Five Ways To Improve Our Reception Of Holy Communion

The greatest and most sublime action that the human person can do while living is to receive Holy Communion, in the state of grace, in a most worthy manner. The angels in heaven experience a holy envy for us mortals on earth: we can receive Holy Communion, whereas they cannot!

A key concept in sacramental theology is that of Dispositive grace.  This means in simple jargon: you get what you are open to receiving.  The more fully open a door is the easier it is to get into the door without bumping into it and stubbing our toe.   So with the reception of God’s grace in the sacraments, especially in the reception of the greatest of all of the Sacraments, the most Holy Eucharist.

Various Manners Of Reception

One could receive Holy Communion unworthily; we all have freedom and can abuse our freedom.  This you can read very clearly in an episode in the life of St. Paul in the Church of Corinth. The rich were neglecting the poor, eating and drinking in excess and then proceeding to celebrate the Mass/ Meal of the Lord.  Then they would receive the Lord’s Body unworthily, to their own damage and possible condemnation. (Read I Corinthians 11). Others can receive Holy Communion in the state of grace but distracted during the whole course of the Mass. Graces are receive in such a soul, but in less abundance.   Then there is the well-disposed soul who arrives early for Mass, participates fully and receives the Holy Eucharist with deep faith, love and devotion—graces in such a soul go beyond limit.

This being the case we would like to offer five short suggestions or advice to make the best and most fervent Holy Communions in our life. Indeed if this is the most important gesture in our life then we should make a concerted effort to make it the best!

1. Confession And Holy Communion

There is an intimate relationship between the reception of the Sacrament of Confession or Reconciliation and the reception of Holy Communion.  The specific sacramental grace of Confession is healing; the specific sacramental grace of Holy Communion is nourishment.   A worthy reception of the Sacrament of Confession cleanses, purifies, enlightens and sanctifies the soul disposing it to receive the Eucharist with a better and more fervent disposition.

If you like here is an analogy: A dirty window is finally cleaned using Windex and a dry newspaper; the window has not been cleaned for five years. The curtains are opened at noon and the light of the midday sun streams into the room in full abundance.  The clearer and more pure and transparent the window, the more abundant the light. So it is with the soul. A dirty, dark and opaque soul resists the light or receives the light only partially. Whereas a pure soul captures the Light, Jesus the Light of the world in utter brilliance!

2. First, Last, And Only Holy Communion

Strive to avoid, at all costs, the ever-prevalent danger of receiving Holy Communion in a mechanical, perfunctory, routine, flippant, and nonchalant fashion.  The real danger of easy access and availability of Daily Mass and Holy Communion is to simply take the Lord for granted. In many sacristies, especially in convents of nuns or retreat Houses there is a sign, better yet a “Warning-sign” with the following words:  “Priest, man of God, say this Mass as if it were your first Mass, last Mass and only Mass.”  This should be our approach and attitude of we are in the habit of receiving Holy Communion frequently maybe even on a daily basis—to receive Holy Communion every time as if it were our first Holy Communion, last Holy Communion and only Holy Communion!  Indeed how much more fervent would our reception of Holy Communion be!!!

3. The Offertory/The Common Priesthood Of The Faithful.

Vatican II points out that there are two forms of the priesthood: the ministerial priesthood (those who have the Sacrament of Holy Orders), and the common priesthood of the faithful—those who are baptized into Christ Jesus.  The lay-faithful are exhorted to live out their common priesthood by offering themselves to Jesus, in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, with the celebrating priest. All the faithful should offer at least one personal intention in every Mass; however they could offer hundreds or even thousands of intentions. Actually, the more we offer the more we will receive, the more the world will receive.  Jesus told us: “Ask and you will receive; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.”(Mt. 7:7) We receive little because we trust little and ask for little. The sky is the limits!  Get into the habit of coming before Holy Mass has started and offer yourself, your heart with countless intentions.  The more we ask, the more pleased God is and the more we will receive!

4. Receive Holy Communion With Our Lady

The Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta teaches us a very beautiful prayer to Mary and Jesus. The essence of the prayer is the following:  “Mary give me your most pure and Immaculate Heart so that I can receive and love more ardently the Heart of Jesus.”  This prayer can easily be applied to the reception of Holy Communion.  Before receiving Holy Communion, beg Mary Immaculate to give you her most pure, fervent and loving heart so that you can receive her Son Jesus with burning love in Holy Communion.  The fruits of your Holy Communions will start to skyrocket!

