The Deacon's Bench

The Deacon's Bench

Where are you taking Jesus…?

posted by jmcgee

Down the hall and into the bathroom?


Read this, from OSV’s Mary DeTurris Poust, and shake your head in disbelief:

This weekend at Mass we were sitting in the front pew, as we usually do. During Communion, my husband, Dennis, and I saw two little girls receive communion in the hand but not put the hosts into their mouths. We watched the girls walk to the back of the church, their mother a few steps behind them. They went to their seats (we still hadn’t seen them consume the hosts), spoke to their mother and walked out.

So Dennis followed to see where they were going. A minute later, he saw them come out of the restroom. That’s when he saw the younger of the two girls finally put the host in her mouth. He told her she was supposed to consume the host right away, but she argued that she needed to throw out her gum first.

Sigh. Where to begin? With the fact that people — not just children but plenty of adults — go up to receive Jesus while chewing gum. Or the fact that the little girls didn’t consider (or their mother suggest) that perhaps the gum should be the thing they carry in their hands and not Jesus. Or maybe the fact that catechesis is so poor that anyone would think it’s okay to bring a consecrated host into a public restroom.

Read the rest right here.

More and more, I’m seeing the wisdom behind Benedict re-instituting the kneeler, and reception on the tongue, for communion.

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Gen X Revert

posted July 5, 2010 at 12:24 pm

The pastor at my parish just recently had to give a talk at every Mass regarding the reception of Communion. He said parishioners have come to him several times recently after finding hosts on the floor of the Church. It seems people just don’t realize you have to immediately consume the host. I have been receiving only on the tongue for some years now.

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posted July 5, 2010 at 12:59 pm

“More and more, I’m seeing the wisdom behind Benedict re-instituting the kneeler, and reception on the tongue, for communion.”
I agree. I think this would greatly benefit the mass and Church.

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posted July 5, 2010 at 1:11 pm

“More and more, I’m seeing the wisdom behind Benedict re-instituting the kneeler, and reception on the tongue, for communion.”
I do not agree. No. Not. Never.
I will not be dragged back to a past that was cold, institutional, authoritarian and in which the priest was practically worshiped. Catechesis is what is need in our days. Catechesis that spans the generations and is ongoing in the parish, Catholic news media and with one another.

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Ceile De

posted July 5, 2010 at 1:20 pm

Diana – calm down! This is about reverence for Christ in the Eucharist. It has nothing to do with the priest.

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Joseph Cleary

posted July 5, 2010 at 2:04 pm

Agree with Diana. Please lets not go backwards – not because of anything related to priests.
Some perspective. It has only been about 100 years or so that the church even again encouraged frequent reception of communion. Why? I imagine a number of church historians can clarify but to my understanding there was there was such ‘reverence for Christ in the Eucharist’ that the rest of us were considered unworthy of frequent reception. Now I understand when this went into effect some people abused this privilege at that time. ( to make sure they went to communion for good luck right before going to the track for example)
Anyone suggest we go back and have people only go to communion a few times in their lives because of such abuse of this privilege ?
Please let’s not use a few instances of poor instruction or some sad exceptions as are trumped up in this link as an excuse for such a profound change.
Deacon Greg -I do have a question for you and the others who want to go back to the church of our childhood. Am I the only one who actually sees even far more reverence and power at mass when the body of Christ– all of us sinners for whom in the words of the Priest ‘Lord we are unworthy to receive you, but only say the word and our soul will be healed’- proudly and reverently accept the Body of Christ in the same manner of the apostles and disciples of Christ twenty centuries earlier – in our broken, blessed and now worthy hands?
[You make good points, Joseph, and I am, in fact, a longtime practitioner and proponent of communion-in-the-hand. Having said that: it would be refreshing if more people “proudly and reverently accepted the Body of Christ” in their hands. But it’s been my sad experience that they don’t. Too many people take the sacrament for granted, and do it because everyone else is doing it, and don’t think about it. We catechize, we teach, we exhort from the pulpit; every Corpus Christi homily usually has something to do with the way we reverence the body of Christ. But it doesn’t sink in. Now only a small percentage of Catholics actually believe in the Real Presence. Is there a connection between that and the way we execute holy communion? I have to wonder…Dcn. G.]

