I have really, really, really tried hard to instill in my parishioners over the years that one must receive Holy Communion in the most reverent way possible according to the norms of the Church. And for the most part, my parishioners who receive either on the tongue or in the hand do so.
Recently, though, for the umpteen time in my 41 years as a priest, strange occurrences have happened with the Host and on the same Sunday morning.
The first was a parishioner coming up to me in the narthex after Mass and handing me a Host he found on the floor near a pew. Was it a child who dropped it as they departed the Communion line with Host still in hand, or a careless adult or was it a visiting non-believer or non-Catholic? Who the hell knows! But I can’t tell you the number of times we have found Hosts on the floor in hymnals/missalettes or the like in every parish I have been stationed.
Then at the second Mass of the day that I celebrated, the deacon distributing with me discovered from the altar boy who was holding the paten for him that someone walked off with the Host and as she did so placed it in her purse! Thus, after I had consolidated the Hosts and placed them in the tabernacle he and the altar boy went looking for this person, whom the altar boy recognized. The deacon asked for the Host back.The person fumbled through the purse to find it, only to have it fall out onto the floor!
She was not a Catholic. But for what purpose would she do this? Anything nefarious? Or was it for a scrapbook or a souvenir from her sojourn to a Catholic Mass?
I have written about this before and I will write it again. Prior to Communion lines and Holy Communion in the hand and receiving on the run, this never happened. No one ever found Hosts on the floor, in hymnals or the like and no one walked off with the Host in their hand.
Catholics knelt at the railing, received on the tongue and then departed the railing after a brief meditation.
Could a person take the Host out of their mouth after receiving on the tongue. Perhaps, but unlikely.
The key is to get people to receive at the railing, kneeling and either on the tongue or in the hand and not leaving the railing until the Host is in the communicant’s mouth. If a non-Catholic of any variety receives, not knowing they shouldn’t, at least the one distributing Holy Communion can make sure the Host is placed in the person’s mouth.
Bishop Olmsted of Phoenix has written a very good, but perhaps too long, treatise on the Most Holy Eucharist for his people. It is excellent, but the one glaring omission is the proper reception of Holy Communion and ways to prevent the pilfering of the Host or finding Host discarded.
But given the anecdotal reported evidence, the abuse of the Sacred Host either intentionally or unintentionally has multiplied in the most unsatisfactory way possible since Communion lines and receiving in the hand.
Does any bishop have the humility to say that this novelty in the Catholic Church has none absolutely nothing to maintain or increase reverence for the Real Presence of Christ in the Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar, but in fact has had a horrible deleterious effect on this Faith leading to absolutely bizarre sacrilege for which their should be a corporate lamentation?