Friday, 24 April 2015

Communion in the hand is Eucharistic Sacrilege! (and an apology)

The cleric below is Bishop Manz, the Auxiliary Bishop of Chicago giving Holy Communion to the Chicago Fire Chief at yesterday's funeral for Cardinal George. The Fire Chief may or may not be a Catholic. If he is not a Catholic then he should not have presented himself for Holy Communion. If he is a Catholic then he should know better how to receive Holy Communion in the hand which will always be in my view, an abomination. 

Blase Cupich, the Archbishop gave Holy Communion to the non-Catholic governor Rauner.

I watched the video of this again. The Chief grabbed the Eucharist as Bishop Manz lifted the Lord. In writing originally, I indicated the Bishop committed a sacrilege. I was wrong and I apologise publicly to Bishop Manz and anyone offended by my statement. 

When will this abuse and desecration stop?

How to Receive the Eucharist


Often in modern liturgy, the sense of reverence, of dignity, of awe, seems to have disappeared.
When you talk about what I'm going to talk about, people say, "Oh, my goodness, Father has me directly in mind, I know he's directing what he's saying at me."  People become self-conscious or even offended.  Recently I spoke to a congregation about the reception of Holy Communion.  I began by saying, "There are no flagrant violations or extreme problems here, but it's good always to remind ourselves of what happens when we receive the Eucharist and how we should receive it."  Then I continued in this vein:
We have the adage "Familiarity breeds contempt."  Not that we have contempt for the Eucharist, but we receive it so often that we can become slovenly.  Even priests can become slovenly in the way they say Mass.  As anyone who's been a superior of a community of priests knows, it's a delicate thing to approach the priest and say, "Father, look, you're saying Mass too fast; you're saying Mass too irreverently; you're doing this or that and you ought to correct it."  Several years ago a Jesuit published a book called How Not to Say Mass, and when we read it in refectory in the monastery one of the old monks said, "How strange that a Jesuit should write a book on how not to say Mass."  Well, here we go. 
If you were to ask me what two dispositions are absolutely necessary to approach the table of the Lord, I would say without hesitation that the first is faith — deep belief in our Lord who is truly present, body and soul, humanity and divinity who becomes present at the words of consecration and who comes into our lives, into our very beings, assimilates us into himself, through the reception of the Eucharist That is whom we are receiving.  We celebrate what Jesus enacted at the Last Supper and on Calvary.  We represent that act to the Father and bring its benefits upon ourselves. 
The Eucharist like all the great mysteries of our faith, is not something that one can explain rationally.  How can Jesus, how can God, be contained in what appears to be a small wafer of bread? But that's our strong belief, that Jesus is truly present on our altars.  Once we have received him in the Eucharist, he is present in our very persons, in our bodies.  We believe that by the reception of the Eucharist we become tabernacles, with our Lord contained within our very selves.  That is a marvelous mystery, and that's the first quality that we have to come with, that deep awareness, that deep faith, that deep belief.  That's what really makes Catholics Catholic.  Take away the Eucharist, and we're like everyone else.  There's no difference.  I think it was one of the French revolutionaries who said, "If I truly believed what the Church wants me to believe, that Christ truly becomes present on the altar at the moment of consecration, I would not walk to the communion rail — I would crawl on my belly.  That is how deep my faith and my humility would be." 
Now we certainly don't expect anyone to crawl, but there has to be that depth of faith.  Out of that faith there has to come a devotion.  You know each of us is baptized into the priesthood of Jesus, and one of the ways in which ordinary baptized Catholics exercise that priesthood is by receiving Holy Communion.  That is the exercise of a power we have from Christ.  It's an act of worship and so we do it.  We come with devotion, we come with humility.  We come — how should I put it? — with great reverence and respect.  I think that's what many people complain about in our modern liturgy, thc fact that the sense of reverence, of dignity, of awe, has disappeared.  But that's more in our disposition than in anything else. 
Now there are two ways in which Communion is received in the Latin Church: We receive either on the tongue or in the hand.  The priest holds up the Host and says, "The Body of Christ," and the communicant answers, "Amen" That is not an English word; it's an Aramaic word.  It really is pronounced "Ahmeen," and it means, "So be it" "I agree."  "I believe."  "It is the Body of Christ."  That's what the "Amen" means: "I honestly believe that when I receive, it is Christ, and so I say Amen." 
No one can dictate how one is to receive Holy Communion.  A priest can't say, "I'm only going to give the Eucharist on the tongue."  Nor can a priest demand that everyone who comes to Communion receive in the hand.  Who decides how one is to receive Holy Communion? The communicant and only the communicant.  It is the individual who decides how he is going to receive.  (The option applies only in countries whose national bishops' conferences have applied for and been granted permission to authorize Communion in the hand, of course.) Often I run into priests who say, "I'm only going to give it in the hand."  And I have to say, "Father, you cannot demand that"
If you are going to receive on the tongue, you should keep certain things in mind.  First, the head should be bent back slightly, and the head should be held erect, but kind of tilted back.  The tongue should come out over the bottom teeth, equal with the bottom lip, so that the priest has someplace to put the Host Sometimes people come up with their teeth clenched, and you wonder, "How am I going to get our Lord into that mouth?"

