some year before 2007
and this dating above and these two lines are at the rennovation of the website on October 19th 2020
the translation into Croatian (and corrections in Italian and English) pages made on Oct. 18th 2020, the English translation had been completed before 2007.
This article, at the time I found it, is accessible to the public via internet, to my knowledge, on few other places other than the site www.unavox.it, at the precise address: http://www.unavox.it/032b.htm, and to the author of the site I owe gratitude for the kind permission to use and traslate the materials of the site, of which this article is the first. On exDeo.com there is a minimally modified (mainly typos and puncuation) copy of it in Italian, for reasons of easy comparison of the Croatian and English translations that I intend to make with the original, in such way that these can mutually replace each other, and in equal format and presentation, in the same window.
St Ciril of Jerusalem and the Communion on the hand
[On the issue pertaining to the so called "Communion on the hand",
we bring here the article of R. P. Giuseppe Pace, S. B. D.,
published in the January issue of 1990 of the periodical Chiesa Viva
(Editrice Civiltà, via Galileo Galilei, 121, 25123 Brescia).]
The acorn is potentially an oak tree; the oak tree is an acorn become perfect. For an oak tree to become acorn again, presuming that it could do so without dying, would mean to regress. For that reason in the Mediator Dei (n. 51) Pius XII condemned the liturgical archeologism as antiliturgical with these words: "… Just as obviously unwise and mistaken is the zeal of one who in matters liturgical would go back to the rites and usage of antiquity, discarding the new patterns introduced by disposition of divine Providence to meet the changes of circumstances and situation. This way of thinking and acting seeks to revive the excessive and unhealthy archeologism which the illegal council of Pistoia instigated. It likewise strives to reinstate those errors that gave rise to, and which made the miserable council convene, and which thence resulted from, not without grievous harm to souls, and which the Church, the ever watchful guardian of the Depositum Fidei , treasure of faith, committed to her safekeeping by her divine Founder, rightfully and lawfully condemned.
Those pseudoliturgists who are laying waste to the Church in the name of the Second Vatican Council have fallen prey to such morbose obsession - to archeologitis; the pseudoliturgists who at times arrive at pushing with exhortations and with example their subjects to violate those few laws that have survived so far, and which they themselves formally promulgated and approved.
Simptomatic in this regard is the case of the rite of the Holy Communion. Some bishops indeed, after having proclaimed that the traditional rite, of placing the sacred Host onto the lips of the communicant, is still in vigor, permit nonetheless that the sacred Communion be distributed in baskets which the faithful pass to each other hand to hand; or he himself deposits the sacred Species onto bare hands - and were those always clean? - of the communicant. If one wants to convince the faithful that the sacred Eucharist is nothing but mere bread, albeit blessed, just a symolic snack, sure the road taken is the road most direct: that of the sacrilege.
Upholders of the Communion on the hand appeal to that pseudoliturgic archeologism condemned apertis verbis, in open words, by Pius XII. They in fact say, and repeat, that it should be received in such fashion, because in such fashion it was done in the whole Church, either in the East or in the West, from the outset, and on, for a thousand years.
Is is true and certain that from the beginnings and on for almost twoo thousand years the communicants had to abstain from any kind of food and drink, from the eve to the moment of the holy Communion, in preparation for it. Why don't the people of the archeologitis restore such eucharistic fasting (as well)? which certainly would contribute, and not just a little, to maintaining vivid in the minds of the communicants the thought of the imminent Communion, and to bringing them into proper disposition for receiving it.
It is however certainly false that from the beginning and on for a thousand years there was in the whole of the Church, in the East and in the West, the habit to place the sacred Species into the hands of the faithful.
The main battle horse of these pesudoliturgists is the following passage from the Mystagogical Catecheses attributed to St Cyril of Jerusalem:
"Adiens igitur, ne expansis manuum volis, neque disiunctis digitis accede; sed sinistram velut thronum subiiciens, utpote Regem suscepturae: et concava manu suscipe corpus Christi, respondens Amen".
(Walking then [to receive Communion] approach it not with the palms of the hands stretched, nor with the fingers spread; but make thy left hand a throne underneath the right, which is to hold the King. And having hollowed thy palm, receive the body of Christ, responding Amen).
