Monday, September 2, 2019

Holy Communion: Hand vs Tongue Discussion

Recently, I engaged fellow Catholics who tweeted articles or opinion tweets on the reception of Holy Communion.

The first one is here where a Catholic posted a list of how devotion to the Holy Eucharist can increase and be more dignified.

The original Tweet was from Fr. Matthew "The Autistic Priest." He had deleted it.  However, the replies to it remain. You can see the replies here:

I agreed with most of the suggestions but had an issue with the misconceptions regarding the reception of Holy Communion.  Eventually, a priest joined in the discussion. Days later, I replied to another tweet glamorizing an article by "Father Z." The article pretty much condemned Communion via the hand in favor of Communion on the tongue. Unlike the priest who showed restraint and professionalism, this layperson eventually blocked me after his tweets were refuted with the facts which he could not counter. You can follow the thread here:

These exchanges show the mass amount of misinformation being circulated online. Priests like "Father Z" and other websites like LifeSite, OnePeterFive, and others present a biased view on the reception of the Holy Communion. This view cherry-picks quotes and adds conjecture to them which creates a narrative that ignores the facts. The intention is clear: Demonize the reception of the Eucharist via the hand. Call it blasphemous or "protestant." Blame it for the recent report that belief in the True Presence is on the decline. Present Communion on the Tongue as the only valid form while ignoring Church history and the Liturgy.

These "arguments" have existed since after Vatican II when the so-called "Traditionalist" movement began to take hold. However, what is the truth?

Well, first of all. I advise those reading this and those serious about the truth to take "Father Z" and company with a grain of salt, so to speak. These websites exist to push personal views and bias. Just because one wears a cassock, collar or call him or herself a Catholic writer does not mean he or she is an informed expert or is presenting the facts free from opinion.  This is why in my content, I present both sides and present the facts so that readers and listeners can decide for themselves.

Communion in Hand vs Communion on the Tongue/Communion on the Tongue while Kneeling:

So what is the truth? Is Communion on the hand irreverent, blasphemy, profane, heretical, or Protestant? Is Communion on the Tongue alone or accompanied by genuflection or full kneeling true reverence and the only form of reception? The answer is short and simple and has been decided by the Catholic Church. Both are valid and depend on the communicant in regards to showing reverence. This is why the Church allows both!

Since the early days of the Catholic Church, Communion was given on the hand. There is no way to get around this fact. Father Z, Taylor Marshall, and others may claim otherwise, or may even put in doubt quotes from saints and Church Fathers like St. Cyril of Jerusalem, but the truth remains. To suggest that Communion in the hand was not the norm in the early Church is ludicrous and shows a deep ignorant of Church history and Liturgical history. Most likely, those that are adamant on claiming the Communion in the hand was not the norm are simply pushing their agenda by imposing on the facts their bias. This is academic dishonesty. We all must accept the facts as they are even when they disagree strongly with our personal biases or preferences. That is part of being an educated and mature adult.

St. Dionysius of Alexandria, a pope of one of the oldest Christian churches or dioceses wrote of someone who stood by the table to receive Holy Communion via the hand, "one who has stood by the table and has extended his hand to receive the Holy Food (Eusebius, Hist. Eccl., VII, ix)."  This makes sense since Jesus did say to "take and eat (Matthew 26:26; 1 Corinthians 11:23)." The apostles and early Christians being Jews celebrated the Eucharist in the same manner as Jesus did by borrowing from the Passover seder.  In the seder, the meal is not given to participants in their mouths. They "take and eat" the matzah.

Now some have argued that Jesus spoke to "priests" here or the apostles, so the words "take and eat" were only meant for them since ordinarily, only priests can handle the Holy Communion. Others, such as Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion and even Deacons can only handle the Blessed Sacrament in extreme cases. However, this is a poor understanding of the passages surrounding the Last Supper and the institution of the Holy Eucharist. The words "Take and eat," etc, are meant for all believers in Christ. This is an invitation from Christ to partake in the Holy Eucharist. This is what the catechism states in paragraph 1384:

"Take this and eat it, all of you": communion
1384 The Lord addresses an invitation to us, urging us to receive him in the sacrament of the Eucharist: "Truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, you have no life in you."217

Moreover, the words of consecration are not what confer the Sacrament of Holy Orders. It is the laying of hands with the formula which confers the priesthood on men who prepared for it. So as you can see, the argument that the words "take and eat" is meant only for priests is no Catholic teaching and really does not make any sense.  Furthermore, we from in Catechetical Lecture 23:21 where St. Cyril of Jerusalem directs to receive Holy Communion via the hand. His description is exactly how we are taught to receive Communion today; that is, by putting one hand under another so as to receive the host in a dignified and reverent manner while replying "amen" and then using one hand to consume the host via the mouth.  He writes:

"In approaching therefore, come not with your wrists extended, or your fingers spread; but make your left hand a throne for the right, as for that which is to receive a King. And having hollowed your palm, receive the body of Christ, saying over it, “Amen.” So then, after having carefully hallowed your eyes by the touch of the holy body, partake of it; giving heed lest you lose any portion thereof; for whatever you lose, is evidently a loss to you as it were from one of your own members.."

So again, we see evidence and confirmation from our ancestors that Communion on the hand was the norm and was even encouraged. This does not mean that receiving on the tongue is wrong. Some quote St. Basil and use his quote to claim that Communion on the hand was restricted universally except during persecution. However, this is how it reads.

To the Patrician C├Žsaria, concerning Communion.
It is good and beneficial to communicate every day, and to partake of the holy body and blood of Christ. For He distinctly says, He that eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life. John 6:54 And who doubts that to share frequently in life, is the same thing as to have manifold life. I, indeed, communicate four times a week, on the Lord's day, on Wednesday, on Friday, and on the Sabbath, and on the other days if there is a commemoration of any Saint. It is needless to point out that for anyone in times of persecution to be compelled to take the communion in his own hand without the presence of a priest or minister is not a serious offense, as long custom sanctions this practice from the facts themselves. All the solitaries in the desert, where there is no priest, take the communion themselves, keeping communion at home. And at Alexandria and in Egypt, each one of the laity, for the most part, keeps the communion, at his own house, and participates in it when he likes. For when once the priest has completed the offering, and given it, the recipient, participating in it each time as entire, is bound to believe that he properly takes and receives it from the giver. And even in the church, when the priest gives the portion, the recipient takes it with complete power over it, and so lifts it to his lips with his own hand. It has the same validity whether one portion or several portions are received from the priest at the same time."  - Letter 93

St. John Damascene also gives witness:

"Wherefore with all fear and a pure conscience and certain faith let us draw near and it will assuredly be to us as we believe, doubting nothing. Let us pay homage to it in all purity both of soul and body: for it is twofold. Let us draw near to it with an ardent desire, and with our hands held in the form of the cross let us receive the body of the Crucified One: and let us apply our eyes and lips and brows and partake of the divine coal, . . .
(St. John Damascene, An Exposition of the Orthodox Faith, Book IV, Chapter 13)"

The book Augustine Through the Ages: An Encyclopedia describes how Communion was received in the early Church, states:

"Distribution of the bread and wine took place at the chancel rail, where the people came forward to stand and receive from the hands of the bishop and/or deacons. Bread was placed into the joined hands with the words, ‘The Body of Christ,’ to which the recipient responded: ‘Amen’ . . . The cup was offered to each by another minister, with a similar exchange.( Augustine Through the Ages: An Encyclopedia, general editor: Allan D. Fitzgerald, Grand Rapids, Michigan: Wm. B Eerdmans Pub. Co., 1999; “Eucharistic Liturgy,” p. 338; this article written by Robin M. Jensen and J. Patout Burns)"

