Strengthen your drooping hands and your weak knees (Hebrews 12:12)–Part 2

Feast of Corpus Christi

“Christ is present in every Particle of the consecrated Host and of the consecrated wine, when separated from the rest.”

(Council of Florence)

Continuing from Part 1:

The “dropping of Eucharistic particles” is something else, unfortunately, many are not aware of. But this is very serious. First, we must understand that Jesus Christ is present, Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity, in every tiny particle of the Sacred Host, and He is present in every tiny drop of Precious Blood. It is not just “His Body” in the host, or “His Blood” in that chalice. So, you can receive either one and you are receiving the Lord completely. You can receive just a fraction of a Sacred Host, and it is not just a part of Jesus, it is ALL Jesus. If you receive a drop of the Precious Blood, it is the same. You have received ALL of Jesus. It is not necessary to receive both forms to receive all of Jesus.

Jesus is present in those particles left on someone’s hands, and dropped. And He is present in those fragments lost, because of careless handling of Sacred Hosts.

“There is the grievous fact of the loss of the Eucharistic fragments. And the fragments of the consecrated Host are crushed by feet. This is horrible! Our God, in our churches, is trampled by feet!” Bishop Athanasius Schneider (Catholic Herald article)

Consecrated Hands and falling fragments

It used to be that only the “consecrated hands” of a priest were allowed to touch the Eucharist. And they have learned (as do deacons) to be extremely careful and meticulous about particles of the Eucharist being dropped or left on their fingers, or on the altar. This is why the paten (that gold plate put under your chin or hands) is required. “The Communion-plate for the Communion of the faithful should be retained, so as to avoid the danger of the sacred host or some fragment of it falling.” (Redemptionis Sacramentum)  And this is why after Holy Communion the vessels and patens are carefully purified at the altar (or credence table) and particles and drops of the Sacred Species are then consumed. It is because Sacred Hosts, and particles DO fall, and even stick to fingers and palms. (If you don’t believe it, you should watch this.) It is also why it is better for a priest to place his hand over someone (like a small child) to give a blessing in the Communion line rather than place his hand or fingers on a person.

Saint Thomas Aquinas:

The dispensing of Christ’s body belongs to the priest for three reasons. First, because . . . he consecrates in the person of Christ . . . Secondly, because the priest is the appointed intermediary between God and the people, hence as it belongs to him to offer the people’s gifts to God, so it belongs to him to deliver the consecrated gifts to the people. Thirdly, because out of reverence toward this sacrament nothing touches it but what is consecrated, hence the corporal and the chalice are consecrated, and likewise the priest’s hands, for touching this sacrament. Hence it is not lawful for anyone else to touch it, except from necessity — for instance, if it were to fall upon the ground, or else in some other case of urgency. 

Saint Thomas Aquinas   Summa Theologica (III, Q. 82, Art. 3).

How far we’ve come…so many are allowed to touch the Eucharist now. But is it the mind of the Magisterium that what is allowed is to be ordinary, or just in real need? Is what is allowed, always what is best?

Extraordinary Ministers

Briefly, on the topic of Extraordinary Ministers of the Eucharist, while they are sometimes necessary for mass, they really are to be used “extraordinarily”, and not habitually. This is not my opinion. This is from the Magisterium of the Church. Here is a quote from one document. “ To avoid creating confusion, certain practices are to be avoided and eliminated where such have emerged in particular Churches: the habitual use of extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion at mass, thus arbitrarily extending the concept of ‘a great number of the faithful’” (On Certain Questions on Collaboration.. Article 8)

The more people allowed to open the tabernacle, handle the Eucharist, and walk around with chalices and ciboriums etc., the more chances there are of spills and drops, or particles lost of the Sacred Species. (See Redemptionis Sacramentum 101) That is just a fact. I have seen it when I was an EM. If we had more priests, and deacons, this would not be an issue. I realize that. But can’t this situation somehow, be helped? (See Redemptionis Sacramentum 151-160) Cardinal Arinze, Prefect for the Doctrine of the Faith, has given some direction for this.

