Basics of Holy Communion

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Eucharist in Fruit Wreath - by HEEM, Jan Davidsz de - from Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna


 "Come to Me, all you that Labor and are Burdened, and I will Refresh you. The Bread which I will give is My Flesh, for the Life of the World. Take you and Eat; this is My Body, which shall be delivered for you. Do this for the Commemoration of Me. He that Eateth My Flesh, and Drinketh My Blood, Abideth in Me, and I in him. The Words that I have Spoken to you are Spirit and Life". eucharist6.jpg (2856 bytes)


Basics of Holy Communion

by Theologian, Father William G. Most

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In the Ancient Sacrifices, both Jewish and Pagan, those who took part were given part of the Meat of the Sacrificed Animal, in the Hope of a sort of Communion with the Divinity. In the Mass, after the Sacrifice itself is completed, we have the Unspeakable Privilege of receiving the Flesh and Blood of the Divine Victim, Who is not Dead, but Living, and comes to give Life in Abundance, to our Souls.

Thus Holy Communion, if we are Rightly Disposed, produces an increase-in Sanctifying Grace, i.e., -

The Ability to take-in the Vision-of-God in the Life-to-come, a
Special Claim to Actual Graces as Needed,
Forgiveness of Venial Sin for which One is Repentant,
Help to keep from Mortal Sin, and an
Increase-in the Virtue of Love.

But Dispositions are Needed, for even though the Eucharist contains the very Author of all Grace, it does not Operate like 'Magic': we must do what we can.

We must of course have the State of Grace. Without it, it would be Sacrilege, and an added Mortal Sin to Receive. Right Intention is also needed, i.e., -

to Please God,
to be more-closely United with Him,
to Gain a Remedy for our Weaknesses.

It is not Required to be Free from all Venial Sin. The Reception itself, may Forgive Venial Sins, for which One is Sorry. But the Fruits of Receiving are Reduced. It is especially Needed that One be Free-from all deliberate Venial Sin - in contrast to Sins of Weakness, Sins when One is taken Off-Guard.

For Fullest Benefits, we should be Free from all Attachment-to anything Sinful. Some have, as-it-were, a 'Gap' in their Purpose-of-Amendment, as if they said, for example: "I do not intend to commit Mortal Sins, nor all Venial Sins. But there are some Reservations: if it is Hard to Stick to the Truth, I will not do so, or if it is Hard to keep a Conversation going, without a bit of Detraction, that is all right too". These Dispositions, sometimes called "Affection to Venial Sin", impose as it were, a 'Clamp' on One's Heart, for he/she has decided to go so far, and no Farther. So they effectively-prevent Spiritual Growth, beyond a certain point. How Sad that many who could grow-much, Block-growth by this means.

But mere Carelessness, Lack of Preparation, or Lack of Thanksgiving, can be Harmful. Pope John Paul II, in his very First Encyclical, Redemptor Hominis #20, said that if One does not constantly-try to grow Spiritually, receiving the Eucharist would "lack its Full Redeeming Effectiveness" and there could even be a Spiritual Loss. To Receive out of mere Routine, with no Special Care, no Thanksgiving, is more apt to cause Spiritual Loss, than Gain.

To Prepare, One should think in-advance, about what he/she is going to do, especially during the Mass. After Receiving, it is Valuable to:

Try for Recollection, in Humility,
to Adore the Lord we have Present within us,
to give Thanks,
to Express Sorrow for Deficiencies,
to Ask for Helps to do Better.

It is very Good to stay a few Minutes, after the End of the Mass, to continue this Thanksgiving.

Of course, One should be Decently Dressed to Receive. Some give Scandal, and lead others into Sin, in the very Act-of-coming.

The Eucharistic Fast has now been reduced to One (1) Hour - Abstaining-from Food and Drink (except Water). The Time is computed up to the Actual Time of Reception. The Sick, even if not Confined to Bed, and those actually Engaged in Caring for them at the Time, need not Observe any Period of Fasting. The same applies to the Elderly, according to the new Code of Canon Law #919.3.

Children should begin to Receive when they have reached the Use of Reason, but not before they have made their First Confession. Once One has begun to receive, there is the Obligation of Receiving at least Once a Year, at Easter Time, unless there is a Reasonable Cause for using a different time.

Pastors should see to it that the Sick can receive at times. Those who are in Danger of Death, are Obliged to Receive the Sacred Host as Viaticum, which means Provision for the Journey - into the Next Life.

The Present Law allows quite a few occasions when the Holy Eucharist may be Received under both Species. However, Christ is received Whole and Entire, under One (1) Form only, for He Dies no more: Body and Blood are never Separated. (Cf. 1Corinthians 11:26-27, noting that in Verse 26, the word "and" shows that both Species are needed to Express the Death of the Lord, but for Holy Communion, only One (1) Species is Needed. Hence the word "or" is used in Verse 27).

When Actual Reception is not possible, One may Profitably make a Spiritual Communion, by a Fervent Desire to Receive Sacramentally. This keeps the Soul United-with Jesus during the Day, and prepares better for the Actual Reception.


Act of Spiritual Communion

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My Jesus, I believe that Thou art present in the Blessed Sacrament.
I Love Thee above all things and I desire Thee in my Soul.
Since I cannot now Receive Thee Sacramentally,
Come at least Spiritually into my Heart.
As though Thou wert already there,
I embrace Thee and Unite myself Wholly to Thee;
Permit not that I should ever be separated from Thee.