Monday, February 07, 2005

St Cyril of Jerusalem and Communion in the Hand...

Welcome to all those surfing over from Fr Ethan's 'blog. I see that he's raised the question of communion in the hand and communion on the tongue.
Personally, I prefer that Holy Communion be received on the tongue; however given that reception in the hand is such a widespread practice and that it is not alien to the Catholic Tradition I don't see it as prudent or desirable to suppress it. A respected Sacramental Theologian (not a liturgust!) here in Rome however suggests that the faithful be well cathechised about how to respectfully receive in the hand or on the tongue. He insists that a parish which announces exactly how to respectfully receive Holy Communion weekly for a period of three of four weeks will see a much greater respect for the Body of Christ. With regard to reception in the hand, one could do a lot worse than look at the Cathechesis given by St Cyril of Jerusalem to newly baptised Christians of the 4th Century:
In approaching therefore, come not with thy wrists extended, or thy fingers spread; but make thy left hand a throne for the right, as for that which is to receive a King. And having hollowed thy palm, receive the Body of Christ, saying over it, Amen. So then after having carefully hallowed thine eyes by the touch of the Holy Body, partake of it; giving heed lest thou lose any portion thereof; for whatever thou losest, is evidently a loss to thee as it were from one of thine own members. For tell me, if any one gave thee grains of gold, wouldest thou not hold them with all carefulness, being on thy guard against losing any of them, and suffering loss? Wilt thou not then much
more carefully keep watch, that not a crumb fall from thee of what is more precious than gold and precious stones?
- Catechetical Lecture 12

No comments: