Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Fr. Z: Abolish Communion in the hand

In conjunction with a lengthy treatment of the posture and manner of receiving Holy Communion in the Novus Ordo by H.E. Most Rev. Robert Morlino, Fr. Zuhlsdorf writes, with characteristic punctiliousness:
I think that people who are physically capable of doing so, should always kneel and receive Communion directly on the tongue. I think the permission for Communion in the hand should be abolished. In advance of it being abolished, people should be urged, taught, persuaded to receive on the tongue while kneeling. So there.


kukechu said...

Hmmmm. Why don't we go back to chaining the Bible to the altar so only "approved" priests can read it. It is full of such dangerous ideas, after all. Best to keep a tight leash on everything so the rif-raf will stay in their places, barefoot and on their knees.

Mike Walsh said...

I respect either choice, and I think it would be a mistake to mandate receiving on the tongue. I myself prefer to place the host in the hand --for "my flesh is real food," not medicine-- but you can defend the symbology of either method. The discussion usually overlooks the issue of contact with peoples’ tongues, which I find distasteful and unsanitary, and I do not see communion on the tongue as a certain guarantee against profanation. Now, as to posture, those who are so adamant against kneeling are not only wrong on the law. Physicality is very much a Catholic approach to prayer; it points to the Incarnation, and away from a perverse tendency toward abstraction. That said, proper provision should be made for kneeling to receive; there is some risk when people drop to their knees at the end of a queue in a tight liturgical space; consideration for other people should play a role in that decision. But in any case, reverence is always key, as is respect for the communicants.

Pertinacious Papist said...


Bible's were not chained to altars to keep the laity biblically illiterate. They were chained to altars because hand-copied Bibles took a year or more to produce, cost a fortune, and couldn't be bought at Barnes and Noble for $20. You seem to be operating within the Protestant-Secular textbook tradition (not to mention Mel Brooks typology) that says the Church is the enemy of liberal education (including biblical literacy).

But the Church INVENTED liberal education (cf. the trivium and quadrivium), based on classical sources; founded the great European universities, and created numerous vernacular translations of Scripture well before the Protestant Reformation. There were, as I recall, 24 translations of the entire Bible in German alone, well before Luther completed his.

If there is a good reason for preferring kneeling to standing as a mode of receiving Holy Communion, Fr. Z is probably one to know it. Have you checked whether he has? Do you even care? Just askin' ...

Pertinacious Papist said...

Sorry: "Bibles," not "Bible's."

ABC said...

Mike Walsh

How can you respect either choice?

You justify your "preference" for placing the host in the hand (are you a priest or extraordinary minister?) because of John 6:55, "my flesh is real food." Is your argument that the Body of our Lord should be treated like ordinary food because of this verse? The proper interpretation of this passage (and by proper I mean not the one the pops into your head upon reading it like a protestant but the traditional interpretation given by the Fathers and approved theologians) is that Holy Eucharist is a true sacrament that confers the grace necessary for our spiritual sustenance and growth, just as ordinary food is necessary for the body's sustenance and growth. Calling this sacrament real food in no way justifies treating it like mere bread. It is meant to emphasize the analogy between the bodily and spiritual orders, not to collapse them as you do.

Moreover, this strange interpretation you put forward suggests that Christ is implicitly denying transubstantiation by identifying the Holy Eucharist with mere bread.

As for ignoring things, you would have us believe that Catholics who choose to receive in the hand do so because of deep "symbology" when in fact they do so because they have at best a protestant understanding of the Holy Eucharist. More likely they simply do not believe in transubstantiation. You also ignore the historical reasons why the practice was allowed to fall into disuse and the reasons why it was reintroduced. To suggest that what goes on in the average parish every Sunday is a return to ancient practice rather than a sign and cause of unbelief is a howler. It is a complete rupture with tradition smuggled in under the guise of "restoring ancient practice."

Communion in the hand is probably the number one thing that has corrupted Catholics' faith in transubstantiation. As a Catholic parent I will not take my children to a parish where this practice is found.

Only slightly less absurd are the practices of extraordinary ministers of communion and concelebration where only the principal presider or priest purifies his hands but the other priests and ministers do not. Trent teaches that the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of our Lord is substantially present in every particle of the Eucharistic Species. This teaching is flagrantly denied in the mentioned practices.

While we’re at it can we also get rid of these absurdities?

Dan said...

Actually, bibles were never chained to Altars. I doubt that anything was ever chained to the altar. The book used at the altar was, and is, a missal which, as a matter of fact, was moved around quite a bit during the Mass. Besides, it was in Latin.

Chained books, as PP said, were chained to keep people from walking off with them. (The C of E still has a some of them, still chained, in a church in Hereford, U.K. At least you could see them there in the 80's.)

I am not Spartacus said...

Dear kukechu. The Bugnini Burgoo was created with the purpose of trying to make our Mass mirror a Calvin Service.

Now, I see no reason the Priest ought sit on his chair while Pam and Peter Pew Denizen walk into the Sanctuary to read the Lessons of the day - unless, of course, the plan was He must decrease and we must increase.

The Catholic Priest is another Christ after all and I'd write it in Latin but I do not want to be too closely identified with integrists.

kukechu said...

My bad. I did read Fr. Z's "lengthy treatment" on kneeling and reacted emotionally with ironic cliches and Protestant assumptions rather than substantive arguments. The subject has little or nothing to do with my life or experiences (even though personally I prefer a formal liturgy), so I shouldn't have posted.