Arriving at this Amen, they halt; but the Mystagogical Catecheses do not end there, rather they add:
"Postquam autem caute oculos tuos sancti corporis contactu santificaveris, illud percipe… Tum vero post communionem corporis Christi, accede et ad sanguinis poculum: non extendens manus; sed pronus [in Greek: 'allà kùpton, which Bellarmine traslates genu flexo], et adorationis ac venerationis in modum, dicens Amen, sancticeris, ex sanguine Christi quoque sumens. Et cum adhuc labiis tuis adbaeret ex eo mador, manibus attingens, et oculos et frontem et reliquos sensus sanctifica… A communione ne vos abscindite; neque propter peccatorum inquinamentum sacris istis et spiritualibus defraudate mysteriis". (So then after having carefully hallowed thine eyes by the touch of the Holy Body, partake of it…Then after thou hast partaken of the Body of Christ, draw near also to the Cup of His Blood; not stretching forth thine hands, but bending, and saying with an air of worship and reverence, Amen, hallow thyself by partaking also of the Blood of Christ. And while the moisture is still upon thy lips, touch it with thine hands, and hallow thine eyes and brow and the other organs of sense… Sever not yourselves from the Communion; deprive not yourselves of these Holy and Spiritual Mysteries, neither when polluted by sins). (P. G. XXXIII, coll. 1123-1126).
Who could possibly uphold that such a rite was, were it even for a little less than a thousand years, habitual in the universal Church? And how to reconcile such a rite that pemits to the holy Communion those as well who are contaminated by sins, with the habit certainly universal from the beginnings which fobade the sacred Communion to those who weren't holy?: "Itaque quicumque manducaverit panem hunc, vel biberit calicem Domini indigne, reus erit corporis et sanguinis Domini. Probet autem seipsum homo: et sic de pane illo edat, et de calice bibat. Qui enim manducat et bibit indigne, iudicium sibi manducat et bibit non dijudicans corpus Domini". (Therefore whosoever shall eat this bread, or drink the chalice of the Lord unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and of the blood of the Lord. But let a man prove himself: and so [having found he is free from grave sins] let him eat of that bread, and drink of the chalice. For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh judgment to himself, not discerning the body of the Lord.). (I Corinthians, 11, 27-29).
Such an extravagant rite of the Holy Communion, the description of which concludes with the exhortation to receive the holy Communion even if contaminated by sins, certainly wasn't preached by St Cyril of Jerusalem, and neither was it permitted in whichever other Church, any whatsoever. There we have here, in fact, a rite owed to the phantasy, oscillating between fanaticism and sacrilege, by the author of the Apostolic Costitutions: an anonymous Syrian, divourer of books, indefatiguable writer, who pours into his writings, indigested and contaminated by parts of his own phantasies, the most part of those same readings of his; who in the VIII book of the aforementoined Apostolic Costitutions, adds, attributing them to St Clement the Pope, 85 Canons of the Apostles; canons which the Pope Gelasius I, during the Council of Rome in 494, declared to be apocryphal: "Liber qui appellatur Canones Apostolorum, apocryfus (P. L., LIX, col. 163).
The descriptioon of this extravagant rite, if not necessarily all throughout sacrilegious, was enclosed into the Mystagogical Catecheses by a successor of St Cyril, who as deemed by most (ecclesiastical historians), by all likenss is bishop John, crypto-arian, origenian and pelagian; and therefore opposed by St Epiphanius, by St Jerome and St Augustine.
How can Leclercq state chat: "… nous devons y voir [the aforementioned extravagant rite] une exacte représentation de l'usage des grandes Eglises de Syrie"? He cannot affirm such a thing without contradicting himself, since a little earlier on he states that there we have: "… une liturgie de fantasie. Elle ne procède et elle n'est destinée qu'à distraire son auteur; ce n'est pas une liturgie normale, officielle, appartenant à une Eglise déterminée" (Dictionaire de Archeologie chretienne et de Liturgie, vol. III, part II, col. 2749-2750).
We have, to the contrary, persistent testimonies of the contrary custom, and that is of the practice of placing the sacred Species onto the lips of the communicant, and of the prohibition to lay people from touching the sacred Species with their own hands. Exclusively in the case of dire need and in time of persecution, St Basil assures us, was it possible to exempt from that norm and permit to lay people to communicate themselves with their own hands (P. G., XXXII, coll. 483-486).
We do not intend, it is clear, to riview the whole lot of testimonies invoked to manifest how in the ancient times the practise of placing the sacred Species on the lips of the communicant was the established custum; we will indicate only a few testimonies which are symptomatic, and which will moreover suffice to prove wrong those who affirm that for a thousand of years there was the custum in the universal Church, either East or West, to place the sacred Species into the hands of the lay.
