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Sunday, July 8, 2007
Mission: Restore Eucharistic Reverence

Preface: All Scripture quotations are from the Douay-Rheims Bible, the English translation of the Latin Vulgate.

This post has been edited and written since the original version had erroneous information. The comments relating to the debate have been deleted; only comments on the general practice of Eucharistic Reverence remain. If anyone would like to debate the opinions expressed in this post, the comment box is again open. However, I implore all commentors to first read the comment policy and hear these words: "But before all things have a constant mutual charity among yourselves: for charity covereth a multitude of sins." (1 Peter 4:8)

I am certain that this post will undoubtedly be controversial again; however, I write this post simply to help restore needed reverence to our Eucharistic Lord. For that reason, I support whatever the Holy Catholic Church infallibly teaches, but I am free to disagree with any non-infallible practices. The fight to restore Eucharistic Reverence has caused debates, arguments, and even violence at various times in history. Jesus even referred to himself as a cause of division (Matthew 10:34), and because of the division, his servants will undoubtedly suffer persecution (Matthew 10:22). I pray that this post will help discourage the practice of Communion in the Hand, encourage reception of the Eucharist on the Tongue, and help discourage the practice of extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion.

According to the writings of Blessed Anne Catherine Emmerich, one of the greatest mystics in the history of the Church, irreverence to Jesus in the Eucharist will cause Him great pain:

"My heavenly Bridegroom said to me, pointing round me as He spoke; 'See far more evil that befalls Me every day at the hands of many throughout the world.' And as I looked about me into the distance, many things came before my soul which were indeed still more dreadful than that sacrifice of children; for I saw Jesus Himself cruelly sacrificed on the Altar by unworthy and sinful celebrations of the Holy Mysteries. I saw how the blessed Host lay on the altar before unworthy degenerate priests like a living Child Jesus, whom they cut and terribly mutilated with the paten. Their sacrifice, though an efficacious celebration of the Holy Mysteries, appeared like a cruel murder" ("The Life of the Blessed Virgin Mary", Chapter 1: Our Lady's Ancestors; the Vision of the Feast of Our Lady's Conception, page 68)

First and foremost, for non-Catholics reading this post, please first read my post on The Eucharist to understand its significance. As affirmed at various points in history, at several Councils (ex. Council of Trent's Thirteenth Session; Vatican II's Sacrosanctum concilium 7), in the Catechism of the Catholic Church (ex. CCC 1373-1374, 1413), in the words of countless saints, and in the words of Christ Himself (Mt 26:26-28; cf. Mk 14:22-24, Lk 22:17-20, 1 Cor 11:23-25), the Eucharist - Holy Communion - is truly the Real Presence of Jesus Christ. It is not a metaphoric representation of Jesus - the Eucharist is Jesus Christ. Consequently, the Eucharist deserves the greatest degree of worship.


1. Communion in the Hand
2. Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion
3. Altar Rails

Communion in the Hand

Simply, Communion in the Hand is a practice that I do not support because it is a sacrilege; I only receive Holy Communion on the tongue. Through Communion in the Hand, it is far easier for particles of the Eucharist to fall to the ground. Such particles are still completely Christ (Council of Trent, Thirteenth Session, Canon 4)!

It remains true that the Church has allowed Communion in the Hand at various points in history including during the early Church. For example, St. Cyril of Jerusalem said, "When thou goest to receive communion go not with thy wrists extended, nor with thy fingers separated, but placing thy left hand as a throne for thy right, which is to receive so great a King, and in the hollow of the palm receive the body of Christ, saying, Amen" (St. Cyril of Jerusalem, Cateches. Mystagog, V.1) However, it seems probable that few people in our modern world would receive Our Lord in the hand with such care and devotion to refer to it as making a "throne". Communion on the Tongue ensures that no particle is lost. Communion on the Tongue is allowed universally while Communion in the Hand is allowed only by indult. Clearly, Communion in the Hand is not an infallible dogma of the Faith. As Fr. Tim Finigan appropriately states:
There is a much-quoted text of Cyril of Jerusalem (d.387) speaking of the left hand as a throne for the right etc. (Mystagogical catechesis 5.21; PG 33.1125) This is often used as a justification for communion in the hand. The contemporary evidence of the correction of abuses shows that the text could equally be seen as an indication of the obvious need for a change in practice to ensure reverence. The insistence on Communion on the tongue was a natural next step.
According to J Bona in a 3-volume work entitled Rerum Liturgicarum (1747 AD) Communion in the hand most likely ceased before Pope St. Gregory the Great (d. 604). Even though Communion in the hand may have been allowed at some points in the early Church, it is not appropriate for our current era when irreverence and a lack of belief in the Real Presence is spreading.  Spain forbid it completely in the 400s and said that anyone who would stand and receive would receive excommunication. According to a Gallup Poll of 519 American Catholics, 18 years or older, conducted from December 10, 1991, to January 19, 1992, only 30% believe that they receive in Holy Communion the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Jesus Christ! This is shocking! By receiving Holy Communion on the Tongue, non-Catholics see Catholics professing the Faith in a unique and truly profound manner. Such a manner ensures that observers as well as Catholic understand they are not receiving ordinary bread.

According to statistics from the article Index of Catholicism's Decline, by Pat Buchanan, who cites Kenneth C. Jones's Index of Leading Catholic Indicators: The Church Since Vatican II, a shocking number - 70% - of Catholics between the ages of 18-44 do not believe in the Real Presence! We must work to increase belief and devotion to our Eucharistic Lord!! The same statistics illustrate annulments increased from 338 in 1968 to 50,000 in 2002. Also, teaching nuns, ordinations, seminarians, and Catholic marriages all declined. Let us work to counter these alarming statistics.

Following Vatican II, the introduction of Communion in the Hand began as an abuse. I agree with Fr. Tim Finigan that the introduction of Communion in the Hand was a mistake. As stated by Fr. Tim Finigan at The Hermeneutic of Continunity:
At the same time, in many parts of the world, especially in "Masses for special groups", there was a more or less open defiance of this instruction. As a result, Pope Paul VI gradually gave permission to one Bishops' Conference after another for the introduction of the practice of Holy Communion in the hand. Permission was granted in England on 6 March 1976. One widely used justification of the permission was that it would take away the scandal of disobedience. This did not work - people continued to be disobedient to other liturgical norms, witness the series of condemnations of liturgical abuses that have been published since then.
Below are the words of several saints and Church figures on the practice of Communion in the Hand. I pray that if you have been receiving Communion in the Hand, you will begin to receive our Lord exclusively on the tongue.

