Communion & Method of Reception


Not wanting to hijack another thread - I’ll start this one and see where the discussion takes us:

[quote=JKirkLVNV]But…are we permitted to do so now by the Holy See? Did the Holy Father or those acting in his competence give permission for the Church in America to distribute Holy Communion in the hand?
Not to hijack the thread, sorry, Exporter.

  1. Yes we are permitted to do so now by the Holy See which acquiesced under Paul VI driven by the the leadership of Cardinal Bernardin when he headed the NCCB.

Brief history in our times: Cardinal Suenens of Belgium revived the reception of Communion in the hand breaking a long standing custom of “consecrated hands” only in the Latin rite. It began to spread In 1969, Pope Paul VI polled the bishops of the world on the question of communion-in-the-hand and subsequently proclaimed that, while there was no consensus for the practice worldwide, in those areas where a different practice prevails it may be introduced by a two-thirds vote of the bishops (of each conference).

Outside of the dissidents who heavily promoted it, the practice of receiving the Blessed Sacrament in one’s hand was not common in most parishes…

Following from St. Catherine’s Review:"Despite the fact that communion-in-the-hand could hardly be considered a prevailing practice in the United States, the Archbishop of Cincinnati, Joseph Bernardin hen president of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops (NCCB), initiated two unsuccessful attempts to introduce the practice in 1975 and 1976, stating that communion-in-the-hand had become universally popular as a natural expression of the pious sentiments of the faithful.

In the Spring of 1977 at Archbishop Bernardin’s last meeting as president of the NCCB and with San Francisco’s Archbishop Quinn acting as the chief designated lobbyist for communion-in-the-hand, the bishops’ vote again fell short of the necessary two-thirds majority. Nevertheless, for the first time ever, bishops in absentia were polled by mail after the conference meeting; subsequently the necessary votes materialized and the measure was declared passed. Soon thereafter the practice of communion-in-the-hand spread rapidly throughout the country, and in a few years the new practice became normative amongst American parishes."

Brief notes on earlier church practice from:

As the Synod of Trullo in its one hundred and first Canon cited St. Cyril, the ‘traditionalist’ accusation that the citation is a possible forgery is effectively falsified. Nevertheless, the reader must understand that this method of reception as outlined by St. Basil, St. Cyril, and other early Fathers is not how people today receive by hand. In ancient times, the hands would be shaped as a cross and the host would be placed in the palm of the top hand. From there the communicant would lift both hands to the mouth and take it that way. Nevertheless, the host does touch the palm with either method of reception

Paten: The word paten comes from a Latin form patina or patena, evidently imitated from the Greek patane. It seems from the beginning to have been used to denote a flat open vessel of the nature of a plate or dish. Such vessels in the first centuries were used in the service of the altar, and probably served to collect the offerings of bread made by the faithful and also to distribute the consecrated fragments which, after the loaf had been broken by the celebrant, were brought down to the communicants, WHO IN THEIR OWN HANDS RECEIVED EACH A PORTION FROM THE PATINA…


Early References to Reception by Hand:

St. Cyril

St. Cyril of Jerusalem (313-386) in which he counsels the Faithful to “make a throne of your hands in which to receive the King [in Holy Communion]”. This Father of the Church further counsels great care for any fragments which might remain in one’s hands, since just as one wouldn’t let gold dust fall to the ground so one should take even greater care when it is a question of the Body of the Lord

St. Basil

It is good and beneficial to communicate every day, and to partake of the holy Body and Blood of Christ. For He distinctly says, “He that eateth my flesh and drinketh my blood hath eternal life.” And who doubts that to share frequently in life, is the same thing as to have manifold life. I, indeed, communicate four times a week, on the Lord’s day, on Wednesday, on Friday, and on the Sabbath, and on the other days if there is a commemoration of any Saint. It is needless to point out that for anyone in times of persecution to be compelled to take the communion in his own hand without the presence of a priest or minister is not a serious offence, as long custom sanctions this practice from the facts themselves. All the solitaries in the desert, where there is no priest, take the communion themselves, keeping communion at home. And at Alexandria and in Egypt, each one of the laity, for the most part, keeps the communion, at his own house, and participates in it when he likes. For when once the priest has completed the offering, and given it, the recipient, participating in it each time as entire, is bound to believe that he properly takes and receives it from the giver.And even in the church, when the priest gives the portion, the recipient takes it with complete power over it, and so lifts it to his lips with his own hand. It has the same validity whether one portion or several portions are received from the priest at the same time. [2]

St. Paul

THE great and divine Apostle Paul with loud voice calls man created in the image of God, the body and temple of Christ. Excelling, therefore, every sensible creature, he who by the saving Passion has attained to the celestial dignity, eating and drinking Christ, is fitted in all respects for eternal life, sanctifying his soul and body by the participation of divine grace. Wherefore, if any one wishes to be a participator of the immaculate Body in the time of the Synaxis, and to offer himself for the communion, let him draw near, ARRANGING HIS HANDS IN THE FORM OF A CROSS, AND SO LET HIM RECEIVE THE COMMUNION OF GRACE. But such as, instead of their hands, make vessels of gold or other materials for the reception of the divine gift, and by these receive the immaculate communion, we by no means allow to come, as preferring inanimate and inferior matter to the image of God. But if any one shall be found imparting the immaculate Communion to those who bring vessels of this kind, let him be cut off as well as the one who brings them.


Whoever comes to receive the Eucharist holds his hands in the form of a cross, and takes it with his mouth; whoever shall prepare a receptacle of gold or of any other material instead of his hand, shall be cut off.


I should appreciate hearing from others in the forum who are not Latin Rite as to how the reception is handled in their churches, denominations, and/or rites.

What are the “normative” methods for distribution? Can those with unconsecrated hands handle the vessels? the species themselves?


In the Melkite Church the clergy receive in the hand, the laity cross their arms onb their chests and receive in the mouth – but that’s because we use intinction as the normative form of communion for the laity (again, clergy receive the body and blood of Christ separately).

Deacon Ed

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