May 24, 2023 Column Father De Celles
[I was on vacation this last week, so I wrote this column over a week ago.]
Mother’s Day. A blessed and happy Mother’s Day to all our mothers, present and absent, living and
dead. What a gift God has given us in motherhood and our mothers.
Please, Lord Jesus, defend mothers throughout the world, and allow our nation and world to
once again revere motherhood in our laws, culture and lives.
Fr. Paul Dominic Marich, O.P. Some of you may remember former parishioner Paul Marich from his
days teaching in our High School CCD program or teaching theology at St. John Paul the Great.
Well, he is now a Dominican priest, celebrating his one year anniversary, and is returning to our
parish to offer Mass for us. He’ll be saying the 8:30am Mass this Thursday, May 18, and 7am
Mass next Sunday, May 21. I hope you will be able to attend one of these Masses and welcome Fr.
Confirmation. Please pray for our 8 th Graders (and a few other teens) who are preparing to receive
the Sacrament of Confirmation on Monday, May 22 from Bishop Burbidge. They have been actively
preparing for this sacrament for the last 2 years, so I thank them for their hard work. Please pray that
they may be open to and cooperate with all the graces they will receive in Confirmation. And let us
also pray for ourselves that we may do the same.
Welcome Home, Colleges Students. I want to extend my most sincere congratulations to all of our
parishioners who are graduating from college/ university this month. We’re all proud of you, and pray
for you as you move on to the new challenges that await you.
I also want to welcome home all of the college students coming home for the summer. I look
forward to seeing you around the church. Please keep your eye on the bulletin for various
opportunities available to deepen your faith life over the summer, as well as social opportunities that
will come up here in the parish and at nearby parishes.
Receiving Communion in the Hand or on the Tongue. What is the “proper” or “best” way to
receive Holy Communion—in the hand or on the tongue? The Church currently leaves this decision
to our individual consciences, but allow me to make a few brief observations in this regard.
For the first few centuries of the Church receiving Communion in the hand was not
uncommon. But as time passed it became the practice to receive Communion directly on the tongue
in order to assure that the Host was received reverently. This was the law of the Church for almost
14 centuries, and is still the general norm today. However, in 1969 Pope Paul VI allowed an
exception: individual bishops can give permission to their people to receive Communion in the hand
if it does not lead to any loss of reverence. While most bishops permit Communion in the hand,
some, seeing a loss of reverence, are withdrawing that permission and requiring their people to
receive only on the tongue. And if you ever watch a Papal Mass you see that folks who receive
Communion from Pope Francis must receive on the tongue.
There are many reasons for not receiving on the hand. For example, consider the risk of
having particles of the Host—each of which are also truly the Body of Christ—remain on your hand
after you receive. Also, it is a fact of human nature that the more you handle an object, no matter
how precious it is, the more likely it is that you will take it for granted and forget its value—and this is
often the case with the Body of Christ. In this same line, the Host is no ordinary food, and receiving
on the tongue—rather than handling it as we do most food—is a dramatic reminder of this.
Because of these and many other reasons, I personally recommend that all of my
parishioners prayerfully consider receiving Communion on the tongue.
However, it is your choice, and there’s nothing illicit or wrong about receiving in the
hand—there are some good reasons for doing so. I am in no way reprimanding those who exercise
this option, and I respect your choice.
But if you do take Communion in the hand, ask yourself: do I do it in a way that expresses
and protects my belief in the Real Presence? For example, do I follow the ancient custom for
reverent reception of Communion in the hand? That is: Receive by placing your left hand on top of
your right hand as if you were creating a throne to receive your God, keeping your eyes on Christ;
and then, stepping to the side, carefully take the Host in your right hand and place It in your mouth,
being careful to consume any crumbs remaining on your hands. Please remember, the Host must be
“consumed at once, so that no one goes away with the Eucharistic species in his hand.” Also, you
should not receive in the hand if you are holding something or someone (i.e., a baby) in your hands
or arms, which would naturally tend to diminish the attention and care you give to the Host in your
Finally, an observation. Since Covid, the number of people receiving on the tongue has
noticeably declined. I think this is a loss for many of you. Please know that from what I’ve read,
experts say that studies have shown no indication of increased risk of passing germs by
receiving either on the hand or the tongue. So I encourage any of you that changed from
receiving on the tongue to receiving on the hand due to these kinds of concerns to particularly
consider returning to your former practice.
Please prayerfully consider my words, and I will respect your discernment.
Ordination. The month of May marks the ordination anniversaries of most of the priests of the
Diocese. Every day, I thank the Good Lord for my ordination. Consider the poem written by Fr. Jean-
Baptiste Henri Lacordaire, OP, “The Priest”:
To live in the midst of the world // without wishing its pleasures; // To be a member of each
family, // yet belonging to none; // To share all suffering; // to penetrate all secrets; // To heal all
wounds; // to go from men to God // and offer Him their prayers; // To return from God to men // to
bring pardon and hope; // To have a heart of fire for Charity, // and a heart of bronze for Chastity // To
teach and to pardon, // console and bless always. // My God, what a life; // and it is yours, // O priest
of Jesus Christ.
Oremus pro invicem. Fr. De Celles