Whenever I get into a discussion about communion in the hand this article called Rethinking Communion in the Hand (found here) keeps showing up so I wanted to write a response to the article because there are many falsehoods in it.
First I want to say I don’t care how you receive communion and this is not a debate about which is more reverent. The numbers correlate to the paragraph numbers in the article.
1 They mention that we should receive in the more traditional manner. I will ask which is more traditional: A normative practice that occurred in the first 6 centuries or a practice that was done for say a thousand years starting around the 6th to 9th century.
4 The person becomes their own extraordinary minister of communion. Assuming this was true is there an 11th commandment that says thou shalt not give yourself communion. My personal opinion on this is self communication is taking the Eucharist from the ciborium like at a buffet. The canon they mention refers to laity must receive the Eucharist from a priest. It does not say on the tongue and when one receives the Eucharist in the hand they are receiving it from the priest.
5 They give some scriptural examples for communion on the tongue like Ezekiel eating a scroll and a Psalm about Israel opening wide their mouth. The last reference was to the ark being so holy no one could touch it then implies that the greater ark that is now here is the Eucharist. The New Testament ark is Mary not the Eucharist and no one died if they touched Mary. This is not even debated. No one thinks the New Testament ark is the Eucharist. Other than that fact it is a nice try for an analogy. From what I have seen in this section this is a desperate plea to find the belief in scripture when it really isn’t. That is called eisegesis. I can do it too for example the mana is a foreshadowing of the Eucharist but priests did not give it on the tongue to the people. In Jn 6 the famous bread of life chapter Jesus multiplies the loves but they did not put it on the tongue of the people. You see how putting ones belief into scripture doesn’t work the best.
6 This one talks about feeding ones guests because it is a traditional practice. Is it? I don’t know. All I can say is I have spent 3700 hours going through the entirety of the 22000 page collection of the Church Fathers and they don’t mention this tradition. The article also says Jesus dipped the bread into wine and gave it to Judas as proof of this practice. That is very interesting because if you read the Last Supper accounts in the gospels you will not fine Jesus dipping bread into wine. What you will find is Jesus dipping bread into a dish and giving it to Judas. Scripture does not say what was in the dish but we can conclude that it was not wine because wine is not put into dishes and we read the wine was in a cup. What was happening then at the Last Supper? Well it was also a supper so the bread was probably bread not the Eucharist and the stuff in the dish was probably a sauce for supper.
9 This is my area of expertise. This one is called "was it universal?" referring to communion in the hand and they say a more rigorous look at history does not show universality of communion in the hand. That is interesting because the Catholic Encyclopedia article on genuflexion says it was universal for the first 6 centuries in Rome and the first 9 centuries in Gall but lets look further at the evidence they present. They quote Cyril of Jerusalem teaching communion in the hand but pass over it quickly. Cyril’s works called Catechetical lectures were given before Easter to catechumens who were going to be initiated into the Church on Easter. There is no denying this quote. They try to say it is only referring to people in a desert who can’t get the Eucharist from a priest and quote Basil saying that that is the only time it is ok. Did you notice they only quoted the church fathers that they can try to discredit? They didn’t mention the others like Eusibius, Augustine, Chrysostom, Venerable Bede, John Damascene that are very clear about receiving it in their hand. It is interesting to note that some admit communion in the hand was done but they say the person bowed down and ate it from the hand however Basil’s 93rd letter which is only a paragraph long says the opposite and mentions lifting it to their lips. You see how they were very selective in their quoting of the fathers.
See my collection of Church Father quotes here .
They then quote Pope Leo who says we receive by mouth what we believe by faith. Actually the Post Nicene Fathers Edited by Phillip Schaff says “for that is taken in the mouth which is believed by faith.” By the language I question that he is referring to how it was given at Mass. If we put in hand and say “that which is taken by hand which is believed by faith” it doesn’t sound right so it is my opinion that he is referring to the how the Eucharist gets into the body. Prescription bottles say take 1 pill by mouth every day. That doesn’t mean someone else is putting the pill in my mouth. This interpretation fits with what the Catholic Encyclopedia says. Communion on the tongue is only mentioned about 4 times in the entire collection of church fathers and they are found in the writings of Pope Gregory.
It is also interesting that Jesus himself in the Eucharistic form told St Faustina that He desired to rest in her hand not just in her heart in her Diary paragraph 160. I wonder if the writer of the article is now going to say St Faustina is no longer a saint.
It is a slippery path these so called traditional Catholic’s take. In trying to preserve the faith they end taking more steps from this issue and become more critical of the current papacy and the post Vatican II era. Eventually they can end up a sedevacantist or worse. Just look at the tragedy of Gerry Matatics. He was a phenomenal apologist who worked with Catholic Answers in the early days of the apostolate. He publicly debated the phenomenal Protestant apologist James White many times. He was the one who tried to get his friend Scott Hahn to not be Catholic. He ended up beating Scott in entering the Catholic Church. He took this path of traditionalism to sedevacantist and now he is farther down from the sedevacantist where he doesn’t believe there is a valid Mass anywhere anymore. Don’t let that happen to you.