Communion: respect while receiving

It is such a blessing that we receive the actual Body and Blood of Christ as Catholics! Since returning to the Faith, I’ve been much more aware of my ‘tone’ of receiving the Body and Blood; I want to remember that it’s Jesus Christ, and show the proper reverence. However, even some other Catholics treat the Eucharist like a ‘treat’, and I pray that we all receive Him properly.

This was brought to mind when participating on a discussion group for another topic, and others answered as Protestants regarding their ‘communion’. One called it ‘rip and dip’ (!!), another spoke of how good their grape juice is, how thankful they are that they only have communion on occasion…

Let’s remember how blessed, and with that, the responsibility, with receiving the Body and Blood that we are.

I feel that it all too easy to be casual in receiving Our Lord. I recently went to midnight mass and was amazed with myself at finding such joy in communion from an old sinner like myself! We are truly blessed by His gift. I regret that we do not kneel to receive as we did before. It gave us time to show the respect we should always show. How easy it is to forget the majesty of the Eucharist and the central role it has in the life of our Church.
Always bow lower to make up for our brothers who forget.

I am thankful that we can be nourished daily by the Body and Blood of Our Lord Jesus Christ. As scripture says, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you…Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood abide in me and I in them.[John 6:53,56].
I understand the desire to kneel before receiving the host. I also see the logistics and pastoral concerns that allow more Catholics to more fully participate in the Source and Summit of our Faith. The bow of the head before receiving the host is a show of reverence, as is our Sign of the Cross after receiving.
One of the reasons I like to sit close to the front of the church during Mass is that it gives me more time for reflection after Communion. The closer I sit to the altar, the more time there is to kneel after receiving the host. I am thankful for priests who have taken time, sometimes at the request of the bishop, to talk to the congregation about the proper way to receive the host whether we choose to receive on the tongue or in the hand. “If you choose to receive on the tongue, brush your teeth; if on the hand, wash your hands.”

A reverent bow before receiving is always appropriate.

If anyone feels called to kneel while receiving the Holy Eucharist it is a licit posture.Though the norm for Communion in the USA is standing, most priests have no problem with communicants who kneel.

I used to kneel,but because of some hip issues I was having slight problems standing up again.The kneeling down part was not bad as I learned that from a young girl who just dropped to her knees before the Lord.

Either way,standing or kneeling,in the hand or on the tongue,all are licit ways to receive Our Lord. The most important issue is belief and reverence for the True Presence.

If you choose to kneel, be aware of the people behind you, so that you do not inadvertently trip anybody.
One parish priest specifically asked that people please stop kneeling as they came to receive the Eucharist. The rubric calls for a reverent bow. Not only did those who kneel create problems for others in line, but also for the priest. This particular priest had knee problems, and had even undergone surgery on his knees. Expecting to receive while kneeling meant excruciating pain for the priest. He was an older priest who was very much a stickler for following the rubrics.
We have been preparing for this moment throughout Mass.

I am very sorry your parish priest has health issues. He will be in my thoughts and prayers. May God bless you always.


Proper respect and reverence is vital when receiving Communion. Whether people realize it or not, certain actions of disrespect toward the Host can result in ex-communication. About 25 years ago we had trouble in my parish with someone taking the Host and placing it in dirty diapers and throwing them in the parking lot. (Oh yes they did!)

The Pastor at the time, made sure to advise all the parishioners at every Mass, that he would do everything in his power to ensure the guilty parties were excommunicated if he found out who they were. He was livid. The activity stopped after that Mass.

It is not OK to let children (not yet old enough to receive First Communion) and non-Catholics consume the Host, or play with it. (I have seen parent’s let kids do this and have taken the Host away from them for this reason.) If you see disrespectful behaviors during Communion let your Priest know, or an Usher so they can rescue the Host if necessary.

I have seen many priests, including those in different dioceses (three, off the top of my head), keep a careful watch on communicants, on the tongue, but even moreso in the hand. I have even seen one priest stop distribution, and follow a man to the pew and demand it back (quietly). This actually took a few minutes. I think there was possibly a misunderstanding by the parishioner (perhaps the parishioner was taking it home to his wife, and didn’t understand the process of doing so).

In my diocese, we are to make a reverent bow of some type before reception of each element. That applies to all ages that receive. A few people do choose reception by tongue, but most choose the hand.

Ideally, I’d like to also see people go up with folded hands of some type unless they cannot do so for health reasons, using a cane/walker, or carrying an infant/child as an example. I also try not to look around at those seated, remain quiet with exception of responding Amen, and keeping my eyes on the real presence that I am to receive then after reception.

Our pastoral adminstrator has (and still does) made a few announcements verbally and periodically in the bulletin, if you are taking Communion to a home bound family member or friend to bring in a pyx (or request a spare one if you cannot afford one or cannot get one from the local Catholic store or online), give it to an usher to be brought up during the offertory (or priest or pastoral admin) so that a host can be placed in it later after Communion is done then given to those publically or privately.

The parish I attend has communion rails, everyone receives kneeling and on the tongue, and there are no EMHCs. The priest (usually it’s only one priest) hands out Communion to each and every person kneeling at the rails (the most who receive at one Mass are about 100-150, and I can assure you it doesn’t last very long).

We also have altar bells and there is no contemporary music or weird musical instruments, just the organ. I feel blessed to be able to attend such a Mass, and I think if more people had easy access to such reverent Novus Ordo Masses they wouldn’t yearn for the TLM (or even for Byzantine Divine Liturgies) so much.

Yours is a Novus Ordo Mass, but still has rails? I think I attended one of those this year, perhaps in New Orleans (bad memory).

I do my best to keep my eyes closed and remain in prayer (even if it’s singing the communion hymn) after receiving. I do keep my hands in prayer as I approach. I can’t watch others receive; it distracts me from prayer, especially if the receptions are not reverent. Ironically, the Christmas Eve Night (midnight) Mass was very reverent, especially considering how many families were there with young children, and perhaps many people who hadn’t been going to Mass weekly. Our regular Sunday Mass is never that quiet or reverent.

I would agree with you, but I bet if you were to ask a priest, he’d tell you it would be a lot easier just to have the TLM as people know what to expect from that form. There are some churches in Chicago where such reverent Novus Ordo Masses are within parishes which also offer (or have offered) the TLM.


I should have probably added that I’m not located in the US. I don’t know how the switch to the Novus Ordo was received here since I’m new to the Catholic Church, but it was made during Communism when going to church (especially to RC Church) was a big no-no anyway. I think the priests (and the people) are happy they can have any kind of Mass without the fear of being arrested.

:slight_smile: We should all be this thankful!

The assistant parish priest in church that I attended was from New York. He talked about how abusing the host was actually a felony there.

I used to be an EMCH. First we were trained to be non-judgmental regarding those who approached the altar to receive communion. At the same time, as is true of all Catholics, we were called to protect the host from abuse. One way was to make sure that it was consumed upon receipt and not taken back to the pew to be consumed later or to be dipped in the consecrated wine (intincture). There were few times when I refused communion to anybody. Based on the person’s approach, I asked if they were Catholic.

Make a throne for receiving the Lord with your hands (St. Cyril).
It is good that your parish priest instructs the congregation on the correct way to receive the host to take to somebody that is home bound.

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