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posted July 5, 2010 at 2:23 pm

i dont see where either of ther prior posters are getting the whole thing about “kneeling=worshiping the priest” or “kneeling means not receiving communion often”.
i am a Catholic convert.i was raised Episcopalian. WE ALWAYS WENT ON OUR KNEEs to receive the Eucharist. unless you had a disability, you were to KNEEL. i didnt even know why!
you certainly can list many good reasons to allow, or encourage reception standing. time. thats a good reason. i mean we have a large church and i remember it taking longer in my SMALL Episcopal church to get everyone up, kneeling, up, and back to seats. than it does now in my Catholic church.
respect for the priest? (its easier on the priest to place the host on a tongue when you are standing anyway) how about respect for the KING and LORD Jesus Christ?
not receiving as often? i think its important to understand what it is you are receiving, and WHO it is.
personally i was taught in RCIA to receive in the hand, which was a change from the Episcopalian church where we received on the tongue. but i don’t care.
whats IMPORTANT is that people respect the privilege of receiving Christ.

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Mike L

posted July 5, 2010 at 4:20 pm

While I am bother by the lack of respect that some show the Blessed Sacrament, I do not believed it all lies at the feet of the laity. I was taken off guard when I noticed our priest not only kept a glass of water (I assume it was water) nearby that he could sip on while giving his sermon. Now I notice that both he and our deacon keep a bottle of water at their seats that they sip on throughout the mass. I have also begun to notice this practice in other churches that we attend. I have also begun to notice some of the laity follow suit at these masses.
Note that I do not believe that this practice violates the rules for fasting before communion, I find it distracting and not in the spirit of respectfulness of the occasion. I suspect that if you looked out from the alter and noted most, or even a few guzzling from their water bottle you might find yourself upset. I would suggest that people are much more likely to do as the priest does, than as he says.
I am hoping that our parish is a more or less isolated case, but I am not so sure.

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Catherine - TEXAS

posted July 5, 2010 at 4:29 pm

Indeed, “More and more, I’m seeing the wisdom behind Benedict re-instituting the kneeler, and reception on the tongue, for Communion.” Why? The reason is actually quite obvious. Read below:
“There is an apostolic letter on the existence of a special valid permission for this [Communion in the hand]. But I tell you that I am not in favor of this practice, nor do I recommend it.” – His Holiness Pope John Paul II, responding to a reporter from Stimme des glaubens magazine, during his visit to Fulda (Germany) in November 1980.
“There can be no doubt that Communion in the hand is an expression of the trend towards desacralization in the Church in general and irreverence in approaching the Eucharist in particular…. Why—for God’s sake—should Communion in the hand be introduced into our churches when it is evidently detrimental from a pastoral viewpoint, when it certainly does not increase our reverence, and when it exposes the Eucharist to the most terrible diabolical abuses? There are really no serious arguments for Communion in the hand. But there are the most gravely serious kinds of arguments against it.” – Dietrich von Hildebrand (called a “20th century doctor of the Church” by Pope Pius XII), in an article entitled “Communion in the Hand should be Rejected,” November 8, 1973.
“About Communion in the hand—I wish to repeat and make as plain as I can—is a weakening, a conscious, deliberate weakening of faith in the Real Presence…. Whatever you can do to stop Communion in the hand will be blessed by God.” – Fr. Hardon, S.J., November 1st, 1997.
“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…. Let us speak clearly: whoever receives Communion in the mouth not only follows exactly the tradition handed down but also the wish expressed by the last Popes and thus avoids placing himself in the occasion of committing a sin by negligently dropping a fragment of the Body of Christ.”- Bishop Juan Rodolfo Laise of San Luis, Argentina in his book Communion in the Hand: Documents and History.
Watch this video and read Fr. Z’s commentary- Bishop Morlino of Madison, St. Patrick Church, 2008, Feast of Corpus Christi.
And, Diana, Joseph, Kirsten, it would behoove you to reflect on what is at stake here. It is not about you, it is not about your personal opinion, it is not about going back to the “past” – if only we could – what a wonderful thing that would be for the Church. Watch, reflect and pray. Copy and paste on your browser:

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posted July 5, 2010 at 4:51 pm

Deacon Greg —
More than 90% of the people who come to mass on a weekly basis believe in the Real Presence! Among all Catholics (Mass attending or not) it’s about 60%.(Source CARA’s 2008 survey on the sacraments). Since the vast majority of regular Mass attenders believe that Christ is truly present, I would not want to conclude that on this basis there is something seriously wrong with the practice of distributing Communion.

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fr francis

posted July 5, 2010 at 5:39 pm

If someone has gum in their mouth I do not give them communion.
What does receiving communion on the tongue have to do with being cold and institutional? I was born in 1971. I have no memory of the bad old days. All I know is that receiving on the tongue is ordinary and in the hand is the exception to the rule.

