As I wrote about last week, I went through a process of conversion on my thinking and believing in the Holy Eucharist and after becoming Catholic, in how I received Jesus in Holy Communion. And, honestly, I am still learning! My article from two weeks ago when I shared that document from the Vatican on how the Holy Father chooses to give Holy Communion only to those kneeling and on the tongue was really me sharing something I had never read before. I shared it because I was so recently moved by the idea of the Holy Father encouraging receiving kneeling and on the tongue as an act of respect and love for Our Lord and God.
In fact, after reading that, I was looking to see if somehow I personally could do so in the Holy Mass, but the MIssal clearly states the priest should receive himself standing (though only after a genuflection of adoration during or just after the “Lamb of God”). As a side, while looking into that, I also just found out that only the priest(s) are to self-communicate, so that any lay Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion can only receive from someone else - even if there is Precious Blood left in the chalice they have been administering. So they must offer it to someone else saying “the Blood of Christ” or give it back to the priest. We will start doing that from now on, since that is what the Church calls for. The instruction on this says it is important, since it clearly communicates that we receive Jesus from God, we do not take Him (see Phil 2:6 - not something to be “snatched”).
Therefore, based on my own evolving understanding and desire that we follow this movement of the Spirit revealing these instructions to our parish family, in the next few weeks, I am going to try to figure out how we can have a kneeler in the front of the church, but to the side of where I am giving Holy Communion. My goal is to make it so that it is not in the way if someone comes up as usual to receive, but that anyone who chooses can easily come and kneel so I can give them Holy Communion while he or she kneels. I do want to be clear on this: the United States bishops received and indult (permission) from the Vatican years ago to allow people to receive in the hand while standing, so I do not want to force anyone to do this. However, I do want to give people the opportunity, if they would like to receive in the way the Pope is modeling for us out of devotion to Jesus in the Eucharist. I think there will be great spiritual benefits for that person and for our parishes.
In the Hope of Our Risen Lord,
Long before I converted to Catholicism, I remember when I first learned about the True Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist, it was too fantastic to believe. How could it be that I could share with the Apostles the experience of being with Jesus physically? How could it be, because if that was the case, then wouldn’t people be flocking to be in Jesus’ presence to sit at His feet?
As I studied and prayed, I began more and more to believe. I also saw people going to Eucharistic Adoration like we have on Saturdays, people going to quite literally kneel at Jesus’ feet and gaze with love at Him in the Holy Eucharist. Around then, I began to connect God’s True Presence in the Holy Sacrament with the story in 2 Samuel when Uzzah was struck down for improperly touching the Ark of the Covenant, the sign of God’s presence with his people Israel. On top of this, St Paul’s clear and scary warning in 1 Corinthians 11 about unworthily taking the Body and Blood of the Lord to our own damnation put the fear of the Eucharist in me. I was moved with love that I could be physically with Jesus now, before getting to heaven! But I also wanted to be extra careful because it meant being in the presence of Perfect, Almighty God!
So, on that happiest of days, when I entered the Church and I received Jesus, Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity, I received very carefully. I made sure I was not moving or in a hurry, I stopped, carefully put out my hand, making sure my hand was flat so that there was no possibility of dropping Jesus and received Him gently and lovingly into my outstretched hand. Then I carefully picked up Jesus in the Eucharist and received Him. What joy! My Beloved, giving Himself most intimately to my inmost self! I then looked carefully at my hand and I surreptitiously licked my hand to be sure there were no particles of Jesus that would fall to the floor. If receiving in the hand, we should all receive with one hand under the other, being very conscientious and careful to keep our hand flat, take it with the other, receive lovingly and then inspect our hand to be sure there are no particles.
I continued this practice until in seminary, where I saw people receiving on the tongue. I asked about that and learned that I could do that, that it was a universal sign of love, respect, and desire to be completely reliant to God’s grace and providence. It took me a while to build up the courage (and in all honesty, practicing in the mirror opening my mouth and putting out my tongue to receive!), but eventually I began receiving on the tongue. It was a little awkward at first, but it quickly became easy and receiving Holy Communion became even more meaningful to me. That act, of a little child being fed, has been a great gift to me and drawing me closer to the Lord, truly present in the Blessed Sacrament.
May God bless you abundantly,