< All Blog Posts

This Sunday we celebrate The Solemnity of Corpus Christi (The Body Blood of Jesus) We are reminded, if we need reminding, of the supreme importance and gift of having Jesus fully present to us in the Eucharist. Jesus tells those who are following Him, “Unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you do not have life within you. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him on the last day.” (John 6:53-54) As Catholics we should feel so honored, even more so humbled, to be included in such a glorious event. But with such honor entails even greater responsibilities. We, as His servants, have the responsibility to protect, respect, and show reverence to Him and affirm Who it is we are truly receiving. It seems over the last several decades the respect and reverence given to our Lord has decreased. I think this is a result of lack of catechists and failure of priests to address the awesomeness of the Eucharist. So, I thought what better time to provide clarification and guidance regarding the Most Blessed Sacrament than on the Solemnity of Corpus Christi. Holy Communion is only to be received by practicing Catholics who are in a state of grace. Grace is more than avoiding grave or mortal sin. It is seeking a life of holiness. But going to confession regularly has always been the norm for those who want to receive Holy Communion on a regular basis. It raises the question, if one never goes or rarely goes to confession, why are they regularly receiving Holy Communion? I think somewhere along the way there has developed a disconnect between these two Sacraments. As Catholics we are required to go to Mass every Sunday and Holy Day (it is an obligation), but receiving Holy Communion every Sunday is not. Thus, if one misses Sunday Mass/Holy Day without good cause, one is not allowed to receive Holy Communion again until they have gone to confession. It is also important to say our daily prayers and to live virtuous lives. In doing so, we are creating a clean and welcoming space for Jesus to dwell in. Holy Communion is not a sign of welcoming, as you might hear from Protestant churches. It is completion of one’s commitment to adhere faithfully to the teachings of Christ and His Church. Thus, Holy Communion is the final act of faith, not the first step. So, if you have family, friends, or neighbors attending Mass who are not Catholic (which is awesome!) please let them know not to receive; rather, to remain seated and pray alongside us. It is also important to help to safeguard the Eucharist. Many times a non-Catholic has attempted to receive the Eucharist; a few times we have found a Host or two on/under a seat. There have been cases, outside our parish, where people take a consecrated Host for satanic rituals/practices. I know you all love the Lord, so please do your best to help protect Him. I often get questions relating to the right or wrong way to receive Holy Communion. First, the normative practice (standard way) of the Universal Church is to receive the Host on the tongue. In 1977 the Church gave a dispensation to the United States allowing for reception in the hands. Yet, due to lack of proper catechists, there is still much confusion on what this means. It does not mean extending a single hand or that one grabs the Lord. The following is from St. Cyril of Jerusalem, an early Church Father; this quote appears on the USCCB website under the reception of Holy Communion: “When you approach, take care not to do so with your hand stretched out and your fingers open or apart, but rather place your left hand as a throne beneath your right, as befits one who is about to receive the King. Then receive him, taking care that nothing is lost.” The aim is reverence and respect. We should treat our Lord as our supreme treasure. If one approaches with just one hand, then the Lord will be placed on the person’s tongue. I have several who refused to receive on their tongue after extending a single hand. It is sad that those individuals choose not to receive at all, rather than receiving the Lord with the proper reverence, and says volumes of their disbelief in the true Presence, as well as their own pride. In addition, if someone is carrying a baby, he/she will receive on the tongue. I do not want even the slightest chance that either the baby will drop or the Lord; both are worthy of our protection. As one approaches the priest/distributor one is to make a slight bow; one can also kneel if he/she wishes. When the priest/distributor says The Body of Christ, the response is Amen – the Amen is mandatory. It is also the only response a person should give; saying ‘thank you’ or ‘uh-huh’ or ‘I know’ is not valid. One can say these things during their prayers at their seats. Again, the Church is clear that one must acknowledge that he/she professes clearly Who it is they are receiving. Our Amen should be said with confidence and joy, showing our sense of honor and blessing to be able to receive the Lord Almighty. It is rather sad to notice the lack of reverence some people show in the Communion line. Talking or shaking hands with others on their way up is not a friendly or charitable act, because it focuses on us rather than God, Who we are about to receive. When one is in line their only goal should be preparing to receive our Lord and Savior. There is plenty of time after Mass to greet and socialize with others. Finally, it is our duty to pray and give thanks to the Father after receiving His Son. I have no idea why people – and so many of them – are leaving Mass during the Communion Rite, before Mass is over. Unless it is a true emergency, which would be seldom, it is disrespectful not only to God but the other parishioners who are here praying. The first to leave Mass early, during the distribution of Communion, was Judas, not a person anyone should be imitating. If you have to leave before Mass is ended and it is a valid reason, that is understandable. But it would be better at those times not to receive and wait until the next time you can remain for the entire Mass. Again, our aim as Catholics should be for supreme reverence and respect – His glory, not ours. And when we approach the Eucharist this way, we will receive the fullness of God’s graces, mercy, and love. We will know we are giving our best to the Lord. May this Solemnity, inflame our hearts even more for the gift of our faith and the gift of our Lord in the Most Holy Eucharist.
– Fr. McCarthy