St. Thomas Aquinas: "Out of reverence towards this Sacrament, nothing touches it but when it is consecrated" - Summa, Pt III Q, Q2 Art. 3

Holy Scripture: In the Old Testament, it is recorded that only Levite priests were allowed to carry the Ark of the Covenent (1 Chronicles 13:2), and when a non-Levite priest touched the Ark of the Covenent he was struck dead (1 Chronicles 13:9). Today the Holy Eucharist is the Holy of Holiess, and only those who have been consecrated to touch the Eucharist (Summa, Pt III Q, Q2 Art. 3) should touch it.

Pope Paul VI: Memoriale Domini, a 1969 document, recognized that communion on the tongue was conducive to faith, reverence and humility. Specifically, the document states, "With regard to the manner of administering the sacrament, one may follow the traditional method, which emphasized the ministerial function of the priest or deacon, in having them place the host in the hand of the communicant." In the same document it is also written, "To preserve and defend the reverence, dignity and holiness due to the greatest treasure in the Church, only kneeling, not standing, to receive Holy Communion, always on the tongue, was allowed." Thus, the document not only allows Communion on the Hand but also Communion in the Hand. However, due to irreverence and a disbelief in the Real Presence in recent times as well as the common error of receiving Our Lord simply "out of habit", I urge fellow Catholics to receive the Eucharist joyfully on the tongue. Below is my final excerpt from the document:

A change in a matter of such moment, based on a most ancient and venerable tradition, does not merely affect discipline. It carries certain dangers with it which may arise from the new manner of administering holy communion: the danger of a loss of reverence for the august sacrament of the altar, of profanation, of adulterating the true doctrine.

Pope John II: He only gave Holy Communion on tongue during private Masses in the Vatican. Concelebrating priests were told to do the same. Pope John Paul II said, "I do not revoke what one of my predecessors has said about this... ... here, my dear priests and my dear brothers and sisters, only Communion on the tongue and kneeling is allowed. I say this to you as your bishop!" (Sermon, March 1, 1989, Church of SS. Nome Di Maria)

When the wife of the President of France, Madame Giscard d'Estaing came before the Holy Father with outstretched hands, Pope John Paul II placed the host in her mouth. (Homiletic & Pastoral Review, March 1997 pg 24). He did likewise for a canon lawyer who was present at the 1981 Papal Mass in Chicago.

Pope John Paul II wrote, "To touch the sacred species and to distribute them with their own hands is a privilege of the ordained, one which indicates an active participation in the ministry of the Eucharist. It is obvious that the Church can grant this faculty to those who are neither priests nor deacons, as is the case with acolytes in the exercise of their ministry, especially if they are destined for future ordination, or with other lay people who are chosen for this to meet a just need, but always after an adequate preparation." (Dominicae Cenae, 1980, end of paragraph 11). Thus, Pope John Paul II is acknowledging laypeople may touch the Holy Eucharist in a situation of "just need" but only after "adequate preparation". Yet, he does start by affirming that the distribution of Holy Communion is reserved principally to the ordained. However, as I discuss below under the topic of extraordinary ministers, there is usually not a "just need" to warrant the use of extraordinary ministers.

Fr. John Hardon, S.J.: Whatever you can do to stop Communion in the hand will be blessed by God.” (November 1st, 1997 Call to Holiness Conference, Detroit, Michigan, panel discussion.)

Dietrich von Hildebrand: "Is it believable that instead of applying the most scrupulous care to protect the most sacred consecrated host, which is truly the Body of Christ, the God-man, from all such possible abuses, there are those who wish to expose it to this possibility? Have we forgotten the existence of the devil who wanders about seeking whom he may devour'? Is his work in the world and in the Church not all too visible today? What entitles us to assume that abuses to the consecrated host will not take place?" (Communion in the hand should be rejected)

Blessed Mother Teresa: Blessed Mother Teresa said, "Further it is the custom in our Society, and my known wish, that the Sisters receive Holy Communion on the tongue, which to my knowledge they are doing everywhere" (Mother Theresa, India 1995; Athi Thoothan Editor, Aquinas, p. 13, Vol 2, No 1 March 2000).
"Not very long ago I said Mass and preached for their Mother, Mother Teresa of Calcutta, and after breakfast we spent quite a long time talking in a little room. Suddenly, I found myself asking her -- don't know why -- 'Mother, what do you think is the worst problem in the world today?' She more than anyone could name any number of candidates: famine, plague, disease, the breakdown of the family, rebellion against God, the corruption of the media, world debt, nuclear threat, and so on.

"Without pausing a second she said, 'Wherever I go in the whole world, the thing that makes me the saddest is watching people receive Communion in the hand.'"

(Father George William Rutler, Good Friday, 1989 in St. Agnes Church, New York City, a precise transcript taken from a tape of his talk available from St. Agnes Church. Note: Fr. Emerson of the Fraternity of St. Peter was also a witness to this statement by Blessed Mother Teresa)

Bishop Juan Laise of San Luis of Argentina: He warns that, "with Communion in the hand, a miracle would be required during each distribution of Communion to avoid some particles from falling to the ground or remaining in the hand of the faithful." (Communion in the Hand: Document and History). He also has reportedly said, “It would be to deceive the faithful to make them think that receiving Communion in the hand would identify them more with the spirit of the primitive Church”

Pope Pius XII:
“In the same way, actually that baptism is the distinctive mark of all Christians, and serves to differentiate them from those who have not been cleansed in this purifying stream and consequently are not members of Christ, the sacrament of holy orders sets the priest apart from the rest of the faithful who have not received this consecration. For they alone, in answer to an inward supernatural call, have entered the august ministry, where they are assigned to service in the sanctuary and become, as it were, the instruments God uses to communicate supernatural life from on high to the Mystical Body of Jesus Christ. Add to this, as We have noted above, the fact that they alone have been marked with the indelible sign ‘conforming’ them to Christ the Priest, and that their hands alone have been consecrated ‘in order that whatever they bless may be blessed, whatever they consecrate may become sacred and holy, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ’ [Roman Pontifical, Ordination of a priest: anointing of hands].” (Mediator Dei, #43)
Council of Saragozza (380 AD) and of Toledo (400 AD): Declared that the Eucharist host must be consumed before the communicant left the Church. It was a practice in the early Church to have Holy Communion taken to the sick, but the practice was corrected because of the abuses that resulted from it. Similarly, abuses are occuring to the Holy Eucharist.

Council of Rouen (650 AD): "Do not put the Eucharist in the hands of any layperson, but only in their mouths"

Council of Constantinople (695 AD): The council prohibited the faithful from giving Communion to themelves. It decreed an excommunication of one week's duration for those who would do so in the presence of a bishop, priest or deacon.

