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Why are pro-lifers concerned about Communion in the hand?

To be fully pro-life means being pro-eternal-life. After all, what sense does it make to save the body if we lose the soul?
Tue Jul 14, 2020 - 4:03 pm EST
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July 14, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) – On Thursday, July 16, some of the most well-known pro-life heroes from all over the world will proclaim that out of love and reverence due to Our Lord they would never receive Holy Communion in the hand. 

That message will be apart of the, “Love and reverence to Our Lord: Let’s always receive Holy Communion on the tongueonline conference, which is set to begin at 12:00 p.m. noon EST and run until 2:30 p.m. EST on Thursday, July 16, 2020. You can watch the conference on LifeSite’s YouTube channel and on the LifeSiteNews Catholic Facebook page for free. To visit the LifeSite YouTube channel, click here. For more information about the conference, click here.

Some of the world’s most famous converts to Catholicism will explain why they will never receive Communion in the hand. Those voices who you will hear from include Abby Johnson, the head of the March for Life in Italy, the founder of the March for Life in New Zealand, the President of the largest pro-life group in Canada, the President of the organization best known for pro-life lobbying at the United Nations, the CEO of the oldest pro-life group in all the world based in the UK and the daughter of a proclaimed saint in the Catholic Church who’s mother was proclaimed a saint for giving up her life so that her unborn child could live.

Have you ever wondered why pro-life advocates are making such a big deal about receiving Holy Communion on the tongue kneeling and not receiving Holy Communion on the hand? Doesn’t that seem strange? Why would they be doing that? Why would they risk the credibility they have to push for something so seemingly obscure? I’m going to tell you why so many of them are ready to sacrifice themselves, and their reputations for this.

Pro-life activists all over the world spend their lives defending the reality of hidden life, of the child hidden in the womb of his or her mother. That life is not recognized, not valued, by most of society. Many fail to recognize the inestimable value of the child in the womb precisely because these children are not seen, the truth of their lives, even though they are there and very much-alive is concealed in the wombs of their mothers.

In very much the same way Jesus, truly present in the Blessed Sacrament, is not seen and thus not recognized for Who He truly is in the Sacred Host. Our Lord and God conceals Himself under the appearance of a wafer of bread, and yet it is He, the Creator of the Universe, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords-in-the-flesh Whom we are called to receive in Holy Communion.

The same Savior Who sacrificed Himself in the terrible passion and crucifixion to save you and me from eternal damnation is right there before us in Holy Communion. If we truly recognized Him how could we fail to show Him the reverence He is due? If we bow before Princes and Kings of this world, if we salute the powerful and make acts of self-effacing love towards those on earth to whom we are most devoted, how can we not be on our knees before Almighty God and Our Greatest Love compared to Whom we are to disdain all earthly loves?

Now what I’m about to say may be very controversial but it’s a thought that came to me while praying and meditating about this subject. It was that kind of inspiration that makes you feel you have to share it even though it seems very socially awkward and you worry about it being offensive to some.

It is relates the pro-life struggle directly to Communion in the Hand. Of course the primary reason for not receiving Holy Communion in the hand is the awe and reverence due Our Lord and the need to have the consecrated hands of the priests and ordinary ministers of Holy Communion handle Our Lord in the Eucharist with consecrated hands. However, from the most ancient times of the Church, the Fathers spoke of the need to guard the fragments of the Eucharist from being lost.

The most well known quote used to promote Communion in the hand is attributed to St. Cryril of Alexandria in the 300s. However the quote of his used is most often taken out of context. While he did speak of receiving Communion in the hand, his main emphasis was to warn against losing the fragments. 

Here is what he said in full:

Approaching therefore, do not come forward with the palms of the hands outstretched nor with the fingers apart, but making the left [hand] a throne for the right since this hand is about to receive the King. Making the palm hollow, receive the Body of Christ, adding “Amen”. Then, carefully sanctifying the eyes by touching them with the holy Body, partake of it, ensuring that you do not mislay any of it.

Be careful that you do not lose anything of the Body of the Lord. If you let fall anything, you must think of it as though you cut off one of the members of your own body. Tell me, I beg you, if someone gave you kernels of gold, would you not guard them with the greatest care and diligence, intent on not losing anything? Should you not exercise even greater care and vigilance, so that not even a crumb of the Lord’s Body could fall to the ground, for It is far more precious than gold or jewels?

So where does this tie in to the pro-life movement?

One of the things that has been most distressing over the last 50 years has been the deception that has gone on in the medical field concealing the grim realities of abortion. One of the biggest deceptions was over the abortifacient nature of the birth control pill. For decades women were unaware that the birth control pill could cause abortions, for decades women were inadvertently aborting their children and had no clue about it. 

They were told by doctors that the pill was healthy, even good for their ability to have children when they wanted them. And yet the grim reality was that the pill caused the lining of the uterus to be inhospitable to life such that with breakthrough ovulations resulting in conception of a new life, that newly conceived child could not implant in the uterine wall.