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Teena H. Blackburn

posted July 5, 2010 at 5:55 pm

Diana’s attitude is one of the things I do not miss since I became Orthodox. We don’t kneel to receive Holy Communion, but of course we never receive it in the hand since we receive both species together. I used to be a big fan of receiving Communion in the hand when I was a Roman-until I had years of experience of watching people go up acting as if they were going through a refreshment line at at movie theater. I am a proponent of frequent Communion-but Communion taken prepared (fasting from midnight onwards which is still the Orthodox custom), and with frequent Confession. Having been in both the Roman and Orthodox churches, I can tell you that the lack of reverence in the Roman church is often enough to curl the hair of a traditional Christian. I’ll never forget watching people come into church in their shorts, carrying their coffee cups from the fast-food place where they stopped on the way, and then marching straight up the communion line. Yuck. I’m sorry, but yuck. That is not to say that there are not a lot of reverent pious Roman communicants, but there is definitely a problem when kids are taking the Host to the bathroom with them. As a former DRE, I’m tired of hearing how the Roman problem is a lack of catechesis. It may be in some cases, but I would argue that the problem is not so much catechesis as a lack of corporate asceticism coupled with a liturgy that is often barren to the point of being painful. You empty the liturgy of content, of mystery, of dignity-and then wonder why people take it casually. What is there in the contemporary Roman Mass in most parishes that would encourage people to take it any way but casually? I don’t mean to sound harsh or uncharitable, but I was a Roman Catholic educator for eleven years, and I know what parish life and liturgy are like.

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posted July 5, 2010 at 6:12 pm

Amen, Fr. Francis! I’m only 24 and a convert of only three years. No one can point at me and claim nostalgia or any of that nonsense. I thank God I was given a great sponser during RCIA who explained very well the absolute importance of the Eucharist and that recieving in the hand was an EXCEPTION to the UNIVERSAL rule that Holy Communion be recieved kneeling and on the tongue. After discussing it with him, I decided to only recieve on the tongue and never the exception. For me, the idea of profaning the Body and Blood of Christ was too horrifying to imagine. I would never even RISK it. Sadly, I saw many people go to recieve Him and drop the Host as though it were no big deal. Shortly after entering the Church, I decided to actaully DO WHAT THE CHURCH TELLS ME and recieve while kneeling and on the tongue. I find the response of people like Diana sad but also humorous. Do these people realize that the liturgy (the horribly abused Novus Ordo, not the NO itself) as they know it is disappearing and thanks be to God for that. Every poll done among young FAITHFUL Catholics shows over and over again that they don’t want the “church” of the parents (1965-2005) but the Church of their grandparents (pre-VII). Even as a young convert, I count myself among them. Ad Orientum worship, Communion on the tongue, better translations, and most importantly Summorum Pontificum, are all leading the Latin Church back towards worship of God and away from worshipping ourselves. And as Fr. Z says, the “biological solution” will take care of much of what went so horribly wrong after the Council and under JPII.

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posted July 5, 2010 at 6:19 pm

At one time I heard a protestant say, “If I believed that that piece of bread was truly transfigured into Jesus, I would be down on my knees from the consecration on in awe and reverence!”.
I remember when they decided it was ok to accept Jesus in the hand,I thought it was great! Now I understand the magnitude of the abuse of Jesus in the Eucharist due to particles falling on the ground & being stepped & then dragged who knows where(bathroom, street to be driven over, etc) & also feel that we should go back to receiving on the tongue & the reverence of kneeling at the altar rail to receive Our Lord & Savior Jesus Christ. When I visited a church with an altar rail and experienced receiving in this manner, it was truly awesome. (Not all change is good)

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Ceile De

posted July 5, 2010 at 7:11 pm

It would be interesting to study where the practice, revived or otherwise, of receiving in the hand came from in the 1970’s. Since then, I have met far too many priests who favor the hand over the tongue and who, ignoring Trent and God knows what other Church law, claim “transubstantiation” is simply one theory among others for the Real Presence (you can check for an article about how trasubstantiation is simply an explanation for mediaeval peasants afraid of vampires!) and when asked what the Real Presence is answer it is the presence of God among us all in assembly. Hmmm – not exactly classic textbook Catholicism. These same guys hid the tabernacles in undisclosed locations, abolished kneelers, etc. Does anyone seriously believe they introduced communion in the hand because they truly believed in transubstantiation? If they claim it was in the name of Vatican 2, does anyone really think Vatican 2 changed or intended to change church teaching in this regard? Poor Paul VI….

