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Gen'l. Info. Regarding the Holy Eucharist (3)

Return to Sacraments Section

The Holy Eucharist (At Traditional Latin 'Tridentine' Mass)

The Holy Eucharist (Cont.) (3)

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* Holy Communion unites us to Christ: "We are united to Jesus Christ in the Holy Eucharist by means of Holy Communion." (Baltimore Catechism)

* It is not beneath the dignity of Christ to enter our bodies under the appearance of food: "It is not beneath the dignity of Our Lord to enter our bodies under the appearance of ordinary food any more than it was beneath His dignity to enter the body of His Blessed Mother and remain there as an ordinary child for nine months. Christ's dignity, being infinite, can never be diminished by any act of His own or on our part." (Baltimore Catechism)

* In Holy Communion, Christ is received really and not just spiritually: 

"If any one saith that Christ, given in the Eucharist, is eaten spiritually only, and not also sacramentally and really; let him be anathema." (Council of Trent)

"In the past, some have erred upon this point, saying that Christ's body is not received sacramentally by sinners; but that directly the body is touched by the lips of sinners, it ceases to be under the sacramental species. But this is erroneous; because it detracts from the truth of this sacrament, to which truth it belongs that so long as the species last, Christ's body does not cease to be under them... But the species last so long as the substance of the bread would remain...Now it is clear that the substance of bread taken by a sinner does not at once cease to be, but it continues until digested...hence Christ's body remains just as long under the sacramental species when taken by sinners. Hence it must be said that the sinner, and not merely the just, can eat Christ's body." (St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church and "greatest theologian in the history of the Church")

* The Real Presence remains from the moment of consecration:

"Can. 4. If anyone says that after the completion of the consecration that the body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ is not in the marvelous sacrament of the Eucharist, but only in use, while it is taken, not however before or after, and that in the hosts or consecrated particles, which are reserved or remain after communion, the true body of the Lord does not remain: let him be anathema." (Council of Trent, 1551 A.D.)

* The elements of bread and wine are fitting and suggest the truth of the Real Presence: "These very elements serve also somewhat to suggest to men the truth of the Real Presence of the body and blood of the Lord in the Sacrament. Observing, as we do, that bread and wine are every day changed by the power of nature into human flesh and blood, we are led the more easily by this analogy to believe that the substance of the bread and wine is changed, by the heavenly benediction, into the real flesh and real blood of Christ. This admirable change of the elements also helps to shadow forth what takes place in the soul. Although no change of the bread and wine appears externally, yet their substance is truly changed into the flesh and blood of Christ; so, in like manner, although in us nothing appears changed, yet we are renewed inwardly unto life, when we receive in the Sacrament of the Eucharist the true life." (Catechism of the Council of Trent)

"Jesus Christ instituted this sacrament under the appearances of bread and wine, because, the Eucharist being intended to be our spiritual nourishment, it was therefore fitting that it should be given to us under the form of food and drink." (Catechism of St. Pius X)

* After the Consecration, the Holy Eucharist may sometimes be called Bread and Wine: "Here pastors should observe that we should not at all be surprised, if, even after consecration, the Eucharist is sometimes called bread. It is so called, first because it retains the appearance of bread, and secondly because it keeps the natural quality of bread, which is to support and nourish the body. Moreover, such phraseology is in perfect accordance with the usage of the Holy Scriptures, which call things by what they appear to be, as may be seen from the words of Genesis which say that Abraham saw three men, when in reality he saw three Angels. In like manner the two Angels who appeared to the Apostles after the Ascension of Christ the Lord into heaven, are called not Angels, but men." (Catechism of the Council of Trent)

* We are required to receive Holy Communion (and to do so worthily).

"Jesus said to them, 'Amen, amen, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you do not have life within you.'" (Jn. 6:53)

"Therefore whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord unworthily will have to answer for the body and blood of the Lord. A person should examine himself, and so eat the bread and drink the cup. For anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body, eats and drinks judgment on himself. That is why many among you are ill and infirm, and a considerable number are dying." (St. Paul, 1 Cor. 11:27-30)

"The Eucharist is necessary to preserve the soul in the spiritual life of grace; for the soul, like the body, becomes gradually exhausted, if care is not taken to repair its strength." (St. Jean Baptiste de la Salle)

"As they thought it impossible that He should do as He said, i.e. give them His flesh to eat, He shows them that it was not only possible, but necessary: Then said Jesus to them, Verily, verily, I say to you, Except you eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink His blood, you have no life in you (Jn. 6:53)." (St. John Chrysostom, Doctor of the Church)

"[To preachers of his order:] 'And in every sermon which you give, admonish the people concerning [the necessity of] penance, and [instruct them] that no one can be saved unless he receive the Body and Blood of the Lord (cf. Jn. 6:54). And when It is sacrificed upon the altar by the priest and carried to any place, let all the people, on bended knee, praise, glorify, and honor the Lord God living and true. And you must announce and preach His praise to all peoples in such a manner that at every hour and whenever the bells are rung, praise, glory, and honor are given to the all-powerful God through all the earth." (St. Francis of Assisi)

* The faithful are, at minimum, obliged to receive Holy Communion at intervals specified by the Church

"Can. 920 §1 Once admitted to the blessed Eucharist, each of the faithful is obliged to receive holy communion at least once a year. §2 This precept must be fulfilled during paschal time (the Easter season), unless for a good reason it is fulfilled at another time during the year." (1983 Code of Canon Law)

"He who abstains from receiving Holy Communion, and separates himself from the body of the Lord, has much reason to fear, for he withdraws himself, at the same time, from eternal salvation; for does not Christ say, 'Unless you eat of the Son of man you shall not have life in you?' (Jn. 6:54)" (St. Cyprian)

Traditionally, those who did not fulfill the obligation to receive Holy Communion at least once a year, at Easter time, were subject to excommunication: "[T]he Church has decreed that whoever neglects to approach Holy Communion once a year, at Easter, is liable to sentence of excommunication." (Catechism of the Council of Trent)

* The precept of receiving Holy Communion is not satisfied by an unworthy Communion: "Can. 861 The precept of receiving Communion is not satisfied by a sacrilegious Communion." (1917 Code of Canon Law)

* The obligation of receiving Holy Communion applies even to children. 

"They who are old enough to receive Communion and do not either because they are unwilling, or because, through their own fault, they are not instructed, undoubtedly sin. Their parents or guardians also sin if the delay of Communion is owing to their fault, and they shall have to render a strict account to God for it." (Catechism of St. Pius X)

"With regard to the age at which children should be given the holy mysteries, this the parents and confessor can best determine. To them it belongs to inquire and to ascertain from the children themselves whether they have some knowledge of this admirable Sacrament and whether they desire to receive it." (Catechism of the Council of Trent)

"Can. 860 The obligation of the precept of receiving Communion that binds those below the age of puberty falls especially on those who are bound to have their care, that is, parents, guardians, confessors, teachers, and pastors." (1917 Code of Canon Law)

"Can. 914 It is primarily the duty of parents and those who take the place of parents, as well as the duty of pastors, to take care that children who have reached the use of reason are prepared properly and, after they have made sacramental confession, are refreshed with this divine food as soon as possible. It is also the duty of the pastor to exercise vigilance so that children who have not attained the use of reason or whom he judges to be insufficiently disposed do not approach holy communion." (1983 Code of Canon Law)

