Sunday, May 17, 2020 –
Today we are going to talk more about the “how tos” of receiving the Eucharist.
Are there any other requirements for receiving the Eucharist?
Outside of the Precepts of the Church, there are several rules about the Eucharist that cover everything from fasting and who can receive the Eucharist, to everything in between:
- You must fast from food and drink for one hour before receiving the Eucharist. Medications and water are okay. (Can. 919 §1).
- A person who has committed a mortal sin cannot receive Communion without first receiving the Sacrament of Penance (Can. 915).
Before you go to Mass, or before you receive the Eucharist, you should prepare yourself. Remember, you are about to receive the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of our Lord, Jesus Christ!
You should examine your conscience and make sure you are properly disposed (free from all mortal sin). “Anyone conscious of a grave sin must receive the sacrament of Reconciliation before coming to communion.” (CCC 1385) You must be in a “state of grace.” This means you cannot have any mortal sins.
You must observe the Eucharistic Fast, meaning you should not have consumed any food or drink, other than water or medicine, for one full hour before receiving the Eucharist.
- “A person who is to receive the Most Holy Eucharist is to abstain for at least one hour before Holy Communion from any food and drink, except for only water and medicine.” (Can. 919 §1)
- “The elderly, the infirm, and those who care for them can receive the Most Holy Eucharist even if they have eaten something within the preceding hour.” (Can. 919 §3)
Now, because Mass can vary in time, it is best to add a little extra time. For instance, daily Mass is usually only 30 minutes long, so you should start fasting well before Mass begins.
Some find it helpful to fast an hour before the start of Mass rather than for the hour before Communion so they can know absolutely 100% certain they met the Eucharistic Fast.
Remember Who you are about to receive: Jesus Christ! On top of the Eucharistic Fast, “[b]odily demeanor (gestures, clothing) ought to convey the respect, solemnity, and joy of this moment when Christ becomes our guest.” (CCC 1388).
This is our Lord. He is the MOST special person in your life, and you should want to show Him that inward (being in a state of grace) and outward (how you dress, act, etc. at Mass). Not everyone has super fancy clothes, but you should try your best for Christ.
Guidelines for Receiving Communion (from the USCCB, ©1996)
As Catholics, we fully participate in the celebration of the Eucharist when we receive Holy Communion. We are encouraged to receive Communion devoutly and frequently. In order to be properly disposed to receive Communion, participants should not be conscious of grave sin and normally should have fasted for one hour. A person who is conscious of grave sin is not to receive the Body and Blood of the Lord without prior sacramental confession except for a grave reason where there is no opportunity for confession. In this case, the person is to be mindful of the obligation to make an act of perfect contrition, including the intention of confessing as soon as possible (canon 916). A frequent reception of the Sacrament of Penance is encouraged for all.
For our fellow Christians
We welcome our fellow Christians to this celebration of the Eucharist as our brothers and sisters. We pray that our common baptism and the action of the Holy Spirit in this Eucharist will draw us closer to one another and begin to dispel the sad divisions which separate us. We pray that these will lessen and finally disappear, in keeping with Christ’s prayer for us “that they may all be one” (Jn 17:21).
Because Catholics believe that the celebration of the Eucharist is a sign of the reality of the oneness of faith, life, and worship, members of those churches with whom we are not yet fully united are ordinarily not admitted to Holy Communion. Eucharistic sharing in exceptional circumstances by other Christians requires permission according to the directives of the diocesan bishop and the provisions of canon law (canon 844 §4). Members of the Orthodox Churches, the Assyrian Church of the East, and the Polish National Catholic Church are urged to respect the discipline of their own Churches. According to Roman Catholic discipline, the Code of Canon Law does not object to the reception of Communion by Christians of these Churches (canon 844 §3).
For those not receiving Holy Communion
All who are not receiving Holy Communion are encouraged to express in their hearts a prayerful desire for unity with the Lord Jesus and with one another.
We also welcome to this celebration those who do not share our faith in Jesus Christ. While we cannot admit them to Holy Communion, we ask them to offer their prayers for the peace and the unity of the human family.
Saint Margaret Mary Alacoque, pray for us!