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posted July 5, 2010 at 8:34 pm

I wonder if the apostles received on the tongue at the Last Supper. I doubt it. If the hand was good enough for the apostles that night, it should still be good today.

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posted July 5, 2010 at 9:31 pm

A few points…
1. Is there any solid reliable historical documentation from church history as to WHY Communion in the hand was discontinued? I know and have read why people THINK it was disacintinued but curious as to documentation.
2. Originally in my parish when Communion in the hand was begun it was one of the duties of the USHERS to stand at the end of the first pew (both sises of church) and watch the communicants from the moment of reception. If a communicant did not consume the host before reaching the usher, the person was gently and properly halted and was to consume the Eucharist. I think this is STILL a great way to deal with this issue until any other directives may be published by Rome or the Bishop of one’s diocese.
3. I have heard many times the story about “if protestants believed…they would fall to their knees upon entering the church”…and I always wonder: does the Catholis who quotes this story as a reason to be contra-communion-in-the-hand him or herself fall down to their knees upon entering their parish church and stay in the posture until kneeling back out of the church? My point is the sentiment and faith the story reveals is great, but we have to be realistic as well.
4. In his ministry did Jesus ever forbid people, including grimmy beggars and messy kids, from touching Him? The “do not touch me” of the Risen Christ is of a different reason than intimate or personal physical contact. Jesus in the Gospels is the same Person as Jesus in the blessed Sacrament and it can teach us a proper understanding of respect and faith towards Him.

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The Catholic Wife

posted July 5, 2010 at 10:33 pm

As someone who was discouraged from receiving Communion reverently kneeling and later witnessed an elderly person accidentally drop the consecrated Host after receiving it in the hand, I have to agree with Deacon Greg. Thanks for sharing.

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posted July 5, 2010 at 11:13 pm

Communion on the tongue was an innovation introduced in the 11th century, and by the 13th century the Catholic faithful had basically stopped receiving communion. There was such a significant problem with people going years/decades without communion that the Church introduced a law that required people to receive once per year. This lasted until the latter half of the 19th century, when a series of popes worked extraordinarily hard at getting Catholics to receive communion frequently as a central part of renewals of the liturgy.
As for sacrilege, it’s hard to beat wholesale abandonment of the Sacrament, and wholesale disobedience to Christ’s direct command to “Take and eat… take and drink…”

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Dana MacKenzie

posted July 5, 2010 at 11:24 pm

I too support a return to reception of communion on the tongue, from a kneeler when possible. My spouse and I are both ministers of the Eucharist. I do the hospital, so no problem with people receiving poorly, but more than once my husband has had to chase someone down and tell them, “please consume the host or give it back.” Once he had a man ask for two, because his daughter would cry if she didn’t get “a cookie.” My husband said, “teach her that it’s not a cookie, then.”

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posted July 5, 2010 at 11:55 pm

I recall the days of the alter rails when usually about 1/2 the congregation didn’t go up to receive Holy Communion, and the church was packed with people. We went to Holy Communion if we went to confession the day before or frequently the priests offered confession just before Mass. ( something I would greatly appreciate them doing again. )
Were they the bad old days? I believe there were far fewer sacrilegious Communions then.

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Fr. Jim

posted July 6, 2010 at 12:18 am

Sadly, this isn’t an isolated case as I’ve had the experience of finding hosts in church and even instances of parents “sharing” their host with their small (pre-First Communion) child because they “want a cracker, too!” I’m not making this up. Catechesis is surely needed for children, but also for adults. So often one encounters those who come to communion and “take” rather than receive and occasionally walk away with the host.
Mike L – Regarding the priest with the water on the altar, I doubt that you are in my parish, but I routinely have to have water nearby for a very practical reason. Without it, I am prone to losing my voice. This has happened to me in the past during the homily and during the Eucharistic Prayer. I’ve heard it described as “preacher’s voice” or something like that. The reality is, sometimes we are prone to straining our vocal cords or our throats just get dry. I know some vocalists that require this as well. I recognize it’s not the ideal, but I’ve personally found it necessary, particularly as I celebrate several masses on the weekend.

