Expert Answer Forum
Holy Communion QUESTION from durante August 7, 2000 Could you please refer me to the church teaching or papal document(s) regarding the proper reception of the Holy Eucharist at Mass? Although everyone at my parish receives in the hand, I've heard that our Holy Father prefers us to receive on the tongue. I would like to align my actions with his wishes, but I am also going to need a lot of proof to offer those who will undoubtedly criticize my actions. If the method of reception is optional, then I need to know whether it is the priest or the parishoners who makes the choice. Thank you.
ANSWER by John-Paul Ignatius, O.L.S.M. on October 17, 2000 Dear Mrs. Durante:
Thanks for your question.
The norm is to receive on the tongue and this is the preferred method of the Holy Father. In fact, I don't recall the Holy Father EVER giving anyone the Eucharist in the hand.
John Miskell, our Liturgy Q & A Forum expert answered this question a while back. I include his answer followed by my comments below: The following instruction comes from the Appendix to the General Instruction for the Dioceses of the United States, #240.
On June 17, 1977, the Congregation of Sacraments and Divine Worship approved the request of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops to permit the optional practice of Communion in the hand. The Bishops' Committee on the Liturgy, in it's catechesis about this optional practice, drew attention to these considerations: a. Proper catechesis must be provided to assure the proper and reverent reception of Communion without any suggestion of wavering on the part of the Church in its faith in the Eucharistic presence. b. The practice must remain the option of the communicant. The priest or minister of Communion does not make the decision as to the manner of reception of Communion. It is the communicant's personal choice. c. When Communion is distributed under both kinds by intinction, the Host is not placed in the hands of the communicant, nor may the communicant receive the Host and dip it into the chalice. Intinction should not be introduced as a means of circumventing the practice of Communion in the hand. d. Children have the option to receive Communion in the hand or on the tongue. No limitations because of age have been established. Careful preparation for the first reception of the Eucharist will provide the necessary instruction. The option to receive Communion in the hand is an indult (concession, privilege), granted by the Vatican to all the Dioceses in the United States.
An indult means that special permission is given to do something that is not normally legal.
Thus the NORM is communion on the tongue. That is the standard and the universal law.
But for us immature Americans who like to do it our own way, the Vatican has indulged our immaturity and allows communion in the hand -- I suppose because one has to choose their battles, even with children.
But the criteria mentioned above must be meant, such as proper catechises to ensure that proper reverence is given to the Eucharist.
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