Wherein Fr. Z proposes possible Communion in the hand during the Traditional Latin Mass

Communion on the hand, though permitted by an indult in most places, is appalling and a major factor in the statistically confirmed plummet in belief by Catholics in the Church’s teachings on the Eucharist.   As soon as possible, Communion on the hand should be eliminated, especially by persuasion and teaching.

Summorum Pontificum and Universae Ecclesiae require that Communion by distributed only on the tongue in the traditional, “Extraordinary” Form.

HOWEVER, is there a loophole for Communion in the hand at the TLM?

There is, in fact, a scenario in which traditional liturgical law itself REQUIRES Communion in the hand in the TLM!

In the De Defectibus section at the front of the Missale Romanum we read, ““Si [hostia aut particula] super vestes mulieris cadat, ipsa particulam accipiat et sumat… If [a Host or particle] should fall onto the clothing of a woman, let she herself take and consume the particle].”   This is also the case when a Host is – probably accidentally – dropped into a women’s clothing rather than onto… into a woman’s décolletage.   “Onto the clothing”, because she is modestly covered.  Right?  But… if not?

Two options.  Given the Décolletage Factor, Father could either take the plunge or, otherwise, the woman can self-communicate.

Given the amusement potential for nearly everyone present, the Roman Rite opts for the later.

Whether or not this provides an adequate precedent for widespread distribution of Communion on the hand at the TLM or not is a matter for further stimulating debate.

Some might argue that the Roman Rite is sexist in this regard.

Just trying to keep you abreast of the issues.


If you who know some Latin and French want to have a real laugh, here is something I posted back in 2016.  The brilliant Archbp. Léonard speaks to seminarians (I think) imitating the Latin lectures of the past in Rome and some famous profs of the Gregorian University, such as Fuchs (whom I knew) Gautier and Lonergan. It’s hilarious, especially if you studied in Rome. He riffs on the famous Mouse v Host scenario juxtaposed with the Décolletage Factor beginning at about 14:25 onward.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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

    I think using women as communion patens might not go over super well in a post- (or pre-, for that matter) #metoo environment.

  2. jaykay says:

    Truly, our Holy Mother Church provides for everything.

    Although in such a scenario I should imagine the Priest might have a word or two, post Missam, with the Altarboy whose presumably incorrect use of the paten had allowed it to happen?

    [Sometimes there are… distractions.]

  3. jaykay says:

    Ummm… a third Confiteor, perhaps?

  4. This actually happened to me once. It was many years ago, shortly after I reverted, and I used to wear v-neck t-shirts. Not very low, but lower than I would wear now! I was on crutches, and therefore receiving on the tongue (though not then opposed to CITH). The Host dropped onto my breast, but on the shirt. The priest went to pick up the Host (I’m on crutches, remember?) but before he managed to do so, it slipped further down, resting just on my cleavage. The priest automatically moved his hand closer to rescue the Host, and then twitched violently away as the awareness of where the Host had dropped actually dawned on him!!! I’m afraid I must confess that I found it very amusing… but started wearing higher-necked tops!

  5. Mariana2 says:

    Hilarious. I posted the Mgr Léonard video clip to my Latin teacher the first time you posted this, Father. She loved it. I’m happy to have found it again.

  6. SanSan says:

    Went to 1st Friday mass at local NO parish. Was denied communion on the tongue. Did not receive but did a “spiritual” communion prayer. Still had everyone offer peace.?

    Later in the day attended TLM half hour away and received kneeling, and on the tongue. So easy. Done. I sent pastor so info on turning away the faithful who want to receive on the tongue.

  7. APX says:

    I remember seeing something like this on TV back in the 90s from someone’s home video from a wedding. YouTube for the win:

  8. WarriorSpirit says:

    In the case of the Consecrated Host missing the tongue (where was the paten?) and landing on a female’s chest area – could it not be considered that she had ‘received’ the Consecrated Host simply by the apparent action of the priest to administer it to her, thereby if she had to pick up the Host herself from her chest area, it would not be considered self-communicating?

    [Indeed, a good question. We should really spend a great deal of time pondering and discussing this urgent matter.  o{];¬)  ]

  9. SMJ says:

    This article of the Defectibus always reminds me of this very [in]famous video: https://youtu.be/Rut7rJwUaYs

    Well, at least it’s very famous here in Brazil…

  10. JabbaPapa says:

    Excellentas illas lectiones, clarificent in saecula !!!

  11. Simon_GNR says:

    Though I’m quite stubborn and rigid about many things relating to faith and religion, when it comes to Holy Communion, I’m uncharacteristically flexible. When I go to a Church and communion standing and in the hand is the norm I go along with it; when I go to another where kneeling and on the tongue is the norm I happily conform to that Church’s practice. I am confident that I have the correct, reverent interior disposition to receive the Body and Blood of Our Lord, whether in the hand or on the tongue.

