"I will do everything for heaven."
                                 St. Bernadette

21 Bayly St. East
Ajax, Ontario
L1S 1P2
(905) 683-1533

Receiving the Eucharist

On the Proper Reception of Holy Communion

The little things. Sometimes we forget the little things in life…”they’re not too critical,” we tell ourselves. But there are times when remembering the “little things” does become very important.

Over time the way we receive Holy Communion, particularly the Sacred Host, becomes second nature. There develops a problem, however, when the routine learned or generally practiced can be considered a bad habit or not-the-best-option.

To ensure that full respect is given to the Eucharist a few items should be noted.

1. If you are carrying a child in your arms, please receive the Eucharist on your tongue. In this way, care is taken to avoid dropping either your child or Jesus.

2. When the priest or extra-ordinary minister says, “The Body of Christ.” The expected response should be “Amen.” Silence is inappropriate. “Thank-you”, while polite, is also an incorrect response.

3. When receiving Holy Communion on the tongue, please

a. open your mouth wide;

b. stick out your tongue;

c. allow the Sacred Host to be placed on your tongue;

d. chewing the Sacred Host is acceptable.

e. chewing gum immediately prior to receiving Holy Communion is NOT acceptable; neither is chewing gum while Holy Communion is in your mouth. Please do not swallow the gum, you could choke. Rather, come forward for a blessing.

f. you should not be drinking, chewing, or eating anything because there is a one hour fast expected before an individual receives Holy Communion. Water and medication are not included in this fast. The very elderly and those who are ill in any way, as well as those who care for them, are not bound by this one hour fast, but are permitted a shorter period of 15 minutes. If one is not properly disposed to receive Holy Communion you may make a spiritual communion. (Simply think on Jesus and how much He loves us and how much we love Him, then ask Our Blessed Mother to ask Her Divine Son to come into our hearts.)

4. While receiving Holy Communion on the tongue is the preferred practice, for the larger Catholic Church worldwide, permission is given by our local bishop, Archbishop Collins, for Catholics in the Archdiocese of Toronto to receive in the hand. If you choose to utilize this option, please:

a. hold out your hands, palms upward and slightly cupped, and keep them at about the level of your heart;

b. your right hand should be placed under your left hand; if you are left handed and cannot do this without difficulty, you may reverse the hand positions;

c. receive Holy Communion in your left hand and use your right hand to place Holy Communion in your mouth; this instruction is reversed if you are left handed and have utilized the alternative hand position.

5. To receive Holy Communion one must have the proper disposition (see Corinthians 11:27). An individual must be free from mortal sin. To receive the Eucharist in the state of mortal sin is the serious sin of sacrilege. For a sin to be mortal, three conditions must together be met: “Mortal sin is sin whose object is grave matter and which is also committed with full knowledge and deliberate consent” (CCC#1857). Also, one must have been present for the entire Eucharistic Canon. An individual who through their own choice does not attend Mass on Sunday, this includes the Saturday evening Mass but not a Saturday wedding Mass, may objectively be said to be in a condition of mortal sin and may not receive Holy Communion without going first to Sacramental Reconciliation/Confession. This situation occurs because Sunday Mass attendance is a part of fulfilling the Third Commandment, a commandment which is repeated in the precepts (laws) of the Church.

If you believe that you are not properly disposed spiritually to receive Holy Communion, you may choose to come forward for a blessing. If you would like a blessing, please indicate this by placing both hands over your chest, or if that is too uncomfortable, one arm across your chest will suffice. Younger children who accompany their parents but who have not yet received their First Holy Communion, may also indicate their desire for a blessing using the same hand gestures previously outlined.

It is very much appreciated if you clearly indicate whether you wish to receive Holy Communion on the tongue or in the hand. Please do not confuse the priest or extra-ordinary minister distributing Holy Communion by holding out your hands while also opening your mouth. It goes without saying that any individual who receives Holy Communion must IMMEDIATELY consume the Sacred Host or the Precious Blood in the presence of the priest or the Extra-ordinary Minister of Communion. If you do walk away with the Sacred Host still in your hands, the priest. extra-ordinary minister, or an usher may note this fact to you and ask you to please consume the Sacred Host.

Thank you for your understanding and co-operation in our desire to enhance our parish’s respectful reverence for and reception of the Eucharist. May Jesus Christ, truly present, body and blood, soul and divinity, in the Eucharist, be given praise and glory forever. And may the blessing of Almighty God always be upon this parish community of St. Bernadette’s and all who worship here.

This text was published for educational purposes with permission from
Fr. Morosco Lett of Holy Redeemer Parish.