Communion in the Hand

Since my first post on this topic near the beginning of Coronavirus precautions being taken in America, I’ve noticed reception of Communion in the hand becoming a more and more divisive issue on the Catholic Internet, where everything is a divisive issue. I have therefore decided to add to the confusion, since that is the teleological purpose of social media considered as such.

As usual, I will discuss one question rather than every question in the world (please don’t waste your time commenting “but what about this other issue?” If what I say doesn’t apply to you, move on). Specifically, I will not discuss:

  • Whether Communion in the hand or tongue is more sanitary (I’m not a doctor and never will be).
  • Whether a bishop has a canonical right to require his people to receive one way or another (I’m not a Canon Lawyer. Yet. God help me).

Bishop Athanasius Schneider, the auxiliary bishop of Astana, Kazakhstan, posted about this a few days ago. He calls for the establishment of a “Day of Reparation for the crimes against the Most Holy Eucharist,” and urges the faithful to greater piety in receiving the Body and Blood of Christ. All of that, of course, sounds fine to me.

I’m less sure about the implication, found in the document above and in an increasing number of places, that reception of Communion in the hand is, in itself, sacrilegious or disrespectful.

I call it an implication because it’s less often said as passive-aggressively alluded to. If Bishop Schneider said that it was simply sacrilege to receive in the hand, he would be saying that the Latin Church, for several decades, has officially allowed sacrilege, to say nothing of the Chaldean Church, whose most ancient practice is reception in the hand. If that were the case, the immediate question would be whether the Holy Spirit has left the Church. He has not. But rather than say things explicitly and be cornered in a contradiction (why are you still Catholic then?), the language is left on the level of allusion.

A typical response to my question generally has two steps: first, anything outside the Latin tradition is dismissed as irrelevant (because apparently population is a parameter for truth); second, the post-Vatican-2 history of the decision to allow Communion in the hand in the Latin Rite is discussed, with a particular stress on any negative aspects of the people and events in question.

It is certainly legitimate to make critiques by understanding history. I personally don’t find arguments from historical context sufficient to dismiss a practice or teaching of the Church, but if you’re persuaded that the conditions and motivations around which decisions made by the Magisterium are that important, I only ask that you do this consistently. I suggest beginning with the Council of Ephesus (if not earlier), and making sure you get to Vatican I and the discussions about Papal Infallibility. You might be surprised to find that corruption, selfishness, political motivation, and all kinds of other nasty things did not begin at the Second Vatican Council. Then, when a decision has a sufficiently ugly background, you should dismiss it as you dismiss the allowance Communion in the hand.

The alternative, which I adopt, is to believe that the Holy Spirit is still in charge despite all of this, and maybe the stress should be not on where you receive Communion but how.

Imagine (not the John Lennon song – I don’t have a wife to beat) that all the ink spilled attacking Communion in the hand was instead spent discussing the importance of reverence during Mass and especially while receiving Christ. That would turn the faithful toward the sublime Mysteries occurring before their eyes, and make them conscious of Particles possibly left on their hands or in their teeth when they receive. Bishop Schneider, by the way, says that there are “almost always” particles that fall when Communion is received in the hand, which I think is patently false after a few seconds of observation. Perhaps his parishioners are particularly clumsy and mine are particularly graceful, but I doubt it. However, Particles do sometimes fall, just like there are sometimes Particles stuck in people’s teeth or palate when they leave Mass and begin gossiping about the priest. And certainly, we should take care to prevent that from happening.

Again, imagine if all these years we had been talking about reverence rather than body parts. The Problem of Particles could have been solved, because people would have been taught to be careful rather than to bicker. Instead, we’ve turned people’s focus toward judging other communicants, celebrants, bishops, and ecumenical councils. How any of that is good for anyone’s soul is a deep mystery of the faith.

Even worse, I’ve been shocked to see people say that one should not receive the Eucharist at all rather than receive in the hand. I have no idea the motivation behind this, but I have a hard time believing that telling people not to receive Christ when they can, and are properly disposed, and want to, and are longing to, is at root anything short of Satanic. The Body of Christ is being given to you freely, without any deserving on your part (what could anyone do to deserve this?), and at that moment, the best moment of your life, you focus not on the Gift of God but on your “rights” to receive as you prefer, or on your “taking a stand” (as if you’re the Punisher) to stop the “irreverence” that apparently always happens when people receive by hand. I am bewildered how anyone can believe this attitude can help the Church.

So I guess I’ll take my own advice and conclude by stressing how reverent one must be when receiving Communion, both internally and externally.

If you receive on the tongue with reverence in your heart, God bless you. If instead of reverence your mind is focused on the judgment of the souls of others, understand how serious is the sickness in your soul. In that moment of blindingly bright Light, your eyes turn to darkness. That is spiritually destructive of your own soul, and all those who bicker bitterly about this on social media are partly to blame for that destruction. By your words will you be justified, and by your words will you be condemned.

