ASK FATHER: Can a priest set a general parish policy of no Communion in the hand?

From a reader… QUAERITUR:

I’m in a Novus Ordo Parish . Our assistant pastor recently announced that he would only give communion on the tongue and his extraordinary minister was instructed to do the same.

A woman insisted on the hand and she went back to her pew without receiving because the priest (or extraordinary minister, don’t know which) the priest had announced (or EM, told) that ONLY on the tongue at his masses. Somebody complained (perhaps, herself) to the Pastor and he did not back up the assistant pastor.

What led to this (I just found out from the man that assists with the paten at his masses) was that the priest saw a woman place the Blessed Sacrament in her purse and the priest had the man assisting him to follow her and make her receive or bring back the purse. She told the man that she was sending the Host to her son in Pakistan. Also Hosts have been found on the floor and stepped on and Hosts have been found between the pages of the missals.

It is now, against the priest’s conscience to give on the hand. He fears for the desecration of Our Lord.

In discussing this with another priest, … I was told that there is a clause (somewhere) about a priest allowed to insist on Communion on the tongue if it is against his conscience.

My QUESTION is: Where can I find this ruling in order to help this assistant priest?

He is suffering much for going against his conscience.

Should he follow his conscience (Pope Francis says we should, huh?) or should he follow the pastor’s lack of understanding.

First, this pertains to the Novus Ordo, the Ordinary Form.  Communion in the hand is not allowed at the Extraordinary Form.  (Yet another reason for more Masses in the Extraordinary Form…. but I digress).

Also, HERE the link to a response, published a while back in Notitiae (the official publication the Congregation for Divine Worship) that aims at the heart of this matter. The original question in Notitiae asked whether a priest (or other minister), in a place where communion in the hand was permitted, can prohibit the faithful from receiving on the tongue and receive only on the hand. The Congregation answers that question in the negative, but then goes on to say: “The priest celebrant, is not to give communion in the hand of the faithful if there is present danger of sacrilege…”

This response, which doesn’t seem to be the same as a law, leaves the determination up to the priest saying Mass on a case by case basis.  It would be wrong for an associate pastor to announce a universal policy against communion in the hand: he does not have an office which permits him to “set policy,” and he should act in coordination with the pastor.

Also, in the authoritative document Redemptionis Sacramentum 92 we read:

Although each of the faithful always has the right to receive Holy Communion on the tongue, at his choice, if any communicant should wish to receive the Sacrament in the hand, in areas where the Bishops’ Conference with the recognitio of the Apostolic See has given permission, the sacred host is to be administered to him or her. However, special care should be taken to ensure that the host is consumed by the communicant in the presence of the minister, so that no one goes away carrying the Eucharistic species in his hand. If there is a risk of profanation, then Holy Communion should not be given in the hand to the faithful.

Sounds familiar, right?

Redemptionis Sacramentum is a juridic document, it lays down the law, it is in AAS 96/9, pp. 549ff, and it was approved by the Supreme Pontiff who ordered that it be obeyed.  It has not been superseded.

In individual circumstances, if the priest (or Extraordinary minister, I suppose) believes there is a real danger of profanation, it the Holy See would surely back him up in prohibiting someone from receiving in the hand.

I can see refusing to give Holy Communion in the hand to a woman whom Father has seen put a Sacred Host in her purse.  He would be within his rights (and it is, in fact, his responsibility) to make sure any and all who receive Holy Communion in the hand consume the host in his presence.  The law backs him up.  But he needs prudence and knowledge to deal with the situation.

That said, an associate should have spoken with the pastor before announcing a “policy” that he doesn’t have the authority to implement.

Of course this is all reason #10 for Summorum Pontificum, isn’t it.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
This entry was posted in ASK FATHER Question Box, Liturgy Science Theatre 3000, Our Catholic Identity, SUMMORUM PONTIFICUM and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.


  1. I have a priest friend in a particular archdiocese who did something like this. He was the pastor of the parish. If there’s a risk for profanation, Communion shouldn’t be given in the hand (one can argue there’s a risk at every Mass)…I hope the Associate Pastor talked with the Pastor of the parish about this. It’s good to be on similar terms with the pastor.

  2. jacobi says:


    The Pope Emeritus established a very clear policy of only distributing on the tongue (and not offering the chalice, I believe?).

    Therefore , a clear precedent has been set by the highest authority in the Church, namely that on the basis of personal conviction, the ancient and established practise of administering by mouth only, either out of due reverence, or as a precaution against abuse, is a decision for the priest, and must be observed by any lay distributers who assist him.

  3. RJHighland says:

    My hat is off to the assistant pastor for doing his best to protect the body, blood soul and divinity or our Lord. I wonder if their is possibly some tension between the Pastor and assistant pastor in things traditional. I image it would be difficult for a progressive 60’s generation priest and a more traditional young priest to see eye to eye on some of these things. I have witnessed this with a new deacon and pastor at my local parish. Traditionalists and Progressives, it’s like two different religions under the same roof.

  4. Jean Marie says:

    Communion should ALWAYS be on the tongue. There have been many times when I went to morning Mass on Monday and found small pieces of Holy Communion on the floor which would have been swept up by the maintenance man and thrown in the garbage. This has to stop.

  5. Traductora says:

    I don’t know the general rules covering the practice of intinction, but to me, that seems like a solution. I was at a mass just yesterday where this was done by the celebrant, who I know is somebody who would prefer to give Communion only on the tongue, not give the chalice, and if possible have the priest give Communion. This seems to solve the problem without any need for announcements or rules, and even people who for some reason seem to object to Communion on the tongue went up with great docility and simply opened their mouths. Someone pointed out to me that it also makes the host easier to swallow, which is good particularly for the elderly.

    It also eliminates the demand for the hebes, as I always think of the “cup bearers” at mass, the elderly ladies entrusted with the chalice in their shaking hands. The priest in this case had the deacon stand next to him holding the chalice, and simply dipped the host into it as each person came up. It was fast, reverent, and non-controversial.

  6. rosaryarmy says:

    At the parish where I used to work, a priest warned the RCIA class about the “dangers” of traditionalism (or at least what he viewed as traditionalism; I would say it was merely following Church teaching). He explicitly said that he would deny Communion to someone who tried to receive on the tongue. Although I’d try to avoid receiving from him, I’d occasionally end up in his line and be worried that I was going to start a confrontation. Thankfully, he did allow me to receive on the tongue, but it was obvious that he wasn’t happy about it. It’s frustrating that reverence can be seen as an act of protest in these situations.

  7. Mike says:

    This anecdote is sad but not surprising in a “Catholic” culture that encourages sacrilegious Communions and reception by the excommunicated. In fact, it’s not even the anecdote that’s sad; it’s the culture.

    I’m having an increasingly difficult time justifying my participation in Novus Ordo Masses as now constituted.

  8. Mike says:

    Also, intinction is a very bad surprise to foist upon a communicant who happens to be alcoholic. One can forgo reception, but why should one have to?

  9. Dr. Edward Peters says:

    The priest’s action, as described, is illicit. Unless he can show that, under then obtaining circumstances, there is risk of profanation IN VIRTUE OF RECEPTION IN THE HAND (since that is as far as his ‘policy’ reaches) then he is gravely violating the rights of the faithful to the sacraments.

  10. tominrichmond says:

    While the priest’s actions were understandable, it was equally unsurprising to find that he was quickly slapped down, such is the state of affairs in the Church.

    Sadly, in order to avoid these sacrileges, this good priest ought to join a traditional order. What a shame that the “law” requires a priest to engage in this practice, which is inherently at risk of profanation.

  11. teechrlady says:

    Perhaps that pastor should insist that each person fully consume the Host before he offers the next. Then Communion would take forever and people would beg him for Communion on the tongue.

