Rorate Caeli

Communion on the Hand and Catholic Totality


by Don Pietro Leone

The Institution of the Eucharist

Joos van Wassenhove (1473-75)

We place our brief treatment of “Communion on the Hand” between an Introduction on Adoration and an Epilogue in the form of a witness.


Introduction: Adoration



Now honour is the attitude which a subject manifests to another in virtue of the other’s superior excellence, in order to express his submission to that other; whereas adoration is that honour which a subject manifests to God in virtue of God’s superior, or more precisely, infinite excellence, which requires of the subject total submission to Him. The obligation to adore God is the consequence of this infinite excellence of God which requires on the part of every rational being an attitude of total subjection: Tibi se cor meum totum subjicit 1

The obligation is expressed in the First Commandment with the words: ‘I am the Lord thy God: Thou shalt have no gods other than Me’, because this Commandment orders us to adore Him alone as the Supreme Lord. The same obligation is expressed by Our Lord Jesus Christ in His command to Satan: ‘The Lord thy God shalt thou adore, and Him only shalt thou serve’ (Mt 4.10, cf. Deuteronomy 6.13). This statement of Our Lord follows upon the latter’s proposition that the Lord should rather fall down before him and adore him, in order to receive ‘all the kingdoms of the world and the glory of them’ (Mt 4.9): Satan in his overweening hybris here claims for himself the honour due to God alone.


Adoration is at the same time internal (that is mental) and external (that is physical). Internal adoration is the more important of the two, but both are due to God by man inasmuch as man is composed both of mind and body, and is obliged to adore God totally: that is both with the mind and the body. In fact the external act of adoration is necessary for arousing our affection; while the internal adoration (if genuine) impels the subject to manifest such an attitude in external gestures.


Holy Mother Church has established the acts of adoration due to God in the Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar as follows: on entering a church where the Blessed Sacrament is reserved, one traces a sign of Cross on oneself with Holy (that is to say exorcised) Water; one makes a genuflection; when one passes in front of the Tabernacle and arrives at one’s place in church, one makes a further genuflection; one does not look around, one does not talk. If one needs to communicate something, one does so sotto voce.


When the Blessed Sacrament is exposed, by contrast, on entering the church one traces the Sign of the Cross as usual but the genuflection is made with both knees, with a profound inclination of the head; the same applies when one passes in front of the Blessed Sacrament and arriving at one’s place. The practise of genuflecting on one knee when the Blessed Sacrament is exposed is a modern aberration.


When one goes to receive Holy Communion, one keeps hands folded and eyes downcast; similarly when one returns to the bench; one kneels at the altar rails and receives on the tongue. It goes without saying that if one has fallen into mortal sin since the last confession through having failed to fulfill the obligation to attend Sunday Mass for example, through blasphemy, or through impurity alone or with another, then one is debarred form receiving Holy Communion (even if one intends to confess sacramentally immediately afterwards): if one did so, it would not be an act of Adoration, but rather an outrage to God: a sacrilege and a mortal sin.


Communion on the Hand


It was apparent from its very outset, that what we call the “virus-vaccine scourge” was orchestrated not least to outrage the Living God and the Man of Sorrows. Holy Water was removed from churches and Handcommunion imposed almost universally for an assortment of ill-conceived motives, too facile even to recall.


My Dear Reader, if we are obliged to honour God with the attitude of Adoration, then how precisely is this possible if we receive the Blessed Sacrament on the hand? The faithful stand; the priest or member of the laity places the Blessed Sacrament on their unconsecrated, unwashed hands; they take It in their hands; they place It in their mouths, first stepping aside or as they move away; they brush from their hands any fragments which may have adhered to them, each of which contains the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Our Lord Jesus Christ. Totus... et integer Christus sub panis specie et sub quavis ipsius speciei parte, totus item sub vini specie et sub eius partibus exsistit 2 Christ, total and entire, exists under the appearance of bread and under every part of that appearance; again [Christ] total [and entire] exists under the appearance of the wine and under its parts. As the faithful return to their seats, they trample upon the said fragments: in other words upon Him, the Highest Good, Who  was born, suffered, and laid down His Life in order to save them. Some of the more pious priests will raise the Host before placing It in the hands of the faithful, but this cannot be said in any way to justify or to outweigh the abuses just listed.


