MADISON, Wis. (ChurchMilitant.com) - The bishop of Madison, Wisconsin is calling for the faithful to receive Holy Communion on the tongue while kneeling.
During the diocesan Chrism Mass Wednesday, Bp. Robert Morlino made mention of recent remarks by the Vatican's chief liturgist, Cdl. Robert Sarah, on the subject of the liturgical crisis in the Catholic Church since Vatican II.
Diocesan priest Fr. Richard Heilman wrote on his website Wednesday that the bishop announced that, beginning in September, priests would be directed to encourage the faithful to receive on the tongue.
Church Militant spoke with Fr. Heilman, who said that, while he didn't see this directive coming, he was pleasantly surprised, and that Bp. Morlino had previously expressed a desire to restore the ancient mode of reception.
This development is the latest in a series of positive reforms restoring the sacred to the liturgy.
Vatican Council II produced Sacrosanctum Concilium, the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy. The document contains references to "actual participation" and "full active participation," also known by the Latin actuosa participatio. Bishop Morlino spoke of the concept of actuosa participatio in his homily, drawing the distinction between remaining occupied with an abundance of external actions at Mass vs. entering into contemplative, silent prayer with Our Blessed Lord.
The term is also referenced in an apostolic exhortation from Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI titled Sacramentum Caritatis, on the subject of the Eucharist as the source and summit of the Church's life:
The Second Vatican Council rightly emphasized the active, full and fruitful participation of the entire People of God in the Eucharistic celebration. Certainly, the renewal carried out in these past decades has made considerable progress towards fulfilling the wishes of the Council Fathers. Yet we must not overlook the fact that some misunderstanding has occasionally arisen concerning the precise meaning of this participation. It should be made clear that the word "participation" does not refer to mere external activity during the celebration. In fact, the active participation called for by the Council must be understood in more substantial terms, on the basis of a greater awareness of the mystery being celebrated and its relationship to daily life.
Canon 3 of the 13th session of the Council of Trent, addressing the topic of the Holy Eucharist, defined that each and every particle of the Blessed Sacrament is the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Our Blessed Lord.
"If any one denieth, that, in the venerable sacrament of the Eucharist, the whole Christ is contained under each species, and under every part of each species, when separated; let him be anathema," it declares. Therefore, inherent to the act of receiving in the hand, as is widely practiced in Catholic parishes today, is what the Congregation for Divine Worship has called "a risk of profanation," i.e., a loss of particles or allowing of particles to be dropped on the ground.
Thus the rubrics for the Extraordinary Form of the Mass following the words of Consecration: "He does not disjoin his thumbs and index fingers up to the ablution of the fingers after the Communion, except when he must touch or handle the consecrated Host."
Church Father Tertullian wrote: "The Sacrament of the Eucharist, which the Lord commanded to be taken at meal times and by all, we take even before daybreak in congregations. ... [W]e offer sacrifices for the dead on their birthday anniversaries. ... We take anxious care lest something of our Cup or Bread should fall upon the ground ... ."
Learn more about the proper way to receive Holy Communion by watching our Premium program Sleight of Hand: Reception Deception.