Communion in the Hand?


I read that Pope John Paul II and Mother Theresa both strongly preferred Catholics take Communion on the tongue rather than in the hand. I’ve been doing this since. Is it okay to take the Communion on the tongue from Lay or Extraordinary ministers though? I prefer to take Communion from the Priest, but as many of you know this isn’t always possible. Some Extraordinary ministers seem taken aback when I don’t have my hands folded and insist on receiving on my tongue instead. Thanks for any help.


Any Minister of Holy Communion (Ordinary or Extraordinary) should be TRAINED in dispensing Communion in either way.

Any Minister of Holy Communion (Ordinary or Extraordinary) should be DISPOSED to dispense Communion in either way.


You are correct that Pope JPII and MT had a personal preference to recieve on the tongue and these statements have led to an increase of this preference according to my EMHC wife. She says that when it began to come back, she too was a little taken aback. As it becomes more common, I think you will see this less and less.

On a side note, somebody asked me why I recieve on the tongue. After my explanation, my wife piped up with an editorial comment. She said she thinks people need a training session recieving on the tongue. Too many don’t stick their tongue out far enough or move it around. She says in both cases it sometimes causes her to get saliva on her hand which she has use to for others.


Eww! But yes, I agree.

I do not like to receive communion in my hand. I have been that way since, I think, before the proclamation from JPII. No matter, just taking something from Your hand, and putting it into My hand… I don’t want it in my mouth.

Then, consider, this is the Body and Blood of My Lord and Savior, why not put it IN MY MOUTH?

Still, I hate it when the person giving the Communion threatens to touch my tongue.

I’m such a germophobe!


At this point, either tongue or hand comes down to personal preference, both ways are acceptable. There is no problem taking it from the EM’s in mass as they are doing their designated distribution ministry/duty and the effect when you receive it is the same. Since taking it by the hand is the most prevalent way of taking it, some EMs have not experienced it (maybe due to being a younger age, etc…). Just adapt and work together for the distribution to happen.


In answer to your question:

I believe so. There is nothing to say that one can not take communion in the hand. People have their own reasons.

What I hate is the people who try to pinch the bread.

OPEN UP YOUR HAND SO THAT I CAN PUT IT IN YOUR PALM! Then you can put it in your mouth, or grab it with your other hand.

I am always afraid they will drip it when they ‘pinch’ the Host.

(I had to correct myself: I used to say ‘palm please’ when I was dispensing. Now, I just try to avoid getting the Host, and just hold the chalice. I can’t help commenting when I see things, and there are fewer things to see when I hold the chalice. I’m learning that I should be SILENT - other than the prescribed words - during that time)


I’d like to add: Even if a pope or outstanding personalities have a preference for something, that soesn’t make this preference binding for anyone, as long at it isn’t the teaching/norm of the church.

But I can realte: In my parish. NOBODY receives on the tongue, so our EMHCs would be taken aback, too, I assume.


Everyone has their preference, and mine is definitely the hand as an EMHC.

If the person receiving “licks” my fingers, aside from the obvious germ situation, the next Host usually sticks to my fingers, and was almost dropped, since it didn’t stay with the next communicant.

As to Body or Blood, I generally prefer the Blood for this reason, except when the communicant attempts to intinct the Host.



So, should I receive Communion on the tongue, like PJP2 and MT preferred, or should I receive it in the hand, like most EMHC prefer? I don’t want to make things difficult for my brothers and sisters who volunteered to distribute. I do want to do what The Church prefers though. I’m leaning toward sticking with the tongue method. Thanks for the advice.


You should do that what YOU deem approbiate for YOU. As both is allowed, every EMHC can cope with that, and like I stated above, it is not mandatory to follow a preference of a pope.


actually, receiving on the tongue is the norm of the church. allowing communion in the hand is by an indult from the norm. the pope is free to revoke this special permission at any time.


I’ve never recieved on the toungue,and was taught to recieve on the hand.I dont think it makes much difference.