  12. Fr AJ says:

    Intinction may be an answer to this issue but this priest needs to wait until he’s a pastor. Assistants can’t make rules and so forth, the pastor of the parish is one who has the authority.

  13. chorister says:

    Well, here is another question…If the responsibility of the Ushers is to maintain order in the assembly..Could not men ushers be assigned at significant points so as to observe communicants? Even The KofC in uniform would be impressive?
    Seems to me that especially at Funerals and Weddings where many non-Catholics are in attendance this would be important. I have myself gone up to someone who was extremely “distracted” during a Funeral, looked like he took a dare , went forward to receive and came back passing the host between his fingers like a poker chip. I placed myself in front of him, held out my hands and he gave up the host.

  14. Suburbanbanshee says:

    Re: rights violation and imprudent lack of consultation with the pastor — yup.

    OTOH, the pastor and the assistant pastor should probably be preaching on this issue, because if the people don’t know the basic rules about how to treat the Host, it’s their job to teach them. (And to get other eyes on the problem.)

  15. Moro says:

    Why intinction (by the priest) is not used in the Roman rite is beyond me. It’s a licit option. I’ve only seen it in two places, both were in Spanish speaking countries. Either that or more frequent preaching on the proper methods of receiving. When I was trained for first communion, we were told that on the tongue was allowed, but were basically trained to receive in the hand since in the parish I was in that was the de facto method of receiving. I hear more and more from personal friends, not just some internet stories, that people walk off with hosts, put it in a tissue, leave it in a pew, etc. Apparently it’s so bad that at my diocese’s Cathedral that at large diocese wide masses (ordinations, Easter Vigil, etc.) usual Sunday EMHC’s go to watch those receiving communion from the priests and deacons to make sure people consume the hosts.

  16. jhayes says:

    The policy on Communion in the hand is set by the Bishops Conference in each country. I don’t think that even the Pastor could set a different policy for his parish..

    In a particular case (as with the woman who put the host in her purse) I think the priest could refuse to give he Communion in the hand at future Masses, but should tell her that ahead of time .

    “There’s always the possibility of profanation” is something the Bishops conference would have considered in setting the policy. The Pastor may disagree with their decision but can’t change the policy.

    Regarding Pope Benedict, if you look at the Christmas videos, you will see priests in the background giving Communion in the hand. The group that received from the Pope, himself, knelt and received on the tongue but it was not required of everyone

  17. Justalurkingfool says:

    I much prefer receiving communion directly on my tongue. Being a child of the 60’s and 70’s, I readily moved to reception of the Eucharist via my hand as it was one of those things to do, but I miss, as I have grown older, kneeling at the altar rail. To this day, when I have something on a desk that I am doing with a person who is seated at the desk, I will kneel rather than sit, to address the issue(s) on the desk. This, more often in the past because people, now, are used to me, lead to the question, “why don’t you sit it is easier?” This allowed me to respond, “Oh, I am used to kneeling, I was an altar boy. I used to kneel on marble all the time. This is a piece of cake.”

    Consequently, this has been a source of both amusement and curiosity for others and an opportunity to speak of my Catholicism in the normal routine of my life. Few, at my work, speak of such things, whereas, everyone knows of my Catholicism and sees it living in the way I deal with “customers”.

    If a priest is supposed to offer communion in the hand and on the tongue, I can understand his speaking about his preference and even asking his parishioners to consider his preference, but he should still accomodate those who prefer reception in the hand. That he does what he “prefers” not to do, because it is “one” of the allowed ways, when his preference is common knowledge, is a nice way to show respectful deference. I prefer to see rather then to be preached at, unless personal experiences are referenced which show circumstances like this. It has more meaning to me. It is like, sweat equity.

  18. Sonshine135 says:

    I have seen this same thing happen, especially when a”Mega-Mass” occurs. The Bishop in my Diocese took some very creative steps in this area though. Each of the Deacon pairs that are sent out to distribute the host are escorted by a Knight of Columbus who can then ensure that the host is consumed. If not, the Knight can go after the individual and ask them to consume, or inform the Deacon to stop until the situation is rectified. It is the extra set of eyes that are needed. Since this policy began, no abuse has been reported, and the faithful can receive in the manner they are comfortable.

    It seems like the Pastor and Associate Pastor are not on the same sheet of music in this situation. It would have been better, in my opinion, if the Associate Pastor would have consulted with the Pastor and come up with a mutually agreeable solution.

  19. Darren says:

    I have seen one of the deacons at my parish follow someone who did not consume the Host immediately to make sure he did.

    This past year at the midnight Christmas mass I had returned to my pew after receiving and then looked up just at the right time to see a man take the Host from the hand of the EMHC (which is wrong) and then I watched him as he just walked down the aisle with it. He did consume the Host before he got back to his pew… but there is apparently little knowledge among he faithful and even the extraordinary ministers.

    The idea of receiving in the hand is so foreign to me now, I just cannot do it – going on three years since I made the permanent change in my habit.

  20. Chris Garton-Zavesky says:

    Dr. Peters,

    What would constitute sufficient cause?

    If a pro-abortion politician presents himself to receive in the hand, the risk of profanation and scandal is in the reception itself, not in the fact that it’s in the hand — so I’m guessing that this problem is covered elsewhere in canon law.

    If this same woman, who is known to put the Sacred Host in her handbag for mailing to Pakistan, presents herself again, the risk may not be moral certainty, so this is, by itself, insufficient.

    If a protestor at St. Patrick’s Cathedral (or, more recently, a cathedral in Belgium, or Los Angeles) presents himself in attire manifestly unsuitable for the reception of communion and intent on making a mockery of the Mass ( if one can define this by common consent, instead of by law) does this qualify as sufficient certainty?

    Fr. Zuhlsdorf,

    Would this qualify as cause enough to encourage the faithful not to receive Holy Communion as part of a routine, but out of genuine, prepared devotion? [Who am I to judge?]

  21. Giuseppe says:

    Thank you for your insights, Dr. Peters. I also agree that there would need to be specific reason to suspect a specific person before denying communion in the hand.

    What if we repurposed EMHCs to stand to the side and watch that the host is placed into the mouth of each communicant?

  22. majuscule says:

    Perhaps this could be a reason for a priest to give communion on the tongue when the communicant obviously wants to receive in the hand:

    A recent revert to the faith was commenting about our young new priest–she was not complaining, just wondering. she said that when she approached with her hands out he gave her communion on the tongue instead. I have not had a chance to speak to him personally but when I saw the lady at Mass the next week I realized that she wears fingerless gloves. My surmise is that the gloves were the reason for not offering communion in the hand.

    I told her about the video that was making the rounds a while back that showed fragments of the host on black gloves. (I’ve been meaning to send her the link to that video but I can’t find it.)

  23. I also remember a priest who having already intincted the Host denied Communion in the hand to the person. (As is proper). Universal intinction, sounds like a good idea.

  24. Fr. Erik Richtsteig says:

    The reason why you don’t see intinction more in the Latin Rite (and in fact why it used to be banned in my diocese) is that it necessarily precludes receiving in the hand, which is what the liturgical establishment has been pushing since the 1960s. In my diocese we are told that reception in the hand is “the norm”. How a practice introduced by indult and at variance from the universal norm or the Latin Rite can be “the norm” is beyond me.

  25. Cordelio says:

    What legalism. What blindness. Does nobody remember where the present practice of Communion in the Hand came from, the manner it was foisted upon Catholics, nor who were its proponents?

    Did the Holy Ghost guide the Church wrongly until the 1960s, when we finally realized that the by then immemorial custom of having nothing unconsecrated touch the Sacred Host – the ineffable God – was a bad idea? The Holy Angels cover their metaphorical faces, but we stick out our paw?

