Praised be Jesus Christ, and Mary, His Most Holy Mother!
In years past when Holy Communion was received universally “at the rail”, distribution was carried out by the Priest, with no variation in reception on the part of the communicants. Today it seems that there are dozens of ways in which Catholics receive the Blessed Eucharist, yet this should not be so.
Though the official Catholic norm is still for reception of the Most Holy Sacrament on the tongue, if Holy Communion is to be received in the hand it should be so done in the following, correct manner: While in line, the communicant reverences (makes a bow) to the Sacrament while the person in front of them is receiving. When the priest, deacon, or extraordinary minister says, “The Body of Christ,” the communicant responds, “Amen,” and puts out their tongue and receives; or puts out their hands (one hand under the other) as flatly as possible; the Sacred Host is then placed on the flat, horizontal palm. The communicant then steps aside (so that the next person can receive), and immediately places the Host on their tongue with the other hand, and returns to their place in the congregation.
St. Cyril of Jerusalem (315-386 A.D.) gave instruction for the manner in which the faithful should receive: "They should make a throne of their hands, laying the right upon the left to form a throne for the King, forming at the same time a cross. This symbolic gesture, so fine and so profound, is what concerns him: The hands of man form a cross, which becomes a throne, down into which the King inclines himself. The open, outstretched hand can thus become a sign of the way that a man offers himself to the Lord, opens his hands for him, that they may become an instrument of his presence and a throne of his mercies in this world."
Presenting oneself to receive with hands that are curled, cupped, held down low to the body; held side-by-side and/or with open fingers… make it difficult for the one distributing to therein place the Sacred Body of our Lord. It also increases the danger of the Sacred Host falling to the floor. Please also remember that no communicant should ever “pluck” the Host themselves from the fingers of the one distributing.
One is never required or forced to receive our Lord in the Holy Eucharist (except for making one’s Easter Duty, in the state of grace); so if one is unsure as to whether they should present themselves or not in the Communion procession, it is probably best to err on the side of not receiving. The inside front cover of the missalette/hymnal has a useful guideline issued by the U. S. Bishops for the reception of Communion in the Catholic Church. (And no one should ever be chewing gum in church if they intend to receive Holy Communion.) When one is presenting him/herself for the Eucharist, the Host should be received on the tongue, especially if one:
· Has an arm in a sling or cast, etc.; is carrying a baby, a hymnal, or any other item(s) that would prevent one from receiving the Most Holy Eucharist with both hands unoccupied or unobstructed and completely empty in a reverent manner. (There should never be single-handed receptions nor flipping/juggling of the Host.)
· Has bandaged hands/fingers· Is wearing gloves/bandaged hands
· Is an extraordinary minister of Holy Communion who has a pyx in their hand to bring Communion to
· Has unwashed, dirty hands or things written on their hands (sometimes seen among young people.)
Unfortunately, I have experienced numerous abuses in the reception of Holy Communion. Occasionally, parishioners find Hosts in the pews or on the floor!!! Please, please, please be vigilant! Should you see someone not consume the Holy Eucharist, immediately alert the priest or deacon; or you may even take the Host back from them yourself and bring it to the priest. This is a very serious issue.
We cannot be too wary of abuses that can occur, either through ignorance or with evil intentions. Truly, there are practitioners of devil worship and of the occult who seek to obtain the Sacred Body of our Lord for use in so-called “black masses.” The main goal of this heinous act is to commit desecration and blasphemy towards God. The Holy Eucharist is the Real Presence of Jesus Christ. Ironically, the demons understand this while many of the faithful do not. So when we come to receive Him into our souls, may our reverence, modest dress and demeanor, actions, and love be displayed accordingly.
EUCHARISTIC MINISTERS: On this Blessed Feast dedicated to the Most Blessed Sacrament, our Knights and Squires wish to honor and recognize our Eucharistic Ministers who serve us so selflessly. After the 9.30 Mass there will be a breakfast in the Lower hall.
FATHER JAMES WILLIAMS, S.M.: It is a great joy for us today to welcome back home to St. Paul’s our dear Father James. As everyone is well aware Father James has served St. Paul’s with selfless devotion for so many years. Father has been in Rome studying for his doctorate at the Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas (the University of which St. John Paul II was an alumnus). He is admired and loved by all of our parishioners and has been particularly dedicated to the pastors of St. Paul. Fr. James cared for and tended Monsignor Costa in his failing months with the devotion of a son. Father will celebrate the 5.00pm Mass on Saturday June 21st and will celebrate the 9.30 Family Mass on June 22nd. Father will be at the breakfast, will offer the grace, and the breakfast will serve as an opportunity to welcome Father James back home and to greet him.
Benedicat Virgo Maria!
In Jesus and Mary,
Monsignor James F. Pereda