since part of my job is instructing young people on how to receive communion I will respond. and since I know it will be the next question, yes we instruct them on how to receive properly on the tongue as well as in the hand, and that it is their choice. In this we follow the direction of our bishop and current church documents governing this discipline in the US, since we don’t have the right to make up our own rules. Catholics receive communion as a gift, they do not “take” communion. The proper procedure is to make a gesture of reverence (if you have been kneeling during the fraction rite you have already made this gesture, so there is no further need to genuflect or bow, however you may do either if it is permitted in your jurisdiction). The current discipline in the US is to receive standing, unless you are in a location where the practice is to kneel and it is physically possible for you to do so. In such a place where kneeling is practice it is most likely communion is administered only on the tongue in any case.
The minister holds up the host and says “Body of Christ”. The communicant responds “Amen”, while lifting the hands at a convenient height for the minister, left hand on top, hands slightly cupped “to make a throne for the King” in Augustine’s description, and to lessen possibility of dropping. The communicant picks up the host in the right hand with thumb and forefinger, and puts it in his mouth immediately, without taking even one single step. Under no circumstances may the communicant proceed down the aisle holding the host. There is no “popping” as in the manner of eating popcorn, this is most irreverent, and the reason we pick it up with the fingers is to avoid that very instinct. It should go without saying the hands are clean when we come to church, and if something such as sneezing, caring for a small child etc. makes it necessary, the hands should be discretely wiped, use hand sanitizer, whatever, before receiving. It should also go without saying that one does not approach communion with anything in the mouth–gum, mint, cough drop.
He may then step to the side and make the sign of the cross, and proceed to receive from the chalice, or back to his seat. (if the pastor has instructed the faithful not to make this pause because of local “traffic” problems, don’t do it. The host should be chewed sufficiently to make it easy to swallow and swallowed right away, before sipping from the chalice. Since there is usually a line at the chalice there should be time to swallow properly.
If it is not a church law it should be that anyone who removes gum from the mouth, receives communion, and pops the gum back in should immediately be arrested by swiss guards and taken to a place of execution (all right, they can have a trial first before the spanish inquisition). However I hasten to add that is personal opinion, not church law.
If the communicant is holding anything–purse, tissue, child, missal, etc.–he receives on the tongue. Period.
a left-handed person, especially a child, may be instructed to reverse the above procedure so that the host is placed in the non-dominant hand (on top) and picked up in the dominant hand. The entire procedure is designed to lessen the chance of dropping and to insure reverence.