However, Communion on the tongue came into practice in later centuries and did not become officially universal until the 6th century in Rome and the 9th century in Gaul (Van der Stappen, IV, 227; cf. St. Greg., Dial., I, III, c. iii). A document on the Vatican website for the OFFICE FOR THE LITURGICAL CELEBRATIONS OF THE SUPREME PONTIFF confirms this:

"The most ancient practice of distributing Holy Communion was, with all probability, to give Communion to the faithful in the palm of the hand. The history of the liturgy, however, makes clear that rather early on a process took place to change this practice.
From the time of the Fathers of the Church, a tendency was born and consolidated whereby distribution of Holy Communion in the hand became more and more restricted in favor of distributing Holy Communion on the tongue. The motivation for this practice is two-fold: a) first, to avoid, as much as possible, the dropping of Eucharistic particles; b) second, to increase among the faithful devotion to the Real Presence of Christ in the Sacrament of the Eucharist."

Father Edward McNamara from the Legionaries of Christ and professor of Liturgy at Regina Apostolorum university wrote in an article on Zenit the following: "From the historical point of view, we can say that there is strong evidence that the practice existed in early centuries in some areas of the Church." Communion on the tongue was introduced in response to abuses against the Eucharist. Pagans and others would often steal the sacred food believing it to possess some magical powers or abilities. In order to prevent this, the practice of Communion on the tongue started to become more common leading to it becoming the universal norm from Trent until Vatican II.  St. Paul VI, later on, gave permission to bishops conferences to decide how the faithful can communicate in regards to Holy Communion.

A letter from the Congregation for Divine Worship to presidents of bishops’ conferences on May 29, 1969: AAS 61 (1969) 546-547; Notitiae 5 (1969) 351-353:
“In reply to the request of your conference of bishops regarding permission to give communion by placing the host on the hand of the faithful, I wish to communicate the following. Pope Paul Vl calls attention to the purpose of the Instruction Memoriale Domini of 29 May 1969, on retaining the traditional practice in use. At the same time he has taken into account the reasons given to support your request and the outcome of the vote taken on this matter. The Pope grants that throughout the territory of your conference, each bishop may, according to his prudent judgment and conscience, authorize in his diocese the introduction of the new rite for giving communion. The condition is the complete avoidance of any cause for the faithful to be shocked and any danger of irreverence toward the Eucharist. The following norms must, therefore, be respected.
“1. The new manner of giving communion must not be imposed in a way that would exclude the traditional practice. It is a matter of particular seriousness that in places where the new practice is lawfully permitted every one of the faithful has the option of receiving communion on the tongue and even when other persons are receiving communion in the hand. The two ways of receiving communion can without question take place during the same liturgical service. There is a twofold purpose here: that none will find in the new rite anything disturbing to personal devotion toward the Eucharist; that this sacrament, the source, and cause of unity by its very nature, will not become an occasion of discord between members of the faithful.
“2. The rite of communion in the hand must not be put into practice indiscriminately. Since the question involves human attitudes, this mode of communion is bound up with the perceptiveness and preparation of the one receiving. It is advisable, therefore, that the rite be introduced gradually and in the beginning within small, better-prepared groups and in favorable settings. Above all, it is necessary to have the introduction of the rite preceded by an effective catechesis so that the people will clearly understand the meaning of receiving in the hand and will practice it with the reverence owed to the sacrament. This catechesis must succeed in excluding any suggestion that in the mind of the Church there is a lessening of faith in the Eucharistic presence and in excluding as well as any danger or hint of danger of profaning the Eucharist.
“3. The option offered to the faithful of receiving the Eucharistic bread in their hand and putting it into their own mouth must not turn out to be the occasion for regarding it as ordinary bread or as just another religious article. Instead, this option must increase in them a consciousness of the dignity of the members of Christ’s Mystical Body, into which they are incorporated by baptism and by the grace of the Eucharist. It must also increase their faith in the sublime reality of the Lord’s body and blood, which they touch with their hand. Their attitude of reverence must measure up to what they are doing.
“4. As to the way to carry out the new rite: one possible model is the traditional usage, which expresses the ministerial functions, by having the priest or deacon place the host in the hand of the communicant ….
“5. Whatever procedure is adopted, care must be taken not to allow particles of the Eucharistic bread to fall or be scattered. Care must also be taken that the communicants have clean hands and that their comportment is becoming and in keeping with the practices of the different peoples.
“6. In the case of communion under both kinds by way of intinction, it is never permitted to place on the hand of the communicant the host that has been dipped in the Lord’s blood.”