"Can. 913 §1 For holy communion to be administered to children, it is required that they have sufficient knowledge and be accurately prepared, so that according to their capacity they understand what the mystery of Christ means, and are able to receive the Body of the Lord with faith and devotion. §2 The blessed Eucharist may, however, be administered to children in danger of death if they can distinguish the Body of Christ from ordinary food and receive communion with reverence." (1983 Code of Canon Law)

Note that the obligation applies only to those who have reached the age of reason:

"If any one saith that the communion of the Eucharist is necessary for little children before they have arrived at years of discretion; let him be anathema." (Council of Trent)

"But although this law, sanctioned by the authority of God and of His Church, concerns all the faithful, it should be taught that it does not extend to those who on account of their tender age have not attained the use of reason. For these are not able to distinguish the Holy Eucharist from common and ordinary bread and cannot bring with them to this Sacrament piety and devotion. Furthermore (to extend the precept to them) would appear inconsistent with the ordinance of our Lord, for He said: Take and eat - words which cannot apply to infants, who are evidently incapable of taking and eating." (Catechism of the Council of Trent)

* The obligation of receiving Holy Communion does not extend to mentally handicapped persons who are incapable of distinguishing the Real Presence of Christ in the Holy Eucharist.

"Communion must not be given to persons who are insane and incapable of devotion. However, according to the decree of the Council of Carthage, it may be administered to them at the close of life, provided they have shown, before losing their minds, a pious and religious disposition, and no danger, arising from the state of the stomach or other inconvenience or disrespect, is likely." (Catechism of the Council of Trent)

* Although the faithful may only be obliged to receive Holy Communion a minimum number of times per year, the Church strongly recommends frequent reception of Holy Communion, even daily:

"Two sorts of persons ought to communicate often: the perfect, to preserve perfection; and the imperfect, to arrive at perfection." (St. Francis de Sales, Doctor of the Church)

"He who communicates (receives Holy Communion) most frequently will be freest from sin, and will make farthest progress in Divine Love." (St. Alphonsus Liguori, Doctor of the Church)

"O my children, how beautiful will that soul be in eternity, who makes frequent and good Communions!" (St. John Vianney)

"If it is 'daily bread', why do you take it once a year?...Take daily what is to profit you daily. Live in such a way that you may deserve to receive it daily. He who does not deserve to receive it daily, does not deserve to receive it once a year." (St. Ambrose, Doctor of the Church)

"Communion is the life of your soul. If you were to eat only one meal each week, would you survive? It's the same thing with your soul: you must nourish your soul with the Holy Eucharist. There is a beautiful table set up in front of us, with great food on it. But sometimes we don't even bother to take it!" (Bl. Brother Andre Bessette)

"Can. 863 Let the faithful be excited so that frequently, even daily, they are refreshed by the Eucharistic bread according to the norms given in the decrees of the Apostolic see; therefore those at Mass, rightly disposed, should communicate not only spiritually but also sacramentally by reception of the most Holy Eucharist." (1917 Code of Canon Law)

"However, let not the faithful imagine that it is enough to receive the body of the Lord once a year only, in obedience to the decree of the Church. They should approach oftener; but whether monthly, weekly, or daily, cannot be decided by any fixed universal rule. St. Augustine, however, lays down a most certain norm: Live in such a manner as to be able to receive every day." (Catechism of the Council of Trent)

"But the chief aim of our efforts must be that the frequent reception of the Eucharist may be everywhere revived among Catholic peoples. For this is the lesson which is taught us by the example, already referred to, of the primitive Church, by the decrees of Councils, by the authority of the Fathers and of the holy men in all ages. For the soul, like the body, needs frequent nourishment; and the holy Eucharist provides that food which is best adapted to the support of its life." (Pope Leo XIII, "Mirae Caritatis", 1902 A.D.)

"It will therefore be the duty of the pastor frequently to admonish the faithful that, as they deem it necessary to afford daily nutriment to the body, they should also feel solicitous to feed and nourish the soul every day with this heavenly food. It is clear that the soul stands not less in need of spiritual, than the body of corporal food. Here it will be found most useful to recall the inestimable and divine advantages which, as we have already shown, flow from sacramental Communion. It will be well also to refer to the manna, which was a figure (of this Sacrament), and which refreshed the bodily powers every day. The Fathers who earnestly recommended the frequent reception of this Sacrament may also be cited. The words of St. Augustine, Thou sinnest daily, receive daily, express not his opinion only, but that of all the Fathers who have written on the subject, as anyone may easily discover who will carefully read them." (Catechism of the Council of Trent)

* The Holy Eucharist must be received worthily by the faithful, who must discern the Body and of the Lord.

"Therefore whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord unworthily will have to answer for the body and blood of the Lord. A person should examine himself, and so eat the bread and drink the cup. For anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body, eats and drinks judgment on himself. That is why many among you are ill and infirm, and a considerable number are dying." (St. Paul, 1 Cor. 11:27-30)

"[F]or no crime is there a heavier punishment to be feared from God than for the unholy or irreligious use by the faithful of that which is full of holiness, or rather which contains the very author and source of holiness. This the Apostle wisely saw, and has openly admonished us of it. For when he had declared the enormity of their guilt who discerned not the body of the Lord, he immediately subjoined: Therefore are there many infirm and weak among you, and many sleep [that is, die]." (Catechism of the Council of Trent) 

"He who undertakes to receive Communion, without observing the manner in which participation in the Body and Bloody of Christ has been granted, derives no benefit therefrom; and he who communicates unworthily is condemned." (St. Basil the Great, Doctor of the Church)

"Augustine says (Tractatus 62 in Joannis): 'Many receive Christ's body unworthily; whence we are taught what need there is to beware of receiving a good thing evilly ... For behold, of a good thing, received evilly, evil is wrought'" (St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church and "greatest theologian in the history of the Church")

"Just as Judas to whom the Lord handed a morsel, furnished in himself a place for the devil, not by receiving something wicked but by receiving it wickedly, so too anyone who receives the Sacrament of the Lord unworthily does not, because he himself is wicked, cause the Sacrament to be wicked, or bring it about that he receives nothing because he does not receive it unto salvation. For it was the Body of the Lord and the Blood of the Lord even in those to whom the Apostle said: 'Whoever eats and drinks unworthily, eats and drinks judgment to himself.'" (St. Augustine, Doctor of the Church, c. 400 A.D.)

"Think how indignant you are against the traitor, against those who crucified Him. Take care, then, lest you too become guilty of the Body and Blood of Christ. They slaughtered His most holy body; but you, after such great benefits, receive Him into a filthy soul. For it was not enough for Him to be made Man, to be struck and to be slaughtered, but He even mingles Himself with us; and this not by faith only, but even in every deed He makes us His body [through holy Communion]. How very pure, then, ought he not be, who enjoys the benefit of this Sacrifice?" (St. John Chrysostom, Doctor of the Church, c. 370 A.D.)

