St. Augustine’s Communion (Standing, in the Hand)

St. Augustine’s Communion (Standing, in the Hand) January 25, 2021

This post is especially for those who like to rail against the Pauline (“New” / ordinary form) Mass and current reception norms as a liberal distortion. The idea in revising and developing the liturgy was to be closer in spirit to the early, patristic liturgy. I myself, by the way, receive kneeling at an altar rail on the tongue, from the priest (that’s our custom in my parish), and I virtually never receive the cup; lest I be accused of “liturgical bias.”

I’m simply presenting the historical facts as they are. Live and let live. Holy Mother Church allows liturgical diversity, as long as the rubrics are properly followed.

Distribution of the bread and wine took place at the chancel rail, where the people came forward to stand and receive from the hands of the bishop and/or deacons. Bread was placed into the joined hands with the words, “The Body of Christ,” to which the recipient responded: “Amen” . . . The cup was offered to each by another minister, with a similar exchange. (from Augustine Through the Ages: An Encyclopedia, general editor: Allan D. Fitzgerald, Grand Rapids, Michigan: Wm. B Eerdmans Pub. Co., 1999; “Eucharistic Liturgy,” p. 338; this article written by Robin M. Jensen and J. Patout Burns)

Return then, O you transgressors, to a right mind, (Isaiah 46:8) and do not seek to weigh the sacraments of God by considerations of the characters and deeds of men. For the sacraments are holy through Him to whom they belong; but when taken in hand worthily, they bring reward, when unworthily, judgment. And although the men are not one who take in hand the sacrament of God worthily or unworthily, yet that which is taken in hand, whether worthily or unworthily, is the same; so that it does not become better or worse in itself, but only turns to the life or death of those who handle it in either case. (Against Petilian the Donatist, Book II, 37: 88)

Related Reading

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Holy Communion in the Hand (Norm till 500-900 AD) [9-3-15; some additions on 3-13-20]
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Photo credit: Altarpiece of the Church Fathers: St Augustine Liberating a Prisoner (c. 1483), by Michael Pacher (1430-1498) [public domain / Wikimedia Commons]
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