Communion By The Hand

For me, receiving the Body of Christ by the hand is not a holy practice. I believe there were conditions promulgated by the Church authority in order for a communicant to receive the Host by the hand (I hope we someone can post the list for our reference and better appreciation of what i’m discussing), otherwise, receive the Host by tongue.

Receiving the Host by the tongue is of apostolic origin as taught by the Council of Trent. The law of the Church says very simply that in the Latin Rite, that is, all those that are not of the Eastern Rites, the manner of receiving the Blessed Sacrament is that the priest is to give the Sacred Host on the tongue of the recipient.

The law has not changed during Vatican 2, has not changed after it, and is still the law of the Church to this day.

Pope Paul VI says communion on the tongue is still the law of the Church. He, however, gives permission to go against the letter of the law if two principles and seven rules are followed.

Principle 1: The Faithful must not be scandalzed by the practice of Communion in the hand.
Principle 2: There must be no danger of irreverence or sacrilege to the Sacred Host and Particles if communion is given in the hand. There must not even be the appearance of irreverence.

I hope someone may post the seven rules if in case he/she has it for better discussion on this matter. tnx.

There is nothing wrong with Communion on the tongue, but we are not respecting the truth if we pretend that it is an apostolic tradition. History does not support this. Even into the eighth/ninth century, Paschasius Radbertus, defending the real presence, gives a story of an old beggar man who receives communion on the hand, and Paschasius does not make the mention of communion in the hand as out of the ordinary, or draw any particular attention to it.

The Council of Trent says nothing whatsoever about communion on the tongue. What it has to say about receiving communion is this: “In the reception of the sacrament, there has always been a custom in the church of God that the laity receive communion from priests, but that priests, when celebrating, administer communion to themselves; this custom, coming down as from apostolic tradition, should rightly and deservedly be retained.”

It is also good that they said that this came down ‘as’ from apostolic tradition, not actually claiming apostolicity, because there are many sources which speak of even priests needing to receive from the hands of another (someone of greater or equal rank, if possible).

There are differing cultural practices with regard to reception of communion. And so we have to respect it when others do so for good reasons. If someone gives an unworthy reason, such as refusing to receive on the tongue because they believe it is subservient and they can feed themselves, then that can be corrected.

Obviously, receiving by the hand can be a holy practice: What about St. Cyril of Jerusalem’s (mid to late 4th century) account of how to receive communion? “Make your left hand a throne for your right, since your right hand is about to welcome a king. Cup your palm and receive in it Christ’s body, saying in response, Amen. Then carefully bless your eyes with a touch of the holy body, and consume it, being careful to drop not a particle of it. For to lose any of it is clearly like losing part of your own body. Tell me, if anyone gave you some gold dust, would you not keep it with the greatest care, ensuring that you did not lose by dropping any of it?..After partaking of Christ’s body, go to receive the chalice of his blood. Do not stretch out your hands for it. Bow your head and say Amen to show your homage and reverence, and sanctify yourself by partaking of Christ’s blood. While your lips are still moist with his blood, touch it with your hands and bless your eyes, forehead, and other organs of sense…” (Mystagogical Catechesis 5, 21-22.)

In the next post I’ll give Pope Paul’s 7 principles…

(Edited)

Never mind, I saw the conclusion of the other thread. Carry on…

From Cardinal Ratzinger (now Pope Benedict XVI of course)

"…we know that until the ninth century Communion was received in the hand, standing. That does not of course mean that it should always do so. For what is fine, sublime, about the Church is that she is growing, maturing, understanding the mystery more profoundly. In the that sense the new development that began after the ninth century is quite justified, as an expression of reverence, and is well founded. But, on the other hand, we have to say that the Church could not possibly have been celebrating the Eucharist unworthily for nine hundred years. If we read what the Fathers say, we can see in what a spirit of reverence they received Communion…

We should be concerned only to argue in favor of what the Church’s efforts directed toward, both before and after the ninth century, that is a reverence in the heart, an inner submission before the mystery of God that puts himself into our hands…

Cardinal Ratzinger “God Is Near Us” Ignatius Press Pg 70-71 2001

And from: God and the World (Ignatius Press):

Communion in the hand, or directly in the mouth?

