Correct way to receive communion


What is the correct way to receive communion? Some bow, some cross themselves and others do nothing.


It depends. A sign of reverence is to be made, and each bishops conference may set out exactly what sign of reverence it it.

When receiveing while standing, the appropriate gesture of reverence in the US is a bow of the head.

Kneeling while receiving is it’s own gesture of reverence, so if you kneel to receive, you are not required to perform an additional action

The practice of crossing one’s self is usually done after one receives Holy Communion. It is a gesture based in tradition and it extra-liturgical (not mandated or prohibited, not even mentioned at all)

Does that help?.


That was very helpful. Thank you.


We were taught last year in RCIA to bow head only, and receive. Many of us asked about crossing ourselves after, as we have seen many do this. We were told by the RCIA instructor and our priest not to cross ourselves after as it draws attention to us when we do that, and we are not to do anything that draws attention to ourselves, as it’s “not about us”. We also discussed that it’s done differently all over the world, and people will do what is taught and what they grew up doing.
None of it’s wrong. it’s up to the individual.


We were told similar in my RCIA experience except we were told to bow or genuflect or the sign of the cross BEFORE receiving, no crossing afterwards.


Yup, we were also taught just a bow prior to receiving. Also, although it is customary for many to dip fingers in the baptismal font and cross themselves after Mass is dismissed, we were taught it’s not necessary…absolutely NOTHING trumps receiving the body of Christ. Not wrong…just not necessarily encouraged.


Ok…this is a combination of what I have learned as a boy with my own personal touch.

  1. When the person in front of you is receiving, bow (I make a deep bow at the waist).

  2. If it is either a priest or deacon giving communion, I receive on the tongue. If it is a EMHC, I receive in the hand.

  3. If I receive in the hand, I take a side step and with my right hand, take the host and consume it (which is exactly as the Sisters of the Holy Ghost and Blessed Sacrament taught me back in 3rd Grade).

  4. If Communion is under both species, I go to the nearest available chalice, bow, reverently put the chalice to my mouth and take a small sip and then hand it back to the Deacon or the EMHC (in our Parish, the Deacons administer the chalice at Communion).

  5. As the Sisters taught me back in second grade (when I had my First Holy Communion), I walk back to my pew looking at the ground (which to this day, I find confusing and clumsy…)

  6. I go back to my place, kneel, pray the Anime Christi and either the Prayer of St. Bonaventure or the Post-Communion Prayer of St. Thomas Aquinas.


Probably safe to assume you attend the OF (aka the English Mass) but, for those who might attend the EF (aka the Latin Mass) the Eucharist is only received kneeling, on the tongue, at the altar rail and you don’t say “Amen” (Father does that for you).

When I’m at the OF, I bow while the person ahead of me is receiving, cross myself after I receive. I’m always tempted to fall on my knees (or at least one), but I haven’t worked up the courage yet :wink:

Either way, receiving Christ in the Blessed Sacrament is the closest you’ll get to Heaven in this life and is the “Source and Summit” of our lives as Catholics (according to Vatican 2). However you receive try to do so with respect and as prayerfully as possible.

God bless.


Question - I’ve read posts and seen more than one person do this so I do not want to seem to be picking on PietroPaolo :slight_smile:

But to me that appears to be bowing to the back of the person ahead of you :confused: Why not wait till it’s your turn and bow as you say “Amen”?

We go up for communion in two lines. The person ahead of me receives, I step up as the person next to me receives, the host is elevated (I’m sure that’s not the correct terminology - sorry) as the priest / EMHC says “Body of Christ”, I bow as I say “amen” and extend my cupped hands to receive. They place the host in my hands, as I was taught, I side step out of line, face the altar, consume the host, make the sign of the cross, pivot and procede to the chalice. Here I again bow as I say “amen” after they say “Blood of Christ”, then accept the chalice, tiny sip, hand it back carefully, small step and pivot to proceed back to my pew and kneel down.

Sounds like a lot - but total time from reception to returning to my pew is less than 10 seconds for both species?


Let me say from the outset that I find no fault whatsoever with the manner in which you receive Holy Communion. I would point out however that a couple of these actions are “extra liturgical” (at least in the US), that is, they are beyond or in addition to what is prescribed but not prohibited.

I remember making the Sign of the Cross immediately after receiving in my pre-Vatican II days but I can’t recall if I was ever actually taught to do that or just imitated what practically everyone else did. I wonder if the practice originally stemmed from our need in those days to make some personal acknowledgement of what had just happened just as our bowing and saying amen today is our acknowledgement of what is just about to happen.


I bow as the person ahead of me is stepping away, exactly for that reason - so I’m not bowing to his/her back.



It’s mainly a “traffic flow” measure.

Many parishes teach communicants to bow while the person in front is receiving so that as soon as the person steps aside (presumably to consume the host) the next person can step up ready to receive. A person could certainly bow while receiving in the hand. But it is prudent to be watching as the host is placed in one’s hand to make sure that the host isn’t dropped by either party due to an unanticipated movement by one or both parties. A person can make a bow while stepping up to receive but only if one can do so without stumbling. (One wouldn’t want to fall and potentially cause a chain reaction of people or ciboria falling).

It is my experience that by the time the recipient is saying, “Amen,” the host is already being placed in his hands.


In the “good old days” 70s and 80s you genuflected as you were leaving your pew and you did not wait until right before receiving.

I still think that is best and does not cause traffic jams at the altar, and near collisions.


:confused: That must have been a local custom because I don’t recall attending any Mass where people genuflected when leaving the pews to receive communion.


No, nor me, and even going back to the 60s.

It sounds dangerously likely to trip up other people, to be honest

closed #16

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit