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Heather Ryczak wrote:

Hi, guys —

Can you please advise me on the proper way to receive the Eucharist in the
Roman Catholic Church?

We are experiencing a liturgical renewal and everyone is wondering what is the correct way to receive the Body and Blood of Christ.

Thank you!

Heather

  { Can you please advise me on the proper way to receive the Eucharist in the Catholic Church? }

Mike replied:

Hi, Heather —

Thanks for the question.

There are two questions that should be addressed:

  • What is the proper way to receive the Eucharist in the Roman Catholic Church?
  • What is the best way to receive the Eucharist, faith-wise, in the Roman Catholic Church?

Historically, the Church has always and will always allow [three to four] ways for the faithful to receive the Blessed Sacrament. Because the Church allows each way, they are all "proper".

One may:

  1. receiving standing, with one's hand stretched out flat, one hand on top of the other,
    in the form of a throne. This requires needless self-communication and consumption
    of the Blessed Sacrament before leaving the priest and going back to the pew.

    A sign of reverence should be made before receiving Our Blessed Lord in the Eucharist, e.g. a bow or making the sign of the Cross.

  2. receiving standing with one's tongue stuck out so the priest can place the
    Blessed Sacrament on the tongue of the recipient.

    A sign of reverence should be made before receiving Our Blessed Lord in the Eucharist, e.g. a bow or making the sign of the Cross.

  3. receiving kneeling with one's tongue stuck out so the priest can place the
    Blessed Sacrament on the tongue of the recipient.

    No sign of reverence is required as kneeling is, itself, an act of adoration.

  4. Note: Though I don't see it much in the Boston area, one could receive kneeling on a altar kneeler with one's hand stretched out flat, one hand on top of the other, in the form of a throne.

    In this situation, no sign of reverence is required as kneeling is, itself, an act of adoration.

Side note: In all the above cases, the recipient should say, "Amen.", after receiving the
Blessed Sacrament from the priest. When we say "Amen", we are saying, "I believe."

Important Note: No bishop nor priest can deny any of the faithful from receiving the
Blessed Sacrament in any posture the recipient wishes. e.g. standing or kneeling.

Historically, the Early Church received the first way: standing, with one's hand stretched out flat, one hand on top of the other, in the form of a throne.

As the Church developed and got more organized, we saw practices that emphasized more reverence to the Blessed Sacrament.

If the liturgical renewal in your parish is authentic, encourage your pastor to start having Eucharistic Adoration on a regular basis, like Cardinal O'Malley has done!
Thanks to his efforts downtown Boston now has Perpetual Adoration.

I would expect it to encourage practices that are more reverent like kneeling to receive
Our Blessed Lord.

Heck, order some kneelers for the parish.  There is no rule that states:

  • Vatican II did away with kneelers or
  • kneelers can only be used for the Tridentine or Extraordinary form of the Mass.

My view on this non-doctrinal practice:

We are humans and the five senses greatly effect the way we think and how we do things in life.

This is important because the Blessed Sacrament requires "sense-oriented" faithful to totally ignore their senses and to receive, what appears to the senses, to be bread, but is really Our Lord Himself, in FAITH.

For this reason, my personal advice would be to implement either

practice # 2, 3 or 4.

Whenever I explain the faith to my niece and nephews, I always try to throw in a sense of humor.

I say:

Look guys, don't you like the idea of sticking your tongue out at a priest once a week : )

If they don't like the priest, they may a good reason to go this route, but in the process receive more reverently, in my opinion.

Final note: Kudos to my colleague John and his answer below. His very last statement hit the nail on the nose.

Hope this helps,

Mike

John replied:

Hi, Heather —

The first Eucharist was received reclining on the floor at the table by the 12 Apostles, as it was part of the Passover meal.

While it is true that kneeling is understood to be an act of reverence in the Western Church,
this is not now and has never been the case in Eastern Church. In the East, the tradition has always been to stand at attention as an act of reverence.

These are cultural matters and not matters of faith as Mike has said.

The most important part of reverence for the Eucharist is realizing WHO you are receiving.

Reverence for the Eucharist started declining when we started to treat the Eucharist merely as "SOMETHING" Sacred. As opposed to "SOME ONE" , namely Jesus Christ.

John

Heather replied:

What a wonderful answer!!!!

I do have one more question:

Do you all stand after receiving Our Lord and remain standing until all the faithful have received?

I am from Canada, and we are implementing the liturgical renewal.  We have been told that the U.S. has already implemented it. Once again, thank you for responding to my question.

God Bless,

Heather

Mike replied:

Hi, Heather —

Thanks for the kind comment.

You said:
Do you all stand after receiving Our Lord and remain standing until all the faithful have received?

No?

I can only speak for the Boston area as I assume other parishes follow an identical pattern
that we do:

The priest comes to the front of the altar down toward where the laity sit in the pews, sometimes accompanied by Extraordinary Ministers of the Eucharist, and distributes Holy Communion.

After the faithful receive, they go back to their pews and remain kneeling in prayer and in awe as they have just received the Creator of the Universe. After the celebrant distributes Holy Communion to the final parishioner, there is usually a moment is prayerful silence while the faithful are still kneeling in awe and prayer. After a few minutes, the Celebrant of the Mass calls the parish to rise from kneeling, and he gives the final blessing before all are dismissed. His final words are: "Go the Mass has ended."

This does not mean run as fast as you can to the car to get out of the parking lot. It's correlated to Our Lord's commission before he ascended into Heaven:

"All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.
Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, to the close of the age."

Matthew 28:18-20

A few years ago we had a pastor who brought some great ideas from the religious (monastic) life down to the parish level.

One idea that I really liked was at the end of daily Mass, he invited the faithful to stay with him for a period of 10 minutes of Holy Silence.

It wasn't required and he totally understood if you had to leave to get to work.

Nevertheless, many stayed for that 10 minute period of Holy Silence.

Sadly, our current self-centered pastor, did not like the idea so, despite Pope Benedict encouraging this, he stopped it.

I hope this answers your question.

Mike

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