A reader’s QUAERITUR:
Father, I came across to a decree of the CDW last year regarding the reception of Communion. Cardinal Sarah said that we need to follow the directives of the Conference of Bishops or the local Ordinary regarding the reception of Holy Communion with respect to the proper health regulations. Is there a reverent and proper way to receive Communion in the Hand, albeit we don’t really want that?
The hands of the laity were not consecrated to handle sacred things, much less the MOST Sacred.
The proper way to receive Communion in the hand….
First, kneel down. Then, either fold your hands or place them together in a prayerful manner. Next, when the priest comes along with the altar boy holding the paten, tip your head back slightly, open your mouth and extend your tongue. You don’t have to reach for your belt-buckle with your tongue. Stay still. Receive Communion. Return to your place. If there is a housling cloth, some people like to put their hands under the housling cloth. The rest remains the same. That’s the BEST way to receive Communion in the hand.
There is no best way to receive on the hand, there are only really bad ways and less bad ways. The least bad way is to place your layman’s unanointed right hand, palm up, on top of your unanointed left hand, palm up, and extend them slightly toward the priest. Keep your unanointed right hand, the top unanointed hand, FLAT, not cupped, curved, pinched, etc. FLAT. Be still. When the Host has been placed on your unanointed top hand, while the angels thronging the church are weeping, move your unanointed lower hand to take the Host as carefully as possible given this moment of sub-optimal reverence, and place it into your own mouth as an act of self-communication, which is technically not allowed. Return to your seat, reflecting on the goodness of the Lord who continues to humble Himself and that many people around the world are beginning to perform acts of reparation for lack of reverence for the Eucharist Presence of the Lord.
If either of your hands is unavailable (you are holding a child, you have a cast on your hand, etc.), don’t even attempt to receive on the hand. NEVER try one-handed. Receive on the tongue.
There is a lot of confusion about the usual text that is trotted out from St Cyril of Alexandria about Communion in the ancient Church. First, that was one place described, not many. Also, there’s more to the description that no one would do today. Then, the practice fell out of use as we began to understand more about the Eucharist. Moreover, it was an exception when there was no priest. Cloths were used. Etc.
Communion in the hand remains the exception, provided for by indult, to the rule, which is Communion on the tongue. Saints of yesteryear (and today too, I should think) would be horrified. This practice has certain contributed to the loss of reverence not just for the Eucharist, but for the SACRED in general.
We should work gently but diligently to reduce and the to eliminate Communion in the hand. This will take good preaching and catechesis, prudential judgments by priests, the installation of Communion rails (once they are used, amazing things happen), etc. Especially, patience and prudence is needed.
But the job that take the longest to finish is the one that is never started.
Fathers! Get to work!