Call Me Catholic

Why I Receive Our Lord on the Tongue

A dear reader recently asked me if I might share a few reasons why I choose to receive our Lord on the tongue?  Yes, I will share.

But this is a love story.  It is not a heady, theological exposition, nor is it meant to “convert” anyone to receiving Him on the tongue.  No, this is a love story, wherein a soul abandoned our Lord, only to passionately seek Him again years later.

You must remember that I did not grow up in a prayerful family–a family that perhaps knelt together and prayed an Ave or closed the day with an Our Father.  No, prayer was absent, and we were not catechized.

Deep down, though, deep deep down, I knew our Lord.  I saw his goodness all around me–in the verdant trees surrounding our farm, in the muddy creek winding through the pasture, in the mourning of the doves, and yes, in the love of my family, for our parents loved us dearly.

Ah, but I shelved Him in time.  I came to college and thought why not?  Why should I not do these things I once thought harmful?  And so, I pushed Him out of sight and embraced The World.

This was a miserable and confusing time.  Once one ever steps into a dark path, it only leads to more and more darkness.  It can be no surprise that I jettisoned whatever faith I had left.  I no longer attended the Mass.

Many of you are familiar with my conversion story, and so I will not go into it here.  It is enough to say that even though I abandoned our Lord, He did not abandon me.  When I cried out to him from the bathroom floor of a hotel in Italy, He was already there, holding me.  When my friends whispered into my ear that I could not be Catholic, He held my face and said yes.

When I came back into the Church in 2004, it cost me everything–my friends, my family*, my fiancé, and my pride.  But I had Love itself.

But What About Receiving Our Lord?

It was at this time that I read a book about a mystic.  I don’t even remember who the mystic was, but I do remember her having a stark vision of bishops’ hands burning black in hell for encouraging the faithful to receive our Lord in the hand.  It was striking then; it is striking now.  That was when I began receiving our Lord on the tongue.  I figured, why chance it?  It was something like Pascal’s Wager for me.

Over time, however, I began to think of other things.  I thought of all the saints who for hundreds and hundreds of years knelt and received our Lord on the tongue.  I thought of St. Thomas Aquinas writing about the Eucharist–he never knowing anything but receiving our Lord on the tongue.  I thought of the Fatima children kneeling before the Angel of Peace and receiving our Lord on the tongue.  Why wouldn’t I want to imitate these great saints?

And then, I married and a different thought entered my mind as my husband served for the TLM.  During Communion, he would hold the communion plate, which follows the Host as it travels from Father’s consecrated hands to the recipient’s mouth, and nearly every single Mass there were particles on this plate at the completion of Holy Communion.  Of course we know that Jesus is present in these particles, however small they may be, but I wondered, where were the communion plates at the Novus Ordo?  Surely nobody wants to neglect or trample on our Blessed Lord.

Oh, but what am I trying to say?  In the end, it has to be about love.  I can only say that my interior disposition is different when I receive Him kneeling and on the tongue.  It’s deeply humbling to lower oneself to the ground and be fed like a baby.  If an altar rail is present, one need not rush away chewing, but may take the time to receive Him and make a Sign of the Cross.  I don’t kneel for anybody or anything else after all–only for my King.  It is Holy; it is beautiful.  It is Love.

I’m afraid that my explanation may not be very coherent or comprehensive.  In other words, I realize I’ve fallen short.

Be sure to ask if you have any further questions.

If you’d like a few more thoughts on posture and the Eucharist, click HERE for an old post of mine.

*My family has since then been very supportive of my decisions.  How I love them!
Call Me Catholic

Communion in the Hand Debacle: Cardinal Sarah Weighs In

As Bishops finally begin to allow for public Masses, many of the Catholic faithful find themselves in a difficult situation, for now some bishops are demanding that reception of the Holy Eucharist be in the hand only.  This is a tragedy and a crisis of faith.

It should come as no surprise, however.  Remember this?Seven-in-ten U.S. Catholics believe bread, wine used in Communion are symbolic

According to this Pew Research Poll from last year, 69% of Catholics don’t believe in the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist.  Therefore, most bishops will have no problem forcing Catholics to abandon it’s age-old tradition of receiving our Lord on the tongue all in the name of Sanitation.

