This title picture will certainly move the souls of good Catholics very deeply. It is with great difficulty that I even type these words having to look at this picture. But as graphic as this representation is, it is the reality in so many of our Catholic churches today. For this is the result of the placing of Our Lord’s Precious Body into the hands of the faithful.
The purpose of this post is not to discuss the history of the condemnation of Communion in the Hand in the Church, as I believe Michael Davies has already done an admirable job of it. For those who would like more information, you might read his study: http://archives.sspx.org/miscellaneous/communion_in_the_hand/communion_in_the_hand_and_other_similiar_frauds-michael_davies.pdf
Suffice to say, even Pope John Paul II repeatedly spoke strongly against this abuse in the early days of his pontificate:
Dominicae Cenae (Feb. 1980): “To touch the sacred species and to distribute them with their own hands is a privilege of the ordained.”
Inaestimabile Donum (April, 1980): “It is not permitted that the faithful should themselves pick up the consecrated bread and the sacred chalice, still less that they should hand them from one to another.”
Unfortunately, this Pope decided to give in to the disobedient modernist clerics who had already begun to spread this practice after Vatican II. As a result, we have countless Masses said each day where this abuse takes place. This practice is even accepted in some diocesan Latin Masses and is one of the reasons priests of the SSPX and like-minded Orders must caution the faithful regarding these Masses, as discussed in a recent post.
There have been many studies examining the impact of placing a Host on the hand of a person. Do all of the particles making up the appearance of the Host transfer successfully to the person’s mouth? Remember, each particle is the Body of Our Lord Jesus Christ.
In my opinion, there is no study more revealing than the one performed by Charles St-George of Wheaton, Kansas in 2002. It needs no introduction from me, as Mr. St-George provides a perfectly competent one in his letter to Pope John Paul II:
SUBJECT: REQUEST FOR FORGIVENESS OF SINS AND LIFTING OF EXCOMMUNICATION VERY SPECIALLY RESERVED TO HIS HOLINESS
His Holiness, Pope John Paul II Citta Del Vaticano, Roma, Italia
Pope John Paul II,
I, Charles Andre St-George, accuse myself of committing and participating in grievous and numerous outrages against the Most Blessed Sacrament from about 1980 to 1991. Please hear my plea and grant my requests.
First, I have only recently learned according to The Roman Catechism, p.233 “that in this Sacrament are contained not only the true body of Christ and all the constituents of a true body, such as bones and sinews, but also Christ, whole and entire” and further that, page 239 “the body of our Lord is contained whole and entire under the least particle of the bread.”
Second, I have only recently learned that according to The Catholic Concise Encyclopedia, p.153 “Excommunication is imposed according to the reservation as follows: (a) Acts reserved to the Holy See in a very special manner are: throwing away, taking or retaining for evil purposes the consecrated species;….”
I confess that I have thrown away or caused to be thrown away approximately 60,000 consecrated hosts from 1980 to 1991 and that I caused many of these hosts to be repeatedly trampled underfoot or otherwise desecrated. These grave sins were not motivated by formal hatred of God, but from a motive more banal–I did not care. This is what I did: I was an Extraordinary Minister of the Eucharist and I sometimes received our Lord in the hand instead of on the tongue, as well. As most communicants wanted to receive in the hand, I would gently place the Host in their palm. As proven in my attached scientific analysis conducted with the aid of my teenage son, Joseph, when one receives communion in the hand there are, on average, about four visible particles detaching from that same host. For this trial, I bought from Catholic Supply of St. Louis, Missouri, hosts advertised as: “We are pleased to offer by far the best altar bread. All of our breads have a carefully molded sealed edge which prevents crumbs.” We used the “best” and the test result was an average of 3.68 crumbs per communion.
