July 16, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) — Veteran pro-life advocate John Smeaton explained the connection between the fight to defend the rights of the unborn and reverently receiving Holy Communion on the tongue during an online webinar today broadcast on LifeSite’s YouTube channel.
“We in the pro-life movement defend the reality of hidden life,” Smeaton said. “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 tabernacle.”
Smeaton, the outgoing president of the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children, delivered his remarks at the “Love and reverence to Our Lord: Let’s always receive Holy Communion on the tongue” conference (scroll below to read his full comments).
“The Real Presence of Jesus Christ…is being abused by many of those who should be the first to love Him,” Smeaton remarked. “Communion in the hand was initially unlawfully promoted in various parts of the world before being introduced by Pope Paul VI 50 to 60 years ago albeit under certain conditions. Today, in 2020, anyone with eyes to see, going to Sunday Mass at their local parish church, knows from bitter experience that Communion in the hand has engendered a lack of reverence which insults the Real Presence of Jesus Christ in the Eucharist.”
“Is it merely a coincidence,” he continued, “that during the same period, 50 to 60 years ago, permissive abortion legislation was introduced in many western nations, legislation which affronts the dignity and even denies the existence of human life before birth?”
“Today we reap the bitter fruits: human life has lost its value in human society whilst Christ has become shamefully abused by the Christians who should know and love him the most.”
The live webinar was organized by Voice of the Family, an international coalition of pro-life organizations, and broadcast on LifeSite New’s YouTube channel. To watch the conference in full, click here.
The webinar also featured LifeSite co-founder John-Henry Westen interviewing Dr. Peter Kwasniewski, Alexander Tschugguel, and Theresa Habsburg. Fr. Serafino Lanzetta from the United Kingdom also delivered a talk on the theological reasons for always receiving Holy Communion on the tongue.
Smeaton concluded his remarks by reminding Catholics that they have a “right” to receive Holy Communion on the tongue and that “the desecration of the sacrament of the Eucharist is one of the most heinous of crimes for the Catholic Church.”
“This is why,” Smeaton added, “we wish to mobilize our fellow lay Catholics to offer the love and reverence due to Our Lord truly present in the Holy Eucharist.”
“To be fully pro-life means being fully Catholic: offering everyone the gift of eternal life, which 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, which only comes through the Catholic Church?”
Below are Smeaton’s full comments:
Good-day! I’m John Smeaton, the moderator of Voice of the Family’s international on-line conference entitled “Love and Reverence due to Our Lord: Let’s always receive Holy Communion on the Tongue”.
Voice of the Family is an international coalition of pro-life and pro-family organisations from around the world, formed in support of Catholic teaching on the family. We are very grateful to LifeSiteNews, the world’s number one pro-life news website, who have made this online conference possible.
Why on earth, people might ask, is an international pro-life coalition organizing a conference on how to receive Holy Communion?
Voice of the Family in union with the pro-life movement worldwide advocates for the inviolability and value of human life and proudly so. Indeed, we consider it a privilege and honour to defend the most vulnerable human lives. Many in the pro-life movement are prepared to lay down their own lives for the lives of those they seek to protect. This is the strength of our commitment.
And yet there is something even more precious than the sanctity of human life, and this is the divine life truly present in the Holy Eucharist in Jesus Christ’s Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity. Our greatest treasure on earth is the Blessed Sacrament.There is no other nation so great, the Divine Office of Corpus Christi sings, “as to have its gods so near as our God is present to us”. The Eucharist is our dearest treasure and the thought of having it so near to us in our Catholic churches fills us with gratitude and indescribable awe.
We rejoice as churches around the world re-open. Our Lord in the Holy Eucharist can be received again. But whilst the life of a Catholic might be characterised as discerning how we can bestoffer the love and reverence due to Our Lord, Catholics in many places in the world are now faced with a new and terrible challenge of how are we allowedto worship Our Lord. New regulations, issued by some of the world’s bishops, recommend that the faithful receive Holy Communion in the hand and, in the most radical cases, including in Britain, bishops attempt to ban Holy Communion on the tongue. These recommendations contradict divine and Church law, they obscure the reality of the Real Presence, and they lead the faithful, albeit, please God, in most cases unintentionally, to commit serious offences against the divine life.
And this brings us again to the role of the pro-life movement. We could take the view that this painful development of the attempt to ban Holy Communion on the tongue troubles us as Catholics, but does not relate to our noble work of saving babies. However, this is not the case.
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 tabernacle … the Real Presence of Jesus Christ, in His Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity, Who is being abused by many of those who should be the first to love Him. I suggest, therefore, that Catholics in the pro-life movement are uniquely well prepared to counter these offences.
Communion in the hand was initially unlawfully promoted in various parts of the world before being introduced by Pope Paul VI 50 to 60 years ago albeit under certain conditions. Today, in 2020, anyone with eyes to see, going to Sunday Mass at their local parish church, knows from bitter experience that Communion in the hand has engendered a lack of reverence which insults the Real Presence of Jesus Christ in the Eucharist – and recent opinion polls clearly show that false ideas about the Eucharist are now commonplace amongst Mass-going Catholics, who directly deny that Jesus Christ is really present on the altar after the priest’s words of consecration. Is it merely a coincidence, that during the same period, 50 to 60 years ago, permissive abortion legislation was introduced in many western nations, legislation which affronts the dignity and even denies the existence of human life before birth. Today we reap the bitter fruits: human life has lost its value in human society whilst Christ has become shamefully abused by the Christians who should know and love him the most.
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.
The truth about the sanctity of human life before birth cannot triumph without the recognition of the truth about Jesus Christ in the Holy Eucharist. Only when we restore the understanding of the sanctity of divine life present in the Holy Eucharist and act accordingly, will we recover the proper understanding of the sanctity of human life.