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Jerald Franklin Archer

posted July 6, 2010 at 4:07 am

More and more, I’m seeing the wisdom behind Benedict re-instituting the kneeler, and reception on the tongue, for communion.
Amen to that. I am blessed enough to be able to attend a tradition Latin Mass now. There are some there who visit and will hold out there hands to receive the host with all good faith. The priest will correct them or else they will not receive the Blessed Host. This practice is done as well at the Nuevo Ordo Mass, with a slight forewarning from the Monsignor. Nobody there complains. Some may find this extreme, but this method may be the only viable way to correct a problem that should not be happening in the first place. Bad habits are corrected by education. I suppose that one could complain to the Bishop, but the only answer would be for them to attend the Nuevo Ordo Mass at another parish, or learn to do it correctly. Those who handle the Sacred Host often do not realize what they are doing. If this were not the case, I very much doubt they would even thing of handling the Sacred Host.

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posted July 6, 2010 at 7:35 am

I much prefer receiving in the hand – I like receiving the way the ancients did. Also, I remember receiving in the mouth as a girl and can remember accidents, dropped hosts, saliva dripping onto the paten,etc, so I do not view receiving in the mouth as preventing any problems.

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posted July 6, 2010 at 8:41 am

MB — I’m just curious: By what imagining do you know how “the ancients” received communion?
The Orthodox use intinction (the Body is dipped in the Blood), and the Sacrament distributed to the faithful by means of a spoon. This is likely the most ancient method of receiving.
We can be assured that shuffling up in a queue to receive the Blessed Sacrament in the hand (while singing some insipid David Haas tune accompanied by a piano) resembles no ancient custom of Christian faith.

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posted July 6, 2010 at 9:30 am

The ancients received Communion as they received the unlevened bread of the Passover – the Last Supper. Intinction, though venerable, is somewhat later.
I will agree that Peter, James, John, Paul , Felicity, Perpetua, Agnes did not sing David Haas.

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posted July 6, 2010 at 9:40 am

Dcn. Greg I’m glad to know that you’ve reconsidered your POV on hand communion, for what is IMO, the “right reasons.” There simply are too many opportunites for abuse in these times, much more so than receving on the tongue. I do wish it would become a mandate to return to the “ordinary” form on the tongue. I know Pope Benedict will no longer give anyone communion in the hand, and I don’t think JPII did either.
Diana, you wrote “I will not be dragged back to a past that was cold, institutional, authoritarian and in which the priest was practically worshiped.”
Do you realize Diana that the “priest” is non other than Christ? Once consecration occurs, “This is MY body”, it is Christ who simply “borrows” the hands and mouths of our pastoral priests, consequently, “worshipping” Christ, receiving his flesh and blood, is what it’s all about.
Teena, you wrote ”
What is there in the contemporary Roman Mass in most parishes that would encourage people to take it any way but casually?”
My answer to that Teena is “Belief in the Real Presence”, so much so that where I receive is of least importance. Besides, many folks in the Roman rite DO reeive reverently, even by hand, being a great example for those more uncatechized. What could be a better witness than to watch one receive with true reverence?
Mike L I agree with Father Jim about water available for “preachers” and the choir, but I’m TOTALLY with you as for the congregation NOT beign permitted to have water bottles. It’s a big pet peeve of mine. I can’t imagine anyone not singing or preaching (and maybe some real cases of the elderly and/or ones with physical diabilities) not being able to go 45 minutes without a drink of water, again demonstrating our “comfort at all cost” culture. I watched it happen in So CA, and sure enough, it wasn’t long before some were bringing in their Starbucks Coffee.
Off topic, but IMO, America has an “unhealthy” obcession with overpriced fadish “water bottles.” There is considerable evidence that water from plastic containers contain carcinogens, especially when exposed to heat.
I’m all for good water drinking, just don’t get why half of America suddenly has to “carry a bottle.” Hands down the best water is Starbucks, from their triple osmosis filter (same water they use for coffee). And it’s FREE, more worth it to me than their coffee. All you have to do is ask for it, yet most never think of it and instead purchase their overpriced bottled water.
For both thrist and health, NOTHING beats an Starbucks water with ice.