    Of course a priest is justified in refusing to administer Communion in the Hand. A priest is morally obliged to refused administering Communion in the Hand.

  26. Joseph-Mary says:

    We have a very good priest who greatly dislikes communion in the hand. At the nursing homes, he would only give on the tongue. But that does not fly in the parish very well. He is now at a nearby parish and one thing they have done is put kneelers out so that folks can stand or kneel to receive. The younger folks almost always kneel but the only ones, the remnant left from the 70s stand and hold out their hands. I certainly recall a number of times with priests saying very uncharitable things about people who wish to receive on the tongue and the remnants of the faithful who survived those years were well indoctrinated. And the children are still taught to hold out their hands. I remember when I switched to the tongue some years ago and that was innovative. One can tell when the priest or “communion minister” is displeased but at least in my parish more and more receive on the tongue. Both postures are permitted and the faithful are not to be refused either way.

  27. RJHighland says:

    Maybe the priests approach was not licit but it seems his heart is in the right place. As someone else said he should speak to the faithful about it, thanks to the Dutch bishops of the 1970’s this has become the norm in most places. I personnally think it was brought in by the wolves, but that is my opinion. But the priest could do like Pope Benedict XVI and have a kneeler there, with the pastors approval of course, and if you want to recieve the Lord from the Priest you kneel and recieve on the tongue, if you want to recieve from an extraordinary minister of Holy communion do it according to the norm of the dioceses or in another licit form. Because it is illicit also to deny someone communion kneeling and on the tongue. Which has happened to me. It would be like separating the sheep and the goats or the wheat and the chaff. (just kidding, especially for those that have a physical disability that prevents them from being able to kneel). I just love the fact that this is not an issue at all at my parish and my heart and prayers go out to all who desire to recieve the Lord kneeling and on the tongue but get alot of push back from priests and administrators or feel uncomfortable because no one else does it. Postures durning mass is were some of the greatest infighting occur between progessives and traditionalists. It’s right up there with holding hands when praying.

  28. Suburbanbanshee says:

    Cordelio — What the Church allows _is_ allowed. You can’t go and say, “Oh, yeah, I’m Pope Me and Bishop Me, and what I say goes for all the faithful.” Even if some people have done this (ehem), it doesn’t mean that it’s acceptable to set yourself up as the regulator of indults unless you _are_ a pope or bishop.

    As for the angels — Did the seraphim hug God? No. Does that mean that Mary wasn’t allowed to hug Jesus? No.

    Reverence is good and the angels are a model. But. The Church allows us human Christians to have privileges that the angels don’t have, just as humans and angels each have privileges and powers that the other doesn’t have. So you have to be careful with that kind of argument. The angels don’t have kids, either, and yet humans are allowed and commanded to go forth and multiply.

  29. LadyMarchmain says:

    Dr. Peters: From the description offered by the OP, there were quite a few instances of hosts left in the missals, or on the floor, as well as the one taken away in a handbag, so that the priest seems to have had sufficient grounds for acting to prevent further desecration of Our Lord.

    Suburbanbanshee: It sounds as though the priest did preach on this, as I can’t imagine him making the announcement without explaining the gravity of the situation which moved him to this step.

    The Byzantine Rite uses intinction, with the hosts soaking in the chalice, removed by a long spoon and then placed carefully in the communicants’ mouths (without cross contamination). I have never understood the practice of a common chalice handled and slobbered on by everyone and greatly increasing the risk of spreading illness.

    Heavy sigh. The EF would make it unnecessary even to have this conversation.

  30. Eliane says:

    On a visit to South Philadelphia I noticed the priest attempting to offer communion on the tongue to each communicant, but for those who held out their hands he complied and served in the hand. One man took the sacred host in hand, turned and started back to his seat. The priest stopped serving, sent someone after the man and instructed him publicly to place the host on his tongue.

    @LadyMarchmain, who said, “Heavy sigh. The EF would make it unnecessary even to have this conversation.”

    And isn’t that a wonderful feeling. The EF is the solution to so many perversions and sacrileges that the NO by its nature invites.

  31. Cordelio says:


    Actually no. Something is not morally allowable simply because churchmen say that it is. Even the Pope lacks the power to make something that is objectively immoral under the circumstances moral by virtue of his fiat.

    Would you like few thousand examples from ecclesiastical history?

  32. Nan says:

    @Lady Marchmain, the Byzantine Rite does not use hosts; whether Catholic or Orthodox, they use leavened bread, cut up and immersed, given by spoon as you said. This is a 10th century innovation by the Orthodox in order to emphasize the differences between Catholicism and Orthodoxy. They also give blessed bread at the end of the liturgy, which anyone may take.

  33. Imrahil says:

    Dear @Cordelio,

    what makes you think Communion in the hand is objectively immoral?

    Note, it is no proof here that it was forbidden once, or that it is less-reverent, or that it would be prudent to ban it again, or that it was introduced into the Church in immoral ways. These points are all true (in my opinion), but they do not mean the practice is in itself, inherently, immoral.

  34. Justalurkingfool says:

    If this is so,

    “This is a 10th century innovation by the Orthodox in order to emphasize the differences between Catholicism and Orthodoxy.”

    then it seems rather unwise to continue the practice. I wonder why this is so? The reason why something is done is often as important as what is done. If this is so, I find this practice quite offensive and I will bring it up with my children who frequently attend a Byzantine Catholic Church in North Carolina. If there is true union here, I cannot understand why the Byzantine hierarchy would want this practice to continue unless they were more loyal to the eastern beliefs than to the western and their union was not sincere. There is no need for uniformity but, insult, should have no place., particularly in the central sacrament of unity. I am very troubled by learning this. I have partaken in this process when I have visited my children but will no longer do so, unless my understanding of this changes.

    I will ask my children to get to the bottom of the reason for this practice, and if it is as Nan describes, I will ask them to no longer participate in this practice, as it mocks the unity that Jesus died for. It will be their decision but they will learn of my grave concerns.

    Nan, I hope you are mistake.

  35. Patrick-K says:

    I fully agree that communion on the tongue should be the norm. However, I do understand that people might be confused if it is re-introduced too abruptly. In my parish, we’ve moved gradually from on the hand all the time to on the tongue all the time. I think our pastor handled it very well. First, “extraordinary” ministers (which had been at every Mass) were removed and replaced with communion only from a priest, with an altar boy holding a paten. Still on the hand though. That lasted for a couple months, until at one Mass the priest simply stayed behind the communion rail, and the ushers motioned towards it. Everyone figured out what they were supposed to it, and it was all very natural and smooth. IMO this is the approach to take.

  36. LadyMarchmain says:

    Nan: I used the word “host” to mean bread which will become the Body of Our Lord. I’ve attended Byzantine Rite churches myself and received there (with the priests’ permission), so I am aware that the bread in use is not the same as the flattened round hosts of the Roman Church. However, I think it might be wrong to say that the use of leavened bread was introduced into the Eastern Churches as a way of separating themselves from the Roman Churches.

    It is my understanding that the early Church, East and West, made use of both leavened and unleavened bread, but that the Greek churches, fearful of what they considered to be Judaizers who preferred the azymes (or matzoh like host), began emphasizing the use of a leavened loaf. Later, during the schism, the two practices were separated juridically as the Latin rite was expelled from the Greek churches.

    Justalurkingfool, please do not worry about this with regards to your children who assist at Byzantine Rite masses. They are fully in communion with Rome and probably have a much more beautiful and reverent liturgy than many NO options.

  37. LadyMarchmain says:

    P.S. Nan, about the blessed hospitality bread: that is an interesting custom. I understand it is mentioned in the letters of St. Augustine, so dates to early days in Church history. The bread is given to catechumens, penitents, and Christians from other denominations. This is meant to extend the bread of hospitality in fellowship and as a hopeful sign of future communion.

