Rorate Caeli

"...there is no text of the Tradition which supports it"

The Italian website Pontifex.Roma has published a short interview with Msgr. Nicola Bux on the topic of Holy Communion. Here is the full text of the interview in English translation. Emphases mine.

Given Msgr. Bux's closeness to the Pope and his liturgical thought, it seems that we have here a clear exposition of the "Benedictine" stance regarding the proper way to receive communion: clearly favorable towards communion kneeling and on the tongue coupled with a clear disapproval of communion in the hand (clearer than in the previous three Pontificates), without as yet proposing strict measures to abolish anything not already condemned in documents like Redemptionis Sacramentum, and definitely without opposing communion standing up. -- CAP.


How to administer communion in a dignified manner

Communion on one’s knees guarantees devotion and the sense of the sacred. Certain flippant ways to administer this sacrament show a loss of the sense of the sacred. The faithful must not take for themselves the Chalice and the Host, this being a serious abuse.

Monday, July 20th, 2009
From Pontifex Roma

How should one administer communion in a dignified manner? We asked the theologian and esteemed liturgist Monsignor Nicola Bux. It may be a random case but the modernism and the slovenliness of certain post-conciliar interpretations have lead to such a debasement of this Sacrament , that there are all kind of ways in which people approach it…

Don Bux, which is the most correct way to communicate?

“I would say there are two ways. There is the position where one stands up, taking the Host in the mouth, or else on one’s knees. I do not see any third way.”

There is the standing-up position.

“OK, I have nothing against it. The important thing is that the faithful are intimately conscious of what they are about to receive, that is that they do not approach the communion with a lightheartedness that shows immaturity and being at a complete distance from God.”

Communion standing up, but what is the best way to do it?

“Well, look here, even the receiving of the communion standing up may be full of devotion, of compunction…... and a sense of the Sacred is good to have. It would be very good and convenient, no doubt about it, to let a formal sign of reverence precede communion (even if it is received standing up), which means the head is covered for the women, sign of the cross or a slight bow in a sign of one’s love.

But for what reason do people often approach the communion as if it is a kind of buffet?

I like this expression and in part it is correct. Many persons rise mechanically (from their seats - CAP) and they do not know and are not even able to imagine what they are about to receive. They think that participation in Mass something that automatically includes communion and that they have to go up and receive it, although the fact is that only those who are really in the grace of God should do so”.

In his latest Masses pope Benedict XVI has administered communion only to those who were kneeling.

"Yes, he was very right to do so. I believe that kneeling when receiving the communion helps one to gather oneself together and to understand the mystery in a more reverential way. To kneel in front of the Body of Christ is an act of gratuitous love and humility before God, and this sense of the sacred is seldom understood. In our days it is mostly adrift and lost or almost muted. “

All in all, communion on one’s knees helps the spirit?

“Yes, certainly so, it favors devotion and spirituality. I believe that the position on one’s knees when receiving the communion is the one which by far responds the most to the Sacred.

And receiving in one’s hand?

“I am sorry to say, but there is no text of the Tradition which supports it. Not even if everybody takes it and eats it in this way. There is no text concerning this, and if we wish we could say that the Apostles were priests and thus had the right to take it by the hand. The Oriental Church does not permit it.”

In a church in Rome, the so called Caravita, usually very crowded, particularly by the Catholic Mexican community, a Jesuit priest (the Jesuits consent to dancing with women and even to drinking beer in public), personally administers the Host to his faithful in such a way that they dip it in the Chalice, is it not true?

“Yes, this is a most serious and intolerable abuse, which you do well to report to me and which the Bishop must be made aware of, this must come to his knowledge. In paragraphs 88 and 94 (of Redemptionis Sacramentum – CAP) it is firmly said that it is not permitted for the faithful to take the Host themselves, or to pass the Chalice from one person to the other. I think that such a communion is not valid (non sia valida). I will analyze the problem, but we have here to do with an inadmissible abuse which we must repress the sooner the better.

Bruno Volpe


  1. I think the point about non-validity is an interesting one. We must remember that when we speak of the eucharist, there is the sacrifice and there is the sacrament. Transubstantiation is one thing, the minister of which is the priest and the matter of which is bread and wine. But then there is receiving the sacrament, Communion, where the Body of Christ is the matter and whoever administers it to you is the minister. And is it possible that the latter could be invalid? ie, you consume the Body of Christ, but get no increase in sanctifying grace because of some defect. Obviously, mortal sin or not being a human (ie, a mouse in the tabernacle) would invalidate reception of Communion as such even if the transubstantiation was valid. What else might???

  2. Things are looking up if this man is on the doctrinal discussion team. He seems to have a grasp of the sacred.

  3. "...drinking beer in public."?

    Presumably there was more to the complaint than that? Do we really think drinking beer in public is improper for religious?

  4. Anonymous4:59 AM

    Dear Jordanes and other Moderators:

    The text I was suggesting that you copy here regarding the TAC is from "The Messenger". It is a very recent article by their Bishop David Chislett, S.S.C. The title is "Churches in Communion?" It is a bit long but the part to copy here (with a link for those wanting to read more), is only the last half of it or so, starting with the paragraph beginning in these words:

    "The publicity resulting from the article in the Perth Record led many people to conclude that what was being sought by the TAC is a "personal prelature," - a recently devised way of being Roman Catholic in which the clergy are subject, not to the diocesan bishop, but to another bishop somewhere else. Opus Dei is so far the only personal prelature."