If you receive in the hand, whether by choice or out of humble obedience to the request of your bishop in response to Covid stuff, then:

  1. Receive the Host in your hand and place it carefully in your mouth while standing, not while walking back to your seat.
  2. Be careful to check for and consume any Particles that may be left on your hands.
  3. The ancient practice mentioned by Narsai and Cyril of Jerusalem 1500 years ago is to place your right hand crosswise over your left, receive the Host on that hand-made cross, then bow your head as you receive the Host from your right hand without picking it up. Since that’s hard to do while walking, and your mouth picks up some of the particles that might have been leave behind, this practice can help with the first two points.
  4. I’ve seen lots of people at St. Peter’s receive that way in their hands while also kneeling. That seems cool to me.

No matter how you receive, do so with a humble and grateful soul, and then go back to your seat and pray your heart out.

I submit to the reader the possibility that discussing this kind of reverence is a better way to build up the Church, protect the Eucharist, and encourage reverence, than attacking the legitimate practice of Communion in the hand. But it’s less dramatic and gets fewer clicks, so you decide what you prefer.

35 thoughts on “Communion in the Hand

  1. great article Fr Andy, I’m sending this to so many people who say “if I can’t receive on the tongue, then I will not receive at all”……This just boggles my mind
    Thank you
    God bless
    Jeff Kassab

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  2. Thank you Father for your well balanced arguments and reflections. I was in junior high school when the Roman rite started to allow communion in the hand. In second grade when I received my First communion we were taught to never touch a host even if someone coughed it on the floor or something, but to get the priest to pick it up. Then low and behold without warning everything changed. Maybe these seemingly impulsive changes with little or no preparation of the faithful contribute to the problem. Is it really a crime to start preparing and educating ten or fifteen years before actually implementing a change like this?

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  3. Agree. I have received communion on the hand for years. I have also received communion on the tongue for years. I carefully check my hand for particles after reception and do not often find them. Occasionally, I will perhaps see a speck which I just consume which may or may not be part of host. (less than 1 out of 10) –Also check st. Faustina’s Diary paragraph 160. Jesus purposely places a host in her hands and neither she nor Jesus seems upset about it. Jesus says he even desired to be not only in her heart but in her hands. Always a good quote to keep me humble about what I do, as it is not really about me but what Christ wants. Jesus wants to be received so I hope no one scares people away with misguided arguments about communion on the hand.

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  4. Father, with all due respect I don’t think you addressed any of the concerns here. What about The 6th Ecumenical Council, III of Constantinopolis which excommunicated those who received on the hand?

    What about Saint Thomas Aquinas who says “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.”

    What about the Synod of Rouen that said “Do not put the Eucharist in the hands of any layman but only in their mouths.”

    Or Pope Saint John Paul II who said “To touch the sacred species and to distribute them with their own hands is a privilege of the ordained” (Dominicae Cenae, 11).

    I also understand your view on common observance of this, but the studies show that this does lead to a loss of particles http://www.latinmassmagazine.com/pdfs/Losing-Fragments-LM-2009-Fall.pdf

    In regards to the St. Cyril quote (which has been seen as dubious in recent years) St. Cyril says in that same quote that we should touch the precious blood to our eyeballs and ears, should we do that too? I also am hesitant to take a Semi-Arian Saint’s dubious quote over the entire tradition of our Fathers.

    Quite frankly, I don’t care about judging anyone on this issue, I just don’t want to see Our Lord abused. I purposefully go to a parish which only does communion on the tongue, for this reason, I couldn’t stand seeing this every day. If people get offended by that, that’s such a small thing compared to the abuse of Our Lord.

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    1. One other thing as well. I think we should take in consideration the traditions of the East. I notice we see something across both the East and West which is very interesting. It’s that both the Alexandrian, Byzantine, and Latin traditions developed to not use communion on the hand. I must admit, I am unfamiliar with the early Syriac and Chaldean tradition, and if you have any information and sources as to how indeed communion has been distributed in those traditions, I’d love to read them. But I’ve seen Chaldean distribution of communion where the vast majority receive communion standing on the tongue. This seems to be a development in line with the other traditions, no? Thanks for writing this post, it continues this needed conversation, and I’m particularly glad that the East is getting mentioned here too, finally.

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      1. Yes, the East will be mentioned plenty here – it is my own tradition.

        Historically, the consistent Chaldean rubric, without any exception I’m aware of, is reception in the hand. In recent decades, many of the faithful have opted to receive on the tongue, which of course is completely acceptable, and what I did for most of my life and still often do when I am not celebrant. I’m not sure I’d call this a development but an exercise of pious preference on the part of some of the faithful. Remember, also, that development continues till today, and that Vatican II, like it or not, is part of that.

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      2. I don’t understand your view of indults being infallible? If this is the case the entire structure of the magisterium is worthless because an Ex Cathedra statement is no different than an indult? Father, I know you are a busy man and I don’t want to waste any more of your time, but I would like to ask you a favor as I want to do a deeper dive here. Could you provide me with a source regarding the Chaldean rubric that says that reception in the hand is the norm rather than on the tongue? Not necessarily the Church of the East’s rubrics, but the Chaldean church’s rubrics post-1830/full communion with Rome?

