Monday, February 22, 2016


On the practice of Communion in the hands of the faithful (self-Communion)


Towards the mid-1960s, this practice was introduced, without authorization in some countries of Europe, especially those of Protestant majority, in an act of indiscipline and individualism, and contrary to the prevailing law.

On October 12, 1965, the “Consilium”, organism created to implement the liturgical recommendations of the Second Vatican Council, wrote to Cardinal Alfrink, Archbishop of Utrecht, Netherlands: “The Holy Father … does not consider it opportune that the sacred Particle be distributed in the hand and later consumed in different manners by the faithful, and therefore, he vehemently exhorts that the traditional manner of communicating be restored throughout the world.”

Nevertheless, the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy allowed the new practice in Germany (6/7/1968) and in Belgium (11/7/1968), but in view of the strong protests against the tactic of accepting “faits accomplis”, the Pope suspended the concession on July 25 of the same year.

After the introduction of Communion in the hand without authorization and the refusal of those disobedient to obeying the orders from Rome, the Pope searched for a solution to the problem soliciting the opinion of all the bishops of the world. The letter written at his request on October 28, 1968, began by saying:

“On the manner of distributing Communion, the Eucharisticum Mysterium Instruction of May 25, 1967 limits itself to indicate the posture of the faithful, which can be kneeling or standing (n. 34); however, in diverse locations, at least since two or three years ago, some priests without due authorization place the Eucharist in the hand of the faithful, who then places it in their mouths (self-Communion). It appears that this manner of acting is spreading rapidly…”

After the necessary considerations, corrected and personally annotated by the Pope, who added to the original text the phrase “without due authorization” (which proves that the innovation was clandestine), the letter concluded by saying:

“Dealing then with something so grave in itself and in its consequences, the Holy Father, Paul VI, wishes to know the thinking of each one of the bishops and of each Episcopal Conference.”

They do not discern between the Body 
of Christ and any other food.
In response to this, a great majority of bishops, approximately two-thirds, expressed their resolution, which was contrary to the new praxis and consistent with the thought of the Holy See. As a result, the Holy See ordered the elaboration of an instruction (Memoriale Domini) in which the existing law was confirmed:


(This Instruction, composed by special mandate of the Holy Father Paul VI, was duly approved by him with the force of the Apostolic authority on May 28, 1969 – the numbering corresponds to that of the Enchiridion Vaticanum, volume 3).

1277 This method of distributing Holy Communion in which the minister himself places the consecrated Host on the tongue of the communicants must be retained, not merely because it has many centuries of tradition behind it, but especially because it expresses the faithful’s reverence for the Eucharist. 

1278 Furthermore, the practice which must be considered traditional, more effectively ensures that Holy Communion is distributed with the proper respect, decorum and dignity. It removes the danger of profanation of the sacred species, in which "in a unique way, Christ, God and man, is present whole and entire, substantially and continually". Lastly, so that the care of the fragments of the Consecrated Bread that the Church has always recommended be always preserved: "What you have allowed to drop, think of it as though you had lost one of your own members."


A change in a matter of such importance, based on a most ancient and venerable tradition, does not merely affect discipline. It carries with it certain dangers that may arise from the new manner of administering Holy Communion, namely:

The danger of a loss of reverence for the August Sacrament of the altar.

Profanation of the Holy Sacrament.

Adulteration of the true doctrine.

1281 The Holy Father’s definite decision

Therefore, taking into account the remarks and the advice of those whom "the Holy Ghost has placed to rule over" the churches, in view of the gravity of the matter and the force of the arguments put forward, the Holy Father has decided not to change the existing way of administering Holy Communion to the faithful. The Apostolic See therefore emphatically urges bishops, priests and laity to carefully obey the law which is still valid and which has again been confirmed (i.e. communion placed directly in the mouth).


“Communion in the hand was introduced without authorization; Paul VI tenaciously opposed allowing it but decided to grant an indult only where its use was firmly established and this with the purpose of “helping the Episcopal Conferences to comply with their pastoral work, frequently more difficult than ever because of the present situation.” (CM, p. 118).

 "If the contrary usage, namely, of placing Holy Communion in the hand, has already developed in any place, …the Apostolic See entrusts to the conferences the duty and function of judging particular circumstances, if any.  They may make this judgment provided that any danger is avoided of insufficient reverence or false opinions of the Holy Eucharist.”

