Believe it or not, I have never taken communion in the hands. I was born after Vatican II and despite this unfortunate time, communion on the tongue while we stood in front of the priest was still the norm. I went to a Catholic school with a traditional priest at the head who did not seem to allow this new novelty. Upon my return to mass as an adult after a long absence, I still did not receive communion in the hands, though I did see most people, much older than me, receive in the hands. I always had a bad feeling when I saw the Host being taken in the hands. There was something within telling me not to touch the Eucharist. I see now that this ‘feeling’ was correct.
As I have grown in my faith, I can see quite clearly that receiving communion on the tongue while kneeling is much more reverent and respectful toward my Lord. For me, it is quite simple: how could I hold the Holy of Holies with hands that are possibly dirty and sweaty? How could I hold the Holy of Holies then pop it in my mouth like candy? To do so would take away from the special nature of the Host and its true power and holiness. How could I hold the Holy of Holies when I am not consecrated to do so?
I am in good company in this feeling, according to a 2018 Tablet article, “The Vatican’s most senior liturgical official says the practice of receiving communion on the hand is part of a “diabolical attack” on the Church which diminishes reverence to God.
Cardinal Robert Sarah, Prefect for the Congregation for Divine Worship and Discipline of the Sacraments, is now calling for Catholics to start receiving the host kneeling and on the tongue which he says is “more suited” to the sacrament.
“Truly the war between Michael and his Angels on one side, and Lucifer on the other, continues in the heart of the faithful: Satan’s target is the Sacrifice of the Mass and the Real Presence of Jesus in the consecrated host,” the Guinean Prelate, 72, writes in a forward to a book by Fr Federico Bortoli, “La Distribuzione della Comunione sulla Mano: Profili Storici, Giuridici e Pastorali” (“The distribution of Communion in the hand: a historical, juridical, and pastoral overview”).”
Sadly, I have seen people take communion in the hands with dirty hands, snotty hands and sweaty hands. I have seen communion thrown onto the pews as if it were nothing. Once, I saw it fall to the floor. I have seen young people pop the Host into their mouths like unwrapping a breath mint or piece of gum. Also, some have tried and succeeded in stealing the Host for occult rituals. Despite these desecrations, the practice continues unabated.
Sometimes I wonder if all the catastrophes that hit the Church in recent times have resulted from the lack of reverence to the Holy of Holies. I wonder if this lack of devotion to the Body of the Lord has called down upon the earth the punishment it deserves. I also wonder where it will end and how this disrespect will be stopped once and for all. I cannot claim to know the heart of God but since God has given himself as the greatest gift, the greatest respect must be shown and I can only surmise that it must pain him to see this gift so sorely treated. Are we really showing the greatest respect to the Lord by taking communion in the hands? Our dirty unconsecrated hands?
It is not hard to understand that communion in the hands takes away from the true specialness of the Host and makes it like any other piece of food we put in our mouths on a daily basis. However, this is spiritual food. The Host is different. The Host is Jesus present before us. Furthermore, without kneeling we do not remember who we are in front of and do not understand that we are to be submissive before the Lord. Also, when we stand, we appear as equals before the Holy of Holies and that is simply not the case.
It seems to me that one of the reasons why the young are not attracted to the Novus Ordo is because the innate sacredness of the Holy of Holies is not respected and furthered in proper fashion. Once I had a relative complain to me that she was turned off as a child by the mysteriousness of the Latin Mass. Sadly, she eventually joined a cult and still has not returned to the Truth. Quite frankly, it is the mysteriousness that attracts the young and old and all ages to the Latin Mass today. Without the mystery of the Holy of Holies the mass simply becomes a service and that is what the Protestants attend. Have Catholics become Protestants? You decide!