why do we receive the sacrament of holy eucharist

The Code of Canon Law (#917) stipulates, БA person who has received the Most Holy Eucharist may receive it again on the same day only during the celebration of the Eucharist in which the person participates, with due regard for the prescription of Canon 921, б2. Бб Following this lead, Canon 921, б2 stipulates, БEven if they have received Communion in the same day, those who are in danger of death are strongly urged to receive again. Бб Succinctly, a person may receive Holy Communion twice a day. Given this citing of official Church law, we must appreciate the rationale that serves as its foundation. б The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and the celebration of the Blessed Sacrament is Бthe true center of the whole Christian life both for the universal Church and for the local congregation of that ChurchБ (
Instruction on the Worship of the Eucharistic Mystery, #6). б The offering of the Mass and the reception of Holy Communion are intrinsically connected. б Moreover, the components of the Mass, particularly the Liturgy of the Word and the Liturgy of the Eucharist, form a cohesive whole. Therefore, in ordinary circumstances, an individual is obligated to participate fully in the entire Mass making an offering of oneself to the Lord. б The person ought to be present from the very beginning until the very end of the Mass, giving full attention as best one can. б Such full participation and attention dispose the individual to receive Holy Communion. б Worthy reception of Holy Communion not only enables the individual to enter into communion with the Lord, but also binds that individual in a communion of faith and love with the other members of the Church.


Never, in ordinary circumstances, do we isolate the reception of Holy Communion from the rest of the Mass. б The Church grants the permission of receiving Holy Communion twice in one day to meet those situations of a person attending perhaps a wedding Mass and a funeral Mass on the same day, or attending the regular daily Mass and then some special Mass the same day; nevertheless, the stipulation is that the person attends the whole Mass in both instances. б Unfortunately, I have known individuals who on a daily basis just БpopБ into Mass (even Masses) at the right time to receive Holy Communion and then leave before Mass concludes; it is almost like they are getting their БJesus fixБ for the day rather than worshiping God and wholeheartedly receiving the Blessed Sacrament. As qualified in Canon 921, б2, in those special circumstances when a person is in danger of death, then he may receive Holy Communion as viaticum along with Penance and Anointing of the Sick, even though he may have received twice already that day. б Another special circumstance arises when the person is confined in a hospital or homebound: here the person may receive outside the context of Mass, but would not receive more than once a day unless in danger of death.


Two other basic stipulations govern the reception of Holy Communion:б First, a person who is conscious of mortal sin must first make a sacramental confession and receive absolution. б If no legitimate opportunity exists for first going to confession, then a person may make an act of perfect contrition with the pledge to the Lord to go to Penance as soon as possible before receiving Holy Communion ( Code of Canon Law, #916). Second, a person must fast from food and drink (except water or medicine) for one hour beforehand ( Code of Canon Law, #919). б However, the period of fast before receiving Holy Communion is reduced to approximately one quarter of an hour for those who are sick at home or at a hospital, those elderly confined to home or a nursing home, and those who care for these people and who are unable conveniently to observe the fast ( Immensae Caritatis, 1973). The Church in her prudence provides these laws to help us have a balanced spiritual life, avoiding extremes. б Just as the Church requires a person to receive Holy Communion at least once a year (the БEaster duty lawБ), so does the Church restrict the number of times we can receive a day. Of all seven sacraments, the Holy Eucharist, or Holy Communion, is the most central and important to Catholicism. Holy Communion is offered at every Mass, and in fact, the ritual of the Mass is largely taken up with preparing the hosts (wafers made of wheat and water, or gluten-free) and wine to become the body and blood of Christ and the congregation to receive the body of Christ.


Transubstantiation is the act of changing the substances of bread and wine into the substances of the Body and Blood of Christ. The Holy Eucharist refers to Christ s body and blood present in the consecrated host on the altar, and Catholics believe that the consecrated bread and wine are actually the body and blood, soul and divinity of Christ. For Catholics, the presence of Christ in the Holy Eucharist isn t just symbolic, it s real. When you receive Holy Communion, you re intimately united with Jesus Christ he literally becomes part of you. Also, by taking Holy Communion, you express your union with all Catholics who believe the same doctrines, obey the same laws, and follow the same leaders. This sense of participation in a larger community is why Catholics (and Eastern Orthodox Christians) have a strict law that only people who are in communion with the Church can receive Holy Communion. In other words, only those who are united in the same beliefs are allowed to receive Holy Communion. The Holy Eucharist is food for the soul, so it s given and eaten during Holy Communion at the Mass. However, how it s distributed varies a bit, depending on whether you attend a Latin (Western) Rite Mass or a Byzantine (Eastern) Rite Mass: Latin (Western) Rite: Holy Communion is in the form of consecrated unleavened hosts made from wheat flour and water, just like the unleavened bread used by Jesus at the Last Supper.


The host is flat and the size of a quarter or half-dollar. Latin Catholics may receive the host on their tongue or in their hand if the local bishop and the national conference of bishops permit. Byzantine (Eastern) Rite: Catholics receive consecrated leavened bread (the yeast or leaven symbolizes the Resurrection), which is placed inside the chalice (cup) of consecrated wine. The priest takes a spoon and gingerly places a cut cube of consecrated bread soaked in the consecrated wine inside the mouths of the communicants without ever touching their lips or tongue. When boys and girls make their First Holy Communion (usually in second grade), it s a big occasion for Catholic families. Like their Baptism, the day of First Communion is one filled with family, friends, and feasting after the sacred event has taken place in church. Girls typically wear white gowns and veils and often look like little brides, and boys wear their Sunday best or new suits and ties bought for the occasion. The children are generally too young to appreciate all the theological refinements, but as long as they know and believe that it s not bread or wine they re receiving but the real Body and Blood of Jesus Christ, then they are old enough to take Holy Communion. You must make your First Penance, which is going to confession for the first time, before making your First Communion.

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