Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Proper Reception of the Eucharist

The Eucharist is the most important part of a Christian's life. It is the pinnacle of the Christian experience. It involves receiving the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of our Lord Jesus Christ into our own bodies. It is a sacred act which was established by Christ at the Last Supper. Just read John 6, around verse 40. He told his disciples to eat his blood and drink his flesh. Then to make himself clear, he said his flesh and blood are true food and true drink. Many of the people there had a hard time accepting this teaching, but he said to do it anyway. And then he told future generations to do it in his memory, and if they didn't, they would have no life in them. Obviously, people would not be offended if Christ said drink grape juice and eat crackers in remembrance of me, so it was definitely his body and blood. Also, we note that he did not say he was being symbolic or anything, so he was being literal. Protestants, who like to think they read the Bible literally, have no choice but to accept at face value what Jesus is saying here.

The word "Eucharist" comes from the greek verb for to give thanks. This is appropriate since we receive the Eucharist in memory of Jesus Christ and to give him thanks for what he has done for us.

Because Jesus continually gives himself to us in this eternal and perfect sacrifice, it is fitting that we as Christians partake in this truly amazing gift, in a way which is appropriate for what is happening. We are receiving God Himself into our bodies. I fear that many, even among Catholics, do not treat this event with the honor and respect that it is due.

To correctly receive the Eucharist, one should line up when their turn comes, and peacefully move toward the Minister of Communion, whether it's the Priest or an Extraordinary Minister of Communion. There are two options for taking the Eucharist: by hand or directly into the mouth. If one receives on the tongue, simply open the mouth, slightly move out the tongue, and respectfully receive the Eucharist when it is laid upon the tongue. If receiving by hand, place the right hand under the left hand, and present your hands horizontally so that the Eucharist can be placed upon your left hand. While it is being placed on your hand, the Eucharistic Minister will say, "Body of Christ", at which time you respond with "Amen." Then with your thumb and forefinger of your right hand, lift the Eucharist and place it in your mouth. Do not chew the Eucharist, let it melt in your mouth. You should make the sign of the cross at this point also. Then silently return to your pew, to say prays, whether kneeling or sitting for several minutes.

People who do not understand the significance, or do not believe the significance of the Eucharist should not receive the Eucharist. There is too much danger of blasphemy and sacrilege. Also, if a person has not reached a certain level of maturity, they too should not receive the Eucharist. Only someone in the right state of mind should partake in this gift. People who are aware of mortal sin they have not yet repented for, should also avoid the Eucharist until they have received absolution.

Another point is that people who exhibit disagreement with the Catholic Church on dogmatic issues should also not receive the Eucharist. This is different than to be struggling with a doctrine or dogma. Many people struggle with faith from time to time. That is ok, and the person may continue to receive the Eucharist. It only becomes an issue if someone is vociferously against a Church teaching. People who support abortion, for example, should not receive Eucharist, until they've amended their thinking to suit a culture of life. To summarize this point, people not in communion with the Church should not receive Communion.

Maltreatment of the Eucharist is the ultimate blasphemy, and we should our best to prevent it. Let's take care as Christians to properly receive the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ in a matter that is fitting for the Source and Summit of the Christian Life.

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