See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, being patient with it until it receives the early and the late rains. - James 5:7

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

On Communion in the hand, again.



"The Son of man will be given over into the hands of sinful men."

I think I mentioned before I think of that scripture frequently as I receive communion in the hand.  I also think of the following from 1 John: "... what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we have looked upon and our hands have touched... the word of life."  What a thrill it was for me to be able to touch our Lord - the word made flesh - and hold Him in my hands.
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When I was told we could receive communion in the hand I was thrilled to touch Him, to hold Him - unworthy though I am.  He allows himself to be given over into the hands of sinful men, to communicate, to unite himself to us.  He humbles himself for our sake.  So you see, I'm conflicted about the communion in the hand controversy.  The bishops say it is permitted - others say not.
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Personally, I prefer to receive kneeling and on the tongue, but that isn't how it is done at my parish, nor the standard practice in this archdiocese, although I could drive 10 miles to get to a church which does that.  Nevertheless, we are permitted - and in the past, encouraged - to receive standing, after a bow, in the hand - and now more recently it has been publicly acknowledged that we always could receive on the tongue.  (Although many priests discouraged it.) 
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Now days, lay people assist the priest in distribution, I receive from a lay person - a lay person handles the sacred host and places it in my hand.  The lay person usually doesn't know how to place the host on my tongue - that organ St. James so aptly disparages as a "restless evil, full of deadly poison."  Which is in part, why we plead, "Lord, I am not worthy that you come under my roof, only say the word and my soul shall be healed."  Yet the love of God cannot resist, and He gives us his precious body, blood, soul, and divinity in holy communion - giving himself over into the hands, or on the tongues, of sinful men.  Which is worse?  The soul in mortal sin of course - one cannot receive worthily while conscious of, and obstinacy in mortal sin.  But I digress. 
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"What our hands have touched."
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Anyway, I normally receive the sacred host from a lay person - with all due reverence possible, my hands carefully cradled beneath his/her hand, taking the host from my palm wherein he/she placed it, consuming the host immediately, checking my hands for any particles before returning to the pew.  If a deacon or priest distributes at the line I'm in, then I try to receive on the tongue.  I don't normally take from the cup, knowing full well the complete and entire body, blood, soul and divinity of Christ is in the host just as much as it is in the cup.  Though it is permitted to receive the Precious Blood, I normally mortify my desire for it.  (I know talk of the indult expiring abounds, but the privilege hasn't been ordered stopped in my area yet.  Always wait for your local ordinary to decree before you jump to conclusions on your own.)
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I personally do not like handling the consecrated host.  It is one reason I now dislike being at my parish for adoration on Wednesdays.  I'm expected to repose the Blessed Sacrament in the tabernacle at the end of the day.  Which means I'm handling and transferring the Eucharist.  I replace the glass luna, without a case, in a dilapidated tabernacle.  The altar I take it from frequently has dirty linens, the corporal has specks and sometime crumbs of what appears to be particles of the host on it, along with wine stains.  Some priests no longer remove the corporals after Mass and use them over and over  If they want to avoid this negligence they ought to restore the use of the burse and the proper care of the altar and its linens.
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"Mere men ate the bread of angels."
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Pious lay people are often very concerned about minuscule particles left on one's hand, or those that could fall from the host as it is distributed.  I'm not sure they know what happens at the altar, nor should they perhaps.  As I'm closing adoration, I pick up the particles I see on the corporal and consume them - thinking they are probably left over from Mass.  I'm thinking I can't do that any more - I shouldn't even be on the altar.  Though I continue to go to adoration on Wednesdays, I try to avoid closing when possible.  Although since there are so few people who come - usually none - it's inevitable that I must do the closing.  So I see what may be fragments from the Eucharist still on the altar.  One psalm concerning Jerusalem comes to mind, "even the dust (of the Holy City) I revere"  so how can I leave paticles lie there?  While the verse, "even the dogs eat the leavings at their master's table" moves me to do something lest something else consumes them.  I don't feel right about doing it however.  Yet not doing it seems to me even more sacrilegious. 
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The responsibility to close falls to me nonetheless, so after quietly reciting the prayers of Benediction, I repose the Blessed Sacrament quietly.  The weekly bulletin says Benediction closes the day - but we never have Benediction at the end of the day.  I can't pretend to do Benediction, although I can silently recite the Divine Praises.  More recently, whether I make the Wednesday date or not, I go to another church for adoration on Thursdays, where I can be alone and ignored - just He and I.  Unfortunately, if I don't show up on Wednesday afternoons, no one else does either - Adoration ends at mid-day then.  As you may have noted, I'm conflicted about touching the Blessed Sacrament.  I also think adoration of the Blessed Sacrament in the tabernacle and not exposed should be revived and encouraged.
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Having said all of that, the intention of this post was to draw attention a discussion regarding communion in the hand and St. Cyril of Jerusalem who has been often quoted/misquoted? in the debate on how to do so - you might know the instruction:  by making a little throne of our hand for the sacred species to rest.  The post also mentions those laity who carry the sacrament to the sick.  It's an interesting post, yet adds somewhat to the confusion, read more at The Great Deception about Holy Communion in the hand.
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I'll wait for Archbishop Nienstedt to make a decree.  Nothing wrong with being taught and guided by one's local ordinary.
"O that my people would heed me,
that Israel would walk in my ways!
At once I would subdue their foes,
turn my hand against their enemies.

