“This ‘Communion in the hand’ thing needs to stop.”

I received this from a priest…

Dear and Reverend Father,

I thought that you may find the attached image useful, as heartbreaking and enraging as it is. Today, an elderly woman came into my office. She was very confused and upset. She handed me this book and explained that she found it while cleaning out the estate of a deceased friend.

Inside the book, she found two Hosts. I thanked her and told her I would take care of it. She left, relieved.

I don’t know whether they were consecrated (I’ve already consumed them). I also don’t see why anyone would have two unconsecrated hosts in their possession.

This “Communion in the hand” thing needs to stop.

Thank you for all you do, and know of my prayers! Peace!

I might add this…

Father, those are Hosts which were found because they were in a book.

Then there are the Hosts which are never found, because they were taken for evil purposes.  There are the Hosts which were simply thrown away.

This Communion in the hand thing…. it has to stop.

CITH… just say ‘No’.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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

    When, years ago, I was a seminarian, I received a letter from someone in my home diocese. There was a Host glued to it, with a message to the effect of “May this be an encouragement in your vocation.” The return address was non-existent, and the sender identified himself as “Arthur Rimbaud,” a 19th century homosexual author. This, incidentally, was not long after my state ratified a constitutional amendment defining marriage as between a man and a woman; my bishop had spoken forcefully in support of the amendment.

    Earlier this year, my wife wanted to receive Communion on the tongue, since she was carrying our daughter. The priest refused her. She returned to the pew, handed off our daughter, and re-queued. When the priest again refused her, she asked point blank: “Are you refusing me Holy Communion.” He shoved the Host in her face, popping her in the lip with his knuckle. I had strong words with him after, and a much more respectful conversation with the bishop two days later. The priest hasn’t given us trouble since.

  2. Patrick71 says:

    I attend an EF parish so I only have to worry about the Communion Awkwardness when I travel. Will father know how to give me communion on the tounge? (Often no.) Which side of the aisle will father take so I can avoid the Purelled pant suits? It’s a tricky thing to guess!

    Communion Awkwardness is almost as awkward as the Our Father and Sign of Peace Awkwardness. You gotta try to find a seat where you are least likely to be hand holded and glad handed.

  3. BrionyB says:

    At my local church, there is a worrying practice where an Extraordinary Minister will go to the back of the church and stand just in front of the door to distribute Communion. It would be the easiest thing in the world for someone to take the Host and simply walk past him out the door and into the street. There would be very little anyone could do about it.

    I assume this is done to facilitate the queuing process (the people in the back half of the church will normally receive from this person, while those in the front half go up to the priest at the front), but it seems to me to be asking for trouble. I also worry about the ciborium/chalice being dropped or spilled as the “ministers” go striding down the aisle with them – it only takes someone to step out of their pew at the wrong moment and knock their elbow, or a small child to run out and trip them up.

    I know it’s never 100% possible to prevent accidents or outwit people determined to desecrate the Host, but I wish we could take a little more care than this with our Lord’s precious Body and Blood. Aside from anything else, what does it say to an observer about our belief in the Real Presence when we don’t?

  4. ProfKwasniewski says:

    Absolutely right! This is one of the most disgraceful practices now burdening Catholicism.

    For a theological defense, see here:

  5. APX says:

    I also don’t see why anyone would have two unconsecrated hosts in their possession.

    I’m pretty sure that there are still two unconsecrated hosts sitting in an unmarked white envelope tucked away on a corner shelf in my parents’ kitchen from 1993. For First Communion prep they gave each person two unconscrated hosts to take home and practice with, but my mom never used them, just wine and crackers instead.

  6. I tend to agree with Fr. Z. here, this practice of communion in the hand has led to all sorts of problems. I will not belabor the point since others have said it eloquently.

    I do, however, have a suggestion as to what happened and this may be helpful. The above book is clearly a catechism, and, by the looks of it, appears to be part of a First Confession/ First Communion preparation series (and not too shabby a one at that). I would suggest the hosts are unconsecrated and that is is an innocent oversight on the part of the owner/student. It is very likely that part of the preparation was to pass around unconsecrated hosts for the upcoming communicants to see and feel to get used to. Sister Jacinta did this for my class back when the EF was the OF, so it is not something all that radically new.

    They also did it for my children. The DRE said that they had issues in the past with young children surprised by the taste, etc. to spit the consecrated host out at First Communion! (I will forgo comment on the level of maturity and preparation of those who do such a thing and their suitability in receiving said sacraments for the first time!) So the teachers felt it wise, as did my second grade nun who was no pushover, to prevent this by passing’s a few around to the students in class so they can familiarize themselves with the hos.. Likely these are leftovers from class.

    The priest, of course, did the right thing since we do not know, but I’ll bet my thesis is the correct one.

  7. mburn16 says:

    I also suspect these were unconsecrated hosts used as some sort of sacramental prep. About 20 years ago when I was in Catholic school there was a larger unconsecrated…I’ll call it an altar host…tacked above the blackboard in each room.

  8. APX says:

    About 20 years ago when I was in Catholic school there was a larger unconsecrated…I’ll call it an altar host…tacked above the blackboard in each room.
    Sounds tacky.

  9. chesterton63 says:

    While I think that the two hosts in subject were actually unconsecrated (why someone would take the risk of stealing consecrated hosts just to leave them unattended in a book?), I do agree that the practice of communion in the hand (and, I would add, that of letting non-priests distribute it) really needs to cease.
    My spiritual father ALWAYS gives communion in the two species, to avoid having to give it in the hand.

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