"Pastors, aware of the warning of the Apostle that those who discern not the body of the Lord are guilty of a most grave crime, should first of all impress on the minds of the faithful the necessity of detaching, as much as possible, their mind and understanding from the dominion of the senses; for if they believe that this Sacrament contains only what the senses disclose, they will of necessity fall into enormous impiety. Consulting the sight, the touch, the smell, the taste and finding nothing but the appearances of bread and wine, they will naturally judge that this Sacrament contains nothing more than bread and wine. Their minds, therefore, are as much as possible to be withdrawn from subjection to the senses and excited to the contemplation of the stupendous might and power of God." (Catechism of the Council of Trent)

"[T]he believer who receives the sacrament with consciousness of sin, by receiving it unworthily despises the sacrament, not in itself, but in its use. Hence the Apostle (1 Corinthians 11:29) in assigning the cause of this sin, says, 'not discerning the body of the Lord,' that is, not distinguishing it from other food: and this is what he does who disbelieves Christ's presence in this sacrament." (St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church and "greatest theologian in the history of the Church")

"The consequence to be drawn from this teaching is evident; it is contained in these words of the apostle: 'Let a man prove himself, and so let him eat of that bread and drink of the chalice'. What could be more just, than that, having to be initiated in so intimate a manner to the mystery of the redemption and to contract so close a union with the divine Victim [Christ], we should banish from our hearts sin and affection to sin? 'He that eateth My Flesh and drinketh My Blood, abideth in Me, and I in Him,' says our Lord (Jn. v. 57). Could there be a closer union? God and man abiding in each other? Oh! How carefully ought we to purify our soul, and render our will comfortable with the will of Jesus, before approaching this divine banquet, to which He invites us!" (Dom Gueranger)

"Very truly, the sacraments and the [Eucharistic] Sacrifice of the Altar, being Christ's own actions, must be held to be capable in themselves of conveying and dispensing grace from the divine Head to the members of the Mystical Body. But if they are to produce their proper effect, it is absolutely necessary that our hearts be properly disposed to receive them. Hence the warning of Paul the Apostle with reference to Holy Communion, 'But let a man first prove himself; and then let him eat of this bread and drink of the chalice.' This explains why the Church in a brief and significant phrase calls the various acts of mortification, especially those practiced during the season of Lent, 'the Christian army's defenses.' They represent, in fact, the personal effort and activity of members who desire, as grace urges and aids them, to join forces with their Captain - 'that we may discover...in our Captain,' to borrow St. Augustine's words, 'the fountain of grace itself.' But observe that these members are alive, endowed and equipped with an intelligence and will of their own. It follows that they are strictly required to put their own lips to the fountain, imbibe and absorb for themselves the life-giving water, and rid themselves personally of anything that might hinder its nutritive effect in their souls. Emphatically, therefore, the work of redemption, which in itself is independent of our will, requires a serious interior effort on our part if we are to achieve eternal salvation." (Pope Pius XII, "Mediator Dei", 1947 A.D.)

* Although the Holy Eucharist imparts grace, one must be in a state of grace to receive It. 

"No one who has a mortal sin on his conscience shall dare receive the Holy Eucharist before making a sacramental confession, regardless of how contrite he may think he is. This holy council declares that this custom is to be kept forever by all Christians." (Council of Trent)

"The Apostle says (1 Corinthians 11:29): 'He that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh judgment to himself.' Now the gloss says on this passage: 'He eats and drinks unworthily who is in sin, or who handles it irreverently.' Therefore, if anyone, while in mortal sin, receives this sacrament, he purchases damnation, by sinning mortally." (St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church and "greatest theologian in the history of the Church")

"He who goes to Communion in mortal sin receives Jesus Christ but not His grace; moreover, he commits a sacrilege and renders himself deserving of sentence of damnation." (Catechism of St. Pius X)

"He who receives Communion in mortal sin receives the Body and Blood of Christ, but does not receive His grace, and he commits a great sacrilege." (Baltimore Catechism)

"One who knows that he is in mortal sin must make a good confession before going to Holy Communion, for even an act of perfect contrition is not enough without confession to enable one who is in mortal sin to receive Holy Communion properly." (Catechism of St. Pius X)

"I therefore desire to reaffirm that in the Church there remains in force, now and in the future, the rule by which the Council of Trent gave concrete expression to the Apostle Paul's stern warning when it affirmed that, in order to receive the Eucharist in a worthy manner, 'one must first confess one's sins, when one is aware of mortal sin'." (Pope John Paul II, 2003 A.D.)

"Can. 856 No one burdened by mortal sin on his conscience, no matter how contrite he believes he is, shall approach Holy Communion without prior sacramental confession; but if there is urgent necessity and a supply of ministers of confession is lacking, he shall first elicit an act of perfect contrition." (1917 Code of Canon Law)

"Can. 916 Anyone who is conscious of grave sin may not celebrate Mass or receive the Body of the Lord without previously having been to sacramental confession, unless there is a grave reason and there is no opportunity to confess; in this case the person is to remember the obligation to make an act of perfect contrition, which includes the resolve to go to confession as soon as possible." (1983 Code of Canon Law)

"Can. 11. If anyone says that faith alone is sufficient preparation for receiving the sacrament of the most Holy Eucharist: let him be anathema. And that so great a Sacrament may not be unworthily received, and therefore unto death and condemnation, this holy Council ordains and declares that sacramental confession must necessarily be made beforehand by those whose conscience is burdened by mortal sin, however contrite they may consider themselves. If anyone moreover teaches the contrary or preaches or obstinately asserts, or even publicly by disputation shall presume to defend the contrary, by that fact itself he is excommunicated." (Council of Trent, 1551 A.D.)

"To receive plentifully the graces of Holy Communion it is not enough to be free from mortal sin, but we should be free from all affection to venial sin, and should make acts of faith, hope, and love." (Baltimore Catechism)

"The heart which is preparing to receive the Holy Eucharist should be like a crystal vase, filled with the purest and most limpid water. We should not allow the slightest impure atom to make its appearance." (St. Elizabeth Ann Seton)

"I too raise my voice, I beseech, beg and implore that no one draw near to this sacred table with a sullied and corrupt conscience. Such an act, in fact, can never be called 'communion', not even were we to touch the Lord's body a thousand times over, but 'condemnation', 'torment' and 'increase of punishment'." (St. John Chrysostom, Doctor of the Church)

"To be in the grace of God means to have a pure conscience and to be free from every mortal sin." (Catechism of St. Pius X)

"When it is said that the Eucharist imparts grace, pastors must admonish that this does not mean that the state of grace is not required for profitable reception of this Sacrament. For as natural food can be of no use to the dead, so in like manner the sacred mysteries can evidently be of no avail to a soul which lives not by the spirit. Hence this Sacrament has been instituted under the forms of bread and wine to signify that the object of its institution is not to recall the soul to life, but to preserve its life. The reason, then, for saying that this Sacrament imparts grace, is that even the first grace, with which all should be clothed before they presume to approach the Holy Eucharist, lest they eat and drink judgment to themselves (1 Cor. xi. 30), is given to none unless they receive in wish and desire this very Sacrament. For the Eucharist is the end of all the Sacraments, and the symbol of unity and brotherhood in the Church, outside which none can attain grace." (Catechism of the Council of Trent)

"If it is unbeseeming for any one to approach to any of the sacred functions, unless he approach holily; assuredly, the more the holiness and divinity of this heavenly sacrament are understood by a Christian, the more diligently ought he to give heed that he approach not to receive it but with great reverence and holiness, especially as we read in the Apostle those words full of terror; He that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh judgment to himself. Wherefore, he who would communicate, ought to recall to mind the precept of the Apostle; Let a man prove himself. Now ecclesiastical usage declares that necessary proof to be, that no one, conscious to himself of mortal sin, how contrite soever he may seem to himself, ought to approach to the sacred Eucharist without previous sacramental confession. This the holy Synod hath decreed is to be invariably observed by all Christians, even by those priests on whom it may be incumbent by their office to celebrate, provided the opportunity of a confessor do not fail them; but if, in an urgent necessity, a priest should celebrate without previous confession, let him confess as soon as possible." (Council of Trent, 1551 A.D.)

