Saturday, May 30, 2009

Communion in the Hand

I know that people have very strong feelings about whether they should receive our Lord in the Eucharist in the hand or on the tongue. Personally, I feel that both ways can be done very reverently. An image that makes me appreciate reception in the hand more than I previously did is to remind myself that I am a beggar before God (a metaphor used by St. Augustine, although not in the context of receiving the Eucharist; see Sermon 61, section 8). As a beggar holds out his hands pleading for compassion and material sustenance, so too we come to our Lord seeking mercy and spiritual sustenance. Unlike the beggar, who is my equal, I am not God's equal. And yet, He gives me the audacity to hold out my hand to Him, asking for the Bread of Life.

How we receive Christ in the Eucharist, both externally and internally, matters a great deal. Our challenge as individuals is to choose the option that allows us to show the most reverence and love for Christ.


xaipe said...

I was a novice when Communion in the hand was first permitted, and our superiors thought that it would be wise for us (if we wanted to, of course) to accept this permission--we would be giving good example by manifesting openness to what the bishops were doing. Until they said this, I was going to stay with receiving on the tongue, but as a sacrifice! Because receiving our Lord in the hand provides a second opportunity for an act of adoration as I bring the Host to my mouth. All these years, I never found anyone else who noticed this "added benefit."

Pete Caccavari said...

Thank you, Sister, for your comment. I really like your image of "a second opportunity for an act of adoration." I am only now coming to reflect on the relationship between adoration and reception, bewtween Eucharist within the mass and outside of it. On a separate note, I want to thank you and your fellow Daughters of St. Paul for the wonderful work you do. I so appreciate your publication of papal documents. I'm currently reading Pope Benedict's Sacramentum Caritatis from Pauline Books and Media. The opportunities today for spreading the Gospel message are truly amazing. May God continue to bless your work.