The congregation returned to this issue in the instruction Immensae Caritatis, January 29, 1973: AAS 65 (1973) 264-271; Notitiae 9 (1973) 157-164:

“Part 4. Devotion and reverence toward the Eucharist in the case of communion in the hand
“Ever since the Instruction Memoriale Domini three years ago, some of the conferences of bishops have been requesting the Apostolic See for the faculty to allow ministers distributing communion to place the eucharistic bread in the hand of the faithful. The same Instruction contained a reminder that ‘the laws of the Church and the writings of the Fathers give ample witness of a supreme reverence and utmost caution toward the Eucharist’ and that this must continue. Particularly in regard to this way of receiving communion, experience suggests certain matters requiring careful attention.
“On the part of both the minister and the recipient, whenever the host is placed in the hand of a communicant there must be careful concern and caution, especially about particles that might fall from the hosts.
“The usage of communion in the hand must be accompanied by relevant instruction or catechesis on Catholic teaching regarding Christ’s real and permanent presence under the eucharistic elements and the proper reverence toward this sacrament.
“The faithful must be taught that Jesus Christ is Lord and Savior and that therefore the worship of latria or adoration belonging to God is owed to Christ present in this sacrament. They are also to be instructed not to omit after communion the sincere and appropriate thanksgiving that is in keeping with their individual capacities, state, and occupation.
“Finally, to the end that their coming to this heavenly table may be completely worthy and fruitful, the faithful should be instructed on its benefits and effects, for both the individual and society, so that their familial relationship to the Father who gives us our ‘daily bread,’ may reflect the highest reverence for him, nurture love, and lead to a living bond with Christ, in whose flesh and blood we share.”

Regarding receiving Holy Communion, the Church states:
“Although each of the faithful always has the right to receive Holy Communion on the tongue, at his choice, if any communicant should wish to receive the Sacrament in the hand, in areas where the Bishops’ Conference with the recognitio of the Apostolic See has given permission, the sacred host is to be administered to him or her. However, special 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.
(From the CONGREGATION FOR DIVINE WORSHIP AND THE DISCIPLINE OF THE SACRAMENT - INSTRUCTION Redemptionis Sacramentum; On certain matters to be observed or to be avoided regarding the Most Holy Eucharist)

St. Pope John II would revisit the topic again but would acknowledge the abuses which have occurred.

In 1980 St. John Paul II wrote in the apostolic letter Dominicae Cenae:

“In some countries, the practice of receiving Communion in the hand has been introduced. This practice has been requested by individual episcopal conferences and has received approval from the Apostolic See. However, cases of a deplorable lack of respect towards the Eucharistic species have been reported, cases which are imputable not only to the individuals guilty of such behavior but also to the pastors of the church who have not been vigilant enough regarding the attitude of the faithful towards the Eucharist. It also happens, on occasion, that the free choice of those who prefer to continue the practice of receiving the Eucharist on the tongue is not taken into account in those places where the distribution of Communion in the hand has been authorized. It is therefore difficult in the context of this present letter not to mention the sad phenomena previously referred to. This is in no way meant to refer to those who, receiving the Lord Jesus in the hand, do so with profound reverence and devotion, in those countries where this practice has been authorized.”