5. Thanksgiving After Receiving Jesus In Holy Communion

It would be totally rude and out of place if you were to be invited to a meal or banquet in a family-home and you were to gobble down the food voraciously, rush out the back door without even saying “Thank you”, for the meal! This would be simply uncivilized!  This can happen after the reception of Holy Communion. We receive Holy Communion and rush out the door of the Church as if our pants were on fire!  Rude?  You bet!

It is recorded in the life of the holy and saintly priest Saint Phillip Neri that he noticed a sad phenomenon! For several days in a row right after Holy Communion he noticed a man rushing out the door without a moment of thanksgiving. Neri had an idea.  The following day after this man had received Holy Communion Father Phillip actually followed him out into the streets of Rome, following two altar servers who were carrying lighted candles. Startled, the man turned around and saw the two altar servers with their candles lighted and lifted on high, with the priest dressed in Liturgical vestments following him most reverently.  St. Phillip explained to the man that he thought he would do a Eucharistic procession through the streets of Rome. This man who had Jesus in his heart right after Holy Communion was the living monstrance and tabernacle of the Eucharistic Jesus.  Understanding the message, from that day on the man would stay after Mass to render the Eucharistic Lord a worthy thanksgiving.

Therefore, after receiving Jesus at Mass in Holy Communion let us spend some time afterward thanking, praising, adoring, worshipping and loving the Eucharistic Lord. Indeed these are the most important and precious moments in the life of man on earth!

Fr. Ed Broom, OMV

By

Father Ed Broom is an Oblate of the Virgin Mary and the author of From Humdrum to Holy, which offers more words of wisdom for how to become a saint today. He blogs regularly at Fr. Broom's Blog.

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  • Rick

    I thank you most sincerely for these steps. I am able to attend Mass Daily and receive our Lord each day. I am so often distracted in my mind with what I consider my problems and even with offering them up before going to receive I feel I do not give anywhere near enough attention to what I am doing or who I have received. Having Mary escort me to her Son has helped but I still feel I lack so much in my Devotion and Humility before the Lord. Often I feel I take Him for granted and not in Humility and Honor. Fight through it? Be obedient? Persistent? Even more prayerful? Does it ever get better….on MY side? Additional suggestions? And I will continue with what has been suggested and have Hope and Faith in the Grace God gives me to come closer to HIM…as that IS what we both want. Be Blessed and thank you. Rick

  • Viki63

    Excellent, helpful suggestions.

  • Brian Williams

    I would also encourage the faithful to prayerfully consider receiving in the traditional manner: on the tongue while kneeling.

  • Ben Dehler

    Yes, the Physical manner in which we receive is very important. We must humble our bodies……our souls will follow the lead.

  • filiusdextris

    While I believe kneeling is best, in my church a recently removed communion rail was seen as divisive, making some look like holier-than-thous and others as bumpkins. My take is that was a poor decision, pandering to judgmentalists. I still have the canonical right to physically kneel, of course, but I don’t for our church’s unity’s sake. Instead, when I receive, I always picture myself kneeling before God’s throne, and in this way, I’m not a stumbling block for others while still giving God on the intimate level the reverence he is due.

  • filiusdextris

    Masterful article.

  • Sandra

    Wow, I never liked the idea of people thinking that those who receive on their knees and on their tongues somehow think that they’re holier than thou kind of people. That is just ludicrous!!! I totally agree with Brian and Ben. I kneel to receive my Lord and I am a huge sinner! I never think that I’m a holier than thou person.

    I kneel no matter if there’s a communion rail or not. If there is no rail, I kneel on the bare floor. What you do outwardly and physically is also very important. It’s like you’re ashamed of showing reverence to our Lord by not kneeling, and it’s also as if you’re denying Him. What a shame.

    And what a shame that your parish removed the communion rail. Whoever did that did a huge disservice to the community. We must be humble before our Lord. If that wasn’t the case, it would not have been a big deal that Peter denied Jesus three times! Peter could’ve just said something like, “well I was picturing myself not denying Christ and I pictured myself bowing before our Lord as He died on the Cross so that must count for something!” NO! Sorry, that won’t cut it. Wow, unbelievable what some people think!

  • Sandra

    I totally agree. ^_^ It’s Cardinal Arinze. And isn’t he a great Bishop? Love him! 🙂

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