I believe I may have distributed perhaps 15,000 hosts to communicants. It is reasonable to assume that this generated about 60,000 visible, though tiny particles. When I would receive communion in the hand, I would check my palm and sometimes find one or two or even more fragments of the sacred species. While I tried to immediately consume these by attracting them with the tip of my right index finger, I am confident that not all particles were always safely consumed. As Eucharistic Minister, in many thousands of Hosts placed in palms, I never once observed anyone else examining their palm or fingertips to see if there were any particles remaining.
So, what happened to these 60,000 particles containing our Lord and God of which I bear responsibility? Quite simply, they would eventually detach from the palms and fingertips of these communicants as they changed position to folded hands and the particles would drop to the floor, or be brushed against their clothing and detach, or find their way to destinations unknown. Most should be assumed to have dropped to the floor while still in the church. The above doctrine states that these particles were the fulness of Jesus our God just as surely as the large host which the priest consecrates for his own consumption! Like myself, any Catholics who have gone to Mass at a church where there has been communion in the hand encounter a veritable minefield where they have mindlessly, repeatedly set their heels against the Holy Face of Jesus Christ Himself! The thought of this horrifies me now. Some, myself included, simply did not care to know what they were doing. Still, does not Our Lord withdraw Himself in anguish from such as do these things and care not? What must the Holy Virgin think of this treatment of her crucified Son?.
Not for me, but for the love you bear the Virgin Mother of God, I beg from Your Holiness two things: First, please lift this very specially reserved excommunication, forgiving these most grievous sins, committed without even caring, against Our Lord’s very Person. Second, please mail to me directly your personally signed written blessing stating specifically that Your Holiness blesses me for now seeking all sacraments and worship of God for myself and my family (I have seven children) at the only churches and chapels in my country where communion in the hand has never been offered at any Mass, the only churches and chapels where there is a moral certainty that there are not thousands of Sacred particles on the floors, the only chapels and churches where my family is truly free not to trample upon our God–to these only, the churches and chapels of the Society of St. Pius X where communion in the hand is still condemned as stated in the old Roman Catechism and amongst which it has never been tolerated; Deo Gratias. Difficulties notwithstanding, as this is a matter touching upon God Himself, it is prayed that Your Holiness will hear us.
With Thanks to Our One, True God–Jesus the Christ and the One who conceived Him and was Herself Immaculately conceived by this same True God, now True Man,
Charles St-George, men’s barber by trade
Mr. St-George explains study:
This day a brief scientific trial was undertaken to verifiably ascertain how many, if any, consecrated particles of the Sacred Species are typically broken away from the hosts, and subsequently thrown-away, desecrated and abused specifically as a consequence of the practice of communion-in-the-hand in the Catholic Church in the United States today.
My teen-aged son, Joseph, was my aide in this study, acting the part of the communicant while I acted the part of the Eucharistic Minister. For the purposes of this trial, I purchased from Catholic Supply of St. Louis, MO, a box of 1000 1 1 /8″ diameter white altar breads, item No.57212, advertised on their web-site http://www.catholicsupply.com/churchs/wine.html as follows: “We are pleased to offer by far the best altar bread. All of our breads have a carefully molded sealed edge which prevents crumbs.”–The questioned truthfulness of that critical conclusion, naively believed by many, is one reason why we decided upon this trial.
For this trial, Joseph and I prepared by carefully washing our hands and fingers and drying same with lintless towels. We then examined our fingertips and Joseph’s left palm which would each contact the host to be assured they contained no foreign matter which could be mistaken for a bread particle. I determined we would look for particles after each and every individual “communion” in three areas–my fingertips, Joseph’s palm and Joseph’s fingertips. I further determined that we would count the results from 25 “communions” and record how many particles were found and where. We would only count “naked-eye visible” particles we could both see.
