Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Receiving the Blessed Sacrament...not taking it

The Indult for the faithful to receive the Blessed Sacrament in the hand is well over 30 years old. It's certainly common in the United States...in a way.

Too often I've seen people "receive Communion" not in the hand...but via their fingers. Instead of "making a throne" out of their palms, as Saint Cyril of Jerusalem counseled 'way back in the fourth century, they literally grab the Sacred Host from the priest's hands, turn around, and pop the Lord into their mouths. There's no "reception" involved at all.

I understand that rather than observing the actions of my fellow communicants, I should be reflecting on the amazing fact that I'm about to receive Jesus, Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity.

I also, unfortnately, understand that -- at least once a month by reckoning -- it's a good thing I don't always do that!

Why? Because at least once a month, I've seen people walk away with the Sacred Host unconsumed. 'Way too often I've found myself -- and I know I'm not alone in this experience -- intercepting such folks and advising them to consume the Sacrament immediately. (The fact that I'm quite good at this doesn't reflect well on me...no, unfortunately I've had too much practice!)

One rather awful experience recently involved a lady who placed the Eucharist in her pocket. I didn't see her do this but a fellow worshipper did and casually mentioned it to me after Mass. I was horrified! I walked over to the lady in question and asked her if she'd placed the Host in her pocket. This she readily admitted, telling me she wanted to "take it home for herself." Thank the Lord, I was able to persuade her to join me in greeting the celebrant, and after a few words, the priest persuaded the lady to give him the Host...which she finally did with great reluctance.

Here's what I'm wondering (and I admit I've tipped my hand on the issue):

How can this be stopped? Should communicants be encouraged to receive on the tongue? Any other suggestions or experiences?