5 keys to take advantage of Eucharistic communion

To receive communion is to truly receive God. Therefore, the preparation and thanksgiving for this gift helps us to draw the greatest fruits from each of the times we receive the Lord sacramentally. In this article, the author reviews five keys or points to help us live communion in the best way possible.

Juan Luis Selma-June 13, 2024-Reading time: 5 minutes
5 keys to take advantage of Eucharistic communion

Washington Cardinal Wilton Gregory gives Communion to a young girl ©OSV News photo/Mihoko Owada, Catholic Standard

The great cathedrals were built by our elders to house the Body of Christ. They are, like churches, the house of God. 

I remember the words that adorned the lintel at the entrance of the parish church in my village: Domus Dei. One entered the house of God, and the most precious and important place was the tabernacle. That's how I was taught as a child.

– Supernatural Eucharist is the treasure of the Church, God's most precious gift to mankind. In her is present the Body and Blood of Christ, the Son of the living God, God himself made man.

Common bread and Eucharistic bread. 

In all the sacraments, as in the life of Jesus, there is a human and divine dimension, visible and invisible. The material, like bread and wine, reveals to us the grace it contains. Just as bread nourishes the body, the Eucharistic Bread nourishes the soul. Although it looks like bread, it is the Body of Christ. And this is so because he himself said so: "Take and eat, this is my body." "take and drink, this is the cup of my blood."And it was said by the Son of God, Jesus, who can neither lie nor fail.

I asked the first communion children why they wanted to receive communion. The answer was "to receive the Lord. One girl said that the Eucharist was a banquet and a sacrifice. We firmly believe that, in the sacramentsThere is a mystery, something we cannot see with our eyes. The presence of Christ in the Eucharist is real, but sacramental.

There is a mysterious but real difference between the common bread and the Eucharistic bread. As we approach the altar, we must know and believe that we are not receiving a cookie, but God hidden under the species of bread and wine.

Assimilating the Eucharist 

There is a difference between desire and reality. For example, I may like the idea of flying, but if I jump out of a tenth-floor window, I will hurt myself badly. The same goes for communion. 

I may be eager to receive the Body of Christ, but if I am not prepared for it, it can be detrimental to me. Just as some people have an intolerance to certain foods, I may have an impediment to assimilating the Eucharist.

To receive the Lord fruitfully, I must have faith in his divine presence and be in the grace of God. This means not having any obstacle that prevents me from assimilating him, that is, sin. Sin is the voluntary turning away from God, the renunciation of his friendship, more or less consciously. It is not necessary to have the intention or desire to offend God; it is enough to commit acts that distance me from Him.

Scripture teaches us that whoever eats and drinks the body and blood of the Lord unworthily becomes guilty of his condemnation (1 Cor 11:27-29). For this reason, the Church asks us to go to confession before communion if we are conscious of having committed any grave sin, such as adultery, murder, idolatry, theft, lying, etc. (Catechism of the Catholic Church, n. 1857-1861).

On one occasion a little girl asked me why there are lines for communion and no lines for confession. I had the intuition that communion and confession were related. You have to put yourself in a receptive state in order to receive communion, you have to prepare yourself to receive the King of kings, God. 

It is such a strong and powerful food that we have to have our body and soul ready. 

God is the highest good, all goodness and light, complete harmony. To receive him in our soul requires a preparation, an adaptation. It is grace, the radiance of his presence, that prepares us for this sublime encounter. If we unite all the warmth and light with the darkness and coldness of a soul far from God, no contact is possible. What is needed is a preparation, an adaptation, a training that comes with the sacrament of reconciliation.

Preparing the body

We are not pure spirits; man is a unique being with soul and body. The sanctity of the soul, its cleanliness, is not enough to bring us nearer to the Eucharist. The body must also be prepared. Jesus enters within us; we receive his body as spiritual food, as supreme bread. 

The Church has considered from the earliest times that this spiritual food should not be mixed with bodily food; for this reason she recommends Eucharistic fasting, which formerly consisted in abstaining from all solid or liquid food from the night before. Now it is prescribed at least one hour before receiving communion.

According to saint Thomas AquinasEucharistic fasting is based on three main reasons: respect for the sacrament, the meaning that Christ is the true food and to avoid the danger of being able to give it back.

In addition, it is also important a certain cleanliness and dignity in the corporal: personal cleanliness, cleanliness and care of the dress. Do not forget that we are going to meet the Lord of the Universe, the King of kings, who, although he does not care about appearances, deserves respect. 

Another matter is the manner of receiving the sacramentalized Lord. In the past, it was always done on the knees and in the mouth, as a sign of adoration, as a sign of faith and respect. Now there are other possibilities, such as receiving communion in the hand; this is not a novelty, in the past it was also done in this way. The important thing is that we are aware of what we are doing and that we do it with the greatest possible affection. He deserves it.

Union to Christ and with him to others

The end of the communion is not simply receiving the Body of Christ, as if it were an object: a medal, for example. We receive the living and life-giving Jesus, all his love. 

Communion is a meeting that can transform us, can change our life: cure our selfishness, open our heart to others, strengthen our weakness. It is the stellar instant, the astral conjunction, the nuclear fusion.

It is the occasion to hold the hand of Christ, to listen to his words, to identify with him. This requires silence, recollection and intimacy. After communion, the Church asks us for sacred silence.

In this instant Jesus' wish is fulfilled, his request to the Father for unity: "Holy Father, keep them in your name, whom you have given me, that they may be one, as we are one." This is the sacrament of union with God and with our brothers and sisters. Communion well used gives me Christ's sentiments of love for the Father and of giving one's life for one's brothers and sisters. 

In catechesis, children should be helped to prepare what they are going to say to Jesus, who is their best friend, and to listen to him. 

The touchstone: after the mass

When I am asked what is the most transcendental moment of the Mass, even though I know it is the consecration, I answer that it is the going out into the street. 

In an effective Mass, in a living Eucharistic communion, not only are the bread and wine transformed into the blood of Christ, but we are also transformed. 

Now we are other Christs, as St. Paul says. That is why the Mass ends with the ite misa est, with the mission. Now, with Christ, assimilated to Christ, with their feelings and their look, with their hands, to transform the world.

It should be noted that we have received communion. The Blood of Christ poured out, his Body eaten, has an enormous efficacy of which we are not yet aware. The purpose of communion is not to receive Christ, but to be another Christ. The infinite grace of communion has energy, unlimited and transforming power. A single communion can make us saints.

The Maundy Thursday Jesus institutes the Eucharist by bringing forward his Friday self-giving, the shedding of his blood. After reliving the Paschal events at Mass, we are able to give ourselves to others, to mission, to live in daily union with Christ. 

Communion is a mystery of unity with God, with the Church and the world, with ourselves. "You may go in peace." says the priest, is the ite missa estGo in peace with yourself, live what you have celebrated, pass it on to others. 

The authorJuan Luis Selma

Chaplain of Ahlzahir School, Cordoba (Spain)

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