Which tradition is older, receiving communion by the hand onto the tongue or by dropping it into the mouth from a silver spoon, like some Eastern rites do?
Almost all liturgical scholars believe that communion in the hand was the earliest practice. However, just because something is early doesn’t necessarily mean that it is best for our time. In most of the Byzantine Churches, communion is administered from a spoon because the Body is soaked in the Precious Blood. From a practical perspective, a spoon is necessary. In the Melkite and Maronite Churches, the Body is dipped into the Precious Blood, and dropped into the communicants mouth by the priest or deacon’s hand. The Latin Church was able to allow a return to communion in the hand because the Body is not dipped or soaked in the Blood. However, there is concern among some Latin Catholics that communion in the hand is less reverent. I can understand their concern. Nonetheless, communion in the hand is a legitimate practice.