Listen to Jesus, not Oppressors

There are deeply pious, intensely scrupulous, and often OCD-afflicted people who, through no fault of their own, struggle grievously over profoundly unimportant things and are wracked with guilt about minor matters as they labor through each day trying with heart-breaking intensity to Be Good. Scruples are a crushing spiritual disease and the counsel of good confessors is often invaluable in relieving them of the burdens placed on their shoulders by themselves or by spouting popinjay Pharisees. Tragically, Reactionary Catholic ranks are filled with such abusive personalities, always ready to load guilt and shame about trivialities on to the backs of the scrupulous as the power-trip at their expense. And one of the biggest power trips is the Reactionary obsession with the triviality of Communion in the Hand.

The Catholic Church says that faithful Catholics, in normal times, may receive the Eucharist on the tongue or in the hand. She does, and that’s that. In normal times, if you prefer to receive in one way and not the other, then knock yourself out. But the moment you start telling another Catholic they are “sinning” by doing something the Church says is fine, you earn the words of Jesus, in his diatribe against the Pharisees:

They bind heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on men’s shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with their finger. (Matthew 23:4)

During Pandemic, for perfectly sensible reasons of public health, the Church is, in most places, administering Communion only in the hand (though there are lunatics battling the guidelines of their bishops to insist on Communion on the tongue anyway). The reason for the standard Pandemic policy is obvious to Sanes and Normals. But in Traddery, pride and crushing the weak matter far more than sanity. To wit:

Note the way the question is framed. “Even in a Pandemic”. The signal this sends to the scrupulous is that it goes without saying that Communion in the hand is sinful in normal times.

This. Is. A. Lie.

Reception of Communion in the hand is permissible. Period. Nobody sins by receiving Communion in the hand. Ever. Fradd ties up a heavy burden for the fragile in conscience and sets himself over the Church to do it.

But it gets worse. Because the video goes on not only to crush the conscience of the weak with burdens God never put upon them, but to actually demand they disobey their conscience when it comes to protecting the health of the vulnerable, simply in order to satisfy the hyper-piety of Trads. Message: Even if you think Communion on the tongue to be the obviously unsanitary and potentially deadly practice it obviously is during Pandemic, you should do it anyway–in disobedience to the Church and without regard to your vulnerable neighbor–because Trad piety, not love, is what really matters.

Note the language: “I grew up a typical Novus Ordo Catholic” (translation: I was lazy, dumb, and second rate). “Casual”. “Awful”. “There’s only one way to present ourselves to the Lord”. The entire subtext of the conversation, while never giving a straight answer to the question, makes extremely clear that only a pre-Vatican II piety (i.e. communion rails and Communion in the hand) can save the Church and if you are not doing that, you are part of the “horrifying” destruction of the Church.

All of this is deeply dangerous and destructive not only to the body (because it helps spread pandemic) but to the souls of Catholics as well (because it fills the oppressor with superiority and pride for being a Better Catholic than all those loser Novus Ordo types while it crushes the oppressed and scrupulous with heavy burdens God never meant him to carry).

If you are encountering any of this kind of rubbish, hand it all back to God as the mere false tradition of men it is. Observe the sane health precautions of the Church and receive in the hand till the Pandemic is past, Then receive on the tongue or the hand as you please with love in your heart for the Lord either way. Do not let the arrogant judgments of men oppress you.


30 Responses

  1. Like the ones who were trying to force the Orthodox churches to share a communion spoon and take off masks even during the pandemic. Archbishop said let them use individual spoons; the metropolitans said NO and made us all share one spoon (so I didn’t partake for more than a year). But we still had to wear masks and follow all sorts of other rules, which seem counterproductive when you’re sharing a spoon. Even that was too much for some, who yelled and screamed about masks in church making it into a carnival, and threatened to get our metropolitan removed. I’m just glad the vaccines are ending the pandemic finally so we can get back to our usual arguments.

  2. Ah, but recall the words of the Gospel of John, where our Lord says, “Keep your seat, as I walk around the table and feed you”.

    I would love to believe that Communion rails would fix everything that’s wrong in the Church. Or maybe that I could, personally, by wearing a Chapel veil.

    If only.

  3. Even when I was in their dreadful cult, I didn’t want another person’s hand going into my mouth. No thank you. My disposition changed after having someone touch my tongue for the umpteenth time. –And how do I know if they touched the tongue of the person in front of me? Or the one in back of me? Science informs my decision making, not magical thinking on the part of a bunch of finicky people who have too much time on their hands.

    It reminds me of the pants Nazis. After hearing about the girl who was pulled out of the communion line by a guy who said her pants were an occasion of sin for him, I refused to alter my wardrobe for to accommodate the fetish of some perv., but the effects of hearing about that poor girl lingered in my mind to the point where I had to struggle to pray before receiving, because I was worried about who might be judging me.

