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'Quick Help' Page: Visitor Upset By Stance Against Communion In The Hand

 

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Holy Communion

Communion in the Hand

Self-Communicating

Lay Persons Touching the Holy Eucharist

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Arrow Question / Issue:

"You have references to receiving Communion by hand as being a new innovation which it isn't. This has been common practice from at least the 300's... You should fact check before you write something and put it forth as fact. St. Cyril of Jerusalem in the 300's and St. John Damascene in the 600's both spoke of using both hands to make a throne for the Body of Christ. This wasn't an invention of Vatican II."

"Here is something else for you to consider... you should be working for unity as Jesus would want and not disunity. I think all of you need to reevaluate your reasons for presenting only what you consider to be right and not what has been proclaimed and accepted since the beginning of the Church. Also, consider that at the Last Supper the Apostles, after Jesus had blessed and broken the bread, gave it to themselves with their own hands. So are they to be considered to be committing sacrilege as according to you they did as they didn't receive the bread from Jesus on their tongue or in their mouths but from their own hands... [T]he 'traditionalist' who tries to make communion by mouth into an Apostolic Tradition is just as guilty of blatant lying as the liberal who revises history to suit their personal agendas. This is the problem that 'traditionalists' put themselves in when they make these kinds of ill-informed arguments."

 

Arrow Answer / Resources:

[click link(s) below, as applicable]

Thank you for your feedback. We appreciate hearing your thoughts. Regarding the issue you mentioned, you may be interested to note that outside of certain times (e.g. in times of persecution, when there was no priest, etc.), this matter was considered a "serious offense" as early as 369 A.D. as per the following quote...

"It were needless to point out that for anyone in times of persecution to be obliged, in the absence of a priest or deacon, to receive communion by his own hand is certainly not a serious offence, because long custom sanctions this practice in such cases. Indeed, all the solitaries in the desert, where there is no priest, reserving Communion at home, receive it from their own hands." (St. Basil the Great, Doctor of the Church, c. 369 A.D.)

We cover this topic in a little more detail here.

Please note that in recent times, it is quite true that this practice has been introduced in various areas of the Church in the wake of Vatican II, which is the point made in the publication you reference. This matter is well known and you should be able to confirm the truth of this statement in many places. The toleration of Communion in the hand and Communion dispensed by laity are, in fact, changes that have occurred in the Church since Vatican II. I don't image you could possibly be disputing this obvious fact.

That there may be some precedent in the (persecuted) early Church regarding Communion in the hand is not the issue here (we do not disagree with that). There was not a complete 'official'/settled bible in the earliest years of the Church either, yet that does not mean the Church should go back to not having a complete 'official'/settled bible. One might say 'going back is not always going forward'.

As to your comment about the Apostles taking Holy Communion in the hand, please keep in mind that they were bishops – NOT laity. Of course bishops & priests handle the Holy Eucharist with their own (consecrated!) hands. We did NOT say or imply the Apostles were committing sacrilege – that would be absolutely ludicrous. Of course the consecrated hands of priests & bishops touching the Holy Eucharist is acceptable – its, in fact, necessary! That has never been an issue. The issue concerns laity. Please understand the important distinction between the two.

Lastly, you make a lot of accusations, so I'll say two things in our defense. One is that we have done an 'incredible' amount of research putting our site together – in fact, the site was in development for 7 years before it went live – and we take it very seriously (and keenly aware of our future judgment). Why on earth would we invest so much of ourselves in this site only to lie about the faith? That is both ridiculous and terribly offensive. Please do not misrepresent what we have said and then charge us with lying.

The second thing we'd like to mention is that we DO take a position as to what's better with respect to the Blessed Sacrament (which we love dearly) – it is, in fact, the same position that has been held by the Church for a very long time, prior to Vatican II. It is the position we believe is the most reverent and respectful of the Holy Eucharist in our age as well. This is something even an atheist could understand if it was explained to them. There is no need for us to "reevaluate" our position as it is aligned with both Catholic tradition and even common sense. It is, in fact, our position – NOT the contrary position – that "has been proclaimed and accepted" by the Church, "this practice...having proceeded from Apostolic tradition"...

"It must be taught, then, that to priests alone has been given power to consecrate and administer to the faithful, the Holy Eucharist. That this has been the unvarying practice of the Church, that the faithful should receive the Sacrament from the priests [not their own hands!], and that the officiating priests should communicate themselves, has been explained by the holy Council of Trent, which has also shown that this practice, as having proceeded from Apostolic tradition, is to be religiously retained..." (Catechism of the Council of Trent)

And, keep in mind that the alternate method of receiving Holy Communion is presently only allowed under indult (special permission) – and that permission was only given as a result of disobedience. So it is obviously NOT those who hold to the Church's traditional/official position on the matter (e.g. us) who are causing disunity in this matter. Our material is obviously in harmony with the Church's longstanding tradition. It is NOT some "ill-informed argument". It is those who follow the "new" – and previously condemned – practices who may causing disunity, NOT those who promote tradition.

We certainly have no desire to argue with you, and we believe you are sincere in your desire to please Christ. We hope in your charity you will see that we are trying to do likewise.

+ + +

"The best advice that I can give you is this. Church traditions - especially when they do not run counter to the faith - are to be observed in the form in which previous generations have handed them down" (St. Jerome, Doctor of the Church, 4th century A.D.)

"Indeed, the true friends of the people are neither revolutionaries, nor innovators: they are promoters of tradition." (Pope St. Pius X, Our Apostolic Mandate, 1910 A.D.)


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