But, after all, what can we expect? The practice of Handcommunion was devised by the Protestant heretics precisely in order to eliminate Adoration of the Blessed Host 3 The Apostate Dominican Martin Bucer, mentor of Thomas Cranmer, had expressed the Protestant consensus as to the Real Presence 4 when he remarked in his Censura: “It becomes our duty to abolish from the churches… with all purity of doctrine whatever forms of adoration of bread they wish to have employed by the anti-Christs and preserved in the hearts of the simpler kind of people.”

 Luca Signorelli  - The Communion of the Apostles (1512)

Similar attitudes in regard to the Real Presence were expressed and promoted by the heresiarchs Zwingli and Calvin, and by their successors, as to the reception of the Blessed Sacrament standing and in the hand: “It was the custom to move and to stand to receive Communion. People stood in front of the table and received the species in their own hands”.  Various synods of the “Calvinist Church” of Holland, had in the 16th. and 17th. Centuries formally prohibited Holy Communion kneeling 5 “In the first period, people knelt during the prayer and received the Communion kneeling, but various synods forbade it to avoid any hypothesis that the bread should be venerated.” 


Now the elimination of the Adoration of the Blessed Host was finalised towards the elimination of the belief in the Real Presence according to “all purity of doctrine”, and was indeed to become the very characteristic mark of Protestant Eucharistic heresy concerning the Real Presence. Can we deny that it has had the self-same effect in the Catholic world too since it was introduced in the 1970’s, with the support of such renowned Modernist Council Fathers as Cardinals Suenens and Alfrink? 


What, pray, is all this chatter in our churches? What is all this applause? What is all this inepta laetitia? What is all this inappropriate dress (or lack of dress or dresses)? Where are the genuflections on entry? Where the genuflections on passing in front of the Blessed Sacrament? Where the recollection? Where the folded hands? Where the downcast eyes? Where the thanksgiving after Mass? The author of this article was permitted to preach a homily (and no more) at the marriage of his cousin in ltaly. The parish priest entered at the beginning and left at the end without a minimal acknowledgment of the Real Presence, at any point of the ceremony, even by a “nod”.


Such then is the negative aspect of Handcommunion (in the sense of what it negates): what is its affirmative aspect (in the sense of what it affirms – apart from the heresy that the Blessed Sacrament is mere bread)? Amongst the many reflections in our book on the Second Vatican Council, which we have been amplifying prior to its publication  se Dio vuole, is the phenomenon of Handcommunion as an effect of the Council – not indeed that it was provided for by the Council nor by the rubrics of the New Rite but was indubitably an effect of the Council in its inner, anthropocentric dynamic.


In what sense is Handcommunion anthropocentric? A sacrament (with the exception of marriage) is administered by the sacred minister acting in persona Christi: it is administered by Christ Himself. It is administered by Christ and it is received by the faithful: it is not taken or appropriated by the faithful. The Blessed Sacrament in particular is not only administered by Christ, but is Christ, and neither is a sacrament taken, nor is Christ. The anthropocentricism of the New Rite which seeks to see everything, to hear everything, and immediately to understand everything, has culminated in the action of taking God Himself into one’s own hands, of taking ascendancy over God Himself. This anthropocentricism in regard to God amounts to self-deifying atheism: because if man is superior to God, then in reality man is God and God does not exist. We have argued to this same conclusion in great detail on our book on the Council.


We invite the gentle reader to reflect upon these facts. If the reader is a member of the laity and has been convinced to receive Communion in the hand because there was no other way of receiving Communion; or if he or she is vacillating as to adopting this method, we ask that person to re-consider. If angels and men have been created to adore God, and they have been, then do we adore God better by taking Him in our hands in the conditions that we have elaborated above, or by foregoing sacramental Communion and receiving Him spiritually? The answer cannot but be the latter 7 If the reader, by contrast, is a priest, then we ask him in all humility to take courage and to bear witness to the Real Presence, even at the expense of some form of scorn or ostracism.


