A proposal for the Year of Mercy: ban Communion in the hand

Dom Mark Kirby of Silverstream Priory posted at his blog Vultus Christi an idea which I endorse.

Reacting not only to the hideous sacrilege committed by an “artist” in Pamplona, Spain, but also to constant abuses of the Eucharist across the globe, Dom Mark suggests Holy Masses of Reparation be offered, public Hours of Adoration and Reparation be scheduled, Eucharistic processions of reparation through the city streets. But then he goes on with…

Proposal for the Year of Mercy

Even if these things were done, it remains that other questions need to be addressed. A priest friend said to me this morning that bishops the world over need to consider a moratorium on Holy Communion in the hand. Perhaps for the Year of Mercy? Are we to show no mercy to the One who is present among us under the appearances of a thing so fragile as the Host? [Do I hear an “Amen!”?] Do we not recognize in the Sacred Host God become, for love of us, vulnerable, poor, silent, and defenseless? Do we not see that the Sacred Host is the ultimate expression of what Saint Paul (see Philippians 2:7) calls the kenosis of the Son of God, that is His utter self–emptying? [The Host is not a something.]

More than a Mere Oversight?

The Instruction Redemptionis Sacramentum promulgated eleven years ago by the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments 25 March 2004, seems, in most places, to have had little or no effect. One wonders if the clergy were at all given the opportunity to come together to study the document and, with one mind, plan its implementation. Among other things, in article 92,the Instruction says clearly:

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

Read the rest there.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. Priam1184 says:

    I will forgo the 10,000 word rant I had intended to go on and just say that this abuse would disappear overnight if those who have been given the care of the souls of the faithful actually had any interest in securing eternal salvation for those aforementioned souls.

  2. Wow, what a fill-in-the-blank question this would be!

    A world-wide bishops Year of Mercy moratorium on communion in the hand is about as likely as ___________________.

    Hmm. As likely as a moratorium on celebration facing the people? Just a bit more likely than a papal announcement that the Novus Ordo itself will be abrogated as a failed experiment?

  3. Charles E Flynn says:

    The traditi0nal method of distributing communion was not broken and did not need to be fixed. It was my inability to find anything good about the newer method that lead me to question other aspects of the Novus Ordo.

  4. Adaquano says:

    How well would this be received it’s priest just simply told his parish this was occurring? Or put another way, a new pastor tells his new parish what he intends to do? Is it better received if he gives a proper understanding why we should not receive in the hand? How the US bishops changed the practice? I’m all for this, but until there is proper instruction in the seminaries and for priests it seems as if the laity may not respond.

  5. MarkJ says:

    Even though I am an avid proponent of Communion on the tongue, it does not seem to work very well while standing to receive (NO Mass). This seems due to the hand position used by the priest or the EMHC (thumb up versus palm down), which invariably ends up with getting an index finger touching your tongue along with the Host. When the communicant is kneeling, the thumb up position works as intended. So we would need to instruct in proper hand position for distributing Holy Communion were this to be implemented. Taking care to place the Lord properly on the tongue would make the transition back to Tradition more “palatable” to everyone.

  6. Charles E Flynn says:

    Priests are not supposed to have choreographers.

  7. Devo35 says:

    Since communion in the hand was seemingly mandated by no one, least of all Vatican II, why do we have to go through so many gyrations and so much hand-wringing to get it revoked. Do we really have to make an exception for an exception? Forbidding communion in the hand is paramount to correcting much of the rot that has set in the Church. Let it be the first domino to fall.

  8. anilwang says:

    Charles E Flynn says: It was my inability to find anything good about the newer method that lead me to question other aspects of the Novus Ordo.

    Communion in the hand isn’t “the newer method”…it’s just an option that some bishop’s conferences have been granted an indult to allow. The universal norm is still on the tongue.

    As for the NO, the problem isn’t so much that it is broken, it’s just that the common practice in many even orthodox parishes has been greatly influenced by the Spirit of Vatican II, which is why most NO priests face the people, why altar girls predominate, why EMHC are the norm, why altar rails have been torn down, why Gregorian Chant the exception, etc. Fixing the mess is going to be hard.

    What makes it worse, is the the NO isn’t the liturgy Vatican II called for. IMO, the Anglican Ordinariate liturgy is a lot closer to what the Vatican II document SC called for. Hopefully, the positive elements of this liturgy will make it’s way into both the NO and the common practices of the NO.

  9. Kent Wendler says:

    I’m just a layman of meager influence, so realistically I can only answer for myself. As it is I almost always receive on the tongue. There has only been once when the priest requested that I receive in the hand. That was in the morning of a day I underwent surgery with anesthesia and I wanted to receive the sacraments, even though the anesthesiologist said no food or drink. He did, however, permit a small drop from the chalice and a small particle from the host. When I informed the priest before Mass he requested I receive the particle in my hand.