    So congrats to all of the perverts that redirect proper worship of God, to *their* wants, needs and weird fantasies about why God likes them best.

    1. Regular Taliban stuff, that. Wearing pants occasion of sin, not wearing pants also occasion of sin. There are no rules, there is only the joy of random oppression of a woman.

      1. Power over others is a drug.

        Thank God for good priests (popes!) who effortlessly call b.s. on the bullies.

  4. On the one hand, Fr. Goring does make a valid point: Receiving the Eucharist should be done in reverence and awe. I couldn’t agree more.

    That said, maybe it’s because I came out of the Protestant world before entering the Church, but I don’t see how Communion rails and receiving the Body directly on the tongue is inherently more reverent. Granted, I am a modern American with all the hang-ups that entails, but going forward and kneeling and then sticking out your tongue to a robed cleric doesn’t seem reverent or pious to me. It seems WEIRD and even a little icky. Am I wrong? Not a rhetorical question. I’m honestly asking: Am I wrong?

    1. What he is trying to imply is not that the Eucharist should be received with reverence, but that there is only one way to do this and all those who receive in the hand are irreverent. It is spiritual abuse to insinuate this.

      1. Yes, I understand that, and I agree with you.

        His remedy is legalistic and may even make the problem worse. But that doesn’t necessarily mean his diagnosis of the problem is entirely without merit. The lack of reverence during Mass in general and Communion in particular is a problem. I don’t know that going back to the pre-Vatican II method is the best solution. Personally, I think not. But I can’t deny that there is a problem.

      2. Implication is the name of their game. As you said, the question of sin isn’t even addressed during the conversation.

      3. Priests that are bullies need to be called out to their archbishop. My husband and I did exactly that for the first time in our lives.

        Enough of these little princes running around trying to spiritually flex at the expense of the people they hurt and scandalize. They give all of the great priests a black eye in the process.

        In our case, the priest who publicly abused our family actually apologized. It didn’t happen at his first visitation from the archbishop’s office either. After our second letter, outlining his pattern of abuse, he finally called. I’d like to say that he called to apologize, but he didn’t. He behaved like a defiant, reprimanded child. He finally relented when my husband answered his protests with, “if you can’t see it, there’s no hope for you.”

    2. I feel the same way, Mark, when it comes to what constitutes reverence, but I think both you and I can understand those who feel otherwise. What matters most though, is that I hope neither you nor I will ever confuse our own ideas about reverence with what is sinful and what is not.

      1. According to Father Goring’s life story chronology he learned about the Eucharistic miracles after becoming a priest.

      2. That’s a good and important point.
        There is an insinuation among some of the Trads, that anyone with different ideas is irreverent deliberately, and that insinuation extends to the clergy, the Bishops and on up the line. I object to that in anyone.

  5. I have had a couple open conversations online with individuals concerning Communion in the hand. I will mention that after years of thinking receiving on the tongue was weird I ultimately decided it made a lot of sense and strongly prefer to receive on the tongue. When I learned this was still officially the norm, and that receiving in hand was an allowance granted by indult, not intended to be a universal norm, that reinforced my sense that there was spiritual benefit to the act of reverence of not touching the Host with my hands.

    Yet it is clear that the matter has been examined by multiple popes, the theology and morality of it duly considered, and authority for allowing Communion in the hand has been appropriately delegated. Where it is allowed and received reverently, there is no sin in receiving in the hand.

    Now, as to the contrary claim that receiving on the tongue is wrong:

    It is not clear to me that the norm was ever properly abrogated in light of COVID-19. While bishops in general have authority in their dioceses over many matters, that is not authority to overturn any decision of Rome, so as far as I know, any proclamation intending to ban Communion on the tongue is invalid. Personally, I am currently receiving in the hand only for the sake of those around me who may have an exaggerated sense of fear about transmission of COVID-19 this way.

    Health officials had largely dismissed concerns about transmission of COVID-19 via food going back to at least April of 2020. Although not completely ruled it, it has not been documented, and based on the nature of SARS-COV-2 and the necessity of encountering cells only present in the respiratory tract, it is not generally expected.

    Therefore, civil officials determined no significant restrictions on food service were necessary. Every update I have seen since then has been consistent on this matter. Similarly, I see no significant concern for receiving Communion on the tongue.

    1. COVID primarily spreads airborne. So I’m pretty sure the COVID concern with receiving on the tongue is not food transmission but rather people having their mouths uncovered and open in the close presence of lots of other people. Receiving in the hand at least enables people to be more brief about it.

