The Sacrament of the Eucharist
The Holy Eucharist completes Christian initiation. Those who have been raised to the dignity of the royal priesthood by Baptism and configured more deeply to Christ by Confirmation participate with the whole community in the Lord's own sacrifice by means of the Eucharist.
At the Last Supper, on the night he was betrayed, our Savior instituted the Eucharistic sacrifice of his Body and Blood. This he did in order to perpetuate the sacrifice of the cross throughout the ages until he should come again, and so to entrust to his beloved Spouse, the Church, a memorial of his death and resurrection: a sacrament of love, a sign of unity, a bond of charity, a Paschal banquet in which Christ is consumed, the mind is filled with grace, and a pledge of future glory is given to us.
Catechism of the Catholic Church 1322 & 1323
Extraordinary Ministers of the Holy Communion will bring the Eucharist to homebound parishioners and those in local medical facilities. For more information, please contact the Parish Office, at (609) 587-4372, or by email, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Before Receiving the Eucharist for the First Time
If you have never received the Sacrament of the Eucharist, and would like to learn more about it, check out our RCIA program for adult faith formation, or our Religious Education program for children.
Preparing to Receive the Eucharist at Home
If a priest or Eucharistic Minister will be bringing the Holy Eucharist to you at home, there are some things you should do to prepare:
- Make sure the room is neat and clean.
- Turn off any distracting electronics, such as the TV, radio, computer, cell phone or other mobile devices.
- Have small table nearby, covered with a clean, white cloth.
- On the table, place a lighted candle, a glass of water, and a crucifix, if you have one. If you have two small blessed candles, light those. If you don't have these items, don't worry. The priest or Eucharistic Minister will usually bring a miniature, portable set of these items.
Greet the priest or Eucharistic Minister at the door, with the reverence due to the Lord they bring in the Holy Eucharist.
Should Everyone Receive the Eucharist?
While the Church warmly recommends that the faithful receive Holy Communion each time they participate in the celebration of the Eucharist, she also sets forth various requisites for its reception in order that this sacred encounter is both reverent and worthy. At times it happens that the celebrant of Mass may invite the entire assembly to come forward to receive. At other times a person feels pressured to "get into the line" by a well intentioned usher. As a result, non-Catholic Christians and even the unbaptized have approached the altar to receive.
Below are a few reminders that may help Catholics in their discernment of whether or not one should approach the Eucharist.
- One must be Catholic.
- Children who have not been prepared and have not celebrated their first Holy Communion should not receive.
- One must observe the Eucharistic Fast (that is, not taking any food or drink one hour prior to the reception of the Eucharist, with the exception of water and medicine).
- The Eucharistic Fast for the sick is reduced, if necessary, to 15 minutes.
- Sacramental Confession must precede Holy Communion when one is conscious of grave (mortal) sin.
- In cases where there is no opportunity for confession, one should make an act of perfect contrition with the intention of confessing as soon as possible.
- The faithful are obliged to receive the Eucharist at least once a year. (This obligation is called the "Easter Duty" which is fulfilled from the First Sunday of Lent through Trinity Sunday.)
Should you discern that you should not receive communion, you should remain in your place during the Communion Rite, and join the congregation in song and prayer. If remaining in the pew makes the "flow" of the communion line cumbersome, you can join the line without receiving, and then return to your place.
It is not that the Church is "unwelcoming" to non-Catholics. These norms are based on our belief that reception of the Eucharist is a sign of our unity in faith. It is a unity that does not yet exist with non-Catholics and for which we must pray always. Reception of the Eucharist is a
of unity and not the
to unity. If a person is not ready to profess all that the Church holds to be true, then that person is unable to receive the sign of that unity. If a person is ready to profess the faith, but is not a member of the Church, he or she is warmly welcomed to join the Church through the
7 Secrets of the Eucharist,
by Vinny Flynn. Available in paperback, DVD, and CD from
and other Catholic book sources.
No matter how much or how little you already know about the Eucharist, the "secrets" revealed here will bring you to a new, personal "Emmaus" experience, again and again. Perfect for personal devotion, catechesis, study groups, book clubs, and theological studies, 7 Secrets of the Eucharist will rekindle the "Eucharistic amazement" called for by Pope John Paul II.