Tuesday, September 06, 2011

Holy Communion in the hand...

[Editor's note:  Since there was some discussion about this topic, I decided it would be best to post something official from the Holy See that addresses the issue of Communion in the hand.]
What does the Congregation for Divine Worship say?
[90.] “The faithful should receive Communion kneeling or standing, as the Conference of Bishops will have determined”, with its acts having received the recognitio of the Apostolic See. “However, if they receive Communion standing, it is recommended that they give due reverence before the reception of the Sacrament, as set forth in the same norms”.[176]
[92.] Although each of the faithful always has the right to receive Holy Communion on the tongue, at his choice,[178] if any communicant should wish to receive the Sacrament in the hand, in areas where the Bishops’ Conference with the recognitio of the Apostolic See has given permission, the sacred host is to be administered to him or her. However, special care should be taken to ensure that the host is consumed by the communicant in the presence of the minister, so that no one goes away carrying the Eucharistic species in his hand. If there is a risk of profanation, then Holy Communion should not be given in the hand to the faithful.[179]
[14.] “The regulation of the Sacred Liturgy depends solely on the authority of the Church, which rests specifically with the Apostolic See and, according to the norms of law, with the Bishop.[34] - Redemptionis Sacramentum
Communion-in-the-hand is approved by the Holy See as an option for the United States, and for many other countries, including Italy.
And don't forget...
[19.] The diocesan Bishop, the first steward of the mysteries of God in the particular Church entrusted to him, is the moderator, promoter and guardian of her whole liturgical life.[39] For “the Bishop, endowed with the fullness of the Sacrament of Order, is ‘the steward of the grace of the high Priesthood’,[40] especially in the Eucharist which he either himself offers or causes to be offered,[41] by which the Church continually lives and grows”.[42] - Redemptionis Sacramentum
That's all.


  1. Excellent Post Terry, very informative. Thank you for sharing that.

  2. In case you haven't noticed, people who argue about Latin v. English, "in the hand" v. "on the tongue", standing v. kneeling, guitar v. organ, etc. don't really care what the Vatican has to say on those issues. They have decided for themselves, just like Martin Luther decided for himself.

    I think that the biggest improvement that we could make in the mass is to have the priest face "ad orientem", towards the East, instead of "ad populum", towards the people.

    Facing the people entices celebrants to be performers, entertainers and extemporizing interpreters of the liturgy.

    If they are facing the tabernacle and the crucifix when they are saying most of the prayers/words of the Mass, they are saying them to God. They should face God.

    The should only face the people when they are leading them in prayer calling for responses or when reading the Epistle, Gospel and Psalm's of the day's Mass. And of course, the homily and announcements.

    And by the way, church choirs are not entertainers and should not be on the altar at all. Hie them to the rear.

    I personally don't like choirs at all as I can't hear the words of the Mass when people are singing 5 verses of the day's selections.

  3. The minimalist attitude doesn't sit well with me. Yeah, you can receive communion in the hand. But should you? Probably not. When I was in the seminary (take that!) I'd be sitting through conversation # 1,459 about the reasons why there is a lack of belief in the Papacy, Church teaching, the Real Presence etc. The same blokes would nod their head before receiving in the hand, sit throughout adoration and seem confused when I'd make a sign of the cross when passing a Church. Sure, they were 'orthodox' but they were bloody uninspiring. If you're going act like it's a piece of bread, then don't be surprised when others take the next step and THINK it's a piece of bread.

  4. Anonymous7:53 AM


    You seem to be suffering from conspiracy theories.


    Testosterone has withered on the spine and the Holy See has made this consession and loosened the penance for those too paralyzed by the 'fear' or "akwardness" of sticking out their tongue.

    They know full well that the price of our salvation is under your feet. As you know and many of people with billy clubs in your comments boxes knows.