It struck me that this is very very similar to what we’ve experienced in the Church for the last 50 years, where with Communion in the Hand our bishops and priests for the most part never told us of the danger of the fragments falling to the floor. Never explained the reality of Jesus being present in those small fragments as He is in the full Sacred Host.

We have for 50 years been counselled to receive Our Lord in such a way that had us participate inadvertently in the trampling of Our Lord with our feet at Mass. We were told communion in the hand was a better way to receive, a more dignified way, a superior way for mature Christians. And now we have some bishops and priests suggesting, despite contrary opinion from some physicians, that communion in the hand is a healthier way to receive due to Coronavirus. And never in all that time did they explain about guarding the fragments.

These thoughts were germinated with the statement of Bishop Athanasius Schneider written in his most recent book-length interview with former LifeSite correspondent Diane Montagna, Christus Vincit.

“There is the grievous fact of the loss of Eucharistic fragments because of Communion in the hand. No one can deny this,” he wrote. “Fragments of the consecrated host fall to the floor and are subsequently crushed by feet. This is horrible! Our God is trampled on in our churches! No one can deny it.”

That part about the Our Lord’s Body in Holy Communion being ‘crushed’ via the practice of reception of Holy Communion in the hand  

Pro-lifers seek to stop abortionists from laying their hands on the child in the womb and violating them, literally stop them from crushing the precious child in the womb.

And that is exactly the same with the Holy Eucharist which when received in the hand has fragments and particles scattered on the floor and trampled and crushed by the feet of parishioners. Even though each particle is Jesus Himself.  The awe and reverence due our Lord and this desecration of the Holy Eucharist are exactly why Communion in unconsecrated hands was banned for over 1000 years in the Church until it was reintroduced in 1969, right around the same time abortion came to most of the world.

And sure sometimes totally inadvertently fragments of the Sacred Host will be lost despite the best efforts of priests and altar boys and the faithful to not let it happen. But to me that is the same as miscarriages where the death of the child in the womb happens despite all our best efforts for that not to happen.

But why, why, why, would the bishops and priests who knew of this reality not tell the faithful about it? Why have we been left in the dark for 50 years? How many of us would never have dreamed of receiving Holy Communion in the hand had we known of the risk of losing fragments of the Sacred Host?

As Voice of the Family has written: We in the pro-life movement defend the reality of hidden life. We are accustomed to defending human life hidden in the womb and now we are being called upon to defend the Divine Life hidden in the Sacred Host, Who is being abused by many of those who should be the first to love Him. Catholics in the pro-life movement are uniquely prepared to counter these offences.

I don’t believe it is mere co-incidence, that Communion in the hand that obscures the dignity of Divine Life was introduced about fifty years ago, just as abortion in many western countries that denies the dignity of human life was introduced about fifty years ago. Today we reap the bitter fruits: human life has lost its value in human society and the Body of Christ has become abused in His churches and His Real Presence doubted by a majority of those who call themselves Catholic.

And just as it is impossible to calculate the countless desecrations of the Body of Christ in the sacrilegious treatment of the Holy Eucharist brought about by the practice of Communion in the hand, it is also impossible to number the unborn children – made in the image and likeness of God – killed worldwide not only under permissive abortion legislation, but also those killed as a result of abortifacient contraceptive drugs and devices, and through IVF procedures.

So many times I’ve been asked why as a founder of one of the largest pro-life news sites in the world I would be talking about matters such as this going on in the Catholic Church. Many suggest that these painful developments that trouble us as Catholics do not relate to our noble work of saving babies. However, this is not the case. 

On the contrary, to be fully pro-life means being pro-eternal-life. What sense does it make to save the body if we lose the soul?

It was Our Lord Himself who told us “if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off, and throw it away: for it is better for you to lose one of your limbs than for your whole body to be thrown into hell.” It was the same Jesus who told us: “do not be afraid of those who kill the body, and are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him that can destroy both soul and body in hell.”

The gift of eternal life comes only through Jesus Christ and the saving truth He has confided to the Catholic Church. How can we say we care deeply about an unborn child, his mother, or anyone, and not offer them the possibility of eternal life?

The most convincing statement about this I’ve ever come across came in 2008, from a famous atheist named Penn Jillette who is still very well-known and popular on television. Penn Jillette said in 2008: "If you believe that there's a heaven and hell, and that people could be going to hell or not getting eternal life or whatever, and you think that it's not really worth telling them this because it would make it socially awkward ... - how much do you have to hate somebody to not proselytize?  How much do you have to hate somebody to believe that everlasting life is possible, and not tell them that?”

For this reason, Voice of the Family has organized an online conference for this Thursday, July 16 to mobilize our fellow lay Catholics to offer the love and reverence due to Our Lord truly present in the Holy Eucharist. This event is being held online for free and can be viewed on LifeSite’s YouTube channel and on the LifeSiteNews Catholic Facebook page. To bookmark the LifeSite YouTube channel, click here.

Out of the love and reverence due to Our Lord in the Holy Eucharist, please commit to receiving Him worthily, kneeling if possible, and on the tongue.

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  eucharist, holy communion, mass, receiving communion, reverence, the john-henry westen show, voice of the family

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