    Wouldn’t this be a great tradition to revive? The bread of hospitality (which is not the sacramental body of Our Lord, but simply a blessed loaf) could be offered in love to Catholics not in a state of grace, to politicians who are known to support abortion, to those who marriages are not regularized, and to catechumens.

    In the Eastern Rite churches I have visited who have this practice, everyone goes up for the hospitality bread, including those who have received communion, so there is no stigma or second best quality to it. And it is blessed by the priest, so is a sacramental.

  38. Justalurkingfool says:


    I am not really “worried” about my kids I just want them to know about this practice and that I find it worth a level of alarm. I will, when I can, look into it myself but they have long attended this particular Church, as that is where my wife and her lover attend. I am not attracted to the Byzantine Rite so I would only attend to accompany my children. I last attended to pay my respects to my mother-in-law, whose funeral and wake were observed there.

  39. Maxiemom says:

    Because one person desecrated the host, we are now subject to communion police – ushers who stand at the side of the altar and stare you down to make sure you consume the precious body. It is quite degrading and wrong that many must be punished because of one. And the person who desecrated the precious body – received in the mouth not on the hand.

  40. Fr AJ says:

    This idea that Holy Communion given on a spoon being an innovation to emphasize the split between east and west is nonsense. That is certainly not why it was embraced by the east, it was for greater reverence to the Sacred Species and for ease of distribution by the priest or deacon. To say that the Byzantine Rite or any Eastern Rite is somehow not Catholic enough because they use a spoon is just crazy. Please read a few books on liturgical history…you will be amazed at what you learn!

  41. Justalurkingfool says:


    “To say that the Byzantine Rite or any Eastern Rite is somehow not Catholic enough because they use a spoon is just crazy.”

    There is no need to post a phrase like this, which borders on being insulting, with insufficient provocation. Presuming you know the actual reason, a simple explanation of the real facts would have been sufficient and rather informative. Consequently, if you are a priest, regardless of the Rite, would you, please remember me, when it is appropriate during whatever liturgy you celebrate. I would be blessed and grateful. Would you also remember my wife, her lover and all of our children and asked our Lord to impress upon His pastors, the need for true mercy, for us all.

    Thank you.

  42. sunbreak says:

    I am in a parish where the pastor will not give people communion in the hand. It is a novus ordo parish considered an ethnic personal parish and served by an order priest. When he became pastor a few years ago he announced that he was going to do that. The parish had no history of abusing the sacrament. I feel sorry for visitors to the parish because if they come to the communion rail and put out their hands, he will tell them right then to put out their tongue. Yes, he does this. I don’t know how he gets away with it.

  43. Wiktor says:

    The pastor of my “favourite” parish used this argument (risk of profanation) to dissalow all communion on hand, saying there’s no way to avoid particles left on hands. And he also restored the altar rail, demolished years ago…
    As for me, I never did, and never will, receive communion on my hands.

  44. St. Rafael says:

    The problem of Communion in the Hand could be eliminated if bishops started removing the indult for it in their individual dioceses. I know national conferences have allowed the indult, but an individual bishop is within his right and authority to ban it. Bishops need to start asserting their authority and over decisions made in a national conference.

    As far as intinction, I am completely against it. This practice has absolutely no tradition in the United States. It was a liturgical custom in some other countries, but not here. Communion under one species has always been this country’s tradition. It has been the tradition of the majority of the Latin rite for centuries. We need to return to it and put an end to Communion under both kinds for some decades until sanity returns to the Church.

    [Bishops have a right to exercise their own authority in their own diocese. However, Rome has made it clear under the last couple of Popes that they want some sense of liturgical uniformity in a country, so that people travelling from diocese to diocese are not confused.]

  45. William Tighe says:

    Concerning this:

    “This is a 10th century innovation by the Orthodox in order to emphasize the differences between Catholicism and Orthodoxy”

    and the discussion which ensued, it depends on what it is to which this initial “This” refers. If it means the use of the spoon, it was an innovation, perhaps of the 1oth century, but the purpose was to avoid irreverence and, perhaps, to ensure that the communion elements were able to be administered with greater ease and facility; it had nothing whatsoever to do with emphasizing “the differences between Catholicism and Orthodoxy” — and, in any event, in the 10th century what we term “the Catholic Church” and “the Orthodox Church” were still one Church. If, on the other hand, it refers to the use of leavened bread, the fact is, the Byzantine Rite has always used leavened bread only for communion. Among Eastern churches, only the Armenians use unleavened bread (and alone among all ancient churches, only the Armenians do not add water to the wine).

  46. Andkaras says:

    Our Lady of Pontmain said “My Son allows himself to be touched” I find comfort in these very curious words when I feel pressured to receive in the hand. I know that some have interpreted it differently ,however it just entered my mind once when faced with the anguish of how to respond to the silent pressure of what to do in those very difficult circumstances.

  47. Gail F says:

    “However, special care should be taken to ensure that the host is consumed by the communicant in the presence of the minister, so that no one goes away carrying the Eucharistic species in his hand.”

    I presume that Dr. Peters is correct on this and that the priest does not have authority to do it. Making everyone put the host in their mouths before walking on would do the trick.

  48. Xmenno says:

    I have only recently begun receiving communion on the tongue, and I have unexpectedly been moved by the experience of really just receiving Jesus as a great gift, rather than “taking Him.” Several years ago, one of the parishes in our city implemented a policy described in the post for the same reason – hosts found all over the church and parking lot. On one further note, although my time after communion should have been spent praying, this last Sunday I watched about 50 of my fellow parishoners at our Cathedral parish receive communion, and was surprised to notice that at least 80% of them were receiving on the tongue. Seems like something good is happening!

  49. Suburbanbanshee says:

    Back when pretty much everybody didn’t receive often, and everyone was receiving on the tongue, there were still a huge number of folk remedies, and misguided devotional practices meant to provide protection from evil, which included consecrated Hosts as ingredients. This is before we even get into Satanism, witchcraft, etc.

    Priests and acolytes have always had to watch with an eagle eye, and the ill-informed and ingenious have always figured out ways to traipse away with a Host in a pocket. The EF increases the degree of difficulty, but is not any kind of cure-all for communicants abusing the privilege. Receiving on the tongue is a Really Good Practice that fixes a lot of things, but it doesn’t turn humans into angels.

  50. Dr. Edward Peters says:

    Too many points to respond to above, but, fwiw, distinguish between profanation and sacrilege, and between Communion the hand and horrid Eucharistic catechesis. Failing to do both makes for rather a waste of effort.

  51. Cordelio says:

    Dear Imrahil,

    I don’t think it’s objectively immoral, as an absolute – obviously, since there are times when lay people can and even ought to hold the Host. It’s immoral to cooperate in the fraud of communion in the hand, which has in fact gone hand-in-hand (pardon the pun) with the unprecedented diminution in Eucharistic faith under the direction of churchmen, many of whom avowedly sought this end by this means. They wanted to change Catholic faith in the Eucharist, picked this as one of the means to do it, and largely succeeded (humanly speaking).

    The exact same can be said of the Novus Ordo experiment, as a whole.

    To which the legalist retorts – ah, but the proper authorities have allowed this – so it cannot be bad to cooperate in it. That is only true if radically shifting the manner in which Almighty God is given to Catholics in Holy Communion is bad (and, as applied to the NO, the manner in which worship is rendered to God) if and only if it lacks permission from the Pope.

    With respect to civil authority, I think we can all accept to fallacy propounded by the legalist. If it is bad to do a thing then getting permission from the ruler does not change that. It was not okay to go along with Lear’s ridiculous scheme just because he wanted everyone to. It is not okay to for a wife to stand by while her children are exposed to occasions of sin simply because her husband says it is okay for her to do so.