Lex credenda legem statuat supllicandi. (Let the law of belief determine the law of prayer.)

Pope Pius XII (Mediator Dei)

With respect to the liturgy, some applications of the doctrine can develop over time, correcting imperfections, or adapting to needs with the enlightenment of the Holy Spirit. (Moral law, and dogmas which are part of the deposit of faith are unchanging.) Pope Pius XII said “ The Church is without question a living organism, and as an organism in respect of the sacred Liturgy also, she grows, matures, adapts and accommodates herself to temporal needs and circumstances, provided only that the integrity of her doctrine be safeguarded.

Early History

It is true that there was Communion in the hand in the Church’s early history. But at some point the Magisterium decided to make Communion on the tongue the law for good reasons. And the reason was abuse and loss of faith in the Real Presence. It was not just abandoned for a new option, but prohibited, by the Synod of Rouen 878 AD. “The Eucharist must not be placed in the hands of any layman, whether male or female, but only in the mouth.”  

Saint Cyril

By the way, there are many quotes of early Church Fathers speaking of Communion on the tongue. But there is one classic quote used to defend Communion in the hand, and it is the one by St. Cyril. He is most likely teaching how to more reverently receive the Eucharist by the only practice observed in his day,”In approaching therefore, come not with your wrists extended, or your fingers spread; but make your left hand a throne for the right, as for that which is to receive a King. And having hollowed your palm, receive the Body of Christ, saying over it, Amen.” Also, in those days, they bowed over and consumed directly from their palm. They did not pick up the Eucharist.

There are some scholars who question this quote’s authenticity, and some of St. Cyril’s writings in general, because it is believed that some were written by scribes who assisted him. But assuming it is authentic, if you read the rest of the quote it describes taking the Host and touching your eyes. And then taking the Precious Blood that was on your lips and touching other parts of your face….I don’t think anyone is advocating that, nor would the Church. So, this one quote doesn’t really have the credence it is intended to, as Dr. Taylor Marshall explains further in this article.

Take and eat

The “take and eat” quote of Jesus, is also used as an argument. But Jesus was speaking to the Apostles, (not to all of us) when He said this at the Last Supper, the first mass. The Apostles, being the first priests, were supposed to “take and eat”. And while He was giving them His Body, He was also teaching them the mass.

But, even if these quotes do support Communion in the hand, the Church eventually corrected and developed the discipline. And the reason is to protect the Lord and our belief in the Real Presence! Don’t we all want that? Does it make sense to go back to something that has shown to be a detriment to who and what is most important to our faith ?

Lex credenda legem statuat supllicandi   Let the law of belief determine the law of prayer.

“…a developed doctrine which reverses the course of development which has preceded it, is no true development but a corruption: also that what is corrupt acts as an element of unhealthiness towards what is sound.”  (Blessed Cardinal John Henry Newman)

This doctrine has Biblical origins too. It was actually a Jewish custom to place a morsel of food into a family member or friend’s mouth. Do you remember when at the Last Supper, Jesus dipped the bread into the dish, and gave it to Judas? (John 13:26) Did he dip and then place wet food into the hand of Judas? Probably, as was the custom, he placed it into his mouth.

“The greatest thing to be feared is a lessening of respect for worship of the Eucharist.” 

Pope Paul VI in a letter to the Episcopal Conferences October 18, 1968 ( Holy Communion, Communion in the Hand by Bishop J. R. Laise)

For well over a thousand years, this practice has been kept, until our time. And look what has happened not long after we went back to it, exactly what was happening before, exactly what Pope Paul VI feared… a rise in the loss of belief in the Real Presence.