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Fr. Matt

posted July 6, 2010 at 9:57 am

Communion in the hand in the early ages of the Church bears no comparison to what it is today. In the early ages of the Church the people receiving the Eucharist actually believed that it was the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Christ. Today most Catholics don’t believe that. If they did they would, at the very least, dress decently for Mass. If they did they would consume the host immediately if they had received in the hand.
What I see week after week is people coming up to receive Communion looking in all sorts of directions, rolling their eyes to one side or the other, switching their gum to one side or the other, or (and I’m not kidding here…) pausing their conversation. They will not hold still when receiving, and stubbornly refuse to pay the least bit of attention to the host they are receiving. Add to that the sweater sleeves half way over the palms in the cooler months and what you have is rampant, profound disrespect for the most sacred reality ever known to mankind.
Communion in the hand has led to nothing but a lowered respect for the Body and Blood of Christ. We’ve allowed so much of our authentic faith to slip away over the past few decades… out went the statues, the candles, the paintings, the high altars, the lateral shrines, the canopies and processions, incense in most circumstances, the kneelers, the rails, the patens, and finally, respect for the Sacred Species.
If communicants were kneeling at the rail, they would at the very least have to pay attention.

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Teena H. Blackburn

posted July 6, 2010 at 10:08 am

I would agree with you that many Romans receive reverently. I would, however, just remind you that we are incarnated beings. Romans are sacramentalists-God is experienced through matter. Therefore, I think it’s a bad idea, and a damaging one, for people to make the argument that their surroundings don’t matter. Years and years of religious practice in an ugly or sterile environment, coupled with unbearably banal and ugly music, is going to influence attitudes, theology and practice. Lex orandi, lex credendi.
As to the attitude that we should receive in the hand because our ancients did so: First, you might want to ask why the practice passed away. Secondly, I’ll give your love for this practice based on its antiquity more credit when you return to other ancient practices: women covering their heads in church, keeping four fasting seasons a year (the Apostles Fast is one of the church’s most ancient, and has completely fallen into disuse in the Roman church), getting rid of instrumental music, a return to a corporate, substantive ascetic life. If you believe your church is the Body of Christ, which Romans do, then you should have no problem with the fact that in her wisdom somewhere along the line, Communion in the hand passed into general disuse. The Apostles participated in a Passover Meal. I am sure they did not appear at it in shorts and then take the elements to the latrine with them. Very holy people have received Communion in their hands-one cannot say that the practice is wrong in and of itself. However, given the laxity of people in our time, and given the opportunities for great sacrilege, it would seem to me that insisting on the practice is misguided. What I keep hearing here is what appears to be a political point-that somehow receiving on the hand makes a person more modern, renewed, Vatican II, relevant-whatever. The fact is, this practice is the extraordinary form in the Roman church, and people in America made it common in the process of pushing a certain agenda. It goes along with having Extraordinary Ministers of the Eucharist become commonplace to the point of them distributing communion even when there are enough deacons and priests present. It is a misguided insistence that liturgical roles are the ones that count, and somehow the laity being all over the sanctuary all the time is a sign of renewal.

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posted July 6, 2010 at 10:48 am

Teena, I don’t much disagree with you. I haven’t taken communion by hand in years, save the “flu excuse” where I had no choice one day other than not to receive.
I probably didn’t write well, but the bottom line is this. While I have great respect for the Orthodox, and once in a while even attend mass at one of the non-Roman rites, I have no intention of converting out of Roman Catholicism. Consequently, I feel one of the best things anyone in my situatuon can do is “Teach by example.” I’ve been in parishes where not ONE person even makes the least sign of reverence (like a bow, a sign of the cross), etc.
It starts with each and every one of us in the pews. If WE were reverent, others would “do by example”, the same way they have a lack of reverence by example, be it dress or the sloppy/casual way in which we receive.
My bigger point is that because I’m going to die a Roman Catholic, and certainly would love to see more reverence, I continue to pray for it for all of us and try the best that I can to lead by example, consequently, I’m thankful to receive the Eucharist ANYWHERE, as I don’t take it for granted that in my lifetime I/we will always have easy access to it.
Just like “hand holding” during the Our Father, the devil has his ways to cheapen the mass, making the bad habits appear “normal.”
Father Matt sums it up very nicely.
All said, I’m a huge fan of communion on the tongue and a return to reverence! I certainly pray for it, but I also know, that we “dress and act” as we believe. Most of the reason I suspect is simply the lack of faith, especially in the Real Presence.
Lastly Teena, there are still places that have beautiful NO masses, with many holy priests. The CC is a “big tent”, and even the most holy priests cannot control who will be walking up the aisle to receive, especially in situations with many visitors. If you watch an EWTN Mass, I think you would have a hard time finding much “out of line”, which gives weight to my argument that we are in a “faith crisis”, as the Eucharist is the Source and Summit of the C Faith.
Sadly, few still believe in the Real Presence (at least in America). I would guess the percentage is much lower in the Orthdox side, but hard to really evaluate since the overall number is so low.