    I believe that may well-intentioned Catholics err in believing that this same type of limitation does not also apply to almost every exercise of the Pope’s authority. The more straightforward version of this error is to extend infallibility to everything the Pope does. The less so, and more common, although in practice identical to the less common version, is to say the Pope gets to decide whether something is good or not. In effect, the Pope theoretically could perpetuate a disastrous mistake but only he can say whether or not it was a disastrous mistake. Since the Pope doesn’t think communion in the hand is a disastrous mistake, then it must not be.

  52. LadyMarchmain says:

    Suburbanbanshee, you have a good point there, as Maxiemom’s experience indicates. I believe it was Mary McCarthy in Memoirs of a Catholic Girlhood, who described herself keeping a host under her tongue and carefully hiding it in her handkerchief to take home (I forget why now). It is possible to do that, but still, much more difficult.

    Fr AJ and William Tighe, I think we were talking about the use of leavened bread in the Eastern Churches (not the use of a spoon). Please correct me if I’m wrong, but I believe there was some variation and even debate about azymes versus leavened bread in the Eastern Church, and before the schism, there were Churches (later designated “Latin”) that used azymes, which were later expelled. I myself am not certain when the spoon was introduced.

    However, I don’t think the communion practice was developed with an eye to emphasizing differences. There were more visible marks of difference in the dispute over the filioque and the dating of Easter. Because the schism was so contentious, I tend not to trust accounts of how practices evolved on either side.

    The best source I know on the Eastern Church and the schism is Jaroslav Pelikan, although he goes more into theological discussions rather than liturgical practice, but I will dig out my copy and see if I can learn more.

    Justalurkingfool: I am sorry to hear your account. I think, if I may, the way of communicating is probably not an issue, but if you were to have a concern, it might well be the expurgation of the filioque from the liturgy. I have seen it crossed out in the pew missals in some Byzantine Rite communities. And yes, these were in communion with Rome. When I asked the priest, I was told that Pope John Paul II authorized this, but I am still wondering about the facts.

    Dr. Peters, I must admit to a sense of bewilderment. If a priest sees desecration of hosts, why is he not able to indicate his parish will practice communion on the tongue?

  53. Where are Christ’s ‘rights’?

    If the Church never changes her teaching, never changes her doctrine, how have we gotten to this point where there is no law against or penalty for sacrilege and profanation? Apparently we have ‘rights’ to sully the Body of Christ with unconsecrated hands and dropping crumbs of the Host or in the worst case, carrying off the Host. The tiniest speck of a Host is still the fullness of our creator God.

    But Christ Himself in Communion has no rights to decency or reverence? Are we now expected to strip this Christ, as in the Passion where He endured every profanation and nakedness, and look at this as a right and a law? It is my ‘right’ to touch Him? You aren’t ‘allowed’ to embarrass the person who publicly promotes sin, such as abortion-promoting politicians, and keep them from sacrilegious communion? My loving God is being tossed to the rabid crowds and no one stops it.

    It seems to me that what the Church ‘looked’ like 100 years ago bears little resemblance to the Church today. What has actually happened is that Her teachings and truths have not changed, but are suppressed, and those who should speak are silent. The good are persecuted. We still belong to that Church that took every care and precaution against sacrilege and profanation. We knew we couldn’t touch a Host. We saw whole altars behind locked gates for His safety. Reception of Communion included trying to be as perfect as the Virgin Herself who was prepared from eternity to hold This God inside of her – people did not receive without going to confession immediately before Mass. This ‘right’ to Communion in the Hand is an indult that the majority of bishops at the time voted against, but the rule was established anyway. Today chaos reigns and Christ is handed over to the rabble while the hierarchy does nothing and the laity doesn’t riot in indignation.

    “Smite the shepherd and the sheep will scatter”.

  54. LadyMarchmain says:

    Tina, thank you, and Our Lord will bless you for these warm words.

    The truth is that 70% of Catholics consider the Eucharist to be a “symbol” or a “memorial” and do not believe in any way in the Real Presence of Christ.

    Communion in the hand, altar girls, Eucharistic ministers, removing the altar rails: where is it written?

  55. RJHighland says:

    Lady Marchmain,

    Great point. The sad reality is that was the goal of the progressive/modernist bishops and priests in the Church. Get people not believing in the true presence, devalue the priesthood and altar service. Change the form of worship you destroy the Church from the inside. Worked well for Cramner in merry old England 500 years ago. The only way to restore it like Fr. Z and Pope Benedict XVI have stated is to reform the liturgy to what it is supposed to be. I still can’t believe two of the Popes involved in this disaster are about to be cannoized. Lighting struck the dome of St. Peters when Pope Benedict XVI resigned, it should be really interesting to see what happens during these canonizations. I think it would be best to watch this on TV from very far away. Fr. Z maybe you should invite Cardinal Burke, Bishop Cordileoni and Bishop Paprocki over to your place to watch the canonizations. Just saying, just in case that would be a good core group to reboot the Church.

  56. Imrahil says:

    Dear @LadyMarchmain,

    The truth is that 70% of Catholics consider the Eucharist to be a “symbol” or a “memorial” and do not believe in any way in the Real Presence of Christ.

    I wonder.

    Making a survey with the question “what is the Eucharist” or, worse, “what is the Eucharist for you”*, I think, would suggest such a number.
    [*Believers here may fall into the trap to say that it is the Body of Christ “for me”. My answer would be: “I don’t understand this psychologizing sort of question. The Eucharist is for me just what the Eucharist is.”]

    But I think the problem is somewhat less heretic and, in the same time, even somewhat more serious.

    I don’t think the problem is that the masses are consciously heretically rejecting the teaching of the Church. I guess it is rather that, sadly, they do not even get so far.

    They just do not know; because they have dismissed any discussion on the subject (which they normally should have overheard some time in their life) as “theology” and hence irrelevant. And because they have not been forced by the Church. The Church cannot force people to believe – but she can achieve, by force, that noone calls himself a practicing Catholic and/or appears for Communion without being able to accurately present the dogma of transsubstantiation and professing to believe it.

  57. RJHighland says:

    Mr. Peters said,

    “….distinguish between profanation and sacrilege, and between Communion the hand and horrid Eucharistic catechesis. Failing to do both makes for rather a waste of effort.”

    prof·a·na·tion [prof-uh-ney-shuhn] Show IPA
    the act of profaning; desecration; defilement; debasement.
    1545–55; < Late Latin prof?n?ti?n- (stem of prof?n?ti? ) desecration, equivalent to Latin prof?n?t ( us ) (past participle of prof?n?re to profane) + -i?n- -ion; replacing prophanation < Middle French < Medieval Latin proph?n?ti?, for Late Latin prof?n?ti?, as above

    sacrilege, blasphemy.

    pro·fane [pruh-feyn, proh-] Show IPA
    characterized by irreverence or contempt for God or sacred principles or things; irreligious.
    not devoted to holy or religious purposes; unconsecrated; secular (opposed to sacred ).
    unholy; heathen; pagan: profane rites.
    not initiated into religious rites or mysteries, as persons.
    common or vulgar.

    sac·ri·lege [sak-ruh-lij] Show IPA
    the violation or profanation of anything sacred or held sacred.
    an instance of this.
    the stealing of anything consecrated to the service of God.
    1275–1325; Middle English < Old French < Latin sacrilegium, equivalent to sacri- (combining form of sacrum holy place) + leg ( ere ) to steal, literally, gather + -ium -ium

    It seems they are synonomis and very appropriate in use when discussing communion in the hand and many of the changes made by bishops and approved by Rome and performed daily by priests around the world in the Novus Ordo. The thing that is most apparent to me but is almost opposite of perseption by the progressives is that this is a case where the law kills but the spirit bringeth life. Most progressives dance around proclaiming the Spirit of Vatican II and do what ever they want yet use the authority of the wolves in the hierarcy (Bishop's Conferences and curia) to hammer the traditional faith when they themselves do not observe the traditional spirit of the law of the Church.