"Our Savior's washing the feet of His disciples before permitting them to partake of His divine mystery, conveys an instruction to us. The apostle has just been telling us, that we should prove ourselves: and here we have Jesus saying to His disciples: you are clean. It is true, He adds: but not all: just as the apostle assures us, that there are some who render themselves guilty of the Body and Blood of the Lord. God forbid we should ever be of this number! Let us prove ourselves; let us sound the depths of our conscience, before approaching the holy Table. Mortal sin, and the affection to mortal sin, would change the Bread of Life into a deadly poison for our souls. But if respect for the holiness of God, who is about to enter within us by holy Communion, should make us shudder at the thought of receiving Him in the state of mortal sin which robs the soul of the image of God and gives her that of Satan, ought not that same respect to urge us to purify our souls from venial sins, which dim the beauty of grace? He, says our Savior, that is washed needed not but the wash his feet. The feet are those earthly attachments, which so often lead us to the brink of sin. Let us watch over our senses, and the affections of our hearts. Let us wash away these stains by a sincere confession, by penance, by sorrow, and by humility; that thus we may worthily receive the adorable Sacrament, and derive from it the fullness of its power and grace." (Dom Gueranger)

* Since "Holy Communion is the receiving of the Body and Blood of Christ" (Baltimore Catechism), it is clear that those receiving Holy Communion must be properly prepared.

"We now come to point out the manner in which the faithful should be previously prepared for sacramental Communion. To demonstrate the great necessity of this previous preparation, the example of the Savior should be adduced. Before He gave to His Apostles the Sacrament of His precious Body and Blood, although they were already clean, He washed their feet to show that we must use extreme diligence before Holy Communion in order to approach it with the greatest purity and innocence of soul. In the next place, the faithful are to understand that as he who approaches thus prepared and disposed is adorned with the most ample gifts of heavenly grace; so, on the contrary, he who approaches without this preparation not only deserves from it no advantage, but even incurs the greatest misfortune and loss. It is characteristic of the best and most salutary things that, if seasonably made use of, they are productive of the greatest benefit; but if employed out of time, they prove most pernicious and destructive. It cannot, therefore, excite our surprise that the greatest and exalted gifts of God, when received into a soul properly disposed, are of the greatest assistance towards the attainment of salvation; while to those who receive them unworthily, they bring with them eternal death. Of this the Ark of the Lord affords a convincing illustration. The people of Israel possessed nothing more precious and it was to them the source of innumerable blessings from God; but when the Philistines carried it away, it brought on them a most destructive plague and the heaviest calamities, together with eternal disgrace. Thus also food when received from the mouth into a healthy stomach nourishes and supports the body; but when received into an indisposed stomach, causes grave disorders." (Catechism of the Council of Trent)

"The sacrament of the Eucharist produces its marvelous effects in us when it is received with the requisite dispositions" (Catechism of St. Pius X)

"But whereas the Sacraments of the New Law, though they take effect ex opere operato, nevertheless produce a greater effect in proportion as the dispositions of the recipient are better; therefore, care is to be taken that Holy Communion be preceded by serious preparation, and followed by a suitable thanksgiving according to each one's strength, circumstances, and duties." (Congregation of the Holy Council, December 20th, 1905 A.D.)

Q. "How should we be prepared in order to receive Holy Communion?" A. "We should be in the state of grace, should be fasting, and should be devout." (Catechism of St. John Neumann)

* The first preparation to be made for those receiving Holy Communion is to distinguish the true Body & Blood of the Lord.

"The first preparation, then, which the faithful should make, is to distinguish table from table, this sacred table from profane tables, this celestial bread from common bread. This we do when we firmly believe that there is truly present the body and bloody of the Lord, of Him whom the Angels adore in heaven at whose nod the pillars of heaven fear and tremble, of whose glory the heavens and earth are full. This is to discern the body of the Lord in accordance with the admonition of the Apostle." (Catechism of the Council of Trent)

"Pastors, aware of the warning of the Apostle that those who discern not the body of the Lord are guilty of a most grave crime, should first of all impress on the minds of the faithful the necessity of detaching, as much as possible, their mind and understanding from the dominion of the senses; for if they believe that his Sacrament contains only what the senses disclose, they will of necessity fall into enormous impiety. Consulting the sight, the touch, the smell, the taste and finding nothing but the appearances of bread and wine, they will naturally judge that this Sacrament contains nothing more than bread and wine. Their minds, therefore, are as much as possible to be withdrawn from subjection to the senses and excited to the contemplation of the stupendous might and power of God." (Catechism of the Council of Trent)

"Augustine says on Psalm 99:5: 'Let no one eat Christ's flesh, except he first adore it.'" (St. Augustine, Doctor of the Church)

* Those receiving Holy Communion must also make other preparations. For example: 

"Another very necessary preparation is to ask ourselves if we are at peace with and sincerely love our neighbor. If, therefore, thou offerest thy gift at the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath anything against thee, leave there thy offering before the altar, and go first to be reconciled to thy brother, and then coming thou shalt offer thy gift." (Catechism of the Council of Trent)

"We should, in the next place, carefully examine whether our consciences be defiled by mortal sin, which has to be repented of, in order that it may be blotted out before Communion by the remedy of contrition and confession. The Council of Trent has defined that no one conscious of mortal sin and having an opportunity of going to confession, however contrite he may deem himself, is to approach the Holy Eucharist until he has been purified by sacramental confession." (Catechism of the Council of Trent)

"We should also reflect in the silence of our own hearts how unworthy we are that the Lord should bestow on us this divine gift, and with the centurion of whom our Lord declared that he found not so great faith in Israel, we should exclaim from our hearts: Lord, I am not worthy that thou shouldst enter under my roof." (Catechism of the Council of Trent)

"We should also put the question to ourselves whether we can truly say with Peter: Lord, thou knowest that I love thee, and should recollect that he who sat down at the banquet of the Lord without a wedding garment was cast into a dark dungeon and condemned to eternal torments." (Catechism of the Council of Trent)

"Preparation before Communion consists in meditating for some time on Whom we are about to receive, and on who we are; and in making acts of faith, hope, charity, contrition, adoration, humility, and desire to receive Jesus Christ." (Catechism of St. Pius X)

* Also, certain bodily preparations (e.g. fasting, continence) must be made by those receiving Holy Communion. For example: 

"Our preparation should not, however, be confined to the soul; it should also extend to the body. We are to approach the Holy Table fasting, having neither eaten nor drunk anything at least from the preceding midnight until the moment of Communion." (Catechism of the Council of Trent) [Note: This time period has since been relaxed (the 1983 Code of Canon law states a minimum of one hour).]

