Communion on the Tongue as a Schismatic Device

UPDATE: “July 17, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) – A group of young Catholics has joined together to announce that out of reverence to Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ they will only receive Holy Communion on the tongue while kneeling.”
~ In my view, this pledge is schismatic. They are pledging not to obey the Pope or the Bishops, if they require Communion on the hand or while standing. It is a promise to disregard the authority of the Church, if the Church speaks or acts contrary to the pledge. It is a grave sin, and those who solicited this pledge also sinned gravely. I pledge to obey the Church on reception of Communion.

Should the faithful receive Communion on the tongue or in the hand?
Should we receive Communion standing or kneeling?

The Church alone has the authority on earth to decide this question of Communion, and She has decided to permit Communion in the hand, while standing. Perhaps Communion on the tongue is generally better. Perhaps Communion while kneeling is also better. There may be theological and practical reasons for this opinion on discipline. I do not object to the opinion that Communion on the tongue, while kneeling, is a preferable discipline. But that is all it is: a particular discipline that may be preferable in general. There is nothing to prevent a discipline which is better in general from being worse in a particular circumstance. And better does not imply that a different discipline is sinful or an expression of false doctrine.

Certain conservatives rejected the authority of Pope Francis. Next they rejected the authority of all the recent Popes, from Pope Pius XII to Francis. Once you exalt yourself to have the role of judging and condemning a Roman Pontiff, what is to prevent you from doing the same to a different Pope? Thirdly they advance to reject the Second Vatican Council. And next, rather predictably, they extended this rejection to other Councils, including Vatican I. Once you exalt yourself above one Ecumenical Council, why not look down upon, judge, and condemn other Ecumenical Councils?

And now, having subjected all things to themselves, having made their enemies, the Popes and Councils, into their footstools, they exalt themselves above Jesus Christ Himself in holy Communion. They treat Communion much the way some liberals (whom they disdain) treat Communion, as if it were merely symbolic. It is symbolic of conservatism. It is symbolic of their (desired) control over the Church and the faithful.

So some conservatives are now announcing that holy Communion must be received kneeling and on the tongue. That’s not what the Church says. The Church has the authority of Jesus Christ, and the Church permits Communion while standing and on the hand. Jesus has decided, through His Church and His Vicars — all the recent Popes and the body of Bishops continuously in agreement — that is it good and holy to receive Communion standing and in the hand.

This arrangement works better than Communion on the tongue during the current pandemic. In my church, this is the discipline: People are seated in groups by family, with separation between them, and wearing masks. They remain in their places. The priest, deacon, and extraordinary ministers of Communion go around the church giving Communion into the hands of those who wish to receive. You keep your mask on until they person who gave you Communion moves on, and then you can push the mask aside and receive the host. This is a good practical discipline for the current circumstance and is in no way offensive to God.

But to put yourself above Christ and to proclaim that no one may receive Christ except in the way that you and your subculture of schismatic conservatives have decided among yourselves is gravely immoral. We are speaking about Christ Himself, not a mere symbol of Christ. The Church has the authority to decide this question, and She has decided to permit Communion in the hand while standing. Those who speak as if they were a Pope or a Council also reject what the Popes and Councils have said — for they wish to have the role of Pope and Council for themselves.

I am not exaggerating. The schismatics who have rejected Pope Francis, the other recent Popes, Vatican II, other Ecumenical Councils, do so because the Popes and Councils made decisions on doctrine and discipline with which they disagreed. They are acting as if they were above the Church, and only God is above the Church. They have deified themselves. And they want other persons to worship them by treating their decisions on doctrine and discipline as if it were divinely-revealed.

Saint Augustine required his monks to eat meat and drink wine on Sundays, so as to teach by example that these things are not evil (as some heretics of that day claimed). Communion on the tongue kneeling may be better, in general, but I will receive on the hand while standing in order to proclaim my faithfulness to the Church and to Christ.

