This title serves to illustrate how I have recently come to entertain the idea that, going forward, the form in which the faithful receive Holy Communion is one of the main determinants of the future of the Catholic Church. If the majority of faithful continue to receive Holy Communion in the hand, there will likewise be a further decline in belief in the Real Presence along with Holy Mass attendance and general orthodoxy. However, if the tide begins to turn and more faithful start receiving the Holy Eucharist on the tongue, there will be sundry effects which will echo throughout and strengthen the overall standings of Holy Mother Church.
Let me begin by acknowledging that both receiving in the hand and on the tongue are allowed and not sinful. However, it is ignorant to set the two on completely equal footings based solely on the fact that both means are currently legitimate.
It is no secret that reception of the Holy Eucharist in the hand allows for more abuses to be committed against the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Our Lord, Jesus Christ. More particles are lost, scattered, and dropped onto the floor when one receives in the hand. As we know from the rich philosophical tradition of the Church, every particle equally contains Christ; the size and species are irrelevant in order to receive the full Christ. If this be true, is it not the case that every particle, no matter how small, matters? Should not every speck of the Eucharist be treated with the utmost reverence and devotion? If we let these particles be distributed on the floor and various surfaces by lay-people’s hands, then does this not reflect a lack of faith in the Real Presence, or, at best, apathy? By allowing this abuse of the Eucharistic Lord to continue, our leaders are implicitly demonstrating their lack of faith in the Holy Eucharist, or at least their lack of fortitude to speak unambiguously on the matter. Forgive me if I have spoken too harshly, but as Flannery O’Conner said:
“When you can assume that your audience holds the same beliefs you do, you can relax and use more normal means of talking to it; when you have to assume that it does not, then you have to make your vision apparent by shock -- to the hard of hearing you shout, and for the almost-blind you draw large and startling figures.”
If Church leaders continue to stay silent on this topic, dismissing it to be too divisive an issue or unimportant, this will continue to reflect the nature of their shepherding: whether it be truly pastoral in genuine concern for the souls of the faithful and for the Eucharistic Lord, or more focused on preserving the comfortable feelings of the lesser-catechized faithful. Speaking out on this issue will break the embarrassing trend of Church hierarchy staying silent on matters of importance. It is the prime opportunity for them to abandon their ambiguous lip-service and adopt a mouth that is sanctified with the truth. Now I implore our shepherds: please, speak on the topic of receiving in the hand versus on the tongue. Do not abandon your faithful, and do not continue to cast your eyes in the opposite direction of the suffering Lord.
Next, the issue of Communion in the hand versus on the tongue is a battleground point for the continuing war between Marxism in the Hierarchy and the faithful, authentic tradition of the Church. With this COVID-19 “pandemic,” bishops and priests throughout the world have been trying to ban Communion on the tongue on account of it being unsanitary and inconsiderate to those distributing the Eucharist. But this Wuhan virus is here to stay for a while; so, will those who despise tradition attempt to use this virus as a means to squash any remaining devotion? If we slowly give up ground to practices which obviously destroy faith, how can we expect the Church to grow? The Eucharist is the source and summit of our Catholic faith. If we give up our right to receive Communion the most proper way, we have practically forfeited the war. This is the battle to pick; this is one of the most crucial strongholds we have. Do not let it be taken.
Writing from personal experience, switching from receiving in the hand to receiving on the tongue is an instance which requires humility. It feels embarrassing to do something different, to make yourself vulnerable. I was afraid to receive on the tongue pretty much just because it looked and felt weird. But after learning more about the tradition of the Church and the reasons why receiving on the tongue is better, who am I to mistreat the Eucharistic Lord on the mere basis of my feelings? It is truly prideful to refuse to make oneself vulnerable before Jesus. We should be vulnerable; we don’t deserve the Eucharist. When one makes the switch, they align themselves with the Saints of old. The switch serves as a sort of initiation into tradition. It allows one to honestly say “He must increase, but I must decrease.” It opens the door to receiving catechesis, catechesis which the majority of faithful desperately need.
If more of the faithful come to a greater appreciation for tradition, more Novus Ordo priests will incorporate more tradition into the Mass. Desperately needed reforms will come naturally. Priests will feel more comfortable with celebrating ad orientem, reinstalling communion rails, etc. After all, the Eucharist is the distinguishing element which makes the Mass the highest prayer of the Church. If more respect is shown to the Eucharist, more reverence will be restored to the Mass. Likewise, the muddled distinction between ministerial priests and common priests will be made clear if lay-faithful stop touching what is sacred with unconsecrated hands. Receiving on the tongue is a stepping stone which will help to prevent a multitude of liturgical abuses, like an inordinate use of lay “Extraordinary” Eucharistic ministers.
All I can say is that what began in disobedience will likely end in disobedience, since a bad tree can only bear bad fruit. If we work to make reception on the tongue the norm again, then we will be one big step closer to amending post-conciliar errors and growing stronger together as the Mystical Body of Christ.
While this topic could and should certainly be discussed more fully at length, what has been said here is sufficient for starting conversations. If I could choose to correct one liturgical abuse, I would certainly opt for having Holy Communion distributed to faithful on the tongue while kneeling at a Communion rail (though ad orientem would be a very close second). So, while the issue of receiving in the hand as opposed to receiving on the tongue is one of the central points of discussion among more traditionally minded faithful, I hope it will be brought up on a wider diocesan level, like from the pulpits and beyond. Certainly these are grim times, but let us not forget that, in the long run, all is well because Jesus is the Good Shepherd, and we are His beloved sheep. “For I am sure that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor might, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8: 38-39)