One Priest's Perspective on Communion in the Hand
There's an excellent article here on how the usurpation of priestly roles by the laity is a direct attack on the priest's masculinity, and thus his position as a spiritual father.  In a sense, the celibate priest trades the intimacy of a marriage for a greater intimacy with God through the Eucharist.  If everyone can touch your wife, that's an attack on your masculinity and marriage itself.  Likewise, if everyone can touch the Eucharist, that's an attack on the priest's masculinity and the priesthood itself.  The whole thing is very good, but some excerpts that sum up this part:
Quote:I will argue that the assumption of sacred functions by the laity, reserved to the ordained for at least fifteen hundred years, is poisoning the priesthood. The contention proceeds from a simple premise: if the priesthood is reserved to men, as has been taught by the Church, then what does harm to the masculine nature of the ordained weakens the priesthood itself.

The mistake was the failure to take into account the obvious possibility that the unique sacramental / pastoral role of the priest is not a mere timebound whim of the Church, but is intrinsic to the nature of the priesthood, particularly a celibate one. From the time that priestly celibacy came to be understood as the norm, the unique administration of the sacred and, in particular, the priest as sole steward of the Eucharist, were supernatural responsibilities that grounded the celibate's commitment.  The man who has sacrificed wife and family is discovering that the structure that guarded his self-identity as a spiritual spouse and father is in the process of being dismantled. The effects are simultaneously subtle and pronounced.

A constitutive part of masculinity is the desire for unique intimacy. Much has been written in the past three decades about appropriate intimacy for the priest. Most of the literature focuses upon the nature of the human relationships that dot the landscape of a priest's life. In the 1970s a best seller among priests and religious was a work entitled, The Sexual Celibate. It suffered from a variety of weaknesses, but it articulated a reality worth repeating: namely, the distinction between the sexual and the sensually sexual within each human person. The forfeiture of the sensually sexual does not mutate the human being into an asexual creature. The need for a unique physical intimacy with another is constitutive of permanent monogamous relationships ordained by the Creator, Yet it is precisely that type of intimacy with another human being that the celibate sacrifices. The celibate priest, however, was offered through his office an incomparable and unparalleled intimacy:  he alone could touch God.

The liturgical legislation of the post-Conciliar era has eliminated the Eucharistic exclusivity that marked the office of the priest. The celibate priest no longer possesses the unique corporeal relationship with God. He is not denied the relationship, but others have access to it. Consider a parallel situation: i.e., within the Sacrament of Matrimony. The possession of an exclusive bodily prerogative with one's spouse is primary; in fact there exists no greater convergence between the Divine Law and the instincts of even fallen human nature than on this point. Violate this pact, and one risks murderous rage. If a celibate priest, however, reacts with even the slightest resentment towards the loss of what was his corporeal exclusivity within his Sacrament of Holy Orders, he is considered a candidate for psychological evaluation.

The fact is that many priests do have an instinctive reaction against the presence of the non-consecrated hand touching the Body of God. A non-consecrated hand in the tabernacle, or reaching for the Sacrament at the reception of Holy Communion, violates an intimacy that was, before the engineering of liturgical "roles," exclusively the priest's.  A dynamic equivalent to what would fuel the emotions of a husband who realizes another has shared the exclusive intimacy with the one to whom he has permanently committed himself, is present within priests.  The sense of alienation is more intense for the traditional celibate priest because he is aware that his spouse, the Church, has arranged and promoted the nonexclusivity.

The change in Church practice that was the gateway to all of the above was Communion in the hand.

If I could change only one thing about the modern Mass (not talking about abuses here, but actual normal parts of it; and not trying to fix it, because I don't think it's fixable, but just trying to make it less dangerous for those who attend it), I would remove the indult for Communion in the hand.  A friend of mine thinks kneeling for Communion is more important, but I think if people had to accept on the tongue again, kneeling would tend to follow.  I suspect that this one change, more than any other, has led to a general loss of belief in the Real Presence, which leads directly to failure to keep one's Sunday obligation, the discarding of unpleasant duties like Confession, and eventually leaving the Church altogether.

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Re: One Priest's Perspective on Communion in the Hand - by Mhoram - 05-01-2010, 08:22 AM

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