Monday, May 18, 2020 –
We are nine (9!!!) weeks down and Mass is starting to resume. It’s not perfect, but it is the best we can do right now. Also, we are still going strong with basic information about the Eucharist. More of the “how tos” today…
Can I receive the Eucharist on the tongue while kneeling?
Yes! You can absolutely receive the Blessed Sacrament (the Eucharist) on the tongue while kneeling.
In distributing Holy Communion it is to be remembered that “sacred ministers may not deny the sacraments to those who seek them in a reasonable manner, are rightly disposed, and are not prohibited by law from receiving them”. Hence any baptized Catholic who is not prevented by law must be admitted to Holy Communion. Therefore, it is not licit to deny Holy Communion to any of Christ’s faithful solely on the grounds, for example, that the person wishes to receive the Eucharist kneeling or standing. (Redemptionis Sacramentum, 91)
Why do some people kneel when they receive Communion?
Kneeling to receive the Eucharist is allowed in the General Instruction of the Roman Missal and confirmed in Redemptionis Sacramentum. It is a way some people show reverence when receiving the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Jesus Christ.
How do I receive the Eucharist?
In the United States, there are two valid ways to receive the Blessed Sacrament at the Novus Ordo Mass: on the tongue or in the hand. Receiving the Eucharist at a Traditional Latin Mass (or Extraordinary Form Mass) is discussed below. You need to decide which way you will receive the Lord before you get to the front of the Communion line.
On the Tongue:
After you make the Sign of the Cross, fold your hands in prayer and keep them close to your chest. Do not put out your hands or the priest won’t know you want to receive on the tongue.
The priest says, “The Body of Christ.” You say, “AMEN.”
Lean your head back slightly, close your eyes, open your mouth slightly, and stick your tongue out. The Blessed Sacrament will stick to your tongue, so don’t worry! Close your mouth and return to your pew.
Dos and Don’ts for On the Tongue:
- Do not stare at the priest
- Give the priest a good “landing pad”
- Do not make the priest have to stick the Blessed Sacrament in your mouth like a quarter in a coke machine; open your mouth nice and wide!
- Give him a nice, open mouth and enough of your tongue that he can just place it on there and not have to touch you.
- Really…he does not want to touch your tongue! He won’t touch your tongue if you help him out.
- You may also receive the Blessed Sacrament kneeling (GIRM 160; Redemptionis Sacramentum, 91)
In the Hand:
After you make the Sign of the Cross, take your dominant hand (the one you write with) and open it up flat, palm up. Place your other hand flat, palm up on top of your dominant hand. They should be flat and one on top of the other, not side by side! You should think of it like you are making a tiny pedestal (shelf) for the Lord to sit.
The priest will place a Consecrated Host on your hand. He then says, “The Body of Christ.” You say, “AMEN.”
Use your dominant hand (the one underneath) to carefully pick up the host and place it in your mouth. Make sure you do not drop the Blessed Sacrament. Return to your pew.
Dos and Don’ts for In the Hand:
- Make sure your hands are clean; this is for the Lord!
- Do not walk away with the Blessed Sacrament…EVER!
- You must consume your Host immediately.
- Do not tilt your hands or come with them side by side. The priest needs a firm, flat place to make sure the Lord is not dropped
Receiving Communion at a Extraordinary Form (Latin) Mass
In the Extraordinary Form, receiving the Eucharist is a little different. You do not say “AMEN,” and you do not have the option of standing or receiving in the hand. You will ALWAYS receive kneeling and on the tongue. Generally, exceptions for kneeling are made for elderly or infirm. You should try your best, but the Lord knows human bodies do not always work.
You do not say “AMEN” because the priest says it for you (in Latin): “May the Body of our Lord Jesus Christ preserve your soul unto life everlasting. Amen.” Likewise, there is NO Precious Blood offered at the Extraordinary Form Mass.
What about receiving the Eucharist under both kinds?
Yes, you can receive the Eucharist under both species, and it is even considered a laudable and pious practice. However, it should be noted that receiving the Blessed Sacrament under one kind (EX: the Host) contains the whole of Christ. You are not receiving “less” of Christ or “half” of Christ by only receiving under one species.
For a more in-depth explanation see the USCCB’s document “Norms for the Distribution and Reception of Holy Communion under Both Kinds in the Dioceses of the United States of America.” (http://www.usccb.org/prayer-and-worship/the-mass/norms-for-holy-communion-under-both-kinds/index.cfm)
Is there a difference between receiving on the hand and receiving on the tongue?
In the Novus Ordo Mass, no. Both are licit (legal) ways to receive the Blessed Sacrament in the United States. However, in the hand is an indult, meaning it is not the universal norm in the Church. The “normal” way to receive the Eucharist is on the tongue. In many countries, you will NOT be allowed to receive on the hand. Likewise, at the Traditional Latin Mass, the ONLY way to receive is on the tongue.
Basically, the difference is the method and preference. Both, however, should be done with complete reverence.
Saint Teresa of Avila, pray for us!