Thursday, April 19, 2007


As far as opinion goes, it does not matter what I think as to whether you should receive communion on the tongue or in the hand. According to the General Instruction of the Roman Missal (paragraph 92) you have the right to receive on the tongue as a universal rule. You may receive in the hand where the conference of bishops with papal approval has deemed it permissible. (It is interesting to note however that the rest of the short paragraph warns against possible difficulties with receiving in the hand and actually forbids the practice if there is a risk of profanation.)

The risk of abuses when communion is received in the hand increases dramatically and it is incumbent upon the communicant to put forth the extra effort this privilege demands in order to make sure that the Blessed Sacrament is afforded all of the attention and care of which He is deserving. It is also vitally important that pastors make sure that his people are properly disposed to receiving in the hand if they so desire it. To that end, here are a couple of notes:

If you are not able to properly receive in the hand; don't. If you have a hand in a cast, if you are on crutches, if you have a hymnal in your hands, if you have your hymnal (or purse or any object) shoved up under your arm (no matter powerful your armpits are), if you are carrying a baby, or holding hands or need a hand to balance yourself or for any reason you do not have full and free use of your both of your hands and arms for the reception of the Blessed Sacrament, receive on the tongue.

So suppose your hands and arms are not otherwise occupied or disabled, please consider the following.

This is the way to receive communion in the hand. Your dominant hand is placed under your non-dominate hand. With fingers closed and palm flat and parallel to the floor, you create an altar for the reception of our Lord. Observed in this fashion it will be difficult to receive communion irreverently (unless at the same time you are also sticking your tongue out thoroughly confusing the person distributing.)

THE PINCHASAURUS (Sometimes know as Birdus Beakodiosus) As communion is about to be placed in the hand of the recipient, a "pincher" known in some circles as the Bird Beak of Snatchiness jumps out and tries to snatch the host out of the hand of the minister. The pincher can sometimes be quite persistent. In worse case scenarios one must use the incantation, "Stop it!" and then whack the person on the head and when they open their mouth to say, "Ouch," you place the Eucharist on their tongue and promise them that this is what will happen every time they come to communion until they learn now to receive correctly.

THE AMBIDEXTROUS It may be obvious to YOU into which hand the Eucharist should be placed (couldn't he see my pinkies were overlapped?) but it is not to everyone else. Please don't make the minister have to guess.

LAYITONMEOUS - Often leads to popping Jesus in the same way pills are popped. Again if you only have one hand, receive on the tongue. Unfortunately I am blind in one eye so if you hold out only one hand, I won't see it and will resort to distributing to you on the tongue. (Yes, I am kidding, I can see with both eyes. Just not at the same time.)

THE POSTUS SLOTUS - Please deposit one host. No.

THE RICEUS BOWLUS - Rice bowls are general good for collecting money for Catholic Relief Services and for, well, rice. Doesn't work so hot for communion. It may be that you are crippled up with arthritis, but in such cases, please receive on the tongue.

THE MODEST MANUS - I find it strange that persons who don't mind showing their mid-drifts or legs beginning just below the hips will be modest about exposing the skin of their hands in church. Please let me assure you that not only, at least in the instance, is it alright, it is also mandatory.

THE PIUS MANUS - Actually NOTHING should be in your hands, not even something that we would otherwise consider holy.

THE NOTA BENE - Have the answers to your final written in the palm of your hand? A reminder to pick up milk? A phone number? More information than we need. Only the pure of heart shall see God and only the clean of hand shall receive Jesus.
We believe this is the Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of our Lord Jesus Christ. Proper reception of the Body and Blood of our Lord gives great witness to this miraculous gift He has entrusted to us.


Anonymous said...

Always something interesting on this blog. Keep up the good work Father.

Anonymous said...

ROFL! Perhaps someone should make a little booklet of this post and put it in foyers and parish halls.

This jogged a memory of my mom feeling sorry for both the priest and his altar boy as they moved along the altar rail and suddenly beheld her coffee-stained tongue. I'd never looked at my own until she said that.. (your readers just went to look at theirs, didn't they?)

In St. Colman's Cathedral in Cobh a few years ago, we all knelt (or those who couldn't, stood) at the altar rail and received Him on the tongue from the hand of a Bishop attended by altar boy with paten. It seemed quicker, tho' how can it be? But not only is this way easier for everyone (and apparently, less confusing!), I can't help thinking that receiving Him this way helps people think of His Real Presence. I especially worry about our youngsters in that. I've "taught" in numerous grades of religious ed, and was often dismayed at what I'd heard.

Thank you for another unique thought-provoking post.


Odysseus said...

You know, I have gotten to the point where I only receive on the tongue (and respectfully disagree with the bishops' conference). But I occasionally have to attend the Novus Ordo mass. When I am in a state of grace, I wish to receive communion there but I have recently decided I cannot.

It is not because I find the New Rite invalid, but because they have no paten.(is it called a paten?) So, when I receive the eucharist, standing with my mouth open, I do not feel it is a very safe moment. (At my usual parish there is a communion rail at which one kneels). What should I do?

