Skip to comments.Historical argument favors Communion on the tongue
Posted on 04/23/2008 7:45:48 AM PDT by NYer
Apr. 22, 2008 (CWNews.com) - The American magazine Catholic Response has published an English translation of a provocative article, originally published in the official Vatican newspaper, calling for an end to the practice of receiving Communion in the hand.
The article by Bishop Athanasius Schneider of Karaganda, Kazakhstan, originally printed in L'Osservatore Romano, examines the historical record of Catholic practice, concluding that the early Church quickly developed the practice in which lay people Communion on the tongue while kneeling. Only ordained ministers were allowed to touch the consecrated Host with their hands.
By the 6th century, Bishop Schneider writes, the Church had formed a consensus that Communion should be received on the tongue, of reverence for the Eucharistic Lord. Pope Gregory the Great chastised priests who resisted that consensus, and it was become an "almost universal practice" in the early Church, the author says.
Kneeling to receive Communion was also a pattern established early in Church history, Bishop Schneider reports. That posture, too, was seen as a means of expressing reverence for Jesus in the Eucharist, and "the most typical gesture of adoration is the biblical one of kneeling."
By administering Communion on the tongue, priests were able to foster greater devotion to the Eucharist; Bishop Schneider remarks that that form is "an impressive sign of the profession of faith the in the Real Presence."
He adds the argument that this form of distributing Communion can prevent accidents. The author cites St. Cyril of Jerusalem, who exhorted priests to use extra caution "so that no even a crumb of the Lord's Body could fall to the ground."
The article published in L'Osservatore Romano, and now translated in Catholic Response, summarizes the more complete argument that Bishop Schneider put forward in his book, Dominus Est. That book, released in Italy earlier this year, drew special notice for two reasons. It was published by the official Vatican press, and a preface was contributed by Archbishop Macolm Ranjith, the secretary of the Congregation for Divine Worship, who said it was "high time to review" the policy of allowing laymen to receive Communion in the hand.
It just bugs me to see people receive by hand. It reminds me of people going through a McDonald’s drive thru.
Jesus is the physical presence of G_d in this dimension. Imagine how many holy atoms he left here for us to use. It truly is staggering. Every breath, drink, morsel, let it be in praise.
There are approximately 360,000 Latin-rite Catholics in Kazakhstan.
Aware of the greatness of the moment of Holy Communion, the Church in her two-millennium-long tradition has searched to find a ritual expression that can bear witness in the most perfect manner to her faith, love and respect. This is verified when, in the wake of an organic development, stemming from at least the sixth century, the Church began to adopt the method of distributing the Sacred Species of the Eucharist directly into the mouth. This is attested to in several places: in the biography of Pope Gregory the Great and an indication by the same Pope relative to Pope Agapitus (Dialogues, III); the Synod of Cordoba in 839 condemned the sect of so-called Casiani because of their refusal to receive Holy Communion directly into their mouths; then the Synod of Rouen in 878 confirmed the norm in force regarding the administration of the Lords Body on the tongue, threatening sacred ministers with suspension from their office if they distributed Holy Communion to the laity on the hand....
...This organic development may be considered a fruit of the spirituality and Eucharistic devotion of the Fathers of the Church. Already in the first millennium, due to the highly sacred character of the Eucharistic Bread, the Church in both the East and the West in an admirable consensus and almost instinctively perceived the urgency of distributing Holy Communion to the laity only in the mouth. The liturgist Joseph Jungmann explains that, with Communion distributed directly into the mouth, various concerns are eliminated: the need for the faithful to have clean hands; the even graver concern that no fragment of the consecrated Bread be lost; the necessity of purifying the palm of the hand after reception of the Sacrament. The white tablecloth and, later, the Communion plate would be the expression of heightened attention to the Sacrament of the Eucharist....