      1. Joel, I think you bring up a reasonable counterpoint, but I would say the same example of a secular assessment is still relevant, as restaurants were quickly allowed to resume operations with patrons removing their masks while eating. Servers keep their masks on and approach the table as needed. Likewise, in parishes I have seen, Eucharistic ministers keep their masks on and Communicants briefly remove theirs (much more briefly than patrons in a restaurant, and without the talking that tends to accompany group dining).

    2. I came to my conclusion about communion on the tongue, many, many years before Covid. I also remember discussion of that indult too many years ago.

      I will be brutally honest; it has *always* been the whiff of controversy that has made any reception of the Eucharist on my part–less than worthy. (How many times have I had to apologize to Him for that!) Whether it was jeans, or pants, or my kid in a t-shirt (slipped past me and leaped into the car)…I have always worried about how people will judge us. I am working on not caring about what they think.

      Yesterday, we were in a similar crunch to get to mass. Earlier in the day, we had all dressed well to honor a Catholic friend who is departing for a new assignment elsewhere. There was a small gathering at our old parish. We had to go to a 5 pm mass instead. On top of that, our cleaning lady (who is a 7th Day Adventist) asked me if she could come on Sunday at 4. Her day of rest is Saturday. When she arrived, I rushed the kids and our dog out of the house. My little girl was taken off-guard. As we crossed the parking lot, to get to (outdoor mass) my daughter looked down at her clothing and mentioned in passing “not exactly appropriate for mass”. I laughed and agreed saying “God doesn’t mind! You are beautiful.” She was wearing denim shorts and a tank top. (Mea Culpa). Nobody gave us bad looks. Everybody appreciated us. The pastor told me that our dog is always welcome too.

      If nobody was looking I’d rather receive Jesus with tender worship first into my hands, and also as I place Him upon my own tongue. No distractions. I would like to assert my right to say, stop. looking. leave. us. alone.

      We are sensory creatures. Hands? Mouth? Hands plus mouth? Someday it will be even more than that. Are they ready for that?

      1. @tacoanybody, I can’t speak for others, but personally I treat my decision to receive on the tongue as applicable only to me. My wife receives in the hand. I don’t worry about what others are doing, as long as they are trying to do what the Church asks of us (and even if not, I try not to let minor breaches of liceity trouble me). Similarly, I hope that fewer people are noticing your habits at Mass than you seem to perceive, both for your sake, and for that of anyone who might be overly concerned with others.

        I am inclined to think that the symbolism and unique gesture of forbearing to use our hands, which can help inform our understanding of and attitude toward Communion, are a reason in favor or returning to receiving only in hand. Again, however, I have no qualms with anyone following the allowance to receive in hand, and I defer to the judgement of the Pope, or to the degree he may allow it, to the bishops whether the idea has sufficient merit to implement.

        @Lucky Horseshoe – I also think the Communion rail is great for both practical and reverential reasons. It’s very orderly, and I would say for most ministers is faster. The moment it allows to kneel and take a last moment of reflection on Whom I will receive, and then a moment later have just received is also appreciated. I feel more rushed and distracted in the normal standing procession.

        Of course, everyone needs to recognize that for some it is physically difficult to kneel. As far as I understand it, it was the norm all along for them to receive standing (or sitting if they’re in a wheelchair).

      2. Dear Taco, I only ever had to get one kid to Mass, so I’m inclined to think that you deserve a gold star every single Sunday.
        And I want to point out that anybody thinking critical thoughts about your family in the Communion line is possibly sinning against charity, and certainly distracted from the Sacrament. They are supposed to be thinking about Jesus, not other communicants!

    3. I don’t find communion in the hand to be inherently irreverent. I prefer receiving on the tongue, but usually receive in the hand if at an OF Mass with communion standing. In my experience, you’re more likely to get someone who isn’t as good at placing it on your tongue and therefore more likely to touch it. It’s also more awkward to say Amen and then receive on the tongue. Of the hundreds of Traditional Latin Masses I’ve attended, I think I’ve been touched on the tongue once or twice, and I didn’t find the experience any less gross than the time I was last to receive the Precious Blood and the EMHC whispered “finish it” to me and I saw just how full of floating particles if was.

      I have more of an issue with communion standing and actually do think re-adopting communion railings would be a good thing for the Church, regardless of whether you receive in the hand or on the tongue. The manner in which standing is done in the Latin Rite doesn’t really enhance any aspect of communion – you stand in a single file line and have to get out of the way as quickly as possible once you receive. At the rail, you get a moment to actually see the altar and sanctuary, to reflect and meditate, to be with other people, and there is less of a sense of urgency since the next group usually waits until the whole section of rail has received. I think it’s actually very powerful being gathered at the altar side by side with others while receiving communion. And before anyone mentioned that the East receives standing – it’s nothing like the utilitarian affair we have now. I won’t call our manner of standing wrong or irreverent, but I honestly don’t get the appeal of it. I get the appeal of receiving in the hand and of receiving under both kinds.