I had never seen people receiving on the hand until I moved to the US 13 yrs ago. In Mexico, receiving on the tongue is the norm, so I tried to stick to that, but the EMHC’s at the parishes I’ve attended don’t like to give on the tongue. I got a weird look when I wanted to receive on the tongue, so I now receive on the hand. As for the priests (here in CA), they too give on the hand, so I won’t argue with that.


I hate being a stickler, but we need to clarify what we mean when we say “norm”. It does not mean “what is most common”. Rather, it is a legal term that denotes the standard in church law.

So, while most people in this country (USA) receive Communion in the hand, it is not the norm. It is a indult privilege they are availing themselves of. It is confusing to tell someone that it is “the norm” in the USA or any other country when, in fact, it is not a true liturgical norm.


This is true. An analogous situation is the language of the Roman Mass. The norm is Latin, but by indult the bishops conferences can permit the use of the vernacular. Just because the vast majority use the vernacular, doesn’t make it the norm. (also, just because something is not the norm, doesn’t make it bad or anything like that).


My understanding is that it is the Sovereign Pontiff alone who can permit the vernacular. The bishops/conferences can, and did, petition the Holy See for this exception to the norm of Latin in the Liturgy. IOW, the authority to grant this comes not from the conferences but from Rome.


Personally- I receive on the tongue. Personal preference, I would rather not touch our Lord with my own hands, I will leave that to consecrated hands (or EMHCs). I have never received on the hand save for one time, which was quite by accident. Father accidently dropped the Host and somehow I managed to stick my hands out and catch Jesus before He fell to the floor. It was so amazing to me, going back to my pew, to look at my hands and see that they had touched the Divine.

On another note, however, it is kind of awckward to receive on the tongue at parishes where no one seems to do so. I was traveling once and when I went to receive, the deacon looked down at my hands, back at me, down at my hands again, then relunctantly gave me Communion on the tongue. It was slightly awckward and I don’t know what I would do in that situation again. Probably attempt to be in the line of the priest, who hopefully is a little more comfortable with giving Holy Communion on the tongue.


It is also important to note [when speaking of norms and church disciplines] that communion in the hand was a common practice in the early church…

There is a beautiful instruction * to the neophytes on how they are to recieve the Eucharistic Bread and Wine…it is very beautiful and describes receiving on the hand…“make of your hands a thone for a King!” to paraphrase…as I remember it he tell them to kiss thier fingers after consumming because the fragance of the Lord is still there or something similar…

During the Middle Ages the host was only allowed to be received on the tongue to prevent abuse of Jesus by those who might steal it away or to prevent nominally catechised from using the host as a talisman in ways superstitious…at one point only being offerd to the laity once a year…

disciplines have a purpose and an objective…over time people forget why and develope new rationals or the action takes on another dimension…that is why change comes hard, especially around the sacred…

The important things to note are:

that we individually come to the Eucharist properly disposed to receive, we recieve on [hand or tongue] with reverence and thanksgiving, That we remember upon reception that we are truth tabernacles of the Lord and take that Love of Christ out into the world…*


Yes, that is a beautiful analogy—also written in the USCCB norms for distribution of Holy Communion

Distribution of the Body and Blood of the Lord

  1. Holy Communion under the form of bread is offered to the communicant with the words “The Body of Christ.” The communicant may choose whether to receive the Body of Christ in the hand or on the tongue. When receiving in the hand, the communicant should be guided by the words of St. Cyril of Jerusalem: “When you approach, take care not to do so with your hand stretched out and your fingers open or apart, but rather place your left hand as a throne beneath your right, as befits one who is about to receive the King. Then receive him, taking care that nothing is lost.” (51)



Which text is this from?

It’s does not appear to be the CCC. It does reflect how I thought Communion was to be received in the hand.

These people reaching out to grab the Body and Blood of Christ like it was some thumbtack on the wall irritates all of my senses

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