        Secondly, could you provide me the sources that you are using to determine that indults are infallible and would result in the loss of the indefectibility of the Church if an indult is fallible? If this is the case, what then is the purpose of having different levels of the magisterium? If everything is certain, why have different levels of certainty? If having laws that allow the faithful to be misled, it would seem to me that the Church defected during the Arian crisis, where the vast majority of bishops did nothing, and let Arian prelates preach heresy openly. I mean, the vast majority of bishops back then were Arian themselves, meanwhile, we had Popes who did nothing about it. Or look at Peter, who promoted Judaizing, and Paul “resisted him to his face” did that cause the loss of indefectibility? This way of thinking of indefectibility seems to me to always lead to sedevacantism. It seems a better way to think of it is that the indefectibility ensures that the Church will always be connected with the Holy Ghost and Christ through having a visible hierarchy, having the sacraments and the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, even if that is reduced to a small remnant. Ludwig Ott in his Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma states “The intrinsic reason for the indefectibility of the Church of Christ lies in her inner relation with Christ, who is the Foundation of the Church (I Cor 3:11) and with the Holy Ghost, who dwells in her as essence and life-principle. (p. 297)”

        It cannot rely on any exterior duty of the hierarchy, this is what I think Pope Pius XII is getting at in Mystici Corporis Christi where he says: “Although the juridical principles, on which the Church rests and is established, derive from the divine constitution given to it by Christ and contribute to the attaining of its supernatural end, nevertheless that which lifts the society of Christians far above the whole natural order is the spirit of our Redeemer who penetrates and fills every part of the Church’s being and is active within it until the end of time as the source of every grace and every gift and every miraculous power. (§63)”

        But again, if you have a source that says that indults are indeed infallible and that shows another view of indefectibility, I would love to see it.

        Again, thanks for your contributions here.

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      3. I understand, but like I said before disciplines affect belief. For an analogy, if the Ruthenian church mandated that there should no longer be any iconostasis in churches and did this because they wanted to appeal to Iconoclasts, this has major implications. This might lead to the faithful within the Ruthenian church adopting iconoclastic tendencies. The intent has to be looked at here, and the intent was to make things more tolerable to Protestants and to approve abuse. I think the origins of the indult is also suspicious. On March 12th 1969 the Bishops were asked a few questions about this. Here is how they answered (Sacra Congregatio Rituum, Instructio Eucharisticum Mysterium, n. 3, AAS 59 (1967), p. 541. and p. 547)

        1. Do you think that attention should be paid to the desire that, over and above the traditional manner, the rite of receiving Holy Communion on the hand should be admitted? Placet: 597. Non placet: 1,233. Placet juxta modum: 315. Invalid votes: 20.

        2. Is it your wish that this new rite be first tried in small communities, with the consent of the bishop? Placet: 751. Non placet: 1,215. Invalid votes: 70.

        3. Do you think that the faithful will receive this new rite gladly, after a proper catechetical preparation? Placet: 835. Non placet: 1,185. Invalid votes: 128.

        So we can see that even the Vatican at the time knew that this would have implications and the bishops thought this would have negative effects even after catechesis. And as I said before, the intent that was shown that somehow this was going back to a more ancient practice is condemned by the Church. This indult is fallible and has caused damage to the Church. This does not affect the indefectibility of the Church because of the previous conversation we just had. Indults aren’t infallible. They play no role in the indefectibility of the Church as long as a remnant remains, but they can cause serious damage and should be resisted if they cause us to sin. This does, it is a sin of unbelief, this is a direct correlation to the unbelief in the Eucharist which the fathers of Vatican II predicted would happen if this practice would be admitted.

        As for the Council’s decrees, disciplinary matters are not infallible. They do give us historical context though, I think it is clear that in the West and non-Assyrian East this issue was seen as needing to be settled and so it was. I do think that if the Church of the East had been in communion with the rest of the Church at the time of these developments taking place at the 6th Ecumenical Council and onwards, this practice of receiving on the hand wouldn’t have been entrenched. Again, it seems about right that you Chaldeans who are known for your piety naturally started receiving on the tongue instead, even when the Latins stopped. The Church saw communion in the hand as a danger and it did ever since the 1970s, again, even the fathers of Vatican II saw it this way. I know your argument is that this is legal, but to a large extent, that doesn’t matter. This becomes legalism at a certain point because it genuinely is affecting souls and leading them to stop believing in the real presence. My argument is “Sure it might be allowed but nowadays practically every abuse is allowed, that doesn’t mean you should do it or not be against it”

        I do think an argument can be made that this is proximate to the faith and thus holds significant magisterial weight, especially in the context of the other things. I think this might even be a stronger argument. I mentioned to you the quote from St. Thomas Aquinas about this but I’ll just quote the infallible Council of Trent that states “The fact that only the priest gives Holy Communion with his consecrated hands is an Apostolic Tradition.” of course this is under ordinary circumstances, as deacons are the extraordinary ministers and laypeople are too under times of persecution. There is also the issue of laypeople being prohibited from even touching the sacred vessels. But this leads us to say “If everyone can touch Holy Communion ordinarily, then can’t they touch the sacred vessels or distribute communion ordinarily?” it’s a contradiction and makes no sense. The logical progression must go

