The case for Communion on the tongue

Let’s get something straight here: the Eucharist is the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Our Lord, right? Right. And we receive the Eucharist at Mass, right? Right again. And because we love Him and want to show reverence for Him, we should handle the Eucharist as much as possible before consuming it, right? Uh…

Where I live, there is no real problem with Communion on the tongue versus Communion on the hand. All the priests we have had in the past fifteen years have been okay with either way of receiving. This is good, as I have read that in other parishes, some people are even refused Communion by the priest when they want to receive on the tongue (by the way, it is against canon law for a priest to do this). So how, after several hundred years of receiving Holy Communion on the tongue, did the Church gradually slide into receiving mostly on the hand?

Well, for starters, it was one of several liturgical changes that were made shortly after the Second Vatican Council (a great article to read can be found here). It started in Holland and although the pope, Paul VI didn’t originally want to, he granted them permission and the Holy See established seven regulations regarding Communion on the hand. In the late 70’s, Communion on the hand came to America.

Now before I start ranting, let me just say that I have nothing against the people who receive Holy Communion on the hand. However, I have many objections to the practice of it.

 

1. It does not foster an attitude of love and reverence towards Our Lord.

To quote the afore-mentioned article:

In 1950, 87% believed in the Real Presence. Today, that number has plummeted to a mere 34%.

I’m not saying that the reception of Holy Communion on the hand is the only reason for this statistic. There are a host of other reasons for it. But I think that this is one of them. Out of respect for Christ, we should refrain from handling the Eucharist more than we actually need to. This is God we’re talking about, people! Don’t tell me that receiving on the tongue is too good for Him. 

2. It is more likely that the Eucharist will be dropped or abuses may occur.

When the Eucharist is placed in a person’s mouth, the physical aspect of digestion begins once the saliva touches it (remember the soda cracker science project back in grade three?). Soon, the sacramental presence is completely dissolved. When the Eucharist is received on the hand, the communicant has to place it in their mouth, but here is the problem: many choose to take their time in doing so. When the rules for receiving Communion on the hand were layed out, part of it was that the Eucharist was to be placed in the mouth while still standing in front of the priest. However, many begin walking away before consuming it, and this can lead to problems. There are a number of satanic cults that use the Eucharist in their ceremonies, and the reception of Communion on the hand makes it easy for anyone to walk up in the line, take it, and put it in their coat pocket when they get back to the pew. My second cousin from Ontario was telling me how when he was serving a high school Mass, he had to tell a classmate to consume the host as he had tried to walk back to his seat with it.

As for dropping the Eucharist, this can happen under either method. Heck, the day of my First Communion I ended up dropping the host and I was receiving on the tongue (thankfully, it was saved by the wonderful altar-boy with the paten). I learned that the tongue has to be out a certain distance, but once you know that, you know it for life.  

3. It can foster dislike or hatred towards Catholics who prefer to receive on the tongue.

This isn’t really a big one where I come from, but in other places it can be. Sometimes people who kneel and receive on the tongue, pray the Rosary daily, or attend Mass during the week are seen as “tradsters”, “old-school Catholics”, or sometimes “rad-trads”. Along with poor catechesis, it is one of the things that breeds resentment between Catholics who want to be good and Catholics who want to be holy. There is a difference, you know, but that is for another post.

4. Many saints throughout the ages have shown support for Communion on the tongue.

St. Hippolytus: “The Body of Christ is meant to be eaten by the faithful, not to be treated with irreverence.”

St. Basil the Great: “The right to receive Holy Communion in the hand is permitted only in times of persecution.”

St. Thomas Aquinas: “The dispensing of Christ’s Body belongs to the priest for three reasons. First, because He consecrates in the person of Christ. But as Christ consecrated His Body at the Supper, so also He gave It to others to be partaken of by them. Accordingly, as the consecration of Christ’s body belongs to the priest, so likewise does the dispensing belong to him. Secondly, because the priest is the appointed intermediary between God and the people, hence as it belongs to him to offer the people’s gifts to God, so it belongs to him to deliver the consecrated gifts to the people. Thirdly, because out of reverence towards this sacrament, nothing touches it but what is consecrated, hence the corporal and the chalice are consecrated, and likewise the priest’s hands, for touching this sacrament. Hence it is not lawful for anyone to touch it, except from necessity, for instance if it were to fall upon the ground, or else in some other case of urgency.”

Blessed (soon to be saint) John Paul II: “In some countries the practice of receiving communion in the hand has bee introduced… However, cases of deplorable lack of respect toward the Eucharistic species have been reported, cases which are imputable not only to the individuals guilty of such behavior, but also to the pastors of the Church who have not been vigilant enough regarding the attitude of the faithful towards the Eucharist.”

“There is an apostolic letter on the existence of a special valid permission for this [Communion in the hand]. But I tell you that I am not in favor of this practice, nor do I recommend it.”

