I am a Catholic.
I am eternally grateful that God was good enough to bring me home to the Catholic Church; and to give me the grace to know that it was true . . . and that, in particular, when I receive Holy Communion, I receive the Body & Blood, Soul & Divinity, of my Blessed Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ.
One of the consequences of that, for me, is a serious commitment to treating the Blessed Sacrament with the greatest possible reverence – and I have to be honest and say that I had that even before I became a Catholic; but, as you might expect, it has got more committed since I recognized the complete certainty of the nature of the Sanctissimum.
I am very well aware that I’m by no means alone in this : indeed, although I can’t now find the actual post, I clearly remember reading, a while ago now, a post by Gem of the Ocean about the occasion when, after many years of loyal service to a particular church, she parted company with it after the Pastor reprimanded her publicly (during the Mass) for taking issue with someone’s very irreverent treatment of the Host s/he had just received.
One thing I find particularly uncomfortable is reception of Holy Communion into the hand; if only because there is plenty of evidence – not least with one’s own eyes (and the ‘black glove test’ provides further evidence) – that this leads to particles of the Host ending up on the floor, or on clothes, or elsewhere . . . potentially thereby being desecrated, but in any event certainly not being treated with the reverence which they deserve.
Now : I know that I’m not alone in this either, not least because (as I’ve mentioned before) Bishop Athanasius Schneider wrote a splendid little book called ‘Dominus Est’ calling for a return to Holy Communion on the tongue for exactly these reasons . . . and the Holy Father obviously recognized the merits of his arguments, because it is noticeable that His Holiness has, since it came out, returned to distributing Holy Communion only directly onto the tongue.
Further, no-one has – so far – been able to come up to me with a good reason why people should receive Holy Communion in the hand. There’s clearly no need for it, and no valid theological argument for it . . . so why do it, when there’s so much against it ?
Let me say at this point, by the way, that I’m not suggesting that all those who choose to receive Holy Communion into the hand do so for any irreverent or improper reason : and indeed my own experience is that many of them show marked reverence. My point is only that they cannot provide a good reason why the practice should continue, when there are so many obvious reasons why it should not.
What I was wondering was whether those Catholics on Great Britain who share Bishop Schneider’s viewpoint (which appears to be the Holy Father’s as well) might conceivably dare to ask the Holy Father to use this trip not only as an opportunity to Beatify Cardinal Newman, but also to publicise the Church’s real position on the reception of Holy Communion : that is, to make it quite clear that the ordinary form of reception should always be directly onto the tongue, and that reception into the hand is only an extraordinary form . . . which should only be permitted when circumstances make it absolutely necessary. (I have to say that I find it difficult think what those might be : about the only one I can think of might be to allow a newly instituted Extraordinary Minister of the Eucharist to do so, as a sign of his or her right to handle Our Blessed Lord.)
Dare we ?