Friday, April 5, 2019

Podcast 30 - The Rules for Receiving Holy Communion

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The Proper Ways to Prepare for Holy Communion

     “You seek Me because you have eaten of the loaves and have been filled. Do not labor for the food that perishes, but for that which endures unto life everlasting. The bread that I will give is My flesh for the life of the world.”

    Welcome to another lesson of All About My Catholic Faith. Did your life change after you listened to last week’s lesson. Don’t worry if it hasn’t changed yet, because I am praying for you every day.

    Christopher, how are you today?

    Good, thanks. I would like you to talk a little about the rules or ways we should be receiving Communion.

    Great, I will. There are definitely some rules that we need to follow, but I hope you’ll see that they really make a lot of sense and are there to really guide us.

    To start with, Holy Communion is when we receive Jesus in the sacrament of the Holy Eucharist. Remember from a couple lessons ago, that because we offer our sacrifice out of love to God, he’s very pleased and gladly accepts our sacrifice. Then, he invites us to eat as a guest at his table. Basically, Communion is when all of us are at God’s table sharing the Flesh and Blood of Christ in order to feed our souls.

    There are just a few rules that we need to follow in order to participate in this great feast at God’s table. First of all, for us to receive Holy Communion in a worthy manner, we need to not have any mortal sin in our life, we need to be receiving with the right intention, and we need to obey the Church’s law about fasting before Holy Communion.

    So what if someone does receive communion in a state of mortal sin?

    Well, if someone knows they are in a state of mortal sin and they still go to Holy Communion and receive the Eucharist then they will receive the body and blood of Jesus, but they will not receive all The Graces that God wants them to have, and they will actually commit another mortal sin that's called sacrilege.

    Use an analogy like this.  If you are healthy then you can eat just about anything that you like and you will receive all the benefits of eating that food.  In the same way, if your soul is healthy without any sin, then you can nourish your soul completely with all the grace that you can receive at Communion when you eat the flesh of Jesus in the Eucharist.  If you're sick with a cold or the flu, you can still eat but it may be a lot harder for you to eat and to keep your food down, so the food's not really benefiting you as much as it would as if you were healthy.  And again in the same way if your soul is sick because you have some venial sins then you can eat, but again you may not receive the full benefit or all the grace that you should be getting.  And lastly, if a person is dead they, of course, can't eat any food at all.  I suppose you could force some food down a dead person's throat but of course, that wouldn't do any good because they are dead.  And again if a person's soul is dead because they have mortal sin on their soul then they can still eat at the banquet at Holy Communion but that food is not going to do them any good, and remember it will actually cause harm by putting them in mortal sin of sacrilege.

    So we want to make sure that we stay in a state of grace, free of any mortal sin, and free of any venial sins. Of course, that's very easy to do you just go to confession, confess your sins to the priest, and have all of your sins forgiven by God through the priest.  That's kind of like going to the restroom and washing your hands before you eat your nice dinner.  You don't want to eat your nice dinner with your family with filthy hands from working or playing outside all day,  and you also don't want to go to God's banquet,  Holy Communion, with dirt on your soul.

    If you do have any venial sins on your soul and you haven't had a chance to go to confession, then please still do go to communion.  As long as you're not in a state of mortal sin then receiving Holy Communion will strengthen you and help you to stay away from sinning any further, especially help you stay away from committing mortal sins. 

    I know you've explained that in other lessons so thanks for talking about that again.

    You're very welcome.  It's pretty easy, just follow the rules that Jesus gave us and what the Catholic Church teaches us, and you’ll stay in a state of grace. 

    What about the rules about fasting. Does this apply to everybody?

    That's a very good question, so let's talk about that a little bit.

    We are required by the Church to fast from food at least 1 hour before we receive the Eucharist at Holy Communion.  It does come with a couple exceptions.  Anyone may drink water even up to the time that they receive communion.  If you need to take medicine because you're sick or the doctor has prescribed medicine for you, then you, of course, can take medicine and that does not interfere with the fast. That's about it on fasting before communion, and again it's only 1 hour before you receive Holy Communion, it's not an hour before Mass starts. it's one hour before you receive Holy Communion, and it's not very hard because consider this, we used to have to fast 24 hours before receiving communion.  That, of course, was not impossible either, but I'm happy that rule was changed to only fast 1 hour before Holy Communion.
So while we're on this topic, I'd like to mention that you should only receive communion one time on the same day, and there is an exception to that as well. If you are in the danger of death, let's say you go to mass in the morning and you receive communion and then you're in an accident later in the day or that evening and If you are in the danger of dying, then a priest could give you Holy Communion at that time as well. The only other exceptions are if you receive Holy Eucharist at Communion at midnight Mass before Christmas or the Mass of the Easter Vigil, then you can still receive Holy Communion at later masses on Christmas day or Easter day. 
    If you receive Holy Communion worthily, which again is in a state of grace, then you'll benefit in the following ways.  First of all, you will grow closer with Jesus and you will grow in your love of God and love your neighbor.  You will also increase the level of sanctifying Grace that you have in your soul.  Remember you received Sanctifying Grace when you were baptized and then every time you receive Holy Communion, in a state of grace, you increase that level of Sanctifying Grace.  You also receive protection from falling into further sin and especially from falling into mortal sin. If you receive communion in a state of grace, then you will be more apt to do good for your neighbor, for your family, for yourself, and for the world. 