 

So there you have it: four reasons for Communion on the tongue. In my opinion, it seems pretty clearly spelled out. Saints and holy people have encouraged it, and because it has been almost discontinued in the United States and Canada, irreverence and abuse levels have risen. Reception of Holy Communion on the tongue is a little way of expressing true love and adoration for God, which in turn, makes us holier.

I have decided my position. I leave it to you to decide your’s based on the points presented.

God bless!

Advertisements

My new patron saint

Dina_Belanger

Learning about new saints is a fun little pursuit of mine. I try to learn a good deal about the saints because  while their lives were not perfect examples, they show us how to rise above the cultural and secular expectations and become holy. That is my ideal.

Anyways, my latest “find” is the Canadian nun and mystic known as Blessed Dina Belanger. You can read her whole story here (the site I have linked to is devoted to the stories of mystics and is faithful to the Magisterium). I find her story interesting for a number of reasons:

1. She was Canadian, like me.

There aren’t a lot of saints (or beatified persons) who were born and raised in Canada, so I find the stories familiar, in a way. When they mention the cold of a winter night or a city in a nearby province, I can sort of see the story playing out in my mind. It becomes familiar in that way and I don’t forget it.

2. She had a temper, also like me.

Just getting it out there: I had an awful temper when I was younger. As a baby I would scream for quite a long time without quitting, and as I got older (being the oldest) I got a little spoiled. So now I also have a holy person that I can relate to in this respect.

3. She chose “death rather than defilement”. 

When she was admitted to the Sodality of Our Lady she took the motto “Death rather than defilement”. This shows what a strong will she had, just like many of the other young saints of the Catholic Church. And finally…

4. She was a pianist.

There have been many saints and holy people who have played an instrument or sung a good deal during their life, but I think Bl. Dina Belanger is different. She didn’t just play piano for a few years. She persevered and became a very accomplished pianist (I can say this as a pianist who has read about her credentials. St. Cecilia is invoked as the patron saint of musicians, but I think that if she is ever canonised, Bl. Dina Belanger ought to be the patron saint of pianists. Just my two cents. 😉

So may God bless you and Blessed Dina Belanger pray for you!

Another anniversary…

Today is another special day for me. Not only is the Solemnity of All Saints; its my anniversary with Jesus.

On October 31, 2010, after almost a year of doubt and disbelief in God, I was struck by how much He loved me, even when I didn’t deserve it. I decided to come back into the fullness of the faith and follow Jesus. So the very next morning I started out by praying the Rosary and asking Mary to pray for me, and almost every day since then I have prayed the Rosary. I also promised God that I would remain pure according to my state in life, practice virtue (especially charity), and I would always strive to do His Will. As time went on, I gradually started adding more and more prayers to my daily routine, so that now I pray and read the Bible for almost an hour a day.

After a few months of praying a daily Rosary and a couple of other prayers, I started to see changes in myself. I went to Confession more frequently. Before that decision to follow Jesus, I would only go to Confession two or three times each year, but once I saw myself for who I truly was (a sinner), I realized how much I needed His mercy. Another effect was the desire to learn more about my faith. A new family had started attending Mass at our parish, and I learned that they attended Mass in Latin occasionally. Prior to that, I had never even heard of such a thing! So I looked through all of the Catholic books on our bookshelf, researched on the computer, and found a few answers. One of the websites where I found the most information is Catholic Answers Forum. I met lots of wonderful people on this forum who attend the Latin Mass and could give me a few answers to my questions. Soon, I saw that there were many other things that I didn’t know about the Catholic faith, like that the USA has more holy days of obligation than Canada, and that Saint Therese’s parents were beatified. I will freely admit, though, I still have lots to learn.

God has greatly blessed me, both in the past three years and on this special day. He gave me the life and strength to rise early and praise Him, the sunrise this morning was absolutely glorious, and most importantly, He has given me the hope of seeing Him in heaven someday. Praise the Lord!

Why this blog exists

Today I learned that I have been posting on this little blog for one year. On this first anniversary, I find myself wondering one thing: why? Why did I create this blog? Why did I pick that strange brown background when everyone else is going with white (okay, maybe not everyone)? Why didn’t I quit? Why did I bother to continue, even when the pages were not getting as many views or likes as I had hoped?

In all honesty, I’m not sure exactly why I started a blog. I am not a strong writer, I’m not really all that funny, I’m not a well-versed apologist or evangelist, I can’t write long, intelligent posts about important topics, and I am not very diligent when it comes to posting regularly. Out of all this, however, I found a reason to keep blogging.

st_therese (2)

Yep, Saint Therese of Lisieux. Heres the reasoning behind it.
Saint Therese was a simple Carmelite nun. During her short life on earth, she didn’t do amazing things like heal the sick, write great books, or reform orders of monks. She didn’t travel across the world proclaiming the Gospel to the poor, or start schools and hospitals that would change the lives of thousands of people. She simply loved God in all that she did and through that simplicity she attained sanctity. She didn’t have to do great things; only small things with great love. This teaches us something very important. Often, as Catholics living in the time of the New Evangelization, we start believing that we have to do something big to spread the Gospel, like travel to foreign countries as a missionary or feed all the poor and homeless in our hometown. As Saint Therese shows us, this is not necessarily true. Yes, we need foreign missionaries and people who care for the homeless, but not everyone can do these things. As 1 Corinthians 12:28 states,

Some people God has designated in the church to be, first, apostles; second, prophets; third, teachers; then, mighty deeds; then gifts of healing, assistance, administration, and varieties of tongues.

