25 April 2008

Historical Argument Favors Communion on Tongue

Catholic World News Brief via EWTN:

Historical Argument Favors Communion on Tongue

Apr. 22, 2008 (CWNews.com) - The American magazine Catholic Response has published an English translation of a provocative article, originally published in the official Vatican newspaper, calling for an end to the practice of receiving Communion in the hand.

The article by Bishop Athanasius Schneider of Karaganda, Kazakhstan, originally printed in L'Osservatore Romano, examines the historical record of Catholic practice, concluding that the early Church quickly developed the practice in which lay people [received] Communion on the tongue while kneeling. Only ordained ministers were allowed to touch the consecrated Host with their hands.

By the 6th century, Bishop Schneider writes, the Church had formed a consensus that Communion should be received on the tongue, of reverence for the Eucharistic Lord. Pope Gregory the Great chastised priests who resisted that consensus, and it was become an "almost universal practice" in the early Church, the author says.

Kneeling to receive Communion was also a pattern established early in Church history, Bishop Schneider reports. That posture, too, was seen as a means of expressing reverence for Jesus in the Eucharist, and "the most typical gesture of adoration is the biblical one of kneeling."

By administering Communion on the tongue, priests were able to foster greater devotion to the Eucharist; Bishop Schneider remarks that that form is "an impressive sign of the profession of faith the in the Real Presence."

He adds the argument that this form of distributing Communion can prevent accidents. The author cites St. Cyril of Jerusalem, who exhorted priests to use extra caution "so that no even a crumb of the Lord's Body could fall to the ground."

The article published in L'Osservatore Romano, and now translated in Catholic Response, summarizes the more complete argument that Bishop Schneider put forward in his book, Dominus Est. That book, released in Italy earlier this year, drew special notice for two reasons. It was published by the official Vatican press, and a preface was contributed by Archbishop Macolm Ranjith, the secretary of the Congregation for Divine Worship, who said it was "high time to review" the policy of allowing laymen to receive Communion in the hand.


Fr. Andrew said...

I think more about this the more I see irreverent communicants. Especially those carrying infants and either don't know or refuse to use the preferred reception on the tongue.

I tell you one thing, though. If we think ad orientem and dignity in the Reform of the Reform are tough fights, I can't imagine what this would mean! Gonna need strong leadership there.

cmziall said...

Fr. Andrew, I'm with you on the parents carrying infants/children! Poor Jesus! I pray for those people that do that because I'm hoping that they just really don't know and are doing it out of ignorance. I've watched them "fumble, if you will" with trying to pick up the host with one hand, it is SO much easier to just receive on the tongue.

Latinmassgirl said...

I agree with the above comments, but I also find it very disturbing to see people grab (not receive) with one hand the Lord's sacred body, and then jamb it into their mouth as walking away, without bowing before hand or pausing after grabbing.

I would say that only 1/10 of the people bow before receiving communion, and most of them do it to the person in front of them's BACKSIDE because saving time is soooooo important!

Let's pray that the lovely reverence of kneeling and receiving on the tongue becomes the norm again at Novus Ordo masses.

The people who would resist it the most are the "former" hippy, baby boomers, but who cares what they think? They can just go to the pretend masses of the hippy women priestesses and sing "Come to the Table of Plenty", to their heart's content!

Fr. Andrew said...

Peruvian Cardinal bans communion in the hand. Bold.

pam j said...

Please don't lump all baby boomers together. I am in my early 50's, and have received on the tongue for years. I think the reality of the Real Presence is almost palpable when one receives on the tongue. On the other hand, people seem to get lax with reception in the hand, even if they didn't start out that way. I do wish that more Bishops would mandate communion on the tongue.

Joe of St. Thérèse said...

Hmmm, maybe St. Louis will be next in banning Communion on the Hand?

Mickey Addison said...

Great post...I haven't received in the hand for years.

One note, though, on the bow before receiving...when the practice of a "profound bow" was (re)introduced, the catechesis was that we should do so when we are "next" not at the altar rail (figuratively speaking). This in a practical effort to avoid people tangling feet or accidentally knocking Jesus from the hands of the minister. I don't know if that is universal praxis or merely our bishop's idea, but there you go.