Thursday 10 March 2011

Communion on the Hand

I put a post up in January about this great little book. So popular has it proved that the print-run ran out and it has now been re-printed in hard-back. They can be ordered through PCP Publications, or through Cenacle.

I found these quotes from some well-know and reasonably holy people...

"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 favour of this practice, nor do I recommend it." - His Holiness (soon to be Blessed) Pope John Paul II, responding to a reporter from Stimme des glaubens magazine, during his visit to Fulda (Germany) in November 1980.

Holy Communion received on the tongue "signifies the reverence of the faithful for the Eucharist ... provides that Holy Communion will be distributed with due reverence ... is more conducive to faith, reverence and humility.... It [Communion in the hand] 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." - The Servant of God Pope Paul VI in his instruction Memoriale Domini (May 29, 1969)
Mother Teresa
"Wherever I go in the whole world, the thing that makes me the saddest is watching people receive Communion in the hand."- As reported by Fr. George Rutler in his 1989 Good Friday sermon at St. Agnes Church, New York. When Blessed Teresa of Calcutta was asked by Fr. Rutler, "What do you think is the worst problem in the world today?" without pausing a second she gave the above reply. She stated that to her knowledge, all of her sisters receive Communion only on the tongue.
"Behind 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 Call to Holiness Conference in Detroit, Michigan, panel discussion.
"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.

"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.

There are these authorities as well...

ST. SIXTUS I (115-125). Prohibited the faithful from even touching the Sacred Vessels: "Statutum est ut sacra vasa non ab aliis quam a sacratis Dominoque dicatis contrectentur hominibus..." [It has been decreed that the Sacred Vessels are not to be handled by others than by those consecrated and dedicated to the Lord.]
POPE ST. EUTYCHIAN (275-283). Forbade the faithful from taking the Sacred Host in their hand.
ST. BASIL THE GREAT, DOCTOR OF THE CHURCH (330-379). "The right to receive Holy Communion in the hand is permitted only in time of persecution." St. Basil considered Communion in the hand so irregular that he did not hesitate to consider it a grave fault.
COUNCIL OF SARAGOSSA (380). It was decided to punish with EXCOMMUNICATION anyone who dared to continue the practice of Holy Communion in the hand. The Synod of Toledo confirmed this decree.
POPE ST. LEO I THE GREAT (440-461). Energetically defended and required faithful obedience to the practice of administering Holy Communion on the tongue of the faithful.
SYNOD OF ROUEN (650). Condemned Communion in the hand to halt widespread abuses that occurred from this practice, and as a safeguard against sacrilege.
SIXTH ECUMENICAL COUNCIL, AT CONSTANTINOPLE (680-681). Forbade the faithful to take the Sacred Host in their hand, threatening the transgressors with excommunication.
ST. THOMAS AQUINAS (1225-1274). "Out of reverence towards this sacrament [the Holy Eucharist], 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." (Summa Theologica, Pars III, Q. 82, Art. 3, Rep. Obj. 8)
COUNCIL OF TRENT (1545-1565). "The fact that only the priest gives Holy Communion with his consecrated hands is an Apostolic Tradition."

And, for sake of balance I encourage everyone to post similar quotes in favour of this practice from such eminent Saints, Beati & saintly ecclesiastics.


David O'Neill said...

Great detail Fr Simon. I have directed readers from my blog to read this

RJ said...

I don't see why the practice can't just be phased out.

RJ said...

By the way, Father, have you thought of sending this information to the Bishop?

Leo Darroch said...

Michael Davies published two booklets on this subject entitled 'On Communion in the Hand and Similar Frauds' [54 pages], and 'A Privilege of the Ordained' [28 pages]. I recommend these to anyone who would like more information on this uncatholic practice. Unfortunately, they are difficult to get hold of but Ebay may be a good source.

Webmaster Gareth said...

A beautiful post. God bless you.

Mr Lace said...

I was recently at a mass presided over by Bishop Tom Williams in the LACE chapel and of all the congregation only one did not receive it the hand.
Are there not worse crimes against reverance within the Church?

Skemdad said...

Dear 'Mr Lace',

You ask:"Are there not worse crimes against reverance within the Church?"

Name one!

Anonymous said...

Well, Mr. Lace, I'll repeat what I've said before.
About four years ago reasearchers swabbed the hands of 1000 people at a number of UK railway stations.
One in four had faecal traces on their hands.
Just think of all the things one touches before receiving in the hand.
If you remember, many pubs stopped leaving bowls of peanuts and crisps out after it was discovered that they were similarly contaminated.

Leo Darroch said...

"And, for sake of balance I encourage everyone to post similar quotes in favour of this practice from such eminent Saints, Beati & saintly ecclesiastics."

I don't know which category Martin Bucer would fit in to but this is a quote from his 'Censura'.

"I have no doubt that this useage of not putting these sacraments into the hands of the faithful has been introduced out of a double superstition; firstly, the false honour they wished to show to this sacrament, and secondly the wicked arrogance of priests claimimg greater holiness than that of the people of Christ, by virtue of the oil of consecration. The Lord undoubtedly gave these, His sacred symbols, into the hands of the Apostles, and no one who has read the records of the ancients can be in doubt that this was the usage observed in the churches until the advent of the Roman Antichrist.
As, therefore, every superstition of the Roman Antichrist is to be detested, and the simplicity of Christ, and the Apostles, and the ancient Churches, is to be recalled, I should wish that pastors and teachers of the people should be commanded that each is faithfully to teach the people that it is superstitious and wicked to think that the hands of those who truly believe in Christ are less pure than their mouths; or that the hands of the ministers are holier than the hands of the laity; so that it would be wicked, or less fitting, as was formerly wrongly believed by the ordinary folk, for the laity to receive these sacraments in the hands: and therefore that the indications of this wicked belief be removed - as that the ministers may handle the sacraments, but not allow the laity to do so, and instead put the sacraments into the mouth - which is not only foreign to what was instituted by the Lord but offensive to human reason."

In view of this statement by Bucer, Cranmer changed the rubric in his 1552 Prayer Book to bring it in line with the Protestant practice on the Continent.

[On Communion in the Hand and Similar Frauds: Michael Davies]

David O'Neill said...

In answer to RJ. If we were STILL an OBEDIENT Church it could be phased out but, similarly, had we not, after VAT II, been an obedient Church perhaps we would have largely retained the Mass of Ages.

Stop It Now. said...

"One in four had faecal traces on their hands. Just think of all the things one touches before receiving in the hand."

This applies not only to the recipients but also to those extraordinary people who distribute the Blessed Sacrament. Unlike the priest, they do not wash their fingers before (or after?) distributing.
And then there are those who take the Blessed Sacrament to the sick. They collect the Host after Communion and stick the Holy Sacrament in pockets, handbags and suchlike which contain handkerchiefs, money, cosmetics, et al. I have never received from a lay person and never will; no matter how worthy an individual is.