But, even allowing that the USCCB did this with good intentions, if this was an inspiration of the Holy Spirit, (but remember, it began again in the the 60’s with disobedience) after fifty years, wouldn’t it be evident by the “fruit”? Let’s look at the two things Pope Paul VI was primarily concerned about. What has happened to the faith of Catholics?  A staggering majority no longer believe in the Real Presence of Jesus. (about 70 % according to most recent poll.) Millions have left the Church. Hundreds of Catholic Churches have closed.  If you look at the U. S. statistics, the loss of faith, drop in religious vocations, and the exodus of many Catholics, began right after these and other things were pushed upon us….things that were not part of the reform of Vatican II.

“It is difficult to say something new about the Second Vatican Council. At the same time, we must always refer back to the Council, which is a duty and a challenge for the Church and for the world. We feel the need to speak about the Council in order to interpret it correctly and defend it from tendentious interpretations”    (-Pope John Paul II, Crossing the Threshold of Hope, p. 157, 1994)

“The Church from Rome never said to remove the altar rails.” Cardinal Arinze 2008 video conference

I believe there were other reasons as well. But considering what Pope Paul VI and other Popes have said, I don’t know how anyone can say that this has not played a major part.

Why are we allowing this to happen to Jesus!?

Now we come to the other thing that Pope Paul VI feared, and other popes deplored. This is very serious. Our Lord’s Eucharistic Body has repeatedly, continually, been desecrated and profaned as a result of Communion in the hand!

In fact, there is so much evidence of it, whether intentional or not, the desecrations simply cannot be ignored! Consecrated Hosts have been found in missals, on the floor, on the ground at large outdoor masses, and in restrooms. People have been seen putting Hosts in their pocket, sharing it with a toddler like a cracker, and even worse taken by those involved in the occult, or Satanists and used in sorcery or Black Masses! Hosts consecrated by a Pope have been put up for sale on ebay!  Sacred Hosts have been used as “art”! On youtube, people were putting up videos of purported consecrated Hosts that they were desecrating in different ways, like flushing down a toilet or hammering a nail through!

And these are just a few examples. This is all horrifying! This is OUR LORD! It should make us all feel sick inside, and even just one account would certainly qualify for what the Popes were so concerned about! This should make us want to defend Him, if we really believe. After reading this, go back and read the quote from the Council of Trent at the top of this article…how do you feel about it now?

Could a person do some of these terrible things by taking a Host out of their mouth back at their pew. Yes, I supposed that it is possible, but does anyone think it is as likely ? If communion rails and receiving on the tongue were again the norm, wouldn’t a lot of this be prevented? Isn’t it just common sense? It is a fact that Communion in the hand was eventually forbidden in the Vatican, by Pope John Paul II, (Signs were posted with “We note with solace that our present Pope, John Paul II, has prohibited the giving of Communion in the hand in Saint Peter’s Basilica“),and after by Pope Benedict XVI, (not sure if it still is) due to jostling crowds, and people taking Communion who shouldn’t be. The profanations of the Eucharist, some found on the floor, or elsewhere, some taken for souvenirs, etc. were the reason.

Deplorable and unbearable:

“In some countries the practice of receiving Communion in the hand has been introduced. This practice has been requested by individual episcopal conferences and has received approval from the Apostolic See. However, cases of a deplorable lack of respect towards the eucharistic species have been reported, cases which are imputable not only to the individuals guilty of such behavior but also to the pastors of the church who have not been vigilant enough regarding the attitude of the faithful towards the Eucharist.” (Dominicae Cenaie  Pope John Paul II 1980)

In August of 2015,  Bishop Krzysztof (Cristobal) Bialasik SVD of Oruro in Bolivia,  published the Prohibition of hand Communion in his diocese. Only communion on the tongue is permitted. He did this in response to incidents where consecrated Hosts were received in the hand, and then taken away. It was “unbearable”, said the Bishop, not knowing what happened to the Body of Christ.

“…it is evidently detrimental from a pastoral viewpoint, when it certainly does not increase our reverence, and when it exposes the Eucharist to the most terrible diabolical abuses. There are really no serious arguments for Communion in the hand. But there are the most gravely serious kinds of arguments against it.” (Dietrich Von Hildebrand)

This brings me to what I believe is a very important line, in a most important document:

“If there is a risk of profanation, then Holy Communion should not be given in the hand to the faithful.”