“I wouldn’t want to be fussy about that. It was done in the early Church. A reverent manner of receiving Communion in the hand is in itself a perfectly reasonable way to receive Communion.”

From Cardinal Ratzinger (now Pope Benedict XVI of course) -he puts it very well (note by the way that I generally receive on the tongue but I do at times receive on the hand).

"…we know that until the ninth century Communion was received in the hand, standing. That does not of course mean that it should always do so. For what is fine, sublime, about the Church is that she is growing, maturing, understanding the mystery more profoundly. In the that sense the new development that began after the ninth century is quite justified, as an expression of reverence, and is well founded. But, on the other hand, we have to say that the Church could not possibly have been celebrating the Eucharist unworthily for nine hundred years. If we read what the Fathers say, we can see in what a spirit of reverence they received Communion…

We should be concerned only to argue in favor of what the Church’s efforts directed toward, both before and after the ninth century, that is a reverence in the heart, an inner submission before the mystery of God that puts himself into our hands…

Cardinal Ratzinger “God Is Near Us” Ignatius Press Pg 70-71 2001

And from: God and the World (Ignatius Press):

Communion in the hand, or directly in the mouth?

“I wouldn’t want to be fussy about that. It was done in the early Church. A reverent manner of receiving Communion in the hand is in itself a perfectly reasonable way to receive Communion.”

This is a USA problem.
Not in Europe and the rest of the world.
I saw people in the middle of the jungle taking communion in the hand.

Not that I’m advocating the practice, but in the Papal Mass in Cuba, the minister was actually reaching over people to distribute communion. Communion on the tongue would have been difficult in those crowded circumstances.

youtube.com/watch?v=KNpp5W1doFY

These norms were put forward by the Sacred Congregation for Divine Worship, 29 May, 1969:

  1. The new manner of giving communion must not be imposed in a way that would exclude the traditional practice. It is a matter of particular seriousness that in places where the new practice is lawfully permitted every one of the faithful have the option of receiving communion in the hand. The two ways of receiving communion can without question take place during the same liturgical service. There is a twofold purpose here: that none will find in the new rite anything disturbing to personal devotion toward the eucharist; that this sacrament, the source and cause of unity by its very nature, will not become an occasion of discord between members of the faithful.

  2. The rite of communion in the hand must not be put into practice indiscriminately. Since the question involves human attitudes, this mode of communion is bound up with the perceptiveness and preparation of the one receiving. It is advisable, therefore, that the rite be introduced gradually and in the beginning within small, better prepared groups and in favorable settings. Above all it is necessary to have the introduction of the rite preceded by an effective catechesis, so that the people will clearly understand the meaning of receiving in the hand and will practice it with the reverence owed to the sacrament. This catechesis must succeed in excluding any suggestion that in the mind of the Church there is a lessening of faith in the eucharistic presence and in excluding as well any danger or hint of danger of profaning the eucharist.

  3. The option offered to the faithful of receiving the eucharistic bread in their hand and putting it into their own mouth must not turn out to be the occasion for regarding it as ordinary bread or as just another religious article. Instead this option must increase in them a consciousness of the dignity of the members of Christ’s Mystical Body, into which they are incorporated by baptism and by the grace of the eucharist. IT must also increase their faith in the sublime reality of the Lord’s body and blood, which they touch with their hand. Their attitude of reverence must measure up to what they are doing.

  4. As to the way to carry out the new rite: one possible model is the traditional usage, which expressed the ministerial functions, by having the priest or deacon place the host in the hand of the communicant. Alternatively, it is permissible to adopt a simple procedure, namely, allowing the faithful themselves to take the host form the ciborium or paten. ! - I wonder if this has been rescripted] The faithful should consume the host before returning to their place; the minister’s part will be brought out by use of the usual formulary, ‘The body of Christ’ to which the communicant replies: Amen.

  5. Whatever procedure is adopted, care must be taken not to allow particles of the eucharistic bread to fall or be scattered. Care must also be taken that the communicants have clean hands and that their comportment is becoming and in keeping with the practices of different peoples.

  6. In the case of communion under both kinds by way of intinction, it is never permitted to place on the hand of the communicant the host that has been dipped in the Lord’s blood.

  7. Bishops allowing introduction of the new way of receiving communion are requested to send to this Congregation after six months a report on the result of its concession.

