The Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria, (CBCN) has approved the reception of Holy Communion in the hand, as an extraordinary measure to check the spread of the Ebola virus.
Making this known recently through the Director of Social Communications, Msgr Gabriel Osu, the Catholic Archbishop of Lagos, His Grace, Most Rev Dr. Alfred Adewale Martins, however, maintained that the ordinary way of receiving Holy Communion remains Communion-on-the-tongue.
Archbishop Martins, also stressed that effective catechesis must be done to prepare the faithful for this alternative means of receiving Holy Communion, while due reverence to Jesus in the Holy Eucharist must be maintained.
In a guideline issued to priests and faithful in the new format of receiving the Holy Communion, the Archbishop cautioned that when the faithful receive the Eucharistic bread in their hand, they must put it in their mouth, consume the host, immediately before returning to their seats.
According to him, the traditional formulary for receiving Communion must be maintained, when the Priest says: “The Body of Christ”, the communicant responds, “Amen”.
“Care must be taken not to allow the particles of the host to fall or scatter; the communicant must keep his or her hands clean and maintain a reverential comportment that befits the Body of Christ; the reception of Communion-in-the-hand excludes the practice of intinction. In the case of intinction, that is, Communion under both species, the faithful must receive it in the mouth.
“The faithful are not permitted to take the host from the Ciborium or Paten; the traditional practice of kneeling, expressing adoration and reverence, before receiving communion must be upheld. This is spiritually significant,” he stated.
Shedding more light on the significance of kneeling, Archbishop Martins explained, “For in kneeling, a person makes himself small before the presence of God before whom, “every knee shall bend (Phil. 2:10).”