(Note that it says “Holy Communion in the hand, has already developed”, thus excluding the introduction of the new practice where it was not already a custom in 1969.)  

The purpose of the indult was not to abolish Communion on the tongue. “A good is not conceded but rather something that is, in itself, MUCH MORE IMPERFECT (Communion in the hand) than the general law in force (Communion on the tongue). This concession is due to the prudential decision of tolerating a dangerous practice in order to avoid a greater evil (generalized disobedience).” (CM, p. 126).

How grievous it should have been for Pope Paul VI to grant this indult, against his better judgment, for those who ignoring his exhortation DID NOT WANT TO SUBMIT TO THE EXISTING AND CONFIRMED LAW!

In doing so, did he remember the following words spoken by Saint Pius X in similar circumstances?

“… devout sons of the Pope are only those who obey his words and follow him in everything, and not the others who try to dude his orders with stubbornness worthy of a better cause, in order to obtain exemptions and dispensations which are as painful to us as they are dangerous and scandalous to the Church."

The texts taken from the book Communion in the Hand, exceptional work by Mgr Juan Laise, Bishop Emeritus of San Luis, who remaining faithful to the tradition prohibited in his Diocese the new praxis, are identified by the symbol ‘CM’.

(Consistorial allocution, Il Grave Dolore (3), May 24, 1914).


The local council at Rouen, France (650) stated, “Do not put the Eucharist in the hands of any layman or laywomen but only in their mouths.”

The Council of Constantinople (691) Prohibited the faithful from giving Communion to themselves (which is what happens when the Sacred Host is placed in the hand of the communicant). It decreed an excommunication of one week’s duration for those who would do so in the presence of a bishop, priest or deacon.

Council of Trent
Council of Trent (Dogmatic Council, October 11, 1551), (ses. XIII, c.8) “The unvarying practice of the Church has always been, that the faithful receive the Sacrament from the hand of the priest, and that the priest communicate himself; this practice is always to be scrupulously adhered to, stamped, as it is, with the authoritative impress of Apostolic tradition, and sanctioned by the illustrious example of our Lord himself, who, with His own hands, consecrated and gave to His disciples, His most sacred body.” (The text referred to Communion in the mouth, because Communion in the hand had been forbidden several decades ago).

Second Vatican Council: Did not adopt a position on this matter.


Tertullian (160-220) “… We take anxious care lest something of our Cup or Bread should fall upon the ground.” (The Crown 3:3-4);

Saint Hippolytus (170-235) “… All shall be careful… that any of it falls and is lost. For it is the Body of Christ, to be eaten by those who believe, and not to be scorned.” (Trad. Ap. 32.).

Origen (185-254) “… Know how, when you receive the Body of the Lord, you hold it with every precaution and veneration lest any of the consecrated gifts should fall. For you believe, and rightly believe, yourselves guilty if through your negligence any of it should be dropped.” (De lapsis, ch. 15, in Smith, The Sacrament of the Eucharist, 853).

Pope Paul VI himself observes on the latter text the following:  “The faithful thought themselves guilty, and rightly so, as Origen recalls, if after they received the Body of the Lord in order to preserve it with all care and reverence, a small fragment of it fell off through negligence.” (Mysterium Fidei, 32).

Saint Cyril (315-387) “Receive it taking great care that not a single fragment falls… Tell me, if anyone gave you gold-dust, would you not take hold of it with every possible care, ensuring that you do not mislay any of it or sustain any loss? So will you not be much more cautious to ensure that not a crumb falls away from that which is more precious than gold or precious stones?”

Saint Ephraim (306-373): “… Eat this Bread, and do not scatter the crumbs… One particle from its crumbs is able to sanctify thousands and thousands, and is sufficient to afford life to those who eat of it.” (Homilies 707 4, 4)

Saint Basil (330-379): Says clearly that to receive Communion by one’s own hand is only permitted in times of persecution or, as was the case with monks in the desert, when no deacon or priest was available to give it. “It is not necessary to show that it does not constitute a grave fault for a person to communicate with his own hand in a time of persecution when there is no priest or deacon” (Letter 93, my emphasis). The text implies that to receive it in the hand under other circumstances, outside of persecution, would be a grave fault.