From Cardinal Ratzinger (now Pope Benedict XVI of course) -he puts it very well (note by the way that I generally receive on the tongue but I do at times receive on the hand).

"…we know that until the ninth century Communion was received in the hand, standing. That does not of course mean that it should always do so. For what is fine, sublime, about the Church is that she is growing, maturing, understanding the mystery more profoundly. In the that sense the new development that began after the ninth century is quite justified, as an expression of reverence, and is well founded. But, on the other hand, we have to say that the Church could not possibly have been celebrating the Eucharist unworthily for nine hundred years. If we read what the Fathers say, we can see in what a spirit of reverence they received Communion…

We should be concerned only to argue in favor of what the Church’s efforts directed toward, both before and after the ninth century, that is a reverence in the heart, an inner submission before the mystery of God that puts himself into our hands…

Cardinal Ratzinger “God Is Near Us” Ignatius Press Pg 70-71 2001

And from: God and the World (Ignatius Press):

Communion in the hand, or directly in the mouth?

He responds:

“I wouldn’t want to be fussy about that. It was done in the early Church. A reverent manner of receiving Communion in the hand is in itself a perfectly reasonable way to receive Communion.”

NB the very first line in the first quote.

I think the portion I bolded has been rescripted. And I’m not sure communion has to be entirely consumed before one returns to his pew. How can the communicant properly reflect on What it is he’s actually received?

There is a fallacy that I believed is sometimes called “archaeologism” or “originalism,” it may have other names. That the oldest practices are always good.

As Catholics, we should respect that slow change approved by the Church happens for good reasons. However decisions made by Church leaders may be prudent or imprudent, good or bad, even when made with legitimate authority.

Communion on the tongue is a clear of example of a very organic persisting development that happened for very good reasons. It reflects belief in the Real Presence and desire to avoid sacrilege.

Communion in the hand is modern times is not derived from some small groups that maintained an older tradition – that’s a historically laughable hypothesis. It is a modern practice that falsely refers to ancient practices but actually derives from very modern ideas. Should be abolished.

We could think of many other examples of this false originalist thinking. Latin, for example, has been retained for centuries after it ceased to be the daily language of Western people. For very good and beautiful reasons. I hope no traditional Catholic tries to pretend that it derives from the Apostles, who actually used the vernacular. But, the modern practice of the vernacular, though it makes reference to ancient practices and Eastern practices, does so selectively. The real motivation can be quite different.

There is a reason the Church, neither in East nor West, maintained the practice St. Cyril described. There was wisdom in doing things either by COTT with the Host or by COTT via the sacred golden spoon containing the inticted species.

I think these are the seven conditions mentioned by the original poster which I found at a Catholic online source;

  1. The new manner of giving Communion must not be imposed in such a way that the traditional practice is excluded. It is especially important that each one of the Faithful has the possibility to receive Holy Communion on the tongue, wherever the new practice is legitimately allowed, and at the same time as other persons who receive the Host in the hand. In effect, the two ways of receiving Communion may co-exist without difficulty in the same liturgical action. The purpose of the foregoing is so that no one will find in the new rite a cause to have his own spiritual sensibilities towards the Eucharist disturbed and so that this Sacrament, which is of its nature a source and cause of unity, does not become an occasion of discord among the Faithful.

  2. The rite of giving Holy Communion in the hand must not be used without discretion. In effect, since we are dealing with a human attitude, it is linked with the sensibilities and the preparation of the one who assumes it. It is convenient therefore to introduce this practice gradually, beginning with groups and social environments (milieu) which are more suited and more prepared. It is above all necessary that the introduction of this rite be preceded by adequate catechesis, in order that the Faithful understand exactly the meaning of the gesture and may perform it with the respect due to this most august Sacrament. The result of this catechesis must be such as to exclude any appearance that the Church is weakening in any way Her faith in the Eucharistic presence, and such that there is no danger of profanation or even the appearance of danger of profanation.

  3. The possibility offered to the Faithful to receive in his hand and to put in his mouth the Eucharistic Bread must not offer to him an occasion of considering It to be like ordinary bread or something merely blessed; on the contrary, this possibility of receiving in the hand must augment in the Faithful the sense of his dignity as a member of the Mystical Body of Christ, into Which he is incorporated by Baptism, and by the grace of the Eucharist, and this possibility also must increase his faith in the great reality of the Body and Blood of the Lord Which he touches with his hands. His attitude of respect will be proportioned to how he carries out this sacred gesture.

