07 June 2011

Boiling It Down

There is a good post over at the Te Deum Laudamus! blog, where a parish priest, who urges communion on the tongue, lists the seven most common Holy Communion profanations he sees firsthand:

Here are 7 common Holy Communion profanations that I see all too frequently:
• Blessing oneself with the host before consuming it. (The act of blessing with the Eucharist is called “Benediction”and is reserved to clergy).
• Receiving the host in the palm of the hand,contorting that same hand until the host is controlled by the fingers,then consuming it (resembling a one-handed “watch-the-coin-disappear”magic trick).

• Popping the host into the mouth like a piece of popcorn.

• Attempting to receive with other items in the hands,like a dirty Kleenex or a Rosary.

• Receiving the host with dirty hands.

• Receiving the host,closing the hand around it,then letting the hand fall to the side (as if carrying a suitcase) while walking away and/or blessing oneself with the other hand.

• Walking away without consuming the host.

• Giving the host to someone else after receiving (including animals)…yes,it happens!
 I am glad to see a priest who so greatly cares about the proper treatment of the Body and Blood of Our Lord.  In order to assist my readers, let me condense these common types of profanation into one, easy to understand element:

Communion in the hand.

The priest in the post cites to paragraph 92 of Redemptionis Sacramentum:

“[S]pecial 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.” (Paragraph 92)

His conclusion:

When Holy Communion is received on the tongue…every single one of these abuses is instantly eliminated!

The way we treat another person says more about our relationship with that person than any words we might say. This is especially true of our relationship with the Divine Person,Jesus Christ. So let us continually seek to increase our reverence for our Eucharistic Savior,and to eliminate anything that degrades the respect He deserves.


Left-footer said...

First-rate, long-needed, thank you.

God bless!

Anonymous said...

To animals? And I thought dogs on the Altar was over the top.

just wondering said...

Dont forget the ever popular snatch and grab the host out of the priest's hand, no communion in the hand post could be complete without it.
just wondering

Anonymous said...

I say this keeping in mind how you and many others feel about Extraordinary Ministers of the Eucharist, but I wish that our Eucharistic Ministers would take better care, or at least be provided better training, with the faithful who desire to receive Communion by tongue.

On numerous occasions, I have had an EM practically shove the Blessed Sacrament into my hands, not even bothering to see that I had my mouth open, ready to receive it in that manner. I remember one particular occasion that I had to squat down to show my face (I'm a bit on the tall side), just to get the point across.

A good friend of mine once told me this is all a lesson in humility, but it pains me to see such lack of respect for the Eucharist.


Anonymous said...

This is always a topic that gets me riled up. I'd love to see a requirement of Communion on the tongue, but a few things need to be resolved first.

The first step in this solution is to remove Extraordinary Ministers of the Eucharist. I used to receive exclusively on the tongue, no matter who was distributing Communion (priest, deacon, other). However, after a couple years of this, I finally gave up out of respect for the Eucharist. On more than one occassion the Eucharist was dropped by the minister (I have never had a priest or deacon drop a host). Many other times, the minister would get a whole finger's worth of slobber by not knowing how to put the host on the tongue (this only happens a small portion of the time with priests). Ultimately, I decided when I am forced to receive from a minister (and those times are rare - I always sit at my parish in such a way as to get the priest), I will receive reverently and respectfully in the hand. I don't like it, but I truly feel that sadly, it is the most respectful way.

Second, we need to reinstitute kneeling for Communion. I'm not a tall man, probably on the short side in fact, but we have one priest who visits our parish from time to time who can't be over 4'10". I really don't think he could reach my tongue while standing. I can only imagine how it must be for taller men. And I know, we always have the right to kneel to receive Communion. But lets be practical here: Kneeling in the cattle call type Communion line of Masses these days is (1) Very difficult because of a lack of space, especially when there is not something to lean on; and (2) Makes a scene (even if its a good scene) that most of us are uncomfortable doing.

