Sacraments 101: Eucharist (how we receive)
How to Take Communion in the Catholic Church
In the Catholic faith, Communion is an essential part of Mass. You must, among other requirements, be of Catholic faith, receive a welcome into the church, and be in a state of grace to take Communion. To receive Communion, you will take offerings of both the Body and the Blood of Christ by a priest or other church member. Allow the priest to place the host on your tongue or in your hands, then take a small sip of the blood from a proffered chalice.
Qualifying for Communion
Become Catholic if you are not already.You must be of the Catholic faith to take Communion. Baptized children go through the process in Sunday school, but if you are an adult you will take group classes, called RCIA (Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults), and go through the process of Reconciliation, first Communion, and Confirmation to convert to Catholicism.
Receive a welcome into the church.Each church has its own welcoming ritual. Speak to the priest or another church leader to learn about the welcoming process. You must be formally received by the church before you can take Communion.
- If you are a practicing Catholic who simply changed churches, the priest may wish to speak with you to see if you have been baptized, go to Confession, and have received your first Communion and Confirmation. If you haven’t taken these steps, you may be asked to do so.
Accept Communion in a state of grace.The Eucharist may not be received while a person has mortal sin in their soul. If you have committed a mortal sin, such as theft, adultery, or sodomy, you must go to Reconciliation and repent before receiving Communion.
Believe in the doctrine of transubstantiation.You must believe in transubstantiation, which means that the bread and wine are actually transformed into the body, blood, soul, and divinity of Christ. The offerings only appear as bread and wine, but are believed to actually be parts of Christ himself.
Participate in the Eucharistic fast.This means you cannot eat or drink anything for at least one hour before taking Communion. Water and medicine are excluded from the fast. Those who are elderly or ill can be excused from fasting, with the priest’s permission.
Ensure you are not under ecclesiastic censure.Those who are under ecclesiastic censure, meaning they have been excommunicated from the church or continually commit grave sins, cannot receive Communion.
Go to Mass.You will take Communion during Mass. Prepare yourself mentally during the Consecration of the Eucharist (when the host is changed into the body and blood of Christ) to participate in Communion. You can do this by giving your thanks, appreciation, and reverence to Jesus Christ through prayer.
Approach the altar.The priests and altar servers will prepare to give Communion by taking their customary places. Wait for the usher to guide your row to walk up. When leaving the pew there is no need to genuflect (to kneel and cross oneself). Wait in line and do not skip people.
Receive the host.Depending on the church and your personal preference, you can either have the host fed to you or handed to you. In the Traditional Rite, the host is fed to you. Open your mouth and extend your tongue so that the host does not fall. The host will be placed on your tongue. Close your mouth and allow the host to dissolve on your tongue while thinking of the sacrifice made.
- If you wish to have the host handed to you, hold out your hands, left on top of right. Do not take the host from the priest, but rather allow them to place it in your hand.
- When you receive the host, the priest will say "the Body of Christ," and you should respond "Amen."
Receive the blood.After receiving the host, you will receive the blood. Allow the host to dissolve while you are waiting your turn. Take a small drink from the chalice that is offered to you. The person offering the cup will say “the Blood of Christ,” and you should respond "Amen."
- The lip of the chalice is wiped off after each member receives the blood, so do not worry about the transmission of germs.
Walk back to your seat and kneel.This is a time to reflect and thank Jesus for coming to you in the Holy Eucharist. Return to your pew and pray, until the priest is finished offering the Blessed Sacrament. Follow the lead of more established church members if you are unsure what to do.
QuestionIs it wrong to take the host back to the pew and eat it there?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerYes, it is. The host should be consumed right after it is placed on your hand, while you are facing the alter, before you turn to leave.Thanks!
QuestionWill I drink the blood of Christ for the first time at my Confirmation?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerNo, you can receive the blood of Christ as soon as you make your first Communion.Thanks!
QuestionIs it correct for the priest tol leave the host and wine on the altar and allow the public to get up and help themselves to the host, then dip the host in the wine walk back to their seats?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerNo, it isn't right for the priest to leave the host on the altar. The Eucharist should only be distributed by a priest or a deacon or an extraordinary minister.Thanks!
QuestionWhat do I sat upon receiving the host at Communion?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerThe priest will raise the host and say "The body of Christ". You will then respond with "Amen".Thanks!
QuestionWhat seat do I take after taking communion?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerYour original seat. However, you should not sit after communion; you should kneel, pray, and reflect until the priest is finished serving everyone.Thanks!
QuestionCan I still be blessed if I am not receiving communion?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerYes. Place your crossed hands over your chest in the communion line, and when you get to the priest he will bless you.Thanks!
QuestionWhat will happen if I go for the Eucharist in the state of mortal sin?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerBy receiving the Eucharist in a state of mortal sin, you commit a sacrilege against the Body and Blood of Christ. A sacrilege is deliberately defiling the Eucharist, or anything holy, like a Rosary. A sacrilege is definitely a mortal sin and you must go to Confession as soon as possible.Thanks!
QuestionDo I take the Host in the right hand first?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerYour left hand should be over the right when you choose to receive it in your hands.Thanks!
QuestionIs it important for you to receive the body and blood of Christ?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerIf you are Catholic, receiving the body and blood of Christ is a very important part of the faith.Thanks!
QuestionShould I wash my hands immediately before accepting the host?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerNo, but it's the polite (and sanitary) thing to do to wash your hands ahead of time after you've touched anything dirty or unsanitary.Thanks!
Can a priest serve the host with his left hand?
- If you fumble with your hands when receiving the Communion, arrange them while you are waiting in line.
- If you want the host handed to you, put your left hand on top of the right. In the Catholic faith, the left hand is the "clean" hand.
- If you accidentally drop the host (the bread) while receiving it, do not worry. Alter Servers are there to catch the host if dropped.
- Certain Catholic parishes have different customs for receiving Eucharist. To some people, particularly older churchgoers, it may be considered disrespectful to chew the host. To avoid offending others at Mass, it's best to learn about the traditions of a particular church.
Sources and Citations
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