    I would gladly receive kneeling, provided there is a kneeler or rail that I can steady myself against.

  10. capchoirgirl says:

    Oh I wish! We have a communion rail at my parish and it’s so lovely to kneel and receive on the tongue! In fact , when I go to other parishes and have to receive from an EMHC, I dread it, because I don’t know if they’ll give me communion on the tongue, even though they should. It feels so foreign to receive in the hand anymore.

  11. SanSan says:


  12. Chatto says:

    Fr. Z – it looks like Dom Mark’s blog is called “Vultus Christi”, while this particular post is “Ave Verum Corpus”. Still, let the Latin abound!

  13. Elizabeth M says:

    I physically shook when I saw the… the, I don’t even know what to call it. Evil. There.
    The “artist” is ill. It demands sacrifices from us to help him.

    If the people in the pews really thought about it for a moment Who they are receiving they would kneel. A relative made this point very clearly when we visited a church and saw a relic of one of the nails from the crucifixion. She said “Oh, I feel like we should be kneeling in front of such a holy relic.” Yet week after week, she thinks nothing of receiving Our Lord in her hands.
    Maybe all it would take is for Father to give a few sermons on Eucharistic miracles, or bring out for public adoration pieces of the True Cross.

    As for the dancing priest, my children were taking a nap and I didn’t want to wake them with my laughter.

  14. oklip955 says:

    In my Archdiocese which about a year ago had the flap about the black mass. Our Archbishop had all the parishes say the prayer to St Michael after all the masses. Most parishes had men from the Knights of Columbus stand guard to make sure the host was consumed and not taken and hidden in a pocket. He also filled a suit in court to get back the host that the group said that they had and had obtained from out of state. He won the suit and they had to turn over that host that they had. They had a sort of black mass without a host. and only a few people show up since they were selling tickets to it. Out Archbishop went the next morning to the building ( city owned that was rented) and did an exorcism of the building so that Catholics and others would not be afraid of attending any events in that building. Most parishs still continue to say the pray to St Michael after mass and my NO parish with some TLMs has KOC watching for anyone trying to take a host away with them. My parish has tried to discourage communion in the hand.

  15. Fr. Reader says:

    MarkJ. What you say is true. Priests need to learn how to distribute Holy Communion in the tongue.

    This makes me think about a story three years ago. A seminarian got ordained, and for few weeks he only concelebrated (he was still finishing his studies.) Until someone asked him the reason, and he answered that he was never taught how to celebrate Mass.

  16. Sonshine135 says:

    But Father….Father….I go to Mass just to get the white thing and grab a bulletin to show I was there…and you must hate Vatican II, because it did away with communion rails, allows me to get the white thing in my hand, and lets guitars be played during Mass.

  17. taffymycat says:

    i never have rec’d communion in the hand. st isaac jogues comes to mind, his extraordinary sacrifice – i think it is absolutely irreverent to hold the host in the hand i dont care what any pope or bishop says and i will not ever do it nor receive from some non-priest. for advent, my pastor did away with the handshake of peace, lord be thanked.

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  19. Bob in Maryland says:

    No problem in my parish, Holy Rosary in Baltimore. Communion on the tongue is the norm. In fact, we never even took out the Communion Rail – it’s still there! (And you know what? It’s beautiful!) Come give us a visit, and walk away knowing “it can be done”.

  20. walemire says:

    Problems in my parish. Communion in hand is the norm. The EMHC look at you with terror in their eyes when you present for Communion on the tongue. The railings are gone, the tabernacle sits in a bona fide closet out of the congregation’s sight, and there are no kneelers in the Church. Ah, the battle continues. Pray, Pray.

  21. walemire says:

    Problems in my parish. Communion in hand is the norm. The EMHC look at you with terror in their eyes when you present for Communion on the tongue. The railings are gone, the tabernacle sits in a bona fide closet out of the congregation’s sight, and there are no kneelers in the Church. Ah, the battle continues. Pray, Pray.

  22. St. Rafael says:

    Bishops need to start banning Communion in the Hand in their dioceses. Liturgical issues like the indult of Communion in the Hand needs to be the jurisdiction of the local bishop. The USCCB needs to relinquish control of establishing national norms. Let the bishops of this country remove the indult like other bishops in other countries have done.

  23. KateD says:

    I used to carry several copies of Redemptionis Sacramentum in my purse and car (among other encyclicals)….just in case an issue arose. Happily, since leaving my previous parish a couple of years ago, I have found little need of it. The great thing about being a faithful Catholic at a parish which has issues, is the education gained through defending one’s faith. I hope with the next pontificate The Holy Spirit will mercifully return the Church to greater reverence and tradition. Proper catechesis is essential.

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