Monday, May 8, 2017
You're Receiving Communion the Wrong Way
The Eucharist is the cornerstone of the Catholic Church. Without it, the Church is no different from any other Christian denomination. Since its founding, the Catholic Church has always upheld that the Eucharist is the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Jesus Christ. It is not a symbol, a representation, or a euphemism, but really and truly the Flesh and Blood of Jesus. The Church takes Jesus’ words in John 6 literally: “For I tell you, My Flesh is true food and My Blood is true drink….whoever eats My Flesh and drinks My Blood remains in Me and I in him.”
It is interesting to note here that, while most Protestant denominations interpret the Bible literally (believing that the world was created in seven 24-hour days, etc.) they do not take Jesus’ words in John 6 literally. Well, Catholics do, and that is what sets us apart.
So think about this for a minute. If what Jesus said about the Eucharist is true, then He is actually, physically present in every Catholic Church throughout the world. The God of the universe is dwelling among us! But if you go to a typical Catholic church on Sunday, would the attitude and demeanor of those around you alert you to this fact? Is the average Catholic churchgoer acting like he or she is in the real presence of God as soon as they set foot in the church?
I should say not! Most people barely even genuflect towards the tabernacle before sliding into their pew and assuming an expression of pleasant disinterest throughout the entire Mass. And don’t even get me started on what happens during Communion time. I’ve seen people shuffle up to receive Our Lord with their hands in their pockets, chewing gum, texting, and picking their noses. Even worse are the dozens of people who don’t consume the Eucharist at all but instead slip It into their pocket to do who-knows-what to It later.
If Catholics truly believe that the Eucharist is Christ Incarnate, than why the heck don’t we act like we believe it?
Now, I’m sure most of you reading this aren’t the type that goes up to receive Communion while sucking on a Jawbreaker, and I hope that even more of you aren’t the type that would even dream of slipping Jesus into your pocket. But I can bet that I’m not the only one who has seen this kind of behavior, and frankly, it is heartbreaking. This is no way to treat God.
So how should we receive the Eucharist?
First of all, in order to properly receive Jesus in the Eucharist and obtain the ocean of graces that comes with It, we have to train and educate our minds and hearts to believe that that little wafer we are receiving really IS Jesus. If we don’t believe it, why bother to receive it? If you are struggling with your faith on this particular matter, don’t sweat; that doesn’t make you a bad Catholic. As Rick from Casablanca would say, you’re just misinformed.
Sadly, a lot of Catholics are misinformed about the Eucharist because no one has bothered to teach them about what it really is. Well guess what folks: now is the time to learn. Ever heard of something called the World Wide Web? It’s this fabulous place to get information! I would recommend starting with Catholic Answers. Oh yeah, and there’s books too.
So, after you’ve educated yourself on what the Eucharist really is, you’ll be better prepared to receive it worthily. In the meantime, while you’re doing all that lovely research, here are some questions you can ask yourself so you can start showing the Eucharist the respect It deserves.
1. Are you in a state of grace? This is the most important question every Catholic should ask themselves before trotting up to that communion line, Put more plainly, do you have an unconfessed mortal sin on your soul? If you don’t know what a mortal sin is (a complete list of them is here), here a few of the most common ones: masturbation, sex outside of marriage, looking at pornography, deliberately taking God’s name in vain (saying “Jesus f***ing Christ” or “Oh my God,” etc.), and skipping Mass on Sunday or on Holy Days of Obligation. If you have committed any mortal sins and have not confessed them in the sacrament of Reconciliation, you can’t receive Holy Communion unless you are in danger of death. Let me be clear: embarrassment at sitting in the pew, being too lazy to make it to confession, and thinking “God will forgive me; I’ll just go to confession as soon as I can” are NOT valid excuses for receiving the Eucharist in a state of mortal sin. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise, including priests. There are many misinformed and liberal priests out there who treat reception of the Eucharist like a treat or a reward, which it is not. PLEASE, NEVER, EVER, EVER, EVER RECEIVE JESUS IN A STATE OF MORTAL SIN. It is extremely offensive to God and will put your soul in even more danger.
Okay, done with the scary all caps. Contrary to popular belief, you aren’t required to receive communion at every Mass you attend, so it’s perfectly acceptable to go up to the priest with your arms crossed or just sit in the pew with your legs tucked in so everyone can walk around you (don’t let their perplexed looks scare you). Is it embarrassing? Yes, but it’s worth it. Read my post about this very problem here.
2. Are you receiving on the tongue? Some of you might be saying “Woah there—tongue in church?! Too out there for me!” Not so fast. Receiving Communion in the hand is actually a practice that is frowned on by much of the Church. It wasn’t actually approved of by Vatican II, and it only became a common practice after several disobedient priest and bishops defied the Pope’s orders in favor of being more progressive. So what happened after that? A more casual attitude towards the Eucharist, for one thing, as well as a greater opportunity for people to walk off with a Host and desecrate it later during Satanic Masses and other sacrilegious acts. I have seen this happen so many times and it is heartbreaking; it could be prevented altogether if Communion on the tongue was required. It’s much more difficult to maintain an intact Host (which is the format needed for a Satanic ritual) when it has already started to dissolve in your mouth by the time you hustle out of Church (most people who pocket hosts never stick around for the closing prayer, and some are not even Catholic at all but attend Mass solely because they know they can grab a Host and get away with it).
I’ll admit, I received in the hand for most of my life and was taught to do so during my First Holy Communion classes in second grade. I didn’t start receiving on the tongue until I saw other people doing it and wondered why they did. When I delved into the research behind it, I realized the truth and beauty behind it; after all, receiving on the tongue has been the tradition of the Church for almost two thousand years. Who are we to argue with Her wisdom?
If you have never received on the tongue before, I encourage you to at least try it. I have never looked back. It’s not complicated; all you do is keep your hands folded, say “Amen,” and stick out your tongue. Easy peasy.
3. Are you making an act of reverence before receiving? That is, are you doing everything possible with your body to show that you truly believe what you are about to receive is Christ Himself? In the Tridentine (Latin) Mass, you have no option but to kneel at the Communion rail; no standing, no awkward bowing, and no head-bobbing allowed. At modern churches, where communion rails were tossed out along with pretty much everything else of beauty and value, you can still kneel on the floor before receiving Communion; just try not to trip the person behind you. At the very least, if you can’t bring yourself to kneel because it feels too weird, bow from the waist (not just a neck-jerk) to show reverence to What you are about to receive.
4. Are you fasting before receiving? This is something that many Catholics don’t know about. In the pre-Vatican II Church, you were required to fast from midnight until you received Communion on Sunday. Now they changed the rules so you only have to fast one hour before you receive, but if you like you can try to fast from midnight onward: it is easier than it sounds. The pre-Vatican II Church also required married couples to abstain from sex for several days before receiving Communion…you’re not required to do that anymore either (and seriously, these days, who would?) but it just goes to show you how the Church treated the preparation before reception of Communion. It was a big deal.
This is what being Catholic means, folks. We are the only church that has the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist, and we need to start acting like we own it. Our modern churches have done little to nothing to educate the laity on the importance of the Eucharist. It is the lifeblood and bedrock of our faith, and we should stop at nothing to show Jesus the respect and love He deserves.
Start changing the way you receive Him. You will be amazed.