Pope Benedict XVI, in his book “God is Near Us,” gives us some instructions on how to receive Holy Communion by the hand in a proper, reverential way. He quotes St. Cyril of Jerusalem (4th century A.D.) who tells candidates for baptism what they should do at communion. He says: “They should make a throne of their hands, laying the right upon the left to form a throne for the King, forming at the same a cross. This symbolic gesture, so fine and so profound, is what concerns him: the hands of man form a cross, which becomes a throne, down into which the King inclines himself. The open, outstretched hand can thus become a sign of the way that a man offers himself to the Lord, opens his hands for him, that they may become an instrument of his presence and a throne of his mercies in this world.”

The Holy Father continues to say that when we receive communion, we should cultivate “an inner submission before the mystery of God that puts himself into our hands. Thus we should not forget that not only our hands are impure but also our tongue and also our heart and that we often sin more with the tongue than with the hands. God takes an enourmous risk – and at the same time an expression of his merciful goodness – in allowing not only our hand and our tongue but even our heart to come into contact with him. We see this in the Lord’s willingness to enter into us and live with us, within us, and to become from within the heart of our life and the agent of transformation.” (God is Near Us, p. 71)