Card. Caffara of Bologna: in certain churches only Communion on the tongue

NLM has more than one useful entry today.  They picked up from a good Italian language Cantuale Antonianum that His Eminence Carlo Card. Caffarra, Archbishop of Bologna, has made the decision… wait for it…

to require that in the certain great churches of Bologna Holy Communion will be distributed only on the tongue.

I find this interesting and encouraging.

In a time when Pope Benedict distributes Communion only on the tongue….

In a time when liturgical leaders such as the Secretary of the CDW, Archbishop Ranjith, has written about Communion and the Holy See’s own publishing arm printed a book by Bishop Anastasius Schneider Dominis Est

In a time when many American dioceses are hurrying to recommend that Communion shouldn’t be given on the tongue because of risk of disease…

… we read of this decision.  

Here is the text of the communique from the Archdiocese of Bologna, which I touched up from NLM’s translation and added my emphases and comments

On the first Sunday of Advent twenty years ago, 1989, the resolution of the Italian Bishops’ Conference which authorised, with the approval of the Holy See, the distribution of Holy Communion in the hand, entered into force. [I remember that day very well.  More below.]

In recent weeks, parish priests and rectors of churches in our diocese received a communique of the provisions issued by the Cardinal Archbishop, in the face of grave abuses that have been confirmed in this regard. In particular, the Cardinal has ordered that in the Cathedral of St. Peter, in the Basilica of San Petronio and in the Shrine of the Madonna di San Luca, Communion must be distributed to the faithful only on the tongue.

The possibility to receive the consecrated Host in the hand that was granted may, in fact, give rise to "grave abuses", because there are those "who take away the Sacred Species to keep them as souvenirs", "who sell them", or even worse "who take them way to desecrate them in Satanic rituals." [This is a real situation in Italy!  Some areas of Italy have high occurances of activity by manifestly Satanic groups.  They break into churches and desecrate cemetaries and other holy places.] Thus writes Provicar General, Msgr. Gabriele Cavina in the letter to the priests which accompanies the provisions of the Cardinal, citing a text of [Archbishop] Malcolm Ranjith, Secretary of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments.

"We must take cognizance", Caffarra Cardinal writes,"that unfortunately there have been repeated cases of profanation of the Eucharist, taking advantage of the possibility to receive the consecrated Bread on the palm of the hand, above all, but not exclusively, on the occasion of large celebrations or in large churches subject to the passage of numerous faithful.

"For this reason it is good to be vigilant at the moment of Holy Communion, starting from observance of the common norms well known to all."  [In other words there are already laws.  Let’s obey them?]

"During Communion", we read still in the decree of the Cardinal, "the servers shall assist the Minister, as far as possible, in watching that every faithful, after having received the consecrated Bread, consumes it immediately in front of the minister, and that it must for any reason be taken back to the seat, or put into pockets or bags or elsewhere, or that It fall to the ground and be trod upon."  [You know… in Redemptionis Sacramentum we read that if there is danger of profanation of the Eucharist, Communion shouldn’t be given in the hand.  At what point do we come to realize that reception of Communion in the hand – simply and incontrovertibly put – greatly increases the risk of profanation?]

Together with a strong exhortation to vigilance that applies to all priests, the Cardinal issued the following provision for three churches in the diocese: "considering the frequency in which cases of irreverent behavior in the act of receiving the Eucharist have been reported" – writes the Cardinal – "we dispose that in the Metropolitan Church of St. Peter, the Basilica of San Petronio and the Shrine of the Blessed Virgin of St. Luke in Bologna, the faithful are to receive the consecrated Bread only from the hands of the Minister directly on the tongue."

This provision is attenuated for parishes, because, Msgr. Cavina writes, "the faithful are in large part known and the pastor can be more sure of their aptitude in making the gesture of Communion in the hand with the respect due, and he can from time to time step in with opportune reminders so as to educate continally the congregation to participate in the liturgy in an active and conscious manner".

I promised more on the day in 1989 when the Italian Bishops approved Communion in the hand.

I was in seminary in Rome.  On that Sunday we were lining up to go into chapel for Mass.  I was serving so I was next to the rector.  The rector mentioned to me that that day was the first day that Communion in the hand was approved.  He didn’t think that it would catch on.   I disagreed, saying that in all those places where it starts, it was widespread.  I said, it started from an abuse and spread from curiosity.  Then it was reinforced by priests who have the notion that we no longer need to debase ourselves. Then other people imitated the others more and more. Then it became obligatory.  That’s what happened in the United States.

He laughed it off, saying that none of our seminarians would be so foolish…. like Americans.  Ha Ha!

As the seminarians headed into chapel, passing in front of us lined up for the procession in, we over heard one Italian say to another, "I think I’ll try Communion in the hand today."  The other responded, "If you do it, I’ll do it too."

Buildings can be smashed down quickly by they are built up brick by brick.

Hopefully we will see this move of Card. Caffara in more places.  He sets an example.

