Monday, 6 February 2017

Communion on the tongue is an Apostolic Tradition

An issue much revisited here on this blog, I know, but I discovered a set of quotes about it conveniently gathered in one place by Roman Catholic Man. So here they are below.It does seem odd that such an ancient and much lauded tradition has been so casually superseded with no obvious reason that pertains to the good of souls.

Statements from Popes, Saints and Church Councils:

St. Sixtus 1 (circa 115): “The Sacred Vessels are not to be handled by others than those consecrated to the Lord.”

St. Basil the Great, Doctor of the Church (330-379): “The right to receive Holy Communion in the hand is permitted only in times of persecution.” St. Basil the Great considered Communion in the hand so irregular that he did not hesitate to consider it a grave fault.

The Council of Saragossa (380): Excommunicated anyone who dared continue receiving Holy Communion by hand. This was confirmed by the Synod of Toledo.

The Synod of Rouen (650): Condemned Communion in the hand to halt widespread abuses that occurred from this practice, and as a safeguard against sacrilege.

6th Ecumenical Council, at Constantinople (680-681): Forbade the faithful to take the Sacred Host in their hand,
threatening 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, Part III, Q. 82, Art. 3, Rep. Obj. 8.)

The Council of Trent (1545-1565): “The fact that only the priest gives Holy Communion with his consecrated hands is an Apostolic Tradition.”

Pope Paul VI (1963-1978): “This method [on the tongue] must be retained.” (Memoriale Domini)

Pope John Paul II: “To touch the sacred species and to distribute them with their own hands is a privilege of the ordained.” (Dominicae Cenae, 11)


scherzo said...

Thanks very much for this Father.

Marko Ivančičević said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Marko Ivančičević said...

These kinds of articles hurt whatever cause they have because they contain false info.

The source of these quotes is here and in some other places.

According to Liber pontificalis, pope Sixtus decreed that ministeria sacrata aren't to be touched except by ministers. But that includes even the minor orders since we know that, according to Ordo Romanus Primus, the acolyte handles the chalice and paten in some parts of the liturgy.

The article is fradulently using st. Basil. Here's the real quote.
He openly testifies to the present practice in homes and churches.

Next, the Council of Saragossa says this in the 3rd canon: "Item legit: Eucharistiae gratiam si quis probatur acceptam in ecclesia non sumpsisse, anathema sit in perpetuum. Ab universis episcopis dictum est: Placet."
It says nothing about Communion in the hand.

The 6th Ecumenical Council says nothing on discipline of Communion. But the Synod in Trullo (which is referenced in some places for supposedly forbidding Communion in the hand) says this:
"Canon 101
The great and divine Apostle Paul with loud voice calls man created in the image of God, the body and temple of Christ. Excelling, therefore, every sensible creature, he who by the saving Passion has attained to the celestial dignity, eating and drinking Christ, is fitted in all respects for eternal life, sanctifying his soul and body by the participation of divine grace. Wherefore, if any one wishes to be a participator of the immaculate Body in the time of the Synaxis, and to offer himself for the communion, let him draw near, arranging his hands in the form of a cross, and so let him receive the communion of grace. But such as, instead of their hands, make vessels of gold or other materials for the reception of the divine gift, and by these receive the immaculate communion, we by no means allow to come, as preferring inanimate and inferior matter to the image of God. But if any one shall be found imparting the immaculate Communion to those who bring vessels of this kind, let him be cut off as well as the one who brings them."

Synod of Rouen prohibited the practice of Communion in the hand. That much is correct.

So we see that local synods decreed different practices in the same time period.
Council of Trent says in the decree on Eucharist this: "Now as to the reception of the sacrament, it was always the custom in the Church of God, that laymen should receive the communion from priests; but that priests when celebrating should communicate themselves; which custom, as coming down from an apostolical tradition, ought with justice and reason to be retained.". Now although this is true, this doesn't mean that this was the exclusive practice of the Church at all places and at all times. Deacons administered Communion and also faithful to themselves at homes.

In Dominicae Cenae, st. John Paul II continues right after what is quoted: "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.".

I'm not advocating the widespread use of the practice, nor it's minimal use, but i'm just advocating the truth. What many people (traditionalists) want to get at is that Communion in the hand is somehow intrinsically evil or at least contrary to all customs of the Church, but that is not true.

Why can't people just not be afraid of history?

Fr Simon Henry said...

And yet, the other consideration apart from the historical practice (universal in the Catholic Church until recently) is the lived experience of many priests, that receiving in the hand has indeed led to a decline in reverence in all sorts of ways.

Kenny said...

A couple of years ago In Brompton Oratory a Sacred Host was removed and it was filmed on youtube. You must now receive on the tongue there. Rightly so.

David O'Neill said...

Even as a (now infrequent) server I never touch the sacred vessels unless wearing white gloves of using a cloth. This was something I learned as a boy at school. As to the Corporal It was to be folded in on itself so that only the underside was touched.
I recall a monsignor telling me that he would bless my hands so that I could receive Communion in the hand - I refused & was given Communion by the celebrant (the bishop) on the tongue.