And I notice that some other persons are doing the opposite. They receive Communion kneeling and on the tongue as a way to express their rejection of Church authority. I recall one woman who went to Communion with her Bishop. She kneeled down and held out her tongue. The Bishops instructed her to stand, and to receive in the hand. But she refused. She made a point of opposing the Bishops in front of others, in this way, in order to show everyone that she rejects the authority of her Bishop. Using Christ this way is highly offensive. It is sacrilegious to have a dispute in this manner with Christ in Communion as the pawn in the battle.

If my bishop or pastor requires Communion in the tongue, then that is how I will receive, or if Communion in the hand, likewise. But while there are persons claiming, falsely, that Communion should only be received on the tongue while kneeling, I will speak out against this error. While it may be better, in general, it is gravely immoral to receive in this way as an expression of your rejection of Church authority, or as an expression that you and your chosen subculture are the ones who decide what is and is not correct discipline.

Essentially, for some persons right now, receiving Communion on the tongue is a schismatic devise. It is a way for them to wave a flag saying that they reject the “liberal” Pope and Bishops who shockingly permit Communion in the hand. What would Jesus do? He touched the leper and then subsequently healed him. He could have healed him first. Jesus touched the leper while he was still leprous. Jesus embraced little children. And the Church has decided the question. So Jesus does permit Communion on the hand. And those who reject Jesus’ decision, reject Him.

Ronald L. Conte Jr.

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9 Responses to Communion on the Tongue as a Schismatic Device

  1. erm6 says:

    At some Masses at some parishes or shrines, people are now being given the option to receive on the tongue, but separated from those receiving in the hand. I know of one shrine where the celebrant recommends Communion in the hand, but still makes a separate Communion line available for those who want to receive on the tongue.

    Among the people in that separate line, there may be some who choose to receive on the tongue in order to express their rejection of Church authority, but there may be others who simply have an extremely high level of anxiety about receiving in the hand, due to the powerful impression made on them in childhood, many decades ago, by priests or teachers who insisted that if even any tiny Particle falls on the floor or gets lost somewhere, this is no less a grave sacrilege than a deliberate injury to the entire Host.

    In order to accompany people who have that type of anxiety, it might be helpful to clarify some aspects of Eucharistic theology about Our Lord’s Real Presence in the Species. Although Our Lord is as truly present in a small Particle as in the complete Host, it is now evident that Our Lord does not demand that we treat His Eucharistic Body at a “laboratory grade” level of preventing loss of Particles. It is not like technicians in a laboratory who have high-tech mechanisms in place, to guarantee that no more than 1 or 10 ppm of some substance is leaked or lost in some experiment—even though Our Lord’s Body is infinitely more valuable than any substance in a lab.

    I don’t know Eucharistic theology well enough to explain this in the way I want to, but I suspect that a fuller understanding of this theology might bring to light some objective distinctions that could help relieve the anxiety of some persons.

    • Ron Conte says:

      If a particle of a host is so small that it is no longer bread, then it is no longer Christ. For example, the smell of bread or particularly wine in the air is not Christ. Yes, it is fine for persons to receive on the tongue out of reverence, or to simply have a preference. I was referring to those who use this issue as a way to divide the people from their shepherds.

    • When Jesus walked on earth about 2000 years ago, some of His hair may have fallen off from His body and people around Him may have stepped on those tiny hairs. But that particular hair is just a part of Jesus’ human body, not Christ Himself. Not His entire body. It is certainly not His soul nor His Divinity.

      In other words, if somebody steps on the person of Jesus, that is sacrilegious. But if somebody steps on a non-noticeable small particle of this body that has fallen off, that is not the person of Jesus; therefore, not sacrilegious. Jesus would have to cut His fingernails and thrown them in the trash (Of course, even a small fingernail of Jesus is a precious relic!). But those fingernails are not the person of Jesus (just part of His physical body that He did not mean for anyone to keep it). And certainly those cut off fingernails are not the glorified living body, soul and Divinity of Christ.