Redemptionis Sacramentum 92

If I had but one argument to give to appeal to our Bishops… it is this! If what has happened already to Our Lord doesn’t qualify as a “risk of profanation”, what in the world does??! How many different times or ways must Our Lord be profaned before we do something to change this?  There is so much more at stake here than our personal preference! Why are we not protecting the Lord?!!

“It may well be that kneeling is alien to modern culture—insofar as it is a culture, for this culture has turned away from the faith and no longer knows the One before whom kneeling is the…. intrinsically necessary gesture. [Moreover] a faith or a liturgy no longer familiar with kneeling would be sick at the core. Where it has been lost, kneeling must be rediscovered, so that, in our prayer, we remain in fellowship with the apostle and martyrs, in fellowship with the whole cosmos, indeed, in union with Jesus Christ Himself.”  Spirit of the Liturgy, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger (Pope Benedict XVI)

There it is. There is the problem. We are a Church, and a society, really, that is “sick at the core.”

What are we going to do about it?

“I am the Bread of Life.” Jesus

Let us remember, the Eucharist is the Bread of Life! The complete Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus is in each tiny particle of Sacred Host and each tiny drop of Precious Blood. We are not taking ordinary food. It is the Lord! Nothing we do should even make it appear ordinary. This is another reason why receiving on the tongue and kneeling is… oh so Catholic. We are supposed to be set apart.

“If some nonbeliever arrived and observed such an act of adoration perhaps he, too, would ‘fall down and worship God, declaring, God is really in your midst,”  (Bishop Athanasius Schneider)

If these reasons are not enough to make you consider receiving kneeling, and on the tongue, here are a few more for you to consider:

Before we go up to Holy Communion, we say the words, “Lord, I am not worthy.” Kneeling and opening your mouth to receive the Eucharist, like a child being fed by his mother, is deeply humbling, and a reverent posture most fitting to accompany those words. Don’t listen to those who say it is childish, and you should receive like an adult and take the Host. Jesus told us, “unless you are like these little children, you will not enter the Kingdom.”

Reverence toward God produces humility in the soul. Humility derived from reverence removes the obstacles within us that are preventing us from becoming saints.

Remember only 31% believe in what the Church infallibly proclaims, the mass and the Eucharist is the “Source and Summit” of our faith! Our bodily gestures and actions DO have a spiritual impact on our souls. When we treat Jesus in the Eucharist as if He really is God, by showing reverence that we only reserve for the Lord, it does something to increase our faith, and love for Him, and it can inspire others too.

“Now, more than ever, it is necessary to help the faithful renew a living faith in the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharistic Species in order to strengthen the life of the Church herself and to defend her in the midst of the dangerous distortions of the Faith, which such a situation continues to cause.”  (Cardinal Malcom Ranjinth,  former Secretary of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments in the preface to Dominus Est-It is the Lord!)

(While my focus has been on outward reverence in this article, I want to stress that Catholics who have committed even one mortal sin, should not receive Holy Communion until they have received absolution in the Sacrament of Penance. It is a very grave sin in itself to do so.)

“The Eucharist…It is Jesus, Jesus alive.”   

(Pope Francis, Feast of Corpus Christi 2019)

My twenty-seventh year in working for the Holy See, What I am sharing with you is a result of these years of experience. The seat of the crisis in the Roman Catholic church is the widespread loss of faith in the Real Presence. It is worth noting that Pope Paul VI at length dwelt on the errors that he saw enter the church thirty years ago. Being a mild man that he was, his language was correspondingly gentle. In the years since he published Mysterium Fidei, these errors have multiplied and theologized beyond anything in the twenty centuries of Catholic Christianity.” (Fr. John Hardon “Crisis of faith and the Eucharist”)

We already know of the corruption in the Church with sexual scandals, cover ups, and a multitude of sins. So is it surprising if the influence of some faithless, immoral Bishops has also contributed to errors and loss of faith, in the the Real Presence? (Remember what Pope Paul VI said, “… in liturgical matters even the Episcopal Conferences, on their own intitiative, sometimes end up going farther than what is right”)

After all the scandals, and betrayals, I was even more disheartened and disturbed to discover these things. It truly made my heart hurt, especially for Jesus.

