The Mass: Rite of Communion, Communion

The Communion is, for many, the highlight of the Mass - the moment when they receive the Body of Christ. 

Each one comes forward - and, in coming and receiving, returns to their place bound more closely to Jesus and to the Body of Christ in the world.  

It is a precious time and deserves dignity and reverence.

Ideally, we should feel that we are coming in procession to the altar of God - to be fed - to share the Cup - but, if we are honest that is rarely how it feels!

It is inevitable that, at most Masses, we have to wait and queue. This can be distracting and we can lose the sense of the beauty of what we are doing.

Music can help - providing a focus for our prayers as we approach the altar. Silent prayers can also help - preparing our souls to receive the One who loves us so much that He gives His own Self to nourish us.

How we receive the Lord is now a matter of personal preference. Before the Second Vatican Council, the only option was to receive the Host directly on your tongue - and many people prefer to do this.

The other option is a reintroduction of receiving the Host into your hands. This was described by Cyril of Jerusalem in the fourth century - and is quoted in Jean Lebon’s “How to Understand the Liturgy”: “When you come up, do not walk with your hands wide open in front of you, the fingers spread apart, but with your left hand make a throne for the right one which is to receive the King. Then bend the palm of this hand into a hollow and take possession of the Body of Christ, saying ‘Amen’ ”

Our Amen is our acceptance of the Body of Christ - and of our own willingness to be part of the Body for the world.

Vatican II also reintroduced the Communion from the Cup. As the General Instruction in the Roman Missal says, “The sign of communion is more complete when given under both kinds, since in that form the sign of the eucharistic meal appears more clearly. The intention of Christ that the new and eternal covenant be ratified in His blood is better expressed, as is the relation of the eucharistic banquet to the heavenly banquet.”


Take Time Out

Think about how you go to receive Communion. Do you go with reverence and dignity - aware of the One you approaching - and of your brothers and sisters around you? Or is it all a bit of a scramble and an impatient wait in a queue?

How do you receive the Host? Are you aware of your hands as a throne for the King?

Do you drink from the Cup - and are you aware of entering into the new and eternal Covenant?

And, if you are unable to be in communion at this point - what are your feelings? How could you make this time a time of loving Communion with the Lord you cannot, at the moment, receive in bread and wine?

 © Wellspring 2005

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