Our Hands

He broke the bread and gave it to His disciples saying, “Take this, all of you, and eat it; this is My Body which will be given up for you.”  They accepted it from Him with human hands and ate.

He humbles Himself to enter our mouths, to be chewed by some, melted in saliva by others, to proceed down our alimentary canals and goodness knows how much further, surrounded by God-only-knows how many germs and bacteria.

He rubbed blind men’s eyes with mud and spittle; He touched and was touched by lepers.  He kissed and He hugged.  He never shied away from anyone’s body.  He washed people’s feet.

And yet there are some who believe He abhors being gently cupped in our loving hand and cradled momentarily before we receive Him.  Have they truly asked Him about this, I wonder.

St. Faustina’s Diary, Notebook I, excerpt from # 160:

When I was about to receive Holy Communion, a second Host fell onto the priest’s sleeve, and I did not know which host I was to receive.  After I had hesitated for a moment, the priest made an impatient gesture with his hand to tell me I should receive the Host.  When I took the Host he gave me, the other one fell onto my hands.  The priest went along the altar rail to distribute Communion, and I held the Lord Jesus in my hands all that time.  When the priest approached me again, I raised the Host for him to put it back into the chalice, because when I had first received Jesus I could not speak before consuming the Host, and so could not tell him that the other had fallen.  But while I was holding the Host in my hand, I felt such a power of love that for the rest of the day I could neither eat nor come to my senses.  I heard these words from the Host:  I desired to rest in your hands, not only in your heart.  And at that moment I saw the little Jesus.  But when the priest approached, I saw once again only the Host.


13 thoughts on “Our Hands

  1. Absolutely beautiful, yes. Thank you. I was starving tonight, truly starving, and did not expect bread. Or anything. I think I’m going to cry. 🙂 And I imagine you were starving, too, Gab; it is the hungry who feed others.

    If we believe in the (His!) Real Presence in the Blessed Sacrament, that it’s not just a symbol, if that is Jesus Christ, Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity… then, didn’t Mary His Mother receive Him in her hands from birth, right on until His deposition?

    May I just add that having received Him on the tongue for two decades, then in my hands for three decades, receiving Him on the tongue seems dopey to me, now. Did He not redeem our hands with the piercings of His own?

  2. I am very happy to be able to receive the Host in my hands. It seems to be the most normal and logical thing to do. And not a bit irreverent, although it can be risky.

    I have seen a person take the host and put it in her pocket. She was promptly chased after by the priest; he grabbed it and put it in his mouth in front of everyone. There are some sick people out there, but for the most part, we are all grateful to be able to receive Him in our hands.

  3. Amen. It’ll be 3 more decades before I can chew, though.. not only because I was raised when all RCs were Traditionalists, but I figure His unique character and reputation had and has received enough mastication by people, so I let the Host take His time to go the way of food. He runs into the heart either way, so I guess I’m a bit silly with that, but my Anima Christi seems more sincere while He lingers.

  4. There are arguments for both sides. Our hands are anointed at baptism and in keeping with the sacredness of our bodies as temples, receiving the Eucharist by hand seems natural.

    But much the same as Pia says, we’ve had instances here in Ireland when hosts have been found after Mass on the floor underneath the pews.

    The priest in whose church this occured was naturally outraged and this led to a lot of media coverage.

    Hand to mouth is certainly the safest and most secure ‘ passage’ for the host, whereas hand to hand leaves a lot to trust – and in the case of young people or those whose appreciation of what they are receiving is misunderstood , maybe too much.

  5. I find myself wondering (uncomfortably, mind you) that much of the demands put on the laity over the centuries to conform to rigid rules and regulations by the Church seemed to me to parallel the demands of the Mosaic Law so rigidly enforced by the Pharisees and condemned by Jesus.

    “It is mercy I desire, not sacrifice.”

    I am as Catholic as they come but I sometimes wonder whether we have been taught what to do at the expense of why we do it.

  6. I agree, Terry. Plus, I have such a coffee-with-milk stained tongue, I really don’t like to display it–surely it gives everyone a nightmare. This is probably how we ended up with Communion in the hand.

    Ann and Pia, I understand; but far far worse befell the Lord than falling onto the floor and being neglected, you know? I attended a Greek Orthodox service wherein the Eucharist is in the form of crumbly bread — even babies are fed Him. Imagine the Crumbs.. on the rug, in children’s clothes..

  7. Thank you all so very much for these wonderful and thoughtful comments. I think you all know that I am not one to post something controversial for the sake of controversy, and I think this topic has been covered very well on many Catholic blogs over the last few years. But it was on my heart over the last couple of weeks for reasons that don’t need to be detailed here, and it has a great deal to do with disunity in the Church and Jesus’ sadness about that.

    But in response to some of the points raised, I can say this at least; once I place the Host on my tongue it is very rarely dissolved even by the time the priest or deacon has finished purifying the vessels, and I doubt this is peculiar to me, so it is my belief that anyone who wishes to desecrate our Lord will find a way to do so even if he/she has received Holy Communion on the tongue.

