Tuesday, August 16, 2011

To Kneel or Not To Kneel

To kneel or not to kneel. On the tongue or in the hand. That is the question. A couple weeks ago, Catholic "shock-jock" Michael Voris posted a video on RealCatholicTV.com about kneeling for communion and taking the Eucharist in the hand vs on the tongue. It's something that I, a Catholic who grew up post Vatican II and who has never received on the tongue has pondered.

In the video, Voris contends that Cardinal Llovera, a big-wig at the Vatican for all of you non-geeky Catholics out there, states that everyone should receive communion on the tongue and while kneeling. Voris goes on to say that priests could use this a teaching moment and bring back some of the reverence that has been lost towards the Eucharist. Apologist Jimmy Aiken responded in his podcast acknowledging that receiving communion while kneeling and on the tongue is what he prefers but contests some of the things that Mr. Voris says.

Several years ago, I started genuflecting prior to receiving communion instead of just bowing. I felt that it was more appropriate than bowing. After all, this IS Jesus. If He was in front of us in human form I expect we would all be on our hands and knees. But, I stopped after six months or so because wanted to be more "in community" with the other parishioners that go to my church. I admit, I also didn't want to appear to be more pious. (Believe me---I'm no more pious than anyone else) Here is the thing about my parish, it is a very liberal parish. I expect less than 1 % of the parishioners take communion on the tongue. We do not have kneelers so, we stand during the consecration. (I don't think it was due to the design of the church and not because of anyone trying to make statements) So, I would feel really out of place taking communion on the tongue, much less kneeling.
The thing is, I totally understand what Voris is saying. I even agree with much of what he is saying. I believe to kneel and to take communion on the tongue with a paten underneath is the way we should be receiving communion. I also totally understand that standing and in the hand is perfectly allowable. That's not my argument or my quandary.

My question is this, should I go on, bowing and receiving communion in the hand while standing. Or, should I start kneeling and receiving on the tongue? Especially, in a parish where "alter-rail" is spoken with disdain? I could serve as an example and be a reminder of who we are receiving. There is also the dilemma of confounding the Eucharistic Minister who doesn't know what to do as experienced by Danielle Bean when she gave up taking communion on the tongue. Then, if I do decide to take communion on the tongue--how the heck do I do it. I don't mean, should I go to the priest or whatever. I mean how--like how far do I stick out my tongue--if at all.

Do you take communion on the tongue? Think it's gross? What do you think?


  1. I think if everyone started going hands free, there would be fewer people volunteering to be Eucharistic Ministers. You had better hope there are a lot of dentist and dental hygienists in the congregation.

  2. I don't think I am too much younger than you. I didn't receive on the tongue until I was 28 years old. Like you, I started showing the reverence I began believing was needed for receiving Jesus by genuflecting ahead of receiving instead of bowing.

    I'm not gonna lie, it was awkward...at first. But now (I haven't received in the hand for 10 years now), I am afraid I would drop it!!!

    Just make sure your mouth is open and your tongue is flat (don't flex it to try and stretch it outward). I would guess our parish is 40% receive on tongue, but that might have increased since the kneelers were installed as an option for kneeling. Plus, I think every 2nd grader received their First Holy Communion kneeling and on the tongue the past two years...so we may be raising a new generation (:) )

    As a side note, I have heard that our pastor had a complete Communion rail installed at one of his assignments. I don't know if this is true, but I have heard it and I believe it since we have the kneelers. :)

    I have been to Mass only once or twice in a church with no kneelers and was so uncomfortable during consecration. I mean, I literally thought, "Oh my, this Miracle is taking place...God is coming to be with us Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity...we should be on our knees..." I can completely understand you want to be more in Communion, though, so pray about it...maybe after confession sometime, ask Monsignor Blacet what he thinks. Prayers coming your way.

  3. I have taken communion on the tongue, and there are good things about it, but I usually don't anymore, for some of the same reasons that Danielle mentions. My biggest fear, because so few Eucharistic ministers are comfortable with it, is that the host would get dropped. It came close to happening more than once, and with no paten, it's a little scary.

    1. If it drops....pick it up and take it....Its the body of Christ...it can fall going into a hand too. I am 51 and have always taken communion on the tongue, no mishaps yet.

  4. My husband and I are personally very conservative in these matters and enjoy going to Latin Mass, where there is not even an option. Everyone kneels at the alter rail and receives on the tongue. But it is only offered one Sunday a month where we live, so we are confronted with the same issue three out of four Sundays a month. We just moved here and the first church we tried didn't have kneelers and we didn't return there. Although it makes me uncomfortable to stand instead of kneel during consecration, it was more due to the fact that churches without kneelers tend to overall be very liberal and less reverent in many aspects - dress, talking loudly before, after and during Mass, etc.

    Over the past few years, I have taken the Eucharist on the tongue exclusively because I do not feel worthy to touch it. It is out of great reverence for the true presence of Christ. I think everyone should take it on the tongue, but by choice, not by force.

    I had a friend at a former parish that always kneels to receive the Eucharist. He was once told by a priest not to because it brought attention to himself. He continued to do it anyway because the desire to do so was not to draw attention to himself, but our of deep respect for the Body of Christ. Many women who would otherwise wear chapel veils don't, because they feel that others stare and accuse them of having a "holier than thou" attitude. It's a shame. The focus should be on honoring Christ in the Mass, not appearances.

    I personally would not give it a second thought if I saw someone kneel or receive on the tongue, except perhaps to think, "What a wonderful way to honor our Lord". It's sad you stopped genuflecting to appear like everyone else in your church community, but I definitely understand why you would feel that way. If you want to receive on the tongue, most likely people won't notice anyway, I know I don't stare at the people receiving communion! It is awkward at first, but you'll figure out how to get in on the tongue without feeling like a dog wagging it's tail.