We need stronger discipline and clearer catechism with good preaching about the nature of the Eucharistic and the meaning of Holy Communion.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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


  1. lkfl says:

    I went to a Novus Ordo Mass for the first time this morning and was refused communion by tongue because of “an order from the archbishop of San Francisco” and “the swine flu.” I argued with the deacon remembering reading on your blog that I have a right as a Catholic under canon law to communicate by tongue, and he again refused with hostility. I got so mad that I just left.

    I didn’t think this was really happening! What kind of recourse do I have? [Remembering that you always at any time have recourse to the Holy See, your first move would probably be to talk to the pastor of the parish. Consider that the Holy See would need “proofs”, that is, some sort of documentation about what happened. Don’t make a scene at the time of Communion!]

  2. lkfl says:

    Oops, that should be “I went to a Novus Ordo Mass for the first time IN SEVERAL WEEKS.”

  3. Fr. A says:

    This is wonderful to see. Good for the Cardinal!

    It’s always helpful to remember that Communion on the tongue is the universal law and immemorial custom of the Church; Communion in the hand is by way of permission. This permission can always be taken away; whereas, Communion on the tongue cannot be forbidden.

  4. Scott says:

    We here in New Zealand have been told not to receive on the tounge due to swine flu. Other restrictions have been no sign of peace (good) or commuion from the chalice (also good) . But I reckon that once the other two sanctions have been lifted they will still caution against communion on the tounge, i,e perfer will be the term they use. The Bishops conference here is very anti tradition

  5. Mum26 says:

    This is such a no-brainer. I have always wondered what the big deal was – now they have Extraordinary Ministers to administer the Holy Blood in addition to Extraordinary Ministers to administer the Holy Body of Christ in addition to the priest, who in many instances sits or stands idly by. And all these people fall over each other, and I have personally witnessed accidents…

    I say, give me communion rails and Holy Communion with Intinction any time!

    Maybe we Latin Rite Catholics should consider the custom of the Eastern Rite Catholics where Holy Communion is administered via a golden spoon under BOTH species DIRECTLY on the tongue! There – no more discussion necessary. And all those, who think it is beneath them to lower themselves on their knees and stick out their tongue (makes you feel pretty vulnerable, doesn’t it? Father likes to show pictures of birds…. they do that too and are totally dependent on their parents to feed them….), might just as well stay away. Then no bishop would have to come from hiding under their desks to tell the Pelosis, Bidens, Kennedys, Kerrys…. of the world anymore to refrain from receiving the Holy Eucharist.

  6. TJM says:

    Good for the Archbishop. What has always frosted me about Communion in the hand is that the practice grew out of rank disobedience. Therefore, I have
    never done it and never will, notwithstanding the swine flu nonsense or anything else. Tom

  7. a catechist says:

    What strikes me about the letter is that it argues from necessity & from observable events: desecrations & profanations, etc. He does NOT go into folks’ interior dispositions, and so entirely avoids the quagmire of “feelings”. I think this is a very wise approach, and would be a smart approach in the U.S.

  8. Ceile De says:

    This is indeed good news. I remember a few years ago in montreal seeing one of the many tourists who visit Basilique in Notre-Dame even during Mass go receive Communion and walk back down the aisle with It in his hand looking at It. He was a Japanese tourist and I assume was not a Catholic as he seemed to treat it as a souvenir. (I have wondered if I had any right to make this assumption but reasoned that if he were a Catholic, he would never have walked away with It in his hand).

  9. Tominellay says:

    Cdl. Cafarra shows good judgement!

  10. Clement says:

    Pronouncements like the Cardinals will be coming to America soon.

  11. Gloria says:

    A friend of mine, long-time parishioner, and one who has done hundreds of hours of volunteering for the local parish,visited the pastor at his residence and wanted to give him as a gift, “Dominus Est,” the wonderful little book by Bishop Schneider. The pastor angrily told him to get out of his house. There are people who insist on receiving on the tongue. They are always met with hostility, even to having the Holy Eucharist handled in such a way as to try to drop it, miss the tongue, purposefully slammed into the hand, etc. Books with a traditional bent which are donated to the church library, if found by the pastor, are thrown out. As with the last pastor, this one refuses to allow – ever – a TLM. Petitions to the Bishop never seem to reach him, as we accidently found out during an episcopal visit to another parish. Documentation is hard to come by. This is why I can never attend Mass at this parish.

  12. Michael says:

    I was an usher for a few years at an Opus Dei parish, where most people received on the tongue. However, even in a more reserved, traditional parish such as that, I witnessed more than one or two abuses or reception of the Eucharist in the hand. (We ushers were stationed in the front of the church during communion to assist the altar boys in verifying the proper reception and consumption of the Holy Eucharist.) Most were youth, and probably poorly Catechized, if at all, before receiving First Communion. Still, adults were guilty of this as well, and I well remember the older lady who discretely broke off a bit of the Holy Eucharist to place in her grandchild toddler’s mouth before consuming the rest of the Host. She received proper instruction at the end of that Mass by one of the assistant priests when I reported this.

    Reception on the tongue is making a return, slowly but surely, but there will be steps back as the movement grows.

