Virus versus reverence: receiving Communion


The recent flu outbreak has served to highlight some of the issues that are posed by Catholic priests when giving Communion during the Mass.

On Monday, University of Dallas students were encouraged to receive Communion on the hand following the recent outbreak.

Unfortunately, to me this appeared to be a form of pressure to avoid the spread of disease that was placed on some laypeople who wished to receive on the tongue.

This is wrong.

Communion on the tongue is and always has been allowed by the Catholic Church. Neither the  United States Conference of Catholic Bishops nor any pastor has the authority to deny people the reception of Holy Communion on the tongue and/or kneeling.

Neither should people be pressured by priests to receive Communion on the hand, even in the case of widespread sickness.

According to the Notitiae of the Congregation for Divine Worship, receiving Communion on the hand is allowed on the condition that the older practice of reverently receiving on the tongue does not cause scandal and there is not opportunity for sacrilege.

In my home diocese, one of the terrible results of Communion on the hand was drastically illustrated when, after a weekday Mass, the precious Body of our Lord was found in a restroom, having been subjected to terrible indignities.

This is why it is my belief and the belief of many of the faithful that Communion on the hand is a less reverent practice which both encourages people to treat the most Holy Eucharist like a cracker and allows those who would harm our Lord access to the Holy Eucharist.

Instead of the laypeople handling the Eucharist, Communion should be generally restricted to the hands of a priest. These hands have been consecrated by the sacrament of Holy Orders.

I realize that there is a lack of priests and thus there is a need for extraordinary eucharistic ministers. As a Mass-goer at the University of Dallas, I thank the students who serve in this capacity in the absence of a priest.

The body of our most Holy Lord which was anointed by Mary Magdalene while Judas wished that such reverence had not been shown to His Body and instead that the money had been, as he said, used for the poor. For those Catholics who do not absolutely need to handle the Eucharist, I ask that they receive it reverently on the tongue.


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