I Confess

September 1999By James K. Fitzpatrick

James K. Fitzpatrick is the author of four books and of numerous articles for The Wanderer, The Intercollegiate Review, and other publications.

Ed. Note: The manner of receiving the Eucharist at Mass has been a lively topic of conversation in these pages over the past months.

The discussion was kicked off in December 1998 by a column in which a certain E. Coli reflected on the hygienic aspects of sharing a common cup. Letters on this topic — each of them elucidating fascinating aspects of Communion practice — were published in February, April, May, and July-August. In June, with Fr. David Watt’s article on the merits of receiving Communion on the tongue, the weight of the conversation tilted toward the eucharistic Body of Christ. Readers continue to write in, and James K. Fitzpatrick now brings to the discussion yet another interesting perspective.

I fear that some readers of this magazine will be disappointed when they hear the confession I am about to make, but here goes: I have been receiving Communion in my hand for about the past ten years.

Why? Several things played a role. For reasons wholly unrelated to doctrinal issues, I had been wanting to switch from receiving on the tongue for many years before I finally switched. I don’t want to sound like too delicate a soul, but I had been finding it unpleasant to have the priest’s fingers, wet with the saliva of other communicants, pressing against my tongue. It’s not that I am a health nut. Far from it: I buy food from street vendors. But I was finding the priest’s wet fingers an awkward problem.

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