  13. raymond says:

    Thanks, Father, for posting the article!


  14. Good for the bishop. I look forward to the day when he is imitated in the United States.

    When I think of Communion on the tongue, I think of the line from Psalm 81:

    I am the Lord your God, Who brought you up from the land of Egypt.
    Open your mouth wide, and I will fill it.

  15. TJM says:

    Gloria, that’s a sad story. I cannot imagine why the priest would not just have accepted the book and that done with it what he wanted. Very ungracious
    and decidedly un-Christian behavior. Tom

  16. After only four days of prohibition of communion on the tongue, communion in the precious blood was offered this morning. No mention of resumption of communion on the tongue but that is how I received.

  17. Fr. F says:

    His Eminence is an inspiration. Especially in light of American Bishops not wanting to use the Eucharist as a “weapon” and prohibit pro abortion politicians from receiving.

    Jesus is not a weapon, nor must we consider Him one! Many good Catholic are offended by this comparison.

    We must do all in our power to protect Our Lord from profanation as He was willing to do all in His power to save us from sin!

    Lord, please give our bishops and priests the same courage to protect and defend Your most Holy Body and Blood from those who would do you harm and those who through unworthy reception, do themselves harm.

  18. Ioannes Andreades says:

    Just to show you that this thread and the thread on Fr. Reese have more in common than you might think, the following is from a comment on the Washington Post website in response to Fr. Reese’s article ( It is clear that the writer esouses the view and that no irony is intended:
    “The church is comforting for it’s historical grandeur, but Catholics aren’t standing in front of a priest believing he’s turning bread into flesh, or that he has special powers to forgive sin. It’s wink wink isn’t this nice, yeah we have faith in god yeah sure. In fact most Catholics are proper skeptics, too well educated to fall for spiritual stories and myth.”
    Maybe communion on the tongue would make things less “comforting”.

  19. We have periodic discussions about going back to communing under separate species, as you still do (we have a reverence for ancient tradition, and in this case, Rome holds to the older tradition). The biggest advantage of communing as we do, with the species mixed in the chalice and communion placed on our tongues with a spoon, is that it pretty much kills any possible alternate methods.

    Still, I am sympathetic to returning to the older tradition.

  20. Dan says:

    I attended the TLM last Sunday in the diocese of San Jose, CA. The priest said he just celebrated his 62 anniversary of being a priest and only three times during that time has he ever touched a communicants tongue. So, he was only going to distribute communion on the tongue.

    Also, when I attended the TLM in Baltimore, the 80 year old priest had no trouble distributing communion to the entire congregation with resorting to an EM. I think of all the places where people queue up without fussing but queuing up at church is a problem?

  21. Girgadis says:

    Well, we’ve had way too many profanations of the Sacred Host in our NO parish in less than a year.
    This topic as well as the previous topic on territorial parishes really has me wondering if I’m
    doing the right thing by staying where I am. Our priest is trying, very hard, and he has made it clear that reception on the tongue is how he would prefer to administer Communion, but I’m assuming he needs the cardinal to make a similar decision to Cardinal Caffarra’s. We already have
    a beautiful altar rail and on the few occasions we’ve used it Father has given people the option
    of standing if they are too infirmed to kneel. Other than vocalize my support for his efforts to
    him, I don’t know what else I can do to help.

  22. Garrett says:

    While I applaud the good Cardinal, I wonder if it is really within his authority to forbid Communion in the hand, since it is approved by the Holy See (unfortunately). :( Anyone know?

  23. Scarlett says:

    Slightly tangential to this thread, but I’m curious. I know a lot of people aren’t fond of participating in Communion from the chalice, and I wonder why that is? I rarely/almost never do so myself, but not out of any theological reasoning; we just didn’t do it at my parish when I was growing up. I know that there are sound reasons for being against many of the aspects of the liturgy that the Chalice often accompanies, but what is the reason for the strong preference against receiving under both species?

  24. Ceile De says:

    The reference to Pope Benedict reminded me of a Papal Mass I watched on television recently. The commntator, a member of the US hierarchy, explained for viewers’ benefit that people knelt for communion from the Pope only because he is very short. I wish I were making this stuff up.

  25. truthfinder says:

    This is a good move. Thanks be to God. I just hope that if they do not already have an altar rail, they put something in that will help people kneel as it would be far easier to adjust to receiving communion on the tongue especially if one was a first timer. I receive on the tongue (standing, we have no kneelers and I don’t trust my knees) and a couple weeks ago the woman EMHC nearly put her whole hand in my mouth. ( my parish is not hostile to communion on the tongue, just not very talented in distribution)

    To Scarlett, some people may attack my reasoning, but I do not receive under both species for three reasons. We receive the Body and Blood of Jesus under each form, to me it feels like I’m communicating twice. 2. How to show proper reverence? ( I’ve seen some people kneel to receive from the chalice, just looks like so many things could go wrong.) 3. It kind of feels like self-communicating.

