10 January 2012

When Will Bishops Follow the Pope's Lead?

The Remnant's online site has an article that asks this very relevant question, specifically concerning the norm of receiving Holy Communion while kneeling, on the tongue of the recipient.  This is not a new gripe, of course, but the article does a nice job of reminding us that the novelty of Communion-in-the-hand, however ubiquitous, began as an abuse and continues as a unchecked cause of sacrilege that has led to a loss of faith in the Real Presence. 

When the Congregation for Divine Worship acceded to the request to allow this in the U.S., for example, it pointed to Pope Paul VI's Memoriale Domini, which ruled out a change to the universal mode of reception.  Yet, when then allowing the derogation in the United States, it made the following statement:  "The condition is the complete avoidance of any cause for the faithful to be shocked and any danger of irreverence toward the Eucharist."  I can only imagine that this condition imposed on the Bishops' recourse to this novelty was a charge to ensure that the the Holy Eucharist was treated with such reverence that scandal and sacrilege would be avoided.  However, as it has been implemented in history, the response of the Bishops and priests seems to have been to ensure that there is so much irreverence and sacrilege that no member of the faithful can possibly ever be shocked by anything ever again.

From the full article:

Communion in the Hand while Standing:
What’s the problem?

by Howard Toon

The Church teaches that Christ’s Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity are present in the Blessed Sacrament. There are many Martyrs who gave their lives rather than deny this teaching. Any self-respecting Catholic knows this. There really ought to be no question about how Holy Communion should be received, and that is: on the tongue whilst kneeling.

There can be no denying that Holy Communion is now almost universally received in the hand and that this has been the case since shortly after the conclusion of the Second Vatican Council. Note, however, that there is no mention whatever of Communion in the hand in the documents of Vatican II. In fact, Cardinal L Suenens first introduced the practice illicitly in Belgium in the mid 1960s from whence it spread quickly to Holland, Germany and France.

When the abuse came to the notice of Pope Paul VI in 1969, he issued Memoriale Domini ruling out universal change to the Church’s method of administering Holy Communion on the tongue to kneeling communicants. In this document the Pope expressed his sadness that Communion in the hand had been introduced in some places without either his knowledge or the Church’s consent.

Subsequently, Pope John Paul II twice indicated the irregularity of this practice as a universal norm. In Dominicae Cenae (Feb. 1980), he stated: “To touch the sacred species and to distribute them with their own hands is a privilege of the ordained.”

Then, in Inaestimabile Donum (April, 1980), Pope John Paul wrote: "It is not permitted that the faithful should themselves pick up the consecrated bread and the sacred chalice, still less that they should hand them from one to another."

Pope Benedict XVI now shows by his own example how the Apostolic See wishes Holy Communion to be administered. At his Papal Masses the faithful are obliged to kneel and receive on the tongue from HIS hand, not their own.

In fact, no post-conciliar Pope has approved, much less promoted, the novelty of Communion in the hand. Papal toleration is not the same as papal approval! That ought to be sufficient to make priests and the faithful reflect seriously on what they do.


Given the suffering that Our Lord went through in order to redeem our souls, and the greatness of our debt to Him, it is clear that no Catholic should come into His presence without genuflecting, and no Catholic should receive Him in Holy Communion without kneeling down in reverence. It ought to go without saying that no lay Catholic should ever consider touching the Blessed Sacrament with his hands. Such was the teaching throughout history up to 1960.

Religious Instruction was then suddenly changed to Religious Education and a new programme imposed teaching children to explore the different religions as if they were all equally valid means for attaining eternal life.


At any rate, an indicator of the success of the new strategy is reflected in a U.S. gallop poll of a few years ago recording just 30% of U.S. Catholics now believing in Our Lord’s True Presence. The other 70% had either various shades of Protestant belief or no belief at all. This situation can only have come about through ignorance – through simply obscuring the facts.

How has this been allowed to happen? It wasn’t just allowed to happen – it was deliberately brought about...


