As sort of a Part Two to my last post… I wanted to dedicate a full post to “Communion in the Hand.”
I was born after the Council and never thought twice about this sort of thing. I was taught to receive Holy Communion in the hand, creating a “throne” for our Lord to sit on His way to your mouth. Now, I’m not saying that someone is bad for doing this… many people don’t even know the difference–like I didn’t.
A 2008 study from Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA) at Georgetown University surveyed 1,007 self-identified adult Catholics in the United States on several points of the Faith.
Here is a PDF of the results from the study on the Mass and the Eucharist. They found that 91% of people who attend Mass weekly believe in the Real Presence. 65% of who attend less than weekly, but at least once a month… and unsurprisingly, 40% of who attend a few times a year or less.
Even NCR (National Catholic Reporter aka “Fishwrap”, or as Father “Z”uhlsdorf calls it, National Schismatic Reporter) weighed in on this issue, reporting the results of their 2011 survey. Here is an excerpt of what they said:
We found that half of adult Catholics (50 percent) know the church’s teaching regarding the real presence and half do not. We also found that close to two-thirds of adult Catholics (63 percent) believe that “at the consecration during a Catholic Mass, the bread and wine really become the body and blood of Jesus Christ.” Therefore, more adult Catholics believe the statement than understand its source.
Whether or not you believe their assessment holds any water, it is definitely a trend in the Catholic Church in America–and likely throughout the world.
The question is, has communion in the hand affected the belief of the Real Presence?
No one can deny that we are visual creatures. We can recognize something seemingly sacred by observing the actions of other people… receiving the Eucharist on your knees and on the tongue is a powerful visual of the belief in the sacredness of the Eucharist.
On the other hand, receiving the Eucharist in the hand and popping it in your mouth as you walk away from the clergyman or (ugh) EMHC doesn’t quite send the same message.
Can the Eucharist be reverently received in the hand? Surely. That is how I was taught and received Jesus in the Eucharist for years… but did I hold the same sacredness for it–and did I fully grasp what I was receiving? Shamefully, no, I didn’t. I think more appropriately in this case than ever, actions speak louder than words.
Lex Orandi, Lex Credendi, Lex Vivendi.
As we Worship, So we Believe, So we Live
How we worship is how we believe, which affects how we live.
If we approach and receive the Blessed Sacrament like a Protestant approaches their version(s) of [originally Catholic] communion, in which they do not believe that Jesus is present Body and Soul in the Eucharist, then we will believe in that manner.
It’s as simple as that.
Enjoy some ChurchMilitant.tv (formerly RealCatholicTV.com) videos on the subject.