      The hosts that we receive at Mass are made in a way that they not crumble. In my experience, I don’t remember seeing a visible part of the host remain in my hand. Therefore, if an invisible particle is left on the hand, that is not bread and, therefore, not Christ. The Church is indefectible, She would not allow the faithful to do something sacrilegious.

      Also, when we consume the host, it continues to be the Christ within our bodies up until it starts being dissolved, then it is not longer Christ. So it is the real presence of Christ within our bodies for about 15 minutes.

      When receiving the host, we should do so humbly, with reverence and being careful, making sure that no visible small parts of the host remain in the hand. IF so, if a visible part remains, then, yes, we should consume it. But if there is not visible parts, that is not Christ.

  2. erm6 says:

    I agree that there are some well-informed people, who receive on the tongue out of reverence or preference, who are very distinct from those who use this issue to express their rejection of Church authority. But I also suspect that, in between these two extremes, there is a gray area of persons who receive on the tongue partly out of reverence, and partly out of anxiety.

    People in this gray area may be vulnerable to being “recruited” by those who use this issue as a way to divide the people from their shepherds. Those vulnerable to such recruitment might include immigrants and the elderly.

    So, I think it is good for those with theological understanding of the Real Presence to give explanations that can help accompany people. Your example about the smell of the Eucharist in the air is a good illustration.

  3. Joe says:

    My understanding is that communion on the tongue cannot be denied for any US Catholic in good standing (USCCB). Just like communion in the hand. Up to individual. Covid virus or not. From my experience communion on the tongue, kneeling, with use of patent and priest taught and experienced in how to administer correctly is safest way to avoid transmission of any contaminates. No expert here but disagree on the premise and tone of the article. Some people as myself take very serious the reception of our Lord and have strong feelings. Doesn’t mean we are being disobedient. Nor is it wrong for us to exercise our rights under the norms set out by the Universal Church and local bishops conference. Not willing to throw the baby out with the bathwater here Ron. By the way my Bishop has never said that communion on the tongue is forbidden. I have noticed though priests in my parish are getting better at distributing on the tongue. Front of the tongue with at least half inch from fingers to tongue. Kneeling best position to be in thus avoiding any vocal spit (contaminants ) and easiest for priest to administer. Hands are dirty and often the priests fingers can touch the recipients hands when distributing. Article recently came out where 21 Austrian doctors wrote their bishops about the same thing. So I am not alone in my premise.

    • Ron Conte says:

      You can prefer Communion on the tongue, and it has good support in practical and theological reasons. But some persons on the far right seem to be using this issue as a flag to wave in their rebellion against the Church. And it is a serious error for those who claim that Communion on the hand is necessarily an error, as if the Church does not have authority over the Sacraments, which is the authority of Christ. But I see no error in your position. Many persons like you are doing well in their reception.

  4. sc says:

    Hi Ron,

    while that devious intent of causing more confusion and division to an already polarized and growingly lukewarm or faithless ‘Christian’ society is indeed true and more apparent, nevertheless doesn’t Christ withdraw his presence at will from the consecrated host? If a comunicant receives Holy comunion lukewarmly or worse, in a state of sin, doesn’t Christ withdraw his Real presence from that communicant’s heart? I’m not sure of the source, but i think i had read this somewhere.

    • Ron Conte says:

      He can withdraw or rather withhold grace from the unworthy communicant’s heart. He could provide prevenient grace. Perhaps He could draw the person to repentance. He has options. But the Real Presence remains in the host even if the recipient is outright evil.

  5. Mary Lewis says:

    How important is it that Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament is not lost, or stolen or trampled upon? Most people who receive in the hand do not check for particles that may remain on their fingers or in their hand which I believe happens more than most might think. As Joe said, according to what the church has said, no one can be denied communion on the tongue. That is the way I want to receive and I don’t think I or anyone else should be looked down upon because of it. I think that people who receive on the tongue do it because of their love and respect for Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament.

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