What are we, the laity, to do in such a situation? How can we defend the Eucharist and offer Our Lord the love and reverence due to Him?
First, we must know that by insisting on receiving Holy Communion on the tongue, we are standing on solid ground, prepared by the Tradition of the Church and made fertile with the blood of her martyrs. Tradition demands the greatest possible reverence towards the Holy Eucharist. In fact, serious punishments used to be reserved for practices which are being recommended by some bishops today. The faithful are being misled into believing that the responsible option is to receive Our Lord in the hand despite the very real danger of losing and desecrating fragments of our Eucharistic Lord. And following the instructions issued in the current crisis, Catholics are being schooled, perhaps one might say brainwashed, to remember in future that this is the so-called “safer option” when similar problems arise.
But generations of Catholics before us have kept their devotion to our Eucharistic Lord unchanged throughout wars, epidemics, and other disasters that have struck the world – not because they did not know the danger they were in, but because they knew Whois in the Eucharist they approached.
St. Thomas Aquinas taught: “Out of reverence towards this Sacrament, nothing touches it, but what is consecrated; hence the corporal and the chalice are consecrated, and likewise the priest's hands, for touching this Sacrament. Hence, it is not lawful for anyone else to touch it except from necessity, for instance, if it were to fall upon the ground, or else in some other case of urgency.” (16 ST, III, Q. 82, Art. 13)
It is not possible that what the Church has always taught about the Holy Eucharist does not apply following the coronavirus.
Secondly, receiving Holy Communion on the tongue remained the norm even after the practice of Communion in the hand was introduced in 1969 under certain conditions despite the opposition of the overwhelming majority of the bishops at the time. Thus, it is a practice that the Church in modern times, tragically, tolerates.
The universal law of the Church states that the faithful have the right to receive Communion on the tongue and that this right cannot be denied to them. This is the universal norm that no bishop or a bishops’ conference can overrule. As lay faithful, we must insist upon our right to receive Holy Communion on the tongue. But above all, we must insist that Our Lord has the right to be received in the most reverent manner possible. This is not a matter of our personal piety but justice due to Him.
Thirdly, we must remember that desecration of the sacrament of the Eucharist is one of the most heinous of crimes for the Catholic Church and that, for the most part, these crimes are not being carried by people in the world who do not know or love Him, but by Our Lord’s own people, Catholics, who claim to know and love Him.
This is why we have organised this online conference, as Voice of the Family, uniting pro-life and pro-family groups from all around the world. With this conference we wish to mobilise our fellow lay Catholics to offer the love and reverence due to Our Lord truly present in the Holy Eucharist.
To be fully pro-life means being fully Catholic: offering everyone the gift of eternal life, which 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, which only comes through the Catholic Church?
And how can communicate Christ’s message of eternal life without giving witness to the sacredness of Holy Communion? Indeed we recall Christ’s words recorded in chapter 6 of the Gospel of St John: “He that eateth my flesh and drinketh my blood has everlasting life: and I will raise him up on the last day”. This was the point in the Gospel story at which we learn in the words of St John: “After this, many of His disciples went back and walked no more with him. Then Jesus said to the twelve: Will you also go away? And Simon Peter answered him: Lord to whom shall we go? Thou has the words of eternal life.”
The ultimate target of Satan’s attacks is the Holy Eucharist, in which Jesus Christ is really present. Nothing makes more sense. The devil will do everything in his power to obscure the sacred reality of the Eucharist in order to diminish reverence due to Him. Today his scheme aims to lead large groups of faithful to (an unintentional or intentional) desecration of the Eucharistic Body of Christ on an unprecedented scale. He wants the Body of Christ to be trampled on by the feet of clergy and laity in Catholic churches around the world. For a vast number of Catholics in the past fifty years, the practice of receiving Communion in the hand has weakened faith in the Real Presence, in transubstantiation and in the divine character of the Sacrament. The devil would use anything to advance his wicked plots, even our longing to be united with our Lord again in the Holy Eucharist after being deprived of assisting at Holy Mass for months.
In a recent letter, Bishop Athanasius Schneider called the obligation to give Communion in the hand an “abuse of authority” because it incurs the loss of consecrated fragments and a “decrease of reverence…Bishop Schneider concluded: “If the Church in our day does not endeavor again with the utmost zeal to increase the faith, reverence, and security measures for the Body of Christ, all security measures for humans will be in vain”.
I therefore appeal to everyone attending this on-line conference: Let’s join together in making acts of reparation for sins committed against the Holy Eucharist in His churches. The Eucharistic fragments falling down and crushed by the feet of his priests and faithful has to be for us a tragedy that demands action. Throughout this conference, a team of Catholics has been before the Blessed Sacrament praying for its success. If it is in your power to organise Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament in reparation of these sins against the Blessed Sacrament, especially those committed during the pandemic, please arrange that.
These are difficult times for everyone alive today and they are especially difficult times for faithful Catholics who love Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament and who are determined to give the Lord of Lords, the King of Kings, the reverence he justly deserves. With this conference we’ve endeavoured to equip you with how to insist on your right as Catholics to receive Communion on the tongue. And if and when we are illegally denied this right by our bishop or by our priest, rather than risk fragments of the Eucharist falling to the ground, for the Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of Christ to be carelessly trampled under foot, let’s resolve with Dr Peter Kwasnieski to make a spiritual communion for which, he argues, we will merit special graces from Our Lord. And if and when we can, let’s travel to churches, let’s seek out priests, who will administer to us Communion on the tongue. We must resist this episcopal abuse of authority and this unjust, unholy and illegal imposition of Communion in the hand.