Saint Augustine (354-430): “If something is practiced by the Universal Church throughout the whole world: in such case to dispute whether we ought to conform to Her, argues the most insolent madness.”

Saint Leo the Great, Pope between 440-461, already in the fifth century, is an early witness of the traditional practice. In his comments on the sixth chapter of Saint John’s Gospel, he speaks of Communion in the mouth as the current usage: “We receive by means of the mouth which we believe by means of faith”. The Pope does not speak as if he were introducing a novelty but as if this were a well-established fact.

Saint Gregory, also called the Great, Pope between 590 and 604. In his dialogues (Roman 3, c. 3) he relates how Pope St. Agapetus performed a miracle during the Mass, after having placed the Body of the Lord into someone’s mouth. We are also told by John the Deacon of his Pope’s manner of giving Holy Communion.

Saint Francis of Assisi (1182 – 1226) “They alone (priests) must administer, and not others.” (Second letter to all the faithful).

Saint Thomas Aquinas (1225 – 1274) “Out of reverence towards 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.” (Theological Summa Pt. III, Q.82, Art. 3).

Therefore it constitutes an irreverence towards this Holy Sacrament whenever It is touched by hands that are not consecrated; this doctrine was confirmed by H.H. John Paul II in Domenicae Cenae.

Pope Saint Pius XIn the act of receiving Holy Communion we should be kneeling, hold our head slightly raised, our eyes modest and fixed on the sacred Host, our mouth sufficiently open, and the tongue slightly out over the lips.”  (Catechism of Saint Pius X). When the modernists approached Pope Pius X to get him to permit receiving Communion standing, adding that the Israelites had eaten the Paschal Lamb while standing, he told them: “The Paschal Lam was a symbol of the Eucharist. The symbols and promises are received standing, BUT THE REALITY IS RECEIVED ON THE KNEES and with love.

When Pope Saint Pius X was on his death bed in August 1914, and Holy Communion was brought to him as Viaticum, he did not and was not allowed to receive it in the hand: he received it on the tongue according to the law and practice of the Catholic Church.

H.H. Pius XII
Pope Pius XII: “The temerity and daring of those who introduce novel liturgical practices, or call for the revival of obsolete rites out of harmony with prevailing laws and rubrics, deserve severe reproof.” (Mediator Dei, 17).

Pope Paul VI: The original text of the aforementioned consultation to the bishops regarding Communion in the hand, read: “In the name and by mandate of the Holy Father it pleases me to announce…” When reading it to Fr. Bugnini the Pope commented:

-          Pleasing? It is not pleasing to me at all!

And then he proceeded to correct the text as follows:

“In the name and by mandate of the Holy Father it is my duty to announce…”

In that same letter the Pope corrected another sentence. The words in bold are the handwritten annotations made by the Holy Father:

By explicit mandate of the Holy Father, who cannot refrain from considering the eventual innovation with evident apprehension…”

The instruction Memoriale Domini clearly quotes Saint Cyril affirming that this care desired by him (and the other Holy Fathers), is seen to be much more effectively guaranteed by Communion in the mouth, as this “assures more effectively that Holy Communion be distributed with the reverence, decorum and dignity due to it, so that every danger of profaning the Eucharistic species be removed and in order to guard with diligent carefulness as the Church has always recommended in relation to the fragments themselves of the Consecrated Bread.” (MD – 1278).

The word “sacred” means separated, inaccessible, untouchable. However, “profane” means the opposite, that is, devoted to that which is not sacred, touchable, manipulable. Therefore Communion in the hand implies that God, who is worthy of all worship and reverence, is to be touched in a manner that is perhaps improper.


In November 1980, while visiting Fulda (Germany), Pope John Paul II gave an interview to Stimme Des Glaubens magazine in which he reportedly said: "There is an apostolic letter on the existence of a special valid permission for this [Communion in the hand]. But I tell you that I am not in favor of this practice, nor do I recommend it. It is necessary not to forget that the distribution of Communion in the hand continues to remain an exception (indult) to the universal law, conceded by the Holy See to those bishops' conferences who have requested it.”