  26. Precentrix says:


    I have never received from the chalice, but I have received under both species by intinction (priest doing the intincting) in both Byzantine and Latin rites. The reasons I don’t receive from the chalice, apart from the fact that my OF parish back home was large enough that for a long time they didn’t offer, is that the whole process is more likely to lead to accidents than receiving only under the species of bread, and if you drop the host you don’t have to burn the carpet! Plus, the Precious Blood is usually distributed by an extraordinary monster anyway…

    Of course, when one is the only person in a 1500 strong parish to kneel for Holy Communion anyway, these singularities pass unnoticed! Thank the Lord for the EF!

  27. MAJ Tony says:

    Garrett: I would assume the Cardinal to be within his right to disallow something that the Holy See has allowed (not so much approved) as an indult, an exception to law, the practice of communion in hand.

    I’m not a fan of communion in hand but it has precedent.


    Around the year A.D. 390, Cyril of Jerusalem indicated that the early Church practiced Communion in the hand when he instructed his audience: “Approaching, therefore, come not with thy wrists extended, or thy fingers open; but make thy left hand as if a throne for thy right, which is on the eve of receiving the King. And having hallowed thy palm, receive the body of Christ, saying after it, ‘Amen.’ Then after thou hast with carefulness hallowed thine eyes by the touch of the holy body, partake thereof; giving heed lest thou lose any of it; for what thou losest is a loss to thee as it were from one of thine own members. For tell me, if anyone gave thee gold dust, wouldst thou not with all precaution keep it fast, being on thy guard against losing any of it, and suffering loss?” (Catechetical Lectures 23:22).

  28. ssoldie says:

    Again and again and again, thank God and his Bride( the Catholic Church) for the very Beautiful and reverent “Gregorian Rite”, “Traditional Latin Mass”, “The Tridentine Mass’.

  29. RJSciurus says:

    I believe Abp Burke made a similar statement with the ICKSP essentially allowing the celebrant to refuse communion in the hand at an ICKSP oratory. I’m not sure juridically how this works outside of Wisconsin or St. Louis where he had direct authority, but….

  30. Andreas says:

    MAJ Tony:

    Regarding this often quoted text, “Approaching, therefore, etc” see:

    Relevant quote from the above website:

    “… scholars dispute the authenticity of the St. Cyril text, according to Jungmann-Brunner. It is not impossible that the text is really the work of the Patriarch John, who succeeded Cyril in Jerusalem. This John was of suspect orthodoxy, as we know from the correspondence of St. Epiphanius, St. Jerome, and St. Augustine.”

    Even IF the said text should be authentic, it needs to be interpreted in light of historical circumstances that prompted it’s writing. So let’s not be silly and try to re-invent the Catholic Church on the basis of one dubious out of context quotation.

  31. Jakub says:

    Both species by intinction, so let it be, so let it be written…

  32. dcs says:

    While I applaud the good Cardinal, I wonder if it is really within his authority to forbid Communion in the hand, since it is approved by the Holy See (unfortunately). :( Anyone know?


    If there is a risk of profanation, then Holy Communion should not be given in the hand to the faithful.

    Instruction Redemptionis Sacramentum #92

  33. Sarah says:

    “that it must for any reason be taken back to the seat, or put into pockets or bags or elsewhere, or that It fall to the ground and be trod upon.”

    Shouldn’t it be “it must not for any reason….” I think the not was accidentally left out. I hope I’m not the first to notice this.

  34. matt says:

    While I applaud the good Cardinal, I wonder if it is really within his authority to forbid Communion in the hand, since it is approved by the Holy See (unfortunately). :( Anyone know?

    Actually the indult is at the discretion of the local ordinary. He may grant or revoke it on his own authority.

  35. Tony from Oz says:


    It is within the Cardinal Archbishop’s authority – both because CITH is an indult and because, even when it was first introduced (often under rather dodgy circumstances by episcopal conferences assuring Rome that it was already ‘normative’ in a country) – it was then left to each bishop to decide whether to permit the practice in their various dioceses (they also had the option re the altar girl/’serviette’ fiasco).

    Re the Cyril of Jerusalem quotation – does it strike anyone else that the reason for Cyril writing this must surely have been to correct abuses already prevalent with CITH way back then? To wit: “…come not with thy wrists extended, or thy fingers open”!! It looks very much as if slack observance and lack of care was hardy perennial even back then and, I’d bet, gives the clue to why CITH was eventually abandoned as the Church learnt from its own pastoral praxis.

  36. Jill of the Amazing Wolverine Tribe says:

    You folks can applaud and cheer all you want but the fact remains that if someone wants to get the Host for evil intent, he or she WILL. We all remember last summer when that evil “professor” in Minnesota was encouraging theft of Hosts. Someone of that camp surruptiously video recorded such a person kneeling, in front of a priest, receiving Communion, walking out at also taking it out of his mouth to walk away with it and profane the Eucharist. That video was widely seen last summer and may be still up for all I know.

    Keep telling yourselves that how a person looks on the outside always matches the person’s intent on the INSIDE, and that everything will be solved because now everyone has to recieve your way.

