POINTERS O N THE R ECEPTION OF H OLY C OMMUNION

Catholic teaching is that the Holy Eucharist means that this look-alike bread and
seeming-wine are the true, living flesh and blood of Jesus Christ, God and true Man. They are
not a symbols of Him, but the very real physical and divine reality of the living Person of Jesus
Christ.
To receive Holy Communion, you must not only be a baptized Catholic, but you must
also be in a state of grace. Should you have committed a mortal sin (of which there are many
kinds), you must not receive Communion, lest you commit a sacrilege and so condemn
yourselves. This is the teaching of St. Paul in God’s infallible word, and therefore no one can
deny or change it. Confession is mandatory, that is, obligatory, necessary, before anyone who
had been in mortal sin to present himself for Communion.
There’s a required fast of one full hour from all food and all drink before receiving the
Sacrament. You are not authorized to exempt yourselves from this rule. Only water may be
received before Communion. Eating throat lozenges, drinking coffee or chewing gum within
the hour of Communion time means that you cannot receive Communion. Diabetics and other
sick persons, however, are dispensed from this law (Canon 919) if this is necessary.
The church is not a place to be eating nor drinking from your water bottles. If you have
some special medical need you are to go out of the church proper and drink your needed water.
This same thing relates to little children: they are not to be fed pacifying snacks in the pew.
Parents have the duty to discipline their children to be attentive and quiet in church and, should
they cause a disturbance, they should be removed from the body of the church to the vestibule
so that others will not be distracted from concentrating on Holy Mass.
The proper dress code for church: you should dress appropriately to be in front of God.
Holy Mass is not a casual affair, let alone a place for scanty summer wear. You should be fully
covered, modestly concealing the human form, lest you be a scandal to others, an occasion of
sin, and an insult to the Lord Himself.
The sign that you believe that Jesus is truly present in the Holy Sacrament is to genuflect
on your right knee upon entering and leaving the church, and also whenever you cross the
center of the church, passing the tabernacle. Children should also be taught this: “Put your right
knee to the floor.”
There are many sacred moments in the Mass, but there’s one that’s most
important: the moment of the Consecration when the priest changes the bread and wine into
Christ’s body and blood and then raises the Host and the Chalice over his head to be seen and
adored by you. This is a moment to keep silence and be focused, not walking around the
church, nor escorting your children to the toilet, nor fussing over any other thing, but riveting
your attention on what’s happening at the altar. The traditional thing to do is look up at the Host
and the Chalice when the priest holds them up, strike your breast, and say silently, “My Lord
and my God.”
You should approach the Communion railing with your hands folded, not dangling at
your sides. Your eyes should be downcast, not looking around in vain curiosity. You are going

to meet the Lord! Ladies with purses should carry them up with them as a matter of security.
At the railing, only your folded hands should rest on the railing, not your arms. If the
Communion cloth has been pulled, your folded hands should go under the cloth.
When the priest approaches, you should do a number of things: First, close your eyes.
Do not look at the Host as the priest gives you Communion, otherwise you’re likely to adjust
your head and either snap at the priest’s fingers or else cause the Host to drop. Tilt your head
back slightly and open your mouth wide, and stick out your tongue. Don’t think you’re being
impolite by putting your tongue out at the priest. You don’t need to make the sign of the cross
after receiving Communion, although it is not wrong to do so.
You should not bow or genuflect before or after receiving Communion at the railing.
Bowing and genuflecting are to be done only when Communion is given to people who are
standing. The fact that you are already on your knees means that are adoring Christ in Holy
Communion.
In a Tridentine Latin Mass you are not to say “Amen” upon receiving Communion. The
priest himself says Amen as part of his prayer. If it is a Mass in the ordinary form, however,
you should say Amen, but before you receive the Host and not while the priest is trying to place
the Host on your tongue, and certainly not afterward with the Host on your tongue.
If the sacred Host should fall, do not to touch it. The priest knows what to do and he’ll
take care that no irreverence is done to our Lord.
You should leave the rail soon after receiving Communion and not delay so as to disrupt
the flow of communicants. With your eyes cast down and your hands folded once again, return
to your pew and make your thanksgiving prayers there.
Your thanksgiving may be made by covering your face in your hands, if you so wish,
to keep from being distracted, but you are obliged to adore God in Communion after receiving
Him. It can be difficult to concentrate at this time, but this prayer-time after Communion is
most valuable for strengthening your spiritual union with our Lord.
Regarding the sacrilege. I’d like everyone in the parish to be on the lookout for anyone
who may take the Host out of his mouth, and to report this as soon as possible to an usher or
to a priest, so that this person can be confronted immediately. If you have the courage to do it,
you may admonish this person yourself.