Here are some of the latest letters that Father Angelo has received on this topic.
Good evening Father Angelo.
I wanted to ask you how should we approach the SS. Eucharistic. Today during confession the Priest told me that communion is taken by the hand and that during the Last Supper Jesus does not say how to take communion. It was more than 3 months that I had not taken sacramental communion, and in the end I gave in and took it by the hand because I felt the desire. What do you recommend? What should I do?
Thanks in advance for your attention.
Father peace to you.
In this difficult time for all, where we have suffered from this emergency I wanted to say that I am a faithful practitioner,but
with these protocols I am suffering a lot going to church.
The thing that hurts me most is the imposition to take communion on the hands. I cannot. I have the right to praise, serve, and love the Lord as the conscience tells me, but some priests say it is disobedience.
I am going on Sunday to honor the precept but from today I am doing spiritual communion.
I would like your opinion as a Dominican.
Saint Catherine of Siena pray for us.
Dear Father Angelo,
In these times characterized by the Corona virus it seems that many, from politicians to ecclesiastics, consider the Body of Our Lord Jesus Christ as a carrier of infection and not as salvation.
It is now practically impossible to find a priest who distribute the Eucharist in the mouth but always and only on the hand, as if the hands of the faithful, which may have been placed on the pew, can be cleaner than those of the priest who, before start the celebration, washed them.
In any case, I wanted to understand how we must behave in these cases, since the Body of Christ should only be touched by a consecrated person:
1) renounce taking Communion
2) accepting it on the hand
3) place a small handkerchief on the palm of the left hand where the priest rests the consecrated Host, then bring the Host directly to the mouth (without taking it with the hand).
4) other solutions?
After using the handkerchief, that is only to be used for Communion, how should it be treated in case of washing?
Thank you, and I send you my warmest wishes.
Happy Sunday Father Angelo,
I wanted to ask something. A fundamentalist Catholic acquaintance of mine, says that the masses that are held in Italian are not valid. Only the Mass with the Latin rite is valid (according to Tradition). Now, this is why I never go to mass, because in my area there are no priests who celebrate mass in Latin. I should move out of the area … but, not having a car, it is a bit difficult for me. This acquaintance of mine also claims that some words in the Italian liturgy are changed and therefore, not valid, and that, taking communion from a priest who celebrates mass in Italian is a sacrilege!
Are these things really true?
Answer from the priest
1. I take this opportunity of yours to give the answer to the various people who ask me advice on how to behave in this time due to the corona virus. Some visitors tell me that rather than receiving Holy Communion on the hand they prefer to take only Spiritual Communion. Others say that receiving Holy Communion on the hand would be sacrilege and cite the testimony of St. Thomas. Still, others say that if you participate in the Mass celebrated in the local language, the Mass would be not valid, so not having the possibility to participate in the Holy Mass in Latin (in the so called ‘vetus ordo’) they decide not to go to Mass at all. Finally, others say that priests who celebrate Holy Mass according to the ancient rite ‘vetus ordo’ rather than give Holy Communion in hand as it would be prescribed (but this is not true, as I will say shortly) ask the faithful to limit themselves to do the Spiritual Communion.
2. I start first from what the EU government protocol provides, from which it is not clear that Holy Communion must be given on the hand.
Here is the text: “3.4 The distribution of Communion takes place after the celebrant and any extraordinary minister have taken care of the hygiene of their hands and put on disposable gloves; the same, wearing the mask, taking the utmost care to cover their nose and mouth and maintaining an adequate safety distance, take care to offer the Host without coming into contact with the hands of the faithful”.
3. It may be that in some dioceses the Bishops have given more restrictive measures. They have the authority to do so. But by itself one cannot appeal to the EU government protocol to say that it was commended this way. Therefore the faithful, in case there are no further limitations given by their Bishops, have then the right to receive Holy Communion directly in the mouth.
4. On the affirmation of others who are afraid of making a sacrilege by receiving Holy Communion in the hand, one can ask whether the Bishops put the faithful in the position of making sacrileges. It is absurd to just think so. Here at least it would take a little humility. Furthermore, we must not forget that with Baptism we were anointed with sacred chrism, a sign of our consecration and that in the first centuries of the Church, in a climate of persecution, Christians brought Holy Communion to those who were impeded. Think of the case of Saint Tarcisio who, still a teenager and therefore neither priest nor deacon, suffered martyrdom on August 15th 257 A.D. while carrying the Eucharist to Christians in prison.
5. It is true that St. Thomas says that the distribution of Holy Communion is up to the priest and he gives three reasons:
First, because he consecrates in the person of Christ.