Council of Trent: "To priests alone have been given power to consecrate and administer the Holy Eucharist. That the unvarying practice of the Church has also been, that the faithful receive the Sacrament from the hand of the priest" (Council of Trent, Session 13, Chapter 8)

Fr. Robert Altier:

"In the first reading today Saint Paul, in his Letter to the Colossians, talks about how, in Christ, is hidden all treasures of wisdom and knowledge. This is because He is almighty God; He is the Creator of the universe; He is the Savior of the world; He is God, absolute and perfect. Saint Paul says at the beginning of the reading that he makes up in his flesh for what is lacking in the
suffering of Christ, for the sake of Christ's body, the Church.

"In Christ, now, there is no suffering, but only in the Mystical Body. But there is one place, which I would like to address this morning, where I believe that Our Lord is truly grieved. I want to challenge you in that area: That is, the manner by which we receive Holy Communion.

"The Church is very clear in Her documents that she desires that we would receive Holy Communion on the tongue and not in the hand.

"The bishops of America, as well as a few other countries in the world, have allowed Communion in the hand as a dispensation. But the Church is very, very clear that She does not want us receiving Communion in the hand.

"Let me explain a little as to why. First of all, to receive is something that is passive. The priest takes Holy Communion because the priest is the one who offers the Victim in sacrifice. Therefore, the one who offers the Victim must also take part in that Victim. But the people of God are to receive Holy Communion. To take the Host from your hand and put It into your own mouth is to take Communion, not to receive Communion; and so it is an active thing, not a passive thing. The Lord desires to give Himself to you as a gift, not to be taken by you. We need to be very careful that we do not lose the symbolism of what is happening in the Blessed Sacrament.

"Also, if you will notice, during Mass after the Consecration, my fingers remain together because of the particles of the Host that are there. When we take Holy Communion in the hand, there are particles of Our Lord that are on our hands and on our fingers. That is why, after Communion, the priest will purify his fingers - because of the particles of the Host. But how often the people of God, after receiving Holy Communion, simply brush the particles onto the ground and walk on Our Lord. Or they put their hands in their pockets, and Our Lord is right there on their clothing. The abuses that this opens them up to are very grave. Not that anyone is intentionally doing that, but I think it is something that we need to consider exceedingly carefully.

"What I always tell people is that you can look forward to the Day of Judgment and ask yourself how you intend to approach Our Lord, because He is your Judge. The same Lord you approach in Holy Communion is the same One you will approach on the Day of Judgment. Do you assume that you will put your hand out to Our Blessed Lord on the Day of Judgment?

"Is your view of judgment that you will shake Our Lord's hand and tell Him how wonderful it is to see Him? Or is your view that you will do great reverence to Our Blessed Lord? My view is that I will be flat on my face - not shaking His hand.

"We do not put out our hand to God. Scripture says that God holds us in the palm of His hand. We should not be holding God in the palm of ours. He created us; He made us in His image and likeness. He is the Creator; we are the creature. We must approach Him with the greatest reverence, the greatest respect.

"If we simply look at the fruit that has been borne by Holy Communion being taken in the hand, it is not good: the loss of reverence for the Blessed Sacrament, the familiarity.

"Thankfully it is not happening here, but go to most churches and ask yourself if you see people praying before Mass or if they are chatting, goofing around, and talking.

"We have lost the reverence for the Real Presence because Jesus is just "our buddy" when we put our hand out to Him; He is not our God when we do that. So we need to be very careful.

"But beyond that, we can look also at what has happened spiritually to the people of God. Since we have been receiving Communion in the hand, we have lost sight of the idea of going to Confession, of our own sinfulness, of the reverence we must have for Our Lord. We have made Communion so easy a thing and so nonchalant a thing that people have lost that sense of reverence, of awe, and of respect in the Presence of Our Lord.

"I challenge you to think very seriously about this issue. The bishops, like I say, have allowed it; it is not a sin if you receive Holy Communion in the hand. In some places in the early Church they did that; Saint Justin talks about it. But the Church stopped it because of the abuses against the Blessed Sacrament that were occurring. I ask you to really pray about that.

"Look at Jesus in the Eucharist and ask yourself, "Do I really, truly believe that this is God? That this is my Creator and my Redeemer? How, then, do I desire to approach Him?" I really believe, if you pray that through, that there is only one conclusion to which you can come.

"Then, I beg you, do not remain silent about it. Tell your friends. Tell your family. Bring that word to others because all those good people out there, I do not think that they are willfully trying to do anything that would grieve Our Lord; they are doing what they have been told to do.

"But again, look at what has happened in the last forty years of this particular practice and ask yourself if the fruit it has borne has been good. Obviously, you love Our Lord: You are here at daily Mass; you are here every morning. The love of Our Lord is evident in you. Bring that love of Jesus out from here. The love that is in your heart, proclaim it to others and ask them in the same way to consider their actions toward Our Lord.

"Let us bring the reverence to Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament back so that we can give Him fitting worship and praise because He is God, in whom all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge are contained."

The Beauty and Spirituality of the Traditional Latin Mass by David Joyce, Latin Mass Society of England and Wales:

"...when the faithful themselves receive Communion, they receive It kneeling at the altar rail, and directly onto their tongue. This is very significant. Receiving Communion whilst kneeling means that the faithful line up in a row before the sanctuary, and thus have time to prepare themselves for this most sacred of events: coming into spiritual and substantial union with Christ Himself. The communicant kneels down, and whilst he waits for the priest to make his way around, he can settle himself, concentrate on the upcoming Communion with our Lord praying intensely. When it is his turn, the priest says the prayer: "May the body of Our Lord Jesus Christ keep your soul until life everlasting. Amen". This means, besides the beauty and the significance of the words themselves, that the priest says the word "Amen" so that the communicant need not invoke his voice to receive the King of Kings, allowing a constant stream of prayer and thanksgiving to flow from soul to Saviour. The communicant simply needs to expose his tongue, and his side of the proceedings is complete. Upon receiving Christ, he can continue praying for a little while, and only then does he need to return to his seat, leaving room for the next communicant. Moreover, having the priest come over to the communicant signifies that Christ comes to us, feeds us with His own divine life, whilst we wait kneeling and unmoving like little children totally dependent on His love, mercy and compassion. This is the message of the Gospel: to become like little children, submitting our wills to His and depending totally on Him for everything. We cannot even feed ourselves without Christ's help, and the action of Communion in the traditional manner demonstrates this in a very vivid manner."

For more on this topic, I would like to highly recommend "Dominus Est - It is the Lord" by His Excellency Athanasius Schneider on this very topic.

Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion
Connected with the topic of Communion in the Hand is the use of Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion. While I used to serve in this "ministry" I am glad to have resigned after receiving a few emails from readers and reading the above writings. It remains clear that only the hands of the priest or deacon are consecrated to touch the Holy Eucharist (St. Thomas Aquinas). Traditionally, lay people including altar servers were also forbidden to touch the sacred vessels including the Chalice. If they had to touch the paten they would hold it with a purificator. Likewise, they were only to carry the Chalice by touching the chalice veil covering it. They could absolutely never touch the precious metal of the Chalice. It is a still a pious practice and one that I support.

For the most part, the practice of extraordinary ministers has grown into a liturgical abuse. As stated in INSTRUCTION ON CERTAIN QUESTIONS REGARDING THE COLLABORATION OF THE NON-ORDAINED FAITHFUL IN THE SACRED MINISTRY OF PRIEST, "Extraordinary ministers may distribute Holy Communion at Eucharistic celebrations only when there are no ordained ministers present or when those ordained ministers present at a liturgical celebration are truly unable to distribute Holy Communion (99). They may also exercise this function at Eucharistic celebrations where there are particularly large numbers of the faithful and which would be excessively prolonged because of an insufficient number of ordained ministers to distribute Holy Communion" (100). A similar statement can be found in GIRM 162.

However, nearly all Catholic churches see an "army" of extraordinary ministers at Sunday Mass when they are gravely unnecessary. As in the pre-Vatican II era, the priest today could easily distribute Holy Communion to a large congregation. The additional time in the distribution of Holy Communion would be beneficial for the Faithful since they could kneel longer in contemplation and thanksgiving for receiving the true Body and Blood of Jesus Christ.

The sanctuary remains the location of the Holy of Holies - God himself. Too often people wearing jeans, shorts, or even strap-less shirts are allowed into the sanctuary nowadays. The loss of reverence to the Eucharistic Lord is at an all-time high. Only ordained ministers and altar servers should enter the Sanctuary.

I never encourage the usage of extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion, and I hope that the ministry will eventually be ended by the Church. Already many of these people incorrectly refer to themselves as "Eucharistic ministers," “Special ministers of Holy Communion,” and “extraordinary ministers of the Eucharist” in violation of paragraphs 154-156 of Redemptionis Sacramentum. Please, if you are an extraordinary minister of Holy Communion, I suggest that you to resign from the ministry as I previously did. In the writings of many of the saints, it is clear that the practice of the laity touching the Eucharist with their hands should never be encouraged unless necessity requires it.

Altar Rails
Before I discuss the use of altar rails, I would first like to encourage the practice of genuflection. Most people still genuflect, however, few people bow their head at the necessary times during prayer at the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. I strongly encourage my readers to look at my post On Genuflecting and Bowing for more information.

Concerning Communion Rails, Institutio Generalis Romani Missalis 2000, the most recent document by the Vatican on the matter, states that there is no requirement in liturgical law necessitating the removal of altar rails from historic churches and nothing prohibiting their erection in new ones. Fr. Edward McNamara, professor of liturgy at the Regina Apostolorum Pontifical University, states: " document explicitly mandates or even suggests that the removal of altar rails is required by the liturgical reform".

For those reasons I hope and pray that more churches bring back altar rails. Following Vatican II, many churches destroyed beautiful marble, hand-carved altar rails. Altar rails are gravely important because they allow more of the Faithful to receive the Holy Eucharist on the tongue while kneeling. Thankfully Catholic Church and chapels that offer the Tridentine Latin Mass are some of the places where the use of altar rails has been retained.

Future Updates

If you have any comments or suggestions on this post, I highly welcome comments below. I am going to add this post in my sidebar links and keep it as a reference. I will certainly edit this in the future with more topics that coincide with the Mission to Restore Eucharistic Reverence.

Again, I pray that this post will not be a source of controversy and discord but one filled with ideas on how to encourage Eucharistic Reverence.


del_button July 4, 2007 at 2:21 PM
Anonymous said...

I am an EMHC at my parish church. I receive on the tongue only and go to the Indult Mass when it is available in my area (1X/mo). I probably will leave the EMHC ministry at the end of the summer, when our current calendar expires. I have only remained because we usually have a meeting in early Fall and I was hoping to influence future decisions in this ministry. If no meeting is called by late summer, I expect I will follow through with my resignation.

del_button July 4, 2007 at 3:38 PM
Matthew said...

I agree with you, Matthew.You have helped me understand the importance of a reverent communion each Sunday(and any day for that matter), and I now receive on the tongue. I pray that we can all better understand this great sacrifice of God which is the Holy Mass. Thank you, and you are in my prayers.

P.S. On the subject of Mike Warnke however, the article on wikipedia about him states:
"Mike" Warnke... Christianity's best-known expert on the subject of Satanism until an investigation concluded his involvement with Satanism was a hoax."
His warning should not be thrown out immediately though, as communion in the hand can pose a threat.

del_button July 4, 2007 at 3:59 PM
Seminarian Matthew said...

Matthew, thank you for the information and the correction. I have edited the incorrect information from the post.

And I am so thankful to hear that this blog has helped you. Deo Gratias! God Bless you.

del_button July 4, 2007 at 6:21 PM
Kayla said...

I would tend to agree with you and I enjoyed reading this post. I have always been under the thought that Holy Communion should received only on the tongue. I find it sad that so many do not receive on the tongue... just last Sunday, while I was in Denver on travel, I went to the Denver Cathedral. I was the only person that I noticed to receive on the tongue, and what is more, when I went up to receive, the Deacon simply looked at me, paused, looked down at my hands, and then relunctantly gave me Holy Communion on the tongue.

Just recently have I begun to be bothered by the use of Extra-ordinary ministers... before, I didn't think much of their use, but when a friend asked if I was ever going to be interested in being one, I thought "no way"! Who am I to touch the Holy Eucharist?! Since then I have been rethinking the use of lay people to distribute Holy Communion and I think that I am coming to the same conclusion as yourself.

And lastly, communion rails. I have only once been to a church where communion rails were used. I actually found it slightly distracting, however that could simply be because the process was different than I was used to. Although, I enjoyed being able to kneel when receiving.

A good post and definitely something to think on.

del_button July 4, 2007 at 10:54 PM
Anonymous said...


This is a wonderful post - don't let "deacon Paul" get you down. It seems he feels threatened by your post.

In contrast to what he says, I think you are standing upon a glacier built up over the past two millennia. In my "un-authoritative" opinion, those who support communion in the hand and the use of extraordinary Eucharistic ministers are the ones on thin ice - otherwise, they wouldn't be so defensive and self-centered in this controversial matter.

I think you will make a very fine priest based on what I have been reading over the past year.

My guess is that you will have a lot of challenges and difficulties ahead of you in the seminary. There will be many “deacon Pauls” to contend with on your path to the priesthood and beyond. Keep your spirit and faith strong! You will be in my prayers.

May God guide you and bless you!

