Monday, June 21, 2010

Receiving Communion

My bishop wrote an article for my diocese newspaper explaining how to receive Communion. My first reaction was, "Didn't they teach that in faith formation class when we were all preparing for First Communion?" My second reaction was, "If it's been a while since you've received, you may have forgotten and are too shy to ask anybody for instruction." My third reaction was, "They should probably mention this more often. Gee, how can I get the word out? Oh, yes, I have a blog just for that purpose." So here we go.

Here's what the General Instruction to the Roman Missal (GIRM) has to say on the subject.

GIRM #160 When receiving Holy Communion, the communicant bows his or her head before the Sacrament as a gesture of reverence and receives the Body of the Lord from the minister. The consecrated host may be received either on the tongue or in the hand, at the discretion of each communicant. When Holy Communion is received under both kinds, the sign of reverence is also made before receiving the Precious Blood. (More here)

Okay, here's the deal-

To receive, you should be free of mortal sin. So, head on over to the confessional if need be. (I wrote about Reconciliation in a previous post.)

Don't eat or drink anything for an hour before receiving. You can have water and/or medicine if you have health needs. I love this one because it forces you to focus on mass and God before you even get to the church.

When receiving in the U.S., you stand. If you're receiving on the tongue- hold your hands in a prayer gesture as you approach the minister of Communion. Make a bow of the head before the Host. The minister says, "The Body of Christ" and you say, "Amen." Then open your mouth, extending your tongue a bit. (Now don't say that you'll never receive on the tongue. One day you may have a broken arm or be holding an infant and you'll have to.)

When receiving in the hand, make a "throne of your hands in which to receive the King," so explains St. Cyril of Jerusalem. Do this- hold out your left hand, palm up. Now cup the right hand UNDER the left. Make a little bow of the head. (At my parish, most people do this while the person ahead of them is receiving. Guess we're all in a hurry. ::eye roll:: But at least they're doing it.) He'll say, "The Body of Christ" and you say, "Amen." He'll place the Host in your hand. Step to the side. With your right hand, pick up the Host, that's now resting in your left hand, and place it in your mouth.

Basically, the same thing if you receive from the cup. Bow, approach (or approach and then bow), "Blood of Christ," "Amen." Carefully take the cup from the minister, take a tiny sip. Carefully pass it back to the minister and return to your pew. (A little note: If you see a piece of the Host in the cup, fear not. The priest puts a bit into the wine. It's not that somebody backwashed.)

Hope that helps. God bless! :)


  1. Good job! I used to teach bible school for kids and we were asked to teach all the children to take communion in their hands. I usually asked parents what their preferences were. I prefer recieving on the tongue. My mother told me when I was litle that you shouldn't touch the Eucharist because it is sacred so I don't even dare to touch it. I'm going to teach my daughters the same. In Latin America it is a custom that you shouldn't place it on your hands. But I guess it is a culture thing. -Sandra.

  2. I think people would better remember how sacred it is if they were only allowed to take it on the tongue. And if we were kneeling. That would be nice.

    Thanks so much for stopping by. :)
    I hope you'll keep an eye on me and be sure I don't get anything wrong. I look up anything I'm unsure about, and try be sure I'm clear when I'm just giving an opinion (or just plain blathering on! LOL), but I'd hate to lead anyone astray. I'm also super eager to learn! :D

  3. don't worry! you are doing fine! It is seldom that I get to meet someone excited about the Lord and our faith! keep it up! I also struggle with a few things here and there about Catholicism but I love the Eucharist and want my daugthers to also love it as much as I do. My husband was a baptist when I met him, he became a Catholic to marry me and is currently wanting to seek "other Christian faiths." I told him he'll be going at it alone.

    I have asked him to do RCIA. I think he will and I pray he learns more about our faith. He's issue is the Virgin Mary and Saints. Why we pray to them. I do not pray to them, but I do respect them, he feels the same way. We'll see. but you are doing great! keep it up!

    God Bless,


  4. Oh wow. My husband's a cradle Catholic but not interested in religion at all. He attends mass perhaps twice a year. :(

    But you've given me a fabulous idea for my next post- Mary and the other saints. I tend to forget how misunderstood a topic this is.