The General Instruction of the Roman Missal says the following:

“160. […] It is not permitted for the faithful to take the consecrated Bread or the sacred chalice by themselves and, still less, to hand them on from one to another among themselves. The faithful receive Communion kneeling or standing, as established by the episcopal conference. However, when they receive Communion standing, it is recommended that the faithful make appropriate reverence, according to the norms established, before receiving the Sacrament.
“161. If Communion is given only under the species of bread, the Priest raises the host slightly and shows it to each, saying, The Body of Christ. The communicant replies, Amen, and receives the Sacrament either on the tongue or, where this is allowed, in the hand, the choice lying with the communicant. As soon as the communicant receives the host, he or she consumes the whole of it. If, however, Communion is given under both kinds, the rite prescribed in nos. 284-287 is to be followed.”

Now that we know the history of both practices. We can focus on why there is a big debate over the use of them.  Some who claim to be "traditionalists" argue that receiving the host on the hand is irreverent. They argue that this has triggered a lack of respect and devotion to the Holy Eucharist.  While there is no scientific study that confirms this, Communion in the hand has opened the door to abuses. We have already read above what St. John Paul II said on this, as well as, the concerns of the early Church and St. Paul VI's demands that Communion on the hand is done properly so as to avoid sacrilege and other abuses.

In reality, is that what triggers abuse and sacrilege against the Holy Eucharist is not receiving via the hand, but poor catechesis. When people do not learn who the Eucharist is, then they will not come forward with reverence and adoration. Think of it as when a child sees the Queen of England of the Pope. A child just sees an older woman and man "dressed funny." A child does not care for pomp and circumstance. This is because they do not have the knowledge of what a monarch is, how to respond to a monarch, and the maturity to put it all together. The same with a Catholic who is not prepared in the faith. He or she will not care for the host. The host is just a small round white wafer and nothing more. This is why catechesis is important. The seeds of faith must be watered well in catechism programs and at homilies during Mass. Parishes must have perpetual adoration, Eucharistic processions, and other activities that are focused on the Eucharist. This will bring human psychology to focus on the Eucharist and process the importance of Him who is the Eucharist.

Receiving Holy Communion on the hand or mouth does not take away from the Communion. It is we who must have the right predisposition before receiving. Pope Francis said, "The Church desires fervently that the faithful also receive the Body of Christ in the consecrated hosts during Mass; and the sign of the Eucharistic banquet is more complete if Holy Communion is given under both species, knowing that Catholic doctrine teaches that under one species all of Christ is received. According to the ecclesial practice, the faithful approach the Eucharist normally in the form of a procession and receive Communion standing or on the knees, as determined by the Episcopal Conference, receiving the Sacrament in the mouth or, where allowed, in the hand, as preferred.”  Notice how our current pontiff stresses the importance of receiving fervently and encourages either practice, mouth or hand.  He clearly sees that the reception is not the problem otherwise he would have stated his preference.

We must be ready to receive and do so with clean hearts, minds, and hands. The United States bishops write: "Those who receive Communion may receive either in the hand or on the tongue, and the decision should be that of the individual receiving, not of the person distributing Communion. If Communion is received in the hand, the hands should first of all be clean. If one is right handed the left hand should rest upon the right. The host will then be laid in the palm of the left hand and then taken by the right hand to the mouth. If one is left-handed this is reversed. It is not appropriate to reach out with the fingers and take the host from the person distributing." The evidence from the early Church shows proof that Communion in the hand was not seen as irreverent.
The same applies to those receiving on the tongue. The predisposition must be one that is pure and in a state of grace. We must avoid turning Holy Communion into a mechanical experience where we receive like robots without internalizing whom we are receiving.  To claim that receiving Communion via the hand is wrong or even "Protestant" is simply just ignorance.  Ignorance of Church history, Scripture, and the Liturgy. 

