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Communion in the Hand and Similar Frauds by Michael Davies - Protestant Reformers Insist on Communion in the Hand

The Protestant Reformers were particularly sensitive concerning the symbolism of liturgical ceremonies, and particular attention was therefore paid to eliminating anything which could perpetuate belief in a sacrificing priesthood possessing powers denied to the laity or in the Real Presence of Christ in the Sacrament. In his 1549 Communion Service, Cranmer allowed the Sacrament to be placed on the tongue of the communicant by the minister. This was severely criticized by Martin Bucer, who demanded that Communion should be given in the hand. Cranmer complied and changed the rubric for his 1552 Prayer Book, to bring it into line with Protestant practice on the Continent. The reasons Bucer gives for insisting on this change are quite unambiguous:

"I cannot see how the seventh section requiring the bread of the Lord to be put not in the hand, but in the mouth, of the recipient, can be consistent. Certainly the reason given in this section, namely, lest those who receive the bread of the Lord should not eat it but take it away with them to misuse it for superstition or horrible wickedness, is not, it seems to me, conclusive; for the minister can easily see, when he puts the bread in the hand, whether it is eaten or not. In fact, I have no doubt that this usage of not putting these sacraments in the hands of the faithful has been introduced out of a double superstition; firstly, the false honour they wished to show to this sacrament, and secondly the wicked arrogance of priests claiming greater holiness than that of the people of Christ, by virtue of the oil of consecration. The Lord undoubtedly gave these, His sacred symbols, into the hands of the Apostles, and no one who has read the records of the ancients can be in doubt that this was the usage observed in the churches until the advent of the Roman Antichrist.

"As, therefore, every superstition of the Roman AntiChrist is to be detested, and the simplicity of Christ, and the Apostles, and the ancient Churches, is to be recalled, I should wish that pastors and teachers of the people should be commanded that each is faithfully to teach the people that it is superstitious and wicked to think that the hands of those who truly believe in Christ are less pure than their mouths; or that the hands of the ministers are holier than the hands of the laity; so that it would be wicked, or less fitting, as was formerly wrongly believed by the ordinary folk, for the laity to receive these sacraments in the hand: and therefore that the indications of this wicked belief be removed-----as that the ministers may handle the sacraments, but not allow the laity to do so, and instead put the sacraments into the mouth-----which is not only foreign to what was instituted by the Lord but offensive to human reason.

"In that way good men will be easily brought to the point of all receiving the sacred symbols in the hand, conformity in receiving will be kept, and there will be safeguards against all furtive abuse of the sacraments. For, although for a time concession can be made to those whose faith is weak, by giving them the Sacraments in the mouth when they so desire, if they are carefully taught they will soon conform themselves to the rest of the Church and take the Sacraments in the hand." 21

It will be noted here that the consecration of the priest's hands is seen as indicating the privilege of handling the Host, something denied in such propaganda tracts as Take and Eat. The fact that the Protestant Reformers introduced Communion in the hand specifically to deny the Catholic doctrines on the priesthood and the Real Presence invested the practice with an anti-Catholic signification from that time onwards. This was a signification it did not possess in the early centuries. This practice is, then, totally unacceptable in Catholic worship, and can never become acceptable. Contemporary Protestants would certainly not change to the reception of Communion on the tongue to accommodate Catholics, and so, in the interests of a spurious ecumenism, Catholics are being made to accept what is now a specifically Protestant practice in order to remove any remaining vestige of external respect for the Blessed Sacrament which those who consider it to be no more than bread would find offensive. This is something which should not surprise us-----it is simply a logical continuation of the pattern which began with the destruction of the Mass of St. Pius V.

21) This is an original translation but Bucer's Censura has now been republished with the Latin text and an English translation on parallel pages: Martin Bucer and the Book of Common Prayer, ed. E. C. Whitaker (Mayhew-McCrimmon, Essex, England).