In his letter “Domenicae Cenae” (February 24, 1980) the Pope states: “To touch the sacred species and to distribute them with their own hands is a privilege of the ordained.”

And to avoid misinterpretations of the aforementioned words, three months later, in front of French television cameras, he denied Communion in the hand to Giscard d’Estaing’s wife, who was at the time First Minister of France.

In the instruction “Inaestimabile Donum” by the Sacred Congregation for the Sacraments and Divine Worship, approved and confirmed by His Holiness Pope John Paul II on April 17, 1980, the Pope reiterates that: “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.”


The Second Vatican Council establishes that the faithful are permitted and sometimes even obliged to express their opinion on those things which concern the good of the Church.”  (L. G. 37).

In a clear demonstration of an “anti-council spirit”, in the Republic of Argentina the opinion of the laity was not requested, consequently they were taken aback by the introduction of a practice that was entirely foreign to them.
 Mgr Juan Rodolfo Laise

In commenting the document “The Living Bread”, in which this forbidden praxis was introduced among us, Mgr Laishe, Bishop Emeritus of San Luis, says on his book entitled, Communion in the hand, the following:

“If the introduction of Communion in the hand is without a doubt a sign of growth in the ecclesiastical life, if it is a motive for joy to return to this genuine tradition or if it cannot be affirmed or prioritized that one manner is better than the other, it is not understood why in 1968 Paul VI did not think it opportune to change the manner received and used for a long time of how to give Communion and he vehemently exhorted to submit to this disposition; and much less is it understood why John Paul II in 1996 maintains the said dispositions as a norm. If the affirmation of El Pan vivo (The Living Bread) and Fundamentos are true, then Paul VI committed a grave mistake in not allowing the richness of this rite to be rediscovered. Furthermore, the strict forbiddance of the 10th Century which was maintained for almost a millennium was an error as it pretended to eradicate forever something valuable that we have just recently rediscovered, and this only, thankfully, to the indult. 

The answer is that the new practice has not been desired by the Holy See, nor is it part of the post-council liturgical reform but rather has only been permitted due to the unyielding insistence of some episcopal conferences (especially in Protestant countries); and this only after a completely abusive introduction which was not possible to resist, in spite of the complaints and prohibitions from Rome.” (CM, p. 135).

But in The Living Bread, the confusion comes to a culminating point:

“By the end of 1968, the Holy See made a consultation to the bishops of the world with regards to the subject of Communion in the hand. More than a third saw the possibility with approval. In 1969, the Instruction Memoriale Domini established that, where deemed convenient by the Episcopal Conferences, the faithful could have the liberty to receive Communion in the hand.” (p. 16).

“To say that more than a third saw the possibility with approval, when MD says from the responses received it is clear that the vast majority of bishops believe that the present discipline should not be changed, is to adulterate the historic reality and Paul VI’s way of thinking. But to affirm that the Instruction Memoriale Domini established that, where the Episcopal Conferences considered it convenient with more than two thirds of their Bishops votes, that the faithful could have the liberty to receive Communion in the hand, is to fall short of the truth. What MD established was that the law that determined that Communion should be given only in the mouth of the faithful continued in force and without changes. It is true that it conceded an indult, not where the Episcopal Conferences deemed convenient, but where the practice had already been rooted, under certain conditions.” (MD [17] and [18]).

Consequently, in 1996, the indult for Argentina should not have been requested, for it was a country where the faithful, in union with such a revered tradition and the Universal Law confirmed by the Pope, received Communion in the mouth.



Because it is a sign of the reverence of the faithful toward the Eucharist. (1277 – Memoriale Domini).

Let us receive Communion in the mouth while kneeling
Because this manner of communicating gives more effective assurance that Holy Communion will be distributed with the appropriate reverence, decorum, and dignity; and that any danger of profaning the Eucharistic species will be avoided. (1278 – Memoriale Domini).

Because Communion in the hand provides a breeding ground for tampering with the true doctrine. In his letter to the bishops, which we have mentioned above, Pope Paul VI states that “Ill-prepared and poorly instructed people who receive the Eucharistic Bread in their hand, will they not end up equating It to ordinary bread, or to simply blessed bread?”

Thus the Catholic doctrine runs the risk of “protestantizing” itself.

