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May 18, 2021 (LifeSiteNews) – Anyone reading the title of this article might assume that its author had gone off his rocker. Why would Catholics of the Latin Rite be looking outside their rite to Eastern Christians, or to Christians in the West who are divided from us in creed and cult, to learn about the proper treatment of the most venerable mystery of the Holy Eucharist?

Well, if Catholics of the West were simply faithful to their own tradition, they would not need to be reminded of basic truths by other traditions; but in an age of confusion and infidelity, it can be helpful, and humbling, to see how other Christian bodies have preserved certain elements that belong by right to Catholics and must be revived by us if we are to avoid offending the Lord. We should be provoked by shame into returning to a path from which we should never have diverged.

As readers may know, I have written extensively about the problems connected with communion in the hand, and taken while standing; my work on this question has been gathered in the book The Holy Bread of Eternal Life published last year by Sophia Institute Press. The carelessness, informality, and sacrilege of our postconciliar practice is a massive problem; advocates for it ignore the reasons why certain customs found in the early Church were universally abandoned later on. 

Scholars, too, often seem blinded by their prejudices. For example, when Fr. Robert Taft discusses communion in the hand and the ancient sources on it (see Through Their Own Eyes: Liturgy as the Byzantines Saw It, pp. 112–21), he misses the whole point as to why communion in the hand was abandoned. 

The old Byzantine practice is described in the Council of Trullo (also known as the Quinisext Council) from 691, an Eastern council not accepted by the Roman Church. It is, in any case, a valuable witness to Eastern belief and practice. The manner of receiving Communion at this time is similar to that enjoined by St. Cyril of Jerusalem:

The great and divine Apostle Paul with loud voice calls man created in the image of God, the body and temple of Christ. Excelling, therefore, every sensible creature, he who by the saving Passion has attained to the celestial dignity, eating and drinking Christ, is fitted in all respects for eternal life, sanctifying his soul and body by the participation of divine grace. Wherefore, if any one wishes to be a participator of the immaculate Body in the time of the Synaxis [Divine Liturgy or Mass], and to offer himself for the communion, let him draw near, arranging his hands in the form of a cross, and so let him receive the communion of grace. But such as, instead of their hands, make vessels of gold or other materials for the reception of the divine gift, and by these receive the immaculate communion, we by no means allow to come, as preferring inanimate and inferior matter to the image of God. But if any one shall be found imparting the immaculate Communion to those who bring vessels of this kind, let him be cut off as well as the one who brings them. (Canon 101)

The interesting thing about this reasoning is that it discourages laymen from bringing a vessel in which the Body of Christ would be placed, as if in a ciborium for storage, but asks him to receive the Eucharist with a direct contact of his own body. If the purpose of communion is a uniting of Christ to the Christian, it makes sense that the gift would be given to the person, and not to some inanimate object. The later (Eastern and Western) practice of communion on the tongue fulfills the reasoning of Canon 101 to perfection, while also avoiding the inconvenience and lack of fittingness that accompany the older method. For one thing, the Eucharist received into the hand could not be soaked in the blood of Christ, otherwise a mess would result. 

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PETITION UPDATE (3/15/21) - 

Reports suggest that the U.S. Catholic Bishops' Conference (USCCB) is preparing a vote on what to do about pro-abortion Joe Biden (and, presumably, other abortion-promoting politicians) who continues to present himself (themselves) for Holy Communion.

Public excommunication would be a suitable response for Biden's obstinate, public and grave sin of scandalously promoting abortion.

Please continue to SIGN and SHARE this important petition.

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PETITION UPDATE (2/4/20)

Since Joe Biden was sworn-in on the 20th of January, he has wasted no time in signing Executive Orders to destroy the protections which former President Trump offered to the unborn and to the innocence and modesty of children of the United States.

In one executive order, Biden rescinded the Mexico City Policy prohibiting the federal government from spending taxpayer monies on abortion and the promotion of abortion.

And, in another executive order, Biden seeks to force girls' athletic programs, restrooms, and locker rooms to accept gender-confused males.

Since the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops was shamefully silent throughout the presidential campaign on the pre-eminent issues of abortion and gender ideology, and what Biden vowed he would do as president, it is cold comfort that their pro-life office is now speaking up about this Administration's wilful disregard for human life and for God's design of human nature (i.e., two biological sexes).

Stated plainly, Joe Biden is as bad as he said he would be, and the bishop, acting in unison (as the USCCB) have an obligation to the Lord (first) and to the faithful (second) to refuse Holy Communion to this grave public sinner.

