Communion In The Hand (CITH)

by Andrew Brizek



  1. Through-out the centuries our Fathers have taught us about our faith and the Blessed Sacrament. Our Fathers have taught us that the Eucharist is truly the body-blood-soul and divinity of Jesus Christ.
  2. St. Thomas Aquinas taught us out of reverence towards the sacrament that touching and administering the sacrament belongs only to the priest.
  3. Our Catholic fathers at home, as well as the teaching Nuns at school, taught us that it was sacrilegious for anyone but the priest to touch the sacred host. This was also taught through-out the centuries by popes, bishops and priests by their example, especially through the offering of the Tridentene Mass.
  4. If this reverence was not to be upheld then the all these teachings would be reduced to an exercise in superstition. (See QUESTIONS).
  5. CITH;

    Indeed upwards of 70% of Catholics do not believe in the true presence of Christ in the Blessed Sacrament.

Where did CITH come from?

  1. The early Church allowed CITH until it was condemned in 640 at the Synod of Rouen. St. Thomas stated only the priest should touch the consecrated Host. Rubrics were developed to ensure adherence to reverence within the Tridentene Mass.
  2. Any true Catholic renewal would either leave the gestures of reverence intact, or, enhance or amplify them. But obliterating them without apology or convincing argument is not a genuine Catholic renewal. What this represents is the new paganism, leaving the rubics looking as though they were groundless superstitious sentimentalism with no true foundation in reality.
  3. After Vatican II, some ecumenically minded priests in Holland started given CITH in a monkey-see monkey-do imitation of Protestant practice. But the bishops tolerated this abuse. The practice spread to Germany, Belgium and France.
  4. The bishops were indifferent to the abuse, but the laity were outraged. It was this large number of the faithful that prompted Pope Paul VI to take action. The pope polled the bishops of the world on this issue and they voted overwhelmingly to retain the traditional practice. Note here the abuse was only limited to a few European countries.
  5. The Pope responded with the May 29, 1969 instruction MEMORIALE DOMINI. The document states the overwhelming response of the bishops against CITH, the method of tongue must be retained, any innovation could lead to irreverence and profanation of the Eucharist as well as a gradual erosion of correct doctrine. The supreme pontiff judged that the long received manner of ministering Holy Communion to the faithful should not be changed. The Apostolic See therefore strongly urges bishops, priests and people to zealously observe this law.
  6. The document also says where this abuse HAD ALREADY BECOME FIRMLY ESTABLISHED it could be legalized by two-thirds majority in a secret ballot of the National Bishops Conference, providing the Holy See confirmed the decision.

Teachings Related to the Blessed Sacrament

The 4th Century

CITH was practiced in the early church, but even then women needed to cover their hand with a Dominical. St. Cyril warned the faithful that they must receive the Blessed Sacrament with utmost reverence and care. He told them "Partake of it, ensuring that you do not mislay any of it. For if you mislay any you will clearly suffer a lose, as if it were your only limbs. Tell me, if somebody gave you gold dust would you not take hold of it with every possible care ensuring you did not mislay any of it or sustain any loss. So, will you not be more cautious to ensure not a crumb falls away from that which is more precious than gold".

The 14th Century

To the question, 'Why should only the Priest touch the Sacred Host?', St. Thomas answered in his SUMMA THEOLOGICA; "The dispensing of Christ's body belongs to the priest for three reasons:

  1. He consecrates in the person of Christ, but as Christ consecrated His body at the last supper, so also He gave It to others to be partaken of by them. Accordingly, as the consecration of Christ body belongs to the priest -- so does the dispensing belong to the priest.
  2. The priest is the appointed intermediary between God and the people, hence does it belong to him to offer the peoples gift to God, so does it belong to him to deliver the consecrated gifts to the people.
  3. Out of reverence for this sacrament, nothing touches it but what is consecrated. Hence, it is not lawful for anyone else to touch -- except from necessity, or for instance if It were to fall upon the ground, or in some other case of urgency.

The 16th Century

  1. Martin Luther re-introduces CITH to shown his disbelief in the true presence in the Eucharist and in Holy Orders.
  2. The Catechism of the Council of Trent teaches that the first duty of the priest is to offer the Sacrifice and to administer the Sacraments.

The 20th Century

  1. Hillaire Belloc, in 1931, warns of the New Paganism;
  2. Vatican II;
  3. Post Vatican II;

Questions to Ponder

Why did...