There are certain things that we priests talk about among ourselves (I'm telling the tricks of the trade now), comments we make about certain kinds of communicants.  We say, "That one was a snapping turtle," because he closes his mouth so quickly that the priest is afraid his fingers are going to be cut off by the teeth.  You look down sometimes and wonder, "Has blood been drawn?" Many a time, I've had the scar of the teeth on my knuckles.  There are also the plungers; they sort of leap forward.  Or you have the toe dancers, who come up on their toes, and you never know where they're going to light.  Others receive on the run; they don't stand squarely in front of you but they stand as if they can't wait to get away.  Come straight forward, face the priest, and don't be too far away, because its awfully difficult at times to reach. 
If you're going to receive in the hand, the best way is to put one hand down and put the other hand on top of it and make, as Tertullian used to say, a kind of throne for the Lord.  When the priest puts the Host on your hand, you say, "Amen."  Take a step or two to the side to make way for the next communicant, then receive our Lord.  Communion should not be received on the run, as you're walking back to your place; it should be consumed before you leave the area below the altar. 
I would like to remind people to indicate clearly how they wish to receive.  Sometimes communicants come up with their hands out and their mouths open, and the priest doesn't know which way to give the Host.  How does this person wish to receive? If you indicate clearly, it's easier.  If you're going to receive in the hand, be clear about where the Host should be placed so that it doesn't accidentally fall.  By the way, if it should fall on the floor, indicate it to the priest.  Sometimes the priest or extraordinary minister doesn't see it
That should be the overwhelming disposition with which we approach Holy Communion: "It is the Lord!"
If you're going to kneel for Communion — and it's all right to kneel — remember that, when you rise, you have people behind you.  Sometimes those who kneel to receive take a step or two back when they rise.  I've seen at times when an older person stands just behind the one who is rising.  A person who uses a cane to steady his walk may come close to being knocked over by someone rising up.  So remember to rise straight up, thinking about the person right behind you
Some people ask me at times, "Father, I see on television the Masses that come from Birmingham, from Mother Angelica, and I see the sisters genuflecting.  Should I genuflect before or after?" Only as a sign of piety; it's not necessary to genuflect, but it is necessary to make some gesture of reverence before receiving the Eucharist.  It may be kneeling, bowing, crossing oneself or some other act.  What is necessary is to receive with reverence and dignity.  I don't think there should be any genuflections after receiving Holy Eucharist.  I don't mean to sound facetious, but, at that moment, you don't want to genuflect to the tabernacle, because the Lord is within you; you are the tabernacle. 
Let me sum up by saying the two main dispositions that we need — faith and devotion.  Remember that scene, in the Fourth Gospel, that occurs after the Resurrection.  The disciples are out fishing, and the boats are coming toward the shore.  Peter, as usual, is completely immersed in what he is doing; he's got his outer clothes off so he can work more easily.  The beloved disciple sees someone standing on the shore and says to Peter, "It is the Lord."  Peter jumps into the water. 
That disposition of John, "It is the Lord" — that's what our faith demands.  It is the Lord that we are worshiping.  It is the Lord that we are receiving into ourselves.  It is the Lord who is giving us in the Eucharist a special way to participate in divine life.  It is the Lord who is sanctifying us.  That should be the overwhelming disposition with which we approach Holy Communion: "It is the Lord!"


Lee said...

Please come quickly Jesus !

Anonymous said...

If one is risking the Blessed Sacrament falling on the floor, then one is not giving Our Lord in a proper and reverent manner.

Archbishop Cupich ought to be laicised for his continual attacks on the Faith. But such are ordained, consecrated and given powerful office under Francis, while the holy are persecuted.

(former) Catechist said...

