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    Fr. Joseph Jenkins

  • The blog header depicts an important and yet mis-understood New Testament scene, Jesus flogging the money-changers out of the temple. I selected it because the faith that gives us consolation can also make us very uncomfortable. Both Divine Mercy and Divine Justice meet in Jesus. Priests are ministers of reconciliation, but never at the cost of truth. In or out of season, we must be courageous in preaching and living out the Gospel of Life. The title of my blog is a play on words, not Flogger Priest but Blogger Priest.

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Questions & Answers About the Reception of Communion

Where do we receive Holy Communion?

Communion is usually distributed in church; however, the sick may receive it in the hospital or in their homes.

How is it administered in church?

There are two ways that the host is given at present in the Roman Rite: upon the tongue and in the hand. Various Eastern rites also have their own manner of distribution, including the spoon or a sacred tube. The priest holds up the host before the communicant and says, “The Body of Christ.” The communicant responds, “Amen,” thus acknowledging the real presence of Christ and the full authority and authenticity of the Catholic faith that makes this holy encounter possible. The unity here between the communicant, Christ and the Church is intensely intimate. It is for this reason that one who is not of our faith or who is in mortal sin should not receive the sacrament. It would turn the “Amen,” no less than a faith profession, into a lie. The person opens his mouth and puts out his tongue slightly. The minister places the host upon the tongue. The communicant immediately closes his mouth, signs himself with the cross and moves back to his place in the church. Those receiving in the hand make a throne of their left hand in their right for Christ the King. They do not put their hands side by side in the image of a bird. Nor should they pick at the host as an insect would with its pinchers. Fingers should be together and nothing should be carried. If a communicant has a rosary in the hand, a purse under the arm, or a baby held close — he or she should not receive in the hand but upon the tongue. Having received in the hand, we step aside but still facing the altar, pick up the host with the right hand and put it into the mouth. We make the sign of the cross, and then, and only then, we turn and walk back to our place. We do not walk away with the host in our hand. We do not make a hasty sign of the cross as we rush to our pew. The minister of the sacrament must be able to see the communicant put the host into the mouth.

Why is Holy Communion sometimes designated as Viaticum?

It applies to Holy Communion given to the sick as spiritual sustenance and as saving food. It helps to prepare them for the final leg of their pilgrimage into eternity.

Why are people sometimes blessed with the sacrament?

Benediction is offered with the Blessed Sacrament because it is really and truly Jesus. Thus, blessing people with the sacrament is quite literally Jesus blessing the people just as he did when he walked the earth.

How is such a benediction usually conducted?

While a hymn in honor of the Blessed Sacrament is sung, the priest, dressed in a cope and humeral veil, incenses the monstrance (a display container placed upon the altar). After this sign of adoration, he blesses the people with the Blessed Sacrament by making a sign of the cross with it over them.

Why have there been processions with the Blessed Sacrament?

It is a touching and solemn profession of our faith, giving adoration to our Savior in the consecrated host.

What is the meaning of the Vigil Light perpetually burning next to the tabernacle containing the consecrated hosts?

It is a visual reminder of the abiding presence of Jesus in the church and of our worship that is everywhere and always due him. The Lord has not abandoned us. One faithful critic claimed that it is not unlike one’s mother leaving a light burning in the window. Jesus is always there for us, ready to receive us back.

For more such material, contact me about getting my book, CATHOLIC QUESTIONS & ANSWERS.