St Eutychian, Pope from 275 to 283, so that the sacred Species would not be touched with their hands, prohibits to the lay to carry the sacred Species to the sick:
"Nullus præsumat tradere communionem laico vel femminæ ad deferendum infirmo" (Let no one dare entrust the Communion to a lay or a woman, to be carried to a sick) (P. L., V, coll. 163-168).
St Gregory the Great recounts how St Agapit, Pope from 535 to 536, during the few months of his pontificate, on his journey to Costantinople, healed a deaf and mute in the act of "ei dominicum Corpus in os mitteret" (putting in his mouth the Body of the Lord) (Dialogues, III, 3).
That much for the East; and for the West, it is known and it is without doubt that the same St Gregory the Great administered in such way the holy Communion to the lay.
Earlier on, the Council of Zaragoza, in 380, launched excommunication against those who allowed themselves to treat the most holy Eucharist as if it were time of persecution, time in which the lay could find themselves in need of having to touch it with their own hands (SAENZ DE AGUIRRE, Notitia Conciliorum Hispaniæ, Salamanca, 1686, pag. 495).
Undisciplined innovators were plenty in the ancient times as well. Which urged the Church authorities to bring them to order.
So did the Council of Rouen, around 650, prohibiting the minister of the Eucharist to place the sacred Species in the hand of the lay communicant: "[Presbyter] illud etiam attendat ut eos [fideles] propria manu communicet, nulli autem laico aut fœminæ Eucharistiam in manibus ponat, sed tantum in os eius cum his verbis ponat: "Corpus Domini et sanguis prosit tibi in remissionem peccatorum et ad vitam æternam". Si quis hæc transgressus fuerit, quia Deum omnipotentem comtemnit, et quantum in ipso est inhonorat, ab altari removeatur" ([The presbyter] will attend to this as well: to communicate [the faithful] with his own hand; to no lay person or woman will he place the Eucharist on the hand, but solely onto their mouth, with these words: "The body and blood of the Lord may benefit you for the remission of sins and for the eternal life". Whoever should transgess these norms, having therewith despised the omnipotent God and having with his own person dishonored him, is to be removed from the altar). (Mansi, vol. X, coll. 1099-1100).
In opposition, the Arians, to show that they didn't believe in the divinity of Jesus, and that they considered the Eucharist to be bread purely symbolic, communicated themselves standing and touching with their own hands the sacred Species. Not without a reason St Athanasius spoke of arian apostasy (P. G., vol. XXIV, col. 9 ss.).
It is not to be denied that at times it was permitted to the lay persons to touch the sacred Species, in certain particular cases, or even in some particular Churches, in some periods. But it is denied that such was the custom of the Church either in the East or in the West for a thousand years; it is even more false to affirm that it should bi done in such way even nowadays. Also in the cult of to the most holy Eucharist there has been a wise progress, analogous to that which happened in the field of dogmatics (with which the modernist theology of the death of God has nothing whatsoever in common).
The aforementioned liturgical progress made universal the use of the kneeling in the act of adoration, and therefore the use of kneelers; the practice of covering the communion rail with a cloth, the use of paten, sometimes a burning candle as well; and then the practise of dedicating at least a quarter of an hour in personal thanksgiving. To abolish all that does not mean to increment the cult we owe to God in the most holy Eucarist, and the faith and the santification of the faithful, but means to serve the devil.
When St Tommas (Summa Theologica, III, q. 82, a 3)
exposes the motives that prohibit to the lay to touch the sacred Species, he doesn't speak of a recent invention, but of a liturgical custom as old as the Church. With good right did the Coucil of Trent not just affirm that in the Church of God there has been constant custom that the lay receive the Communion from the priests, while the priests communicate themselves; but that, in addition to former, such custom was of apostolic origin (Denzinger, 881). That is the reason we have it prescribed in the Catechism of St Pius X (Questioni 642-645). Now such norm has not been abrogated: in the New Roman Missal, the article 117 reads that che communicant tenens patenam sub ore, sacramentum accipit (the paten being held under the mouth, receives the sacrament).
After which it is not possible to understand how come that the same promulgators of such a wise norm, dispense from it dioceses one after another. A simple faithful in front of such incoherence, cannot but conceive a great indifference toward the liturgical and non liturgical ecclesiastical laws.