Is Communion in the Hand a Sin?


June 11, 2013 by mattfradd

Is it a sin to receive communion in the hand?

Is it a sin to receive communion in the hand?

In order to be a faithful Catholic one must not only submit to the teachings of the Church, but also, not demand uniformity where the Church allows diversity of opinion or custom. To put it another way, one must not seek to make a dogma out of what isn’t.

It would be wrong, for example, to say that one must pray the rosary in order to be a faithful Catholic. The Church has never, and will never teach that. It would also be wrong to demand that, in order to be a faithful Catholic, one must accept as authentic the apparitions of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Lourdes or Fatima, for while the Church has declared these apparitions worthy of belief, they are not a part of public revelation, the deposit of faith “which was once for all delivered to the saints” (Jude 1:3).

No Communion In The Hand?

Recently a woman on Facebook had this as her status:

Receiving communion in the hand will lead to desecration even if you don’t want to desecrate our Lord. No matter how reverent you are when you recieve Jesus in your hand, there will be tiny remnants of Jesus in your hand. Please, it’s not too difficult to open your mouth and receive on your tongune. you can even do better and recieve while kneeling on the bare floor. Offer it up.

Now, to be fair, she did not write, “you must not receive communion in the hand,” but if you follow her thread, that certainly seems to be what she’s insinuating. [1]

While I can appreciate this woman’s zeal and love for the Eucharist, and while I wish more Catholics were as reverent, as I’m sure she is, when receiving the communion, it needs to be said that if one is demanding uniformity (everyone must receive on the tongue) where the Church allows diversity (in the United States one is permitted to receive in the hand) then they are not being faithful to the Church. They are attempting to dogmatize a discipline.

The fact of the matter is that Catholics are permitted to receive communion in the hand. The Congregation of the Sacraments and Divine Worship permitted the U.S. Bishops’ Conference to authorize reception of Communion in the hand back in July of 1977.

The Early Church

One of the videos posted under this woman’s status asserted that “the practice of communion in the hand was first introduced in Belgium by Cardinal Suenens.”

This is patently false.

While it is true that communion on the tongue was the exclusive practice of the latin rite of the Church until recently, the reception of communion in the hand was practiced in the early Church.

St. Cyril of Jerusalem, instructing newly baptized Christians wrote:

“In Approaching [Communion], therefore, come not with thy palms extended and stretched flat nor with thy fingers open; but make thy left hand as if a throne for the right, and hollowing thy palm receive the Body of Christ, saying after it, Amen.

Then after thou hast with care sanctified thine eyes by the touch of the Holy Body, partake thereof, giving heed lest thou lose any particle of it; for shouldest thou lose any of it, it is as though thou hast lost a member of thy own body.

For tell me, if any one gave thee gold dust, wouldest thou not with all precaution keep it fast, being on the guard lest thou lose any of it and thus suffer loss? How much more cautiously then wilt thou observe that not a crumb falls from thee, of what is more precious than gold and precious stones?”

What’s My Opinion?

I personally receive the Eucharist on the tongue while kneeling—I attend the extraordinary form (the Latin Mass)— for me it is a more appropriate way of receiving the body, blood, soul, and divinity of Jesus Christ. I personally would like to see it become more prevalent,  BUT, because I strive to be a faithful Catholic, you wont, please God, see any status updates or memes of mine demanding something which Church does not.

If you do, please correct me.


[1] The woman contacted me assuring me that she was not stating that communion in the hand was a sin. I apologize for taking her words out of context. That said, there are those who do say such things, and I feel it’s important that we point out to these people that we are to submit, not to them, but to the Church.

101 thoughts on “Is Communion in the Hand a Sin?

  1. David Mueth says:

    Fr. Hardon back a ways, strongly encouraged effort to STOP Communion in the Hand. Please see new article on blog: – ON THE RESTORATION OF THE COMMUNION RAILING.

  2. Altruss says:

    Hello. Iam catholic from Slovenia, EU bytheway. We were ex communist country too. I must say this: Its no strange to me, that we have so many victims during world war II. Our bishope and belivers who coming into church, everybdy took the holy sacrament on their hand and they do not knee even after they recive a holy gift. Understand what i wanna to say? I hope you do.

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