Responding to The Red Herring of Communion in the Hand, Fr Robert Hart has written something interesting on Facebook:
Normally I avoid these specifically Roman Catholic problems, inasmuch as my own position is perfectly clear for all to read. But, when bad scholarship attacks perfectly valid Anglican practice, and (as I witnessed yesterday on Facebook) wrongly impresses my friends, I am only too happy to set the facts in order.
‘So according to St. Justin Martyr, Tertullian, St. Cyprian of Carthage, St. Cyril of Jerusalem, St. Ambrose of Milan, St. Basil the Great, the Synod of Trullo, St. John Damascus, and the Catholic Encyclopedia, communion by hand was not at all uncommon in the early Church. In fact, it was a recommended manner of reception in many places. Unless these Fathers and Doctors (and all but Tertullian are saints) were thus “sacrilegious” or promoting a “lessening of respect for the Eucharist”, the self-styled ‘traditionalist’ who denigrates this practice in and of itself has some serious explaining to do. Communion by hand was accepted in the first millennium. Nor for the most part was it considered irregular. However, it was not a uniform practice or universal so the liberals who claim it was are lying about this. However the ‘traditionalist’ who tries to make communion by mouth into an Apostolic Tradition is just as guilty of blatant lying as the liberal who revises history to suit their personal agendas. This is the problem that ‘traditionalists’ put themselves in when they make these kinds of ill-informed arguments.’
There is an interesting comment by Archbishop Haverland:
Surely the problem isn’t ‘touching’ the host, but particles of the host being dropped or left on the hand. Consciousness of the full import of the Real Presence developed slowly, and as it did, there were practical and liturgical effects. One, I think, was the decline or disappearance in the West of infant communion (because babies throw up so much). Reception on the tongue is a similar and logical development. Necessary, no. Sensible, yes.
An important distinction has to be made. When I was confirmed as an Anglican schoolboy, we received Communion by placing the right hand on the left, receiving the host, and then bringing both hands up to the mouth to take the host with the tongue. We would also do the same with any crumbs (which were rare). We then received the chalice as is the usual Anglican practice. The modern Roman Catholic way is to receive the host on the left hand and to take the host with the right thumb and index finger and consume the host, often whilst walking away from the communion rail with an apparently casual attitude. On those rare occasions when I have someone at Mass, invariably Roman Catholics, I give them Communion on the tongue in both kinds by intinction. They easily understand why I do not give them Communion in the hand when I have just “dunked” the host into the chalice.
Like our Archbishop, I find that Communion on the tongue is prudent and sensible. It is the practice of our Diocese, though the chalice is administered separately.
Indeed, traditionalists have often made a storm in a teacup, and sometimes a single issue. It is good to be calm and reasoned about these matters.