Saturday, May 19, 2012

Catechesis on the reception of communion, Part 2

It matters how one approaches; the attention one gives;
and the manner in which a  person accepts the
Eucharist, whether on the tongue or in the hand.
(Michael J.Arvizu/St. Bernard)
In our catechetical reflection on the Eucharist, we reflect today upon how we receive the Eucharist — namely, on the tongue or in the hand.

There is little disagreement about when and for how long each of these practices existed in the church. The major disagreement has been about which practice is more respectful or appropriate. The universal church has settled that argument granting permission for both forms of reception. It is simply a question of personal preference.

The church's real concern is reverence. It matters how one approaches; the attention one gives; and the manner in which a person accepts the Eucharist, whether on the tongue or in the hand. If a person receives on the tongue, in order to ensure that the minister can carefully place the host in a person's mouth, it is important to open the mouth and extend the tongue. Spiritually, one is opening their entire being to receive this spiritual food.

When one receives in the hand, there is an ancient spirituality as described by St. John Chrysostom. He instructs one to place the right hand under the left hand as if to make a throne to receive the Lord. Afterward, the right hand takes the Eucharist from the left and the person self-communicates. Reaching out and taking the host from the minister should never be done, and it often results in the host being dropped on the floor. It is to be received in one's hand.

If one desires to genuflect or bow, they should do so while the person in front of them is receiving so that they don't block or trip anyone and so that they do not "hold up" the line while they make this personal, devotional gesture.

The privilege to receive from the cup was restored. Receiving the blood of Christ should be done with the same great reverence.

These are not so much rules as a way of approaching the reception of the Eucharist with respect, reverence, safety and care. It is the Lord that we receive.

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