On Receiving Holy Communion with Awe and Reverence
In his homily last Sunday on the Solemnity of the Holy Trinity, our associate pastor, Fr. John O’Brien, reminded us that we make the Sign of the Cross slowly and reverently. Fr. John is right to remind us about this essential Catholic ritual because we often do it hurriedly, without reflecting on its significance. The Sign of the Cross is the shortest profession of our Catholic Faith. We believe in God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.
In the same way, we must receive Holy Communion with reverence and awe, conscious of the holiest moment happening at that instant. Jesus is giving his Body and Blood to us!
But I observe that some people do not receive Holy Communion prayerfully and respectfully. For example, I notice that some people receive the Sacred Host in their hands and put it in their mouth while walking to their seats. The proper way to do it is to consume the Eucharist in front of the priest, the deacon, or the extraordinary minister of Holy Communion after bowing and saying, “Amen.” Another way is to step to the side and consume the Host carefully and reverently.
St. Cyril of Jerusalem (4th Century) presented this beautiful and powerful teaching on the way of receiving Communion in hand that still applies today: “When you approach, do not go stretching out your open hands or having your fingers spread out, but make the left hand into a throne for the right hand which shall receive the King, and then cup your open hand and the Body of Christ, reciting the “Amen.” Then sanctify with all care your eyes by touching the Sacred Body, and receive it. But be careful that no particles fall, for what you lose would be to you as if you had lost some of your members. Tell me, if anybody had given you gold dust, would you not hold to it with all care and watch lest some of it fall and be lost to you? Must you not then be even more careful with that which is more precious than gold and diamonds so that no particles are lost.”
The Vatican’s Congregation of Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacrament, Redemptionis Sacramentum, gives this instruction: “Special care should be taken to ensure that the Host is consumed by the communicant in the presence of the minister (of Communion) so that no one goes away carrying the Eucharistic species in his hand. If there is a risk of profanation, then Holy Communion should not be given in the hand to the faithful (92)."
At this time of the pandemic, the Archbishop asks us to receive Communion in the hand. Once the pandemic is over, he will ask us to go back to the option of receiving Communion either in the hand or on the tongue. Either way, we must always do it with reverence and awe.
Let’s always keep this instruction in mind, especially this Sunday that we celebrate the Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ.
Your loving pastor,
Fr. Rodel "Odey" Balagtas
One Design License
Incarnation Catholic Church
on Friday, June 4 at 6:30PM