From a reader…
I have been regularly attending the Traditional Latin Mass for the last two years and have been an altar boy at the TLM for the past year and a half. I have noticed that a fair number of communicants at the TLM cross their arms in the shape of an “X” when they receive Holy Communion. I have seen it commonly done in Byzantine Catholic Churches and I thought that crossing your arms when going up for Holy Communion was a sign to the priest that you were not receiving Holy Communion (at least in the Ordinary Form)? Is there a reason why some communicants cross their arms to receive Holy Communion in the Extraordinary Form? What’s the point in doing that? Were these people taught to receive Holy Communion by crossing their arms? This is quite confusing to me!
I see no reason to cross your arms to receive Communion, at least in the Latin Church, either in the Ordinary Form or the Extraordinary Form.
It could be that some of those people attending the TLM had sought refuge for a while at an Eastern Catholic church for their reverent Divine Liturgy. They started doing that and carried it over.
I don’t see anything especially wrong with it, but,these days, it sends a confusing signal.
The custom that has arisen – wrongly I think, for Communion time is NOT the time to give blessings – of people presenting themselves with crossed arms at Communion time for a blessing may confuse others into thinking that that is the way it is done. So, when faced with people who have their arms crossed, it can be tough to tell if they are seeking to communicate or seeking a blessing.
As a matter of fact, I sometimes see people kneel at the Communion rail to receive on the tongue and they put their hands out! These are usually TLM newbies.
Some people don’t think much about what they are about when they do things in Church. They get into patterns. But, hey!… it has every been so.
It is good to think about what we do in church and why.