Amongst the chief obstacles preventing the success of their plans, however, are the Mass of all Ages, and the Real Presence of Christ in the Blessed Sacrament. The only way for them to overcome these obstacles is to debase the ancient Catholic Liturgy, from which man gains the grace to resist temptation and evil, and to destroy belief in the Real Presence.

The Novus Ordo Mass was specifically written to be inoffensive to Protestants by removing all mentions of it being a Sacrifice, and replacing that doctrine with one of it being a mere commemoration banquet or “celebration of the Lord’s supper,” as it is now widely known. This part of the undermining is now very well entrenched, and few Catholics realise what has befallen them.


If this tide of indifferentism is to be reversed, three important things have to happen. These are the restoration of the Mass of all Ages, with its emphasis on Sacrifice, restoring respect for Our Lord by fostering belief in the Real Presence, and the daily recitation of the rosary.

Pope Benedict XVI has already made a start by showing us that Holy Communion should only be received kneeling and on the tongue. When will the Catholic world begin following Peter’s lead?


Kansas Catholic said...

The Holy Father is leading by example, a technique that has a delayed effect. I adore his example, but he sees fit to show rather than tell. I, like you, perhaps, would like more telling than showing. In spite of my impatience, I leave it to the Holy Father's judgment.

Latinmassgirl said...

This is a good article about a very serious hot-button issue. When my daughter received her first Holy Communion, a few months before SFdS, her whole "class" was taught to receive in the hand, and not on the tongue. Her and another home schooled child were the only ones who received on the tongue. They were not taught to bow as per the Bishops' request, and sang just awful Protestant songs too.

I just don't get why our Pope doesn't do as a good daddy would - just insist that everyone go back to receiving on the tongue, while kneeling.

Anonymous said...

Shame on the 12 Apostles who not only took the consecrated loaf of bread from Jesus, but broke off pieces with their bare hands and ate as if it was a meal! Don't they realize that, almost 2,000 years later, it would be labeled a "sacrilege?" And obviously the faith in the Real Presence died off quickly after this "derogation?"

JPII fan

thetimman said...

JPII fan,

How old are you? You mean to say that you were present at the Last Supper? If so, accept my apology for not realizing that Jesus handed out the Consecrated Body. If you weren't there, then you don't know for sure how Communion was distributed.

And yet, and yet... even if the Apostles took the Hosts themselves, you realize they were priests, right? So your attempt at allegory doesn't really fit.

But, good try.

Anonymous said...


The Last Supper was a Seder meal, celebrated by Jewish people. Jesus was a Jew. It would be highly unusual that Jesus would have chosen to break a tradition that had been around since the time of the Exodus, so "no," not for a second do I believe Jesus placed the consecrated bread "under their roof."

Yes, this sacred night, two Sacraments of the church were born: the Holy Eucharist and Holy Ordination.

Over the years, the church leaders moved further and further away from the Eucharist being a Seder meal, a meal celebration. For the first several decades, this celebration took place in catacombs and in the privacy of homes, in olive gardens ... wherever these people could gather in secret.

Maybe, just maybe, our Church leadership strove to strike a balance between the two heresies that are still being wrestled with today. The first is Pantheism, were God is everywhere. It is taking the belief that "When two or more are gathered in my name, there I am" to the extreme. The other side is the Deism heresy, where God is so distant it can hardly be connected with, and only adored or admired from afar.

Somewhere in the middle of most heresies is the truth. Some of our church fathers thought that the Tridentine Eucharist was too close to Deistic practices, where only the priest had access to God's presence, which only could be conjured up by precise rituals, akin to voodooism. The other extreme is that the Eucharist is simply a family dinner at McDonalds, where God is going to make His presence known whatever we do.

Depending on how angry we are at the other side probably tells us each which heresy we are closest to. Folks - this is NOT an either/or situation, but like the extremes of all heresies, our church Fathers have attempted to keep us grounded in the middle. YES, some say the church went too far with enforcing strict guidelines in a language not at all accessible to the common man, and then too far again when it attempted to move towards the middle through Vatican II.

