I can empathize with a lot of your e-mail, but I think it's important to reiterate
several important points.
Touching it will remove the holiness/blessedness it
received during the Mass.
What makes the host permanently blessed is the:
- the form (words used during Holy Mass)
- the matter (unleavened wheat bread and grape
- the minister (a validly ordained Catholic
priest) who has the intent to do what the Church expects from him.
For hundreds of years, we have believed that
the only way that the Eucharist can be deconsecrated or unblessed is
if it ceases to have the appearance of bread and in the Early Church people
received on the hand, so the Communion-on-the-tongue rule does not go back
to the Apostles. It may have some merit to it, but it's not Apostolic.
Although the Early Church received the Blessed Eucharist in the hand, members
did so with reverence. The communicant would hold one hand out over another in the
form of a throne.
As time passed and the Church grew in its understanding, development,
and theology of its doctrines, a greater reverence was rightfully developed
in the Church for the Blessed Sacrament. Remember, it took four centuries to define
the theology of Jesus Himself and, though the Church always believed in the Real
Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist, it was not formally defined until 1215 A.D.!
I also go to a priest most of the time, but as Eric
implied, it's the same Jesus, so, if I am visiting my brother and wish to stay
with my family, I just go to the nearest Extraordinary Minister of the Eucharist.
The only one that should be called a Eucharistic Minister is a priest or deacon.
Lay Catholics who are trained to distribute the Blessed Sacrament in extreme circumstances are called Extraordinary Ministers of the Eucharist.
- Who made the rule back then that no one touches
the blessed host other that a priest or bishop?
- Who made the decision that all that blessed stuff
really isn't blessed — and that we can all touch it after
I don't know when the Church changed from the Apostolic times of Communion
in the hand to receiving on the tongue. e.g. pre-Vatican
It's my understanding that the bishops in America, back in 1968 petitioned the Vatican
to allow Communion in the hand. In order to petition Rome they would have needed
at least two thirds of the bishops agreeing on the motion. Although I've heard that
there were issues around getting two thirds of the bishops, they were able to
get it, and Pope Paul VI did approve of the practice.
What Pope Paul VI did not mean to imply is: all that blessed
stuff really isn't true. Even he would say:
It is still truly Jesus under the appearance of wheat bread
and grape wine.
- Doctrines cannot change.
- Disciplines can change.
- Individual Catholics have a right and duty to express their spiritual needs
and concerns to their pastors and priest. (Sacrosanctum Concilium — Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy)
The following is my personal opinion on this
I personally think this was one of the least faithful and worst things the American
bishops could have petitioned the Vatican for. I also think it was a very poor
decision on discipline by Pope Paul VI.
Because the Catholic Faith involves believing in something, despite what our five senses:
- Smelling, and
For example: Though I visibly see nothing where I am currently sitting, my faith
tells me there is a guardian angel there assisting and guarding me in this life.
The same is true with the Blessed Sacrament.
- Although it tastes like we are receiving just a wheat bread host at Holy
Communion, our Faith tells us we are receiving the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity
of Our Blessed Lord Jesus.
- Although when we drink from the chalice,
and it tastes like we are drinking just grape
wine, our Faith tells us we are receiving the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity
of Our Blessed Lord Jesus.
Because the Blessed Eucharist is the
source and submit of the Catholic Faith (Vatican II, Lumen Gentium 11), of all disciplines that should have been
changed the last one should
have been how we receive the Eucharist.
Because our outward behaviors and actions do two things:
- they re-affirm to us, what we say, we believe
- re-affirm to others, the Catholic faithful at the Mass we are attending, what they
say, they believe.
This is such an important, but overlooked point; probably never mentioned
in our Catholic seminaries!!
Another problem, in some circles, is the music sung at the Mass.
It reminds me
of what Arius did in the Early Church. He purposely put lyrics and words in
the music that would result in the congregation denying the divinity of Christ,
while they are singing the song!!
Well, guess what? It's being done today! This is why I hate that song:
Taste and see, taste and see, the goodness of the Lord.
No Catholic in the pew or in the Communion line should be singing this. These word focus on the senses, not the Catholic faith behind the Eucharist. When we go up to receive the Eucharist we receive the Body and Blood of Christ despite what the senses tell us!! A better replacement, that some parishes have adapted to is:
Take and eat, take and eat, the goodness of the Lord.
This would be far better!
A Eucharistic Faith is a very difficult article of faith for any Catholic to maintain
in today's culture. One can believe with their mind, but at times the body does
not want to be as devotional as the mind. Nevertheless, our behaviors and actions
re-affirm, what we say and what we believe, not only to ourselves, but to others.
On a personal note: I
remember back around 1980, when Communion
in the hand was first being instituted
at my local parish. Most everyone was receiving
Our Blessed Lord in their hand. I was confused
and still trying to figure out the
best thing to do. Up to that point I had
always received on the tongue. I liked
the idea of sticking your tongue out at
Just kidding guys! Just kidding!
At the same time, I had been going to St. Benedict's monastery where I always
knelt to received Our Blessed Lord; the priest just placed the Blessed Sacrament
on my tongue.
Then it dawned on me, it's the same Jesus up at the Abbey as was down at my local
parish, so why don't I start always receive on my knees all the time. (Something
allowed by Canon Law for ALL Catholics. A priest can never tell you that you have
to receive Holy Communion in the hand.)
If he does, contact your local bishop and make him aware of this!
I remember talking to a liberal sister after Mass at my local parish: Sister Mary
from the Order of St. Joseph. She came up to me and said,
"Michael, Don't you think you are over doing it a little."
My reply was,
"No, Sister Mary, I think you are under doing it a little.",
then I left :-)
For short, you sound like a normal, devout Catholic. We need more like you in