...The attitude of a child is the truest and most profound attitude of a Christian before his Savior, Who nourishes him with His Body and Blood, according to the following moving expressions of Clement of Alexandria: The Logos is everything for the child: father, mother, teacher, nourisher. Eat My Body, He says, and drink My Blood! . . . O incredible mystery! (Paedagogus, I, 42, 3). Another biblical consideration is furnished from the account of the call of the prophet Ezekiel. He symbolically receives the Word of God directly into his mouth: Open your mouth, and eat what I give you. And when I looked, behold, a hand was stretched out to me, and, lo, a written scroll was in it. . . . So I opened my mouth, and he gave me the scroll to eat. . . . Then I ate it; and it was in my mouth as sweet as honey (Ez 2:8-9; 3:2-3). In Holy Communion, we receive the Word-made-Flesh made Food for us little ones, for us children. And so, when we approach Holy Communion, we can remind ourselves of this gesture of the prophet Ezekiel. Christ truly nourishes us with His Body and Blood in Holy Communion and this is likened in the patristic era to a mothers nursing, as demonstrated by these words of St. John Chrysostom: In this Eucharistic mystery, Christ unites Himself to every member of the faithful, and those whom He has generated He nourishes from Himself and does not confide that task to another. Do you not see with how great a rush new-borns press their lips to the breast of their mother? Well, then, let us also with like ardor approach this holy table and the breast of this spiritual drink; even more so, with a greater ardor than that of sucklings! (82, 5)....
The Fathers of the Church demonstrate a lively concern that no one lose the smallest particle of Eucharistic Bread, as exhorted St. Cyril of Jerusalem in this very impressive manner:
Be careful that you do not lose anything of the Body of the Lord. If you let fall anything, you must think of it as though you cut off one of the members of your own body. Tell me, I beg you, if someone gave you kernels of gold, would you not guard them with the greatest care and diligence, intent on not losing anything? Should you not exercise even greater care and vigilance, so that not even a crumb of the Lords Body could fall to the ground, for It is far more precious than gold or jewels? (Mystagogical Catecheses, 5, 2)
...Based on the experience of the first centuries, in the organic growth in theological comprehension of the Eucharistic mystery and its consequent ritual development, the manner of distributing Communion on the hand was limited by the end of the patristic era to a specific group, that is, the clergy, as is still the case with the Eastern rites. The Eucharistic Bread began to be distributed to the laity intincted in the consecrated Wine in the Eastern rites directly into the mouth. In the Eastern rites, only the non-consecrated bread is distributed on the hand, the so-called antidoron. Thus is shown in a clear manner the difference between Eucharistic Bread and bread that is merely blessed. The most frequent admonition of the Fathers of the Church about the attitude to possess during Holy Communion resounded thus: cum amore ac timore (with love and fear). The authentic spirit of Eucharistic devotion of the Church Fathers developed organically at the end of antiquity in the whole Church East and West in the corresponding ways of receiving Holy Communion in the mouth, preceded by prostration on the ground (in the East) or with kneeling (in the West). Would it not correspond much better to the intimate reality and truth of the consecrated Bread, if today also the faithful one in receiving It prostrated on the ground and opened his mouth as the Prophet received the Word of God (cf. Ezekiel 2) and let himself be fed like a child since Communion is a spiritual nourishment? Such a gesture would likewise be an impressive sign of the profession of faith in the Real Presence of God in the midst of the faithful. If some non-believer happened upon the liturgical action and observed such an act of adoration, perhaps he too, falling on his face, will worship God and declare that God is really among you (1 Cor 14:25).
That works for me!
Wow .... thank you for posting the full text.
The full text is actually at the link above. I just excerpted the key parts (in my opinion).
I guess that's why he's bishop of Kazakhstan......(*rummaging for atlas in book case*).
Having said that, I was very disappointed at the group of nuns (assuming they were, very few had habits on) receive the Body of Christ from our Holy Father in their hands at St. Patrick's. You could almost picture the Holy Father saying under his breath, no wonder your orders are decreasing!
I am open to going back to what was done in the past in the Church. Problem will come from some Catholics who could put up a stink on the practice of communion on the tonuge.
Yeah, I noticed the older “business suit wearing” nun were mostly receiving in the hand, while the habited (and usually younger) nuns received on the tongue from the Pope at the St. Patrick’s Mass.
...Or maybe he even prayed that these orders will come back to their senses and bring back the traditional stuff.
He broke the bread and gave it to His disciples. It doesn't say how He gave it.
What of concern of microbes?
>>A practice I detest and see abused at every Mass.<<
Are you saying that receiving in the hand is an abuse?
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