        Only the priest can distribute communion because he has consecrated hands (same with deacons) and only those consecrated can touch the sacred vessels unless there is a grave cause, therefore -> Laypeople cannot hold or touch the hosts without a grave cause. There is not a grave cause therefore communion on the hand is wrong under most circumstances. Take this into account with the tradition of our father’s declarations on this, the council father’s of Vatican 2’s stance on this, Pope John Paul II statement on the minister of Holy Communion, the fact that the vast majority of non-Assyrian/Chaldean churches have ancient rubrics banning communion on the hand, the particle studies and the fact that most of the Latins have lost their belief in the Eucharist and I’m sorry but I think this argument is lock tight. People ought not to receive on the hand.

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    2. I’m not sure I follow your point about III Constantinople. Do you believe that that excommunication is still in effect? What then is the status of Vatican II? I suppose the same could be said for the Synod of Rouen, but that even in its time would only have a local authority.

      I’d be curious to see the citation from Aquinas. I’m always happy to learn from him.

      St. John Paul II had the authority to end the practice of Communion in the hand but did not, which I think should be kept in mind when a quote like that is read. It seems that the immediate context is the distribution of Communion as ordinary ministers, but I don’t have the text before me to be sure.

      The quote of Cyril can be taken on its own without accepting everything he wrote, as is done with any Saint, Father, or writer in general. At the very least it is evidence (along with the un-doubted quote from Narsai, and the continuous practice of the Church of the East, which is my own tradition) that Communion in the Hand is not simply speaking a modern innovation, or a blasphemy in an of itself. That said, the logic of my post seems to stand.

      The study you cite regarding the falling of particles is helpful, but easily addressed by stressing the need for the faithful to check their hands, or to receive according to Narsai’s rubric. It really is quite easy to look at one’s hand and consume any remaining particles. That said, I personally don’t like the practice of using those very large hosts and breaking them, as that multiplies particles immensely, making this problem much more serious. We use the plain old Baby Jesus hosts at St. Peter’s, and with the most basic care the falling particles are not a problem. It seems to me that this is often exaggerated in order to make a pre-conceived point.

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      1. Father Younan, I’ve seen too many abuses with Communion on the Hand. From just being careless about the particles to (literally I’ve seen some people) slam the Eucharist into their mouths. What’s the point? How will this help us believe Jesus Christ is present in the Eucharist physically and spiritually? Let’s also not forget following Vatican 2, Archbishop Bugnini said ““We must strip from our Catholic prayers and from the Catholic liturgy everything which can be the shadow of a stumbling block for our separated brethren that is for the Protestants.”” How can we be more Catholic and pleasing to God, if we do and allow things that make us look more Protestant? I, as a former Protestant and a converted Traditional Catholic, have experienced too much of this evil “ecumenical dialogue” with Protestants from Vatican 2 and it really doesn’t do any help for the Church. We gotta come back to mandatory Communion on the Tongue!

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      2. Thanks for your response Father, I really do appreciate it. I’m sorry for not citing the Saint Thomas quote, it’s ST III, 82 a.3.

        I think because we are coming from different traditions, we might have different methodologies of thinking about this, which I actually think is a good thing. My argument stems from St. John Henry Newman’s development of doctrine. I don’t mean to say that the Synod and Council’s excommunications and condemnations are still in effect, but I do think it would be wrong for us to say that our Fathers were wrong when they determined that a practice that was happening in the past was incorrect. You would have to admit in the Church at large, we see a debate on this topic, but the majority of people and traditions receiving on the tongue. We know that from St. Basil. But the fact is that the Church has ruled on this and settled it. The tradition determined that communion on the hand is not to be tolerated, that’s why I mentioned those two synods and councils.

        Now, when it comes specifically to the Chaldean tradition, I think it is up to your church to figure this out yourself, at least for the moment. It’s possible the Pope will rule infallibly for the Universal Church in the future (And I think there is an argument from the Council of Constantinople that the Universal Church should move away from communion on the hand.) but at the moment, this seems to have been dealt with among the Latin, Alexandrian and Byzantine traditions and the Chaldean tradition seems to still be determining which path to take. I say Chaldean instead of Syriac because it seems some Syriac traditions have also definitively taken the position of going against communion on the tongue, like the West Syriacs. The liturgy of St James is strongly for communion on the tongue.

        I say this also because St. Ephrem the Syrian attested to communion on the tongue “Sermones in Hebdomeda Sancta 4, 5: ‘Isaiah saw Me [sc. Christ], as you see Me
        now extending My right hand and carrying to your mouths the living Bread.’” Here he references Isaiah 6.6-7 and obviously, there is no hand communion involved here and this likely predates that Narsai quote. Even if it isn’t, I’ll take St. Ephrem over Narsai any day of the week, wouldn’t you? Surely this is an exception, no? Don’t the Church of the East still claim St. Ephrem as their own?

        But the fact is that the traditions I mentioned have already dealt with this and going by the nature of the development of doctrine and tradition, it would be wrong for us to say that our fathers screwed this issue up when settling it.