Regardless of the conduct of certain Bishops and priests, I feel we need to support the good ones, and not let the weak faith, or immorality of the bad ones keep us from loving the Lord, and His Church. We should still pray for them… but let the Lord and the law deal with them.

Holy zeal is contagious

Treacherous wolves in sheep’s clothing will not destroy my faith. They cannot destroy the fire of love in my heart for Jesus. I will not let them. I didn’t write this as another list of complaints about Church leaders that goes nowhere. It is for love of my Lord, Jesus. And I wrote it for love of my neighbor, not to reproof, but to wake you. And hopefully stir up the fire in you!! I have no other agenda. My only intent is that your heart will be moved in a new way to love the Lord more deeply, more reverently, more protectively in the Holy Eucharist….however you choose to do so.

Do you remember when Jesus was suffering and agonizing in the garden, and the apostles were sleeping? Well, what He saw and agonized over were the sins of the world over the ages, my sins and yours, those of His chosen Bishops and priests, those who would forget him or turn their back on Him and His Church….his friends.

So let’s wake up, get up, and do something for Him!

God permits errors of the faith to inspire those who believe, who will strive to understand their faith to cope with the error.”

(Servant of God) Father John Hardon

During some of the greatest trials of the Church, through error and heresies, God has raised up great saints to correct and build up His Church again.

We are all called to be saints.”

(Pope Francis Nov. 19, 2014)

Here is your job and mine. Our Church is in trouble…so what, it has happened before! Jesus always safeguards her, and He will until the end of time. Are you looking around saying, “Where are the saints now? Has God abandoned us?” Well, it is you! You are probably laughing at that, but it is the truth!

How can it be me, you say? Well, when we strive to give up sin daily, and do God’s will instead of our own that is a start. Then as we grow in virtue, the Lord helps us grow with His grace. He helps us, beyond what we deserve, or even imagine, because it so pleases Him to see us trying to love Him so… especially in times of trial like we are in now. And as we grow in grace, the scales fall from our eyes, and we see and understand things we didn’t before. We learn to really love Him and our neighbor. Little by little, we become who we are created to be. And then, just like in the beginning days of the Church, the true faith is spread person to person, by your example, by your words to a friend, by your faith in action.

“And he wrought not many miracles there because of their unbelief.” Matt 13:58

Here is one more good reason to kneel for Holy Communion.  When Jesus went to some towns, he was not performing miracles there because of the people’s lack of faith. It is almost as if His hands were tied. Jesus speaks often faith and what miracles can happen when we have it. Just as he said to Peter, he says similarly to each of us, “Look in my eyes, keep looking at Me, have faith, and you can walk across this water.”

Well, we live in a time of a real crisis of faith, of a crisis of society and humanity really. Do you need miracles in your family, in your life? I know I do!  If we want to see miracles, then let us at least show our belief in Jesus the Blessed Sacrament, and kneel for the Lord if you are able, or genuflect. The Church tells us that kneeling is how we adore the Lord! It is reserved for the King of kings! What can be more “for the good of the Church”, for the good of humanity, than a resurgence of faith and love for Jesus in the Eucharist!

“Faith in the Real Presence is the key. And I mean the real key that unlocks the treasures of the Divinity.” 

(Servant of God) Father John Hardon

Do you have fight left in you? More people are leaving the Catholic Church after all the scandals, and many problems. Please don’t leave the Church Jesus founded so that we can get to heaven! We can do something to bring about the renewal our Church needs! Do something radical (for you) that shows the Lord that you BELIEVE!

