Teaching How to Receive on the Tongue

One thing I’ve encountered in various places is that there are people who wish to start receiving communion on the tongue (maybe when they made their first communion they were only given the option of receiving in the hand), but they are nervous about doing so. For many it’s almost like their second First Holy Communion: Will I do it right? Will I stick my tongue out too far? Etc.

Then there are those cases where parents may want to practice a bit with their children. This could be for any number of reasons. Perhaps Junior or Juniorina is a bit klutzy and mom and dad just want to be sure. Maybe the parish religious education program is pretty pro-communion-in-the-hand and doesn’t really teach about receiving on the tongue. Or, maybe the child already made his or her first communion but the family now wishes to change how they all go to communion.

Whatever the case may be, a little home-practice is sometimes a good thing.

I have suggested to many people that they get Necco® wafers and use those for practice purposes. I grew up with Neccos and know how wonderful they are, particularly the chocolate ones. They can be difficult to find, however. Also, there is the fact that they are a fair amount thicker than a host and do not dissolve easily; they are rather crunchy and need to be chewed. As good as they taste, they might not be the best material for practicing communion on the tongue.

Today I recalled another solution I once found.

Most Mexican stores sell a product called “obleas” (oh-BLAY-uhs). These are wheat flour wafers that have coloring added. They are only slightly larger than a typical communion host and have a similar consistency and taste. Here’s a photo of a pack I got at our local Latino mega-mart, Mi Pueblo:

The Spanish word “oblea” means “wafer”. It’s not the brand name.

In some places these are called, simply, “hostias” (hosts). In fact, I remember seeing in Mexico that a lot of convents that made hosts for Mass sold the “scraps” (cutouts remaining after they made the hosts, and also the “rejects” — misshapen hosts or whatever) in bags on the street. People enjoy them as snacks and might put cajeta (caramel made with goat’s milk) on them. I also saw these colored versions in Mexico.

Well, go to your local Mexican tienda and see if you can find these. I’ve also seen them sold loose in a bag instead of lined up in rows like in this pack. Here is another photo:

With a similar texture and taste as a Mass-host, these make for good practice. With color added, they also remind (especially children) that this is only a test.

For locals, I found these in the back-left of Mi Pueblo in one of the aisles where they have piñatas hanging from the ceiling. Mi Pueblo is a really fun store, by the way. Not only can you get these practice-host-snack things there, but you can pick up a rosary or brown scapular in the checkout line, buy an Our Lady of Guadalupe statue, or get just about any religious candle you could want. Oh — and they sell large tubs of lard! Here are just a few more photos — the whole store is eminently photographable and a really fun place to visit:

So I hope this idea is of use for families with children getting ready for first communion or for others who wish to start receiving on the tongue. A little practice can increase ease and confidence and ensure that communion is a prayerful experience of being fed by the Lord via the consecrated hands of His priest.

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