The priest is, like you, a reverent and committed pastor (not into clown masses). Should I ask him to provide one when he sees me? Or is that asking too much?

Anonymous said...

The devil uses all kinds of ruses in order to keep you from receiving the Blessed Sacrament. Pray that Our Lord, who can do all things, will take care of the situation and He will. Do not let anything but your own sins come in between you and the Eucharist. You cannot control what others do.

Anonymous said...

Had a good laugh! But in all seriousness I agree with Carol that this post should be at the entrances to all churches. As Eucharistic Minister it never ceases to amaze me how some people try to receive communion. Two other ways that drive me crazy are the person starts to turn away from you just as you are placing the Eucharist in their hand (is there a race back to the pew?) or they are holding their hands practically down to their knees!

Adoro said...

Great post!

When I recieved First Communion, we were ONLY taught to receive in the hand, with a mention of "some people" recieving on the tongue. It was never explained and we were repeatedly drilled as to how to receive in the hand.

It wasn't until I attended a Novus Ordo Latin Mass a couple years ago that I received on the tongue for the first time...and while kneeling at the communion rail.

I have never looked back. The only time since that I have recieved in the hand is when I had a cold sore or when the EHMC was clearly confused.

I have heard priests advocate reception in the hand and they give a good argument, but I simply disagree...and wish he had spent the time explaining HOW to recieve in the hand.

This post is SO getting a mention all over my blog.

This HAS to be proliferated throughout the Catholic atmosphere and posted at every parish!


Fr. V said...

I wish people would post this at Church. It is so sad to see how people receive the Eucharist (Do you know with what you are dealing!?)

Growing up we often went to Latin mass. There was no forced marches to the altar rail in which people felt they had to go. People just went up whenever and it was harder to tell when someone just stayed behind in the pew - and it seemed to go more quickly. Haven't figured that one out.

Rob - I understand COMPLETELY. Perhaps your pastor would understand, maybe not. There are often times extenuating circumstances that make it difficult for priests to do such things. I reintroduced them at my last parish much to the joy of both the people and the servers. They are gone now.

Anyway, Raph. is right I think (at least in my opinion) A patten is recommended but not manditory. Better to recieve Christ (if properly disposed) than to be without Him. I wish more people wre as sensitive to the issue as you - how many people receive when they shouldn't. The prayer the priest says before he receives is almost frightening in this regard, "Lord, I eat Your Body and I drink Your Blood let it NOT BRING ME CONDEMNATION, but health in mind in body. Hmm

Thanks Adoro! God bless all.

Anonymous said...

Father, I can't stop laughing!

Can we put this in the church bulletin next week?

I have to admit that I am a bit of a "riceus bowlus;" actually maybe more of a "riceus cupus." BUT, I must also say that I went to St. Clare School for 8 years and when we were learning about our First Communion, I distinctly remember the teacher telling us to form a little "cup" with our hands so that we did not risk dropping Jesus. Maybe that was because we were just little kids and she was being extra cautious, but I never heard any different.

Anyway, if you see me at Mass tomorrow, I will be sure to make an "altar" for the Lord!

Is there any possibility of bringing the patten and communion rail to St. Clare?

Habemus Papam said...

Funny you should ask Sylvana - When the recent renovations were made it turns out that the pastor wanted to restore the altar rail but for various reasons it was deemed undoable.

Unknown said...

Very funny and very instructional, Father.

Now we need an instructional post on how to swallow Holy Communion. But being you priests normally are occupied at Communion time, you probably aren't aware of the sight.

I generally try to sit up close to the front, not because I am a Pharisee, but to avoid the view of what people are wearing and how so many of them cannot keep their hands off of their friends. They must think they are in a movie theater.

But when I sit close to the front, if I am not careful, I am given the view of people in the act of swallowing the Sacred Host by chomping away on it. It may be orthodox, but it is not pretty.

I use my tongue to break and slide it to the rear of my my mouth for swallowing without chewing. If I have the opportunity to partake of the Precious Blood, that assists in swallowing the Host and minimizing my effort.

Interestingly, depending upon the brand of flour used, I suppose, some Hosts are much easier to swallow than others. Perhaps the USCCB could do some testing like Consumer Reports and distribute the results to the different parishes.

Assuming that maybe 30 or 40 million Hosts a week are used in Masses, there must be a tremendous number of suppliers for the various dioceses. They also should be given the information.

In Adoro's post on her blog, she referred to the "Ten Second Rule." I can guess, but could you perhaps interpret it for us.

I am adding you to my daily blog excursions.

Odysseus said...

My favorite was pinchasaurus. Have you heard any remarks from priests about communion on the tongue? The biggest complaint is for "snappers"! They snap their jaws shut and catch the priests fingers.

Fr. V said...

SYLVANA - The message above from H.P. is actually from me. She came by to fix my computer. I forgot to sign her out and put me back in. Ah well.

Cathy_of_Alex said...

LOL! Great post, Father. Wit and truth.