Communion in the Hand…'flying fragments’…

I’ve explained how it causes fragments of Our Lord to encrust themselves in the crevices of hands. Then the fragments go wherever the hand goes. And I’ve got patronisingly sympathetic smiles from practising Catholics who tell me I’m ‘too young’ and ‘taking things too seriously’. And the secularists call this ‘nutty’ – we’re so concerned about the fragments of Our Lord’s Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity being scattered in places they should never go. Or are we really that concerned? Some people are adamant that you are only allowed receive in the hand. There is a perception that Communion on the tongue is ‘banned’. One chap in the US said to me, ‘but it’s obedience to the church to let the frag-fragments or whatever ya call them fly! They are flying fragments of God’s love.’ Slight modification; they are God. 

How I usually get into a conversation about Communion in the hand, is that I’m asked why we receive on the tongue in the Tridentine Mass. As in, ‘don’t you think it’s a bit fuddy-duddy to only receive on the tongue?’ I always remain very gentle and refuse to get into an actual argument about what way a person receives – in an argument a person may feel compelled to defend their position and to stick to it. On a few occasions, I’ve been told ‘people who get a bee in their bonnet about fragments going missing are sickos, and into icky things anyway.’ Admittedly, I’m not very perceptive, but when I hear things like that, I pull back from the debate; if those of us who want to preserve Our Lord’s Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity from becoming ‘flying fragments’ and are called ‘sickos’ because of it, well the person who calls us ‘sickos’ has fundamental problems with the faith. One also hears, ‘why aren’t they more inclusive, and permit people to receive in a way where they are closest to Our Lord?’ Feeling close to Our Lord is just that – a feeling – and it jars with me that we want to feel close, but then do not give more respect i.e. by receiving on the tongue.

In opposing Communion in the hand, I’ve used Church doctrine and I’ve quoted renowned Catholics, but haven’t had encouraging responses. But maybe that’s because I have not understood that the way we treat the Host directly influences how we think of it, and the othe way round. Reading Fr. Hugh S. Thwaites, SJ’s concise little book Our Glorious Faith – and how to lose it, I found a section about Communion in the hand under the heading; ‘We should behave the way we believe.’ Fr. Thwaites wrote, ‘I remember a good example of this. It was in a convent of contemplative nuns, and I had just said Mass for them. They had all received on the tongue and I was telling the sacristan that I preferred people receiving on the tongue because of the danger of particles flaking off the Host, not being noticed in the palm of the hand, and falling on the floor. “After all,” I said, “in each tiny fragment there’s Our Lord.” She denied this. She said that there was not the Real Presence in a fragment of the Host.
Now how did she come to think that? No one had ever told her….The reason is that she had been behaving for some little time as though the fragments were of no consequence, and so she had come to believe that they were of no consequence….This is why the Church hedges the Holy Eucharist about with so much reverence and care, with sanctuary lights, and silk curtains, with genuflections and incense, with secure locks and safely guarded keys. The Church knows that these safeguards that we see and touch also safeguard our faith.’
So, in future, , I’ll carefully say that were I to receive in the hand, I would lose respect for the Eucharist, because tiny fragments are mislaid and that the way I behave influences how I believe. 


  1. In the pre-conciliar Faith, only the priest was allowed to touch the tabernacle key. Today men, women and children can touch the Sacred Host and fling it about the place.

    In the pre-conciliar Faith, only the priest was allowed to touch the sacred vessels. Now we have "Eucharistic Ministers", which, despite their official name, are not an "extraordinary" occurrence at all.

    In the pre-Conciliar Faith, if a Sacred Host fell on the floor, a ritual of ablutions would have to be performed with Holy Water. In the modern Faith the priest is instructed "to pick up the host reverently".

    In the pre-Conciliar Faith, children were taught that in the tiniest particle, therein contained Our Lord's Body, Blood, Human Soul and Divinity, in its entirety. In "Alive-O" children are taught that Holy Communion is like a witch who baked "magic bread".

    Valoris Ardentis

  2. Thank you for your comment Valoris Ardentis.

    "Alive-O" is the 'Catholic catechetical' programme for Irish primary school children. Most children who are taught "Alive-O" come to call the Most Holy Eucharist 'magic bread' or at best 'special bread'.
    When I was training to be a teacher, we got lecture notes on "Alive-O" where we were encouraged to tell the children that 'Jesus is the bread man'.

  3. I find there is no point debating with these people. The spirit that one absorbs at the new mass means becoming gradually ingrained with contempt for traditional Catholic piety. Thats why the Novus Ordo should be avoided at all costs.

  4. I too have witnessed the 'contempt for traditional Catholic piety' such as kneeling to receive Holy Communion. What I must say though, is that Communion is taken in the hand, not only at Novus Ordo Masses, but also at Tridentine 'Old Rite' Masses. There can be very grave reluctance on the part of the laity to humble themselves and receive on the tongue - in both 'old' and new rite.

    Communion Hosts were stolen from 'traditional' churches, prominently The Brompton Oratory, and the desecration of the Hosts were put up on YouTube. This is an absolute outrage. What I suggest is that Communion on the hand is stopped - in both Old Rite and Novus Ordo. The laity must understand that the consequences (including stolen Hosts) are the Ultimate Price for the Catholic community, just so that this laizzez-faire grabbing the Host in your hand may continue.

    PS - I will be doing more on this when I describe how I saw a Host being stolen. This is to come in a future blog post.

  5. There should be no communion in the hand at old rite masses. This is yet another reason to try and go to masses celebrated by priests who are exclusively old rite or at the very least have the common sense not to capitulate to some stubborn person trying to prove a point.

  6. The really sad and disturbing things is that all these awful things whether Communion in the hand or dodgy catechetical programmes are authorised and officially permitted by priests and bishops appointed by the Holy See and with "stamp" of authority of the Pope, so although we call them abuses they are not, they are an official and legal of the Post-Vatican II Church.In a similar way Fr Hans Kung is still a priest in good standing and wasn't he welcomed for a three hour meeting [long by Papal standards] with the Pope last year ? Where does that leave us (I often worry and consider) ? Happy Feast/Non-feast of Corpus Christi. Alan Robinson

  7. Alan,

    The question that traditional Catholics have to ask themselves, is whether the changes of Vatican 2 are accidental or essential.

    St. Pius X's modifications to the Breviary are an example of accidental change. The Breviary remained essentially the Divine Office as codified by Saints Benedict and Gregory the Great, but there were accidental changes to the occurrence of psalms, and the ranking of feasts.

    Does Novus Ordo Missae, Liturgy of the Hours, The New Code of Canon Law, the New disciplines, represent an accidental change or an essential change? I argue strongly that they are essential changes and should be rejected as non-Catholic. The Ecclesia Dei position is that these are accidental changes and are a question of "prudence", "aesthetics" etc.

    Valoris Ardentis

  8. God bless you. This is a wonderful post. I will share it with friends! You have the right idea. Keep strong and encourage others to treat the Holy Eucharist with the reverence and awe it deserves.


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