        Finally in regards to Vatican II. Vatican II doesn’t even mention communion on the hand, so no I don’t think it plays any role in this development. We are dealing with a fallible indult from the Pope pertaining to the Latin church alone. I don’t think this deals with the indefectibility of the Church or the Holy Spirit leaving the Church, goodness it’s just the Pope making a mistake, just like when Pope Liberius sent away St. Athanasius.

        I look forward to hearing your thoughts. Thanks so much.

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      3. I don’t agree that the Church has ruled on or settled this except the recent rubric which allows reception in both ways (which you are correct is not from the Council itself). We’re not talking about an individual, momentary mistake of one Pope, but an official allowance accepted and practiced by the Church for decades. The event with Liberius and Athanasius is not comparable at all – especially if the practice in question is as sacrilegious as people claim.

        Regarding the Chaldean tradition (which you are quite right in not calling Syriac, but for different reasons than you say), there is nothing to indicate that we are still determining which path to take.

        As for Ephrem, I think there is an idiomatic misunderstanding of that verse. In Aramaic, body parts are frequently mentioned as parts of ordinary phrases without the meaning being literal – e.g. “by the hand of the preacher, I received the Gospel.” But even if that phrase be taken literally, he is affirming reception in the mouth, not denying reception by hand. I am arguing that both are acceptable practices, and the Chaldean Tradition as well as the current practice of the Roman Church verify this as right.

        As for the Fathers and practices requiring Communion on the tongue, the clearest explanation to me is to understand that this is a disciplinary issue (certainly guided by theology) rather than a purely dogmatic one. It was matter of prudential judgment made by the Shepherds of the Church, and it still is. If you believe it is a dogmatic one, then the current practice is certainly not “just the Pope making a mistake.”

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      4. And for further clarification, I meant we see in the Church at large *At the time before III Constantinople and the other synods ruled on this* that there was debate.

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      5. But 69% of Catholics don’t believe that Jesus Christ is present in the Holy Eucharist. So you really think that percentage of people would even care about proper use of reception of Holy Communion? Also the fact that Communion on Hand was stopped for a good reason.

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      6. I think and hope people can be taught, and that they haven’t been. Much of the blame for that is on the bishops and priests, and some of it is on bickering bloggers who could have been catechizing instead.

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      7. The whole thing about this being a disciplinary matter seems to be a red herring, every change in the law is going to affect discipline. But changing the law affects the common good and carries with it certain implications. This is why a mutation in the law carries with it the need for a grave cause. The grave cause was not present here, to revoke a 1300-year-old+ tradition of communion on the tongue alone in the Latin rite needs a significant grave cause. And we must remember that doing this for a sense of going back to what the ancient church did is condemned by Pius XII “the desire to restore everything indiscriminately to its ancient condition is neither wise nor praiseworthy” (Mediator Dei). And in the same place, he calls this movement ” a wicked movement that tends to paralyze the sanctifying and salutary action by which the liturgy leads the children of adoption on the path to their heavenly Father.” So what then is the grave cause in the Roman church? (I am taking these ideas from St. Thomas by the way. For his analysis of how this kind of law should work see Saint Thomas, ST., I-IIae, q. 97, a. 2 c.)

        This is what I think makes this difficult, because your situation within the Chaldean church is indeed different and unique. I think you have a case to make, if done with the right intend (Which of course, you have). But this is a much different situation within the other traditions, though, particularly in the West. If this happened within the Chaldean church alone, everyone would know why. But because this happened within the Roman church which has been so bitterly opposed to Protestantism for so long, along with this spirit of letting Protestants have say in how the liturgy should be and ecumenism and so on, how was this change perceived? It was perceived that we no longer believe in the real presence which is why the vast majority of Latins don’t believe in Our Lord in the Eucharist anymore. This is why His Excellency Bishop Schneider will typically say “This isn’t in reference to Eastern traditions” when talking about this. We often hear of how Latinizations should be resisted, well if the only basis of communion on the hand over the past 1300+ years (In my opinion much longer than that in the Roman church) has been in the Chaldean church and other Syriac churches, which the Latins have only been in communion with for 500 years, can you really blame the Latins for *not* thinking that this is an effort to become more ancient but rather to become more Protestant? Seeing how this is what many are being told by their liberal priests from the pulpit and seeing how this is being said at many ecumenical meetings to this day?

        If I may recommend 2 books on this to better understand where we Latins might be coming from on this, maybe check out Communion in the Hand: Documents and History by Bishop Laise and Dominus Est by Bishop Schneider. They are both super short.

        Again father, thanks so much for adding your perspective to this topic. I will definitely be coming back to your blog more and more. Have a blessed week!

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      8. I don’t think it’s a red herring at all – I think it’s the very heart of the matter. Your points about the changing of law are good guides for a legislator, and I just taught the Treatise on Law in class only last week, but while a legislator should act according to reason in legislating, he need not convince all those to whom the law applies. So whether or not you (or I) agree with the current practice of the Church or the Latin Church’s changing its practice, it was done by a legitimate authority. Also remember that St. Thomas says we should even obey an unjust law rather than cause sedition, so long as the law is not commanding us to sin. If you believe Communion in the hand is a sin simply speaking, then this is again a much larger issue than the mistake of a Pope – it implies the Church is no longer the Church.