That all said, I think most priests would prefer to go back to Communion on the tongue. For one, the priest no longer has to deal with all the ministers (to use a bad metaphor - it creates a too many cooks in the kitchen type situation). Additionally, he doesn't have to worry about profanation nearly as much (I've witnessed priests chase people down who failed to consume the host immediately after Communion). And finally, lets be honest, it is much faster. By the time the priest preps all of the EM's, they all go to their places, and then actually distribute Communion, the priest could have easily single-handedly given Communion to the entire congregation at a Communion rail.

Now, I'm not advocating a cold turkey approach, although I wouldn't be opposed to it. At one of my former parishes in the STL area, the priest and one EM used to distribute the Eucharist. I don't know if the priest noticed his line was getting longer each week, or if he was just trying to be holy, but eventually he instituted a third or middle Communion line for those who wanted to receive directly on the tongue from the priest. Each week, his line grew longer and longer as more and more people witnessed him distributing Communion on the tongue. It was a good start that I truly believe eventually could have led to a reimplentation of Communion on the tongue for everyone.

Finally, I would just like to encourage your readers to, as the old Nike commercial would say, "Just do it" and receive Communion on the tongue, especially if you have a priest distributing. I've noticed that other people do pay attention, and when one person is brave enough to receive on the tongue, often times others will follow.

As I say, I would love to see Communion on the tongue become the common practice again. It is much more respectful and helps ensure that no one simply walks off with the Eucharist for profanation purposes, which is always my biggest concern, although dirty hands, etc. are also a problem. But under current circumstances, I think some additional steps are necessary first.

- YoungCatholicSTL

Anonymous said...

If you were on your knees with open mouth to receive Our Lord, there would be no question as to how you desire to receive Him. We must humble ourselves before Him. Thanks for the post Timman!


Anonymous said...

As an ordinary minister of Holy Communion (I'm a deacon) for over six years, I have distributed thousands of hosts at several parishes. The vast majority of those receiving (90+ %) receive in the hand. I have NEVER witnessed any of the seven irreverent actions described in your post. I don't deny that they may happen, but to use these rare occurrences as reasons to mandate receiving on the tongue makes no sense to me.

My biggest dilemma happens when an eager 'tongue recipient' lurches forward to almost bite the host from my hand, leaving traces of saliva on my fingers. (I just pray that my discrete wipe of my finger will protect the next person receiving.)

It matters not to me if the person receives in the hand or on the tongue. I'm very privileged to be able to present the Blessed Sacrament to that individual, and hope that I share in the grace that person receives.

Dcn P

thetimman said...

Dcn P,

With respect, and I mention this not to provoke or embarrass you, but from concern for Our Lord in the Eucharist, may I suggest that wiping your fingers that have disributed the Sacred Hosts and which almost certainly have particles of Our Lord's Body and Blood on them is not a good thing to do? This is illustrative of the real danger of profanation with Communion in the hand. That is why I "boiled it down" to the practice in general.

Protecting people from saliva by wiping off particles from Hosts in the process gets it backwards, I think. This is why the ablutions and purification of vessels are so vital. Recipients of Holy Communion don't have the opportunity for that care, but naturally will be scattering particles as they go about their day.

Communion in the hand is by itself at least a "near occasion " of scandal.

Anonymous said...


I am neither provoked nor embarrassed by your comment, and I respect your beliefs.

However, I do not agree with your opinion that reception in the hand is a "near occasion" of scandal, and I do not believe that the Magesterium subscribes to that view, either.

Dcn P

Thinking Catholic said...

Wow, timman, going after a Deacon, a CLERIC of the Holy Roman Catholic Church!!! I'd back off if I were you, ye who show little respect to ordained clergy who hath been ordained and sanctified by Almighty God. I admonish you from doing so.

-Thinking Catholic

Thinking Catholic said...

Thscandal....I think some people feel they need to use that word at least once a day, just to make them happy, as well as Opus Dei.

-Thinking Catholic

thetimman said...

TC, you really do a great job of elevating any discussion. Here is your virtual pat on the back!

Thinking Catholic said...

Oh yeah, I LOVE elevated ecclesiastical speak!! Vaticanese here, baby!!

-Thinking Catholic