Volume > Issue > Letter to the Editor: December 1999

December 1999

The Do-It-Yourself Altar Rail

In his guest column (Sept.), James Fitzpatrick says that the basic reason he switched from receiving the Host on his tongue to his hand is that “I had been finding it unpleasant to have the priest’s fingers, wet with the saliva of other communicants, pressing my tongue.” This didn’t happen, he says, when there was an altar rail. But now, “when the standing communicant is as tall as or taller than the priest, the priest has to reach up and shove the Host back onto the tongue of the communicant. He can’t help but hit the tongues of the recipients with his fingertips over and over….”

Well, there’s a solution. Receive the Host kneeling — or, for older folks, receive genuflecting (one knee on the floor, and the other knee up, to be used as a support for your hands in getting up). Believe us, this works.

It is very important to us to receive the Body, Soul, and Divinity of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ from the consecrated hands of a priest, not from ours.

Charles and Rita Crowell

St. Michael's Catholic Church

Diamond, Missouri

Fitzpatrick says he doesn’t think receiving in the hand has brought about the “devolution” of the number of Catholics who believe in the Real Presence. He says, “If I ever come across evidence that hints strongly to the contrary, I’ll go back to receiving on my tongue without hesitation.”

In The Catholic Answer (Jan./Feb. 1998), Fr. Peter Stravinskas supplies such evidence. He says that Communion-in-the-hand was “effectively replaced” by Communion-on-the-tongue “before the close of the first millennium, due to a deeper understanding of both the divinity of Christ and the mystery of the Eucharist.” He points out that Communion-in-the-hand was “specifically adopted by many Protestant Reformers, precisely to call into question both the distinct nature of the ministerial priesthood and the doctrine of transubstantiation.” And he says that the modern re-introduction of Communion-in-the-hand was “in flagrant violation of Church law.”

Didn’t our Lord say something about discerning spirits?

Estelle (Mrs. Irv) Wisneski

Our Lady of Guadalupe Church

Charlotte, North Carolina

In 1969 the bishops of the world were asked if Holy Communion should be allowed to be received in the hand. A resounding 70 percent said it would lead to a lack of reverence and a loss of belief. How prophetic they were!

I’ve never met anyone who receives Holy Communion on the tongue who doesn’t believe in the Real Presence. Conversely, I’ve met no small number who receive in their hands who do not believe in this Catholic doctrine. Remember, the vast majority of Catholics in this country now receive in their hands. It stands to reason that two out of three Catholics don’t believe in the Real Presence.

The ordinary way for Catholics to receive Holy Communion still is kneeling and on the tongue. Such a posture reminds us that we are in the Holy Presence of God.

Fr. Donald L. Kloster Jr., FSSP

Villa St. Joseph

Cherokee Village, Arkansas

No Evidence

In his letter to the Editor (Sept.), Joseph Di Prisco makes the claim that “gay teenagers commit suicide much more frequently than straight teenagers,” adding that “perhaps their desperation just might have something to do with the fact that they are systematically abused by some…of their peers, and by others in society at large.”

But according to the Family Research Report (Jul.-Aug. 1999), “So far, only one well-done study has examined the claim…that adolescent gays are much more apt to commit suicide because of stigmatization. 120 consecutive suicides by those under the age of 20 in the New York City area were psychologically autopsied…. Only 3 of the 120 suicides involved those who engaged in homosexuality. And their homosexual involvements did not appear central to their suicide…. Of the 3 suicides by adolescents who participated in homosexuality, none followed harassment or stigmatization because of their homosexual interests. Thus the study found ‘no evidence’ of disproportionate suicide by adolescents who engage in homosexuality.” (The study referred to is: D. Shaffer, et al. “Sexual Orientation in Adolescents Who Commit Suicide,” Suicide and Life-Threatening Behavior, 25 [1995], 64-71.)

Fr. Francis Valentino, S.J.

Brooklyn, New York


I thought the NOR was kidding when it published its parody ad about Father Bozo and the need for him to go back to the circus.

A few weeks ago I was late getting to Mass at a local parish that I had never attended before. Am I glad I was! I saw and heard too much while I was there and will probably never go back.

The first really unusual thing I noticed was during the Our Father. Anyone who was close to another human was obliged to hold hands. I was standing in back, so I didn’t volunteer to participate in this little gesture. Toward the end of the Our Father all the hand-holders raised their arms in unison. It was better executed than any wave I’ve seen in a football stadium.

I thought of old World War II newsreels showing Japanese soldiers raising their arms and shouting, “Banzai!” I’m a little afraid to mention this because the Father Bozos don’t need any new ideas. They may start expanding multiculturalism by having their parishioners raise their arms and shout a throaty “Banzai” after receiving Jesus.

When I received Communion, the elderly Eucharistic minister quickly stretched her little body and dunked the Body of Christ in my mouth like Michael Jordan dunks a basketball. She giggled after she slammed the tiny square of wheat bread home. I guess being around a Father Bozo long enough would turn anyone silly.

Then a couple of gentlemen moved the portable altar after Communion while some nubile females dressed in ethnic-type dresses lined up in the rear of the church. The girls strolled to where the altar was. They did a cheap dance similar to a poorly executed show performed by majorettes on center court during half-time at a high-school basketball game. This blasphemous display occurred on the exact spot where Communion was consecrated moments before.

After this sick “dance,” almost everyone began clapping. What for?

Dean A. Davis

South Bend, Indiana


Regarding Mark Lickona’s September article marking the video release of Hollywood’s The Prince of Egypt: His critique of that film’s distorting humanistic take on the story of Moses is right on target. Lickona notes that Our Sunday Visitor and the National Catholic Register praised the film. You should be honored that the Visitor and the Register refuse to print your humorous and utterly truthful ads, given what Lickona shows his readers about the lack of depth in those papers. Indeed, there isn’t much those airheaded Catholic papers won’t approve of.

Rev. Thomas J. Calpin

Darby, Pennsylvania

The Immoral Life Is Expensive

Joseph Collison’s article on population control programs (“In the Valley of the Shadow of Death,” Oct.) is a good example of why many of us accept the axiom, “That government governs best which governs least.” A government “that governs least” does not have the power to force its citizens to pay for the kind of atrocities of which Collison wrote.

Being a libertarian does not mean being a libertine. In many parishes it seems that the parish council and the pastor are busy attacking society’s problems at the thorny surface and not at the deep and widespread root system. But if the responsibility for education and welfare were thrown back upon churches and synagogues, you would likely find Fr. Flapdoodle, Rev. Oh Yeah, and Rabbi Me Too condemning divorce, gambling, alcoholism, and adultery far more than they currently do (if they do at alb~ The immoral life is very expensive, and I don’t think many priests, ministers, and rabbis (and their business administrators) would be able to — or want to — financially support for very long those members of their flocks who often visit Sodom and Gomorrah with unrepentant gusto.

Kathryn J. Groening

Midland, Michigan

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