        Similarly, the legitimacy of a law has absolutely nothing to do with how it is perceived by (some of) those to whom the law applies. If some felt the allowance to receive in the hand was a Protestant thing or a denial of the Real Presence, contrary to the fact that the Church is still the Catholic Church and has not and could not ever deny the Real Presence, that is their own business, and arguably a very skewed interpretation of things. Granted, bad priests and bishops didn’t help the situation, so that point is fair enough and I’m sure much of the blame is on them rather than the faithful.

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      9. I don’t understand your view of indults being infallible? If this is the case the entire structure of the magisterium is worthless because an Ex Cathedra statement is no different than an indult? Father, I know you are a busy man and I don’t want to waste any more of your time, but I would like to ask you a favor as I want to do a deeper dive here. Could you provide me with a source regarding the Chaldean rubric that says that reception in the hand is the norm rather than on the tongue? Not necessarily the Church of the East’s rubrics, but the Chaldean church’s rubrics post-1830/full communion with Rome?

        Secondly, could you provide me the sources that you are using to determine that indults are infallible and would result in the loss of the indefectibility of the Church if an indult is fallible? If this is the case, what then is the purpose of having different levels of the magisterium? If everything is certain, why have different levels of certainty? If having laws that allow the faithful to be misled, it would seem to me that the Church defected during the Arian crisis, where the vast majority of bishops did nothing, and let Arian prelates preach heresy openly. I mean, the vast majority of bishops back then were Arian themselves, meanwhile, we had Popes who did nothing about it. Or look at Peter, who promoted Judaizing, and Paul “resisted him to his face” did that cause the loss of indefectibility? This way of thinking of indefectibility seems to me to always lead to sedevacantism. It seems a better way to think of it is that the indefectibility ensures that the Church will always be connected with the Holy Ghost and Christ through having a visible hierarchy, having the sacraments and the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, even if that is reduced to a small remnant. Ludwig Ott in his Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma states “The intrinsic reason for the indefectibility of the Church of Christ lies in her inner relation with Christ, who is the Foundation of the Church (I Cor 3:11) and with the Holy Ghost, who dwells in her as essence and life-principle. (p. 297)”

        It cannot rely on any exterior duty of the hierarchy, this is what I think Pope Pius XII is getting at in Mystici Corporis Christi where he says: “Although the juridical principles, on which the Church rests and is established, derive from the divine constitution given to it by Christ and contribute to the attaining of its supernatural end, nevertheless that which lifts the society of Christians far above the whole natural order is the spirit of our Redeemer who penetrates and fills every part of the Church’s being and is active within it until the end of time as the source of every grace and every gift and every miraculous power. (§63)”

        But again, if you have a source that says that indults are indeed infallible and that shows another view of indefectibility, I would love to see it.

        Again, thanks for your contributions here.

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      10. No, I’m not claiming that indults are infallible. My claim is that this is a disciplinary, not a dogmatic, issue, and that the bishops are within their rights to prudentially legislate such things as they see fit. I’d be curious whether you believe disciplinary decisions of previous Councils to be infallible, and how the issue of different levels of certainty applies there.

        The 1901 Missal (which is not in front of me just now) has at least the text of the Communion Hymn which begins “Strengthen, O Lord, the hands that extend and receive the Host that forgives their sins,” if not also a rubric to that extent. The 2006 Missal has that as well as the explicit rubric, as does that of 2014. All of these Missals were given various recognitions by the Holy See.

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      11. I understand, but like I said before disciplines affect belief. For an analogy, if the Ruthenian church mandated that there should no longer be any iconostasis in churches and did this because they wanted to appeal to Iconoclasts, this has major implications. This might lead to the faithful within the Ruthenian church adopting iconoclastic tendencies. The intent has to be looked at here, and the intent was to make things more tolerable to Protestants and to approve abuse. I think the origins of the indult is also suspicious. On March 12th 1969 the Bishops were asked a few questions about this. Here is how they answered (Sacra Congregatio Rituum, Instructio Eucharisticum Mysterium, n. 3, AAS 59 (1967), p. 541. and p. 547)

        1. Do you think that attention should be paid to the desire that, over and above the traditional manner, the rite of receiving Holy Communion on the hand should be admitted? Placet: 597. Non placet: 1,233. Placet juxta modum: 315. Invalid votes: 20.

        2. Is it your wish that this new rite be first tried in small communities, with the consent of the bishop? Placet: 751. Non placet: 1,215. Invalid votes: 70.

        3. Do you think that the faithful will receive this new rite gladly, after a proper catechetical preparation? Placet: 835. Non placet: 1,185. Invalid votes: 128.

