Bishop Schneider on Receiving Holy Communion


Nearly ten years ago an unknown auxiliary bishop from Karaganda, Kazakhstan, the Most Reverend Athanasius Schneider, wrote a brief treatise on the reception of Holy Communion, Dominus Est-It is the Lord!  In the years since, there has been no greater defender of the Eucharist than Bishop Schneider. The below argument in favor of the traditional discipline of receiving Holy Communion on the tongue while kneeling comes at the conclusion of Bishop Schneider’s book.

Dominus Est should be read by bishops, priests, and laity alike; it is that important. The below excerpt is reprinted here with the permission of the publisher.

Against the background of the two-millennia-long history of piety and liturgical tradition of the universal Church, East and West alike, especially regarding the organic development of the patristic patrimony, we can offer the following summary:

1. The organic development of Eucharistic piety as a fruit of the piety of the Fathers of the Church led all the Churches, both in the East and in the West, already in the first millennium to administer Holy Communion directly into the mouths of the faithful. In the West, at the beginning of the second millennium, there was added the profoundly Biblical gesture of kneeling. In the various liturgical traditions of the East, the moment of receiving the Body of the Lord was surrounded by various awe-inspiring ceremonies, often involving a prior prostration of the faithful to the ground.

2. The Church prescribes the use of the paten for Communion to avoid having any particle of the Sacred Host fall to the ground (see Missale Romanum, Institutio generalis, no. 118; Redemptionis sacramentum, no. 93) and that the bishop wash his hands after distribution of Communion (see Caeremoniale episcoporum, no. 166). When Communion is given on the hand, not infrequently particles separate from the Host, either falling to the ground or remaining on the palm and fingers of the communicants.

3. The moment of Holy Communion, inasmuch as it is the encounter of the faithful with the Divine Person of the Redeemer, demands by its very nature typically sacred gestures such as prostration to the ground. (On Easter morning, the women adored the Risen Lord by prostrating themselves before Him [see Mt 28:9], and the Apostles did the same [see Lk 24:52], and perhaps the Apostle Thomas as he said, “My Lord and my God!” [Jn 20:28].)

4. Allowing oneself to be fed like a baby by receiving Communion directly into the mouth ritually expresses in a better way the character of receptivity and of being a child before Christ Who feeds us and nourishes us spiritually. An adult, on the other hand, takes the food himself with his fingers and places it into his own mouth.

5. The Church prescribes that during the celebration of Holy Mass, at the Consecration, the faithful must kneel. Would it not be more liturgically proper if, at the moment of Holy Communion when the faithful approach the Lord in a bodily manner as closely as possible, the One Who is the King of Kings, that they would greet Him and receive Him on their knees?

6. The gesture of receiving the Body of the Lord in the mouth and kneeling could be a visible testimony to the faith of the Church in the Eucharistic Mystery and even something that heals and teaches our modern culture, for which kneeling and spiritual childhood are completely foreign phenomena.

7. The desire to offer the august Person of Christ affection and honor at the moment of Holy Communion in a visible manner would correspond to the spirit and example  of the bi-millennial tradition of the Church: Cum amore ac timore (“with love and fear,” the adage of the Fathers of the first millennium) and quantum potes, tantum aude (“do as much as you can,” the adage of the second millennium, coming from Aquinas’s Sequence for Corpus Christi, the Laude Sion).

[Athanasius Schneider, Dominus Est-It is the Lord, Newman House Press, 2008, pp. 49-50].

Posted on March 7, 2017, in liturgy and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 15 Comments.

  1. Very Very Beautiful words of inspiration. One would think that any priest would love to read this.

  2. Like everyone, the bishop is entitled to his opinions and beiefs. But perhaps his talents would be more useful helping Cardinal Burke in his assignment on Guam, rather than trying to undermine Papa Francisco and the needed changes that the Holy Spirit has given the church since the dawn io Vatican II

    • Spoken like a true ideologue. It’s unfortunate that Bishop Schneider’s facts, history, & depth were not matched by your comment.

    • If you haven’t the wit to comment on the actual content of the post, then kindly don’t butt in with your ad hominem sallies

    • Alejandro Perez

      Jesus in the hand was allowed thanks to rebellious bishops in Germany I believe . An indult was given only to them, to allow only them to do this by the Pope. He himself said this was horrible, but he gave them and only them permission to do this so their already established error wouldn’t spread to other countries. A liberal Bishop of the US tried to make this the norm of the US. Votes cast, didn’t fly, but this blasphemer tired again and this time his trash barely passed thanks to this time his allowance of brought out retired Bishops.
      Eucharist in the hand is horrible. According to the Council of Trent every particle is Jesus.
      Thanks to the Eucharist reception in the hand we are all stepping on Jesus.
      The Holy Spirit is not schizophrenic and is not going to change all of a sudden.
      Pope Francis can do pastoral changes, abuses which can be changed since they are not teaching.
      The Church cannot teach anything new and cannot go against what is already established domestically.

  3. Ten years later, words still resonate Truth.

  4. I for one would highly recommend it. Is their a human limit we would impose on the awe and respect we should show the Man who gave up his life for our redemption? I think not!!!

  5. As one who grew up when VII was being foisted on us, I have always had problems with the changes to the Church I knew and loved. I have never been able to allow myself to take Communion in the hand. Growing up we were taught that a priest’s hands were consecrated and therefore do not feel worthy to take the Host in the palm of my hand.
    My heart cries when I how the Body of Christ is handled by some who receive in the hand……but then again I am just a dinosaur who still loves Holy Hour, Divine Adoration, Gregorian Chant and the smell of incense.

  6. I have been to several Lutheran churches where kneeling at the rail before the altar is common. I can’t recall ever seeing this practiced at a Catholic Church except perhaps for a first communion.

    • I’m grateful that I’ve known nothing else, for where I am and was received into the Church has a traditional Rood screen with altar rail (and housling cloths!). Once, at another church, when I joined the usual queue common elsewhere (which is such a time and motion nonsense, anyway) I received standing; but I realised one can still kneel, if awkwardly, so I’ve done that ever since when away. And also, thank God, I’ve never touched the Blessed Sacrament with my hands, ever.
      (For photos of our church, search St Birinus Dorchester on Thames)

  7. marcus josephus

    Good article with many worth considerations. Dominus Est is a power little book. All that the article highlights is true but I believe it misses the critical first chapter that his Excellencey put first. . The power of these Eucharistic Lives lived out while being deprived of the Eucharist is the most powerful part of the book, do not skip it in your reading.

  8. Are we permitted to carry our own communion paten and place it under our chin when receiving the Eucharist on the tongue and while kneeling.? I am not a priest and my hands are not consecrated, so I would have to lick the communion paten with my tongue..

  1. Pingback: Dominus Est: Mons. Schneider sobre la recepción de la Santa Comunión – DOMINUS EST

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