Ubi caritas et amor, Deus ibi est.

In Christo et con fides,


del_button July 5, 2007 at 11:46 AM
Catherine said...

Dear Matthew,

I agree wholeheartedly with your convictions and commend you on your courage to stand true to them.

I guess I must be a Traditionalist, and have always been a little irritated by lay Eucharistic Ministers' enthusiasm in boldly feeling themselves worthy to distribute Holy Communion - often with a smile, (friendly though it may be) but which I find distracting from the reverence of it all. Basically, as far as I'm concerned this should purely be the role of a consecrated priest. In latter years, I ignore EMs and wait in line for the priest, often wondering why there is a need for two or three 'ministers' when the church is often less than half full!

I would prefer to receive Holy Communion on the tongue, but never can quite summon up the courage when I know I'd be the only one doing so. But actually after reading this article I think I now can!

In regards to altar rails having been done away with - I feel quite outraged. I've witnessed the demolition of so many beautiful (often marble) altars, altar rails etc, and when this has occurred in historic churches in particular, it hurts even more. Our Catholic ancestors have contributed to the foundations and fittings of so many beautiful church buildings which have been desecrated.

My feeling is that the changes are due to trying to make our churches/altars more in line with Protestant church buildings and ceremonies, ie for ecumenical reasons, and thus the emphasis on receiving Communion in the hand, ie as if it's just a sacred memorial meal we're receiving, and not the true Body and Blood of Christ which has just been miraculously transformed by the celebrant priest from bread and wine!

I recently witnessed an Easter Sunday Mass (on television) in Sydney, Australia and said to my non-Catholic husband - "I think this is an Anglican ceremony, yet it seems Catholic - but no, it can't be". It was so confusing because the altar was a simple unadorned modern curved table in the centre of the 'church', and the only indication of the building being Catholic was the large modern crucifix on the rear wall. Aside from that, there was no other indication. The Mass was being said by a bishop. The hymns weren't familiar as traditional Catholic hymns, or should I say 'songs'. It took a while for me to reaslise that this was a Catholic Bishop!! It was a brand new 'church'.

It pains me that there is little or no reverence to Christ's presence in the tabernacle any more in some churches. At my local church (a large "hall" built in the 1970s) there are no kneelers, and the congregation largely don't genuflect, because the tabernacle for a start is not clearly visible, plus they chatter together in loud voices in their seats before Mass as if they're at a social gathering! I can't stand it, so I travel further to a basillica which is more traditional, and where one can 'feel' the holiness and reverence, and can kneel and pray and contemplate in peace! This is not in my parish boundary, so I guess I shouldn't be doing this - but my local priest doesn't even encourage confession as being necessary.

After reading your post Matthew, I sense I'm not alone in my views and feelings.

What has happened to our traditional Catholic Church is my question? We are to respect Vatican II - but were there grave errors made, but I guess we have to be obedient and not question - or was there some sinister influence?

(On a lesser note)- like Opera and Classical Music - you just don't try and modernise or change certain things! That would be sacrilege...

del_button July 5, 2007 at 3:11 PM
Leo said...

Nice post Matthew; The fact is that communion in the hand is not only irreverent but sacrilige. It shows a lack of reverence for God almighty, and who are we, speks of dust, that we should presume to handle in such a manner the flesh of the Most Holy One?

del_button July 6, 2007 at 12:19 AM
antonia said...

I liked the post and this conversation is really interesting.

I think communion on the hand is inappropriate, and the "army" of Eucharistic ministers that one sees at some Sunday Masses is truely appalling.

God Bless,


del_button July 6, 2007 at 10:15 AM
51Olds said...

“It is obvious that the Church can grant this faculty to those who are neither priests nor deacons, as is the case with acolytes in the exercise of their ministry, especially if they are destined for future ordination, (Women are not destined for future ordination!) or with other lay people who are chosen for this to meet a just need, BUT ALWAYW AFTER AN ADEQUATE PREPARATION" If only that were true, most if not all of the EMHCs that I know, who are mostly women by the way say that there is really no training, no "adequate" preparation to become an EMHC. No wonder theyre allowed to tell the faithfull that if you drop the host just put it in your pocket and consume it in your pew! Yeah Im sure that is conducive to people believing in the Real Presence.

del_button July 8, 2007 at 9:49 PM
Karen Marie said...

Please, those reading who are EMHCs who bring the Holy Eucharist to the shut-ins and those in institutions, please, do not leave your absolutely essential ministry. We need you!

del_button July 8, 2007 at 11:26 PM
Jean M. Heimann said...

I am a EMHC in my very large parish and, at each weekend Mass, all three of our parish priests distribute Holy Communion in addition to four EMHC who assist. It takes about 20 - 30 minutes to distribute Communion to everyone. If we had to rely only on the priests, it would take a lot longer and I think this would serve as a deterrent for people to stay at Mass until the end and for some (to go to Mass). It would also definitely be hard on the handicapped and the elderly. The only reason we have EMHC is to assist priests and deacons (who would be worn out if they had to it all by themselves.

Personally, I prefer to take Communion on the tongue because I believe it is more reverent that way. I made my First Holy Communion many years ago by taking the host on my tongue (as that was the only option back then) and feel quite comfotable doing it that way today.

del_button July 8, 2007 at 11:47 PM
Jean M. Heimann said...

I just re-read this post and didn't mean to cause controversy by my statement above, but noticed that you wanted ideas for increasing reverence for the Eucharist.

This was a problem in a parish that I previously belonged to and I spoke to my Spiritual Father (who belongs to a religious order who educate others in the faith) about it and asked him to come out and speak to a group in the parish. He asked that I publicly invite everyone in the parish to that group meeting. I talked to our deacon about this and also received the pastor's permission. We advertised in the bulletin, posted signs, and had regular announcements. Many parishioners came and He gave a wonderful talk about reverence for the Eucharist, but our pastor was on vacation at that time and did not follow up on this and I didn't really see much of a change, but I am sure he planted some seeds.

I think there needs to be some type of ongoing instruction in the parish for it to sink in and for people to change their irreverent habits. And, the pastor has to be behind it 100%.

del_button July 9, 2007 at 5:42 AM
Anonymous said...

Anyone who wants to hear a refutation of this post go to :

by the way Matthew, are you going to delete leo's post ? He just insulted many Saints of the Church!

del_button July 9, 2007 at 9:20 AM
4HisChurch said...

Matthew, I definitely agree with your post. I remember once, when I was in high school, at a retreat, they had LEAVENED bread that they used for Mass, and, guess what? Yes, everyone received in the hand. That was in the late 70's, and I think I was the only one to receive on the tongue that day.