With all due respect to these bishops, they diminish the Holy Eucharist and their high office, as well as cause grave scandal to the faithful, by dialoguing with a man who is promoting mass murder of the unborn against the constant teaching of the Church.

A man who continues to use the church as a backdrop for statements about how "Catholic/religious" he is, but, at the same time, is now doing everything in his power to protect the murder of the innocent, needs to publicly repent before dialogue can begin.

The bishops should not dialogue with or congratulate someone who has publicly betrayed the Church's teaching and who is leading others astray.

It's an embarrassment and a scandal for the bishops to continue to allow him to receive Holy Communion.

Please SIGN and SHARE this petition today!

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PETITION UPDATE (12/10/20)

Prior to the election on November 3, the U.S. bishops did not address Joe Biden’s anti-Catholic position regarding faith and morals as a unified body.

The USCCB, the organization to which every U.S. bishop belongs and which is staffed and led by bishops, remained disgracefully silent in the run-up to the election.

What were the bishops afraid of, losing their charitable tax status with the IRS, or being deprived of fat checks from the HHS (immigration programs) and USAID (foreign aid programs)?

Or, were they just too cowardly to clearly declare Christ's law to be above man's law and risk the ire of a Joe Biden as president?

Either way, the bishops’ lack of clarity in this regard is a terrible scandal in itself and probably greatly contributed to the possible election of a pro-abortion, anti-Catholic Catholic to the presidency.

Given the fact that exit polling shows Catholics split their vote 50-50 for Trump and Biden, even a slight deviation in the heavily-Catholic swing-states of Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania could have produced different results.

The bishops could have spoken out against Biden’s pro-abortion stance collectively, but, again, they were overwhelmingly and shamefully silent.

Because of this, they will be at least partly responsible for the policies advanced by a Biden administration, in the event that Biden is sworn into office.

However, the bishops can, even now, mitigate the damage done by their inaction by taking the following steps: 1) Speak with one voice, as the USCCB, and plainly condemn Biden's pro-abortion stance; 2) Publicly advise Biden not to present himself for Holy Communion because of his scandalous position on abortion and homosexual "marriage;" and, 3) Tell Biden to publicly repent of publicly promoting the wilfull murder of the preborn, sins against nature, and diminishing the natural family.

Thankfully, some individual bishops have spoken out forcefully on Biden's scandalous behavior, and his standing in the Church.

On November 9, Archbishop Strickland of Tyler, Texas tweeted: “A dark cloud has descended on this nation when the USCCB and Planned Parenthood speak in unison in support of a Biden-Harris administration that supports the slaughter of innocents by abortion for all 9 months of pregnancy.”

Additionally, Archbishop Samuel Aquila of Denver, Colorado and Archbishop Charles Chaput have both declared publicly that Joe Biden “should not receive Holy Communion."

But, to add insult to injury, Cardinal Wilton Gregory of Washington, D.C. has said that he will give Holy Communion to Biden because “it’s a matter of the responsibility that I have as the archbishop to be engaged and to be in dialogue with him, even in those areas where we obviously have some differences.”

And, Bishop W. Francis Malooly of Wilmington, Delaware and Bishop McElroy of San Diego also congratulated Biden in statements, but they have not indicated whether or not they would administer Holy Communion to him.

With all due respect to these bishops, they diminish the Holy Eucharist and their high office, as well as cause grave scandal to the faithful, by dialoguing with a man who is promoting mass murder of the unborn against the constant teaching of the Church.

A man who uses the church as a backdrop to make sickening political advertisements about how "Catholic/religious" he is, but, at the same time, says that he will do everything in his power to protect the murder of the innocent, needs to publicly repent before dialogue can begin.

The bishops should not dialogue with or congratulate someone who has publicly betrayed the Church's teaching and who is leading others astray.

It's an embarrassment and a scandal for the bishops to continue to allow him to receive Holy Communion.

Please SIGN and SHARE this petition today!

FOR MORE INFORMATION:

https://www.lifesitenews.com/news/us-bishops-concerned-about-pro-abortion-biden-previously-hailed-him-as-second-catholic-president

https://www.lifesitenews.com/news/abp-aquila-backs-call-for-pro-abortion-catholic-joe-biden-to-be-denied-holy-communion?utm_source=top_news&utm_campaign=standard

https://www.lifesitenews.com/news/former-philly-archbishop-biden-not-in-full-communion-with-the-catholic-church

https://www.thesoutherncross.org/news/bishop-mcelroy-offers-prayers-and-congratulations-to-president-elect-biden/

https://www.ncronline.org/news/politics/us-catholics-weigh-mixed-reaction-biden-win

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PETITION UPDATE (9/29/20)

Cardinal Raymond Burke has stated that Democratic candidate Joe Biden should not receive Holy Communion because of his support for abortion.