JPII fan

P.S. Timman, a real service you could offer, instead of red herrings, would be to bring up a heresy of the week, from all sides, to understand the serious work our church Fathers have to deal with to keep the ship afloat.

Long-Skirts said...


To the Nuclear
Plant I went
With wafered host
I was hell-bent.

Exposed un-consecrated
Wafered host
To radiation
Now nuked toast.

Offered heretic
"Taste and see."
"Oh no!" He cried
"That's not for me!"

"But look," I said,
"Nothings changed
A still white wafered
Host arranged."

"Though looks the same
Could do much harm!"
Said heretic
With much alarm.

As Catholics know
A spiritual radiation
Daily at Mass
The Transubstantiation!

Anonymous said...

Should have clarified - would be awesome if you could put TWO opposing heresies side-by-side, and show how our Church Fathers have tried to navigate in between the two.

That would be far, far more educational and interesting than just tossing out random perceived abuses. Then again, is this website supposed to educate us, or is it just like the mainstream media? I.e. do you just keep tossing out quick hits to intentionally enrage your readers for a few seconds, which allows them to feel good about themselves because they are 'doing the right things' as opposed to the 'wrong' you lay out?

JPII fan

Latinmassgirl said...

JP!! fan,

I guess you are a fan of the congregation grabbing the Holy Eucharist in their hands. Timman makes a good point that the Apostles were priests, so your point is mute.

Does it not bother you that crumbs of His Precious Body have been known to fall on the floor? What about the people that decide to take His Precious Body and desecrate it at another location, or give it to another person, or sell His body on the internet?

What about when the lay person giving Precious Blood at the ordinary form of the mass trips and it spills to the ground? Then everyone steps around and oops, some it it, before His blood is cleaned up after communion? Yes, I saw that one. No, there is no reverence lost and we all can just eat supper together during mass.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for pointing out one specific area of abuse.

My point is that the Church Fathers - ALL the Cardinals and the Pope at the time, did NOT change the practices of how the Sacred Eucharist is celebrated in order to desecrate the Sacred Body and Blood of Christ. They were addressing a problematic heresy at the time, and now this site and your few instances are pointing out what might be heretical practices on the other side of the spectrum.

This is not a borderline either/or situation here. The Church Fathers were trying to stop the heretical practice that was sadly looking more and more like voodoo practices. Instead of just tossing out red herrings, here is a little education: The term "Hocus Pocus" came from the sacred words of Consecration, "Hoc est Corpus," or "This is my body." It is a term mocking the core of our Catholic faith, but mocking it because in some practices, it is the heresy that the priest, by rigidly following a prescribed set of rituals, conjures God up, and any variation of that won't work. (One only needs to watch Harry Potter to find similar beliefs that a mispronunciation here or there usually has dire consequences.) Does God make his presence known through the Catholic Liturgy ONLY when certain things in conjunction with precise rituals? Discussions along these lines would be far more insightful than tossing out random abuses.

Sadly, abuses happen on all sides. And scrupulosity is a serious disorder that might make one obsessively concerned about cedrtain practices, e.g., when a priest breaks the consecrated host, shards might fly and fall to the floor, and then what if not properly handled? What if the recipient retracts their tongue before the Lord's body is placed there, and the Host falls onto their clothing or shoes, with microscopic particles falling at all contact points? (One only needs to check out a few YouTube videos to see a few of these during weddings.) With over a billion Catholics on the planet, we can assume every possible type of accidental abuse probably has occured. Does God withdraw his love and presence because it doesn't conform to what my definition of "right and wrong" is?

Jesus's own blood was spilled all over the place - when His back was whipped, when the crown of thorns jammed onto His head, when soldiers beat Him, when He fell along the path to Golgatha ... and when He died. Do you worry about the treatment of all that blood as much as what you might during the Eucharist?

JPII fan