And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age. ( Mt 28:20)
On September 29, the Shrine of Fatima recalls the third apparition of the Angel in 1916. It is the most extraordinary of all, since it is focused on the mystery of the Holy Eucharist. Fatima is undoubtedly the most prophetic of modern apparitions.
Perhaps, on this day, when a substantial portion of the Western world partakes in the act of Communion by receiving the Eucharist in the hand and while standing, it would be prudent for us to pause and contemplate the plausible arguments adhering to the traditional practice.
(1) The message from Heaven
Secular mindset makes us disbelieve in the existence of angels. We usually pay attention to the three shepherd children of Fatima, completely ignoring the non-verbal message of the celestial being.
Sister Lucia narrates what the angel of peace said to them:
As soon as we arrived there, we knelt down, with our foreheads touching the ground, and began to repeat the prayer of the Angel: My God, I believe, I adore, I hope and I love You… I don’t know how many times we had repeated this prayer, when an extraordinary light shone upon us. We sprang up to see what was happening and beheld the Angel. He was holding a chalice in his left hand, with the Host suspended above it, from which some drops of blood fell into the chalice. Leaving the chalice suspended in the air, the Angel knelt beside us and made us repeat three times: Most Holy Trinity, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, I adore You profoundly, and I offer You the most precious Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus Christ, present in all the tabernacles of the world, in reparation for the outrages, sacrileges and indifference with which He Himself is offended. And, through the infinite merits of His Most Sacred Heart, and the Immaculate Heart of Mary, I beg of You the conversion of poor sinners. Then, rising, he took the chalice and the Host in his hands. He gave the Sacred Host to me and shared the Blood from the chalice between Jacinta and Francisco, saying as he did so: Take and drink the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ, horribly outraged by ungrateful men! Make reparation for their crimes and console your God! Once again he prostrated himself on the ground and repeated with us, three times more, the same prayer Most Holy Trinity…, and then disappeared.
Kneeling, Lucia received the Sacred Host on the tongue from the angel of peace; there was no other possibility.
Did the angel err in choosing the way of distribution of Holy Communion?
Could it be possible that the angel inadvertently assumed a prostrate position?
Actions undertaken by the angel of peace may also offer present day humanity an indication toward how to resolve the conflict in Ukraine, since he came at the time when the Great War was raging.
(2) Eucharist – the living God
Woe to anyone who contends with their Maker, a potsherd among potsherds of the earth! – Shall the clay say to the potter, What are you doing? (Isaiah 45:9)
God is the Divine Potter and humanity is the clay. It is another way of expressing God’s sovereignty over all people, a way of expressing the unbridgeable gap between finite sinful man and the infinite holy God. God remains the Creator who gives the life to all people, and not the other way round.
As St. Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274) brilliantly points out, the Only Necessary Being is God, while everything else in the world around us is contingent, dependent upon something else for its existence.
Jesus bridged the gap but did not erase it. Regrettably, many Catholics have lost the wonder and awe of the Eucharist. Jesus laid down his life for us, but sometimes we treat him like a favorite cracker. Hence, we should be aware of what our unconsecrated hands touch.
In recent years, miracles in which hosts are noticed to bleed and resemble human tissue have been recorded twice in Poland, in Sokolka in 2008 and Legnica in 2013. A similar miracle took place in Tixtla, Mexico in 2006 where the researchers found a heart muscle, a myocardium, more precisely the left ventricle, which had alterations that often appear when a person is in a state of agony before dying.
In the foreword of a new book by Fr. Frederico Bortoli concerning distribution in the hand, Cardinal Sarah wrote:
Why do we insist on communicating standing in the hand? Why this attitude of lack of submission to the signs of God? [Receiving kneeling and on the tongue] is much more suited to the sacrament itself. I hope there can be a rediscovery and promotion of the beauty and pastoral value of this manner. In my opinion and judgment, this is an important question on which the church today must reflect. This is a further act of adoration and love that each of us can offer to Jesus Christ.