    As for poor catechesis and communion in the hand, communion in the hand defines poor catechesis. Just as all the other things that have removed reverence from the mass. Mass itself is the greatest catechisis when you destroy it everything else falls apart. When mass is done properly it is a living expression of the true faith.

  58. Vecchio di Londra says:

    “Communion in the hand defines poor catechesis.”
    Excellent summary, and bang on the nail.

  59. Mr. Green says:

    We really have to be careful to understand these things properly, or else we risk lapsing into superstition. It clearly cannot be intrinsically objectively sinful to touch a sacred Host — because that would make it impossible to receive communion at all. Can we touch our Lord with our germy spittle-filled mouths and swallow Him down our gullets into bacteria-laden stomach acids, but not touch Him with our (presumably clean!) hands? Are our tongues somehow preserved free from sin in a way in which the rest of our bodies are not? If it were a question of worthiness, then we should not receive communion at all, for we can never make ourselves worthy to touch our Saviour in any way, let alone in a manner that so shocked the people when Jesus first announced it. And indeed, it is in a sense grotesque — a sense that we may have come to take for granted, but which should shock us each and every time with just how jarring it is for the infinite God to come to us in a finite, physical, touchable way. He did not merely humble Himself — that is, humiliate Himself — to come to us as one of us, but to come to us as food, something to be touched in a particularly unpleasant fashion. If we really were concerned about the manner of showing respect to the Lord, we would indeed hesitate to touch him with our hands; but we would hesitate all the more to slobber on Him. We might reach out to press scrubbed fingertips against the Host and then hand it back to the priest, unwilling to go any further! But we do in fact have a “right” to touch the Body of Christ because He Himself commanded us to take and eat. He deliberately deigns to be touched by our tongues and our intestines — God deigns for our sake to be handled by His creatures, and we should always be mindful of what great condescension this is.

    Now this obviously is not to say that there cannot be good reasons to avoid actually touching the Host with our hands. There are symbolic reasons, and practical reasons, and disciplinary reasons — if the Church instructs us not to do so, then in that case it would be sinful… but not because it is sinful in and of itself. If it were then it could never have been permitted at any time for any reasons. And since the Church has in fact stated that it is acceptable to receive communion in the hand — at least in certain times and places — then none of us can say otherwise. We can and should study and discuss the various other reasons why receiving directly on the tongue may be preferable or more prudent (as indeed many of the comments above do). But mixing up the good reasons with bad reasoning does no service to those points that really are important.

  60. Mr. Green says:

    Lady Marchmain: if you were to have a concern, it might well be the expurgation of the filioque from the liturgy. I have seen it crossed out in the pew missals in some Byzantine Rite communities.

    That is perfectly OK. The clarifying filioque was of course added in the West early on, while the East used the creed in its original form, and its adoption by Byzantine Catholics is apparently a recent adoption (since the seventeenth century). I found this document from the Ukrainian Catholic Hierarchy in Canada that explains the situation (I don’t know if there are any Eastern Catholic churches that have kept the filioque): ? Letter on the Creed.pdf
    I’ve also seen the words crossed out (or whited out) — this isn’t a rejection of the filioque as properly understood, but simply to remind the congregation of the new decision for those who have acquired a habit of always saying “and the Son”.

  61. It is nonsense to compare touching the Body of Christ with unconsecrated hands and the act of eating, as if these are the same thing. Christ commanded us to eat His Body and Drink His Blood to achieve everlasting life – we can be fed the Eucharist without risky handling, as the Church has done for centuries.

    The reason the early Church put a stop to Communion in the Hand [practiced for a relatively short time] was directly because of the abuses and profanation, just FYI.

    @LadyMarchmain, thanks. Please pray for me.
    Yes, for many, Holy Communion is a only a symbol, and also others get in line for Communion, following the crowd, without thinking anything at all.

    As our Liturgical practices continue to disintegrate, while ignorance and cowardice spread, its no wonder that Our Lady of Akita predicted that eventually nothing would be left but her Rosary and the Sign left by her Son.

  62. LadyMarchmain says:

    Imrahil: Having done questionnaire work myself, I know how important wording is. Here are the actual questions of the poll, and a breakdown by percentages. I’ve also included results from a follow up poll by the NY Times and CBS.

    (I) The Gallup Poll conducted in 1992 posed the following questions: (

    “Which one of the following statements about Holy Communion do you think best reflects your belief?”

    “When receiving Holy Communion, you are really and truly receiving the Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of the Lord Jesus Christ, under the appearance of bread and wine” (Roman Catholic teaching)

    “When receiving Holy Communion, you are receiving bread and wine, which symbolize the spirit and teachings of Jesus and in so doing are expressing your attachment to His person and words.” (heretical, Protestant teaching of Zwingli)

    “When receiving Holy Communion, you are receiving the Body and Blood of Christ, which has become that because of your personal belief.” (heretical, Protestant teaching of Calvin)

    “When receiving Holy Communion, you are receiving bread and wine, in which Jesus is really and truly present.” (heretical, consubstantiation teaching of Martin Luther)

    “none of the above,” “don’t know,” or left blank


    Two years later, the New York Times (June 1, 1994) reported the results of a New York Times/CBS News poll on Catholics and their beliefs about the Real Presence (see also Commonweal, January 27, 1995). In this poll, Catholics were asked whether the bread and wine used in the Eucharist are “changed into the body and blood of Christ,” or are “symbolic reminders of Christ.”


    70% of Catholics between the ages of 18 and 44 believed that the Eucharist is a “symbolic reminder” of Jesus.
    51% of Mass-going Catholics believed that the Eucharist is symbolic.

    With respect, I don’t really think most people are so stupid as to consider this a theological question they don’t bother thinking about. When I was in a Bible Study group, the Catholic women (all but one), when asked what they believed about the Eucharist during our discussion of St. John 6:66 (interesting numbers there), recited their belief in a parrot-like fashion as they had been taught it by someone: “It’s just a symbol.” Clearly they had given it some thought and so made a decision on the topic. One Catholic woman was very emphatic. “It’s just flour and water.”

    It was the Protestant women who hadn’t thought about it at all and who were more likely to say things like “it’s the real presence of Christ” than, “it’s just a symbol.”

  63. LadyMarchmain says:

    P.S. I should say that the parenthesis indicating the derivation of the heretical teachings are my own addition, and were not included in the questionnaire!

  64. lana says:

    I remember teaching from a USCCB-approved textnook for CCD in first grade, and the textbook only said some nice platitudes about the Eucharist being a family meal. Second grade, it was different. Apparently, someone with good intentions was trying to make things age-appropriate for the understanding, etc. Unfortunately, pegagogically speaking, this is a disaster. First impressioms are what sticks.

    That said, responsibility lies with the parents.

  65. LadyMarchmain says:

    RJHighland: “mass is the greatest catechesis”–so well said. And thank you for all the definitions and your cogent, profound words.

    Mr Green: There has been so much ink spilt on the vexed question of the filioque that crossing or whiting it out surely conveys some level of affirmation of the Eastern Church’s rejection of the doctrine, which was used to vindicate the schism. Although it is true that the phrase was not included in the original Nicene creed and was considered a “Frankish” addition to the credo, it was widely in use throughout the Western by the time it was made official to the creed at the Council of Toldeo in 587 in an effort to combat Arianism.
    The Byzantine Rite churches really didn’t need to have it taken out again, if they were accustomed to it. It seems to me to be motivated by an ecumenical strategy of conciliation to the Eastern Orthodox Churches, and seeing something crossed out does convey a message that it was, well, wrong. Whereas the doctrine of perichoresis, defined by the 4th century Church Councils, provides ample substantiation for the filioque, and in the Council of Florence, the Eastern Church *agreed* to filioque. Its absence from their creed is one of the banners of their separation from Rome. This I would affirm from personal knowledge and contact with my Russian Orthodox friends and priests (while maintaining that the form of their communion is not so intended).