    The lack of respect for the Eucharist tells a story. A person may not like what that story says about you when a mirror is held up to your face. They may despise people who have more respect for the Eucharist than you do. They may set out to demoralize them. All of this done over the course of the last two days to a woman who simply tried to explain why the shedding of particles with Communion in the hand is something important to her and others.

    If a person doesn't care about the shedding of particles of Christ on to the floor, they don't care. When someone does care, they care more. They care more because they love more. It isn't rocket science.

    What a den of iniquity this blog has become.

  5. Anonymous7:58 AM

    Joel, you said it brother.

    The minimilist attitude about Christ's Body and Blood has been a pathetic thing to watch unravel here.

  6. This comment has been removed by the author.

  7. Wow, people are being really mean today. I haven't seen an issue in anyone's comments. It seems we are all in favor of Terry's post. We are all passionate for our Lord; we just show it in different ways.

    In regards to this post: i have had a priest say we must receive in the hand since that is the norm the US Bishops have established. This was said to me as I pointed out how nice it is to see parishioners receive on the tongue, that I wish we could encourage more to do so. He basically alluded to my being pharesaic (sp?) and that those people who received in the hand were generally more reverent than those who received on the tongue. How do you respond to that?

  8. Anonymous8:59 AM

    Time for a new spiritual adviser!

  9. Anne, I think the only response is "really? The Holy See says that we may receive either way."

  10. Fr. Richard9:01 AM


    That priest is "out there" and I don't mean that in a "judgmental" way- but just based on what you said. As a priest myself for over 11 years my observation is that Communion in the hand has decreased reverence for the Eucharist and belief in the Real Presence. Is that the only reason? No. There are a lot of factors, but communion in the hand doesn't help. Would I go so far as to tell people to stop receiving in the hand, no as well. As long as the Holy See says it is permitted I will go with that, but I do hope, as many of my priest friends hope, that someday, hopefully soon, the Holy Father simply says, "let's go back to Communion on the tongue." It is kind of a schzoprenic reality that Pope Benedict both pre- papacy and post-papacy in interviews has said he prefers Communion on the tongue because of the need for an increase in reverence for the Blessed Sacrament, yet he still permits Communion in the hand (see the picture at the top of this post)- maybe because of holy prudence in that the time is not right now as so many Catholics, including Bishops and priests, would rebel and be disobedient if he issued a decree saying as much. In the meantime I just try to teach my people reverence for the Blessed Sacrament whether they receive on the tongue or in the hand, but if they ask me privately, which is the sign to me of the Holy Spirit tugging at them on this issue, I do tell them I prefer receiving on the tongue and give them the reasons. It's a strange time we live in concerning Church discipline and practices, but I guess it always is the case for the first hundred years after a major Church council.

  11. Fr. Richard sums it up well - thanks Fr. Richard.

    Personally, I prefer to receive Holy Communion on the tongue while kneeling. At my parish, that is not the custom. Yesterday I was at the Cathedral and I received Communion standing and in the hand, as all the others before me did as well. I received from a Monsignor, but a Bishop presided at Mass. No prohibitions against receiving in the hand were announced before Communion.

    The practice is permitted and it has become the custom, the norm for most parishes. It is up to the bishops to implement changes when and where needed.

    The issue has been discussed for decades, I posted the official statement, which if you read the entire text, also warns against abuses, such as the whole congregation going forward for Holy Communion and so on. Again - it is up to the priests and bishops to correct abuses as they arise.

    I must say I am impressed by the holiness and beautiful devotion expressed by many of the commenters here. Please pray for my conversion - I mean that sincerely. I too fear this blog has become a den of iniquity. Pray for me that I can change and do God's will. Thanks very much.

  12. As an observant priest, I agree with Fr. Richard. In fact I reminded my parishioners this weekend Mass to receive the Holy Eucharist with utmost reverence. Some people receive the Eucharist with slack & apathy

  13. If it's good enough for the Holy Father, it's good enough for me...

    I receive kneeling (when possible) and on the tongue, but that is me...do prefer that method after much prayer and meditation. There are times whenI have to stande because my knee is giving me fits, or I'm in a dress--I don't get up very gracefully due to a bad knee. But I also have no problems receiving in the hand, andI personally don't feel any more or less reverent one way or another...

