Danielle Bean, a wife and mother of eight, is editorial director of Faith & Family magazine and author of My Cup of Tea, Mom to Mom, Day to Day, and most recently Small Steps for Catholic Moms. Read more of her blogging at Faith & Family Live and DanielleBean.com.
I have always received the Eucharist on the tongue.
This is not something I usually get all political or righteous about. I understand that many devout people hold different opinions on this topic and that “good” Catholics are free to receive on the hand or on the tongue. For me, though, receiving on the tongue has always felt like the most appropriate way to recognize and respect Christ’s real presence in the Eucharist.
But now I’m not so sure anymore.
While I still very much prefer to receive on the tongue, I am afraid that option is becoming a less reasonable choice for me. And, ironically, it’s becoming a less respectful way to receive the Eucharist.
At the Masses I attend, more often than not, I receive Communion from an Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion. These EMHCs, more often than not, have no idea what to do when a person presents herself to receive Communion on the tongue. I am not blaming them for this problem so much as whatever training they have received. I know that their training for Communion on the tongue is inadequate because ...
—Some of them place the host on my tongue along with what feels like their entire hand.
—Some rush to jam the host into my mouth even as they are still saying “Body of Christ” and I am hurrying to respond “Amen.”
—Some ignore my children’s open mouths and opt instead to force the host between the fingers of their folded hands.
—And finally, some, like the poor lady who gave me Communion yesterday, are so flustered and anxious in the face of an on-the-tongue situation, that they fail to place the host anywhere near my tongue. They let go of it somewhere on the approach to my face and it winds up on floor.
The woman yesterday apologized and immediately picked it up. Thoroughly defeated, I offered my hands for her to place it in.
It shouldn’t be this hard.
I know I could “solve” this problem by only attending Mass in the Extraordinary Form where receiving on the tongue while kneeling is the norm. But that is just not a realistic option for me.
I could be stubborn and insist upon receiving on the tongue because I have a right to, even when the challenges it causes become a distraction to myself and others. But that doesn’t seem like something Christ would want me to do.
Jesus is Jesus, in my hand or on my tongue.
And that is why I am 90% convinced that from now on, when I receive the Eucharist from an EMHC, I should put my own preferences aside and receive in the way that is least likely to cause confusion and distraction—in the hand.
O Jesus, meek and humble of heart, make my heart like yours!