Receiving Communion on the Tongue

One of my fellow Catholic Insight Magazine bloggers wrote a great article on why faithful Catholics ought to be receiving the Holy Eucharist on the tongue…….

Pope Benedict communion on the tongue“I’m heartbroken to announce that last week, we discovered a crushed consecrated Host beneath one of the kneelers,” the pastor of a small yet devout Californian parish says. He pauses for a moment before he goes on, his voice choked by just indignation and sadness: “This is God, people. God.” Then he drops the bomb. “I’m writing to Pope Francis to do away with the practice of Communion in the hand altogether. I believe most of the abuses and blasphemies that the Eucharist has undergone is because of this practice.”

Since the practice of Communion in the hand has become the common observance in most countries, there has been, whether you like admit it or not, a spike in Eucharistic abuse. Communion in the hand has given those who wish to do harm and those who are careless the opportunity to do what they want with the Body of Christ. Unfortunately, the situation described above is not uncommon. In fact, it’s quite the opposite.

Pope Francis communion on the tongueFurthermore, Communion in the hand has the potential to promote or at least foster a disrespect for the Body of Christ. As Catholics, we believe this small Host does not represent Christ, but is Christ Himself. How can we, then, possibly touch the living presence of God with our bare, dirty, unconsecrated, and unworthy hands? How? How have we even considered this as an option in the first place?

pope-john-paul-communionThe answer can be given using one word: disobedience. The practice came about in the early 1960s (after Vatican II, though the Council never actually called for it), when certain parishes around the world began to disobey the Church’s rule of receiving the Host on the tongue, making their own rules as to whether or not you could receive on the hand. The Vatican immediately responded in disapproving words, saying that this disobedient practice would lead to “the possibility of a lessening of reverence toward the august sacrament of the altar, its profanation, and the watering down of the true doctrine of the Eucharist” (Memoriale Domini).

When Pope Paul VI in 1968 sent out a questionnaire to every bishop in the world asking if the Church should alter how Communion was being distributed, the answer came back loud and clear: in the hand was overwhelmingly disapproved of and should not be allowed. The Vatican agreed, stating that if the practice of Communion on the hand be allowed, “it would be an offense to the sensibilities and spiritual outlook of these bishops and a great many of the faithful” (Memoriale Domini)……….

Please continue reading at Catholic Insight…..

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16 Responses to Receiving Communion on the Tongue

  1. dignitatem says:

    This happened in my home parish a few years back, and my pastor made it mandatory to recieve the Eucharist on the tongue. When I began to recieve this way I found a deeper reverence for what I was taking part in. This is a very insightful read.

  2. SaintlySages says:

    I have observed that it is one thing to invite a guest and another to make him feel so welcome that he wants to stay. Expressing a desire to receive Holy Communion is extending an invitation to Christ. I have seen pious invitations made from various postures: kneeling, standing, prostrate in the sickbed. But if a person wants the Divine Guest not only to arrive but to remain after the host dissolves, he would do well to show God how much he loves Him by obeying His commandments, for Christ declared that if a person loves Him, he will obey His teaching, and God the Father will love that person, and the Father and Son will come to that person and make their home with him (Jn 14:23).

    Keep up God’s work, Terry. I always look forward to reading your posts, which heal, comfort, and inspire. God bless you and yours and all your readers!

  3. juanrbalboa says:

    Great article. I noticed that some extraordinary ministers seem to balk when I open my mouth. It seems they aren’t used to people receiving Christ on the tongue.
    On a similar note, what should someone do if they suspect Eucharist abuse? What if I see someone who appears as though they might have retained the Host in hand without consuming. What is the best way to approach this situation? Also, if I see someone approaching Communion chewing gum, any suggestions on what I could or should do?

  4. Many valid points here. under tradition some people feel a need to change things. They want to believe its a new day with new rules. It isn’t. I say stick to the tongue and I’m not Catholic but i could very strongly agree here. little things do indeed matter.

  5. you brought up points that I had not thought of (as a convert who has only ever recieved in my hand)

  6. dgcree says:

    ” A Muslim man once approached a Catholic, asking him if he really believed that the Host was God Himself. The Catholic responded yes. The Muslim paused for a moment, thinking it over. “If I believed that was truly Allah,” he said, finally, “then I would crawl up on my hands and knees, bowing my head to receive Him.”” – says it all really !

    Two churches in our town have re-instated altar rails, to allow people to receive Our Lord, kneeling. In the absence of such aids, I normally genuflect as the person in front recieves the Blessed Sacrament in an effort to maintain dignity.

  7. reinkat says:

    I really like the point about the Muslim very much. When we hosted Arab international students in our home, their devoutness and making God the priority was very impressive and inspiring.

    We don’t show enough reverence, are too casual overall. More adult education is called for, much more. Our parish church doesn’t even have kneelers to kneel down during the Consecration. Still, most individuals remain very reverent and respectful.
    That the Eucharist might be abused, be carelessly treated–just how common is that? I have not heard it nor seen it.

    We’ve been travelling lately, and attended daily Mass at a church which had Communion rails, and received on the tongue. It’s the first time for me since 2nd grade (more decades than I’d like to count). Then I came home and read this post. Interesting.

    And I have to disagree. I prefer to receive in my hand. My hands are clean, and my heart&soul are prepared and filled with awe every time. I think there is a profound meaning in actively taking Our Savior into our life, our heart, our soul, and our body. To me it is an active acceptance, a taking on of the mantle of Christ that was symbolically given to us at Baptism. Every Eucharist a recommitment to living a holy life, to truly following Jesus.

    I doubt that Jesus, at the last Supper, told the apostles to just open their mouths so He could put the bread in, because their hands were too dirty. No, I bet He gave it to them in their hands.

    Receiving on the tongue seemed so very passive to me, almost rote and uninvolved. Perhaps that is because my last memory of it was being 7, when things like this were beyond my understanding. I am open to learning more . . .

  8. Terri,

    I thank you, and I thank Catherine Bauer for promoting this discussion of the Eucharist. The Eucharist is central to the gospel, central to the Church and, I should hope, central in the lives of each and every one of us.

    The thought of finding a crushed host ground in to a kneeler horrifies me. If I encountered such a thing, my reaction would probably be to consume it no matter how ‘unsanitary’ it looked to be.

    I took the image I created in my mind of the crushed host and brought it, in prayer, to the crucifix on the altar of my parish. It occurred to me, almost immediately, that my contemplation of the broken and bleeding Savior aroused, in me, the very same feeling as I had when I thought about the crushed host.

    Our Emmanuel entered our world in a state of absolutel vulnerability — and died as he was born, completely vulnerable to the action of evil men. God is with us forever and, with us, He is forever overlooked, forever disrespected, forever misunderstood, forever misrepresented by the hypocritical and the corrupt and, yes, forever abused. Can it possibly be any other way?

    The Church (as in YOU, as in ME) cannot inoculate our Divine Master. To make Him less vulnerable is to make Him less accessible.

    I’ve received by hand and by the tongue I’ve distributed the host both ways as well. I would no more direct the way you open yourself to the LORD than I would instruct a married couple how to ‘properly’ express affection.



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