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posted July 6, 2010 at 1:50 pm

With all due respect Klaire and Fr. Matt, the argument that few practicing (Mass attending, communion receiving) Catholics in the US believe in the Real Presence simply doesn’t hold water. As I noted above, there is no evidence at all that this is true, and quite a bit that it is not (both Pew and CARA have data that covers more than a decade).
Long ago Thomas Aquinas noted that, “The truth of our faith becomes a matter of ridicule among the infidels if any Catholic, not gifted with the necessary scientific learning, presents as dogma what scientific scrutiny shows to be false.” To assert that few US Catholics believe in the Real Presence is to skirt that edge.

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posted July 6, 2010 at 10:20 pm

To reiterate what Michelle has said, among Catholics who actually practice Catholicism (attending mass at least Sundays if not more often), belief in the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist is 91% (link )
Ok, so that’s the facts. As for an opinion, I’d like to offer this: spending your Sunday Mass seething about the spiritual shortcomings that you imagine afflict the strangers surrounding you is terribly corrosive. Jesus said something about that, too… (Luke 18:9-14)

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Paula Gonzales Rohrbacher

posted July 7, 2010 at 1:53 am

As an extraordinary minister of communion, I have only had to instruct a couple of folks to consume the Host(mostly kids coming to Mass with relatives, who have no idea what to do at Communion time). My main pet peeve is with individuals who push past those who are receiving the Precious Blood, rather than stopping to reverence the Cup before moving along. It only takes a second to wait for the person ahead of you to receive Jesus in His Precious Blood and then to reverence Him.

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Marion (Mael Muire)

posted July 7, 2010 at 7:42 am

Another commenter here keeps referring to “Romans”, as in “I would agree with you that many Romans receive reverently”, apparently meaning “Roman Catholics” or “Catholics,” but saying just “Romans”.
“Roman” is the proper term for a native of or an inhabitant of the city of Rome. In Italy. It has nothing to do with religion.
I am a Catholic in union with the Bishop of Rome, but I am not a “Roman”. I am an American. An American Catholic.
I wonder whether members of the Eastern Orthodox faith living in other parts of the world would appreciate being referred to as “Constantinopalians”, “Minskians”, or “Sofians”.
Please stop calling us plain “Romans”; either “Catholics”, or if you must, “Roman Catholics” are the proper terms.

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posted July 7, 2010 at 11:00 am

In this discussion about Communion in the Hand – it should not be forgotten that this practice began as a liturgical abuse following the Council and the Holy See chose to grant an indult to the bishops conferences where it was becoming wide-spread to permit the practice instead of attempting the difficult task to eradicate it. Since it is an indult and not univeral law, a local Ordinary can prohibit the practice in his diocese if he so choses, Communion on the tounge being the univeral norm. An example of this is the Japanese Bishops permited the practice in Japan long after it had become common in the West, but found it created so many problems that they revoked their permission several years ago and now have reverted to distributing the Sacred Host only on the tounge.
Secondly, the appeal to reviving the practices of the ancient Christians, while being well intended, is intellectually erroneous. In his encylical Mediator Dei, the Venerable Pope Pius XII warned against liturgical antiquarianism for its own sake. Certain practices fell into disuse for a reason. This, I argue, was one of them.
It seems to me that those who want to receive Communion as the ancient church did might not want to return to other practices of the ancient church; such as the rigorous fasts they practiced every Wednesday, Friday and Saturday; the common all-night vigils they kept, or the practice of public confession of sins, etc. This is a very selective appeal to the practices of the ancient church. There is no compelling argument why it is advantageous spiritually or otherwise for everyone to handle the Sacred Host, especcially since the chance of losing some small particles or discarding (or worse, stealing) the Sacred Host is great. The Italian Bishops for some time have been grapling with the problems caused by those who steal the Sacred Host for demonic worship. A problem created, or at least, greatly faciliated, by Communion in the Hand.
If familiarity breeds contempt, it should come as no surprise that there is a general lack of reverence toward the Blessed Sacrament in our day and age. The overwhelming anecdotal evidence from those priests and deacons assigned to week-end parish work amply demonstrate this sad fact.
The Church’s wisdom in reserving the handling of the Sacred Species to her ordained ministers, the reception on the tounge to prevent loss of any sacred particles, the kneeling out of reverence before the Creator Himself, the ciborium cover, tabernacle veils, altar rails, the Eucharistic fasts etc. all were calculated to drive home the message that this is the Real Presence of Christ Himself and that fact could not and must not be taken lightly. Moreover, none of the aformentioned items were abrogated by the Council. They were deliberatly dropped by those who wished to (well intentioned or not) de-sacralize Catholic worship to make it more accessible to the average layman.
I know some are strongly attached to the practice – some for emotional reaons and some for ideological ones. But, if, as our Lord said “By their fruits you will know them”, I argue one would be hard-pressed, at best, to find any positive fruits from Communion in the Hand.