Because whoever receives Communion in the hand is using an indult, that is an exception from the Universal Law of the Church; and rejecting the vehement exhortation of Paul VI, who commanded to submit diligently to the law that had been confirmed by him and was still in force. (1281 – Memoriale Domini).

Because whoever receives Communion in the mouth not only follows exactly the tradition handed down but also the wish expressed by the last Popes and thus avoids placing himself in the occasion of committing a sin by negligently dropping a fragment of the Body of Christ. The Pope does not accept the practice, but gives the possibility of disagreeing: those who do not follow (it) do so legally but against the wish of the Holy Father. (CM pg. 133).

Because according to the Congregation of the Divine Worship “In dioceses where it is allowed to distribute Communion in the hands of the faithful, a priest or extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion may not restrict communicants to receive Communion only in their hands, not on the tongue.

Therefore, those who restrict communicants to receive Holy Communion only on in the hands are acting against the norms.

 Let all remember that the time-honored tradition is to receive the host on the tongue. The celebrant priest, if there is a present danger of sacrilege, should not give the faithful communion in the hand, and he should make them aware of the reason for way of proceeding.” (Adoremus Bulletin, April, 1999).


“As of all the sacred mysteries bequeathed to us by our Lord and Saviour as most infallible instruments of divine grace, there is none comparable to the most Holy Sacrament of the Eucharist; so, for no crime is there a heavier punishment to be feared from God than for the unholy or irreligious use by the faithful of that which is full of holiness, or rather which contains the very author and source of holiness.” (Roman Catechism of the Council of Trent, Part II, chapter 4).



If there is any danger of profaning the Eucharistic species, 
Communion in the hand will be avoided. Redemptionis
 Sacramentum 179. This current principle constitutes a
 practical prohibition. 
Communion in the hand is the result of disobedience to the laws of the Church. We must always bear in mind that receiving Communion in the mouth is the current law and that Communion in the hand is “only an indult”, a special license introduced in order to not leaving outside of the Church those who had abusively initiated this practice, which leads towards the desacralization of the Holy Sacrament and contradicts the rules of the Church. Sadly, this ushered in an unprecedented novelty: the introduction of the principle of disobedience as a source of law. Undoubtedly, despite good intentions, this practice has proven how ill-advised this principle is, as well as the indult. Not only were the modernists not restrained in their disobedience, who in an act of rebelliousness were already practicing Communion in the hand before the indult was granted, but after it they continued to introduce new elements that were contrary to the liturgical norms as well as doctrines contrary to the dogmas defined by the Church. After a while the use of the concession became widespread in other countries and places where it was not customary. As a result the cure was worse than the original problem.  

Disobedience as a source of law is a terrible principle, because those who are disobedient and rebels will always demand for more things. Modernists will never be satisfied with what they have achieved. Rebelliousness is not restrained through permissiveness. Facts have proved that instead of curbing the proliferation of evil, the latter multiplies. Furthermore, the theoretical permission is in reality a practical prohibition, since the instruction REDEMPTIONIS SACRAMENTUM states that: “if there is any danger of profaning the Eucharistic species, Communion in the hand will be avoided.” There is a constant danger in the case of Communion in the hand (virtually impossible to prevent it from happening), but no one listens to the orders of the Church: everybody turns a deaf ear to her rules. Besides, nothing good can come of exercising an exception that ushered in rebellion as a source of law and allowed desacralization.

We call upon all Catholics who truly love God to:

Never, for any reason whatsoever, receive Communion in the hand, due to the danger of sacred particles of the Host (where Christ is really present with all His Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity) being left in your hand. These particles will fall to the ground or elsewhere, since the layperson does not cleanse his/her hands as the priest does, or should do, at the end of the liturgy, also their hands are not consecrated. In addition, this practice has proved to facilitate the stealing of Consecrated Hosts by Satanist groups who use them in order to profane them; situation that has been denounced by Rome. Furthermore, it enables sacrileges as the ones we see in this video -in spanish- (Click HERE). Due to all the above, let us not contribute in any way to this practice that enables all kinds of profanations, desecrations and irreverences.   

Sources: YouTube (video) and Panorama Católico (text).

You can reproduce this article provided you quote this site.
Source of information: Blog CATOLICIDAD Translated from Spanish by Fabiola Lozano.