Regarding the preparation that needs to take place before we receive the Eucharist, the Catechism of the Catholic Church reminds us of two fundamental realities. First, when we receive the Eucharist, our consciences must be free from mortal sin. Secondly, we must fast one hour before we receive Holy Communion.
Receiving Our Great Guest
Regarding the one-hour fast before Holy Communion, the Catechism states:
To prepare for worthy reception of this sacrament, the faithful should observe the fast required in their Church. Bodily demeanor (gestures, clothing) ought to convey the respect, solemnity, and joy of this moment when Christ becomes our guest. (#1387)
What then are the proper gestures that we are to use when we receive the Eucharist?
In the United States, the posture for receiving Holy Communion is standing. However, when people voluntarily wish to receive Holy Communion kneeling, they are to be allowed to do so. When Holy Communion is received standing, it is required that the communicant make a small and gentle bow of reverence before receiving the Eucharist.
The prayers of the Communion Rite, when prayed with devotion, should fill us with the proper dispositions that we need in order to receive the awesome gift of the Eucharist. “Give us this day our daily bread”; “Lord, I am not worthy to receive You” these beautiful prayers should fill us with deep sentiments of gratitude, peace, confidence, and joy.
Sent to Live the Gospel
The Concluding Rite brings to a close the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. The structure of this part of the Mass is very simple, but what takes place after it is very challenging.
The Concluding Rite consists of the closing prayer, the announcements, the final blessing, and the dismissal. When the priest says, “Ite” or “Go,” we are to go out into the world and live the Gospel within the practical details of our everyday circumstances. This is a difficult task. However, the Catholic Mass gives us the graces and the strength that we need to continue the mission of Jesus each day.
© Copyright 2006 Catholic Exchange
Father James Farfaglia is Pastor of St. Helena of the True Cross of Jesus Catholic Church in Corpus Christi, Texas. Originally from Ridgefield, CT, Father has founded and developed apostolates for the Catholic Church in Spain, Italy, Mexico, Canada and throughout the United States. He may be reached by email at Icthus@GoCcN.org.
Concerning this first point, the Catechism states:
To respond to this invitation we must prepare ourselves for so great and so holy a moment. St. Paul urges us to examine our conscience: “Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of profaning the body and blood of the Lord. Let a man examine himself, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For any one who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment upon himself.” Anyone conscious of a grave sin must receive the sacrament of Reconciliation before coming to communion. (#1385)
Most people who are objective will notice a disparity between the lines of people going to Holy Communion and the lines of people at the confessionals of any given parish in the US. Many people, sadly even members of the clergy, have forgotten about the beauty of the sacrament of confession. This is a real tragedy. People who never go to confession at all and continue to receive Holy Communion every Sunday really worry me. The frequent use of confession is an indication that the person’s spiritual life is in good shape and that the person is struggling to overcome sins and weaknesses. The conscience of someone who never goes to confession, even when there is a special retreat, penance service, or visiting priest in the parish, is more than likely spiritually dead. However, it is encouraging to see in some parishes, a dramatic increase in the practice of the sacrament of confession.