Communion: On The Tongue Or “Magic Trick”?
I have already explained in my post about the Catholic Onion that when the bishop acts correctly, his priests feel encouraged in going the right way even if this may result unpopular and conversely, if the Bishop doesn’t care for properly transmitted Catholic values this mentality will end up informing the behaviour of many of the priests in his diocese.
A beautiful example here, courtesy of Father Z.
You will remember Bishop Olmsted, the rather decisive bishop who recently excommunicated Sister Margaret McBride and deprived the Hospital of St. Joseph of the right to call itself “Catholic”.
It will now please you to read that when a good example is given from the top, it becomes both easier and more easily acceptable for the priests of the diocese to follow the lead and take the necessary steps towards the recovery of reverent liturgical customs. In Bishop Olmsted’s diocese itself, Fr John Lankeit is actively working towards a gradual elimination of communion in the hand.
His words are sincere and alarming: “What I witness troubles me. And I’m not alone” writes Fr Lankeit. You immediately understand that here is one not likely to throw M&Ms at the faithful during Mass.
Fr Lankeit puts the extent of the problem in clear terms:
While my main objective in encouraging reception on the tongue is to deepen appreciation for the Eucharist, I also have a pastoral responsibility to eliminate abuses common to receiving in the hand.
Notice here the double whammy: a) reception on the tongue is the best way in itself; b) reception in the hand causes abuses.
It follows a list of examples, seen “all too frequently”, which I hope will not disturb your sleep:
• Blessing oneself with the host before consuming it. (The act of blessing with the Eucharist is called “Benediction” and is reserved to clergy).
• Receiving the host in the palm of the hand, contorting that same hand until the host is controlled by the fingers, then consuming it (resembling a one-handed “watch-the-coin-disappear” magic trick)
• Popping the host into the mouth like a piece of popcorn.
• Attempting to receive with only one hand.
• Attempting to receive with other items in the hands, like a dirty Kleenex or a Rosary.
• Receiving the host with dirty hands.
• Receiving the host, closing the hand around it, then letting the hand fall to the side (as if carrying a suitcase) while walking away and/or blessing oneself with the other hand.
• Walking away without consuming the host.
• Giving the host to someone else after receiving…yes, it happens!
Some of these I had already imagined; others go beyond my ability to figure out how they happen (the “magic trick”, say); other still can only be defined as astonishing (the dirty hands, the rosary, the kleenex, the “blessing oneself” (??) and the walking away with the host as if it were a piece of luggage).
I am certainly wrong here, but I can’t avoid always seeing in the receiving on the hand an element of “I am the priest of myself” that, at some level, must be buried within the consciousness of the communicant. I just can’t avoid seeing the placing of the communion wafer on the tongue as a priestly function and besides, how one can come to the idea of receiving God the same way as he eats bread and salami is just beyond my understanding.
Father Lankeit doesn’t express himself in such terms of course, but one can clearly see the liturgical zeal and sincere desire to lead his parishioners to better understand the importance of Communion and of acting accordingly. He writes about this four weeks in a row. This is another who, like his Bishop, will be heard. More like him and his Bishop and the beauty and reverence of the Mass will be speedily restored everywhere.
Posted on February 1, 2011, in Catholicism and tagged Bishop Olmsted, Catholic, Catholicism, Communion In The Hand, Communion on the tongue, Conservative Catholic, Conservative Catolicism, Fr Lankeit. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.