The Sacred Species or Sacred Vessels are not to be touched by anything that isn't consecrated, including the lay people. We are not priests!!
That is the whole purpose of having a priest in the first place! We put forth a trained and ordained man, to go before God and act in persona christi consecrating the bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ.
The priest's hands were consecrated at his ordination Mass, allowing him to touch and hold the Sacred Species and Vessels. We, as lay people, are not consecrated to do such tasks. So then comes the question, "Why do we receive Jesus in our hands?" The answer is, we shouldn't.
Some are thinking, "well, our tongue isn't consecrated either, so it doesn't matter what we receive from." But this has an explanation! (I love being Catholic) In the old rite, at a child's' baptism, the priest would exorcise salt, and put it on the infant's tongue, thus consecrating the communicant's tongue so that it could receive Holy Communion. Sadly, we've done away with this tradition.
Not only are we not consecrated to hold the Sacred Species and Vessels, but it is also impractical (clunky) and disruptive to receive in the hands. People don't take reverence in what they are receiving, when they see the physical actions of walking up the aisle, and putting their hands out like they are entitled to receive something (Do we really believe?). Some communicants even go to an extent of putting out only one hand, or don't pay attention, and fumble around with the Host, and almost (and in some cases) dropping it.
There has also been an increase in the Host being stolen, to be sold, or desecrated, since receiving in the hands was allowed. I'm not blaming the desecration entirely on receiving in the hands, but it is a major contributor to that act. Instead of people being physically oriented (educated or not--- which is the faithful's responsibility, whether it be privately, or contacting your priest) to receive our Lord and having the priest put Him where He needs to be, and not have the chance of something sacrilegious occurring, we put ourselves in a position for spiritual failure.
One point from my own observation as a altar server is that in using the Paten, it is hard to catch or prevent dropping the Host, when people are fiddling around with it in their hands. Part of this is due to the faithful's orientation when receiving. If one were kneeling, and receiving on the tongue, then there would be NO question as to where the Host was going, and prevent the Host from being dropped as often. There should be no question or worry about where the Host is to be or how it is to be handled at all times. But I digress...
Another issue is lay men and women touching the Sacred Vessels, whether it be in the role of Eucharistic Ministers, or in removing the Vessels, uncleaned, from the altar. In both cases of Eucharistic ministers distributing and cleaning the vessels it becomes a more serious issue.
The lay take it upon themselves to touch (with their unconsecrated hands) Jesus, and distribute Him to the faithful, as if they were ordained. This is where one would see how priests lose focus in the meaning of their role. If any Joe-schmo can walk up on the altar and handle Jesus, then what is the purpose of a priest? It becomes confusing for the priest to know where his role is in the Mass...-- This is one reason why I feel that deacons (permanent) are very important to the Mass. They can help distribute Communion in place of lay men and women if done correctly and appropriately.
(And if you really think about it, it wouldn't take that long for a priest and deacon to distribute communion-- if it did take a longer period of time, isn't it worth it to take that time in distributing our Lord in a worthy and exact manner?)
Not only is touching the Host an issue, but also touching the Sacred Vessels before, during and after cleaning is an issue. Every fragment of the Host and Precious Blood is 100% God in all of His divinity. This not only gives a reason as to why receiving in the hands is discouraged--because, if you do, you will have thousands of tiny particles on your hands, going wherever your hands touch-- but also touching the sacred vessels, which contain our Lord. Who are we as lay men and women to touch the very consecrated objects which carry God?
It just isn't our place.
Rather it is the place of the clergy. The priest and deacon (if serving at Mass) should be the ones who handle the Sacred Vessels and clean them properly and accordingly. The priest is the one ordained to clean those vessels, and to remove the fragments from them. He is the one ordained to do such, and no one will question whether they have been taken care of properly.
The priest will then wash his hands afterwards to remove all fragments of the Host. That is why we see priests keeping their index fingers and thumbs together after the consecration. This way no pieces of fragments fall. Each of these tiny microscopic fragments are 100% of Jesus's soul and divinity. If we really believe that, then we won't let it fall or be handled improperly.
This is MY opinion. It is what is most respectful to our Lord, Jesus Christ.
To Jesus hidden in the Most Blessed Sacrament;
Saint Faustina Kowalska
"I adore You, Lord and Creator, hidden in the Most Blessed Sacrament. I adore You for all the works of Your hands, that reveal to me so much wisdom, goodness and mercy, O Lord.
You have spread so much beauty over the earth and it tells me about Your beauty, even though these beautiful things are but a faint reflection of You, incomprehensible Beauty.
And although You have hidden Yourself and concealed your beauty, my eye, enlightened by faith, reaches You and my souls recognizes its Creator, its Highest Good, and my heart is completely immersed in prayer of adoration."