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Monday, 29 July 2013

How to receive Holy Communion


  1. Stand up and step out of your pew to join in the Communion procession. Often an usher helps to oversee this process.

  1. If you are not carrying a child in your arms or a hymnal or worship aid in your hand, it is appropriate to join your hands in front of you in a prayerful position (traditionally over the heart) as you process forward.

  1. Remain standing for the reception of Holy Communion. This is the standard posture for receiving Communion in the United States.

  1. As the person in front of you is receiving Holy Communion, bow your head and shoulders slightly as a sign of reverence toward Our Lord in the Eucharist.

  1. You may receive the Sacred Host either in your hand or on your tongue. The choice is yours.

  1. If you intend to receive the Sacred Host in your hand, extend both hands palm upwards toward the minister, placing one hand directly on top of the other. You should do this as you approach the minister so that it is obvious to the minister that you wish to receive Communion in the hand.

  1. The minister will hold the Sacred Host in front of you and say, “The Body of Christ.” You respond by saying, “Amen.” The minister will then place the Host on your open palm. Do not attempt to grab the Host from the minister with your fingers.

  1. Once the Host has been placed in your hand, step aside (to allow the person behind you to come forward to receive) and immediately consume the Host as you stand facing toward the altar. You should pick up the Host from the palm of your hand with the fingers of your other hand and reverently place the Host in your mouth. Then either join the procession to receive the Precious Blood from the minister holding the chalice or return respectfully to your pew.

  1. If you are going to receive the Sacred Host on your tongue, keep your hands joined over your heart as you approach the minister. After the minister holds the Host in front of you and says The Body of Christ and you respond Amen, tilt your head backwards, close your eyes, open your mouth and stick out your tongue. The minister will then place the Host on your tongue. Once you feel the Host on your tongue, take the Host into your mouth with your tongue and open your eyes. Do not attempt to reach for the Host with your tongue or mouth. Instead, remain still with your eyes closed so that the minister will have no difficulty placing the Host on your tongue.

  1. If you wish to receive the Precious Blood - the choice is yours - bow your head and shoulders slightly as the person before you is receiving from the chalice. Approach the minister with your hands joined reverently over your heart. The minister will hold the chalice in front of you and say, “The Blood of Christ,” to which you respond, “Amen.” The minister will then hand you the chalice. Grasp the chalice firmly with both hands and bring it to your lips, taking care not to spill any of the Precious Blood within. Take a small sip of the Precious Blood and hand the chalice back to the minister who will wipe its rim to prepare it for the next communicant.

  1. After receiving Holy Communion, return reverently to your pew and either sit or kneel for your private prayers.


What to avoid when receiving Holy Communion

  1. Do not feel obligated to receive Holy Communion just because it appears everyone around you is receiving. Receive only if you are properly disposed morally and spiritually and have fasted for at least one hour before receiving. If you are not prepared to receive Holy Communion, simply remain at your place in the pew. That is perfectly acceptable, and no one will judge you or think twice about it.

  1. Do not chew gum in church. There should be nothing in your mouth when you receive Holy Communion.

  1. Do not wait until after you have responded “Amen” to extend your hands toward the minister to receive the Sacred Host in your hand. Also, do not extend your hands when it is your intention to receive Communion on the tongue. The minister should not have to guess whether you want Communion in the hand or on the tongue.

  1. Do not receive the Sacred Host in the hand by extending only one of your hands. Two free hands are necessary for receiving the Sacred Host - one hand to receive the Host, and the other hand to pick it up and place it reverently in your mouth. If you are carrying a child in your arms or a hymnal or worship aid in your hands, you should receive the Sacred Host on the tongue.

  1. Do not take the Sacred Host out of the hand of the minister with your fingers. An important liturgical principle is that the communicant receives rather than takes Holy Communion from the minister. (The only exception to this is when the communicant is a priest.)

  1. Do not fail to respond “Amen” when the minister says either “The Body of Christ” or “The Blood of Christ,” or substitute another expression for it such as “Thank you.” The minister in saying “The Body of Christ” and “The Blood of Christ” is making a declaration of faith about the nature of the Eucharist and the Church which you as the communicant must affirm with your “Amen” before you receive.

  1. Do not forget to bow your head and shoulders slightly as a sign of reverence before receiving the Sacred Host and the Precious Blood. Do not substitute this standard gesture with some other one, such as the sign of the cross or a genuflection.

  1. Do not wait to make your sign of reverence until you are face-to-face the minister. This delays the procession. Make the sign of reverence as the person in front of you is receiving Communion.

  1. After receiving the Sacred Host in your hand, step aside and consume the Host immediately while facing the altar. Do not begin walking back to your pew before consuming the Host.

  1. Do not carry the Host with the intention of dipping it into the Precious Blood. Communicants may not dip the Sacred Host into the chalice for two reasons: first because of the liturgical principle stated above, that the communicant should receive the Precious Blood rather than taking it (in this case, by dipping the Host into it); second because there is danger of spilling some drops of the Precious Blood.

  1. Do not fail to make an act of thanksgiving for the gift of the Eucharist when you return to your pew.
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