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posted July 7, 2010 at 11:05 am

Back briefly for a peek…
This is an interesting and pertinent topic. Personally, I began receiving Holy Communion on the tongue about a year ago in response to and in penance for the desecration of the Eucharist that became all the rage among some new atheist types, and to increase my own reverence for the Real Presence.
cathyf, I would be interested in learning who wrote and published the poll you link. It’s encouraging in one sense. However, the language used to ask about the Real Presence fails to best reflect Catholic faith. It is not Catholic faith that Christ is present in the bread and wine, but that the bread and wine are transformed into the Body and Blood of Christ. There is no bread and wine. Yes, I understand when the question refers to the “bread and wine of the Eucharist” it technically nullifies my point. But, are most Catholics able to make that distinction? I have to wonder if the language of the question better reflects the number of Catholics who believe that Christ is present in what remains essentially bread and wine versus the number who believe that there is no bread and wine, but that the essence of the materials are wholly and truly transformed into the Body and Blood of Christ. It’s the difference between CONsubstantiation and TRANsubstantiation. For Catholic faith, it’s an essential (no pun intended!) difference.

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posted July 7, 2010 at 11:20 am

All of the concerns about hand vs. tongue reception aside for a moment, the little girl knew that she should throw her gum out first. That, in the midst of some great darkness, is a small ray of light. May the Holy Spirit continue His work in her and enlighten those responsible for her formation and upbringing that the small flame of faith is not extinguished but enflamed.

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Marion (Mael Muire)

posted July 7, 2010 at 12:17 pm

Paula Gonzales Rohrbacher wrote: “As an extraordinary minister of communion, . . . my main pet peeve is with individuals who push past those who are receiving the Precious Blood, rather than stopping to reverence the Cup before moving along. It only takes a second to wait for the person ahead of you to receive Jesus in His Precious Blood and then to reverence Him.”
Agreed, it is rude to “push past” anybody, whether in line for movie tickets, or at the bank or post office, or in the Communion procession. That said, I have never heard of communicants who are returning to their seats reverencing either the sacrament on the altar (we don’t genuflect toward the altar when we return to our seats after Communion), nor reverencing the chalice of hosts being held by priests at various other “Communion stations” in a large cathedral, on our way back to our seats, either. We were always taught that the reason for these seeming omissions on the part of the returning communicants, was always that for the quarter hour or so that Jesus is present “under your own roof”, that Presence should be the central and exclusive focus of our prayer and worship.
If that were not so, then, yes, communicants returning to their seats would be remiss in *not* genuflecting toward the altar as they enter their pews, and remiss in *not* reverencing other Communion stations – both the sacred host and the Precious Blood – throughout the Church. But, because Jesus is present within our very selves at this special moment, it would be unsuitable to distract ourselves from Him to perform these additional acts of reverence at such a moment.

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Teena H. Blackburn

posted July 7, 2010 at 7:51 pm

Roman as opposed to some other sort of Catholic (such as an Eastern-Rite Catholic for instance). I would never just call you Catholic, because by the teachings of your own church all Catholics are not Roman Catholics-so I call you Romans for short. Nothing pejorative intended. Sorry if it offended you. I prefer just being called Orthodox, but I end up being called Eastern Orthodox and identifying myself that way even though I am a Westerner (and there are Western Rite Orthodox). “Roman” is sometimes used by people to remind Roman Catholics that there are those who do not think the RC church has a monopoly on the word “Catholic.” We could have a big discussion on that, but that is not the point of this post. Orthodox, after all, do also recite the Nicene Creed-believing in “one, holy, catholic church.” We’re not talking about the Roman Church when we say that. I responded to this post because I was a Latin rite Catholic for many years, and I’ve seen the sort of things this post and its respondents are concerned about. It is, however, not my fight anymore, thank God.

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posted July 7, 2010 at 9:24 pm

Thank you, Teena,
And I promise not to call Anglicans “Canterburians,” nor Orthodox “Constantinoplians.”

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