    My sadness (and I think Jesus’ too) is not with people who accept the reverential way of receiving the Host in the hand but who simply have a preference for receiving on the tongue. My sadness is with those who, in pride and disobedience to the Church (and thereby to Jesus) refuse to accept the practices of the Catholic Church, practices continued by both Venerable Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI, and who in their pride and disobedience are trying to influence others to believe that receiving Holy Communion in the hand is irreverent. I asked Jesus to guide me especially in this post, and I believe He wanted me to share in a gentle way just how much He loves our love. He is focused on love, not tongues.

  8. I know I went off in another direction with my earlier comment but to weigh in on the issue at hand, I feel privileged to have the Body of Christ placed in my hand. I trust the Church to make the correct judgments in this matter and will abide accordingly. But I certainly am comfortable when I know that at the first Eucharist Jesus passed a plate and said “Take and eat.” I am grateful for the opportunity to “take and eat.”

  9. I often wonder what Jesus thinks of all the “rubrics”. As a previous commenter stated, at the Last Supper we assume that Jesus passed the plate and the apostles – and others – would have taken their piece of bread.

    Reminds me of an ongoing battle we had at the retreat house where I’ve attended with the same group of men for the last 15 years. 30 years ago you were required to wear a jacket and tie at every meal AND in adoration. By the time I got there in 1994 our group only required jacket and tie for adoration. We then found men going to adoration without the proper dress. The rector said it was fine. Leaders on the weekend demanded jacket & tie. But nowhere in the discussions did anyone mention the disposition of one’s heart and soul when entering the oratory. The leader’s main arguement was that “if you were going to meet the president you would wear a jacket and tie”. And on that count he was wrong. These guys weren’t wearing a jacket tie for anyone, anywhere.

    Unfortunately, I think this is when the Catholics start looking like the Pharisees. Dress right, bow at the right time, kneel at the right time, say the right prayers the right number of times on the right day, and all of the other superstitious “stuff” that’s out there for the asking.

    I was born in 1961 and made my First Communion in 1969. I knelt at the altar rail that day but within a couple years the altar rail was gone. 30 years later I knelt at an altar rail at a primarily Phillipino parish near San Jose, CA. It definitely felt more reverent but the effect that that Communion had on me was no different than in my home parish where wereceive standing and in the hand.

  10. One good rule of thumb is, when in Rome, do as the Romans do. If anyone has a problem with anything, they can certainly speak privately to the individual(s) most in charge of whatever, later.

    And as far as I know, TLMs are being offered more and more and nearer and nearer, at least once a month. If that is solace for some, good, but you know.. I was looking at the O Antiphons in detail, and I’m thinking the Mass doesn’t need more Latin, candles and fedoras and mantillas; it could truly stand more absolutely astonishingly beautiful O Antiphons.

    I trained in one nursing home as a nurses’ aide, worked in two other nursing homes, and in 1 assisted living home. One of the nursing homes was Catholic Charities-run, and there were a few Catholics in the others. I’ve seen what happens to bodies, and how they are or are not dressed (even for Mass). I have seen many ways of receiving Him, for some had to be adapted. I can all but guarantee Christ doesn’t care much about His own glory; He wants hearts to show up. And when they can’t come to Him, He goes to them.

  11. I have nothing whatsoever against the Latin Mass or receiving Holy Communion on the tongue, for those who wish to attend occasionally or exclusively, depending on whether or not it is available to them.

    But there is a big difference between having a preference for the Latin Mass and Communion on the tongue, and denigrating the Mass as we have been celebrating it for the last forty years. I suppose you could say I’ve reached my limit of the same-old, same-old internet pictures being dug out of archives with parishioners wearing clown suits or priests dressed in masquerade costumes, when we all know full well that the majority of us have been celebrating Mass reverently in our parishes for decades.

    But my primary concern is disunity within the Catholic Church and those who fan the flames of disunity with the false teaching that one way is more reverent than the other, for what they are saying then, in fact, is that our Popes have had it wrong for decades, that the Catholic Church has had it wrong for decades, and that it took their own individual holiness, above that of the Popes and Cardinals, Bishops, etc., and even worse, above the wisdom of the Holy Spirit and His guidance of the Church, to reveal this to the world.

    We can see clearly from the Scriptures that Jesus had compassion for, and loved, our bodies. We see from the Scriptures that the Apostles took the bread and ate. We hear Jesus tell St. Faustina that He desires to rest in her hands, not only in her heart. As Terry said: ” I trust the Church to make the correct judgments in this matter”; as with Ken, I believe it is “the disposition of one’s heart and soul” that is most important to Jesus, and as Carol states: “He wants hearts to show up.”

    Well, I think I’ll wrap this one up by closing the combox on this particular post, as we are drawing so close to Christmas. Thanks all for your comments; I really appreciate being able to discuss these things with you with no animosity, yet with differing outlooks on some points.

    Ken, did you get the email I sent you recently re what I read in the latest DFOT newsletter about a possible prayergroup in your area? If you didn’t get it, please let me know.

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