      Regarding the blog post topic – I always recommend to those who are eager to ask questions about this or that practice to find official Church sources. There is no shortage of people who would rather present their vision of Catholicism as official without realizing how damaging it can be to someone when they find out they were “lied to.”

    4. As an extraordinary minister of the Eucharist I can tell you from personal experience that people often breathe on your hand when you are placing the Blessed Sacrament on their tongue. You can feel their hot, warm breath and it leaves your fingers slightly damp. I think this is why receiving on the tongue is ill advised in the pandemic. So the next person to receive on the tongue is placed at greater risk.

  6. At the end of the day (I seem to be saying that a lot to my adult children these days)–I find plenty of merit with what you have to say.

    It has to do with whom and what has hijacked that battle.

    I haven’t had the same experience as you with the Latin mass, but in my mind’s eye, I can picture your idealized version. If you understand everything the priest is saying–and the priest is humble! It must be beautiful. It’s not about the Latin Mass (or the hijacking of it…) And there should never be an either/or scenario. Virtue is as virtue does.

    1. If this post was directed at me: I’m not one to talk too much about my personal life online, so I won’t go into too much detail. While I’ve encountered plenty of toxic people and have felt really let down by the response to Covid and Trump, my rosy view of the Latin Mass is largely formed by my experience getting married in the Church. As I said a while back, my wife isn’t Catholic. The attitude at my OF church (where I had been involved for years ushering, helping at the festival, decorating for holy days, etc) was shockingly negative to the point that we postponed our wedding and almost didn’t get married in the Church at all. I was pushed more towards the EF community I was sporadically attending and when we tried again with them the attitude was the total opposite – positive and joyful.

      Currently I’m in a confusing place about the Church, traditionalism, my place in it, etc., but I can’t forget that sometimes “Ordinary Form” or “Vatican II” Catholics are usually in a situation where they can put on a friendly face in public while being ruthless and cruel in private while traddies often make a big show about being rigid but are often nicer and more accepting than they are given credit for. I realize things may have been completely different had I belonged to a nicer OF parish or had had a different priest and deacon. I really haven’t encountered a situation in the Church where one group is mostly good and another is mostly bad. Perhaps I was just lucky in the trads I’ve met, or an exception, I dunno.

  7. I seem to remember when Fradd was a fairly normal catholic but apparently he’s now joined the ranks of the holier then though far right branch.

  8. Thanks Lise. 🙂

    It has gotten much better! I used to call our family “the floor show”…

    We were quite the thorn in the side of our (OF) pastor who absolutely hated sharing the spotlight with anybody. If babies were crying I would flee immediately, but most of the time they were just squirmy and boisterous, and wanted to climb etc. (or dance in the center isle.)

    The older kids hated to be in the spotlight too. Being a teen is hard enough as it is. But the only thing that they *ever* complained bitterly about was the traddies, –because of what they heard them talking about in private. It was very damaging to them. A couple of them still think of the Church as guilty by association.

    I don’t think it would be an exaggeration to say that if we hadn’t parted ways with the ultra conservatives when they were still little, some of our children might have lost their faith. The wars that conservatives fight are shocking to them. Thankfully they haven’t thrown the baby with the bath water. When they complain, I always say, “but Jesus…” (“keep your eye on the prize!”)They know who Jesus preferred to rub shoulders with. And nobody was wearing gold, lace or velvet and ermine capes. Sheesh.

  9. FYI, Matt Fradd doesn’t use social media. He hires someone to do all his social media posting. (He’s said this on his podcast.) If you think that the content is leading people astray, you should contact Matt directly, because chances are he has no knowledge of this post.

    1. He has responded to me on FB and offered passive-aggressive replies. He knows what I think. And he is responsible for what is said in his name.

      1. Not trying to be snarky here. Honestly asking. How do you think the following applies to correcting a brother in the age of social media?

        15 ‘If your brother does something wrong, go and have it out with him alone, between your two selves. If he listens to you, you have won back your brother.

        16 If he does not listen, take one or two others along with you: whatever the misdemeanour, the evidence of two or three witnesses is required to sustain the charge.

        17 But if he refuses to listen to these, report it to the community; and if he refuses to listen to the community, treat him like a gentile or a tax collector.
        (Matthew 18:15-17)

  10. I think if you would watch Matt Fradd’s video with Fr. Mark, you would find out that they say in the video it is NOT a sin to receive on the hand. You are implying that they said such a thing by posting a screenshot of their Twitter post. They did not say it was a sin to receive on the hand. They did say it was permissible to receive on the hand.

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