Tuesday, April 26, 2011


This morning, Easter Tuesday, one of our Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion came to tell me of an incident at one of our Easter Sunday Masses:

She had distributed the Sacred Host to a gentleman. However, as he received the Host in his hands, he walked off with it. An alert parishioner in the front pew seeing what had happened alerted our Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion that He did not consumed the host. Our EMC went after him and saw him placing the host in his coat pocket. She said to him you must consume the host. He said, I'm taking it to the pew! She said, you have to consume the host! He did so.

She told me that she was so shocked by what had happened that she should have asked for the host back or asked if he was Catholic, but she was caught off-guard.

I cannot tell you how many times this has happened at Mass and on a regular basis and in every parish that I have been assigned for the past 31 years. Some people are clueless about what we believe about Holy Communion, especially if someone attends an Easter Mass but is not Catholic. But today, we can't be assured that even Catholics who attend Mass infrequently know what they are doing.

Simply placing the host on the tongue of a communicant, no matter what their state of grace or religious affiliation if it is unknown to the one ministering Holy Communion will prevent the type of potential desecration I described above as a frequent occurrence. If the Holy Father models this as the norm, why aren't we following suit? Just wondering.


Marc said...

Father, in a semi-related vein, I noticed at the Extraordinary Form Mass on Sunday that many people received standing even though there were kneelers there. Setting aside the issues with receiving standing at an EF Mass, doesn't this show that putting kneelers will allow those of us who wish to receive kneeling to do so while allowing those who wish to stand to do so?

It seems like if more people receive kneeling (and on the tongue), many others will follow suit... I think the lack of kneelers is part of the problem.

Now, we all know you cannot mandate that people receive kneeling or on the tongue, but by having kneelers, I think more people would do so (peer pressure, maybe). Also, the use of intinction seems to help...

I cannot believe there is not some more overt action to be taken to avoid potential desecration of our Lord when He is at His most vulnerable.

In other words, how can we really expect the run-of-the-mill, pew-sitting, non-catechized Catholic to believe in the Real Presence when we oftentimes treat the Eucharist as nothing more than ordinary bread ourselves?!? Maybe reverence will be infectious...

Anonymous said...

Has no one who receives on the tongue has ever taken the host out of his/her mouth for the purpose of desecration? Communion on the tongue is not the panacea you suggest it is.

Carrie said...

Father - I was wondering the same thing. Is this something that you could "strongly encourage" in our parish?

Frajm said...

The majority of people who take the host back to the pew, home or throw it away are not intentionally desecrating our Lord. They are clueless! While having an exclusive receiving on the tongue only won't deter a true Satan worshiper from simply taking the host out of their mouth and doing with it as they wish, it will prevent by far the majority of situations what we run into in our parishes. Most people even if clueless won't take it out of their mouth once it is in there.

Frajm said...

Marc, most bishops would see a kneeler placed in front of the Minister of Holy Communion as trying to force the issue of kneeling, like intinction to them seems to force the issue of receiving on the tongue. American Catholics are very law and order oriented and rigid about it. The Italian in me says, let them have a choice, kneel comfortably as you suggest or stand if they wish (as some did at the EF Mass despite the kneeler being there). The same would be true of intinction, if someone wanted to receive in the hand they still could, just not an intincted host. I am all in favor of allow for these options and in a comfortable way and if more people choose to receive on the tongue and kneeling, well then the "sensuum Fideli has spoken! But priests/pastors still have to respect the wishes of their bishop when it comes to the "letter of the law."

Anonymous said...

It is an education issue. On Good Friday I had the Host thrust into my hand as I acknowledged the proclamation of the Body with an 'Amen' and just as I was opening my mouth and extending my tongue. I think it was a combination of him hurrying through the long service and a production line mind-set.

Conversely, I have been attending the Latin Mass Parish on occasion. On our first trip I had neglected to prepare my youngest for what to expect and when we kneeled to receive the host from the priest she bowed her head and extended her hand as is the practise in our regular parish. The altar server thrust the platen under her chin and the priest placed Host placed on her tongue. The point is that although she was setting up to receive in the hand, the structure of the communion act was such that the transfer of the Host was without chance of error.


pinanv525 said...

I see Ignotus chimed in as anonymous in post #2. Ignotus, does it not concern you that you are so transparent and predictable? LOL!

Robert Kumpel said...

Commenters who insist that Holy Communion on the tongue is not a panacea against desecration are right, but only in a limited sense. Once the Host touches a human tongue, the process of dissolving has already begun. Anyone who puts their hand in their mouth on the way back to the pew are going to look awfully suspicious to the congregation. If they wait until they return to the pew, the Host will often be too soft to take out effectively without making a mess (or a spectacle).

