Communion in the Hand

I had an interesting discussion with some good friends on the ride up to the closing ceremony of this past weekend’s Pentecost Cursillo – we were discussing the issue of Communion in the hand. One of the men mentioned Mother Theresa of Calcutta’s statement that the saddest thing she saw as she traveled around the world was people receiving Holy Communion in the hand. Considering the misery this holy woman encountered every day of her life, this is an astounding statement. I agree with her.
Most people don’t realize that the bishops voted on this issue at the Second Vatican Council and the vote was overwhelmingly in favor of retaining the traditional manner of receiving communion on the tongue. So what happened? A few disobedient bishops in different countries began to allow communion in the hand in spite of the expressed wishes of the Church which were revealed in this vote. The practice began to spread and after many years of this abuse, the Church, by way if Indult, ALLOWED communion in the hand. So, it is by way of years of something being done in defiance of the Church – disobedience – that we see the great majority of Catholics receiving Our Lord in their hand. Are we comfortable doing something that we know only came about through an habitual defiance of the Church’s preferred practice? It can be compared to a parent forbidding a child to do something and the child disobeys for many years and engages in this activity behind Mom and Dad’s back. By the time Mom and Dad realize and find out what has been happening, the child is grown, the damage is done and to lay down the law would cause World War III in the family.
Communion on the tongue is a beautiful way to demonstrate our dependence on Our Lord and His priests. His priests come and feed our souls with the Holy Body of the Lord. One last thing: up until the 1960’s, the idea of anyone other than the priest touching the sacred host was unheard of. Today, the sacred host is handled by the majority of people sitting in the pews. Has this caused a casualness in the way we look at the Blessed Sacrament? Can casualness result in a corresponding loss of faith in the Real Presence of Our Lord in the sacred species? Jesus is present in every tiny particle of the host – is it true that Our Lord is being placed in people’s pockets, that He is allowed to fall to the floor of our churches, that He is being stolen away for the purpose of sacriligeous practices, that He is being found in misalettes and in the homes of some of our fellow Catholics? The answer to all of these questions is yes and it is a predictable result of this practice which is only ALLOWED in the Church – it is not the norm – it is an exception. God Bless.