Wednesday, 9 December 2015

Why it would be good for your spiritual life to begin receiving Holy Communion on the tongue.

It simplifies things. No longer do you have to worry about whether your hands are clean, whether your writing hand is under your other hand, whether your palms are flat or your fingers bent upward, whether you are going to drop the Host or leave crumbs on your hands. All is simplified. Especially parents carrying children, and elderly people with walking sticks or shaky hands will find receiving on the tongue a better way to go.

It helps our focus. Because it is such an essentially simple process it sets us free to focus on the reality of what is happening rather than on the mechanics. A parishioner who switched to Communion on the tongue recently confided, 'It's wonderful. It makes everything so much more intimate ... more meaningful.'

It is different. All day long we are used stretching out our hands to receive various things from others and also to take them for ourselves. In Holy Communion we do not take the Host - the priest (in the name of the Church) gives it to us. That is the symbolism of our hands held out to receive. But we are also used to taking food and placing it in our own mouths. Communion on the tongue interrupts this everyday action. Now it is the priest who places the Lord on our tongue. This is radically different from how things work in daily life and provokes us to think more deeply.

It helps us to see ourselves for who we really are. Some years ago an elderly man told me he would never receive Communion on the tongue because: I'm not a baby, I can feed myself. My inner voice replied: Yes, you are, and so am I.  We are all babies when it comes to the spiritual life - little children of holy Mother Church - and on the rare occasions when I find myself in the Communion line I receive on the tongue, even though I'm a priest. As a hospital chaplain I marvelled at the humility of the sick who, in their weakness, having rediscovered their 'inner child' were so willing to receive in this unique way, so geared to reminding us who we truly are.

It helps to rebuild reverence. There is something so blissfully reverent about those who receive Holy Communion on the tongue. I cannot say this about reception on the hand because, apart from the inevitable danger of distraction and routine, there is an untidiness, a shoddiness, even a careless disrespect which can so easily creep into this method of receiving. Of course it is possible to receive reverently on the hand but it is harder to do. It requires a recollection not easy to achieve in the 'business' of taking care of all the particulars associated with Communion on the hand.

It rebuilds a 'culture of the sacred' around the Eucharist. Not only does communion placed on our tongue by the priest develop in us a deeper experience of such things as sacredness, humility, intimacy, spiritual childhood and dependency, it is such a clear, unambiguous sign of these things that it assists in rebuilding the sense of the sacred which is so commonly absent from our gatherings. How often do I hear children referring to the 'bread' they receive and then put into their mouths. I cannot blame them.

There is no reason the priest should put bread on our tongue, we can do that for ourselves - but there is every reason why the priest should put the Lord Jesus on our tongue, as a gift of God to his children.

It helps prevent abuse of the Blessed Sacrament. All too often I have encountered abuses of the Blessed Sacrament which were facilitated by giving Holy Communion on the hand. The recent events in Spain are just the tip of an iceberg of blasphemous contempt for the consecrated species which make every believer recoil in horror. Communion on the tongue makes many of these abuses if not impossible, at least unlikely. You can do your part by helping create the necessary climate of reverence which will draw others to want to begin receiving on the tongue as well.

So, what's holding you back? Switch to Holy Communion on the tongue - today!

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