    Sorry about the long comment, you just gave me a lot to think about!

  5. I started taking communion on the tongue a couple of years ago and cannot imagine doing it any other way. As long as you actually stick your tongue out, it goes very smoothly. I gaze lovingly up to my Lord, tip my head back, close my eyes and stick my tongue out.
    It's the right thing to do--for me--and I would also prefer to kneel to receive Him, but it's really not an option at my church.
    I'll tell you what's really 'gross': ambling down the aisle, checking the pews to see if any of your friends are there, giving a perfunctory bow--if you remember--then grabbing the Host out of the minister's hand and tossing it back, over your gum, and swallowing without much thought as to Who you are beyond privileged to be receiving. Yup, that's pretty gross.

  6. Look, as long as you and your parish do what Rome approved, you are fine.

    Rome has approved several gestures which can be found in Redemptionis Sacramentum

    http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/congregations/ccdds/documents/rc_con_ccdds_doc_20040423_redemptionis-sacramentum_en.html#Chapter IV

    And with the new translation of the mass coming up: you might want to read up on the new GIRM here:


    Do not let any lay man limit you when your church gives you choice. If Rome has declared it permissable, neither Michael Voris nor any lay "catholic" blogger has any authority to deny it.

    Hope that helps.

    As for me, I receive standing and on the tongue, from consecrated hands (priest or deacon) Extraordinary Minsters of Communion are not consecrated, so I don't go to them, because Rome says I don't have to.

  7. For me, kneeling and on the tongue if receiving communion from a priest, on the tongue standing if I can't avoid a lay eucharistic minister. It feels right and more reverant and helps me focus on the fact it is the lord we are receiving.

    It helps if you go to the priest rather than lay eucharistic minister; the priest is supportive in the sense they don't tell you off; and the parish is larger and affords a sense of anonymity.

    But we shouldn't lose sight of substance by getting stuck on form either - the most important factor is your focus on and appreciation and worship of Jesus during the liturgy of the Eucharist.

  8. As a biker I know that my hands will almost always be dirty by the time I have locked my bike and taken my helmet & gloves off etc.

    As a result I always receive on the tongue. That and the fact that I consider it appropriate in my relationship with the Lord to recieve him thus.

    I am fortunate in that most of the local parishes have a patten in use (and its usually a good rule of thumb that if you see a patten the priest will expect at least some of his congregation to recieve on the tongue)

    Where space permits I will genuflect before recieving standing (no rails) but if not then I will bow.

  9. We changed parishes about a year ago, from a parish that I would say 99% recieve Christ on their tongue to a parish that 99.95% recieve in their hand. Since making my 1st Holy Communion some 32 years ago, I have always recieved Jesus on my tongue, except for those rebellious teen years where I wanted to be "like everyone else"...and even that didn't last long because it just didn't feel right. I'm not saying that taking Christ is your hands is wrong, I just feel a more powerful connection and reverence when I recieve by tongue. When we changed to our new parish, as much as I try to avoid Eucharistic ministers (I prefer to recieve from the priest), it's not always avoidable. At first a couple of them were taken aback, but I think more from surprise...they were very gracious and didn't make a spectacle. I think we have been "discussed" among the EM's as no one seems to bat an eye anymore. :) I think the way you recieve communion is a personal preference. Both forms are approved by Rome. It has to do with how YOU feel, not what others think.

  10. Found this article after reading your blog. Thought you might find it interesting. :)


  11. I take on the tongue, standing and bowing. the only time I take in the hand is when I have a cold and I am trying to be considerate by keeping my germs to myself. I would say our parish is slightly more in the hand takers than on the tongue, and seems also to be a nice mix of liberal and traditional thoughts. I am the only one I'm aware of at my parish that wears a chapel veil, which felt really weird when i started, but i've received few remarks and those I have received have always been interested and supportive, even having women ask me where they can get one, or fond memories they have of wearing them :-)

  12. I came upon your blog by googling 'How should I receive communion'. I want to change from in the hand to on the tongue but realise I'll be in a minority - I already am by bowing before I receive! You have given me courage to make the transition, along with your commentators. For me it is a return to tradition. I would kneel if we had an altar rail and, now I've explored it, would prefer the 1962 (Latin) Mass. At least the new translation is almost the same as the 1962 english.

    God Bless

    Kim UK

    1. Have courage...persevere . Today i attended mass at a different parish. I kneeled and the priest pulled back and commanded me to stand. I attempted to say 'from your hands to my lips father and do to nerves said it a little different....he said 'stand if you want to receive communion !' I said 'from your hand to my lips father remaining on my knees (i also take it on the tongue). He said 'do you want communion?' 'yes father', he held the eucharist in front of me' body of Christ' I said 'Amen' and he frustratedly gave me communion ....I hadn't expected that but remaining resolute really shielded me from being embarrassed as i walked away...its about reverence and not contention.

  13. Receiving the Lord Jesus on the knees is the posture that I have taken for the last few years. Why should I be compelled to do otherwise, since this was the only way to receive our blessed Lord prior to Vatican II? Our society is one that enjoys taking short cuts and has a propensity for convenience; at the sacrifice of the mass, we are all in God's presence and should lose ourselves in his great mystery with the utmost reverence, i.e., receiving him with the greatest adoration and humility. When the leper asked Jesus, "if you want to, you can make me clean", he was kneeling before our Lord. We should all do the same!

  14. Attend Traditional Latin Masses. Problem solved.