Ask your pastor if a kneeler may be used at your parish, or maybe he would consider building a communion rail. People who wish to stand may still do so. (Remember you have a right to make your spiritual needs known to your pastor!) Genuflect, kneel, wear a veil to mass to reverence the Lord, commit to the rosary every day, go to daily mass, fast for your family and the Church, make the Five first Friday or Saturday devotions, offer Holy hours for your pastor, go to Adoration of the Eucharist, DO something! If you do not have Adoration at your parish, ask your pastor if you can start, at least an hour or two a week. And if you have children, make sure you teach and bring them to these things too.

Then when that thing becomes a holy habit, do something else. We are a culture that is overly concerned with our bodies which will eventually wither and die anyway. We will go to great lengths to keep our bodies feeling and looking good. But we are weaklings in the spiritual life! This has to change.

“And the little children shall lead them…”

Just this past Sunday in mass, going up to Holy Communion, I watched this happen. A man genuflected before receiving the Eucharist. Behind him were two young boys, who then copied what he did, looking back at their mother for approval. Then after them was a very little girl from another family who watched them and genuflected too. It was the sweetest thing. Her mom looked back at her husband, and just smiled….”Did you see that?” she whispered. This man, just by showing reverence to the Lord as he saw fit, inspired three small children, and their parents. Why do you think Jesus tells us to be like little children? Because children will easily follow and love Him with simple faith.

The faithful can learn and once again embrace the truth of the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist by the simple witness of ministers and communicants treating the Eucharist with profound awe, reverence and care. Once again, please do not think I am saying it is wrong to receive Communion standing and in the hand. I am not.

I am simply asking that you prayerfully consider the difference, because I truly believe… the difference can make a difference.

“The gesture of receiving the Body of the Lord in the mouth and kneeling could be a visible testimony to the faith of the Church in the Eucharistic Mystery and even something that heals and teaches our modern culture, for which kneeling and spiritual childhood are completely foreign phenomena”     (Bishop Athanasius Schneider of Karaganda. From Dominus Est—It is the Lord!)

“Be not afraid!”    Saint Pope John Paul II

There is something else we can do. I KNOW there are many of you, like me, who want to see a renewal, who have been watching painfully all that has been going on, but besides prayer, don’t know what else to do. Well, you can write, call, talk to your Bishop and tell him that you want to kneel for Jesus, and receive Him in the traditional manner. But without Communion rails it is difficult. He has the power to make it the norm, but if he doesn’t want to do that, he can do something to make it easier for those of us who wish to kneel.

And more importantly, have you witnessed some sacrilege of the Eucharist? Found a consecrated Host on the floor or someplace else? Or even if you are just greatly concerned now after learning of these horrific abuses of the Eucharist. Let your Bishop know. He should know these things. You can write to other Church officials as well about all of these things. This is the Lord we want to see protected and reverenced.  And many of us have been quiet for too long.

Be radical

The change in receiving the Eucharist in the hand came about, in part, because some Bishops told the Holy Father that this what the people wanted, and it was already happening. Well, let’s tell our Bishops what we really want, and show them that it is already happening. If we want to see some radical renewal, then we have to be radical. This is our time. I know it sounds impossible, but let’s step out into the deep with eyes on Jesus! With Him all things are possible!

“God willing, the pastors of the Church will be able to renew the house of God which is the Church, placing the Eucharistic Jesus in the center, giving Him the first place, making it so that He receives gestures of honor and adoration also at the moment of Holy Communion. The Church must be reformed, starting from the Eucharist! Ecclesia ab Eucharista emendanda est! The Church must be reformed by the Eucharist.”               

(Bishop Athanasius Schneider Dominus Est—It is the Lord!)

 

(May the Father, Son and Holy Ghost be glorified in all places through the Immaculate Virgin Mary.)

 

Other links for your information:

GabiAfterHours

Dr. Taylor Marshall

Fr. John Hardon (on the Eucharist)

Bishop Athanasius Schneider

Bishop Juan Rodolpho Laise

Cardinal Robert Sarah’s trilogy of books (Ignatius Press)

Sensus Fidelium

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