The contents of one packet of altar breads was carefully emptied into a small plastic cup. Recalling my training as a Eucharistic Minister (may God forgive me), I would gently take up a host between my right index finger and thumb and place this host in Joseph’s left palm with only sufficient firmness to assure it would be transferred. Joseph commented that eucharistic ministers at Masses he attended were less gentle in transferring the Host to his palm. He would then take the host between his right index finger and thumb and place it on his tongue without touching his fingers to his tongue. Joseph would then keep his right index finger against his thumb and hold his left palm upward while we both inspected: first, my right index finger, then my right thumb, then his left palm, then his right index finger, and finally his right thumb for any particles of bread fractured from the host and adhering to us as a result of this multiple manipulation and touching. We would carefully scrape away any particles found before the next “communion” with the blade of a sharp knife to be assured of not counting any particles twice.
What were our trial findings? Were there any particles of bread fractured from these 25 hosts taken one at a time from a cup and placed in Joseph’s palm and taken from his palm and transferred to his mouth? We were both disturbed at how many particles: From the 25 “communions,” we found a grand total of 92 individual, naked-eye visible particles which averages to 3.68 particles per “communion.” The largest of these particles measured 60 thousandths of an inch long, or 1.5 mm. The 6X enlarged photo (previous page) shows 10 of the actual particles we found, counted and saved. As detailed in the below statistical information, we counted 27 particles from my fingertips, 47 particles from Joseph’s palm and another 18 particles from Joseph’s fingertips. Only one “communion”, No.22 in the series, was free of any visible particles. On the other hand, the highest particle count of seven resulted from “communions” Nos. 6, 15 and 16. It is hoped that this trial will work to the honor of Our Lord and aid those who still care for Him.
Now bearing this mind, let us read Rome’s response:
On behalf of His Holiness, Pope John Paul II, I would like to thank you for your letter dated April 17th, for the enclosed offering and materials concerning the Holy Eucharist.
Answers to questions you have raised are contained in documents approved by the Pope: Rituale Romanum, De Sacra Comunione et de cultu Misterii Eucharistici extra Missam, Praenotanda 21 and Congregatio de Cultu Divino et Disiplina Sacramentorum, Instructio varietates legittimae, Nos.31, 54, 62. They allow reception of Holy Communion while standing and in the hand. It is not an error provided that one’s attitude is one of respect while meeting God Who is coming. The Catechism of the Catholic Church says about the subject: “To prepare for worthy reception of this sacrament, the faithful should observe the fast required in their Church. Bodily demeanor (gestures, clothing) ought to convey the respect, solemnity, and joy of this moment when Christ becomes our guest” (Catechism of Catholic Church, art.1387). The practical application of those instructions is up to the giver who is obliged to make sure that the faithful are both conscious of what they receive in the Eucharist and that they express their respect for Christ present in the form of bread.
The palm is not any less respectable a part of the human body than the tongue. Christ accepted bread “fruit of the earth and human labor” as material for the Eucharist. During the Last Supper he did not give consecrated pieces to the mouth of his disciples but he “broke it and gave it” knowing that it is not possible to avoid destruction of some particles of consecrated bread in which He is present. Accordingly, church regulations say that both the priest offering communion and the recipient are responsible only for the particles which are visible without the use of optical instruments. To make it easier in practice, the western Church developed through the ages a tradition of passing communion directly on the tongue of the believer. There is, though, no reason to stick stubbornly to that traditional form of receiving communion. It would be more appropriate to be concerned about respecting the Eucharist by every day adoration, frequent participation in Holy Communion, by helping others to receive it in a dignifi ed manner etc. Desecration is committed only by consciously and willingly “–throwing away, taking or retaining for evil purposes the consecrated species.”
Accordingly, there is no need to take part in the Eucharist celebrated by members of the Society of St. Pius X, which is not in unity with the Catholic Church. Furthermore, it would be highly inappropriate to do so.
I would like to encourage you to remain in the love of the Eucharistic Christ, to adore and respect the Eucharist, but without being too scrupulous. I would like also to assure you that the Holy Father prays for you and asks for God’s grace for you.
Monsigniore Pedro Lopez Quintana
~ Steven C.