    If people want to kneel, fine. They should be allowed to — but I wish some of you “Z” crowd would realize that it is very much in respect and tradition that Eastern Rite Catholics “stand aright and stand in awe” when receiving Communion as a resurrection people. Latins aren’t the only “real Catholics.”

    As far as how great Communion on the spoon is — my own mother, who was Eastern rite preferred the way the Latins gave it, because there were always some people who managed to lick the spoon. Don’t imagine that doesn’t happen, because it does. She thought “thanks, but there’s got to be a better way.” Personally I would prefer intinction the Latin Rite way, but fat chance of that happening on a regular basis.

  37. Sharon says:

    In answer to a question put to him re how to receive communion – in the hand or on the tongue – in the May Issue of Messenger of St Anthony, Fr Richard Riccioli, OFM Conv wrote “In our parish we tend to encourage Communion in the hand. After our fight with the SARS epidemic several years ago, we in Toronto became keenly aware of how much contact with saliva is made by taking [?]Communion on the tongue.” I wish to address a reply to Fr Riccioli at but I am unsure re saliva. What do you priests out there who give Holy Communion on the tongue have to say about the ‘saliva problem?’

  38. Faithful of New Orleans says:

    Father thanks for this post. I wanted to inform you and your readers that I have been refused communion on the tongue this week at daily mass at a parish I attend regularly. No joke, the priest told me to my face that if I wish to receive communion on the tongue that I would have to receive communion some other time. I was told by the priest that because of the dangers of the flu no one at the mass could receive communion on the tongue but only in the hand and that this was a directive of the bishop. I found this a bit strange so I contacted the office of worship for the archdiocese and some priest friends about this strange directive. I found out from the worship office and the priests that no such directive had been issued by the bishop. So I have composed a letter to the bishop about this priest and will be contacting the religious superior as well in order to correct this abuse. Does anyone have any further advice for me? I encourage all of us to be most vocal and respectful to the proper ecclesial authorities about abuses out there, we must take the Church of Christ back from these abusers and confusers.

  39. TLH says:

    ” a resurrection people”

    Jill sweetie, thanks for the laugh!
    Wow…I haven’t heard that one since, well, for a long time…late-seventies maybe. What’s the response, everybody together now…”and alleuia is our song!” Yeah!

  40. Kimberly says:

    “stand aright and stand in awe” when receiving Communion as a resurrection people.”

    I kneel in humble adoration for a Lord so mighty and awesome, that I may never forget the price of the crucifiction.

  41. wsxyz says:

    “a resurrection people”

    Is this intended to imply that Catholics are already resurrected through baptism, thus denying the future resurrection of the flesh?

    Or is it an expression of presumption of automatic salvation for the baptized, thus denying the need for repentance?

    What else could it be?

  42. Banjo Pickin' Girl says:

    Scarlett, Communion under both species seems to imply that we don’t believe that Christ is present whole and entire in each species alone which is part of the dogma of the Real Presence vs what some Protestants believe (consubstantiation).

    There is also a slippery slope in logic here, with baptism by immersion being a “more complete sign” and Communion under both kinds being called a “more complete sign,” that people are going to change their theological understanding of the Eucharist and baptism (I realize that they already have, I’m just pointing out the possibility).

    But (put it in big letters) I am not an expert (I’m just a banjo pickin’ girl), I am just telling what I have read and heard and also observed.

  43. FOLKS: I have been in places where Communion was/is distributed nearly exclusively on the tongue.

    I cannot speak for the other priests who distribute Communion, but any touching of the tongue during distribution is a great rarity and usually occurs because the person moves.

  44. mpm says:

    Re: quote from St. Cyril of Jerusalem

    Personally, I think it is authentic, delivered about AD 350, but so what?

    This was the 4th C., in the decades immediately after Christianity had been legalized in the Empire, and the official persecutions had ceased.

    St. Ambrose’s dictum is given (famously) by St. Augustine, and says, when in a particular Church follow the customs of that Church, but don’t return and then start telling everybody that because they have that custom in Jerusalem or Ephesus or someplace, we must adopt it here.

    Augustine adds other caveats to that: that the custom be congruent with decrees of a “plenary council”, does not offend against faith or morals, and has some “utility” for those who practice it, in that order. (Letter 54 to Januarius)

    The whole Good Friday liturgy in the Latin Church derives from the manner of celebrating it in Jerusalem as they began to celebrate it in the 4th C. (probably while Cyril was priest/bishop). Notice that the Latin Rite retained that celebration, but not that of communicating manually. So be it. It is now 1600+ years later, and we have our own legitimate and authorized customs!

  45. sacerdos in germania says:

    I would have to agree with Father Z on this one. I’v offered the TLM exclusively since my ordination and I administer Holy Communion only on the tongue. Now, I’ve been a priest, well, for a while and in those years I can say that maybe two or three times my finger actually touched someone’s tongue and this was because the communicant lunged foward and this probably due to nervousness or distraction. If the priest knows what he is doing and if the recipient knows how to receive on the tongue, there are hardly ever any problems. The problem lies with either the priest or the communicant being unsure. I could see where this might exist in the NO, where some priests and faithful may be unaccustomed to distributing and receiving on the tongue but with the TLM, it’s very rare occurrence, at least in my experience.