The practice of Holy Communion on the tongue is wrong. It may be licit for now, but it is not the tradition of our Church and it was imposed on us by very deceptive means, especially by deceiving the Vatican. Pope Paul VI permitted bishops conferences to apply for an indult to deviate from the norm and receive Holy Communion in the hand only if they could demonstrate that this had been the local tradition for some time. You and I (and many of your readers) know that there was no tradition of Holy Communion in the hand in the U.S. before it was foisted on us in 1977. Your readers can find out more about that here.

Returning to the centuries old tradition and NORM for the worldwide Church would not completely eliminate desecrations of the Eucharist, but it would greatly reduce them.

One more thing. I think we should remember just WHO lead the effort to get Holy Communion in the hand approved for the United States:
Joseph Cardinal Bernardin.

Need I say more?

Anonymous said...

Father et al, you may enjoy this re communion in the hand: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PQch2zDHKnw

What was new to me was that I've always heard the justification for in the hand was because that is the way the early Church did it. Well, those use that are leaving out important details: they never touched the host with their fingers (mouth to palm), they only used their right hands, and only when it was completely cleaned and they had not touched anything else up to that point (meaning no handshaking). Well, even I could get behind that kind of reception, but sadly what is really going on with the in-the-hand as today is casual desacralization.

Scott W.

Marc said...

To the first "Anonymous": I agree that Communion on the tongue is not necessarily the remedy. Clearly, proper catechesis is the remedy. That proper catechesis will, in my opinion, lead people to receive on the tongue and kneeling (when possible). The idea that one would receive their Creator and God by grabbing him with unconsecrated hands is baffling to me at this point in my Catholic journey.

Also, to those who will respond by claiming it was the practice of the Early Church to receive in the hand, please watch the video posted above. Also, remember that things like Gnosticism were also popular in the early Church, but once we discerned a better understanding of the Mysteries that have been left in our charge, we have adjusted our practice to accommodate the grandeur of those Mysteries.

Anonymous said...

Frajm. Your comment included: “American Catholics are very law and order oriented and rigid about it.” In our parish back in the 60’s-70, we had a “None,” whoops, I mean Nun who gave us these words of wisdom: (1) “It isn’t the answers that are important, but the questions.” (2) Regarding Communion in the hand, “If we just keep distributing /receiving on the hand, “they” will have to approve it.” How prescient of her on both counts. Liberal power in action!
What percentage of priests and laity in Savannah Diocese is aware that distribution on the tongue is still the norm of the universal Church?
Aren’t kneeling and receiving on the tongue prescribed for the EF Mass? Are Extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion supposed to be used at the EF MASS? Requiring the former and eliminating the EM’s might well contribute to renewal/restoration of belief and reverence.
Do you think that the combined “efficiency efforts” of the regimented pew-b y-pew approach for Holy Communion and the use of EM’s might have resulted in more unworthy receptions and diminution of respect? Formerly, might not the midnight fast with a random approach have helped lessen the temptation of receiving while unworthy – the human respect issue?
In that same vein, what factor(s) gave rise to the sparse use of the Sacrament of Penance?
Have we succeeded in our misguided effort to look more Protestant? To be more Protestant?
Marc, not only the grabbing of God with unconsecrated hands but also the distribution of God with unconsecrated hands should be eliminated.

Anonymous said...

As far a panacea: first of all I don't interpret Fr M as claiming this. Probably because he realises it would be foolish to expect that. But it sets the environment to make administration more easy and within the ability of the minister to control. But as the shirt says, "Stuff Happens". Secondly, there is an axiom among computer programmers that you can make something fool-proof, but you can't make anything damn fool-proof.


Templar said...

I mean no disrespect, but I dislike the notion that Bishops will be upset if kneelers are offered as an option because "the norm in the American Church is to receive standing". While it is true that the USCCB requested permission to make that the norm in the US, and that permission was granted, it does not change the fact that the norm in The Church is still kneeling (and on the tongue I might add). The mere fact that the USCCB had to get permission to change it in the US tells us that it is clearly not the Norm for The Church. Since that is clearly true and factual, how can Bishops get upset for Catholics in America being afforded the opportunity to receive in the normative way for the Universal Church?

It boggles the mind.

pinanv525 said...

The USCCB boggles the mind.

Anonymous said...

Maybe tell them you are kneeling to express solidarity with Toulouse-Lautrec and you need your hands to keep your pince nez from falling off.


pinanv525 said...

RCG...Toulouse-Lautrec...isn't he the guy that did all those paintings you have to go to Confession for looking at? Ah, the fleshpots of Montemarte...a venal fare...but, we wouldn't want to short him as an artist, nez pas?

Anonymous said...

If only we could get the Democratic Party or Democratic National Committee, with the help of their media peons, to promote Communion on the tongue while kneeling, maybe the USCCB would change directions on it.