  66. LadyMarchmain says:

    Tina, I have said a prayer for you and for your intentions. If we really understood that we are about the receive God into ourselves I don’t know how any of us would even make it up the aisle. Our Lady of Akita, ora pro nobis!

  67. LadyMarchmain says:


    Good point! 70% of Catholics in the 1990s thought the Eucharist was just a symbol, so guess whose kids are filling the pews today.

  68. Imrahil says:

    Dear @LadyMarchmain,

    thank you for your detailed answer.

    Indeed, I expected such a result in a poll, and said so. I’m rather positively surprised that 49% of practicing Catholics do seem to actually express the Church’s true faith in such a poll. I’d have thought of a much lower percentage.

    However, my thought was more about what is it that makes them answer thus? I do not think it is they have seen the Church’s dogma as what it is, and decided that it could not be true. They saw it, too all probability, for one thing as what I mentioned, “some theologian subtleties”, and for another and even more important thing, “this is what pious people said in times past”. I was, I guess, wrong about only mentioning “aversion to theology” (though I’m convinced that plays a role). There is of course also aversion to “being too religious” around.

    Nothing of which I‘d call giving much thought to it.

    What I intended to say was not really – i.m.h.o. – much else than what you did when you said,

    recited their belief in a parrot-like fashion as they had been taught it by someone: “It’s just a symbol.”

    Parrot-like. Exactly.

    Fashionable unbelief is regularly non-thinking unbelief.

    And in my view, it must among other things be confronted by a) making it unfashionable and b) stop the non-thinking.

    I won’t go into suggestions here as to a), despite that… yes… where they do not harm, punishments should be within consideration. As to b)… I guess even today, the percentage to deny even such a teaching as that Christ will judge the living and the dead at the end of time will probably be more accepted. [I do not here refer to the disputes about how merciful He will be, but that he will judge at all.] Why? Because it’s repeated in the Credo any Sunday. There’s something good to parrots, after all :-)

    That said,

    If we really understood that we are about the receive God into ourselves I don’t know how any of us would even make it up the aisle.

    In the following manner: remembering that God himself instituted this Sacrament for us to receive and consequently allowed – yea commanded – us to do so, and not being conscious of mortal sin after the last Confession.

    It is not so difficult, also if you do know that you are about to receive God.

  69. robtbrown says:

    Fr. Erik Richtsteig says:

    In my diocese we are told that reception in the hand is “the norm”. How a practice introduced by indult and at variance from the universal norm or the Latin Rite can be “the norm” is beyond me.

    Isn’t that the theme of the post Vat II liturgical praxis? Permission was given for vernacular liturgy. After which the vernacular, de iure permitted, became de facto required, and Latin, de iure required, became de facto suppressed.

    Calling Dr Howard . . . Dr Fine . . . Dr Howard . . .

  70. LadyMarchmain says:

    Imrahil: Thank you, at the end of today I needed to laugh, and your praise of parrots reciting the credo was a good one. Interesting question about how doctrines of heaven and hell would be viewed. The Gallup Poll had quite a few of those topics covered, and some of the hot political points (abortion, etc.) though I didn’t extract them. While getting the Gallup poll to paste up, I found a more recent poll by Georgetown University. What was really interesting about that is that the question on the eucharist only offered two choices, both heretical: 1) Real Presence of Jesus in the bread and wine and 2) a symbol of Jesus in the bread and wine.

  71. Imrahil says:

    Dear @LadyMarchmain,

    thank you four your kind answer!

    As to the problematic formulation of poll answer number 1 – I would not call it heretic (how often have we heard orthodox preachers say “in this bread and wine our Lord is truly present”), only in need of clarification (“this happens in the manner that and wine substantially cease to exist, so when I said ‘in’, I meant ‘under the species of'”),

    I do think that it is at the very least here a problem of knowledge.

  72. Imrahil says:

    Dear @Cordelio,

    by accepting Communion in the hand, there is no participation in the introduction of Communion in the hand.

    For better (seems unlikely) or worse, it is, at this point of time, fully introduced. So is the Novus Ordo.

    So we’re back to the question whether it was objectively immoral or not. You agree that it is not, so we may choose to do it. I’m not saying the Pope decides what is good; I’m saying that, to simplify, only the Pope and civil authority can forbid good (=not objectively immoral) things. Not I, nor you.

    And the prudence about what and what not to forbid really is authority’s province. We may comment on it, because we too have understanding, but just because a different decision from the one taken would have been more prudent does not make this other decision the one taken.

  73. Cordelio says:

    Dear Imrahil,

    I hate to overuse the term, but you are really making my point about legalism.

    Let’s see if I can demonstrate my point with an analogy.

    There is nothing objectively immoral about sticking up your middle finger.

    To prevent Catholics from being too impersonal in their approach to the Eucharist, the Church authorities permit and encourage sticking up your middle immediately before receiving Communion.

    Catholics obediently flip the bird at our Eucharistic Lord and then receive Communion.

    Assistant Pastor X says, wait a minute, this is really disrespectful, and the people who advocated for it in the first place intended it to be so. What’s more there’s been a huge decrease in belief in the Real Presence amongst bird-flipping Catholics. Assistant Pastor X explains why flipping off the Host is really quite disrespectful, and says he will no longer distribute Communion to those who do it.

    Imrahil says(?) that Assistant Pastor X cannot refuse to distribute Communion under these circumstances. It is beyond his authority to set policy for the parish.

    While it may be true that Assistant Pastor X lacks the authority to set policy for the parish, are we perhaps missing the forest for the trees here? Does it really make things any better to note that bird flipping has gone on for so long without anybody objecting that people have become insensitive to the disrespect it implies?

  74. Imrahil says:

    Dear @Cordelio,

    I have no problem with the term of “legalist”, rightly used. In my view, if one wants to say that a Christian must not do this or that, one has to a) demonstrate from moral law that it is immoral or b) demonstrate from positive law that it is forbidden. [Let’s leave out for a moment the possibility of authority either not intending to bind in morality or overstepping her rights and the question if or if not it is to be followed in the latter case.]

    Why? Because there is such a thing like “Christian liberty” around, and if liberty does not mean being able to do without reproach things neither immoral nor forbidden, then what does it mean.

    So… I’m all for a legalist approach* as far as forbidding others (and oneself) to do things is concerned. In so far, yes, I’m a legalist. [*by which I do not mean only positive law or only state law. I mean including natural law and with respect to higher laws.]

    So far so good.

    Does it really make things any better to note […] that […] has gone on for so long ?

    I did not intend to make things better, that is above my paygrade.

    However, I do say (by using common reason) that it is above a pastor’s paygrade to deny Communion to one who approaches in a manner consistent with the law of the Church and not objectively immoral.

    Instead, he had better just put some kneelers before the Communion rail, have his communicants neatly line up with the possibility to kneel, celebrate daily Masses (to get a “daily Mass” crowd which maybe has less aversions to piousness), and write a petition to the his bishop requesting the re-outlawing of Communion in the hand. All of which is within his paygrade.

    I think he’ll be surprised how much his “Communion in the mouth, kneeling” percentage will rise.

  75. Imrahil says:

    To put the latter story more short:

    I did not intend to make things better.

    I intended to say that refusing Communion to those It should not be refused to makes things worse.