        So we can see that even the Vatican at the time knew that this would have implications and the bishops thought this would have negative effects even after catechesis. And as I said before, the intent that was shown that somehow this was going back to a more ancient practice is condemned by the Church. This indult is fallible and has caused damage to the Church. This does not affect the indefectibility of the Church because of the previous conversation we just had. Indults aren’t infallible. They play no role in the indefectibility of the Church as long as a remnant remains, but they can cause serious damage and should be resisted if they cause us to sin. This does, it is a sin of unbelief, this is a direct correlation to the unbelief in the Eucharist which the fathers of Vatican II predicted would happen if this practice would be admitted.

        As for the Council’s decrees, disciplinary matters are not infallible. They do give us historical context though, I think it is clear that in the West and non-Assyrian East this issue was seen as needing to be settled and so it was. I do think that if the Church of the East had been in communion with the rest of the Church at the time of these developments taking place at the 6th Ecumenical Council and onwards, this practice of receiving on the hand wouldn’t have been entrenched. Again, it seems about right that you Chaldeans who are known for your piety naturally started receiving on the tongue instead, even when the Latins stopped. The Church saw communion in the hand as a danger and it did ever since the 1970s, again, even the fathers of Vatican II saw it this way. I know your argument is that this is legal, but to a large extent, that doesn’t matter. This becomes legalism at a certain point because it genuinely is affecting souls and leading them to stop believing in the real presence. My argument is “Sure it might be allowed but nowadays practically every abuse is allowed, that doesn’t mean you should do it or not be against it”

        I do think an argument can be made that this is proximate to the faith and thus holds significant magisterial weight, especially in the context of the other things. I think this might even be a stronger argument. I mentioned to you the quote from St. Thomas Aquinas about this but I’ll just quote the infallible Council of Trent that states “The fact that only the priest gives Holy Communion with his consecrated hands is an Apostolic Tradition.” of course this is under ordinary circumstances, as deacons are the extraordinary ministers and laypeople are too under times of persecution. There is also the issue of laypeople being prohibited from even touching the sacred vessels. But this leads us to say “If everyone can touch Holy Communion ordinarily, then can’t they touch the sacred vessels or distribute communion ordinarily?” it’s a contradiction and makes no sense. The logical progression must go

        Only the priest can distribute communion because he has consecrated hands (same with deacons) and only those consecrated can touch the sacred vessels unless there is a grave cause, therefore -> Laypeople cannot hold or touch the hosts without a grave cause. There is not a grave cause therefore communion on the hand is wrong under most circumstances. Take this into account with the tradition of our father’s declarations on this, the council father’s of Vatican 2’s stance on this, Pope John Paul II statement on the minister of Holy Communion, the fact that the vast majority of non-Assyrian/Chaldean churches have ancient rubrics banning communion on the hand, the particle studies and the fact that most of the Latins have lost their belief in the Eucharist and I’m sorry but I think this argument is lock tight. People ought not to receive on the hand.

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      12. I think establishing causality between this practice and what you claim are its effects is not as clear as you think it is.

        As I said in the article, the situation surrounding a decision doesn’t hold much weight with me, since I accept the Council of Ephesus, the historical details of which are absolutely horrifying. The Holy Spirit still works, despite us.

        If the Church is now explicitly allowing people to do what they ought not to do, then I’m not sure it’s the Church anymore. Legalism seems much more to be the binding of people with things that are not laws than it is accepting that the disciplinary laws are set by the Church, and that what is allowed is allowed. You can certainly have an opinion on whether things should be allowed or not, but I don’t think the premises or the logical progression you present are as airtight as you think. And openly teaching people that the Church is in error in such a serious thing in a practice that has been widely accepted for half a century is, in my opinion, scandalous and seditious. The schismatic effects of such conversations are much clearer to me than the supposed effects of Communion in the hand that you claim. If these conversations were instead about reverent reception in either form, it would build up the Church rather than hurt it.

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      13. (Forgive me if this posts twice, it seems that this blog page wasn’t meant for all of the replying!)I understand, but like I said before disciplines affect belief. For an analogy, if the Ruthenian church mandated that there should no longer be any iconostasis in churches and did this because they wanted to appeal to Iconoclasts, this has major implications. This might lead to the faithful within the Ruthenian church adopting iconoclastic tendencies. The intent has to be looked at here, and the intent was to make things more tolerable to Protestants and to approve abuse. I think the origins of the indult is also suspicious. On March 12th 1969 the Bishops were asked a few questions about this. Here is how they answered (Sacra Congregatio Rituum, Instructio Eucharisticum Mysterium, n. 3, AAS 59 (1967), p. 541. and p. 547)

        1. Do you think that attention should be paid to the desire that, over and above the traditional manner, the rite of receiving Holy Communion on the hand should be admitted? Placet: 597. Non placet: 1,233. Placet juxta modum: 315. Invalid votes: 20.

        2. Is it your wish that this new rite be first tried in small communities, with the consent of the bishop? Placet: 751. Non placet: 1,215. Invalid votes: 70.

        3. Do you think that the faithful will receive this new rite gladly, after a proper catechetical preparation? Placet: 835. Non placet: 1,185. Invalid votes: 128.