  46. irishgirl says:

    Bravo to the Archbishop of Bologna!

  47. Origen Adamantius says:

    Communion under both species

    I would be hesitant to hold that communion under both species implies that we do not believe Christ is present fully in each species. After all, we hold that Christ instituted the Eucharist with both species–He did not simply introduce a single species. The teaching of the Church is that Christ is fully present in each species and reception of both species more fully signifies the Eucharistic banquet (i.e. What Christ instituted sealed in his blood). Practical and historical dogmatic issues may affect liturgical practice of reception but reception of both does not imply a belief in partial presence.

  48. Banjo Pickin' Girl says:

    Mr. Origen, I understand what you mean but I am trying to explain what I have observed, such as EMHCs who clearly don’t believe that Christ is present whole and entire in each species. If they are going to offer Communion under both species there has to be proper catechesis (which there has to be anyway).

    I know an EMHC who told me that if somebody dropped a chalice after the consecration and it landed on the altar rug, “oh, we would just send it out to be laundered.” As if the Precious Blood magically turns back into wine when it hits the floor. I had suggested they do away with the altar rug in a parish where they are handling 8 chalices.

    Oh well, we will eventually get our catechetical act together and people will once again know what they believe and understand what they believe, I hope.

  49. dcs says:

    If people want to kneel, fine. They should be allowed to—but I wish some of you “Z” crowd would realize that it is very much in respect and tradition that Eastern Rite Catholics “stand aright and stand in awe” when receiving Communion as a resurrection people. Latins aren’t the only “real Catholics.”

    Yes, standing to receive Holy Communion is their tradition so a Latin Catholic assisting at a Divine Liturgy ought to stand to receive Holy Communion. Likewise, an Eastern Catholic receiving Holy Communion at a traditional Latin Mass ought to kneel. Byzantine Catholics should hold fast to their liturgical traditions and we Latin Catholics should hold fast to ours, including receiving Holy Communion while kneeling and on the tongue.

    By the way, in 10+ years of receiving Holy Communion on the tongue (I am a convert), I can recall my tongue being touched exactly once and it was because I wasn\’t sticking it out far enough.

  50. MAJ Tony says:

    You folks can applaud and cheer all you want but the fact remains that if someone wants to get the Host for evil intent, he or she WILL. -Jill of the Amazing Wolverine Tribe

    Yes, and that’s a GIVEN, but it doesn’t mean that because the bad guy is going to find a way to get it, that we should give up and make it much easier for him. CITH is certainly the EASIEST way to access the sacred Host for desecration. If we acted this way in the Armed Forces, the US would’ve ceased to be a sovereign nation a long time ago.

    On a lighter note, this reminded me of a classic joke in the services where the sergeant comes up to a group of troops and orders “You, you, and you, freak out, the rest of you come follow me.”

    If people want to kneel, fine. They should be allowed to—but I wish some of you “Z” crowd would realize that it is very much in respect and tradition that Eastern Rite Catholics “stand aright and stand in awe” when receiving Communion as a resurrection people. Latins aren’t the only “real Catholics.” -Jill of the Amazing Wolverine Tribe

    Not sure what this have to do with CITH, but let the Eastern Rite do it the Eastern way (standing) and let the Latin Rite do it according to it’s proper way, Kneeling.

    Besides, the anti-kneeling crowd seems to forget that we are taught in Philippians 2:9-11 “Therefore also God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those who are in heaven, and on earth, and under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”

    If we are taught to bend the knee at the mere name of Jesus, how much more should we humble ourselves at his physical presence?

    As for the whole “resurrection people” bit, every time I hear that line, all it brings to mind is a group of people that removed the corpus from the crucifix and basically denigrate Paul’s reminder in 1 Cor 1:23 that “We preach Christ crucified…”

  51. Mark says:

    There is no contradiction between acknowledging that communion in the hand was the mode of reception in the first centuries of the Church, and believing that it is sacrilegious now. Because sacrilege is not an objective thing, it is conditioned by what is considered disrespectful culturally. However, the culture we’re talking about here is not the external culture, but that internally, of the Church. And 1600 years of communion only on the tongue cannot be revoked by executive decree. Maybe back in the year 390, in Romano-Celtic Britain, screaming “*%$# you!” in church wouldnt have been sacrilegious, because at the time the English language didnt exist, and so all you would have been screaming are nonsense syllables. In some language, those same sounds objectively might even mean “alleluia!”. BUT, the fact is, English did develop. And so now, you can’t do that if you are an English speaker, or are being listened to by any English speakers. If two tasmanians who have never heard of English said it, fine, it would have no bad significance, but once English develops a bad meaning for it, you cant suddenly just declare “Well, that’s no longer a terrible vulgar word!” Organic cultural meaning can’t just be changed like that. Especially when there is large body of texts testifying to the old meaning. Same thing with communion in the hand. It takes on connotations after 1600 years that cannot simply be wiped away. “But, oh, it doesnt have those connotations anymore”…and i understand what you mean, the average Latin Rite Catholic in the pews today (who has been denied his rightful heritage and identity and culture) may not understand how wrong that would have been considered for so long, and may have the best of intentions, but there is a huge body of texts that preserves the old meaning and which cannot simply be wiped from the collective memory. You can teach little children to parrot “%$^# $#*%$!” and they wont be intending anything bad and will be personally innocent, but we as Catholics believe that, even though language is ultimately arbitrary, there is still absolute meaning in context (otherwise communication would be impossible), and that little kid would still be swearing, the person who taught them would be culpable, and other people should still be offended upon hearing it. Communion in the hand may not be “absolutely” sacrilegious, and if it was done in the year 390, it wasnt then. But in the context of 1600 years of the development of the meaning of the language of symbolism in the Latin right, it is as surely as saying, “%#@@!” is a swear since the development of English.