But for the rest of us, those who have come to believe in the Church’s teaching and have come to understand her reasons for receiving on the tongue, this will be a heart-rending moment.  What to do?

For those who wish to be assured of their right to receive on the tongue–and you do have that right, regardless of what some bullying bishops may say–I will only direct you HERE where Fr. Z hashes it out once again.  Let me repeat, you have a right to receive the Eucharist on the tongue, regardless of what your bishops or priests may be saying.

505px-Cardinal_Robert_Sarah_(cropped).JPG
Enter Cardinal Sarah.  (Picture from Wikimedia Commons.)

And if Fr. Z isn’t enough for you, read Cardinal Sarah’s latest statement HERE.  As many of you know, Sarah is the Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments.  Let me put a few of his pointed remarks below:

“Nobody can prevent a priest from confessing and giving communion, nobody has the right to stop him. The sacrament must be respected. So even if it is not possible to attend Masses, the faithful can ask to be confessed and to receive Communion.”

“In Mass the priest has to look at God, instead he is getting used to looking at the camera, as if it were a show. We cannot go on like this.”

“There is already a rule in the Church and this must be respected: the faithful are free to receive Communion in the mouth or hand.”

“…the heart of the problem is the crisis of faith in the priesthood.”

In short, should you find yourself in this difficult situation wherein your bishops or priests are not allowing you to receive on the tongue, remember to be calm.  Likely these bishops and priests were not formed well in seminary after all, and heavy-handed bishops can make priests’ lives miserable for not obeying their worldly whims and fancies.

In any case, after asking the Holy Spirit for guidance, consider pointing your priest or bishop to Cardinal Sarah’s latest statement.  If he is still obstinate and refuses to give you Holy Communion on the tongue, remain steadfast and pray in your pew.  Don’t capitulate.  You will be vindicated at a later time, maybe in the next world.

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Mitres, Crosiers, & the Eucharist

The other day Bishop Kagan celebrated Mass for our local homeschool group to signal the beginning of another academic year.  We were very grateful to him for this.

Two of my sons served this Mass.  (Paul, of course, could not, as he was still in the hospital.)  Their particular roles during the Mass were to take care of the Bishop’s mitre and crosier.  Each son wore a special cope draped over his shoulders, which he used to cover his hands, so as to never touch either object.  For only the bishop may touch these holy items.

It was impressive to watch this interplay of giving and receiving.  One instinctively knew that something special was being given and received each time, by nature of that cope.  It was out of the ordinary and beautiful.  I wish I had a picture of it.

Kagan’s homily was beautiful too, even though it appeared to have nothing to do with the Mass readings.  Rather, it was all about the Real Presence in the Eucharist.  At the time I wondered if he was reflecting on the recent Pew Research Poll showing that 69% of Catholics don’t believe in the Real Presence.  In other words, the majority of Catholics believe the Eucharist to be only a symbol, which is nothing short of a tragedy.

My Husband is Spot On

I called my husband that night (he was still in the hospital with Paul) and told him about the Mass, about Kagan’s homily, about the boys serving, and finally about the special treatment of the mitre and the crosier.

My husband was quiet a moment and then said, “It is beautiful how carefully and respectfully the bishop’s mitre and crosier were handled.  You know, we used to treat the Eucharist this way too.  No one touched Him with his hands.  Rather, we knelt at an altar rail, and we received Him on our tongues.”

My husband sighed and went on, “I wonder if there would be more belief in the Real Presence if our actions showed what our hearts believed?”

“You mean,” I said, “if churches were to bring back altar rails and patens and if we all knelt once again?  You think it would help Catholics believe in Jesus’ Real Presence?”

“Yes.”

Lex Orandi, Lex Credendi

This got me thinking.  Of course our actions and our postures matter.  There is a little phrase that one comes by, “Lex orandi, lex credendi.”  It means that how you pray will affect how you believe.  For our actions and postures aid our faith and belief.