Here’s my explanation as to why it’s popular. In the United States, showing the tongue or opening the mouth wide is simply not done in most settings. It’s considered rude or uncouth or simply inappropriate.
We open the mouth wide at the dentist’s office, when we are cheering at a hockey game, or when we are shovelling in food (which is ill-mannered), or when we’re screaming in pain, fear, or anger. That’s about it.
I work as pianist for a lot of choirs, and the directors have a dreadful time trying to convince the singers to OPEN their mouths! People in the U.S. feel rude or embarrassed or both doing this.
As for sticking out the tongue, again, this is simply not done in most settings in the U.S… At the doctor’s office, yes. Some people will “chew on” their tongue or stick it out the side of their mouth when they are concentrating hard. Some people run their tongue over their lips when they say, “Yum Yum.” But that’s about it. Again, people feel rude doing something that is generally considered uncouth or ill-mannered or childish.
So my explanation is that most Catholics who did not grow up and see the majority of people receiving Holy Communion on tongues feel “rude” and “embarrassed” doing something that seems to them to be ill-mannered or inappropriate.
Yes, the setting of Mass is the appropriate time to open the mouth wide and stick out the tongue.
But it’s HARD to get people to get over their own apprehension, [edited]. Even though our MINDS tells us that it’s perfectly OK and acceptable and polite, our hearts tell us that it’s embarrassing and uncomfortable and even unseemly.
For those who grew up with Communion on the Tongue–of course it seems normal and natural to them. But for the past 40 years, it has not been the general practice in the U.S. and it’s very hard to people to overcome the “norms” of our culture and society.
I was very apprehensive about receiving Holy Communion on my tongue, but after my surgeries, I had no choice because of my crutches. I got used to it and now it seems more normal and natural than receiving in my hand. I think a lot of people who are forced to receive Holy Communion on their tongues (perhaps because they are carrying a baby or child, or crutches, or some other injury or sickness) “get used to it” just like I did.
Of course, I hope that COTT advocates don’t start praying for a lot of foot injuries and…well, praying for more babies is OK!
I say, give your fellow Catholics a break. It’s what they’re used to, and since the Church has given permission in the U.S., it’s OK.