Father Pellegrino Ernetti describes in his book “The Catechesis of Satan” that what pleases Lucifer, as we know from some exorcisms, is “the particle to the hand, so I can step on your God, the God that I killed, and I can celebrate my black mass, with the priests that I stole from him”
But why does the Church allow the faithful to receive the Eucharist directly on the hand and not on the tongue?
The Origin Of This Practice
In the 16th century, Protestant reformers introduced the practice of Communion on the hand to affirm two fundamental heresies:
1) They did not believe in transubstantiation and maintained that the bread used was just ordinary bread. In other words argued that the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist was only a superstition and the bread was simple bread that anyone could handle.
2) They also claimed that priest was just like an ordinary lay man. This is against the Catholic teaching that the Sacrament of Holy Orders gives the priest a spiritual and sacramental power and dignity. On the contrary, the Protestant minister is an ordinary man who just leads the hymns and sermons. He cannot change the bread and wine into the Body and Blood of our Lord, cannot bless, cannot forgive sins, cannot, in a word, do anything more than a layman. He, therefore, is not a vehicle of supernatural grace.
The Protestant Communion in the hand was an instant way to express the refusal to believe in the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist and the rejection of the sacramental priesthood: in short, it was a way they refuse Catholicism.
Misinterpretations of Vatican II
After Vatican II, in the Netherlands, some Catholic priests began giving Communion in the hand. The practice then spread to Germany, Belgium, France. But if some bishops seemed indifferent to this scandal, much of the laity of that time was outraged. It was the indignation of a large number of faithful that prompted Pope Paul VI to take the initiative to probe the opinion of bishops around the world on this issue, and they voted unanimously to KEEP the traditional practice of receiving Holy Communion on the tongue. It is also noteworthy that at the time the abuse was limited to a few European countries. It had not yet started in the US and Latin America.
Pope Paul VI promulgated then, on 28 May 1969, the Memoriale Domini document in which he stated:
1) The bishops are unanimously opposed to Communion in the hand.
2) It must be observed the usual way of distributing Communion. The priest must put the Host on the tongue of the communicants.
3) Each innovation can lead to irreverence and profanation of the Eucharist, as well as can gradually affect the correct doctrine.
The document also stated that the Pope judged that the traditional way of administering Communion to the faithful should not be changed, and he strongly invited the Bishops, the priests and the people to observe zealously this law.
But this was the time of compromise, and the document contained within itself the seeds of its own destruction by stating that, where the abuse had already strongly consolidated, it could be legalized by the National Episcopal Conferences with a two-thirds majority, in a secret ballot (as long as the Holy See later approved the decision). This exception became in the end the rule for supporters of Communion in the hand. The Instruction said “where the abuse is already consolidated”, so countries where the practice had not developed were excluded from the exception, including the United States. But the mentality of the Protestant clergy in other countries concluded that if this rebellion was legalized in the Netherlands, then it could be legalized everywhere. Ignoring the Memoriale Domini and defying the Church’s liturgical law, they thought that this rebellion would not only be tolerated, but eventually legalized. This was exactly what happened, and that’s why we have today the practice of receiving Communion in the hand. It started from disobedience, but spread through deception.
In the 70s a widespread propaganda was used to propose the Communion in the hand, with a campaign of half-truths:
1) They gave Catholics the false impression that the Vatican had approved a provision for such abuse, while in fact there is no mention in the document of the Council.
2) It did not mention that the practice was initiated by a clergy of protestant mentality and, in defiance of the established liturgical law, making it appear as a request by the laity.
3) It did not mention that the bishops had voted unanimously against it.
4) It did not mention that permission was granted only as tolerance of an abuse, where it was already established and consolidated in 1969. There was not a “green light” to spread it to other countries like Italy and the United States.
The Current Distorted View
Today, the practice of receiving Communion in the hand is even presented as the best way to receive the Eucharist. The priests are instructed to administer the Communion in the hand, whether they like it or not. According to the Magisterium of the Church no priest can lawfully be forced to administer the Communion in the hand. We must pray that as many priests have the courage to safeguard the reverence due to this sacrament, without getting trapped in a false obedience. The priests must find the courage to fight this new practice. Pope Paul VI rightly predicted that the Communion in the hand would lead to irreverence and profanation of the Eucharist and a gradual erosion of the correct doctrine.
This abuse is so well established that even Pope John Paul II was unsuccessful in his attempt against it. In his Letter Dominicae Cenae of February 24, 1980, the Pope reaffirmed the Church’s teaching touching the Host with the hands is a privilege of the priests. But, unfortunately, the document contained no sanction against the laity, priests or bishops who went ahead with spreading the use of Communion on the hand. A law without a penalty is not a law, it becomes a mere suggestion. So the document was greeted by several members of the clergy of the Western countries as a suggestion, mostly unappreciated and unfortunately overlooked.
“Wherever I go in the world, the thing that makes me the most sad is watching people receive Communion in the hand. ” (Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta, St. Agnes Church, New York, 1989)
Source: Don Marcello Stanzione, “History of Communion on the Hand”