"Before communion there is required a natural fast which is broken by taking the least thing by way of food or drink." (Catechism of St. Pius X)

"To make a good Communion, it is necessary to be in the state of grace and to be fasting from food and all drinks, except water (unless exempted)." (Baltimore Catechism)

"The fast necessary for Holy Communion is to abstain from all food, beverages, and alcoholic drinks for [the prescribed time period - i.e. 1 hour] before Holy Communion. Water may be taken at any time. The sick may take food, non-alcoholic drinks and medicine up to Communion time." (Baltimore Catechism)

"Augustine says (Responsionum ad Januarius, Ep. 54): 'It has pleased the Holy Ghost that, out of honor for this great sacrament, the Lord's body should enter the mouth of a Christian before other foods.'" (St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church and "greatest theologian in the history of the Church")

"It is not, however, lawful to consecrate or partake of the Eucharist after eating or drinking, because, according to a custom wisely introduced by the Apostles, as ancient writers have recorded, and which has ever been retained and preserved, Communion is received only by persons who are fasting." (Catechism of the Council of Trent)

"Can. 919 §1 Whoever is to receive the blessed Eucharist is to abstain for at least one hour before holy communion from all food and drink, with the sole exception of water and medicine. §2 A priest who, on the same day, celebrates the blessed Eucharist twice or three times may consume something before the second or third celebration, even though there is not an hour's interval. §3 The elderly and those who are suffering from some illness, as well as those who care for them, may receive the blessed Eucharist even if within the preceding hour they have consumed something." (1983 Code of Canon Law)

"The dignity of so great a Sacrament also demands that married persons abstain from the marriage debt for some days previous to Communion. This observance is recommended by the example of David, who, when about to receive the show-bread from the hands of the priest, declared that he and his servants had been clean from women for three days." (Catechism of the Council of Trent)

Note that the fast is not broken by certain items such as particles between the teeth and medicine:

"If one were to swallow a particle that had remained between the teeth, or a drop of water while washing, he might still go to Communion, because in both cases these things would either not be taken as food or drink, or they would have already lost the nature of either." (Catechism of St. Pius X)

"Medicine does not break the fast; food taken during the prescribed time before Communion breaks the fast." (Baltimore Catechism)

Also note that the sick and sick and those in danger of death are not obliged to fast:

"Any one in danger of death is allowed to receive Holy Communion when not fasting or when it is necessary to save the Blessed Sacrament from insult or injury." (Baltimore Catechism)

"To go to Communion after having broken the fast is permitted to the sick, who are in danger of death, and to those who on account of prolonged illness have received a special dispensation from the Pope. Communion given to the sick in danger of death is called Viaticum, because it supports them on their way from this life to eternity." (Catechism of St. Pius X)

"Nevertheless the sick are exempted from this general rule, for they should be given Communion at once, even after food, should there be any doubt as to their danger, lest they die without Communion, because necessity has no law. Hence it is said in the Canon de Consecratione: 'Let the priest at once take Communion to the sick person, lest he die without Communion.'" (St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church and "greatest theologian in the history of the Church")

Note: Click here for more on Viaticum

If the necessary fast is broken, a person should not receive Holy Communion.

"A person who through forgetfulness or any other cause has broken the fast necessary for Holy Communion, should again fast and receive Holy Communion the following morning if possible, without returning to confession. It is not a sin to break one's fast, but it would be a mortal sin to receive Holy Communion after knowingly breaking the fast necessary for it." (Baltimore Catechism)

* Those in a state of grace should not let their unworthiness keep them from Holy Communion

"Go, then, to Communion, my children; go to Jesus with love and confidence; go and live upon Him, in order to live for Him! Do not say that you have too much to do. Has not the Divine Savior said, 'Come to Me, all you that labor and are burdened, and I will refresh you'? Can you resist an invitation so full of love and tenderness? Do not say that you are not worthy of it. It is true, you are not worthy of it; but you are in need of it. If Our Lord had regarded our worthiness, He would never have instituted His beautiful Sacrament of love: for no one in the world is worthy of it, neither the saints, nor the angels, nor the archangels, nor the Blessed Virgin; but He had in view our needs, and we are all in need of it. Do not say that you are sinners, that you are too miserable, and for that reason you do not dare to approach it. I would as soon hear you say that you are very ill, and therefore you will not take any remedy, nor send for the physician." (Catechism of the Cure of Ars)

* Conditions / dispositions necessary for a good Communion: 

"To make a good communion three conditions are necessary: (1) To be in the grace of God ('To be in the grace of God means to have a pure conscience and to be free from every mortal sin.'); (2) To be fasting [according to the regulations of the Church]; (3) To know what we are about to receive, and to approach Holy Communion devoutly ('To receive Holy Communion with devotion means to approach Holy Communion with humility and modesty in person and dress; and to make a preparation before, and an act of thanksgiving after, Holy Communion')" (Catechism of St. Pius X)

"The right dispositions for the Holy Eucharist are: (1) To know what the Holy Eucharist is; (2) To be in a state of grace, and (3) - except in special cases of sickness - to be fasting [for the prescribed period]." (Baltimore Catechism)

* When unable to receive the Holy Eucharist, we should make a 'spiritual communion'

"When we cannot come to church, let us turn towards the tabernacle: a wall cannot separate us from the good God; let us say five Paters and five Aves (Our Father & Hail Mary prayers) to make a spiritual communion." (Catechism of the Cure of Ars)

"Spiritual Communion is a great desire to be united sacramentally with Jesus Christ. saying, for example: 'My Lord Jesus Christ, I desire with my whole heart to be united with Thee now and forever;' and then make the same acts that are to be made before and after sacramental Communion." (Catechism of St. Pius X)

"A spiritual communion is an earnest desire to receive Communion in reality, by which desire we make all preparations and thanksgivings that we would make in case we really received the Holy Eucharist. Spiritual Communion is an act of devotion that must be pleasing to God and bring us blessings from Him." (Baltimore Catechism)

Note: Try here for spiritual communion prayers

* We should arrive early and prepare properly for the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.

"We ought always to devote at least a quarter of an hour to preparing ourselves to hear Mass well; we ought to annihilate ourselves before God, after the example of His profound annihilation in the Sacrament of the Eucharist; and we should make our examination of conscience, for we must be in a state of grace to be able to assist properly at Mass. If we knew the value of the holy Sacrifice of the Mass, or rather if we had faith, we should be much more zealous to assist at it." (Catechism of the Cure of Ars)

Note: Try here for Mass prayers

* During Mass, we should... 

"We should assist at Mass with great interior recollection and piety, and with every outward mark of respect and devotion." (Baltimore Catechism)

"The best manner of hearing Mass is to offer it to God with the priest for the same purpose for which it is said, to meditate of Christ's sufferings and death, and to go to Holy Communion [if properly disposed]." (Baltimore Catechism)

Q. "What should we do during the Sacrifice of the Mass?" A." In union with the priest we should offer Jesus Christ to His heavenly Father." (Catechism of St. John Neumann)

Q "Of what should we especially think during the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass?" A. "Of the sufferings and the death of Jesus Christ." (Catechism of St. John Neumann)

"To assist at Holy Mass well and profitably two things are necessary: (1) Modesty of person ['Modesty of person consists especially in being modestly dressed, in observing silence and recollection and, as far as possible, in remaining kneeling, except during the time of the two Gospels which are heard standing.' (Catechism of St. Pius X)] and (2) Devotion of heart." (Catechism of St. Pius X)

"In hearing Holy Mass the best way to practice true devotion is the following: (1) From the very beginning to unite our intention with that of the priest, offering the Holy Sacrifice to God for the ends for which it was instituted. (2) To accompany the priest in each prayer and action of the Sacrifice. (3) To meditate on the passion and death of Jesus Christ and to heartily detest our sins, which have been the cause of them. (4) To go to Communion, or at least to make a spiritual Communion while the priest communicates." (Catechism of St. Pius X)

In addition, we should keep in mind the great reverence due this incomparable Sacrament:

"Reverence, therefore, reverence this table, of which we all are communicants! Christ, slain for us, the Sacrificial Victim who is placed thereon!" (St. John Chrysostom, Doctor of the Church, c. 392 A.D.)

"Therefore, kissing your feet and with all that love of which I am capable, I implore all of you brothers to show all possible reverence and honor to the most holy Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ in Whom that which is in the heavens and on the earth is brought to peace and is reconciled to the all-powerful God (cf. Col. 1:20)." (St. Francis of Assisi)

"And it is fitting, indeed in this age it is specially important, that by means of the united efforts of the devout, the outward honor and the inward reverence paid to this Sacrifice should be alike increased. Accordingly it is our wish that its manifold excellence may be both more widely known and more attentively considered." (Pope Leo XIII, "Mirae Caritatis", 1902 A.D.)

"Certainly, then, the more a Christian is aware of the holiness and the divinity of this heavenly Sacrament [of the Eucharist], the more careful he should be not to receive it without great reverence and sanctity, especially since we read in the Apostle the fearful words: 'He who eats and drinks unworthily, without distinguishing the body of the Lord, eats and drinks judgment to himself' (1 Cor. 11:29)" (Council of Trent)

"The Sacrifice of the Mass is truly the Sacrifice of Calvary made present among us, a sacrifice at which we should dare to be present only in a spirit of the utmost reverence and the most abject humility, conscious of our unworthiness in the presence of the all-holy God." (Davies)

"If there is anything divine among man's possessions which might excite the envy of the citizens of heaven (could they ever be swayed by such a passion), this is undoubtedly the Most Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, by means of which men [e.g. priests], having before their eyes, and taking into their hand the very Creator of heaven and earth, experience, while still on earth, a certain anticipation of heaven. How keenly, then, must mortals strive to preserve and protect this inestimable privilege with all due worship and reverence, and be ever on their guard lest their negligence offend the angels who vie with them in eager adoration!" (Pope Urban VIII)

"What great care is to be taken, that the sacred and holy Sacrifice of the Mass be celebrated with all religious service and veneration, each one may easily imagine, who considers, that, in holy writ, he is called accursed, who doth the work of God negligently; and if we must needs confess, that no other work can be performed by the faithful so holy and divine as this tremendous mystery itself, wherein that life-giving Victim [Christ], by which we were reconciled to the Father, is daily immolated on the altar by priests, it is also sufficiently clear, that all industry and diligence is to be applied to this end, that it be performed with the greatest possible inward cleanness and purity of heart, and outward show of devotion and piety." (Council of Trent, 1562 A.D.)

"[W]e on our part are bound to show to God, as our Lord, the highest reverence, and, as He is our greatest benefactor, the deepest gratitude. But how many are there who at the present day acknowledge and discharge these duties with full and exact observance? In no age has the spirit of contumacy and an attitude of defiance towards God been more prevalent than in our own; an age in which that unholy cry of the enemies of Christ: 'We will not have this man to rule over us' (Luke xix., 14), makes itself more and more loudly heard, together with the utterance of that wicked purpose: 'let us make away with Him'; nor is there any motive by which many are hurried on with more passionate fury, than the desire utterly to banish God not only from the civil government, but from every form of human society. And although men do not everywhere proceed to this extremity of criminal madness, it is a lamentable thing that so many are sunk in oblivion of the divine Majesty and of His favors, and in particular of the salvation wrought for us by Christ. Now a remedy must be found for this wickedness on the one hand, and this sloth on the other, in a general increase among the faithful of fervent devotion towards the Eucharistic Sacrifice, than which nothing can give greater honor, nothing be more pleasing, to God. For it is a divine Victim [Christ] which is here immolated; and accordingly through this Victim [Christ] we offer to the most blessed Trinity all that honor which the infinite dignity of the Godhead demands; infinite in value and infinitely acceptable is the gift which we present to the Father in His only-begotten Son; so that for His benefits to us we not only signify our gratitude, but actually make an adequate return." (Pope Leo XIII, "Mirae Caritatis", 1902 A.D.)

Further, we should remember that...

"There is indeed nothing which is more contrary to, or bad for, church discipline, than negligently and disrespectfully to carry out liturgical worship." (Pope Benedict XIV)

"Greater devotion is required in this sacrament than in the others, for the reason that the entire Christ is contained therein." (St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church and "greatest theologian in the history of the Church")

We should have the proper frame of mind: "When you hear Mass, do you come in the same frame of mind as the Blessed Virgin at Calvary? Because it is the same God, and the same Sacrifice." (St. John Vianney) 

We should focus on the priest (who is in the place of Christ) during Mass, not on our neighbors. Remember that no time is more advantageous for the gaining of graces. 

We should be humble: "With what humility should we assist at Mass, if we realized that our guardian angel was kneeling beside us, prostrate before the majesty of God! With what eagerness should we not ask him to offer our prayers to Jesus Christ!" (St. John Vianney)

"It is, therefore, desirable, Venerable Brethren, that all the faithful should be aware that to participate in the Eucharistic Sacrifice is their chief duty and supreme dignity, and that not in an inert and negligent fashion, giving way to distractions and day-dreaming, but with such earnestness and concentration that they may be united as closely as possible with the High Priest, according to the Apostle, 'Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus.' And together with Him and through Him let them make their oblation, and in union with Him let them offer up themselves." (Pope Pius XII, "Mediator Dei", 1947 A.D.)

We should not become distracted or distract others from the reality of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass as the re-presentation of Calvary. Note that it is not necessary (and may be positively wrong) to engage in actions at church that distract you from the Lord (e.g. hand-holding or other physical contacts with one's neighbor that are not strictly necessary). You may engage in such actions, as appropriate, after Mass outside of the church. [Note: The 'kiss of peace' of old was for those who were in the peace of Christ. There is no true peace of Christ for those who violate Christ's law (e.g. those engaging in contraception, divorce, abortion, etc., those failing to believe in the Real Presence, etc.). Therefore, to indiscriminately offer a 'kiss of peace' to those opposed to Christ's peace is certainly most unsuitable. This is why some traditional Catholics prefer to kneel and adore the Holy Eucharist during a prescribed 'kiss of peace' rather than engage in such activities. Traditional Catholics also tend to engage in silent prayer while others exchange distracting 'greetings' that take one's focus off of Christ.]