    My own preference, as a former Anglican, would be to receive Holy Communion under both kinds, but kneeling and with the host placed in my hands rather than on my tongue. My preference for Communion under both kinds has grown over the years along with my dislike of receiving pre-consecrated hosts from the tabernacle rather than newly consecrated hosts directly from the altar: one when receives from the chalice one knows that the holy Blood of Christ has just been consecrated as such on the altar a few minutes earlier. GIRM encourages Mass celebrants to try to give to the faithful hosts that have been consecrated on the altar at that Mass rather than using hosts from the tabernacle. Rarely does one see a celebrant try to comply with that aspect of GIRM, or even show any awareness of it. It seems that for many priests it as if the procession to the tabernacle to retrieve yesterday’s, or the day before yesterday’s, hosts for the communion of the faithful is an authentic, intrinsic part of the Liturgy of the Eucharist, which it decidedly is not.

  12. APX says:


    In a perfect world, just enough hosts will be consecrated for each Mass that allows for everyone to receive and still have a few hosts left in the Tabernacle to take to the sick and dying. We don’t live in a perfect world, so there are always leftover hosts in the Tabernacle that need to be consumed first. FIFO-First in, first out. I suppose we could go back to the process of getting people to put an non-consecrated host in a bowl at the entrance of they plan on receiving, but even then, there’s always some leftover that need to be consumed first. It’s not a big deal. You’re still receiving the same amount of our Lord’s Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity. Now we have people who think they “receive less Jesus” if they don’t receive under both species.

  13. deaconjohn1987 says:

    Here is paragraph 160 from the diary of Saint Faustina of the Divine Mercy:

    160 +The crusade day,[54] which is the fifth of the month, happened to fall on the First Friday of the month. This was my day for keeping watch before the Lord Jesus. It was my duty to
    make amends to the Lord for all offenses and acts of disrespect and to pray that, on this day,
    no sacrilege be committed. This day, my spirit was set aflame with special love for the
    Eucharist. It seemed to me that I was transformed into a blazing fire. When I was about to
    receive Holy Communion, a second Host fell onto the priest’s sleeve, and I did not know
    which host I was to receive. After I had hesitated for a moment, the priest made an
    impatient gesture with his hand to tell me I should receive the Host. When I took the Host he
    gave me, the other one fell onto my hands. The priest went along the altar rail to distribute
    Communion, and I held the Lord Jesus in my hands all that time. When the priest
    approached me again, I raised the Host for him to put it back into the chalice, because when
    I had first received Jesus I could not speak before consuming the Host, and so could not tell
    him that the other had fallen. But while I was holding the Host in my hand, I felt such a
    power of love that for the rest of the day I could neither eat nor come to my senses. I heard
    these words from the Host: I desired to rest in your hands, not only in your heart. And
    at that moment I saw the little Jesus. But when the priest approached, I saw once again only
    the Host.

  14. Clinton R. says:

    Here in the Los Angeles Archdiocese, we have been informed Holy Communion will not be given on the tongue until further notice. Additionally, at my parish, there is no longer any Holy water. Why do I have the suspicion Holy Communion on the tongue will become verboten regardless of the (hopefully soon) eradication of the corona virus.

  15. khouri says:

    This happened during a Byzantine Divine Liturgy I served. The Lord’s Body soaked in His Precious Blood fell down a young mother’s blouse. The server holding the Communion cloth was careless. The mother asked me if she should go into the bathroom and remove and consume the Pearl.
    I told her NOT the bathroom but our parish hall and to remove and consume it carefully. After Liturgy she said she was glad I did not have to remove it. I told her so was I. While we don’t have Defectibus we do have common sense.

  16. Simon_GNR says:


    The reserved Blessed Sacrament has no part to play in Mass. For celebrants to use it as a supply of ready consecrated hosts because they can’t be bothered to ascertain how many they need for the communion of the faithful at a Mass is a misuse of the reserved Blessed Sacrament if not quite an abuse. Only a very few consecrated hosts need to be reserved for communion of the sick and dying. The two purposes of the reserved sacrament are for Holy Communion outside of Mass and for Eucharistic Adoration.

    My point is that one never sees any evidence of a celebrant even trying to comply with GIRM n.85. It’s that that rankles with me. It wouldn’t be in the GIRM if it weren’t of some importance.

  17. JSzczuka says:

    Father, I’m just learning on this post that CITH is not allowed at the TLM. I attend a diocesan parish TLM. One time I observed a woman put out her hands for the host and Father put it on her hand. Others said they have occasionally seen it also. (The woman looked kind of smug as she rose and went back to her pew.) ?

  18. khouri says:

    The GIRM says lots of things that we ignore. Many of them more important than the ideal of n.85.
    There are more serious things (real abuses) to be rankled over. If you were a priest you’d get it.

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