  52. Ed the Roman says:

    ….we no longer need to debase ourselves.

    Perhaps “abase” would be a better word here?

  53. JillofTheAmazingWolverineTribe says:

    Is there no other group more parochial than the “Z” groupies? The “Stand aright and stand in awe” is something the PRIEST says during the liturgy. And in their own approved liturgy, they say they are a “resurrection people.”

    And Tony, congrats for getting the “serviette” swipe in. Is it de rigeur all the time any abuse is being discussed?

    But I suppose the Latin Rite Catholics are “better.” [Perhaps when you don’t have such a chip on your shoulder, you can post again.]

  54. Ann says:

    I just scanned the comments so I’m not sure if anyone has mentioned this or not. I can see about stopping the sign of peace and receiving from the Chalice to prevent the spread of a “disease”. I find it interesting, however, that we have a greater chance of picking something up from our own hands because most people don’t have a chance to wash their hands before Mass; especially if they are coming off the local public transit. The priest, one would assume, has washed his hands prior to Mass, and since he’s the only one touching the Blessed Sacrament would it not be more than likely we would have a greater chance of catching the bug from our own hands than the priest’s?

  55. Michael J says:


    As I understand it, one of the major reasons why Communion under both species was halted in the Latin Church is because people began to believe that Christ was not fully present in each species. It’s not much of a stretch to believe that this heresy is gaining a foothold again especially (as far as I know) since the practice was re-introduced with little or no discussion about this heretical belief. This is further reinforced by anecdotal evidence. How may times have you heard Catholics say something like “I feel as if I’ve been to only half of a Mass if I do not receive from the Chalice”?

  56. JillofTheAmazingWolverineTribe says:

    FWIW I’ve seldom seen a priest wash his hands in the sacristy, but I’ve never seen a priest’s hands which weren’t visibly clean at Mass. BUT don’t forget they also open the sacristy door, and just in general might touch things like the vesting bench the missal which everyone and his dog handles, etc. You simply can’t eliminate all germs. One physician I know made sure her youngsters played in the dirt when they were young just so they could build up a healthy immune system. Cleanliness is next to Godliness for sure, but there are still going to be some more germs around. And you’re very right about public transportation. Best to wash hands after coming off that thing!

  57. Banjo Pickin' Girl says:

    Michael J, I was told by an EMHC from our cathedral that his wife, also an EMHC at the cathedral, went to a daily Mass at my parish, which serves Communion kneeling at the rail and on the tongue. She was offended that she was “forced” to kneel and couldn’t receive the chalice. I felt like asking some pertinent questions about the theology that this evidences but didn’t.

    The more things change the more they stay the same and the same old heresies keep coming back.

  58. Regarding the oft-quoted and still more misunderstood practice of communion in the hand during the early centuries …

    Bishop Athanasius Schneider, who called at the bishop’s synod for a return to the universal practice of communion on the tongue while kneeling, and whose book Dominus Est–It is the Lord! apparently enjoys much high-level approval, is an expert on practices in apostolic times, and was interviewed by Fr. Mitch Pacwa on EWTN in December.

    Bishop Schneider emphasized that communion in the hands as we know it today bears no resemblance to communion in apostolic times. Back then, the Host was placed on the open palm of the right hand of the communicant; curiously, he said that its touching the left hand would have been unthinkable, as would touching the Host with one’s fingers. So no lay person picked it up off the palm and “placed it in his mouth himself”.

    Instead, the communicant bowed profoundly toward his extended hand and took the Host directly into his mouth. This way might better be described as “communion in the mouth” (if not on the tongue) rather than “communion in the hand”.

    The communicant’s hand was purified both before and after communion. The Host was placed on a corporal that covered a woman’s hand — so her own hand never touched the Host itself — and the corporal was purified afterwards

    Bishop Schneider’s research indicates that communion in this manner from the very beginning of apostolic times exhibited the deepest reverence for the Blessed Sacrament that one can describe. If communion in the hand were carried out in this manner today, perhaps there would not be such a growing recognition that the Church must cease to indult this exception from the universal norm of communion on the tongue.