    As far as other folks, well that's their problem...when you MAKE people attend Sunday Mass, then you are going to have a population that really doens't want to be there and are keeping a pew warm..really hard to jam reverency down someone's throat. It would be really angelic if everyone who was there REALLY wanted to be there..but we all know that's not the case.

    So I just worry about Sara, and chase down the occasional individual who tries to sneak away with the Blessed Sacrament==usually their parents are mortified. And receiving by mouth doesn't stop that...I've seen kids spit it out by the time they get to me...due to our local dry climate many hosts are rock-hard and do not "melt in your mouth" as you would hope.....and I really feel for the elderly foks with dentures/bad teeth who have to suck on it for awhile..


  14. In Germany most of the old churches still had altar rails, and people used them, believe it or not!

    I received on the tongue for the first time today, after taking a deep bow - I don't know if I'd ever be able to stop and kneel like some people do. I admire their devotion though.

    For those who regularly attend the EF or for those who remember the old days: if there were no EMHCs, and if everyone received kneeling at the rail, then how long did Communion take, especially if there are well over 100 people receiving communion, as in some large parishes (and I will assume for the sake of this question that they are all, in fact, in a state of grace)?

    Perhaps Nan or Henry Carlson knows the answer for the Byzantine rite. I'm not asking because I'm averse to spending more time in church - it's just that I was under the impression that Mass usually lasted about an hour or so, even in the old days (that is, unless your priest was a Saint like John Vianney or Philip Neri and would preach a sermon for over an hour :) ).

  15. "In case you haven't noticed, people who argue about Latin v. English, "in the hand" v. "on the tongue", standing v. kneeling, guitar v. organ, etc. don't really care what the Vatican has to say on those issues. They have decided for themselves, just like Martin Luther decided for himself."

    Followed directly by:
    "I think that the biggest improvement that we could make in the mass is to have the priest face "ad orientem"

    Hello? Pot. Kettle. Black.

  16. Totally majorly off-topic....

    But you REALLY need to check out the Google Doodle commemorating Freddy Mercury's 65th birthday..

    Happy Birthday Freddie...you were one of my musical inspirations...wish you could have celebrated with me the first time I was able to sing all of "Bohemian Rapsody" (as well as FINALLY play the guitar part :)

    Love and peace to you, Sara

  17. Charlotte, in all fairness to Ray, he's just expressing his opinion, which is shared by lots of people who would wish things to be that way.

    He didn't make claims about the validity of the Mass or the state of the souls of people who like it that way or anything like that - that's fair enough, I guess.

    He's probably also referring to the fact that the Vatican II rubrics really do call for more traditional elements - but it should also be pointed out that the way things are today, the proverbial genie is out of the bottle, and we need to be careful about accusing people of deliberately ignoring the Vatican (priests who do not say Mass in Latin are not dissidents, and in some places an organ or an organist is not available - and in some places just getting the Words of Institution right is a blessing).

    I think we have to balance what the Vatican actually said in V2 with the fact of what happened in the 70s, with the fact that most priests and laypeople, even those very loyal to the Church, have grown up with those changes, and with the directives and guidelines that come from the Vatican and the bishops now.

    Latin will not automatically cause reverence - for many people used to English it would cause confusion and frustration. And that is not due to inferior spiritual formation, so please, no one claim that.

    It would therefore be imprudent to just all of a sudden switch to Latin wholesale, unless we want to claim, as some seriously do, that God only accepts Latin in the liturgy.

  18. But Mercury, God only DOES accept Latin in the liturgy.

    I hear you about Ray. But it just struck me as odd - chastising others for their opinions on liturgy and then proffering his own. (Actually, I agree with his particular opinion.)


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