Now, Christ, as he consecrated his own body himself, so he distributed it to others by himself. So as the consecration of the body of Christ belongs to the priest, so it belongs to him to distribute it.
Second, the priest is an intermediary between God and the people. Therefore, as it is up to him to offer God the gifts of the people, so it is up to him to give the people the holy gifts of God.
Third, “because out of reverence toward this Sacrament, nothing touches it but what it is consecrated; hence the corporal, the chalice, and likewise, the hands of the priest for touching this sacrament”( Summa III, 82, 3).
6. But it is also true that St. Thomas concludes with the following words: “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 case of urgency “(Summa Theologiae, III, 82, 3).
This means that the reason he brought are of great convenience, but it is not a question of truths of faith (dogma), because no one can in any case be dispensed from the truths of faith.
7. On abstaining from Sacramental Communion, preferring to do only the spiritual one rather than taking the holy host on the hand, it must be said that the accounts are hurt because “Sacramental Communion produces the effect of the sacrament more perfectly than desire alone, as we noted above with regard to baptism”, as St. Thomas warns (Summa Theologiae, III, 80, 1, ad 3).
Regarding spiritual baptism or baptism of desire alone, he recalls what happened between the baptism of desire in Cornelius and the sacramental one: “Before the baptism of Cornelius and others like him, receive grace and virtues through their faith in Christ and the desire of baptism, implicit or explicit; but afterwards when baptized, they receive a yet greater fullness of grace and virtues”(Summa III, 69,4, ad 2). On this last occasion, while Peter, who at that moment was the minister of baptism was speaking, “the Holy Spirit descended on all who listened to the word” (Acts 10:44).
8. Spiritual communion is a communion of desire but a desire would be in vain if it were not satisfied when opportunity permits.
Consequently, it is clear that man is bound to receive this sacrament not only by the law of the Church, but also by the Lord’s precept: “Do this in remembrance of me” (Lk 22:19; 1 Cor 11:24) .
The law of the Church only determines the times in which the precept of Christ must be carried out.
“He is true humble”, says St. Gregory,” who is not obstinate in rejecting what is usefully commanded for his good. Consequently, humility is not praiseworthy if anyone abstain altogether from communion would against the precept of Christ and the Church (Summa, 80,11, 1).
9. The Council of Trent says the same thing: “The holy council would like the faithful present at every Mass to communicate not only spiritually, with interior desire, but also sacramentally, through the reception of the Eucharist, which would bring them more abundantly the fruits of this sacrifice”(DS 1747).
10. Finally, the validity of the Eucharistic celebration does not depend on the language in which it is celebrated, because then not even Christ would have instituted the Eucharist since he did not use the Latin words. To tell the truth, he didn’t even use the Greek ones reported in the Gospels and in St. Paul, but the Aramaic ones. Even when the Mass was celebrated only according to the ‘vetus ordo’ the eastern Orthodox continued to use the Greek language.
The validity of the celebration of Mass depends on the presence of the bread and wine and on the consecrating words pronounced by the priest. Refraining from participating in the Eucharist simply because it is not done in Latin or the ‘vetus ordo’ is not used is like saying that a work of art loses all its value if it does not have that particular frame.
But here there is an infinitely greater and more meritorious reality involved. Priests who celebrate with the ‘vetus ordo’ and unable to give Holy Communion in the mouth ask to take only the spiritual communion deprive the faithful of a great fruit. This is not charity.
The rites are in the order of means. The Eucharist, on the other hand, is the end of the Christian life because it contains Christ himself.
11. Furthermore, the use of the handkerchief does not seem appropriate to me if the hands are sanitized by both the priest and the faithful, without mentioning the possibility of the fragments that are visible and consumable on the palm of the hand, while in the handkerchief they are more exposed to desecration, even if the handkerchief is burned.
12. Finally, we must not forget the words of the Lord which are not to be understood only spiritually: “Amen, Amen, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you do not have life within you. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.
For my flesh is real food, and my blood is real drink. Whoever eats my flesh, and drinks my blood remains in me and I in him.
Just as the living Father send me and I have life because of the Father, so also the one who feeds on me will have life because of me ”(Jn 6: 53-57).
Saint Catherine of Siena was not satisfied with spiritual Communion, which was certainly always present in her life, but approaching her confessor to ask him for permission to receive sacramental Communion (in those days it was necessary to have permission to do it often) she said to him: ” Father, I’m hungry! For the love of God give food to my soul”(Blessed Raymond of Capua, Saint Catherine of Siena, 315 A.D.). With the hope that if it is not possible to receive it in the mouth no one refrains from Holy Communion rather than receiving it on the hand because it would lose many goods, I assure you of my prayers.