When I reverted from Episcopalianism, I began to miss receiving communion kneeling at the altar rail...alas, it wasn't even a Catholic church.

del_button July 9, 2007 at 9:21 AM
4HisChurch said...

Oh, one other point. Our local Catholic parish has, what I call "the blue ladies". Women who are EMHC and wear bright blue albs. The first time I saw that, I honestly thought they were female ministers from a Protestant church! I do go there for daily mass but I can't bring myself to go there for Sunday Mass because of that.

del_button July 9, 2007 at 9:44 AM
Anonymous said...

Correction the proper address for the refutaion of this post is:

del_button July 9, 2007 at 9:46 AM
Anonymous said...

Go to:

del_button July 9, 2007 at 9:46 AM
Seminarian Matthew said...

The link does not serve as a rebuttal for this post. I have stated several concrete sources affirming the need to discourage Communion in the Hand.

del_button July 9, 2007 at 9:48 AM
Anonymous said...

For some reason the refutation is being changed, just google:

The Red Herring of Communion in the Hand

del_button July 9, 2007 at 9:50 AM
Anonymous said...

Have you read it Matthew??

del_button July 9, 2007 at 10:03 AM
Bruce said...

I say let people read it and let them decide if it refutes this post or not.And the refutation has a Bibliography at the end so that you can check their quotes and references.

del_button July 9, 2007 at 10:27 AM
Anonymous said...

It is not possible for the Church to promulgate error in doctrine or to sanction practices that are in any way disrespectful or demeaning of the Lord in and of themselves. To claim that this is even possible is to assert blasphemy as it is a claim that the Lord in giving complete power of governance to the Church actually authorized His own dishonour. As God cannot contradict Himself, His Church cannot officially bind anyone to error or sacrilege. However, the words of the Lord were "whatsoever you bind/loose" not "whatsoever you bind/loose unless you bind error". It is taken as a given that the Church is protected in such matters. And if communion in the hand is a sacrilege or is promoting of irreverence in and of itself, then think of the accusations the 'traditionalist' casts upon Saints, Doctors, and Councils of the Church for not only permitting sacrilege or irreverence but actually encouraging it!!!

del_button July 9, 2007 at 10:40 AM
Seminarian Matthew said...

Study the history of the liturgy. Doctrines and practices can evolve in order to best attest to the needs of a particular era. Communion in the Hand had a time and place in history but, through natural progression, Communion on the Tongue emerged and should still be supported in our modern era. Of course the saints and Doctors of the Church did not commit sacrilege.

del_button July 9, 2007 at 11:06 AM
Dj Canalh said...

I praise the Lord listening to reggae music ! And Jesus rocks. Peace to all my brothers ans sisters. May the force (of the holy spirit) be with you.

del_button July 9, 2007 at 11:17 AM
Seminarian Matthew said...

I have just added the words of Fr. Robert Altier to the post.

del_button July 9, 2007 at 11:17 AM
Anonymous said...

Nobody has said that communion on the tongue should not be supported.The Catholic Church teaches that both communion on the tongue & hand are valid, actually there is nothing in eucharist theology that says that communion on the tongue is more reverential than communion on the hand.
I recommend The Organic Development of the Liturgy by Dom Alcuin Reid , what have read on the history of the Liturgy Matthew?

del_button July 9, 2007 at 11:29 AM
Anonymous said...

Fr. Robert Altier says:

"The Church is very clear in Her documents that she desires that we would receive Holy Communion on the tongue and not in the hand."

This totally contradicts official Vatican documents by both Paul VI & John Paul II and are Fr. Robert Altier own fallible opinions.

del_button July 9, 2007 at 11:48 AM
Seminarian Matthew said...

The personal opinions of Paul VI & John Paul II are not infallible either! No infallible document has ever been released on the topic of Communion in the Hand.

del_button July 9, 2007 at 12:06 PM
Anonymous said...

Are you saying that Memoriale Domini,Dominicae Cenae, & Inaestimabile Donum are the personal opinions of Paul VI & John Paul II? If you are then Summorum Pontificum is the personal opinion of Benedict XVI and the Bishops can ignore it and do not have to make the Latin Mass availible to the faithful.

del_button July 9, 2007 at 12:20 PM
Anonymous said...

No infallible document has ever been released on the topic of Communion on the tongue either.

del_button July 9, 2007 at 1:25 PM
Dale said...

Do you realize that in the seminary you are going to be taught the opposite of what you are learning at all those Ultra-Traditionalist websites you have been visiting?

del_button July 9, 2007 at 1:27 PM
Seminarian Matthew said...

The inappropriate (I didn't know it was) link has been removed and the discussion that resulted from it. Please don't bring up that topic.

del_button July 9, 2007 at 8:35 PM
Ginny said...

Another awesome post! You have been a busy Seminarian Matthew

del_button July 10, 2007 at 7:36 AM
Deacon Paul said...

My, my... after being away for several days, I come back and see this post edited and all the comments that challenged or questioned your point of view deleted. Now, anyone reading this for the first time never got the chance to read an interesting comment thread that posed some interesting questions. All they are now getting is a very distorted view of reality.

Couple questions for you Matthew...

1.What is your Pastor’s opinion on this?

2.What is your Bishop’s opinion on this?

3.What is the USCCB stand on this?

Read this...

and this...
(in particular, check out #41)

4.What is the Vatican’s opinion on this?

To all of you reading this. Learn and Listen to your Pastor and your Bishop.

This blog is certainly entertaining, but that is all. Do not form your opinion from here. Get the facts.

del_button July 10, 2007 at 11:02 AM
Mrs Jackie Parkes MJ said...

What a brilliant post! Perhaps you'd take a look at some of the issues raised on my blog?

i tag you 5 things you love about Jesus..God bless

del_button July 10, 2007 at 12:34 PM
Mark said...

I had not noticed that, Deacon Paul, but now that you mention it...

Matthew - tut tut tut! - that is not clever!

del_button July 10, 2007 at 2:27 PM
jeanette o'toole said...

Matthew - thank you for your post ... before i forget, let me pass on a link to a post of a future seminarian (David Fiorito) ... i think the two of you have much in common ...

now for a short story - our local parish has about 16 people in attendance for 6:15am Mass ... and, yes, they sometimes use an extraordinary minister for this amount ... also about 13 of the people kneel for consecration while the other 3 remain standing ... this has gone on for years and years (the pastor allows it) ... so if we tighten our spiritual belts as you have outlined and quoted, i believe much will fall into place eventually ... thanks again for your spiritual brilliance ... God be with you ...

del_button July 10, 2007 at 3:13 PM
Fr Scott Bailey, C.Ss.R. said...

