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Browsing Pastor's Notes

A Reminder on Receiving the Eucharist

From the PastorDear Friends in Christ,

Today the Church celebrates the Solemnity of the Body and Blood of the Lord, traditionally referred to as, “Corpus Christi.” One of the things I always notice when I go to a parish is the manner in which people receive the Blessed Sacrament and how they show reverence towards the Blessed Sacrament. It has been a joy for me to see how here at St. Patrick people receive the Eucharist with reverence and with devotion. It is often my custom either on Corpus Christi (or in the weeks around it) to offer some reminders concerning various aspects of how we as Catholics receive the Eucharist and the reverence which we show toward the Blessed Sacrament.

Those who desire to receive the Eucharist should always first examine their consciences and, if they are aware of any serious sins committed since their last confession, make a good confession, and receive absolution before receiving the Eucharist. Additionally, Catholics are required to fast for one hour from all food and drink (except water) before receiving the Eucharist.

There are two ways to receive the Eucharist. The first is on the tongue. If you choose to receive in this manner, the minister of Communion will hold up the Host and say, “The Body of Christ.” You respond, “Amen.” Then, you should slightly tilt your head back, open your mouth, stick your tongue out, and allow the minister to place the Host on your tongue. Sometimes, people open their lips so slightly or do not put their tongue out. It becomes complicated! I always like to tell people, “Let me place the host on your tongue. Do not try to move toward my hand!” Also, we would like to leave with all of our fingers, so please do not “snap” at us!

The second way to receive the Eucharist is on the hand. In this instance, you should place one hand completely flat on top of the other hand. In this way, you make a kind of throne for the Lord. After the minister says, “The Body of Christ,” and you reply, “Amen,” the minister will place the Host on your top hand. Please take one step to the side, take your bottom hand and pick the host up from your top hand placing the Host in your mouth.

Some things not to do when you receive in the hand: 1. Please do not hold your hands like you would when cupping water into them. The top hand should be completely flat on top of the bottom hand. This will prevent the Host from sliding out of your hand onto the floor. 2. Please do not grab the host with your fingers from the minister. 3. Please do not break the host. 4. Please do not ever give the host to someone else, share it with a child etc. 5. Please do not walk away carrying the Host. (The ministers of communion are supposed to make certain that the person actually consumes the Host.) None of the priests or deacons here enjoy having to go up the aisle to ask someone who didn’t consume the host to do so. We are required to do it, but it always makes us feel lousy.

I realize that 99% of you are thinking, “Of course we know this!” I know that you do. But, all of the things that I mentioned above happen with some regularity. (Most often at Funerals, Weddings, and days like First Communions, Christmas etc.) As I said at the beginning, I know that the Eucharist is treated here with great reverence. The way that happens, however, is to teach about it, to give occasional reminders and refreshers, and to point out things that may need some correction.

If anyone who reads this thinks, “Maybe I haven’t been receiving correctly,” feel free to ask one of the priests or deacons. There’s nothing to be embarrassed about.

What a beautiful privilege it is for us to be a Eucharistic People!

Your Brother in Christ,

Fr. David Barnes