The police chief looks like a second grader learning how NOT to receive First Communion.

john said...

Bernardin is smiling, one of his like minded "brothers" is running the show. Meanwhile, Bishop Finn is out of a job. That's VII in a only get fired or excommunicated for being Catholic!

Barona said...

The distribution of Holy Communion in the hand is the greatest abomination there is: it is the public manifestation of the Eucharistic Crisis....

Lee Gilbert said...

Your post is titled, "Bishop Manz Chicago Auxiliary Bishop commits a Eucharistic Sacrilidge (sic)" How in the name of all that is holy can you possibly defend an accusation like that? You simply haven't the least notion of what you are talking about.

One reason I bowed out of being an extraordinary minister of Holy Communion was incidents of this sort. Look, what happens is this: The priest holds up the Host and says, "The Body of Christ." It is up to the communicant to indicate how he wishes to receive by extending his hands appropriately or by opening his mouth to receive on the tongue. Occasionally, however, some improperly instructed person will reach up to take the Host out of one's hands. It all happens in a matter of seconds- the Host is taken and the person walks off. The fault is on the part of the fire official, not Bishop Manz. There was no sin; no sacrilege whatever.

The real fault it is on the part of those who permit reception of the Eucharist in the hand in the first place. When I have been able to track down such people after Mass and correct them, I have done so, but there is nothing to be done at the moment. What should one do? Struggle with them for the Host, thus really endangering it? Reprimand the person? There is not time for any of that. It takes one completely by surprise and is over in a second or less. Yet you would accuse the bishop of sacrilege, but falsely accusing consecrated persons is itself a sacrilege.

TLM said...

You hit it on the head John. This is Vat ll a l l o v e r a g a i n.

Anonymous said...

I understood that Bishop Finn to be out a job for hiding sodomite pederasts.

Vox Cantoris said...


So the Fire Chief (at his age) was improperly instructed? The Bishop should have said "open your hands." It is his job. I saw the video that this still is from; Grabbed or not, he should have held back until the Chief opened his palms.

My headline stands.

The norms on communion in the hand is that it is to be "denied" in certain cases.

ANON at 7:54.

So what is your point? Frankly, you're a liar. The priest was not sodomite, the filmed victim was a girl.

Yes, Bishop Finn made a mistake and he has paid the price.

Lee Gilbert said...

Well, Vox, if you are trying to make traditionalists look completely ridiculous you are surely on the right track. As you must know, sacrilege is a grave sin, especially with regard to the Eucharist. Yet I would be interested to know what is your basis in the moral teaching of the Church, canon law, Scripture or any source whatever that what transpired between the Bishop Manz and the fire official is anything more than incorrect, hmmm? It is sinful for a layman to take the Eucharist in that fashion? Since when? It is inappropriate, incorrect, bad liturgy and ignorant, but it is no more than that. Ironically, the only person who has incurred any guilt in this whole business is yourself for launching this baseless accusation of sacrilege against a bishop and for the detraction from his reputation. You stand by your headline! It is to laugh. "Hier ich stehe, ich kann nicht anders," said Martin Luther. Bravely spoken! No wonder the pope is impatient with traditionalists! Since they know everything, they are beyond reproof. They have an especially keen understanding of how clerics should conduct themselves and when they have incurred guilt. Yet they seem totally ignorant of verses such as, "Touch not my anointed, and to my prophets do no harm." Yes, I know that sometimes clerics need to be reproved, even publicly, when their conduct and teaching is clearly wrong, but to accuse a bishop of sacrilege for a faux pas or for a two second lapse in judgment is simply ignorant.

Vox Cantoris said...

You've made your point twice. Shall I flog myself now to your liking?

Lee Gilbert said...

Forty lashes would be about right, and in addition you might publicly apologize to Bishop Manz, take down your headline with its ongoing unjust accusatory headline, and to secure the good of your soul, the blessing of God and the good of the Church blog about something where you have some expertise.

Vox Cantoris said...

I have watched the video again and amended the post accordingly.

Thank you for your fraternal correction.

Lee Gilbert said...

Good man, Vox! Skip the lashes :)

Anonymous said...

Yes, of course it is sinful, seriously so, to treat the Blessed Sacrament with anything less than the utmost reverence! It is Our Lord and Saviour, Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity! All this disregard for Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament was necessarily going to result from the evil of giving Holy Communion on the hand, to persons standing, without a paten, without altar rails - and without cathechisis, and proper and frequent exhortation regarding the regular confessing, proper preparation for receiving.