Dear Matthew,

Let me just say that you are absolutely right on in your position. Deacon Paul and the refutation referenced by "anonymous" are wrong. Remember that the US bishops usurped the permission of Paul VI for communion in the hand. They enacted it first, got it into place, then said it was custom, and so got the permission. In essence, they LIED. There were similar shenanegans with EMHC, kneeling for communion, and many other issues. The areguements they present are biased and specious, based on biased and specious sources.

Be wary of any English translations of documents, even those on the Vatican web site. They are at best poorly done and at worst reflect an agenda... whose I'll leave that to you to determine. Just remember what Paul VI said about the smoke of Satan. Learn Italian and Latin. Most Church documents are first written in Italian, then translated into Latin, and from that into other languages. (Check with Fr. Z on this.) There you will find the truth, not in the English translations. Look at what was done to the Mass by ICEL and how it undermined the teaching of the Church by false translation.

Be wary of what you are taught in seminary. I spent four years in a major seminary which taught heresy in every class, and taught it with pride. It's eleven years later and I'm still trying to make up for it. Check things out as best you can with reliable sources. If in doubt, consult someone who is outside the system and has no reason to represent a particular agenda or position. That's just good scholarship.

Above all, pray, pray, pray. As St. Alphonsus tells us, without prayer we are damned. Keep close to Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament. Never fail to make a holy hour. Do that first and the time will be there for other things. Keep close to Mary. She will keep you close to her Son and never let you stray or be blinded to the truth. Remember, she is the vanquisher of all heresies. Let the chain of the Rosary bind you to her for life. If you do, you will not be separated from her for eternity. Foster devotion to the Angels, Saints, and the Holy Souls; they are there to help you.

I wish you all success as you begin your journey to the priesthood. Know you are remembered before the throne of grace.

Fr. Scott Bailey, C.Ss.R.

del_button July 11, 2007 at 6:14 AM
Deacon Paul said...

I had to read Fr. Scott Bailey, C.Ss.R.’s above post three times.

Wow, there are a lot of issues going on there.

Read the Catechism of the Catholic Church, in particular #886, #888, #894, and #895.

I say again, listen to and learn from your Pastors and your Bishop.

del_button July 13, 2007 at 7:19 PM
Deo Juvante said...

I don't know the views of readers regarding femal EMCH:

When my Archdiocese allowed for the indtroduction of female EMHC, all 30 odd parishes immediately raised women to the position. My rector was the only priest in the Archdiocese who refused to do likewise. He refuses women to even handle the Tabernacle or climb onto the High Altar during cleaning.

"We're not introducing female EMHC just because everyone is. Here at St. Joseph's, we have more than enough EMHC and we're happy that way."

He also refuses communion to those who frequently turn up late (after the Gospel) for Mass.

In order to be more pastoral, many priests refrain from reprimanding their parishioners for failing to live up to the precepts of Sacred Scripture a Holy Mother Church, but at who's cost?

del_button July 15, 2007 at 9:43 AM
Anonymous said...

Fascinating topic Matthew and one that I have personally devoted myself to ever since learning over 10 years that Mother Theresa had such a strong conviction about taking Holy Communion on the tongue. Also, my First Holy Communion was in 1966 so I reverted to that immediately upon finding out about Mother Theresa. From 1987 to 2005 we were members of the largest parish in our Diocese -- easily over 10,000 people. It was hard not to notice that I was in a VAST minority who took Holy Communion on the tongue. Two years ago my wife and I had a disagreement with our pastor over Catholic home schooling -- so we left the parish. We joined a more "conservative" parish over 4x the distance but we do notice the reverence there and it begins with the Pastor. So yes, Deacon Paul, by all means: "ask your pastor." Instead of 1 or 2 people taking Communion on the tongue, there are several dozen. We still see our fair share of flip flops, halter tops, shorts and cut-offs, and game-day jerseys (mostly football). I could go on and on but we've got to get ready for Noon Mass. You will be in my prayers today Matthew and all of those who left comments. At least we are reading and engaging on Sacred topics instead of the 90% TRASH that Web 2.0 offers!!! -- Doug S.

del_button July 15, 2007 at 10:08 PM
Anonymous said...

What do you suggest for the parish which truly has too few priests to distribute communion. Mine averages 3300 each weekend, or about 1100 at the peak masses, and there are only two priests. In my experience serving communion to 80 or 100 people, it is actually physically exhausting by the time I am done. I think it would be disrespectful to the eucharist for it to become an enormous chore that the priest must repeat 1000 times in a row. How could it not become mechanical? This is a problem throughout the church, and removing EMHC does not solve it.

del_button July 19, 2007 at 11:25 PM
Anonymous said...

Dear Matthew,
I have just tonight happened upon your blog. I want to thank you for your clear, precise , and truly Catholic post regarding Communion in the hand. I have received Communion on the tongue all my life and have been very saddened by how many people who are good Catholics have been blinded on this particular issue. I implore you, if you indeed survive the seminary ( I don't know where you are ), be couragious in taking stands on these things. These issues are a cancer in the Church and must be tackled with prayer and determination. God bless you in all your studies- I shall keep you in my prayers.
As I am new to your blog, who's this Deacon Paul pest? I'll pray for him .
In Christo,

del_button July 27, 2007 at 12:36 PM
Anonymous said...

"a cancer in the Church"
"who's this Deacon Paul pest"

Ah,You traditionlist's are so full of charity to fellow Catholics .

del_button July 28, 2007 at 7:08 AM
Mark said...


I hope you don't lump me in there; I have traditionalist sympathies, but have become quite upset by the conversation here.

del_button February 6, 2008 at 9:13 AM
japhy said...

So I'm 6 months too late. Who cares?

Pope John Paul II, Dominicae Cenae 11:

"In some countries the practice of receiving Communion in the hand has been introduced. This practice has been requested by individual episcopal conferences and has received approval from the Apostolic See. However, cases of a deplorable lack of respect towards the eucharistic species have been reported, cases which are imputable not only to the individuals guilty of such behavior but also to the pastors of the church who have not been vigilant enough regarding the attitude of the faithful towards the Eucharist. It also happens, on occasion, that the free choice of those who prefer to continue the practice of receiving the Eucharist on the tongue is not taken into account in those places where the distribution of Communion in the hand has been authorized. It is therefore difficult in the context of this present letter not to mention the sad phenomena previously referred to. This is in no way meant to refer to those who, receiving the Lord Jesus in the hand, do so with profound reverence and devotion, in those countries where this practice has been authorized."

del_button March 25, 2008 at 7:24 PM
Anonymous said...


"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."