Some have even claimed that St. Mother Teresa of Calcutta condemned receiving Holy Communion on the hand. This quote is circling many websites run by so-called "traditionalists" who attack Communion via  the hand:
The truth of this matter is that St. Teresa of Calcutta never made this statement.  It is falsely attributed to her.  Some variations even claim St. Teresa of Calcutta said that receiving Communion on the hand is worse than the sin of abortion.  To quote President Trump, this is fake news!  According to the site, they state the following: "This statement does not seem authentic to us. We have never heard Mother Teresa saying these words nor read them in her writings.In fact, there is a photo of St. Teresa of Calcutta apparently receiving via the hands.  See:

Arguments for and Against Communion on the Hand or Communion on the Tongue/While Kneeling:

Against Communion on the Hand:
Some claim that receiving on the hand would scatter Eucharist particles all over.  At Mass, every particle of the host must be consumed. This includes the precious blood as well.  We often see well-trained priests or deacons meticulously purify each vessel of the Eucharist (chalice, paten, ciboria, pyxes, etc).  This is done to show the sacredness and importance of the Eucharist.  Understandably, we can see how Communion in the hand can spread particles around.  This is a good argument against Communion in the hand, but not a very strong one if you study physics.  In physics, we learn that it takes a strong force to separate molecules.  Simply placing a host on a hand will not do this.  The only way a host can leave behind particles is if it were crushed or already breaking down.  The True Presence can only remain in bread that is consecrated by a priest at Mass.  If molecules that make up the host break apart, then the substance has changed. It is no longer bread. We must keep this in mind in regards to small particles of the host.  Therefore, we must engage in OCD (obsessive-compulsive disorder) when it pertains to the Eucharist or we will go mad.  Lastly, there is the Coulomb repulsion. We really do not touch anything in this universe because of this field.  This field is what allows what we call the sensation of touch.  Electrons create a field around atoms as they move about.  Our nerves interpret these fields and their charges as "touch."  The brain deciphers based on the charges of the electrons what is it that we are perceiving via our nervous system.  So technically speaking, the Eucharist is safe within the atoms and the Coulomb repulsion that contains them.  Moreover, why is Communion on the hand for laity and religious a problem, but not for bishops, priests, and deacons?  The same problem of particles remaining on the surface of the hand or being tossed around is still present.     

Another argument against Communion on the hand is it fosters irreverence. In other words, people will receive the host without respect or adoration.  It becomes another "hand out" to them.  This is also a good argument against Communion in the hand.  However, there is really no scientific study to confirm this.  We can only go on observation. I have noticed people come up and stick out their hands as if they were asking for alms.  Some try to snatch the host from the priest, deacon, or extraordinary minister of the Holy Eucharist.  I personally have never witnessed someone take the host without consuming the sacred food.  However, I do recall an usher finding a partially dissolved host in a missalette one time. We took care of both in accordance with Roman tradition.  While these abuses are awful, I cannot truly say this was the result of Communion in the hand.  The reason why I state this is because I see many people receiving by the hand reverently.  We cannot judge the practice based on one or two incidents of abuse when the majority of Catholics who receive via the hand do so reverently.  As stated in this post, St. Cyril endorsed receiving Holy Communion by the hand.  His endorsement describes a regal manner of receiving by setting up the hand as a throne.  The problem is not the practice of how we receive Holy Communion, but catechesis.  Unfortunately, our catechetical programs have not been the best in recent decades. Those who got possessed by the so-called "spirit of Vatican II," misinterpreted the council and made their own nonsense up.  We are now suffering the consequences of this stupidity.

Other arguments again receiving via the hand is the position.  That is to say, standing. Some feel that standing before the Blessed Sacrament is disrespectful. This argument is more cultural than anything else.  Not everyone interprets standing as disrespectful. Some cultures interpret as respectful. In the west, standing is done to show respect to leaders, judges, the flag, anthem and so on.  Again, the predisposition of the person receiving is really what should be scrutinized, not the actual position of reception.  Let us not forget that some people may not be able to kneel due to some physical problem. Are these people being less respectful to the Eucharist because of this?  I would hope we all would say not at all.  Aside from this, there is the argument that Communion on the hand somehow makes the laity equal to priests since priests should only hand the host.  This argument has a little more strength liturgically than the other arguments.  A priest's hands are consecrated during ordination with chrism. They are set apart from the hands of the non-ordained.  So it makes sense that only they should handle the sacred food.  However, let us not forget Jesus' words to "take and eat."  Those words pretty much make it impossible to bar the laity or anyone else from taking the Eucharist by hand.  By taking, I mean receiving by hand, not actually going to the Tabernacle to eat from the ciboria. 