In an interview for Thomas McKenna's Catholic Action for Faith and Family podcast, Cardinal Burke states the following (starting around 5:00):

First of all, I would tell him [Biden] not to approach to receive Holy Communion, out of charity toward him, because that would be a sacrilege and endanger the salvation of his own soul.

But, also, he should not approach to receive Holy Communion because he gives scandal to everyone, because if someone says, 'I'm a devout Catholic," and, at the same time is promoting abortion, it gives the impression to others that it's acceptable for a Catholic to be in favor of abortion.

Of course, it's absolutely not acceptable, and never has been, and never will be.

We give thanks for Cardinal Burke's frankness and clarity. And, we call on every U.S. Catholic bishop to follow Cardinal Burke's lead and call out Joe Biden for his bloody-minded hypocrisy on the issue of abortion.

To reiterate: You cannot be a Catholic and support abortion.

Thank you for continuing to sign this urgent petition.

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PETITION UPDATE (8/17/20)

The Democratic presidential candidate, Joe Biden, keeps claiming to be Catholic but has said he will do everything in his power to support abortion.

And, with his pick of California Senator Kamala Harris as his running mate, Biden has just cemented abortion into the Democrats' 2020 presidential ticket.

Indeed, Harris is vehemently pro-abortion.

During her time as attorney general of California, Harris played a key role in defending Planned Parenthood over its sale of aborted baby parts (which violated multiple federal laws, according to undercover video of abortion industry personnel).

And, last year, Harris unveiled a plan to essentially force pro-life states to seek permission from the federal government before pro-life laws can take effect.

Additionally, Harris has dangerous views on religious liberty and freedom of speech.

Harris displayed anti-Catholic bigotry in the confirmation hearings of Judge Brian Buescher. Harris cited his membership in the “all-male society” the Knights of Columbus and its stances against abortion and same-sex “marriage” as grounds for rejecting Buescher for a federal district court in Nebraska.

And, David Daleiden, head of the pro-life investigative group Center for Medical Progress, wrote that from his firsthand experience, he considers Harris the “greatest threat to First Amendment civil rights our country has ever seen.”

Joe Biden has seriously erred by taking on Kamala Harris as his running mate, further distancing himself from the truths of the Catholic Faith, especially that every life is sacred from conception till natural death.

Please CLICK HERE to read an article which details one U.S. bishop's warning about the Biden-Harris ticket.

And, please continue to SIGN and SHARE this petition.

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Of course, these two things are incompatible: you cannot be Catholic and pro-abortion.

And, a "Catholic" politician's responsibility in this regard is absolute: On pain of serious sin, he or she can never promote abortion because abortion is the wilful murder of innocent preborn human beings, and also because doing so causes grave scandal to the Church and the faithful.

Please SIGN this urgent petition asking the bishops of the United States to refuse to give Holy Communion to Joe Biden until he publicly repents from his scandalous promotion of abortion.

Biden recently promised to “codify Roe v. Wade” as president, adding, "my Justice Department will do everything in its power to stop the rash of state laws that so blatantly violate a woman’s protected, constitutional right to choose."

And, since starting his latest run for the presidency, Biden also flip-flopped against the Hyde Amendment, saying that he would allow federal funds to be spent on abortion - a position he claimed to be against for more than 40 years.

In short, Joe Biden will do everything in his power to enable and defend the wilful murder of innocent preborn human beings.

So, this should not be a hard decision for our U.S. bishops. In fact, in another circumstance, it was already done by an Illinois bishop.

Indeed, Bishop Paprocki, of Springfield, Illinois, invoked Canon 915 of the Code of Canon Law to withdraw Holy Communion from two Illinois state politicians who had worked to enact radical new abortion legislation in 2019.

Canon 915 states: "Those who have been excommunicated or interdicted after the imposition or declaration of the penalty and others obstinately persevering in manifest grave sin are not to be admitted to Holy Communion."

Of course, no-one, least of all the bishops, wants anyone to be deprived of Holy Communion.

A politician who publicly and obstinately advocates for the murder of innocent preborn babies puts himself out-of-communion with the Church and her teaching. 

Pro-abortion politicians should not think that they can advocate for the murder of the unborn and receive the Body of Christ at the same time. This would be to defile the Eucharist while giving scandal to the faithful.

