(4.44) The Holy Communion
The Invitation to Communion
The priest says a short private prayer, genuflects and then elevates the host as he invites us to the communion when he says:
Behold the Lamb of God,
behold him who takes away the sins of the wold.
Blessed are those called to the supper of the Lamb.
We all say:
Lord, I am not worthy
that you should enter under my roof,
but only say the word
and my soul shall be healed.
The Priest faces the altar, prays quietly and then consumes the Body of Christ accompanied by the beginning of the communion song.
He then takes the chalice, again prays silently and consumes the Blood of Christ.
The community will then come forward in a procession with heads bowed in honour of Christ’s presence.
The priest then approaches the community individually, raises the host and says;
The Body of Christ.
Once the community receives the host, the Priest or deacon cleans the paten and the chalice while praying quietly.
We all observe a period of silence until the priest stands and says:
Let us pray.
The priest then says the Prayer after the communion which ends in a short conclusion according to GIRM:
- if the prayer is directed to the Father: Through Christ our Lord;
- If it is directed to the Father, but the Son is mentioned at the end: Who lives and reigns for ever and ever;
- If it is directed to the Son: Who live and reign for ever and ever.
and we reply;
Origin and Meaning
The invitation to the Communion are similar words exclaimed John the Baptist when he saw Jesus coming toward him as he declared in Jn 1:29:
“Here is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!”
This is followed by words said by the angels in Rev 19:9:
“Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb.”
These words suggests that what we are about to consume is not just an ordinary bread - but the Sacrificial Lamb which will be in union with us in terms that can only be described in the context of the intimacy of the union of marriage. In the communion, the body of Christ and us becomes one in similar manner to marriage in which man and woman is united as one.
Our response is then taken from words of the humble centurion who asked Jesus to heal his servant as he said:
“Lord, I am not worthy to have you come under my roof; but only speak the word, and my servant will be healed” (Mt 8:8).
His humility and faith amazed Jesus who healed the servant. This passage showed us the divine power of the word of Christ which the priest used to consecrate the bread and wine to Body and Blood of Christ. The passage also showed some of the ingredients needed to receive Christ – humility and faith.
In receiving the Holy Communion, there are few rules that we generally follow:
a) As we are about to be united with the sacred host, we should also prepare ourselves to be as pure as possible when we welcome him in our body.
- We should not eat for an hour at least before the communion as a symbol that we reserve our body only for him (in science however, it takes around 4-5 hours before we totally empty our stomach).
- We should participate in regular confessions and especially if we had committed a serious sin.
- Ideally, we should have been present in the duration of the mass, especially during the Consecration of the Bread and wine.. Some people however takes communion even if they have not witnessed the Consecration perhaps because we already admit that we are not worthy to receive him. The priest however will not deny anyone the host if you participate in the procession for the communion.
b) We should approach Christ in humility and sacred silence with our heads bowed as we walk in a procession.
c) We should say Amen with affirmation and faith as we believe Christ’s presence in the host.
d) We may receive the host either with our tongue or with our hand but we should take great care not to lose or drop him for he is our divine treasure.
e) Once we receive the host, we should remain quiet and continue praying as we go back to our place.