We should attend Mass properly dressed. The dress of many persons today is thoroughly inappropriate and scandalous and should be corrected by priests. Remember that in Scripture the man who wasn't wearing a proper garment was thrown out. Proper Church clothing is modest, and should not be tight-fighting or clingy. Bathing suits, shorts, halter tops, and t-shirts are unsuitable attire, as are sleeveless dresses, low cut tops, skirts above the knees, tops exposing the stomach or back, clothes with advertising or logos, see-thru clothing, suggestive clothing, etc. (If you cannot afford appropriate attire, contact a good Catholic charity for assistance in obtaining proper church clothing.) One should keep in mind the following admonitions regarding proper dress:

"Give to the LORD the glory due his name! Bring gifts, and enter his presence; worship the LORD in holy attire. Tremble before him, all the earth; he has made the world firm, not to be moved." (1 Chron. 16:29-30)

"The dress of the body should not discredit the good of the soul." (St. Cyprian)

"A person who is about to make a request to a secular prince takes pains to compose himself and his words by decent dress, becoming gesture, regulated speech and close attention of mind. How much more careful ought he to be in all these things when he is about to pray to almighty God in a sacred place!" (Council of Basel)

"One cannot sufficiently deplore the blindness of so many women of every age and condition; made foolish by desire to please, they do not see to what a degree the indecency of their clothing shocks every honest man, and offends God. Most of them would formerly have blushed for such apparel as for a grave fault against Christian modesty; now it does not suffice for them to exhibit themselves on the public thoroughfares; they do not fear to cross the threshold of the Churches to assist at the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, and even to bear the seducing food of shameful passions to the Eucharistic Table where one receives the heavenly Author of purity. And We speak not of those exotic and barbarous dances recently imported into fashionable circles, one more shocking than the other; one cannot imagine anything more suitable for banishing all the remains of modesty." (Pope Benedict XV)

"Women must be decently dressed, especially when they go to church. The parish priest may, with due prudence, refuse them entrance to the church and access to the reception of the Sacraments, each and every time that they come to the church immodestly dressed." (General Pastoral Directive, 20th Century A.D.)

"Similarly, (too,) women should adorn themselves with proper conduct, with modesty and self-control, not with braided hairstyles and gold ornaments, or pearls, or expensive clothes, but rather, as befits women who profess reverence for God, with good deeds." (St. Paul, 1 Tm. 2:9-10)

Note: Try here for more on modesty in dress.

Women of all ages are encouraged to wear a head covering as directed by St. Paul in the Bible (see 1 Cor. 11:4-16).

"But any woman who prays or prophesies with her head unveiled brings shame upon her head, for it is one and the same thing as if she had had her head shaved. For if a woman does not have her head veiled, she may as well have her hair cut off. But if it is shameful for a woman to have her hair cut off or her head shaved, then she should wear a veil. A man, on the other hand, should not cover his head, because he is the image and glory of God, but woman is the glory of man. For man did not come from woman, but woman from man; nor was man created for woman, but woman for man; for this reason a woman should have a sign of authority on her head, because of the angels." (St. Paul, 1 Cor. 11:5-10) [Note: See Resources for printable flier on this topic]

We should not talk in church. As the maxim goes: "Silence is Golden in the House of the Lord". Note that this includes the time before and after Mass as well as all other times outside of Mass (most especially during Eucharistic Adoration and Confession). 

"Nothing so becomes a church as silence and good order. Noise belongs to theatres, and baths, and public processions, and market-places: but where doctrines, and such doctrines, are the subject of teaching, there should be stillness, and quiet, and calm reflection, and a haven of much repose." (St. John Chrysostom, Doctor of the Church) 

"Let all mortal flesh be silent, standing there...in fear and trembling; for the King of kings, the Lord of lords, Christ our God is about to be sacrificed and to be given as food to the faithful." (St. James) 

"Silence in the presence of the Lord GOD!" (Zeph. 1:7)

"But the LORD is in his holy temple; silence before him, all the earth!" (Hab. 2:20)

"When you are before the altar where Christ reposes, you ought no longer to think that you are amongst men; but believe that there are troops of angels and archangels standing by you, and trembling with respect before the sovereign Master of Heaven and earth. Therefore, when you are in church, be there in silence, fear, and veneration." (St. John Chrysostom, Doctor of the Church) 

"The worship rendered by the Church to God must be, in its entirety, interior as well as exterior... But the chief element of divine worship must be interior" (Pope Pius XII, Mediator Dei)

Talkative women should take special note of St. Paul's admonition in 1 Cor. 14:33-37:

 "...As in all the churches of the holy ones, women should keep silent in the churches, for they are not allowed to speak, but should be subordinate, as even the law says. But if they want to learn anything, they should ask their husbands at home. For it is improper for a woman to speak in the church.... what I am writing to you is a commandment of the Lord." (St. Paul, 1 Cor. 14:33-37) [Note: See Resources for printable flier on this topic]

Adopt an attitude of piety, humility, and reverence while in church.

"[You should approach more reverently than if you] were about to approach all the rulers in the whole world seated together in one place." (St. Thomas More)

"But, assuredly, all of the duties which man has to fulfill, that without doubt, is the chiefest and holiest which commands him to worship God with devotion and piety." (Pope Leo XIII)

"Holy things must be treated in a holy way and this sacrifice is the most holy of all things." (Council of Trent)

"The LORD'S eyes are upon the reverent" (Ps. 33:18)

"Keep my sabbaths, and reverence my sanctuary. I am the LORD." (Lev. 26:2)

"[E]xternal actions are signs of internal reverence" (St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church and "greatest theologian in the history of the Church")

"Among sins opposed to religion, the more grievous is that which is the more opposed to the reverence due to God." (St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church and "greatest theologian in the history of the Church")

"[T]he end of religion is to pay reverence to God. Wherefore whatever pertains directly to irreverence for God is opposed to religion." (St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church and "greatest theologian in the history of the Church")

We should never leave Mass early. Remember that the first person to leave Mass early was Judas. [Note: Unfortunately, however, there may be situations (e.g. cases of extreme abuse - such as the intentional use of invalid materials, the pseudo-consecration by those not in Holy Orders, etc.), where it may be appropriate or necessary to walk out. Contact appropriate Church authorities for further assistance.]

* The Mass is the most suitable time to pray for both living and dead: "Yes it is advisable to pray for others while assisting at Mass; nay more, the time of Holy Mass is the most suitable of all times to pray for the living and the dead." (Catechism of St. Pius X). Note that one is especially united with Christ after Holy Communion.

* It is acceptable to pray the Rosary during Mass (however, one should be quiet with one's beads and prayers so as not to distract others):

"So varied and diverse are men's talents and characters that it is impossible for all to be moved and attracted to the same extent by community prayers, hymns and liturgical services. Moreover, the needs and inclinations of all are not the same, nor are they always constant in the same individual. Who, then, would say, on account of such a prejudice, that all these Christians cannot participate in the Mass nor share its fruits? On the contrary, they can adopt some other method which proves easier for certain people; for instance, they can lovingly meditate on the mysteries of Jesus Christ or perform other exercises of piety or recite prayers which, though they differ from the sacred rites, are still essentially in harmony with them." (Pope Pius XII, "Mediator Dei", 1947)

"The recitation of the Rosary and other prayers during Mass does not prevent us from hearing it with profit, provided we try as far as possible to follow the parts of the Holy Sacrifice [of the Mass]." (Catechism of St. Pius X)

* When the sacred Host is elevated during the Consecration, say silently (and with conviction) "My Lord and My God". Historically, indulgences have been attached to this practice.

"All those are damned who see the Sacrament of the Body of Christ on the altar in the form of bread and wine by the words of our Lord in the hands of the priest, yet do not see or believe in spirit and in God that this is really the most holy Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ." (St. Francis of Assisi)

* Holy Communion must be received reverently and consumed in a proper manner.