  76. LadyMarchmain says:

    Imrahil: You have hit the nail on the head. The bread and wine substantially cease to exist, and saying “in this bread and wine Jesus is truly present” is I think, a Lutheran-ish formulation.

    I don’t think a priest is orthodox if they say “in this bread and wine” because at the consecration, it becomes the body, blood, and divinity of Our Lord and there’s no more bread and wine there. So, the correct formulation should be: “this bread and wine *becomes* Our Lord’s body, blood and divinity.”

    I am trying to take Fr Z’s admonition to heart, that we recognize our own limitations and knowledge, so here are my references. The current Catechism of the Catholic Church definition:


    The signs of bread and wine

    1333 At the heart of the Eucharistic celebration are the bread and wine that, by the words of Christ and the invocation of the Holy Spirit, become Christ’s Body and Blood. . . . The signs of bread and wine become, in a way surpassing understanding, the Body and Blood of Christ.

    The Council of Trent is more precise in formulation: “the Body and Blood, together with the Soul and Divinity of our Lord Jesus Christ, and therefore the whole Christ, is truly, really and substantially contained in the sacrament of the Holy Eucharist.”

    Fr. John Hardon says “the Eucharist *is* Christ”, which is much stronger than “Christ is present in the Eucharist.”

    I think we agree that fuzzy language and inadequate catechesis has resulted in some vague thinking and understanding. I’m glad we are having this discussion, though we’ve hijacked the communion in the hand discussion a bit (but not of topic, I feel) as it makes me aware how very little words need to change to undermine orthodoxy, and in the same way, what seems perhaps a little thing, communion on the hand, does send a message.

  77. Imrahil says:

    Dear @LadyMarchmain, thank you for your answer.

    I was not intending to dispute anything of what you said other than…

    using “in” instead of “under” may, perhaps, be described as “incorrect”, “problematic”, “needing clarification”, “fuzzy language” and what not… but, forgive me, in my view the word “heretic” or the sentence “the priest is not orthodox” should be reserved for stronger tobacco than that.

    Examples of heretic sentences:
    – “Communion is only a symbol.”
    – “Our Lord is present in, with, and under bread and wine” (which seems the Lutheran theory).
    – “Our Lord is present in bread and wine – and yes, bread and wine remain”.

    On the other hand,
    – “Our Lord is present in bread and wine”
    in itself is merely fuzzy, if you will. In fact, forgive me, I do know something about what the Catholic dogma is and what the Lutheran heresy about it is, but all the same I only saw the problem because you pointed to it. “In” is a colloquialism for “under the species of” and does not say that the substance of the latter remains (because it does not say anything about them). Nor is it a catchphrase of a heretical group.

    Thus, it is not “heretical”. You don’t become a heretic by a slip of the tongue. In fact, notae like “sentence suspect of heresy” or “erroneous proposition” or “dangerous proposition” (because they might lead to heresy) were I guess invented for just such purposes. Though I cannot now look up the precise definitions for them to see which one fits.

    But all this was an aside, anyway. On the actual thing when explained in detail, we of course fully agree; all our dispute is merely about whether the undetailed sentence which the poll constructors drew from somewhere out of pious circles, by itself, deserves that he who utters it is judged a heretic.

  78. RJHighland says:

    Oh I’m crying, perfect analogy, my sides are hurting. ROFL!!!

    Lady Marchmain,
    just by adding the word “alone” in Roman’s, Luther created the greatest theological rift in the Church. Just by adding the word “a” to John 1 the Jehovah’s Witnesses justify their argument against the Trinity. The moderists have done a whole lot more than change one word, they have altered the normal forms of worship. It doesn’t take much to throw a wrench in the whole works. All it takes is the faithful to be blindly obedient to the disobedient false teachers to destroy the faith. If our Pope, or my bishop or priest tells me the sky is green and the grass is blue, I have the right and obligation to tell him “With all due respect, No your Holyness, Excellency or Father the sky is blue and the grass is green.”

  79. Mr. Green says:

    Tina: It is nonsense to compare touching the Body of Christ with unconsecrated hands and the act of eating, as if these are the same thing.

    It is physically impossible to eat something without touching it with some part of your body. And if your hands are not consecrated, then neither are your tongue or stomach.

    we can be fed the Eucharist without risky handling, as the Church has done for centuries.
    The reason the early Church put a stop to Communion in the Hand [practiced for a relatively short time] was directly because of the abuses and profanation, just FYI.

    Precisely. In fact, that’s why I pointed out in my comment above that there are many valid reasons to recommend receiving on the tongue.

  80. Mr. Green says:

    Lady Marchmain: It seems to me to be motivated by an ecumenical strategy of conciliation to the Eastern Orthodox Churches, and seeing something crossed out does convey a message that it was, well, wrong.

    That’s a valid point. Having seen the crossed-out filioque many times, it had never occurred to me to interpret that way until you mentioned it in your comment, and surely likewise for many others. Still, it could certainly be a problem if someone just walked into church one day and saw it struck out without any explanation, so I certainly hope that these parishes did in fact take care to explain the reason for it.

  81. LadyMarchmain says:

    Hi, Imrahil: Yes, I see your point, it’s not exactly heretical, on the other hand, it’s not exactly orthodox because of the imprecision. For me, this is very important, because it’s an example of boiling the frog slowly. A statement like this is not overtly heretical, so no one blows the whistle; it’s compatible with orthodoxy if you overlook a slight fuzziness of language, so people overcome any reservations they might have and sign on. It’s subtle and insidious.

    RJHighland: Yes, thank you for the example of Luther’s “alone”; the Jehovah’s Witness is new to me, but very interesting. These shades of meaning in language and the importance of one word are what Fr Z’s wdtprs blog is all about. I think if someone says “The sky is green and grass blue” it’s immediately obvious to everyone that this is wrong and it makes it easier to resist that type of attack on our faith. But if someone says “The sky is teal and the grass is blue-green” we might go along with it, to be polite, tolerant, and in Christian fellowship, and next thing you know, “The sky is teal-green and the grass is greenish blue” until eventually, we lose our sense of the salience of colour.

    This is what seems to me to have happened in the post-Conciliar church. We have lost our sensus Catholicus; our Christian sensibilities have been blurred and at the same time, we have been submerged under an inundation of media (functioning essentially as propaganda) persuading us that we can go along with the mainstream and still be Catholic, and so the heretical, non-Catholic views make inroads into our faith and understanding.

  82. LadyMarchmain says:

    Mr Green: Thank you for your response; as it happened, we had to ask the priest about it. Eventually there will be new missals and no strike-outs, and that will help. However, I still believe the filioque should be included, and I pray and trust that if the Eastern Orthodox return to the fold, as did some of our Anglican brethren, they will actually want to sign on to the filioque and ratify their earlier agreement from the Council of Florence. (Btw, I like your name, it reminds me of the character in Clue.)

  83. Uxixu says:

    The ultimate issue is that in way too many parishes Communion is too casual and the lack of reverence can only be the cause for the widespread heresy denying the Real Presence. That can be helped by emphasizing traditional policies as the norm (kneeling and on tongue should return as the norm).

    I like the idea of Communion in both species but Vatican II’s idea was for it to be rare and for special occasions (only a few times for the average pious layman). The indult for in hand should be removed as a general principle, applying only in most cases whereby communion on tongue should not be practical or expedient (cases of widespread contagion, etc). Intinction isn’t a widespread tradition in the Roman Church so I’d be skeptical and wary of applying that universally.

    Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion should remain that: extraordinary, instead of routine as they are now. Instituted acolytes in an alb should be the norm for distribution in larger congregations without enough priests and deacons. For daily Mass with relatively small congregations, this shouldn’t be necessary at all.

Comments are closed.