Editor’s Note: Fr. Michael Rodríguez recently addressed ‘The Problem of Extraordinary Ministers’ in an Ask Father session. The video was banned on YouTube, but you can view its entirety on our Rumble Channel or listen to it on The Fatima Center Podcast.
A Terrible Affliction in Our Time
Fr. John Hardon remarked, “Whatever you can do to stop Communion in the hand will be blessed by God” (November 1, 1997, Call to Holiness Conference, Detroit, Michigan, panel discussion).
It has also been reported that when Mother Teresa was asked by Fr. George Rutler,
“What do you think is the worst problem in the world today?”, she replied without a moment’s hesitation: “Wherever I go in the whole world, the thing that makes me the saddest is watching people receive Communion in the hand.”
And What of “Tradition?”
It remains probable that at certain times in her history and under very special circumstances, the Church has allowed Communion in the Hand. It is believed that this practice was permitted in the early Church when Christians were persecuted and there was concern over being discovered. However, it is clear from surviving ecclesial records that this practice suffered terrible abuse, including desecration of the Sacred Species, and was universally forbidden (more on this below).
Those who argue for Communion in the Hand as an early Christian practice will frequently cite St. Cyril of Jerusalem, a Church Doctor. However, many scholars question the authenticity of this quote and some believe it was actually penned by heretics who then spread it under the saint’s name. The claim is that he wrote the following: “When thou goest to receive communion go not with thy wrists extended, nor with thy fingers separated, but placing thy left hand as a throne for thy right, which is to receive so great a King, and in the hollow of the palm receive the body of Christ, saying, Amen” (St. Cyril of Jerusalem, Cateches. Mystagog, V.1)
The Situation in the Church Today
However, we know from empirical experience that few people in our modern world receive Our Lord in the hand with such care and devotion to refer to it as making a “throne”. Communion on the tongue ensures that no particle is lost. Communion on the tongue is allowed universally while Communion in the hand is allowed only by indult and was introduced into the modern Church in the past few decades as an abuse against the Church’s law. As Fr. Tim Finigan stated:
“There is a much-quoted text of Cyril of Jerusalem (d.387) speaking of the left hand as a throne for the right etc. (Mystagogical catechesis 5.21; PG 33.1125) This is often used as a justification for communion in the hand. The contemporary evidence of the correction of abuses shows that the text could equally be seen as an indication of the obvious need for a change in practice to ensure reverence. The insistence on Communion on the tongue was a natural next step.”
According to J. Bona in a 3-volume work entitled Rerum Liturgicarum (1747 AD), Communion in the hand most likely ceased before Pope St. Gregory the Great, who died in 604 AD. Even though Communion in the hand may have been allowed at some points in the early Church, it is not appropriate for our current era when irreverence and a lack of belief in the Real Presence is spreading. Spain forbid it completely in the 400s and said that anyone who would stand and receive would receive excommunication. In fact, the idea that we must return all our worship and practices to mimic exactly the early Church is the error of Archeologism, which Pope Pius XII decried. As Fr. Peter Scott explains:
“Pius XII inveighs against the error of those who would want to use the pretence of antiquity to bring about changes in the Church’s prayers and ceremonies: ‘It is neither wise nor laudable to reduce everything to antiquity by every possible device’ (§ 62), for ‘ancient usage must not be esteemed more suitable and proper, either in its own right or in its significance for later times and new situations, on the simple ground that it carries the savor and aroma of antiquity’ (§61). This is the error of Archeologism, namely that because something is older it is necessarily better, and it denies that the development of liturgical rites over the centuries owes its ‘inspiration to the Holy Spirit, Who assists the Church in every age’. (Ib.)”
According to Kenneth C. Jones’ Index of Leading Catholic Indicators: The Church Since Vatican II, a shocking number – 70% – of Catholics between the ages of 18-44 do not believe in the Real Presence! Through Communion in the Hand, it is far easier for particles of the Eucharist to fall to the ground. Such particles are still fully Christ, True God and True Man, as dogmatically affirmed by the Council of Trent in Canon 4 of the Thirteenth Session.
We must work to increase belief and devotion to our Eucharistic Lord, and we can do this by showing that the Eucharist is not mere bread but God Himself. Let us work to counter these alarming statistics, which requires that we stop Communion in the Hand and “Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion.”
This article will be concluded tomorrow in “The Problem of Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion.”
A Fatima Center Special Report:
For more on the grave problems associated with Communion in the hand, we strongly encourage you to read “Special Report: The Truth about Communion in the Hand” by John Vennari (+ 2017).
 The term “Real Presence” is used to refer to the infallible dogma – at the very heart of the Catholic Faith – that the Holy Eucharist is the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Christ.
 “Canon IV. If anyone saith, that, after the consecration is completed, the Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ are not in the admirable sacrament of the Eucharist, but (are there) only during the use, whilst It is being taken, and not either before or after; and that, in the hosts, or consecrated particles, which are reserved or which remain after communion, the true Body of the Lord remaineth not; let him be anathema.”