I know this will be a controversial post for many people, mostly those who do not know the true facts surrounding the origins of ‘Communion in the Hand’. It is my hope that after reading this, anyone who currently receives Our Lord in their hands for communion will rethink their decision and instead receive Jesus on their tongue which is the most reverent way to receive Our Lord.
I have always received communion on the tongue; Mom taught me catechism and told me that it was a sacrilege to receive communion on the hand and thus I never received Our Lord that way. In 2008 while getting my heart checked out at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester MN, Mom and I went to a Sunday Mass in downtown Rochester. We both knew how liberal the Minnesota Diocese is and weren’t to shocked with the liberal wack-a-doodle antics that occurred during the service, but what we were not expecting was to be yelled at and humiliated by a Priest in front of the whole Church. Mom was in front of me in line to the Priest for communion, we made sure to get in his line as neither of us wanted to receive communion from an old lady. Mom went first and received on her tongue without a hitch, I stepped up to the Priest next and when I stuck out my tongue he yelled “Stick your hand out like everyone else!!“. I was shocked, embarrassed, and feeling really small up there in front of everyone. I held my own and I told the Priest “I’m sorry Father, I cannot receive Jesus with my hands, I never have and I cannot receive him that way“. Father sighed and made another remark before again telling me rather loudly and rudely, “Well then, stick your tongue out!“. He roughly put the host on my tongue and I quickly made my way back to the pew red-faced. Mom and I were in a state of shock. As we left Church we both said “Thank God we are in a conservative diocese that respects the Eucharist“.
Origin of Communion in the Hand
Some people will tell you that Communion in the Hand originated with Vatican II, those who promote such thoughts apparently have not read the documents of Vatican II, no-where in any of the documents is Communion in the hand mentioned. After Vatican II, some ecumenically minded priests in Holland started giving Communion in the hand, in a monkey-see, monkey-do imitation of Protestant practice. But the bishops, rather than do their duty and condemn the abuse, tolerated it. Because Church leaders allowed the abuse to go unchecked, the practice then spread to Germany, Belgium and France. But if the bishops seemed indifferent to this scandal, the laity were outraged. It was the indignation of large numbers of the Faithful which promoted Pope Paul VI to take some action. He polled the bishops of the world on this issue, and they voted overwhelmingly to retain the traditional practice of receiving Holy Communion only on the tongue. And it must be noted that at this time, the abuse was limited to a few European countries. It had not yet started in the United States.
The Pope then promulgated the May 28, 1969 Instruction Memoriale Domine. In summary, the document states:
1) The bishops of the world were overwhelmingly against Communion in the hand.
2) “This manner of distributing Holy Communion (that is, the priest placing the Host on the tongue of the communicants) must be observed.”
3) Communion on the tongue in no way detracts from the dignity of the communicant.
4) There was a warning that “any innovation could lead to irreverence and profanation of the Eucharist, as well as gradual erosion of correct doctrine.
The document further says “the Supreme Pontiff judged that the long received manner of ministering Holy Communion to the Faithful should not be changed. The Apostolic See therefore strongly urges bishops, priests and people to observe zealously this law.”
Communion in the hand – Early Church
Communion in the hand was allowed in some instances in the Early Church. However many councils were heard in which communion in the hand was time and time again banned and people were threatened with excommunication if they were caught taking communion or giving communion in the hand. If the practice was good and holy, why then have so many saints and Church Fathers been against it?
St. Sixtus I (circa 115)
” The Sacred Vessels are not to be handled by others than those consecrated to the Lord . “
St Basil (330 -379 AD)
“The right to receive Holy Communion in the Hand is permitted only in time of Persecution.” He considered Communion in the hand so irregular that he did not hesitate to Consider it a grave fault.
The Council held at Saragozza (380 AD )
It was decided to punish with EXCOMMUNICATION anyone who dared to continue the Practice of Holy Communion in the hand, . The Synod of Toledo Confirmed the Decree.
Pope St. Leo I
The Practice of administering Holy communion on the tongue of the Faithful was energetically defended and faithfully obeyed.
