Q&A: Would you please explain again how we receive the Body of Christ in our hands?

All questions come from parishioners of Sacred Heart Parish or St. Joseph Mission and they are presented to you anonymously. Questions and answers were presented in the Series “Because You Asked” from 2016.
Average Time to Read: 2 minutes


Would you please explain again how we receive the Body of Christ in our hands? I was told we make a cross with our hands, but seldom do we see anyone doing this properly. I think we need to review the catechesis of how we receive the Body of Christ by hand.


First of all, it is an historic fact that the normative way of receiving communion in the beginning was in the hand. St. Justin Martyr, who lived almost 1800 years ago, cites in writing, in his Apologies, that one must put one’s hands together forming a throne to receive one’s king and, further, that one should take great care not to lose a single crumb of the sacred species because it is more precious than gold dust. In modern times, this has generally been interpreted to mean putting your left hand in your right hand, palms up and arms extended, to receive the host, to respond with an “Amen” when the minister says, “The Body of Christ” and places the host in one’s hand, and to then take the host from your left hand into your right hand and place the host in your mouth while still standing before the minister. If one happens to be left-handed, I see no problem with reversing hand positions to favor the dominant hand. It is considered very bad form, however, to receive in silence, without saying “Amen” or to walk off some distance before consuming the host. It is also bad form to take the host from the minister in your fingers or in some other fashion. After all, we do not “take” communion. We “receive” communion.

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