"We should try to swallow the sacred Host as soon as possible, and we should avoid spitting for some time." (Catechism of St. Pius X)

"If the sacred Host should cling to the palate it should be removed with the tongue, but never with the finger" (Catechism of St. Pius X)

"[T]hey should receive the Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ with great humility and reverence, remembering what the Lord says: Whoever eats and drinks my blood has eternal life (cf. Jn. 6:55) and: Do this in memory of me (Lk. 22:19)." (St. Francis of Assisi)

"[The Eucharistic Bread] which is broken on our altars, offered to us as wayfarers along the paths of the world, is Panis Angelorum, the Bread of Angels, which cannot be approached except with the humility of the centurion in the Gospel: 'Lord, I am not worthy to have you come under my roof ' (Mt 8:8; Lk 7:6)." (Pope John Paul II, 2003 A.D.)

"When receiving Holy Communion we should be particular: (1) About the respectful manner in which we approach and return form the altar; (2) About our personal appearance, especially neatness and cleanliness; (3) About raising our head, opening our mouth and putting forth the tongue in the proper manner; (4) About swallowing the Sacred Host; (5) About removing it carefully with the tongue, in case it should stick to the mouth, but never with the finger under any circumstances." (Baltimore Catechism)

"In the act of receiving Holy Communion we should be kneeling, hold our head slightly raised, our eyes modest and fixed on the sacred Host, our mouth sufficiently open, and the tongue slightly out over the lips." (Catechism of St. Pius X) [Note: This refers to the traditional posture for receiving Holy Communion. Modernists prefer for communicants to stand and receive Holy Communion in the hand. Despite this, however, one should always receive Holy Communion on the tongue, and the Vatican has stated that those who kneel are not to be denied Holy Communion.]

"But always remember that the more you allow Mary to act in your Communion, the more Jesus will be glorified; and you will allow Mary to act for Jesus and Jesus to act in Mary in the measure that you humble yourself and listen to them in peace and in silence, without troubling yourself about seeing, tasting or feeling; for the just man lives throughout on faith, and particularly in Holy Communion, which is an action of faith: 'My just man liveth by faith.' (Heb. 10:38).'" (St. Louis Marie de Montfort)

* Show the utmost respect and honor for the Holy Eucharist. Remember, you have the undeniable right to receive Holy Communion on the tongue. Do not feel compelled to put the Blessed Eucharist in your hand and self-communicate (one should not consume the Bread of Life as one consumes fast food!). Occasionally, a priest may be confused if few parishioners take Holy Communion on the tongue - simply be patient with the priest and remember that your right to receive Holy Communion on the tongue cannot be disputed. Be firm, but patient.

"Wherever I go in the whole world, the thing that makes me the saddest is watching people receive Communion in the hand." (Mother Teresa)

Note: Modernists / liberals ["the worst enemies of the Church" (Bl. Pope Pius IX) and "the most pernicious of all the adversaries of the Church" (Pope St. Pius X)] have rejected the traditional practice of receiving Holy Communion only from priests and have fostered the Protestant-inspired practice of 'self-communicating' (instituted by the Protestant 'Reformers' to discourage belief in the Real Presence). The indult to receive Holy Communion in the hand is a result of their disobedience and has led to many abuses against the Holy Eucharist. Contentious Catholics should follow the general practice of the popes (Holy Communion administered to the faithful on the tongue by priests) and reject the act of self-communicating. It is your undeniable right to receive Holy Communion on the tongue. Consistent with Catholic tradition, Catholics should always do their utmost to receive the Holy Eucharist only from the consecrated hands of a priest. For more information, see below and try the Catholic News/Current Issues section.

* If at all possible, receive Holy Communion in a kneeling position. Also, kneel after receiving Holy Communion (if you are physically able). Also kneel during other appropriate points in the Mass, regardless of what others may be doing. You are responsible to God only for your own piety in worship. 

"It is, therefore, the keen desire of the Church that all of the faithful kneel at the feet of the Redeemer to tell Him how much they venerate and love Him." (Pope Pius XII, "Mediator Dei")

"In the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those that are in heaven, on earth, and under the earth" (St. Paul, Phil. 2:10)

"I bend my knee to the Father of my Lord Jesus Christ, from whom all paternity in heaven and on earth is named" (St. Paul, Eph. 3:14)

"Enter, let us bow down in worship; let us kneel before the LORD who made us." (Ps. 95:6)

"['The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank you, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this Publican.' (Lk. 18:11)] It is said 'standing,' to denote his haughty temper. For his very posture betokens his extreme pride." (St. Theophylact)

"But as when the Body of our Lord lay in the sepulcher, Angels are said to have stood by, so also at the time of consecration are they to be believed to stand by the mysteries of Christ. Let us then after the example of the devout women, whenever we approach the heavenly mysteries because of the presence of the Angels, or from reverence to the Sacred Offering, with all humility, bow our faces to the earth, recollecting that we are but dust and ashes." (St. Bede the Venerable, Doctor of the Church)

"But what means His bending of knees? of which it is said, 'And he kneeled down, and prayed'. It is the way of men to pray to their superiors with their faces on the ground, testifying by the action that the greater of the two are those who are asked. Now it is plain that human nature contains nothing worthy of God's imitation. Accordingly the tokens of respect which we evince to one another, confessing ourselves to be inferior to our neighbors, we have transferred to the humiliation of the Incomparable Nature. And thus He who bore our sicknesses and interceded for us, bent His knee in prayer, by reason of the man which He assumed, giving us an example, that we ought not to exalt ourselves at the time of prayer, but in all things be conformed to humility; for God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble." (St. Gregory of Nyssa)

"Throughout Scripture, lay people, prophets, and saints have prostrated themselves or bowed down before God. Moses, Aaron, Abraham, and Joshua are but a few of those who are shown to prostrate themselves in the Bible. In the New Testament, the magi prostrate in front of the infant Jesus, as does the man tormented by unclean spirits, and as do the apostles at the Transfiguration of Jesus. In Revelation, the heavenly beings also prostrate... Jesus himself prostrates in prayer before his Father. If you would bend your knee for an earthly king or queen, how much more should you show reverence towards your Lord and Creator!" (Flier: "Our Responsibilities in God's House") [Note: Click here for flier]

Note: Modernists / liberals ["the worst enemies of the Church" (Bl. Pope Pius IX) and "the most pernicious of all the adversaries of the Church" (Pope St. Pius X)] have rejected the traditional practice of kneeling for Holy Communion. Know, therefore, that kneeling persons are not to be denied Holy Communion because they are kneeling. Should this occur, you should take the matter up with the proper Church authorities.

Note: Click here for 'Kneeling / Prostrating / Bowing / Genuflecting' Reflections (Church Talk Section)

Continued on Next Page

Pg. 1 | Pg. 2 | Pg. 4

Did You Know? 

You can still attend the Traditional Latin Mass - the highly reverent "Mass of the Saints". It is NOT the same as the Mass said in most Catholic parishes today. 

The Mass celebrated in most Catholic parishes since the 1960's is called the "Novus Ordo" (New Order) Mass. It was concocted by men after the Second Vatican Council. There are numerous and significant differences between the Traditional Latin Mass and the Novus Ordo Mass.

The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass (The "Tridentine" Mass)Happily, the Traditional Latin Mass - in use for most of the life of the Church - is still validly said in Catholic parishes today. Contact your diocese for the nearest location of this incomparable Mass. 

If this Mass is not available in your parish, petition your pastor!

Click Here for More Information Regarding this Mass


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