  4. Regarding the manner of doing this, the guidelines of the old tradition should be followed which make evident the ministerial function of the priest or the deacon so that he is the one who places the Host in the hand of the communicant…the Faithful receiving Communion must consume the Host before returning to his place. The part of the minister will be underlined by the customary formula: “The Body of Christ”, to which the communicant will reply, “Amen.”

  5. Whatever manner is adopted, one must take care to not drop or lose any particles of the Eucharistic Bread, one must also take care to see that the hands are suitably clean, and that there be observed the proper composure of gestures according to the customs of the various peoples.

  6. In the case of Communion under both species distributed by intinction, it is never permitted to place in the hand of the Faithful the Host which has been dipped in the Blood of the Lord.

  7. Bishops who permit the introduction of the new manner of giving Holy Communion are requested to send after six months a report to this Sacred Congregation concerning the results of this concession.

I am a new Catholic convert who will be receiving my first communion this Easter Vigil. During the months I have been waiting to be received into the Church I have attended Mass weekly and had observed that a few parishioners receive the Host on the tongue but most do not. I was curious about that as I did not know why it was done in two different ways. Other recent posts on this same subject made me all the more curious and so I have researched it for my own edification.

Having read extensively both sides of the issue, I have decided that I will receive the Host on the tongue. There are a number of reasons for my decision but most compelling for me is historical precedent and the example of Pope Benedict XVI.

Fr. Greg J. Markey wrote a very interesting article, published at Catholic Online a few years ago, on the subject of the grave potential for desecration of the Host presented by the practice of receiving Communion by hand. Those interested can read the article at the following link;

forums.catholic.com/newreply.php?do=newreply&noquote=1&p=9135277

I have come to the conclusion that for me, receiving the Host on the tongue is the most proper way to show proper respect and honor to our Lord while observing this Sacrament.

Amen to that bro.

One of the seven rules says: When Communion is received in the hand, care must be taken that no fragment of the Host be allowed to drop on the ground.

Did we know that as recipient of Holy Communion in the hand, we have the obligation to look in our every hand every single time and see that we don’t drop one speck of the Host on the ground?

If we let this happen, then we’re committing a SACRILEGE.

You say that the practice of Communion in the hand is one of Apostolic origin. I would like to see the reference. In Matthew’s Gospel, Jesus said in reply, “He who has dipped his hand into the dish with me is the one who will betray me. So, I guess it was OK at the first Mass.

I understand your zeal for reverence. I just don’t know how you can presume that someone who receives Our Lord in the hand is necessarily being irreverent. And, those recieving on the tongue are de facto reverent. I always thought it was all about what’s in the heart…

?

Okay,but I have also seen Communion misplaced on the tongue and fall on the ground. As the pope said receiving communion in the hand was an early church practice.

And what did you notice brother on how these people received the Body of Christ using their hand?

Bookcat, the Holy Father in his actions shows differently. Perhaps he changed his view with time?

He now only (with very few exceptions) expects all who receive Communion from his hands to receive kneeling and on the tongue.

Communion in the hand in theory is perfectly fine. It can be very reverent just as Communion on the tongue. However, in practice (and I think because of poor Catechesis) it has lead to a a huge uptick in the disbelief in the Real Presence. When people are receiving in the hand, they are not thinking of the early Church and making their hands a throne. All that they are thinking about is that the EMHC is placing a piece of bread and that they’ll chew and go back to their pew and think about football or something. I know, I know, this is not universal, but look at local parishes today and tell me that is not true for many people there.

With Communion on the tongue, you cannot help but consider that what we are consuming is something so sacred and venerable that we cannot even touch it. COTT naturally lends itself to adoration. I wish we would go back to exclusing CITH because of the horrible effects it has had. It is not necessarily bad, and maybe at some time in the future it wouldn’t lead to the problems we have now. However, we cannot ignore the results of the practice, and because of that, I would recommend COTT exclusively.

But then again, I’m just a lay person. This isn’t for me to decide. :stuck_out_tongue: Until then, for me it’s COTT all the way.

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