Cardinal Robert Sarah has declared that “the most insidious diabolical attack consists in trying to extinguish faith in the Eucharist, by sowing errors and fostering an unsuitable way of receiving it.”
In the preface to a book by an Italian priest, Don Federico Bortoli, published under the title The Distribution of Communion on the Hand: A Historical, Juridical and Pastoral Survey, the Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments offers a long defense of communion on the tongue.
“Why do we insist on receiving Communion standing and on the hand?” asks Cardinal Sarah.
“The liturgy is made up of many small rituals and gestures — each of them is capable of expressing these attitudes filled with love, filial respect and adoration toward God,” he writes.
That is precisely why it is appropriate to promote the beauty, fittingness and pastoral value of a practice which developed during the long life and tradition of the Church, that is, the act of receiving Holy Communion on the tongue and kneeling. The greatness and nobility of man, as well as the highest expression of his love for his Creator, consists in kneeling before God.
“We can understand that the most insidious diabolical attack consists in trying to extinguish faith in the Eucharist, by sowing errors and fostering an unsuitable way of receiving it,” continues the Guinean cardinal. “Satan’s target is the Sacrifice of the Mass and the Real Presence of Jesus in the consecrated Host.”
The high-ranking prelate does not hesitate to argue against communion on the hand, rightly pointing out that it “undoubtedly involves a great scattering of fragments”. And if Christ is truly present in the host, He is also present in the tiniest fragment. The risk of profanation or a lack of respect is greatly increased.
On the contrary, attention to the smallest crumbs, care in purifying the sacred vessels, not touching the Host with sweaty hands, all become professions of faith in the real presence of Jesus, even in the smallest parts of the consecrated species.
Recalling the fact that St. Pius X authorized communion for young children with his Decree Quam Singulari on August 8, 1910, Cardinal Sarah logically wonders, “If a child receives the Eucharistic Bread the same way he receives a piece of candy from his mother, what sense of the sacred will he have?”
Voicing his support for the book’s author, the cardinal considers that communion on the hand has in many cases been introduced abusively by the local episcopal conferences in the Latin Church. He insists:
May no priest dare to impose his authority in this matter by refusing or mistreating those who wish to receive Communion kneeling and on the tongue.