Depriving politicians of Holy Communion is not just meant to prevent scandal; it is also designed to bring a grave public sinner to repentance. In this way, such an action is meant to be for the good of their souls, too.

Thank you for SIGNING this urgent petition which calls on the U.S. Catholic bishops to refuse to admit Joe Biden to Holy Communion until he publicly repents from his scandalous promotion of abortion.

FOR MORE INFORMATION:

Joe Biden: I support abortion ‘under any circumstance’ - https://www.lifesitenews.com/news/joe-biden-i-support-abortion-under-any-circumstance

Catholic priest denies Joe Biden Holy Communion for pro-abortion stance - https://www.lifesitenews.com/news/catholic-priest-denies-joe-biden-holy-communion-for-pro-abortion-stance

Cardinal McCarrick and the Concealing of Rome’s Position on Denying Communion  - https://www.lifesitenews.com/news/cardinal-mccarrick-and-the-concealing-of-romes-position-on-denying-communio

**Photo Credit: Joshua Roberts / Getty Images

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For a better understanding of Canon 101, one should take into account what St. Symeon of Thessalonica says in his book On the Sacred Liturgy (see The Liturgical Commentaries, Pontifical Institute Medieval Studies, 2013, n. 95, p. 225): “So it was the custom for the laity also to receive communion thus, receiving the bread in their hand as the Sixth Council [Trullo] said. Later the fathers thought that communion should be given to the laity by a spoon because of some incidents.” One cannot help but be intrigued by this ominious mention of unspecified “incidents.” Canon 101 was not sufficient, in any case, to prevent the natural and supernatural development of a superior method of giving communion in the East as well as in the West.

While much of Trullo is anti-Roman, anti-African, and anti-Armenian, we should pay attention to a number of canons that can reveal to Romans today the abuses perpetrated by laity who receive in the hand as well as those who are called “extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion”:

None of those who are in the order of laymen may distribute the Divine Mysteries to himself if a bishop, presbyter, or deacon be present. But whoso shall dare to do such a thing, as acting contrary to what has been determined, shall be cut off for a week and thenceforth let him learn not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think. (Canon 58)

An ancient epitome of Canon 58 reads: “A layman shall not communicate himself. Should he do so, let him be cut off for a week.” Yet every time someone receives in the hand and then feeds himself the Body of Christ, he is self-communicating. The commentator Van Espen explains:

It is well known that in the first centuries it was customary that the Holy Eucharist should be taken back by the faithful to their houses; and that at home they received it at their own hands. It is evident that this was what was done by the anchorites and monks who lived in the deserts, as may be seen proved by Cardinal Bona (De Rebus Liturg., Lib. II, cap. xvii). From this domestic communion, it is easily seen how the abuse arose which is condemned in this canon.

Once again, the Church learns from experience, and, dare one say it, learns from mistakes in the prudential order. The idea of placing Communion in the hands of laity and then sending them home with it for further communicating or for the sick was an experiment that lasted for a time and was then wisely discontinued — until the Modernists of our day artificially and arbitrarily revived ancient practices that they deemed suitable for their radical agenda.

More tellingly, Trullo establishes a rule that (unlike communion in the hand) was destined to endure:

It is not permitted to a layman to enter the sanctuary (in Greek: holy altar), though, in accordance with a certain ancient tradition, the imperial power and authority is by no means prohibited from this when he wishes to offer his gifts to the Creator. (Canon 69)

Van Espen again helpfully comments:

That in the Latin Church as well as in the Greek for many centuries it was the constant custom, ratified by various councils, that laymen are to be excluded from the sanctuary and from the place marked off for the priests who are celebrating the divine mysteries, is so notorious as to need no proof, and the present canon shows that among the Greeks the laity were not admitted to the sacrarium even to make offerings.

The Synod makes but one exception, to wit, the Emperor, who can enter the rails of the holy altar by its permission “when he wishes to offer his gifts to the Creator, according to ancient custom.” Not without foundation does the Synod claim “ancient custom” for this; for long before, it is evident, it was the case from the words of the Emperor Theodosius the Younger. See also Theodoret (Historia Ecclesiastica, lib. V, cap. xvii). In the Latin Church, not only to emperors, kings, and great princes but also to patrons of churches, to toparchs of places, and even to magistrates, seats have been wont to be assigned honoris causa within the sanctuary or choir, and it has been contended that these are properly due to such persons. It is evident from Balsamon’s note that the later Greeks at least looked upon the Emperor as being (like the kings of England and France) a persona mixta, sharing in some degree the sacerdotal character, as being anointed not merely with oil, but with the sacred chrism. Vide in this connexion J. Wickham Legg, “The Sacring of the English Kings,” in The Archaeological Journal, March 1894.

