Introducing a book, CDWDS Secretary Archbishop Albert Malcolm Ranjith Patabendige Don concedes:
It is true that if one can receive on the tongue, one also can receive in the hand because this organ of the body has equal dignity.
Yet he goes on to suggest this:
(T)he introduction of the practice of receiving Communion in the hand coincides with the beginning of “a gradual and growing weakening of the attitude of reverence toward the sacred eucharistic species.”
I can think of many other coincidences since Communion in the hand became widespread: the explosion of cable tv, the widespread use of personal computers, the Reagan Revolution, the fall of the Shah of Iran, the career of Meryl Streep and Sting, or the pontificate of John Paul II.
It would be silly to connect any of these to a loss of reverence. They are coincidences. By definition, that means that they happened at or around the same time. It doesn’t follow that coincidences are involved in a causation.
I would agree with the Archbishop on the need for reverence. But I think a serious look at causation would be prudent. At the top of the list, I would put the parish priest and the example he sets in distributing Communion.
Communion in the hand may be a problem for some clergy because it may induce them to pragmatism, to getting it over with, to undue and irreverent speed. Even a little bit.
Whether it comes to rearing children, teaching, or liturgical leadership, I’m a believer in setting the example one wishes to see in one’s children, students, or assembly. If the priest doesn’t sing, he communicates music is unimportant. If the cantor overuses the mic, she or he communicates the voice of the assembly is secondary. If a Communion minister rushes, then the sense of reverence may be poisoned.
We don’t need uninformed politicos in the Vatican spouting off like this. When they do they embarass themselves for a poor grasp on the problem and ignorance of possible solutions. Good liturgical example is set by the reverent example of those whose leadership matters to the local community.
The notion that Communion in the hand is a barrier to reverence is laughably naive. Well, it would be, but I suspect it’s more of an excuse for the political agenda of turning back the clock. It’s probably a just a coincidence with the wash of motumania.
Maybe the solution would be to give the TLM a decade or so to reform according to Catholic teaching as set down in the Vatican Council, and bring the liturgy into alignment with orthodoxy and orthopraxis. No problem with receiving on the tongue, though. That part of the body has equal dignity with the hand.