Saint Paul points out that there are different positions in the church that need to be filled. Not everyone can have gifts of healing, or no one will teach. Not everyone can be a prophet, or no one will have the gift of administration. God calls different people to different ministries in life. Now for a little story.

Most of my homeschooling friends don’t plan to enter college or university right after high school. Instead, they want to do missionary work for a year or two. I’m the odd one in the bunch, though. Because I want to be a piano teacher when I grow up, I need to keep my piano skills sharp for getting into university, and this is nearly impossible to do as a missionary. I can trust, though, that because God is calling me to a different job, I will still be able to evangelize in some way. While I was wondering about this last fall, I thought about starting a blog. At first I had some doubts: what if I don’t like it after a while? What if I make a mistake in some line of philosophy and a really smart person comments on my failure? What if no one reads my blog? What if my posts are too long or too short? After a bit of of thought, I decided that if it would be something giving glory to God, then He would provide all that I needed. So after sorting out some kinks, I started blogging. It doesn’t get read much, it doesn’t look fancy, and it isn’t run by a computer smart person, but I trust that if God wants me to evangelize in some small way right now, then maybe this is it.

One more note: to everyone who has followed, liked, or commented on my blog during this past year, thank you! You have encouraged me to continue blogging even when I didn’t feel like it. Please keep it up, and God bless you all!

I didn’t feel like posting (and five favorite things)…

Ugh. I am now encountering something that every blogger who lives a crazy, busy life and still tries to post something on their blog at least once a month will encounter at some point. Its called End of the Month Blogger Night (like the term?)!
So instead of idly staring at the screen for an hour, I’ll just share five of my favorite things tonight.

#1. Favorite color.
Purple or blue. Depends on the shade.
#2. Favorite Saint.
Maria Goretti, virgin and martyr. You can read about her here.
#3. Favorite flower(s).
Violets, roses, or carnations, depending on the day and the mood I’m in.
#4. Favorite meal.
Roast chicken with mashed potatoes and cooked peas and carrots, along with gravy for the potatoes and cranberry sauce for the chicken. Pizza is good too, though. 🙂
#5. Favorite Gregorian chant.
Pange Lingua. If you would like to hear it, you can find it here.

Well, I wish I had more to say, but that is all I have for right now. Until the next post, God bless!

Saint Joseph the Worker

From Lives of the Saints:

   In an adress to the Catholic Association of Italian Workers, May 1, 1955, Pope Pius XII proclaimed May 1 (May Day) the feast of St. Joseph the Worker.  He thus imparted special religious significance to an observance that had been strictly secular – the proper feast of labor throughout the world – and one that had been used by the enemies of the Church to further their evil designs.

Henceforth, May Day is to be “a day of rejoicing for the concrete and progressive triumph of the Christian ideals of the great family of labor.  Acclaimed in this way by Christian workers and having received as it were a Christian baptism, the first of May,  far from being a stimulus for discord, hate and violence, is and will be a recurring invitation to modern society to accomplish that which is still lacking for social peace.”

Thus the humble carpenter of Nazareth, who was the support and guardian of the Divine Child and His Virgin Mother on earth, is now honored above all other men as the personification of the dignity of the manual laborer and the provident guardian of the worker’s family.

Also, here is my absolute favorite prayer to Saint Joseph, found in the year 50, and sent from the Pope to Emporer Charles shortly before a battle that took place in 1505:

O St. Joseph, whose protection is so great, so strong, so prompt before the throne of God, I place in thee all my interests and desires.  O St. Joseph, do assist me by thy powerful intercession and obtain for me from thy Divine Son all spiritual blessings, through Jesus Christ, our Lord; so that having engaged here below thy heavenly power, I may offer my thanksgiving and homage to the most loving of Fathers.  O St. Joseph, I never weary contemplating thee and Jesus asleep in thy arms.  I dare not approach while he reposes near thy heart.  Press him in my name and kiss His fine head for me and ask Him to return the kiss when I draw my dying breath. St. Joseph, Patron of departing souls, pray for us. Amen.

Now I know its not the feast of departed souls or anything, but the prayer is quite powerful, for following the prayer is this:

Whoever reads this prayer or hears it or carries it, will never die a sudden death, nor be drowned, nor shall poison take effect on them; neither shall they fall into the hands of the enemy, nor be burned in any fire, nor shall they be overpowered in battle.

Make this prayer known everywhere.

Cool, right? 😉

God bless!