Against Communion on the Tongue
Just like with Communion on the hand, there are some who feel receiving in the mouth is wrong.  One of the major arguments against this practice is the portrayal of the communicant as an infant being fed. Some feel that this form of receiving Communion is condescending towards adults.  What adult likes to be fed like an infant or baby?  The argument is understandable, but really is more about culture than anything else.  The argument is really not strong because Jesus di call us to be like children (Matthew 18:3).

Another common argument against Communion on the tongue is hygiene. A priest only washes his hands at the offertory.  This washing is only done with simple water and no soap.  Many times, the deacon and or extraordinary ministers of the Holy Eucharist wash their hands prior to the Communion rite.  There simply is no rubric for this or time. Medically speaking, we know the dangers of unwashed hands.  Billions of germs live on the hands.  The hands are the part of the body that come into contact with mostly everything we come across within everyday living.  Humans are humans and can do nasty things with their hands, both consciously and unconsciously.  This is a strong argument against Communion on the tongue, but would also apply to Communion on the hand.  There is really no way to prevent the spread of germs in any scenario.  Even in the operating room, we hear of patients going home with massive infections such as MRSA. This happens even with the meticulous cleansing rituals doctors and surgeons perform on themselves.   I would simply advise priests etc to wash with some kind of strong antibacterial soap prior to Mass so as to keep at bay the growth of germs on the hands.  Moreover, I would advise them to avoid contact with other people and their own bodies so that hands are not contaminated.

Some other arguments against receiving on the tongue are pretty minor. I have heard complaints about the bad halitosis of communicants, herpes or some other things on the mouths of communicants, getting bitten and so on.  While I have not personally experienced this, other than bad halitosis, there is really not much anyone can do about this.  Some people simply have bad hygiene or health problems. We should not judge.  Lastly, some argue that receiving on the tongue is abusive because the mouth can engage in many sinful habits both verbal and physical.  I will not go into details, but I assume you know what I am referring to. 

Arguments For Communion in the Hand
The main argument for Communion in the hand was pretty much addressed in this post.  Jesus said to "take and eat."  He never said to "open your mouth."  By "taking and eating," this shows the person to be spiritually mature.  He or she understands whom he or she is receiving and does so with maturity and respect (hopefully).  The early Church had no issue with the form of reception until later centuries.  When the Church began to grow, it became more difficult to monitor the sacred food at Mass. One thing is a simply Mass in a home during the period when the Catholic Church did not have majestic buildings and another thing is having thousands of people in an area or former Pagan temple handed over to Christians by Constantine. Nevertheless, the priest is another Christ saying "Take and eat" as he lifts the host before the communicant.  The communicant then takes and eats. 

Another argument in favor of Communion in the hand is that it encourages active participation. Vatican II was called mostly for this reason.  The Church wanted all to participate.  Instead of sitting in pews looking at a celebrant mumble words in a foreign language, the Church wanted the people to join in.  Unfortunately, this was taking to many extremes by some in the Church and which led to the abuses we all witness today.

Arguments For Communion on the Tongue
The main argument for this form of reception is that it will prevent particles from the Eucharist from being spread around. This is a strong argument and practical.  No one wants the Sacred Species to be scared about. As stated before, the Church expects priests and others to thoroughly purify each vessel which contained the sacred food.  In fact, water from the purification or hosts that are left to dissolve in water after they have fallen or have been spit up are poured in the sacrarium.  Many parishes or cathedrals have a special sink called a sacrarium where this water is poured into.  This sink leads to the ground and not the sewer system.  Communion on the tongue may prevent particles from being scattered everywhere, but it cannot prevent a malicious person from spitting the host on the floor after chewing it. This I believed happened at St. Patrick's cathedral in NYC when gay protestors stormed the cathedral. 

