Communion in the hand?

Question: 

When did communion in the hand become possible? Is there a special way we are supposed to take communion in the hand? Are we supposed to make the sign of the cross or genuflect?

Angst-riddled in Albuquerque

Answer: 

In 1977, the National Council of Catholic Bishops in the United Statesreceived an indult permitting communion in the hand. Other countries didthe same. The Body of Christ, published by the United States CatholicConference, Washington, DC, 1977, says in paragraph nine:

In receiving communion in the hand, the faithful approach the priest or the other minister of eucharist with one hand resting on the other, palm up. Everyone ought to have his/her hands uncovered, with no other objects in them. The hands should be extended sufficiently outward and upward so it will be evident that the person wishes to receive the consecrated bread in his or her hand. The sacred host is placed in the extended hand after the usual words: 'The Body of Christ,' and the communicant's 'Amen.' After the priest has placed the consecrated bread in the hand, the individual steps to one side and communicates himself or herself. Only then does the individual move to receive from the cup (if consecrated wine is offered or return to one's place.

The practice as permitted by the Church, does not allow the individual communicant to reach out and grab (snatch) the eucharistic bread from the minister's hand. Rather, it is to be received from the minister who reverently places it in the communicant's outstretched hand.

There is no rubric on any form of reverence after reception of communion.Many times, this is culturally determined. According to the General Instructionof the Roman Missal, one should be singing the communion song and thisis a form of reverence specified.

Communion in the hand is an ancient tradition as the following passage,from the fourth century indicates:

So when you come come forward, do not come with arm extended or fingers parted. Make your left hand a throne for your right, since your right hand is about to welcome a king. Cup your palm and receive in it Christ's body, saying in response Amen. Then carefully bless your eyes with a touch of the holy body, and consume it, being careful to drop not a particle of it....... After partaking of Christ's body, go to receive the chalice of his blood...

Cyril of Jerusalem: Mystagogical Catechesis V:21 (found in History of the Mass (page 44) by Robert Cabie).

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