Fr. Heilman on New Liturgical Movement: Truth About Communion in the Hand While Standing

In my efforts to restore a sense of the sacred in the liturgy, I have often been accused of being “pre-Vatican II.” I usually correct them by saying I am exactly Vatican II. The Second Vatican Council called for few changes in the liturgy, understanding that there had been a great many changes to the Roman liturgy over the centuries, to be sure, but they had been gradual and organic, and typically imperceptible. However, in all of church history, there was never anything like what happened in the years following this Council, in respect to the liturgy.

This weekend we had our first Masses with the new Communion rail. After one of these Masses I was talking with one of the old guard parishioners (great guy), and he loved the rails. He told me that "years ago" (I love that expression), they had a Parish Council meeting, and Fr. X wanted to remove the side altars (along with many other alterations), in this beautiful church. The old guard parishioner said, "It was a hard fought battle that night, but we wore him down and he did only minor alterations.” I said, "My ... how times have changed ... that priest got criticized for trying to remove sacredness ... now I'm getting criticized for trying to bring it back."

Since we were celebrating our new Communion rails, and the Gospel saw Peter, James and John fall prostrate before the presence of God - I deemed it a perfect time to shed some light on one of those post-Vatican II innovations – Communion in the hand while standing. We began with a little history lesson …

An Indult Born Out of Disobedience

The practice of receiving Holy Communion in the hand first began to spread in Catholic circles during the early 1960s, primarily in Holland. Shortly after Vatican II, due to the escalating abuses in certain non-English speaking countries (Holland, Belgium, France and Germany), Pope Paul VI took a survey of the world's bishops to ascertain their opinions on the subject. On May 28, 1969 the Congregation for Divine Worship issued Memoriale Domini, which concluded: "From the responses received, it is thus clear that by far the greater number of bishops feel that the present discipline [i.e., Holy Communion on the tongue] should not be changed at all, indeed that if it were changed, this would be offensive to the sensibility and spiritual appreciation of these bishops and of most of the faithful." After he had considered the observation and the counsel of the bishops, the Supreme Pontiff judged that the long-received manner of ministering Holy Communion to the faithful should not be changed. The Apostolic See then strongly urged bishops, priests and the laity to zealously observe this law out of concern for the common good of the Church.
continue at The New Liturgical Movement

A MUST read.



  1. It's a nice article, but the counter is always that the Church would not allow it if it were wrong. Therefore, we really cannot judge one as better than the other. Tell me how you combat this.

    1. "the Church would not allow it if it were wrong" You mean to say that communion in the hand is something like an infallible Church teaching and therefore the Church could not err in the decision, or that the Church doesn't make errors in disciplines therefore it would not make a mistake here?

      This would be similar to the married priests argument. The Church could allow for married priests, but that doesn't mean that vocations would increase or that it would make for better priests; regardless of the discipline the married/celebate priesthood, the decision doesn't change the doctrine on the sacrament of the priesthood.

    2. Change the perspective to "the Church tolerates it. The Church tolerates many things that are not better.

      Ask your objector how the Church apparently got it wrong for at least 1000 yrs of set custom. Ask your objector just why he insists that one thing cannot be judged better than the other. On what basis does he make that claim. Is everything equivalent, and therefore indistinguishable?

      The Church still affirms the right of a priest to say Mass entirely in Latin even in the Novus Ordo. Ask your objector if he would therefore make no judgment on whether it is better to be in Latin or in the vernacular. You should be able to find some element of the Mass, where the objector will not be willing to acknowledge that one custom is equivalent to another. And then you have him.

  2. So much in the NO Mass is the result of dissobedience and dissent.


Please contact if you have issues commenting.