    Besides being in a state of grace, I would also suggest that you prepare yourself before you go to Mass to receive Holy Communion. Even before Mass starts it's a great idea to get prepared by thinking about what you're getting ready to do and who you're getting ready to receive.  Remember when you receive the Eucharist at Holy Communion, you are receiving the True Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Jesus Christ.  This is not just a symbol of Jesus, it is really Jesus Christ himself.  When you get to mass, and you get to your pew, then you should kneel and say a prayer of Thanksgiving and also adore Jesus in the Tabernacle, that should be in the area of the altar.  If you don't know where the Tabernacle is located you can look for the red candle and that will signify where the Tabernacle is.  Always in the Catholic Church, inside the Tabernacle, are the consecrated hosts,  which again is the True Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Jesus. After you say your prayers before Mass, while you're kneeling, just gaze upon Jesus in the Tabernacle.  In doing those things, you will help yourself be better prepared when communion time comes to receive him 

    Is there anything we should be doing after we receive Holy Communion?

    Sure, just like before you receive communion, and you say prayers, you should also pray in thanksgiving, and adore Jesus in the Tabernacle and while others are receiving Holy Communion.  Right after receiving Holy Communion is the best time possible for you to pray because since you just received the physical body and blood of Jesus, he is now physically part of your body for about 15 or 20 minutes before the host is broken down by your body.  So use those 15 minutes very well, and if you have a special prayer that you want to pray, this would be a great time to pray such a prayer.  But always remember to give thanks to Jesus for this wonderful gift that he is giving us. 

    I know you said that we can only receive Holy Communion once a day, how often should we receive communion though?

    It's great to receive communion every single day if you can, but the minimum requirement is to receive Holy Communion at least once a year during Easter time and if you're in danger of death.  It will truly do your soul wonders, the more often you can receive Holy Communion, as long as it’s not more than once per day. When you receive Holy Communion, you improve and increase your bond and your love with Jesus Christ who is the source of all holiness and the giver of all graces. 

    If you really and truly understand the power and the importance of receiving the body and blood, soul and Divinity of Jesus Christ in the Eucharist, then you will really want to stay in a state of grace and receive Holy Communion at least every week when you go to Mass on Sunday.  Most people, if they really want to could actually go to mass and receive Holy Communion every single day.  Although some Churches may not have a mass every single morning or every single afternoon, it’s usually easy to find a church somewhere in your near vicinity that will have a mass available sometime during the day.  Let's say your church has mass at 7 every morning, as long as you are don't have to be at school at 7 or work at 7, then you can probably make it to mass as long as you're willing to make a couple sacrifices, like getting to bed on time and waking up a little bit earlier, so you can get ready to go to church before school or work.  I'm confident that Jesus would love to see you there every single day. 

    If you really want to go to daily mass and receive communion every day, but you just can't because there's a conflict with something else or you don't have a mass at a time where you can go, then you can still receive what we call a spiritual communion.  Spiritual communion means that you have a real and true desire to go to communion to receive the Eucharist. if you truly desire to have a spiritual communion, then you will receive The Graces of communion in the proportion to how much you desire to have spiritual communion.  I hope that makes sense.

    Something that's also great to do, if you can't make it to mass every day, is to go sometime during the day to pray and visit Jesus in the Tabernacle. Jesus said in the gospel of Matthew chapter 11 verse 28, “come to me all you who labor and are burdened and I will give you rest.”  So go to your church or the chapel where the Tabernacle is,  kneel down before Jesus, ask him for what you need, thank him for what you have, and then just kneel or sit there quietly for a few minutes to open your mind and your heart to the love of Jesus.  If you do this a few times, you will want to do it more and more. Eventually, you will find yourself wanting to go before the Tabernacle every single day.  It's the same way when you receive communion every single day, the more you do it the more you want to receive it every day.  And if you can do both, receive Holy Communion every day, and go to visit Jesus in the Tabernacle for a few minutes every day, what a wonderful thing for both you and for our Lord Jesus.  This is such a great way to improve your relationship and really have that personal relationship with Jesus.  In addition to that, make sure that you are praying every night,  praying the rosary every day,  and reading the Bible.

    One key thing to remember before we wrap today's lesson up is that even if you are in a state of mortal sin and you can’t receive holy communion, you are still are obliged to go to mass at least once a week on Sunday.  God gave us the Commandment to keep the Sabbath holy and the church continues to teach that still today, which means that you must go visit and worship God at least once a week on Sunday.  And the simple truth is, if you fail to go to mass on Sunday, for a  reason that’s within your control, then you will commit a mortal sin by not doing so.  

    Make sure you find a way to go to mass even if you're on vacation. You can look up mass times at churches where you will be on that Sunday, so make sure you take a little time for Jesus and go to Mass.  It's a little extra sacrifice to make, but remember, the sacrifice that we make out of love to God will be repaid to us even more.  

    Please remember to pray for any of your friends or family members who are not Catholic, that they will be touched by the Holy Spirit and desire to become part of Jesus's Church, the one, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church.  If you know people who are Catholic but are not going to church and practicing their faith as they should, then please also remember to keep those people in your prayers.  And as I always like to say, please remember to pray for Christopher and I and our family, and we will definitely remember to pray for you.

    Jesus said, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life.”  Make sure you follow him and seek the truth and you will have everlasting life. 

Until next week God bless you and goodbye for now.

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