10th January

Some readers of this blog will know Sr Mary Trinity of SOLT. She passed away this morning at 7.50am in Hythe, Kent after a long battle with ovarian cancer. Two SOLT sisters were with her at the time. You can read an obituary at this link http://www.solt.net/sr-mary-trinity-enters-eternal-life/ . Sr Trinity and I spent 7 years together in Wales and I copied her last testament letter in the blog of 23rd December.

Occasionally I find literature that has been left at the back of the church. I look it over to make sure that there is nothing inappropriate in it. Recently tracts against Holy Communion in the hand were left and I very deliberately left them there.

While feeling hesitant about raising a somewhat controversial subject, I firmly believe that the practice of receiving Holy Communion in the hand is counterproductive to our Catholic Faith in the Real Presence of Jesus. Having looked into its introduction in some detail, I believe it was a deliberate effort of certain intellectuals in the Church to weaken our faith in this awesome reality.

One of our professors in seminary said that 70% of communication is non-verbal. Our way of handling the Eucharist has to show something special – above how we would handle ordinary bread at the kitchen table. At the time of the Reformation, Protestants introduced this practice to witness to their non belief in the Real Presence. Secondly handling the Eucharist brings with it the serious responsibility for consuming particles that remain on our hands and fingers after consuming. My personal record was 5 particles at a Mass I concelebrated where a poorly manufactured host was used. These were the two principal reasons why Pope Paul VI disagreed with the practice of Holy Communion in the hand and only gave-in when he was ignored.

I don’t disagree with a priest colleague who once termed it the Church’s “biggest own-goal (self-harm) since Vatican II”. I believe this belief is supported by a survey that was done in Ireland at the time of the 2012 Eucharistic Congress. It revealed that some 24% believed in the Real Presence. This figure would have been close to 100% at the time of the earlier Congress in 1932. I have routinely heard primary school children referring to Holy Communion as “holy bread” – nothing much different than what we understand by “holy water”. This is entirely due to the catechesis that they receive in school. On the contrary, the diocesan directives in this diocese encourage children to receive on the tongue.

I include parts of the tract below. I have excluded quotes from dubious private revelations. The quote regarding Mother Teresa is quite credible. She never contested it while she was alive and I’ve never seen an MC sister receiving on the hand. Fr John Hardon, SJ is a writer and theologian of considerable renown and a servant of God. I have not personally verified the quotes but they look authentic. The primary benefit of the quotes from the Councils of Constantinople (692) & Trent (1545) and St Thomas Aquinas (+1274) is that they tell us about our tradition in this regard.