Holy Communion (Holy Eucharist)
Spiritual and Actual Communion
Communion can be spiritual or actual. It is spiritual when we have not actually received the sacrament. But when we receive it actually in the Mass then we have really made communion with the Lord through the sacrament. Spiritual communion can be made within or outside the Mass. There are occasions within the Mass when we cannot approach the sacrament. The reason has to do with our personal relationship with God. It could be that we have not made confession and have not really prepared ourselves to receive the Lord through His Sacred sacrament. Or the reason could be practical. There could be so many people receiving communion in the parish that the hosts are not enough to accommodate everyone. In this way, we just make an act of spiritual communion and pray a special prayer stating our intention to receive spiritual communion with the Lord. Outside the Mass, we may make spiritual communion also with the Lord. There are many prayers that help us in this regard.
Two Ways of Receiving Communion
Since Vatican II, certain aspects of the liturgy have changed. And this change also has been made in the way we receive communion. There are now two ways of receiving communion: one is through the traditional way of receiving it on the tongue and the other way of receiving communion is through one’s hands cupped in reverence. There has been a circular published in many local churches that has been made to say that neither one should be imposed. The Eucharistic congregation is free to choose which method of receiving communion they would wish to employ. Those who are more theologically inclined see certain implications in these two gestures of receiving communion. They say that receiving communion by the tongue suggests a more submissive, a more passive, and a kind of childlike way of receiving the Lord’s body. Then they say that the method of receiving communion by the hand involves a more dynamic, a more active, and a more mature way of receiving the Lord’s body. Whichever way would bring the person to a greater love for Christ and His sacrament is what would be best for him. For some, receiving communion by the tongue would help them in strengthening their relationship with God. For others, receiving communion by the hand would just the same help them in strengthening their relationship with God. We should choose which method of receiving communion would improve and strengthen our relationship with God and His Church.
A Life of Grace: A Life Steeped in the Eucharist
The Church teaches that the Eucharist is the source and summit of all Christian life. Therefore, receiving communion every Sunday brings us to Jesus, the source of Christian life. And receiving communion every Sunday, brings us to God as the Alpha and the Omega – from whom we live, move, and have our being. Communion is a way of being nourished in God’s grace so that we may be given the strength and the fortitude to withstand all of life’s challenges and problems. Usually, once a week is all that is required of us to go to communion. It is enough to nourish us with the graces we need to perform our Christian duties and obligations well. However, if one has the opportunity to do more than what is required then all the much better. Attending the Eucharist everyday and going to communion daily can also be a devotion that will make us cling to God in utter trust and fidelity and also make us strong in our relationship with Him. Together with Confession, Communion can be a great source of strength for the Catholic. And in turn, all Catholics who avail of God’s graces through the sacraments of Confession and Communion strengthen both these institutions and the institution of the Church as a whole.
Let us not be like the others who are not fervent in their love of the Eucharist and the sacrament of communion. Let us always strive to do our best to revere this sacrament for only in communion do we truly bring Christ into our very being. Receiving Him in communion and through the Eucharistic celebration, we become more like Him in the depths of our being. The more we frequent the Eucharist and the more we receive communion in a state of grace, then the more we contribute to the desire of the Lord to bring light to the world. So, if we have that extra time, that extra opportunity to go to Mass and receive communion, then let us not hesitate to do so. Every time we receive communion, we receive a foretaste of the life we shall always have for eternity. And this gift is not given to everyone. Let us not miss on this opportunity for God wills that we know His love and that we will be saved by Him.
Dennis-Emmanuel Cabrera – December 26, 2004