    Please consider copying from this point to the end of the article, minus the names of all the Eastern Catholic churches at the very end (you might name the first three and then just add an '&c.").

    Go here and scroll down past the picture:

    Please consider posting this! I believe it is a very clear smoke signal of what's to come.


    P.S. The Bishop on the right side of the picture, wearing a hat, Peter Wilkinson, is unmarried and is, in my view, likely to be the first Primate of this church when it comes under Rome. He's the head of its Canadian arm and is currently one of the three or four members of their Communion's Primate's board.

    P.P.S. The references on this link to a sudden surge in their growth is partly referring to two full-sized Anglican dioceses from India joining them in just the last three or four months, plus other groups from Africa. If they join us (and they certainly will), they'll bring in perhaps 400,000 faithful just to start. More importantly, they'll become a platform for much larger mergers in the future.

  5. Pater, OSB6:30 AM

    “I like this expression and in part it is correct. Many persons rise mechanically (from their seats - CAP) and they do not know and are not even able to imagine what they are about to receive. They think that participation in Mass something that automatically includes communion and that they have to go up and receive it, although the fact is that only those who are really in the grace of God should do so”.

    This passage touches on a huge issue at the moment... huge on several fronts at that. A) people don't know what they are doing; B) people thus tend not to care and aren't upset if they miss a Sunday here and there; and C) people who can't receive [e.g. 'married' outside the Church, etc...] think that if they can't receive Communion that they are no longer bound to attend Mass on Sunday. There are other issues as well - but in the U.S. these are all important issues to address with all the faithful.

  6. Anonymous7:00 AM

    Though I appreciate his comments, his commend about "non sia valida" shows that he is far from a good theologian: you don't apply this phrase to what is illicit or immoral, like he does...

    Where do these guys learn their theology? -- Not from the Scholastics...

  7. Anon at 7,

    That comment was baffling. Changing the words of Consecration is also illicit and renders the Sacrament invalid, only it does this independently of the illicitness of the act.

    I am not a theologian myself, but I can hypothetically imagine that it could be shown that a defect in the form of administering the Sacrament, independently of the illicit nature of that act, could invalidate the reception of the Sacrament such that it would not be efficacious.

  8. In my local parish, I receive Communion on the tongue, but standing and having joined a queue. I always feel as if I am being rushed. The priest seems to be impatient of my advancing slowly and composing myself.

    I think that the greatest objection to method of distribution is that it leaves no time for reflection.

  9. I found his comment about Communion in the hand particularly interesting. Even though the Holy Father has been distributing Communion in this described way, The Spirit of the Liturgy offers a fairly robust apologetic for receiving Communion in the hand. Dom Bux's comments pass over this point. Is the current kneeling-on the tongue practice an emphasis solely on the ars celebrandi, has the Holy Father changed his mind, or something else?

  10. Edward C. Yong3:54 PM

    Um, "The Oriental Church does not permit it." - the Assyrian Church practices communion in the hand, but after the hands have been ceremonially washed and then warmed and scented by passing them above a smoking censer..

  11. Anonymous6:34 PM

    Is it mandatory for the faithful in the ordinary form of the Mass to be able to receive the Blood? Is it still permissable for only the priest to partake?

  12. Is it mandatory for the faithful in the ordinary form of the Mass to be able to receive the Blood? Is it still permissable for only the priest to partake?

    It is not mandatory to receive the Precious Blood in the Novus Ordo, but it is optional. No parish must extend it to anyone outside of the priest.

  13. "The Jesuits dance with women and even drink beer in public"? Maybe I have my priorities wrong, but dancing with women seems a lot more scandalous for the clergy than drinking beer to me. Maybe a translation issue?

  14. "Is it mandatory for the faithful in the ordinary form of the Mass to be able to receive the Blood? Is it still permissable for only the priest to partake"

    It was never mandatory to receive the Precious Blood in Masses of the Ordinary Form.

    In the Philippines and, from what I can tell, in most countries all over the world, giving the chalice to the laity is still the exception rather than the norm even in OF Masses.

  15. There is no reason for anyone to receive from the Chalice in the OF since the host itself contains the entire Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of the 2nd Person of the Holy Trinity, Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. In fact, even the smallest particle contains the selfsame Saviour of the World.

    How, then, did this practice come about? IMHO it was because Lutherans and other protestant sects were doing it and the spirit of ecumenism took over the minds of those charged with legislating this discipline in the Church. But, that is only my opinion and what do I know?

  16. Msgr. Bux is well aware of the historical patristic references to communion in the hand. What he is saying is that those texts do not establish that communion in the hand is an Apostolic Tradition. His contention is that they are texts that attest to a tradition, but they are not texts in the Tradition.

  17. Anonymous6:56 PM

    Pope Benedict will do the right thing very soon, and ban Communion in the hand.

    Find out why he is encourage to do this.

  18. "How, then, did this practice come about?"

    The practice of giving some of the Precious Blood to the laity is not, in itself, contrary to sacred Tradition. We have the example of the Eastern Rites to witness to this; it is not, in itself, a Protestant innovation. I am perfectly aware of theLatin tradition in this regard: my point simply is that the practice is not Protestant in nature.


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