• Our Blogger

    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.

  • Archives

  • Categories

  • Recent Posts

  • Recent Comments

    Rose Da Corta on Ask a Priest
    Vedran Jalsovec on Ask a Priest
    Alana on Ask a Priest
    Frances on Ask a Priest
    Maggie on Ask a Priest

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.

2 Responses

  1. Dear Father,

    I received my sacraments through the Greek Orthodox church. I haven’t been to the Greek Orthodox church since my father died some twenty years ago. In the meantime, I joined the Catholic church my husband attends and we as a family attend once a week with our child who was also baptized Catholic. I told the Director of Faith Formation that I was interested in receiving communion. She told me I had to make a public (during mass) profession of faith, and that I would become Catholic. I’ve done my research and I think she may be incorrect. My findings tell me that 1) since I am Eastern Orthodox I may receive the Eucharist in the Catholic Church and 2) I shouldn’t have to make a “public” profession. What are your thoughts?

    FATHER JOE:

    The situation is a tad complicated and there are some details to which I am not privy.

    First, were you and your husband married in the Catholic Church? If so then there is no marriage issue. If you were married in the Orthodox church then he would have had to get a dispensation. Marriages of Catholics in the Orthodox church are regarded as valid but not licit. If the marriage were before a Protestant minister or a civil magistrate like a notary then it would neither be valid nor licit. You would then be required to seek out a full convalidation of the marriage before reception. Of course, it is taken for granted here that there are no prior bonds.

    Second, it is true that our liturgical discipline would allow members of the Orthodox churches to take communion in the Roman Catholic Church. However, not all the patriarchs of the Orthodox churches are happy or approving of this. Technically, you are permitted to take Holy Communion in the Catholic Church when it would constitute an undue hardship or is physically impossible to take the Eucharist from your own church.

    Third, it is the custom of the Orthodox churches to give Baptism, Eucharist and Confirmation to infants. The Orthodox churches keep good records. Unless you still have your sacramental information, you would be asked to contact the church of your initiation for a copy of the record (a certificate). If any sacraments were lacking, such would come as an element of reception.

    Fourth, while you may be permitted to take Holy Communion, the larger question is whether or not you want to be a Roman Catholic? It would seem to me that a period of catechesis, even if reduced, should be imposed before any reception. The Orthodox and Catholic faiths both have the seven sacraments but the doctrinal beliefs or theologies are not always the same. Catechesis about the primacy of the Petrine See would be invaluable.

    Fifth, the regulations vary somewhat regarding gender. Normally if a person is received from the Orthodox into the Catholic Church, they are automatically received as a member of the complementary or parallel Catholic Eastern rite. Even if you make a profession of faith and are received into the Catholic Church that would not necessarily make you a ROMAN Catholic. Women of the Eastern rites who marry Roman Catholic men generally transfer to the Roman or Latin rite of their husbands. By contrast, men remain in their respective rite. That means that when an Eastern rite man is married by a Roman Catholic priest, his whole family… starting with his spouse and then all his subsequent children, would be Eastern rite. If a Latin or Roman rite priest baptizes the children, it would still make no difference. They might never even attend an Eastern rite church— but they would still remain Eastern rite. We figure there are about two million Eastern rite Christians who participate at Latin rite Masses.

    Sometimes it is best to refer such matters to the pastor or the chancery when a certain level of complexity is reached. But to answer your question simply, yes (if there are no unsaid complications) and your marriage is a fully recognized sacrament, you are permitted by the Roman Catholic Church to take Holy Communion. But, siding with your DRE, I would urge you to go all the way in becoming a juridical member.

  2. Is leaving after receiving communion to go help with a parish activity wrong? What if you didn’t realize until afterwards?

    FATHER JOE: How important is the activity? As a rule we should stay until the final blessing and dismissal.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s