A Letter from The Cathedral Rector by Very Rev. Fr. John Lankeit,Rector,Ss. Simon &Jude Cathedral Phoenix,AZ January 30,2011 to his parishioners.
I want to thank all of you who have recently started receiving Holy Communion on the tongue,not to mention those of you who already had been. This subject has generated a lot of buzz over the past few weeks,the vast majority of which has been overwhelmingly positive.
While my main objective in encouraging reception on the tongue is to deepen appreciation for the Eucharist,I also have a pastoral responsibility to eliminate abuses common to receiving in the hand. Such abuses are no doubt unintentional. Nevertheless,what I witness troubles me. And I’m not alone.
In 2004,responding to the problem of Eucharistic profanation,the Vatican’s Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacrament released an official instruction entitled REDEMPTIONIS SACRAMENTUS:On certain matters to be observed or to be avoided regarding the Most Holy Eucharist. Regarding Holy Communion the document states:
“[S]pecial care should be taken to ensure that the host is consumed by the communicant in the presence of the minister,so that no one goes away carrying the Eucharistic species in his hand. If there is a risk of profanation,then Holy Communion should not be given in the hand to the faithful.” (Paragraph 92)
Here are 7 common Holy Communion profanations that I see all too frequently:
• Blessing oneself with the host before consuming it. (The act of blessing with the Eucharist is called “Benediction”and is reserved to clergy).We would never treat a piece of GOLD with the same casualness –especially in this economy! Yet many treat the Eucharist “piece”of GOD with casualness at best,indifference and irreverence at worst. Of course,much abuse is due to ignorance,owing to poor catechesis,which is precisely why I have written about this issue for four consecutive weeks.
• Receiving the host in the palm of the hand,contorting that same hand until the host is controlled by the fingers,then consuming it (resembling a one-handed “watch-the-coin-disappear”magic trick).
• Popping the host into the mouth like a piece of popcorn.
• Attempting to receive with other items in the hands,like a dirty Kleenex or a Rosary.
• Receiving the host with dirty hands.
• Receiving the host,closing the hand around it,then letting the hand fall to the side (as if carrying a suitcase) while walking away and/or blessing oneself with the other hand.
• Walking away without consuming the host.
• Giving the host to someone else after receiving (including animals)…yes,it happens!
Yet we have another great incentive…
When Holy Communion is received on the tongue…every single one of these abuses is instantly eliminated!
The way we treat another person says more about our relationship with that person than any words we might say. This is especially true of our relationship with the Divine Person,Jesus Christ. So let us continually seek to increase our reverence for our Eucharistic Savior,and to eliminate anything that degrades the respect He deserves.
Rev. Fr. John Lankeit,
Rector,Ss. Simon &Jude Cathedral