We, the clergy and the laity, shall all have to give an account of our actions, starting with our actions towards God Himself: we will be judged in the most rigorous justice on everything. The more that is given us in terms of priestly ordination, responsibility for souls and of knowledge, the more shall be expected of us.


O Jesu Christ, remember,
When Thou shall come again,
Upon the clouds of heaven,
With all thy shining train;


When ev'ry eye shall see Thee,
In Deity revealed,
Who now upon this altar
In silence art concealed


Remember then, O Saviour,
I supplicate of Thee,
That here I bowed before Thee
Upon my bended knee;


That here I owned thy presence,
And did not Thee deny;
And glorified thy greatness,
Tho' hid from human eye....


 So most appositely begins the admirable booklet on Communion in the Hand by Michael Davies. “Think of thy final end and thou shalt not sin in eternity”.


Ah, that all men might know:that God is totally present in the Blessed Sacrament of the Altar! that He is totally present in Its every part! that with Holy Communion He gives Himself to them totally! Ah, that they might know: that they are obliged to adore Him totally! that they are obliged to love Him with their whole heart, their whole mind, and whole strength! that one day they will have to give Him an account of their every action! 

Epilogue: Witness

Celebrating the Holy Mass recently in a chapel near his family home where he has always been welcome to celebrate the Old Rite, the author was struck by an occurrence of a certain magnitude. He had reached that point of the Holy Mysteries where, immediately subsequent to the consumption of the Sacred Host, the celebrant scrapes from the Corporal onto the patena any fragments of It which may perhaps have remained there, and then brushes Them with closed fingers over the Most Precious Blood. Sometimes a celebrant may ask Himself why he should accomplish such actions when usually no fragment may be decried.


The author, executing this brushing movement, then, from the patena over the Most Precious Blood, was surprised to see a beam of bright sunlight shine at that moment from what was presumably a window in the roof onto the Most Precious Blood, for the confection of Which in that church red wine is used. All of a sudden the surface of the Blood was illuminated, and upon It, what seemed to be a quantity of some thirty or forty minute stars, standing out against the dark night sky, containing each of them in His entirety the very Creator of the stars.


Creator alme siderum

Aeterna lux credentium

Jesu, Redemptor omnium,

intende votis supplicum…


Virtus, honor, laus, gloria,

Deo Patri cum Filio,

Sancto simul Paraclito,

In saeculorum saecula. Amen.


O loving Creator of the stars, Eternal light of the faithful, Jesus, Redeemer of all. hearken to the prayers of Thy suppliants… Virtue, honour, praise and glory be to God the Father with the Son, together with the Holy Paraclete, forever and ever. Amen.       

(Advent Hymn)





 1. To Thee my heart subjects itself totally, cf. Adoro Te devote by St. Thomas Aquinas

 2.Trent sessio 13, caput 3, canon 3

 3.See our book: The Destruction of the Roman Rite, I B.3, Loreto Publications.

to which only Luther did not subscribe in virtue of his doctrine of ‘consubstantiation’.

Luth J.R. Communion in the Churches of the Dutch Reformation to the Present Day in: Ch. Caspers (ed.), Bread of Heaven, Customs and Practices Surrounding Holy Communion, Kampen 1995, p.101, quoted in Dominus Est, monsignor Athanasius Schneider, Libreria Editrice Vaticana, 2008. 

6. does any-one even know what recollection means any more?

7.A third option that a number of faithful have adopted is to receive the Blessd Sacrament on a small white linen cloth in the hands, but if they plan to do so, they must a) ask the priest beforehand if he will allow it; b) be careful to fold the cloth carefully; and c) assure that it is purified by a priest in the correct way by the three washings prescribed by Tradition.

8. unusually but licitly