Liturgical Trivia: Hand Patens

Hand paten
Hand (or Communion) paten

It’s time for a liturgical trivia question! Do you know what this is?

If you answered a “hand paten” or “communion paten,” you’re correct!

Ever since Father Alfred suggested that maybe we could try to bring the hand paten back into our liturgy at St. Elizabeth, and they arrived in my office, everyone I’ve shown them to (everyone older than myself, that is) has rememberred them from their youth.

The hand paten is held and used by an altar server under the hands of the Communion minister (or extraordinary minister) and the communicant (the person receiving Holy Communion) to help catch and ensure no particles or crumbs of the Blessed Sacrament accidentally fall to the floor during the distribution of Holy Communion.

Using hand patens is one way to ensure we treat the Most Holy Body of Christ with the respect and care it demands, and also a way for those who may not share our belief in the Eucharist to visibly see and come to understand how important it is to us, and how carefully we treat it.

You’ll note that just like the other sacred vessels, the servers will take care with them and will return them to the altar, sitting on a corporal, where they will be purified by a deacon or acolyte to ensure any remaining particles are properly cared for.

For now, we only plan to use the hand patens at the 10:30 Sunday Mass, and other special Solemnities, because it’s usually at those Masses where we have enough altar servers to be able to handle all of the hand patens. It’s also where, for the time being, our seminarians will usually be around to help our altar servers with the proper use of them.

However, in the future, we would certainly hope to use them at all of the Masses, and whenever Holy Communion is distributed. One way you can help is to encourage more of our young men and women (our Young Disciples) to become altar servers!

We plan to start this coming weekend, so thought this would be a good weekend to introduce and explain them.

The Anima Christi Prayer
Soul of Christ, sanctify me;
Body of Christ, save me;
Blood of Christ, inebriate me;
Water from the side of Christ, wash me;
Passion of Christ, strengthen me;
O good Jesus hear me;
Within your wounds hide me;
separated from you, let me never be;
From the evil one protect me;
At the hour of my death, call me;
And close to you bid me; That with your saints,
I may be praising you forever and ever.