The prohibition of the entry of laity into the sanctuary of a church is indeed ancient, universal, and well-grounded; the only exception that has been made is for vested men or boys who are assigned tasks in place of ordained lectors and acolytes. Certainly there is neither necessity nor fittingness in laity taking up the Holy Eucharist as the clergy do and distributing it to other laymen. From the Orthodox, then, we are reminded that only the clergy should handle the Body of Christ, as only they may consecrate it. Catholics already knew this once upon a time, but have by and large forgotten it. Now we must awaken from our forgetfulness.

Modern Catholics are also put to shame by certain more conservative Protestants who show a greater reverence toward a mere symbol than Catholics show toward a reality they profess (or at least are obliged to profess) is Jesus Christ Himself. A correspondent wrote to me, in reaction to one of my articles on communion in the hand:

I believe there’s something intrinsically irreverent about standing to receive. If nothing else, it feels wrong. But I wondered if Fr Longnecker is a former Episcopalian? Some Episcopalians receive reverently kneeling and in the hand (talk about a strange combination!). Also, as a Lutheran, my Grandmother received kneeling at an altar rail. They had Communion only four times a year and they took it very seriously. There was self-examination and the warning from St Paul: “Anyone who eats this Body and drinks this Blood unworthily eats his own damnation.” That was enough to discourage the irreverent!

I don’t think that there’s something intrinsically wrong about standing to receive, if it is one’s uninterrupted custom, as it is in the East. But it has not been our custom in the West for a thousand years, and kneeling has become second-nature to us as an expression of reverence for what is most holy. With that in mind, think about what my correspondent is saying. Old-school Episcopalians and Lutherans kneel for communion at an altar rail, and do so simply out of reverence for what the Eucharist symbolizes. That, in itself, is a reproach to Catholics who have abandoned the same sign of reverence even as, simultaneously, they have tended to abandon Eucharistic realism in their beliefs. Yet, at the same time, Episcopalians and Lutherans receive in the hand, presumably to emphasize that they do not believe what “Papists” believe about the Mass, the priesthood, and transubstantiation, or to show some kind of “fidelity” to “ancient practice,” according to a false antiquarianism and corruptionism. Thus, by receiving at once standing and in the hand, modern Roman Catholics thumb their noses simultaneously at their own longstanding tradition and at conservative Protestantism. And by entering the sanctuary or self-communicating (or both), they thumb their noses at the Eastern Orthodox. How’s that for a triple whammy?

Perhaps it’s time for the leaders of the Catholic Church to practice as enthusiastic a form of ecumenism towards their own Catholic tradition as they do toward the liberal Protestants, globalist agnostics, and scientific atheists who win invitations to special events in Rome.

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Peter Kwasniewski, Thomistic theologian, liturgical scholar, and choral composer, is a graduate of Thomas Aquinas College in California (B.A. Liberal Arts) and The Catholic University of America in Washington, DC (M.A. and Ph.D. in Philosophy). He taught at the International Theological Institute in Austria and the Franciscan University of Steubenville’s Austria Program, then helped establish Wyoming Catholic College in 2006. There he taught theology, philosophy, music, and art history and directed the choirs until leaving in 2018 to devote himself full-time to writing and lecturing.

Today he contributes regularly to many websites and publications, including New Liturgical Movement, OnePeterFive, LifeSiteNews, Rorate Caeli, The Remnant, and Catholic Family News, and has published thirteen books, including four on traditional Catholicism: Resurgent in the Midst of Crisis (Angelico, 2014, also available in Czech, Polish, German, Portuguese, Spanish, and Belarusian), Noble Beauty, Transcendent Holiness (Angelico, 2017), Tradition and Sanity (Angelico, 2018), and Reclaiming Our Roman Catholic Birthright: The Genius and Timeliness of the Traditional Latin Mass (Angelico, 2020). His work has been translated into at least eighteen languages.

Kwasniewski is a scholar of The Aquinas Institute in Green Bay, which is publishing the Opera Omnia of the Angelic Doctor, a Fellow of the Albertus Magnus Center for Scholastic Studies, and a Senior Fellow of the St. Paul Center. He has published over a thousand articles on Thomistic thought, sacramental and liturgical theology, the history and aesthetics of music, and the social doctrine of the Church.

For news, information, article links, sacred music, and the home of Os Justi Press, visit his personal website, www.peterkwasniewski.com.

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