The 6th Ecumenical Council, III of Constantinopolis
It forbade the faithful to take the Sacred host in their hand, Threatening the Transgressors with EXCOMMUNICATION.
St Sixtus I
He Prohibited the Faithful to even touch the Sacred Vessels: “Statutum est ut sacra vasa non ab aliis quam a sacratis Dominoque dicatis Contrectentur Hominbus…”
Pope St. Eutychian (275- 283 AD)
He forbade the faithful to take the Sacred Host in their hand.
The Synod of Rouen (650 AD)
“Do not put the Eucharist in the hands of any layman but only in their mouths.” Thus again Communion in the hand was condemned as an abuse.
St Tomas Aquanis (1225-1274)
“The body of Christ Must not be touched by anyone, other than a Consecrated Priest. No other person has the right ot touch it, except in case of extreme necessity.”
The Council of Trent (1545-1565 AD)
“The Fact that only the Priest gives Holy Communion with his consecrated hands is an apostolic tradition.”
Pope Paul VI (In the Letter Memoriale Domini)
” . . This Method (on the Tongue) must be retained . . .”
Let us note the words of John the Baptist in his speaking of Christ, as he has said that of Christ ” He is the one who comes after me , the thongs of whose sandals I am not worth to untie.”
Pope John-Paul II
“To touch the sacred species and to distribute them with their own hands is a privilege of the ordained” (Dominicae Cenae, 11)
Started in Defiance, Perpetuated by Deception
Not only was Communion in the hand started in disobedience, it was perpetuated by deceit. Space doesn’t allow all the details, but the propaganda in the 1970s that was used to sell Communion in the hand to a trusting, vulnerable people was a campaign of calculated half-truths that didn’t tell the whole story. A quick example will be found in the writings of Monsignor Champlin. His writings:
- give the reader the false impression that Vatican II provided a mandate for the abuse when, in fact, it is not hinted at in any Council documents.
- do not tell the reader that the practice was started by clergymen in defiance of established liturgical law but makes it sound as if it were a request from the laity.
- do not make clear to the reader that the world’s bishops, when polled, voted overwhelmingly against Communion in the hand.
- do not mention that permission was only to be a toleration of the abuse where it had already been established by 1969. It was not a green light for it to spread to other countries, like the United States
Communion in the Hand – Protestantism
400 years ago, Communion in the hand was introduced into “Christian” worship by men whose motives were rooted in defiance of Catholicism. The 16th Century Protestant revolutionaries (more politely but undeservedly called Protestant “reformers”) re-established Communion in the hand as a means of showing two things:
1) That they believed there was no such thing as “transubstantiation” and that the bread used at Communion time was just ordinary bread. In other words, the real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist is just a “Papist superstition”, and that the bread is just bread and anybody can handle it.
2) Their belief that the minister of Communion is no different in essence from laymen. Now, it is Catholic teaching that the Sacrament of Holy Orders gives a man a spiritual, sacramental power, it imprints an indelible mark on his soul and makes him different in essence from laymen.
The Protestant Minister, however, is just an ordinary man who leads the hymns, reads the lessons and gives sermons to stir up the convictions of the believers. He can’t change bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Our Lord, he can’t bless, he can’t forgive sins. He can’t do anything a normal layman can’t do. He is not a vehicle for sacramental grace.
The Protestant’s establishment of Communion in the Hand was their way of showing their rejection of belief in the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist, rejection of the Sacramental Priesthood — in short, to show their rejection of Catholicism altogether.
From that point on, Communion in the hand received a distinctly anti- Catholic significance. It was a recognizably anti-Catholic practice rooted in disbelief in the real presence of Christ and the priesthood.
Video’s detailing the great sacrilege’s that occur from people receiving communion in the hand.
This is a very powerful video, it will open your eyes.
Cardinal Burke Speaks about WHY we should only receive communion on the tongue.
Cardinal Arinze speaks on the Eucharist and receiving on the tongue while kneeling
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