"Wherever I go in the whole world, the thing that makes me the saddest is watching people receive Communion in the hand."
Mother Teresa of Calcutta
After reading other blogs about Rainbow sashers,
dress at Mass, etc., I thought I would get cranky about something that troubles me: Communion in the hand.
I am so grateful to the priests and the parishoners of St. Agnes for standing strong about how you should be attired at Mass, not just because it's a honor you should certainly afford your God and Creator, but because He has condescended to come to us in Holy Communion. Got that, HOLY Communion. Not Happy Hour. Just being in the presence of God should create a sense of awe within us, a sense of the supernatural, a sense of the All Powerful. Not just movie star awe, not just world leader powerful, but He who created you and loves you more than you will ever comprehend.
Because of that you should come to Mass properly disposed: soul, attitude, and dress. It's not too hard to find what time Mass starts, not too hard to find a parish offering Confession, not too hard to find a mall that sells a pair of dress pants. If we put as much effort into getting ourselves prepped for Mass as we do for a first date or a football game, people might actually start to think that we believed that God was truly present in our Masses. I can't even count the number of times my Protestant friends have said that we Catholics are just like them; our "services" are just like theirs. Contrare mon frere, we are different, that's the point.
We are different because God is present. Not just present in the "where two or more are gathered" sense. That same Jesus that died on Calvary, died to save your soul and mine, is present in the Holy Eucharist. If you ponder that for just a moment, it should help with many of the problems mentioned above. Trouble is, in some cases, sadly even with some priests, they don't believe it is the Real Presence.
Here's what that good Protestant revolutionary, Martin Bucer, believed:
"Every superstition of the Roman Antichrist is to be detested... I have no doubt that this usage of not putting these sacraments in the hands of the faithful has been introduced out of a double superstition; firstly, the false honor they wished to show this sacrament, and secondly the wicked arrogance of priests claiming greater holiness than that of the people of Christ, by virtue of the oil of consecration. I should wish that pastors and teachers of the people should be commanded that each is faithfully to teach the people that it is superstitious and wicked to think...that the hands of the ministers are holier than the hands of the laity; so that it would be wicked, or less fitting, as was formerly wrongly believed by the ordinary folk, for the laity to receive these sacraments in the hand: and therefore that the indications of this wicked belief be removed-as that the ministers may handle the sacraments, but not allow the laity to do so, and instead put the sacraments into the mouth—which is not only foreign to what was instituted by the Lord but offensive to human reason. In that way good men will be easily brought to the point of all receiving the sacred symbols in the hand..."
That almost sounds like the pap I hear from some Catholics.
In military terms, we need to "get squared away." We need to start believing in the Real Presence then we might start acting like it's the Real Presence.
That brings me to communion in the hand. From what I understand, and correct me if I'm wrong here, folks, is that communion in the hand started out from disobedience and even when approved it was a dispensation that wasn't to be a permanent thing.
The practice of Communion in the hand was first introduced in Belgium by Cardinal Suenens in disobedience to the rubrics of the Holy See. Not wishing to publicly rebuke a brother bishop, Pope Paul VI decided to lift the ban prohibiting Communion in the hand, leaving the decision to individual bishops. The late Cardinal Joseph Bernardin, then president of the United States NCCB, initiated two unsuccessful attempts to introduce Communion in the hand in 1975 and 1976. In the spring of 1977, the bishops’ vote again fell short of the required two-thirds majority. Nevertheless, for the first time ever bishops in absentia were polled by mail after the conference meeting; subsequently the necessary votes materialized and the measure was declared passed. Several canon lawyers have stated categorically that this procedure was illegal. An interview with Bishop Blanchette in the National Catholic Register (June 12, 1977) confirms that Communion in the hand was unlawfully introduced into the United States.
According to a lengthy explaination at EWTN's website, communion in the hand has been approved, but is to be considered an option. I don't really find it optional in many parishes.
St. Agnes has retained its communion rail. People receive the Sacrament on their tongues. The action is to be passive on the part of the recipient...God comes to you, not you take God and place Him in your mouth. No other church that I've been in nearby makes it possible to receive the Holy Eucharist in this manner. It's standing or nothing. Fortunately, I have young ones that I carry up to Communion with me, making it pretty difficult to receive in the hand. You should see the looks on the EM's faces. Just how are they going to get that "wafer" in my hands? I've had them look at me like, "Well, what do you want me to do?" Carrying the kids up is pretty much just a ruse; my way of getting Communion on the tongue. Once they realize that I'm not setting my kid down, they timidly place the "wafer" in my mouth, careful not to touch my tongue because that's just eewwwwww. But, what about THEIR hands touching the Holy Eucharist then placing it in my mouth. To me, that's EEEEWWWWWWWW! It's bad on several levels. They're not the priest, they didn't just wash their hands and many (not all) seem to get more of a kick out of being the ones distributing the Holy Eucharist, then being aware of the Real Presence.
I won't even talk about all the abuses that can come about with communion in the hand. Am sure the Devil is laughing at how easy we make it for people to take the Body of Christ and use it for the unthinkable.
Some folks going to Communion aren't much better than those flippantly distributing it. Instead of concentrating, or even thinking, about the Sacrament they are about to receive, they are looking around, winking at people they know, paying no attention to God. They receive the Holy Eucharist with indifference, slap the "wafer" into their mouths, and don't bless themselves upon receiving. Once back in their seat, they don't kneel, they don't pray, they don't seem changed. On the other hand, there are some very saintly people I have seen going to Communion. They look like they are so happy they are going to cry, they look sorry for their sins, they feel unworthy to receive. I hope to get to that point some day, where receiving the Holy Eucharist is a rapture, pure ecstasy.
Even the Protestants got it right on this one (despite not having the Real Presence,) it is a Sacrament.
"Communion in the hand has not been, and will not be accepted by Heaven. This is a sacrilege in the eyes of the Eternal Father, and must not be continued, for you only add to your punishment when you continue on in the ways that have been found to be unpleasing to the Eternal Father." - Our Lady of the Roses, June 30, 1984