-Vatican II travesty. As a gluten-intolerant individual, a chalice is usually the ONLY way I can receive Our Lord. Especially if I am visiting a new parish, talking to the priest beforehand about my “special needs” is not always practical. Spotting a priest, deacon, or extraordinary minister offering a chalice always makes my Sunday. So that’s my rant.

  109. KBW says:

    Byzantine rite person here. I don’t think you could consume our Host without chewing. Some of the Host pieces are big enough to make your cheeks bulge! ;) It is immensely spiritual to be metaphorically and LITERALLY filled with the Lord.

    Because the Body is dipped, and sometimes immersed, in the Blood my question is: What do I do when the Lord drips down my chin? He can’t continue down to drop on the floor, obviously. I try to wipe Him up back into my mouth but that feels so clumsy.

    Yes, I’m serious. Isn’t it a joy to discuss this minutae because we have the privilege of receiving Him?

  110. Sylvia says:

    I was taught to chew the Host after receiving (I was also taught to receive in the hand, but I no longer do so). When I found some of my Catholic online friends considered the practice of chewing irreverent, I asked one what he did to prevent the “roof of the mouth” issue which happened to me a lot. He said to chew once to break the Host in half and then swallow, so ever since then I have done that. I guess it make me nervous to have the unconsumed Host in my mouth any longer than necessary, as would happen if I were waiting for It to dissolve. It’s kind of like doing my assigned penance right after Confession, maybe. :)

    PS Thanks Fr. Z for the “copy” function after you miss the anti-spam word. Really helpful!

  111. irishgirl says:

    I have never ‘chewed’-when I go to the TLM the Hosts are always the white ones the size of a dime.

  112. big white van says:

    Fold the Host in half or quarters with my tongue and swallow whole. When receiving at the Ukrainian Rite I still managed to swallow without chewing but it was definitely difficult.

  113. big white van says:

    At our former parish (Ukrainian) the Host was a very small cube about a 1/2″ square.

  114. Caeremoniarius says:

    Perhaps the celebrated rubrician O’Connell should have the last word on this subject: “While it is more reverent to avoid chewing the Sacred Host, the Celebrant may do so if necessary. Not the Body of Christ, but the accidents are subject to the teeth.”

    I don’t think you can be more succinct than that.

  115. Henry Edwards says:

    Caeremoniarius: Perhaps the celebrated rubrician O’Connell should have the last word on this subject

    Although I have never chewed a Sacred Host in my life, and likely never will, I must admit that when O\’Connell has spoken, nothing remains to be said.

    Too bad you didn\’t post this at the beginning of this thread, in which case its other 113 comments would have been unnecessary, and the wasted time of all their posters would have been saved.

  116. Tom says:

    wow, so many replies…I can’t read them all, so I hope this hasn’t been said: 1st I think it’s terribly rude to observe another person at Holy Communion so closely that you can tell whether they are chewing or not. I recognize it’s difficult to not be curious, but it takes a fair amount of intent to pay attention to another person’s mouth action during Holy Communion. I do agree with the fellow who said that the Communion Rail also helps “privatize” the moment of reception in a way that the assembly line does not. 2nd, I think the practice of televised Masses zooming in on people as they receive is reprehensible. The camera should be used as just another set of eyes at Mass, preferably in the back of the church or the choir loft. You don’t walk up to people or the priest and get in their face when they are receiving Holy Communion. The camera certainly should not. Having said all of that somewhat off topic…I try not to chew, but it’s really a pious act on my part, not that I feel one way or the other is absolutely wrong, but as one person said, it slightly prolongs the act of receiving and thus my ability to contemplate Who it is I receive and What it is in which I partake.

  117. Tommy says:

    I think to call homemade bread ghastly is ghastly. What did Jesus and His early church use for the Eucharist, Hosts? Nope. And the Church says nothing about Hosts being used in its guidelines but says it should look like bread. The reason why we use hosts is because of the large number of people at mass.
    [I think increasing the risk of profanation is ghastly.]

  118. JaneC says:

    Thick Hosts are very difficult not to chew, especially if the Eucharist is offered under only one species. I try not to, but sometimes it is necessary. I have likewise often found it necessary to chew when receiving at an Eastern Rite parish–one time I tried not to, and it took nearly the rest of the liturgy for the Host to soften enough to swallow (sometimes the bread that is used has a bit of a crust on it, about the consistency of sourdough).

  119. Tommy says:

    unless the church says to not chew i will “take and eat” and chew no matter what Pharisees may say… [For heaven’s sake.]

  120. JaneC says:

    P.S. I agree with Tommy that it is not nice to call homemade bread ghastly. It is not in common use in the Roman Rite now, but it was for centuries, and it is still common in the Eastern Rites. Call the bread ghastly if it is made bad, but do not call the concept of using homemade bread ghastly–it is not polite to denigrate other folks’ legitimate traditions. [And I think we are talking about the Roman Rite.]

  121. Tommy says:

    Redemptionis Sacramentum:

    By reason of the sign, it is appropriate that at least some parts of the Eucharistic Bread coming from the fraction should be distributed to at least some of the faithful in Communion. “Small hosts are, however, in no way ruled out when the number of those receiving Holy Communion or other pastoral needs require it”

  122. If I’m going to a Roman Church, no chew for the most part, Eastern Church, I try not to also, but sometimes I have no choice.

