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ROME (ChurchMilitant.com) - The Vatican's liturgical chief is calling for a return to reverence for the Eucharist.
Writing in the preface to a new book on Communion in the hand, Cdl. Robert Sarah urges Catholics to return to the practice of receiving the Eucharist on the tongue while kneeling.
The Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, Sarah warns that belief in the Real Presence is eroding — calling this the central plank in Satan's plans to undermine the Church.
"The most insidious diabolical attack consists in trying to extinguish faith in the Eucharist by sowing errors and fostering an unsuitable way of receiving it," the cardinal writes. "Truly the war between Michael and his Angels on one side and Lucifer on the other continues in the hearts of the faithful."
"Satan's target is the Sacrifice of the Mass and the Real Presence of Jesus in the consecrated Host," he adds.
Sarah's comments come at a time of unprecedented attack on the sacredness of the Eucharist from within the Church.
Since the release of Pope Francis' apostolic exhortation Amoris Laetitia in April 2016, heterodox bishops across the world (Germany, Argentina, Malta, Portugal, the Philippines and the United States, etc.) have begun allowing divorced and civilly remarried Catholics to receive the Eucharist without binding them to chastity.
In doing so, erring bishops are opening the doors to progressive decay. The latest doctrinal deviation springs from Germany, where on Thursday, Cdl. Reinhard Marx, head of the country's bishops' conference, announced his brother prelates have voted "overwhelmingly" to allow Protestant spouses of Catholics to receive Holy Communion after a "serious examination of conscience."
Faithful Catholics are scandalized by the lack of reverence for Our Lord in the Holy Eucharist. Increasingly, they recognize that today's lack of faith in the Real Presence is part of a continuum stretching back decades.
Before German bishops could allow Protestants to Communion, before Argentinian prelates could admit adulterers, the Eucharist had to be desacralized — rendered a mere symbol — in the mind of man. As Cdl. Sarah understands the first step in that process was promoting reception of the Sacred Host in the hand.
Reception of the Eucharist on the tongue was the norm throughout Church history until Communion in the hand sprang up as an abuse in the Netherlands in the late 1960s.
In the wake of the Second Vatican Council, dissenting Dutch bishops allowed Communion in the hand to revive. They allowed the practice to spread "in the spirit of Vatican II," giving rise to the widespread — but false — belief that the council called for it.
From the Netherlands, the practice spread immediately into Belgium and Germany. Though Rome ordered an end to the abuse, its admonitions were ignored.
Pope Paul VI vacillated and in 1969 issued Memoriale Domini, an instruction calling prelates and priests to obey the Church norm of distributing Holy Communion on the tongue. The document "emphatically urges bishops, priests and laity to obey carefully the law which is still valid and which has again been confirmed."
But in places where the abuse had become a prevailing custom — that is, in the Netherlands, Belgium and Germany — Memoriale Domini allowed bishops to petition the Holy See for permission to retain the practice if two-thirds of the area's bishops voted by secret ballot to do so. This exception was never intended for the United States or any other countries.
But by the early 1970s, the abuse was popping up in dioceses across America, pioneered by the country's leading liberal prelate, Cdl. John Dearden of Detroit.
His protege, leftist Cdl. Joseph Bernardin, headed the National Conference of Catholic Bishops — forerunner to today's USCCB — from 1974–1977. Under his leaderhsip, a vote was taken on the issue of Communion in the hand during the bishops' May 1977 meeting.
But the bishops voting did not meet the necessary conditions set by Rome to petition for Holy Communion in the hand.
With Bernardin presiding, they refused to gauge if Communion in the hand was a "prevailing custom" as required by Paul VI. They also failed to comply with the secret ballot/two-thirds stipulation. The final vote tally was never revealed, but Catholics were assured that the two-thirds threshold had been met.
Though polls of the day showed Communion in the hand was unwanted by the American laity and by the majority of U.S. bishops, Bernardin and his associates rammed the measure through, instituting Communion in the hand in the United States illegally. As one Canon lawyer has observed, "Permission under deceit is no permission."
Once Communion in the hand became a common practice, people stopped receiving on the tongue. This, coupled with modernist theology preached from parish pulpits, began the massive loss of faith in the Real Presence we see today.