(3) Respect for tradition
Receiving the Eucharist “on the tongue” has been a tradition for centuries. Numerous popes and saints have preferred to receive Jesus on the tongue. The notion of distribution of the Eucharist in the other way did not cross their minds since intuitively, they sensed that it would to demean or disregard God Himself.
The mystical experience of numerous saints and blesseds, such as: St. Stanislaus Kostka, Bl. Emilia Bicchieri, Bl. James of Montieri, St. Paschal Baylon, St. Mary Frances of the Five Wounds, Bl. Marguerite Bays, Bays, only serve to strengthen conservative stance.
The miraculous Communion of St. Bonaventure, a Franciscan friar, helped him to overcome scruples and attend the heavenly banquet:
But whilst he was hearing Mass and meditating on the Passion of Jesus Christ, Our Savior, to crown his humility and love, put into his mouth by the ministry of an angel part of the consecrated Host, taken from the hand of the priest.
St. Thomas Aquinas finds this view fully justified:
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. Hence it is not lawful for anyone else to touch it except from necessity, for instance, if it were to fall upon the ground, or else in some other case of urgency. (Summa Theologica, III, Q. 82, Art. 3).
(4) The Church’s enemies
Due to its status as the “source and summit of the Church,” the Eucharist has become the target of repeated assaults by malevolent forces and their followers. Satanists receive the Eucharist in their hands to desecrate it in Black Mass rituals.
A strong Anti-Catholicism also permeates Freemasonry. Those aligned with Masonic beliefs, who hold a pronounced aversion to religious doctrines and particularly Christianity, have consistently held the Eucharist in disdain. As part of their strategy to erode the Church’s influence, they introduced the concept of receiving Communion in the hand.
A publication that appeared in Vers Demain in 1970 exposed their intention: “to systematically promote the act of placing “bread” into the hands of communicants, leading to a gradual erosion of faith and devotion.”
The practice of receiving communion in the hand, which was “neutral” in the Patristic age, was adopted by the Protestant reformers with a clear doctrinal connotation.
These same influences are also advocating for the inclusion of women in the diaconate and the elimination of clerical celibacy.
And if Satan has risen up against himself and is divided, he cannot stand; that is the end of him. (Mark 3:26)
(5) Spiritual discernment
Adoration is the first attitude of man acknowledging that he is a creature before his Creator […] Adoration is homage of the spirit to the “King of Glory,” respectful silence in the presence of the “ever greater God.” (CCC 2628)
All in all, those who commit themselves to an hour of Eucharistic Adoration on a regular basis, either weekly or daily, both religious and lay people, prefer to receive Jesus on the tongue.
It is undeniable, by exposing their souls to the Divine Rays, they open themselves up to the work of grace, and seem to better understand God’s desires. His grace sustains them in every moment, especially in moments of temptation and distress.
Mother Teresa and her Missions of Charity began every day with the Mass, rosary, and silent adoration. When she was asked by Fr. George Rutler “What do you think is the worst problem in the world today?” she replied forthwith:
“Wherever I go in the whole world, the thing that makes me the saddest is watching people receive Communion-in-the-hand.”
On a personal note, regular Eucharist Adoration has allowed me to entirely overcome the fear of death. What is even more important, by taking part in a Holy Hour I have gained more respect and reverence for the Eucharist.
In conclusion, when Pope Paul VI in 1969 granted permission for the first countries to begin distributing Communion in the hand, the indult spread throughout the world like wildfire. Now, it is entirely reasonable to inquire about the impact of receiving of Communion in the hand.
Have we witnessed a rise in vocations as a result of this practice?
Are more individuals attending Mass?
Has it contributed to an increase in faith and reverence for the Eucharist?
So by their fruits you will know them. (Mt 7:20)
Lest it be too Late!
Our Lady of Fatima, ora pro nobis.
How disheartening to be denied Communion on the tongue. Sadly, in some parishes in the world, it has become rather a norm than exception after pandemic insanity, and priests do not give this option for communicants. Covid provided quasi-plausible justification for coercing upon the faithful the reception of Host in this way only, posing a real crisis of conscience for many. According to Catholic Doctrine the Eucharist cannot be denied on the tongue!