ASK FATHER: “Is there a reverent and proper way to receive Communion in the Hand?”

From a reader…


Father, I came across to a decree of the CDW last year regarding the reception of Communion. Cardinal Sarah said that we need to follow the directives of the Conference of Bishops or the local Ordinary regarding the reception of Holy Communion with respect to the proper health regulations. Is there a reverent and proper way to receive Communion in the Hand, albeit we don’t really want that?

The hands of the laity were not consecrated to handle sacred things, much less the MOST Sacred.

The proper way to receive Communion in the hand….

First, kneel down.  Then, either fold your hands or place them together in a prayerful manner.  Next, when the priest comes along with the altar boy holding the paten, tip your head back slightly, open your mouth and extend your tongue.  You don’t have to reach for your belt-buckle with your tongue.  Stay still.  Receive Communion.  Return to your place.  If there is a housling cloth, some people like to put their hands under the housling cloth.  The rest remains the same.  That’s the BEST way to receive Communion in the hand.

There is no best way to receive on the hand, there are only really bad ways and less bad ways.  The least bad way is to place your layman’s unanointed left hand, palm up, on top of your unanointed right hand, palm up, and extend them slightly toward the priest.  Keep your unanointed left hand, the top unanointed hand, FLAT, not cupped, curved, pinched, etc.  FLAT.  Be still.  When the Host has been placed on your unanointed top hand, while the angels thronging the church are weeping, move your unanointed lower hand to take the Host as carefully as possible given this moment of sub-optimal reverence, and place it into your own mouth as an act of self-communication, which is technically not allowed.   Return to your seat, [checking for any particles which may have adhered to your not-too-recently-washed, unanointed hands as even demons recoil in horror at the offense which they helped to provoke in the first place] reflecting on the goodness of the Lord who continues to humble Himself and that many people around the world are beginning to perform acts of reparation for lack of reverence for the Eucharist Presence of the Lord.

If either of your hands is unavailable (you are holding a child, you have a cast on your hand, etc.), don’t even attempt to receive on the hand.  NEVER try one-handed.  Receive on the tongue.

There is a lot of confusion about the usual text that is trotted out from St Cyril of Alexandria about Communion in the ancient Church.  First, that was one place described, not many.  Also, there’s more to the description that no one would do today.  Then, the practice fell out of use as we began to understand more about the Eucharist.   Moreover, it was an exception when there was no priest.  Cloths were used.  Etc.

Communion in the hand remains the exception, provided for by indult, to the rule, which is Communion on the tongue.   Saints of yesteryear (and today too, I should think) would be horrified.  This practice has certain contributed to the loss of reverence not just for the Eucharist, but for the SACRED in general.

We should work gently but diligently to reduce and the to eliminate Communion in the hand.  This will take good preaching and catechesis, prudential judgments by priests, the installation of Communion rails (once they are used, amazing things happen), etc.  Especially, patience and prudence is needed.

But the job that take the longest to finish is the one that is never started.

Fathers!  Get to work!

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. rhig090v says:

    In Central Florida, a notorious wasteland in terms of liturgical reverence, an Episcopal ecclesial community complete with their so called priestess and so called deaconess, receive their unconsecrated bread, of which there is no belief of the real presence among them, kneeling at the communion rail and on the tongue. What does that say for us Catholics?

  2. Irish Timothy says:

    Thank you for this Father Z!

    Please pray for us here in Canada. In my diocese the bishop only will allow communion on the hand, never the tongue, due to the craziness and stupidity of the communist Chinese flu. So sad but I pray this will change soon.

  3. Josephus Corvus says:

    May I add one additional suggestion? Before returning to your seat take a good look at your left unannointed hand to make sure you do not see any particles that would also be the Body, Blood, Soul, & Divinity of our Lord. If you do, act accordingly to consume them. This is especially necessary if you happen to have a priest who got hit on the head by the good idea fairy and decided to distribute broken pieces of the priest’s Host that are more likely to fragment than the standard round ones. (This was one of the things that caused me to start receiving in the mouth before safety theater was forced down our throats.)

  4. Mike says:

    Little Throne Myth in 3…2…1…

  5. APX says:

    I received communion in the hand yesterday, being the Feast of St. Joseph, and having a rather pressing intention for his patronage. It was the first time in a very long time receiving in the hand and felt very awkward. I keep a small bottle of epiphany water in my purse and discretely purified my hand and fingers that touched it before and after. I loathe receiving in the hand.

  6. GregB says:

    The only thing that I can say is that with the way some people talk the tongue can be the most morally corrupt part of a person’s body. In Matthew 15:10-11 says:
    10 Jesus called the crowd to him and said, “Listen and understand. 11 What goes into someone’s mouth does not defile them, but what comes out of their mouth, that is what defiles them.”
    In Mathew 15:18-20 Christ says:
    “18 But the things that come out of a person’s mouth come from the heart, and these defile them. 19 For out of the heart come evil thoughts—murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander. 20 These are what defile a person; but eating with unwashed hands does not defile them.”

  7. WmHesch says:

    Let’s also emphasize Communion on the tongue isn’t just for laity… the Sacred Ministers (etiam sacerdotes); priests in choir… even the Pope himself if he isn’t the celebrant… all traditionally receive kneeling and on the tongue.

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  9. JonPatrick says:

    In our diocese due to the Commie China virus (made in a Wuhan lab financed by US investors including Dr. Fauci) they encourage communion in the hand but don’t require it. My parish priest just asks those of us who receive on the tongue to come up last. Another parish where we occasionally visit gives out communion by the priest walking up the aisle and people receiving at the end of the pew. An acolyte with a bottle of hand sanitizer follows which the priest uses after communicating on the tongue, as there are several in this parish that receive the preferred way.

  10. I have been instructed by a very traditional priest, if you have to receive in the hand you cup your hands as was mentioned but instead of using the hand that is under the cupped hand, lean down and take the precious body on your tongue. And this is only after taking a wet paper towel in a baggie and cleansing the hand where Jesus is placed before you go up to receive. Then after receiving Jesus from your hand, with your tongue you have to lick your palm to get any remaining particles.

  11. Adelle Cecilia says:

    The letter by Cdl Sarah clearly states obedience to Church Law before obedience to the bishop. One would assume that he means the bishops must be in obedience for us to obey them.
    It says nothing about suppressing Communion on the tongue. It says they are allowed to make mandates about hygiene.
    Considering we’ve been told many times over that there is nothing more hygienic about receiving on the hand, this mandate cannot be about hygiene.

  12. Cameron466 says:

    Well Father, this got me to receive on the tongue today.

    What with all the coronacrazies, our Archbishop had “asked” (but not actually commanded) people to receive on the hand, and I had been doing so out of a (I now think misguided) sense of charity for the priest, not wanting to make him uncomfortable.

    Since the Archbishop’s request the government banned mass attendance all together, so we now receive after mass, one family unit in the church at a time.

    But after reading this, I asked: am I putting the priest’s comfort ahead of Christ’s? And this all to avoid an IMAGINED discomfort—I don’t actually know that the priest has a problem with it.

    So from here on out, I’m kneeling first with the tongue out. If actually directed to by the priest, I will receive on the hand. That might make things a little awkward from time to time, but maybe we need that.

  13. Joannes_Picus says:

    Here in Luxembourg (Europe), we use a blessed purificatory which is then collected by the priest and purified, even though the Archbishop has allowed also communion in the hand for the TLM. The priest is therefore obliged to give it that way is someone shows up to take the Holy Eucharist in his hands. Mgr Schneider wrote that this is acceptable.

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