While the accidents of bread and wine remain (its form, taste, color, etc.) our faith tells us that after the words of consecration at Mass, the Lord is present in his Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity. To this end, it may be helpful to review a few "rules of divine etiquette" which help us to preserve our reverence for the Blessed Sacrament.
- Catholics are to receive the Holy Eucharist in the "state of grace" which is to say, free of any serious or mortal sin. Those aware of any serious sin should avail themselves of the Sacrament of Penance before receiving.
- We are to observe a Eucharistic Fast of one hour (no food or drink). Medicine and water are exceptions. This time is reduced to 15 minutes for those who are ill.
- Approaching the Sacrament we are to make a bow of the head and in response to the minister's statement, "Body of Christ" we are to respond "Amen." No other response is needed, since "amen" is an assent of faith, meaning "it is so."
- When receiving in the hand, one places one hand upon another, palms up and hands raised so that the sacred host can be placed in the palm by the minister (one should not attempt to take the host from the minister's hand). With the hand beneath, one takes the host, steps aside, and consumes it. We do not consume the host while walking away or even carry it to our place.
- Very often, the option is given to receive the Sacrament "under both species," that is, both the Sacred Host and the Precious Blood. After consuming the Sacred Host, one approaches the chalice and makes a bow of the head and responds "Amen" before drinking from the chalice. One is never permitted to "dip" the host into the chalice. If one has concerns about drinking from a common cup, then one should not approach the chalice. We recall that our faith teaches us that Jesus is present "whole and undivided" under one species, the sacred host or the precious blood. The sacrament under both species is offered to provide fuller "sign value" to Holy Communion.
- One should return to his or her place and spend time in silent adoration and thanksgiving. It is inappropriate to receive the Holy Eucharist and walk out of the church.
- Silence should prevail in the church proper before and after Mass to allow for prayer before the Eucharist, which is present in the tabernacle.
- We should genuflect toward the tabernacle upon taking our place or whenever passing before it. If we are unable to genuflect, a profound bow is appropriate.
May sentiments of love and reverence for the Lord, who is really and truly present under the form of bread and wine, be renewed in each of us!