  123. This discussion is degenerating. Let’s put some substance back into it or I will close the combox.

  124. Erin says:

    I was taught (by nuns, natch) not to chew but to hold the Host in my mouth until it dissolves enough to swallow, or to break it with my tongue. The reason for not chewing was that the Host could get stuck in your teeth and later be spit out when I brush my teeth or mixed with food while I’m eating. Old habits die hard, and I still do this. For the record, I’m in my 20s and have never attended TLM, so I don’t think this is a TLM or old-folks-only teaching.

  125. Hieronymus Illinensis says:

    I’m led to the same point as depeccatoradvitam by remembering singing Panis Angelicus: O res mirabilis! Manducat Dominum pauper, servus et humilis. Nevertheless I don’t use my teeth in practice but generally use my tongue to move Him to the back of my mouth and swallow. One concern I’ve had is singing after receiving, with the risk of emitting particles. Thanks for the note about a sip of water after receiving; that should help.

    An article abstract (Lebensmittel-Wissenschaft und Technologie 32(5):255-260, 1999) found by a search on “bread microscopic structure” has this to say: “In dough a partial segregation of starch from the protein phase is observed. On baking, starch was gelatinized and led to the formation of a continuous starch network. The starch fraction itself was inhomogeneous and consisted of swollen and interconnected starch granules. The two starch polymers, amylose and amylopectin, were found to phase separate and amylose was accumulated in the centre of starch granules.”

    So it could be argued that two or more starch granules that have been gelatinized, swollen, and interconnected are bread, but one starch granule is not.

    Detection methods using chemical reagents would not be of concern because they destroy what they are intended to detect, in order to produce a signal that it had been present.

  126. Andrew says:

    I too am a convert since Easter 2006 and this is the first I’ve ever heard this. It’s funny that some mention being really bothered by those that chew. When I would observe people not chew it would bother me since I didn’t know if they were secretly holding onto the host to get past the priest and were going to spit it out and take it home. I guess I’m too on guard for silly college professors and satanists trying to get a hold of our Lord.

    This chewing/not chewing discussion should help me calm down…

  127. Many people fail to take into account that what “the nuns” may have taught someone may have not been true or accurate or properly representing the authentic teachings or practices of the Catholic Church.

    Just because some were told “not to chew” before the Council doesn’t mean that those who “chew” after the Council are sinister ministers of the “spirit” of the Council.

    Just because some people prefer not to chew does not give them the right to confront uncharitably those who do prefer to chew.

    Those who criticize others always have the burden to prove their position. Until the Church judges on the situation (and I don’t think it will because I don’t think it’s a real issue), we cannot comment.

  128. Merriweather:

    I never said it was necessary to receive under both species. You would do well to critique what I say, not what you wish to read. However, receiving under both species is a tremendous blessing, and the Church, including this pope, are encouraging parishes to do everything possible to make sure that it is available under both species as often as possible. This is a good thing, and a very positive direction for the Church. I’m aware you hate anything that has to do with Vatican II, but that’s not my problem. Ground your arguments theologically, not sentimentally.

  129. Didn’t St Athanasius have something to say about this, something about not pressing with the teeth?

  130. Susan Peterson says:

    I am not sure if Fr. Z is accepting of turning the discussion from chewing or not chewing, to receiving in both kinds. Although they are related, because if you receive under the form of wine, it helps to soften the host. Of course all of us here understand that Jesus is completely received, body soul and divinity, under either form, so that one is not missing anything essential to the sacrament or any of the grace of the sacrament by receiving under only one species.

    However, Jesus did say both “take and eat” and “drink this all of you.” It is a better sign or symbol if we receive under both kinds. I have never been able to understand why most conservative Catholics are not happy with this. I found myself in the situation where at the masses I was otherwise happiest with, communion was under only one form, which I was less happy with, whereas the ones where the cup was offered, also contained many elements which were uncomfortable for me. I am still trying to figure out if this is only a cultural association or if something else is behind it.

    One issue is that in order to give the cup with the current cafeterial line style of receiving, so many lay people are required. Using an altar rail, really only one person besides the priest is necessary for each person to be able to drink from the cup, and if the priest intincts the host, then only the priest is necessary. I suppose my training as an Anglican is what makes me have a different set of associations with this practice than other conservative Catholics. I do wish they would realize that reception of the cup can be done with great reverence.

    For a while I actually used to be irritated when communion was offered under only one species. Then I was on a blog where someone said he didn’t know whether the form of reception in the Eastern Church was legitimate and I got all huffy and said, “What do you mean, the Church has been doing this for centuries, who are you to question?” Then I realized that this would also apply to the method of recieving under only one species in the Latin rite. I figured I had better apply my own words to myself. Since then I have been accepting of whatever mode of reception is offered where I go to mass. Although, if asked, I still have Anglican sensibilities.

    On the other hand, I am coming to love receiving communion in the Eastern rite because of the words used, “The servant of God, Susan, receives the Body and Blood of Christ.” And, by the way, in my Eastern rite parish, the form under which Our Lord is received is a small cube of bread thoroughly soaked in wine, just firm enough to hold together until it gets in your mouth, but not needing to be chewed. Even in the Latin rite, I have never had to do more than break the host with my tongue.

    Susan Peterson

  131. Tony says:

    In my 44 years of receiving Jesus I have never chewed Him. It was what I was taught, and it has never felt right to do otherwise. People walking back to their places chewing look like moo-cows in a field chewing their cud. :)

  132. Sangre Azul says:

    I chew slowly with tongue and swallow slowly too.

Comments are closed.