Another argument for Communion on the tongue is that it fosters reverence and devotion. This is mostly because of the kneeling and the submission of the person as he or she opens his or her mouth to receive the Lord.  This argument is strong as well but is also mostly based on culture.  Each culture has a different understanding of what kneeling actually means. Nevertheless, it makes sense to kneel and receive the Lord, the King of Kings in this manner.

There are many arguments for both Communion on the hand and tongue, as well as, arguments against.  I wanted to bring up the most common I have heard and discussed in seminary.  In any event, I still hold on to the view that the reception of the Eucharist is not the major problem.  The major problem is what our people are being taught or not taught.  If Eucharistic devotion is not set in at an early age or the doctrine not taught well to adults in RCIA programs, then we will definitely have problems.  It is very rare to hear a priest remind people of what the Eucharist is about.  In many Masses, I often hear priests give motivational speeches or address current events while tieing them to the readings of the day.  I feel more emphasis should be made to the Eucharist alongside the readings of Scripture.

There is no right or wrong way to receive the Holy Eucharist as long as one receives the sacred food in the manners approved by the Catholic Church.  We must respect this and the choice of the communicant at Mass.  I personally receive on the tongue and kneel when I can. However, I will never tell someone who received by the hand while standing that they are doing it wrong or are being less reverent.  In fact, I have seen some people receive by the hand while kneeling.  They kneel and place their hand over the other one just as if they were standing.  The priest places the host and the person consumes it. After a brief second, the person stands up.  Again, it is all in the predisposition of the person.  Only God can read hearts.  Those who claim Communion on the tongue is the correct way simply do not understand Church history and the Liturgy.  I have read Taylor Marshall claiming that the early Christians necessarily did not receive by hand. This is far from the truth.  Thankfully, he closes his post by stating that he is not an expert in patristics... I will say...   Similarly, Father Z and others cherry-pick quotes in order to portray a narrative that is not factual.  This is just wrong academically and intellectually. As a priest, I would think Father Z would know better, but then again, we all know what Father Rosica did.  Priests are imperfect beings and can fall into human nonsensical behaviors often when it pertains to aligning themselves with political positions such as conservatism or liberalism.

In any event, I accept what the Catholic Church allows and will leave it at that.  If in the future the Church decides to restrict Communion in the hand and tongue in favor of using spoons like our Eastern Rite brethren, then so be it. You will not hear one peep from me. I will humbly submit to Holy Mother Church.  The Liturgy does not belong to me, Father Z, Taylor Marshall or anyone else.  It belongs to the Catholic Church.  Only the pope and bishops (with permission) can change practice and disciplines.

I hope this post has helped those out there confused on the issue and can decide for themselves.  Again, I am not arguing for or against any particular practice. I am merely presenting the facts and arguments for and against.  What I do hope readers will absorb from this post is that Communion in the hand has been the norm since day one and that claims that it is a Vatican II innovation are not truthful.  I also hope readers will understand that Communion on the tongue was meant to protect the Eucharist, not to dictate the personal sanctity of others.  Our Church allows for both, so they are equally valuable in the eyes of the Catholic Church.  Who are we to say otherwise?  Rather than arguing against either practice, let us focus on the real problem: poor catechesis.

UPDATE 2022:
The founder of "One Peter Five," Mr. Steve Skojec has left the Catholic Church and is now an Agnostic. He advocated for Communion on the Tongue and claimed it was more reverent and spiritually nourishing, yet he abandoned the Catholic faith.  Again, reception and/or disciplines do not necessarily help with the faith. Our reception to grace and obedience to Mother Church are what aid in keeping our faith strong. 

UPDATE August 2023: 
Father Jim Sichko added some commentary on Communion on the Hand on X. 

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Source update on Skojec:

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