St. Basil the Great: Letter 93 (Cæsaria, concerning Communion) in its entirety (c. 378 AD


“When thou goest to receive communion go not with thy wrists extended, nor with thy fingers separated, but placing thy left hand as a throne for thy right, which is to receive so great a King, and in the hollow of the palm receive the body of Christ, saying, Amen.”
St. Cyril of Jerusalem: "Fifth Mystagogical Catechesis", 21: PG 33. col 1125 (350 AD)


“Wherefore with all fear and a pure conscience and certain faith let us draw near and it will assuredly be to us as we believe, doubting nothing. Let us pay homage to it in all purity both of soul and body: for it is twofold. Let us draw near to it with an ardent desire, and with our hands held in the form of the cross let us receive the body of the Crucified One: and let us apply our eyes and lips and brows and partake of the divine coal, in order that the fire of the longing, that is in us, with the additional heat derived from the coal may utterly consume our sins and illumine our hearts “
St. John Damascus: "De Fide Orthodoxa" Book IV, ch. XIII (circa 730 AD)

del_button March 25, 2008 at 7:37 PM
Anonymous said...

According to St. Justin Martyr, Tertullian, St. Cyprian of Carthage, St. Cyril of Jerusalem, St. Ambrose of Milan, St. Basil the Great, the Synod of Trullo, St. John Damascus, and the Catholic Encyclopedia, communion by hand was not at all uncommon in the early Church. In fact, it was a recommended manner of reception in many places. Unless these Fathers and Doctors (and all but Tertullian are saints) were thus "sacrilegious" or promoting a "lessening of respect for the Eucharist", the self-styled 'traditionalist' who denigrates this practice in and of itself has some serious explaining to do. Communion by hand was accepted in the first millennium.

Some of the real crusaders have even gone so far as to put condemnations of communion by hand in the mouths of Mother Theresa and Our Lady which goes to show just what lengths of deception they will go to promote their agenda as neither Mother Theresa nor Our Lady would council disobedience to the Magisterium of the Church. (Mother Theresa in fact denounced the use of her name by those crusading against communion by hand.)

del_button June 3, 2008 at 12:17 AM
Anonymous said...

Being a convert to the Catholicism in 1958 I am well aware of the changes that have occurred since Vatican II. At that time my personal feelings were that most of the changes were an attempt at unity among the different faiths. But having been a protestant I was well aware that it is a change of heart and not of liturgy that is necessary for unity. I feel that the Church has learned this and is slowly re-calming it's ancient and traditional heritage. And that a love and reverence for the Eucharist is slowly returning. Although I agree with all that you have stated, for me the most important change is to bring the tabernacle back to the center of the church that the faithful may once again direct their attention to God in the Blessed Sacrament rather than each other with small talk. Christ's light should not be hidden in a back room or side chapel. I probably won't live to see the restoration of all the beautiful and reverent Eucharistic practices of 50 years ago but I pray and am most confident that you will. Yours in the Mystical Body of Christ.

del_button November 27, 2008 at 6:33 PM
Joe of St. Thérèse said...

My name is Joe of St. Thérèse I do have a few comments to make about this entry.

I used to be of the position that receiving in the Hand was the right thing to do. This is how I was taught..then I learned like you that receiving on the Tongue was much better.

Deo Gratias for this post. Even though you are presently not blogging, I'm going to add you to my blogroll.

What I always tell people who want to go back to early Church days, you want your priests killed left and right too?

del_button April 15, 2010 at 2:01 AM
lcgaines said...

I just discovered this blog - what a gem on the web!! What is the name and/artist of that gorgeous painting of the Mass is in this post?

del_button January 31, 2012 at 5:18 PM
Anonymous said...

It must bring great sorry upon God to know there are people who not only have no intention of giving all possible honor and reverence to the Eucharist, but wish to attack those who treat this sacrament with reverently and respect.

Deacon Paul can not possible be a deacon or catholic, for a good catholic would only want to give all possible honor and respect to the Eucharist as it is truly God. Deacon Paul must be a protestant.

del_button March 6, 2012 at 1:41 PM
Anonymous said...

Dear Matthew,
I tend to disagree with your opinion about receiving our Blessed Lord with our hands. God made me and made me holy--we are temples of the Lord. Receiving Christ with my hands opens me to further union with Him. It is all about relationship with Christ, and isn't that what our beloved Christ asks of grow more and more in love with Him? More people sin with their tongue than with their hands--think about that.

del_button March 6, 2012 at 7:55 PM
Matthew said...


Thank you for taking the time to reply to this post,; however, your position is one that is opposed to Catholicism and is protestant in substance. Let me take just a moment to help show you - and others that may read this - the error in your line of thinking.

Firstly, the notion that we are all temples of God does not imply that we are all equal in our talents or offices. If we are all temples of God, does that mean that all of us should have the right to consecrate the Body and Blood for Christ? Following your line of rationale, women/children/etc should be priests if they so chose since all that are baptized are temples of the Holy Ghost. However, this conclusion is absurb. Therefore the premise that because we are temples of God, we must be equal to the office of the priest (namely having the abilities that only a priest has) is a false premise.

Secondly, your statement "Receiving Christ with my hands opens me to further union with Him. It is all about relationship with Christ, and isn't that what our beloved Christ asks of us." It does not logically follow that we need to receive Christ in the hand to have a relationship with Him. Did our Lord not explicitly tell Mary Magdalene NOT to touch Him? (see John 20:17).

The saints for over a millenia did not touch the Body and Blood of Christ. Are you saying that you - in virtue of touching the Holiest of all Sacraments - have a stronger union, or the ability for a stronger relationship with Christ than they?

Thirdly, to say that "More people sin with their tongue than with their hands--think about that" as a way of supporting Communion in the Hand is again false. Sin when it is commmitted does not stay only in one part of the Body. If I steal with my hand, is only my hand sinful? Certainly not. If I lie, is the sin only on my tongue? No, it is on my soul. By committing sin, our soul is tainted - not our body parts. The appeal to this third line of thinking is false.

The Angelic Doctor, St. Thomas Aquinas, whose feastday is tomorrow explains in Q 82, Article III: "The dispensing of Christ's body belongs to the priest for three reasons. First, because, as was said above (Article 1), he consecrates as in the person of Christ. But as Christ consecrated His body at the supper, so also He gave it to others to be partaken of by them. Accordingly, as the consecration of Christ's body belongs to the priest, so likewise does the dispensing belong to him. Secondly, because the priest is the appointed intermediary between God and the people; hence as it belongs to him to offer the people's gifts to God, so it belongs to him to deliver consecrated gifts to the people. Thirdly, because out of reverence towards this sacrament, nothing touches it, but what is consecrated; hence the corporal and the chalice are consecrated, and likewise the priest's hands, for touching this sacrament. Hence it is not lawful for anyone else to touch it except from necessity, for instance, if it were to fall upon the ground, or else in some other case of urgency. "

I'd suggest this page explaining why Communion in the Hand is a sacrilege

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