Portland (Maine) Diocese Discourages Reception on the Tongue

In effort to avoid spreading flu, Holy Communion on the tongue discouraged

[How will this effect the reception of Holy Communion at the churches (the cathedral in Portland and a basilica further north in Lewiston) served by the diocesan traditional Latin Mass Chaplaincy?]

by David Nussman • ChurchMilitant • January 22, 2018

PORTLAND, Maine (ChurchMilitant) – A[sic; it is the only diocese in that state] diocese in the state of Maine is adapting liturgical practice to combat the spread of illness.

The diocese of Portland released a set of temporary policies implemented over the weekend. Temporary disease prevention policies like this are common in many dioceses in the United States whenever there is a flu outbreak or a flu scare.

On the one hand, there are policies against handshaking during the sign of peace and hand-holding during the “Our Father” — practices often slammed by traditional Catholics for lacking basis in Catholic tradition.

On the other hand, among the temporary rules is a sentence discouraging reception of Our Eucharistic Lord on the tongue.

Receiving the Holy Eucharist on the tongue and in the kneeling position is the universal norm and preferred method for the Roman Rite of the Catholic Church. Despite this, some bishops’ conferences have normalized reception of Holy Communion in the hands and in the standing position. The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has done this, for instance.

While the diocese of Portland is not forbidding reception on the tongue, it is unclear how the diocese might be ensuring that priests and “extraordinary ministers” respect the right of the faithful to receive Our Eucharistic Lord on the tongue.

The diocese is also encouraging anyone to stay home and avoid Mass on Sunday if they have any symptoms suggesting the flu.

In full, this is what it says about the matter:

Priests will announce that if parishioners are sick or already have any type of cold or flu-like symptoms, they are asked to stay home, both for their well-being and that of others. When individuals are ill, they are not bound by the Sunday Mass obligation. Encouraging people who are at risk to stay away from large church gatherings is an extra step intended to maintain their health.

Normally, it is taught that the Sunday Mass obligation is only lifted if the illness has symptoms which make it difficult to attend Mass. The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches that Sunday Mass can only be missed for a “grave cause” (#2183).

The diocese of Portland, Maine, is also suspending the reception of Our Eucharistic Lord under both forms by the laity. Receiving the Eucharist under the appearance of the wine will only be allowed for the celebrant priest and for those with select medical conditions that involve gluten intolerance. This, too, is coincidentally a more traditional approach.

Traditional Catholics are often worried that they will be denied Holy Communion when they kneel to receive on the tongue at a normal Novus Ordo parish.

In 2009, a Catholic blogger in Hawaii was initially denied Holy Communion on the tongue while kneeling until she obeyed the “extraordinary minister” and took Our Lord on her hands.

In December 2014, Church Militant reported on an even worse incident at a parish in West Bloomfield, Michigan. A young woman was denied Holy Communion at a Saturday vigil Mass solely because she kneeled down and indicated that she wished to receive on the tongue. In this case, it was the parish priest who denied the woman Holy Communion.

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  1. No change yesterday at the TLM chaplaincy in Portland. Communion on the tongue only as usual, which is what happened last year when flu protocols were issued. Since both locations are served by the same priest, I suspect it was the same in Lewiston.

  2. Deo gratias! Great to hear this news, Tim

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