        So we can see that even the Vatican at the time knew that this would have implications and the bishops thought this would have negative effects even after catechesis. And as I said before, the intent that was shown that somehow this was going back to a more ancient practice is condemned by the Church. This indult is fallible and has caused damage to the Church. This does not affect the indefectibility of the Church because of the previous conversation we just had. Indults aren’t infallible. They play no role in the indefectibility of the Church as long as a remnant remains, but they can cause serious damage and should be resisted if they cause us to sin. This does, it is a sin of unbelief, this is a direct correlation to the unbelief in the Eucharist which the fathers of Vatican II predicted would happen if this practice would be admitted.

        As for the Council’s decrees, disciplinary matters are not infallible. They do give us historical context though, I think it is clear that in the West and non-Assyrian East this issue was seen as needing to be settled and so it was. I do think that if the Church of the East had been in communion with the rest of the Church at the time of these developments taking place at the 6th Ecumenical Council and onwards, this practice of receiving on the hand wouldn’t have been entrenched. Again, it seems about right that you Chaldeans who are known for your piety naturally started receiving on the tongue instead, even when the Latins stopped. The Church saw communion in the hand as a danger and it did ever since the 1970s, again, even the fathers of Vatican II saw it this way. I know your argument is that this is legal, but to a large extent, that doesn’t matter. This becomes legalism at a certain point because it genuinely is affecting souls and leading them to stop believing in the real presence. My argument is “Sure it might be allowed but nowadays practically every abuse is allowed, that doesn’t mean you should do it or not be against it”

        I do think an argument can be made that this is proximate to the faith and thus holds significant magisterial weight, especially in the context of the other things. I think this might even be a stronger argument. I mentioned to you the quote from St. Thomas Aquinas about this but I’ll just quote the infallible Council of Trent that states “The fact that only the priest gives Holy Communion with his consecrated hands is an Apostolic Tradition.” of course this is under ordinary circumstances, as deacons are the extraordinary ministers and laypeople are too under times of persecution. There is also the issue of laypeople being prohibited from even touching the sacred vessels. But this leads us to say “If everyone can touch Holy Communion ordinarily, then can’t they touch the sacred vessels or distribute communion ordinarily?” it’s a contradiction and makes no sense. The logical progression must go

        Only the priest can distribute communion because he has consecrated hands (same with deacons) and only those consecrated can touch the sacred vessels unless there is a grave cause, therefore -> Laypeople cannot hold or touch the hosts without a grave cause. There is not a grave cause therefore communion on the hand is wrong under most circumstances. Take this into account with the tradition of our father’s declarations on this, the council father’s of Vatican 2’s stance on this, Pope John Paul II statement on the minister of Holy Communion, the fact that the vast majority of non-Assyrian/Chaldean churches have ancient rubrics banning communion on the hand, the particle studies and the fact that most of the Latins have lost their belief in the Eucharist and I’m sorry but I think this argument is lock tight. People ought not to receive on the hand.

        Like

      14. I think this conversation has rather exhausted itself of its use. I think both of us explained our positions in the best way they could have. Any error on my part was entirely due to myself and my own failings and any truth was on the Holy Ghost’s part. This seems to eventually come down to opinion, which to me perfectly explains the crisis in the Church at the moment. No one knows exactly how things work as everything is so irregular. “extraordinary” things are being used ordinarily, the magisterium has become fogged. But the Church will prevail. I would like to see the Church definitively rule on this in the future, maybe when things are more clear. But at the moment, I will keep attending at a place where communion on the hand can’t be done. I think the situations that surround the intent matters, especially in regards to something like an indult which isn’t guided by the Holy Ghost infallibly unlike an Ecumenical Council. I think the logical progression stands.

        In conclusion, I appreciate your article and your time along with the sources you have provided and will consider this matter prayerfully. Thanks for your time. Father.

        Like

      15. God bless you, Murray. Your motivating sentiment is one I share completely – one day we should chat about celebration ad orientem, which I bet we’d see very much eye-to-eye on.

        I often offer Mass for my readers here, and you are certainly included in that.

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  5. Trent does not side with Communion in the hands.

    Which do you think is a better symbol (with proper disposition)?

    What do the patristics say from the other traditions? It seems the West has an overwhelming consensus.

    Like

    1. My discussion is not about better, but about what is allowed, and Communion in the hand is allowed. The consensus of the West, as you describe it, is not determinative of dogma, and it can very naturally be understood as a practical, prudential decision that the West itself changed.

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      1. Therein lies the controversy.

        When was it changed? The latest council V2 didn’t change it. I think the minority group, so-called traditionalists, see the indult manifesting itself as a liturgical abuse, just as with the usage EMHC, and awful music.

        Ut benedicat tibi Dominus

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  6. Fr Younan, thank you for describing the Narsai method. I’ve been practising it and I like it. It’s easier to keep the palms clean between home and church. It’s hard to keep fingers clean because one has to at least touch door handles (home and church). After placing left hand over right for decades, it is still not automatic and I have to consciously place right over left. Otherwise, my left hand asserts itself, event though I’ve been using the Narsai method daily for over a month now. But I guess it’s a good thing to be forced to be conscious of what I’m doing when I receive Holy Communion.

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