An interesting question has arisen in relation whether or not First Communicants should be able to receive the host on the tongue rather than in the hand. Catholic Answers blogger Peggy Frye in her article ‘Tradition Meets the Spirit of the Council’ has said that it is a common question from parents who have been told by teachers that receiving the host on the tongue is not an option.
However, the Church states that the communicant can choose whether to receive the host on the tongue or in the hand. It is a personal choice and it is certainly not for a teacher to decide that this choice is not available.
The General Instruction of the Roman Missal states that ‘The consecrated host may be received either on the tongue or in the hand, at the discretion of each communicant….The priest raises the host slightly and shows it to each, saying, Corpus Christi(the body of Christ). The communicant replies Amen and receives the sacrament either on the tongue or, where this is allowed and if the communicant so chooses, in the hand.’
That all seems pretty clear! What must also be rejected is the idea that receiving the host in the hand was an idea invented by Vatican II. No Vatican II document called for the reception of Communion in the hand and, according to Peggy Frye, this practice didn’t appear until several years after the close of the Council. Some dioceses started the practice and, in reaction to this, a special indult was granted to permit Communion in the hand; first to Bishops in France and then to Bishops in the United States.
The net result is that each communicant is entitled to decide whether or not they wish to receive the host on the tongue or in the hand, and this choice includes ALL communicants, even ones receiving the host for the very first time.