Communion – in the hand or on the tongue?

Princess Grace of Monaco receiving Communion

Two Australian Catholic priests have started a petition to restore Communion being received only on the tongue during Mass, while banning Communion in the hand. Amongst their reasons for this, is that we use our hands a lot to do other things:

The very action of placing the Sacred Host on the hands of a communicant invites routine.

There are any number of bodily actions we perform so often every day without thinking that they wear a kind of ‘neuron track’ into our brains: waving goodbye, shaking hands, pointing a finger, and receiving and placing something into another’s hand.

It is very difficult to ask someone to use an habitual action in a sacred way.

But we don’t stick our tongue out at a priest everyday:

Standing, or preferably kneeling, before a priest and extending our tongue is hardly a routine action. It is something we do only in church and it causes the communicant immediately to enter into a consciousness of the sacred. Communion on the tongue is itself a little catechesis.

Which I don’t get.

Thinking back to when I did receive Communion on the tongue as a child, and then as an adult on those occasions when the priest would use the now discontinued dip-and-dunk method to distribute Communion under both kinds, I felt uncomfortable. My tongue and mouth would quiver and shake as I poked out my tongue for the priest to lay down the host. I just didn’t like it, and my mind was not on Jesus at that time. It didn’t feel sacred. It took a while for me to compose myself after receiving Communion and get back to Jesus. Maybe I was just weird, and I was somewhat of a germaphobe, but I overwhelmingly preferred to receive Communion in the hand as my mind was always on Jesus.

At the Last Supper Jesus shared bread and wine with his apostles saying that the bread and wine were His body and blood. He would have passed the bread and wine around the table for them to eat it and drink it themselves. His body was broken for us and He shed His blood for us.



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