  59. Jacques says:

    There are rumours in Rome about many traffics of consecrated hosts since many years.
    The more expensive ones would be those coming straight from the Vatican…
    Certainly the communion in the hand is the easier way to get them.
    Anyway these abuses were easily foreseeable. The angelic modernist priests and blind bishops who forced the Pope’s hand to install this bad practice are bearing a heavy responsibility.

  60. Jim says:

    In the traditional Anglican communion to which I previously belonged, while most received communion on the hand, it was in the manner described by Henry Edwards – the hands were held together, palm upwards, with the right hand on top. The priest placed the Host in the palm, and the communicant then raised his hands and bowed his head to take it into his mouth. If you wished to receive by intinction, you waited for the chalice bearer who would take the host, dip it into the Blood, and place it on your tongue. I received on the tongue, and never had my tongue touched.

    After I became aware of the objective presence of the Body of Christ in the Blessed Sacrament, the practice of picking up the host with the fingers and popping it into one’s own mouth has always seemed at best irreverant. I am now in the Catholic Church, and in my parish I always try to sit so that I can receive from the priest. I’m not sure how an EMHC would react when I open my mouth and stick out my tongue.

    Receiving the Sacrament while kneeling at the altar rail better symbolizes the attitude with which we should approach our Lord, even if it does make the Mass run a little longer. I personally appreciate the extra time before and after I receive the Sacrament to prepare myself and to give thanks.

    Unfortunately, our parish has no altar rail, and the EMHC’s are only extraordinary ‘de jure’, and are likely to remain so in the U.S.

  61. mfg says:

    Henry Edwards, I also saw Bishop Athanasius Schneider on EWTN. We want our priests to be holy and he certainly is that. I received communion on the tongue for my first 40 years–then communion in the hand during the dark ages–now communion on the tongue again Deo Gracias. During the dark ages I saw:

    EM’s drop the chalice and the hosts go flying and the priest not even turn around to see what was happening (other EM’s helped her); mostly young people swinging their arms, smirking, inappropriately dressed, chewing the host with open mouths, talking to others in line; grandchildren telling me that that a young boy “brought Jesus to the school yard and received 3 demerits”. I pray for the day when communion on the tongue, kneeling at the communion rail will be mandated by the Pope.

  62. Sharon says:

    The communicant’s hand was purified both before and after communion. The Host was placed on a corporal that covered a woman’s hand—so her own hand never touched the Host itself—and the corporal was purified.

    Was it only a woman’s hand which was covered with a corporal?

    If so this certainly is not a tradition we should revive. Every one of us would be thinking of what a man’s hand touches.

  63. MAJ Tony says:

    Note re handwashing: most germs are under your fingernails. Certainly the biggest problems with germs are going to be related to bathroom hygiene. I would say there’s a huge degree less probabilility of a transfer of pathogens from the priest giving everyone communion on the tongue than if everyone took it by hand, as long as that one priest had clean hands to begin with and didn’t inadvertently touch someone’s tongue or get sneezed on. The properly prepared chalice, etc., shouldn’t be a pathogen carrier. I’d trust a half dozen properly supervised and trained ministers (priest, deacons, altar boys, EMHCs, whomever) to do better than 100+ unsupervised parishioners. Having spent 15 years in the service, I know how even the best trained Soldier will, from time to time, still do the wrong thing if you don’t enforce discipline. I’m pretty sure the typical civilian is often going to do his own thing, especially men.

    Fr. Frank Phillips C.R. of the Society of St. John Cantius in Chicago, was the Homilist at our Sun TLM. Reason he was down: We had the parish 100th anniv. Sat evening, complete with a mixed TLM Choir/Schola and a conservative setting from the pretty much orthodox OF choir. This included Ecce Sacerdos Magnus (don’t know exactly why, but I was stifling back tears) for the entrance procession with Abp. Buechlein.

    Anyway, back to Fr’s Homily: it was about the Holy Mother Church (excellent Mother’s Day Homily topic, BTW). In it, he discussed the symbolism of church architecture. A couple key points:

    First, the altar rail, which has been removed and/or not installed in most churches, which the modernists claim is a barrier to the sanctuary, is NOT a barrier, but an EXTENSION of the very altar itself.

    Second, and perhaps more important, was his point about the rightness of taking communion by mouth directly from the hand of the priest. He said that a mother feeds her little children in small bits from her hand (or spoon) directly into the mouth of the child.

    In Matt 18:3-4 Jesus says: Amen I say to you, unless you be converted, and become as little children, you shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven. Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, he is the greater in the kingdom of heaven.

    Therefore, since the Church is our Mother, it is only fitting that the proper way to take communion is kneeling (in the Latin Church) by mouth, like God’s children.

  64. raymond says:

    The has noted that in the Corpus Christi Diocese the Bishop himself distributes Communion on the tongue, even though he has banned it. Thank God for parishioners who don’t watch the news or listen to announcements or ‘read the memos’!!! The only ‘public health lectures’ witnessed so far were by the priest who is charge of vocations for the diocese. (also on the blog)


Comments are closed.