The Lord's enemies would cringe at their feet
and their subjection would last for ever.
But Israel I would feed with finest wheat
and fill them with honey from the rock."
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Art source.

13 comments:

  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  2. I like this post and I admire the reverence you show for the Blessed Sacrament. I avoid having to close or open Adoration for the same reasons you do - I don't feel worthy.

    I used to throw leftover partially consumed consecrated Hosts in the trash bin back in the days when I had no notion of The Real Presence. Hell to me would be to be faced with dumpsters full of them that are never empty - my sin staring me straight in the face.

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  3. Cath - I was permitted to take the Blessed Sacrament every day when my mom was dying - oh my goodness! Sometimes I wouldn't get to the hospice until late in the evening - He was in a pyx in my pocket all day long! I cringe when I think of it! I can never do enough reparation.

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  4. At my parish, the priest uses a chalice veil and burse and is very meticulous in the cleaning of the sacred vessels -- this is silent but effective catechesis. He is new -- only here two months -- and I am guessing that this is a new experience for most of my fellow parishioners (since I used to go to St. Agnes from time to time, I at least knew what the burse and chalice veil were).

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  5. Terry, I really appreciate this post. I have found myself in similar situations where I am not really sure the right course of action but simply choose with a proper fear of the Lord. I also took Communion to my wife on bed rest during her first pregnancy which I discontinued because of conflicting feelings.

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  6. I try to be the happy joyful servant when my Lord calls me to do His bidding...I want to emulate Our Blessed Mother, who said "Do unto me" without question.

    I try my very best to not be the grumbling servant who looks around and questions who gets paid a day's wage for what seems like little work...

    Yes I often feel I am not worthy, such a dreadful sinner--but then I remember who the Lord called to be by His side, dirty fishermen and tax collectors and prostitutes. The Lord calls us to work in His vineyard, and that is many various tasks. Whom am I to tell my Master 'No"?? He knows my heart, strengths, and weaknesses, and He choses jobs for me that will benefit the Kingdom that I can do. I hope at the end I can hear the words "Well done, good and faithful servant."

    Sara

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  7. But if there aren't enough priests, or the priests are lazy or overworked, who will bring the Eucharist to the bedridden?

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  8. Here is my rule: I usually take communion in the hand if I am not at a church that uses a paten for the simple reason that I am afraid I will drop the host.

    I used to receive on the tongue exclusively. Now I think receiving in the hands is the safer method when there is no paten.

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  9. The only time I have ever seen a host dropped was when someone was receiving it on the tongue.

    I think that if the general move is back to reception on the tongue, then it should be kneeling at the rail with a paten.

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  10. http://rorate-caeli.blogspot.com/2011/10/great-catholic-horror-story-historical.html

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  11. Aneas, you obviously have never been to our downtown parish, where the priest has huge wingspan and the fastest ciborium in town. It doubles as paten for those receiving on the tongue at the risk of accidental decapitation.

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  12. For me it is nice to have options...

    I struggle with occasional outbreak of cold sores, and currently a nasty tooth abcess..

    When my mouth is clear I love to receive on the tongue.

    But when I am struggling with an outbreak I elect to receive in the hand...so no one has to worry about touching my mouth or lips. I also do not partake of the Precious Blood unless my mouth is clear.

    And when I have an outbreak I use plenty of hand sanitizer....thank God for the invention of purse-size dispensors!!

    Sorry if I grossed out everyone....but it is what it is. I'm sure others struggle with the same issues.

    Sara

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