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Did you know that for the first thousand years or so, Holy Communion was given in the “hand only” in the Catholic Church? St Cyril of Jerusalem (4th Century) told the newly baptized back then, “Make a throne of your hand to receive the Lord of Life!”
But then John Calvin’s influence on the Church, along with the Gnostics, preached that the human body was evil. This was condemned as a heresy, so the Jansenists, who followed a lot of Calvin’s heresies, said, “You aren’t good enough to touch the Body of Christ with your hand, only with your tongue!” (as if the tongue is holier than the hand!). But when we are baptized and confirmed our entire being, not just our tongues, are anointed and consecrated to Christ.
After the Second Vatican Council, the practice of receiving Communion in the hand was adopted again, and has become virtually universal throughout the Catholic Church. In the midst of the current COVID 19 pandemic, it has become a necessary practice.
The best example of “why the change” came to me via a sermon (post Vatican Council II) – a priest said people would tell him they felt like a lowly bird, sticking out their tongues to get Communion – and this change made them feel more human!
Sources: Bishop Steven Rosczewski and Fr. Neil Xavier O’Donoghue.