HomeQuestions & AnswersHow can I receive Jesus well in Holy Communion?
Questions & Answers

How can I receive Jesus well in Holy Communion?

Tags: Gratitude, Eucharist, Jesus Christ, Sacraments, Holy Communion, Holy Mass
Caravaggio, <i>The Disciples at Emmaus</i>
Caravaggio, The Disciples at Emmaus
“Dear friends, we won’t ever thank the Lord enough for the gift he has given us in the Eucharist! It is a very great gift and that is why it is so important to go to Mass on Sunday. Go to Mass not just to pray, but to receive Communion, the bread that is the Body of Jesus Christ who saves us, forgives us, unites us to the Father. It is a beautiful thing to do!” (Pope Francis, Audience, 5 February 2014.)

1. What does receiving Holy Communion (the Eucharist) mean? Who can receive Holy Communion?

Receiving Holy Communion, the Blessed Eucharist, is receiving Christ himself, the Son of the Living God, who is hidden beneath the sacramental species of bread and wine.

The Body and Blood, together with the soul and divinity, of our Lord Jesus Christ and, therefore, the whole Christ is truly, really, and substantially contained in the Blessed Sacrament of the Eucharist. This presence is called the “Real Presence” – not so as to exclude the other types of Christ’s presence, as if they were not “real” too, but because here Christ is present in the fullest sense: that is to say, it is a substantial presence by which Christ, God and man, makes himself wholly and entirely present in our souls when we receive Holy Communion.
(Cf.Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1374.)

Therefore, to receive Christ in Eucharistic Communion, it is necessary to be baptized and to be in a state of grace. If one is conscious of having committed a mortal sin, in other words, of having offended God deliberately in a serious matter, one should not go to receive Holy Communion without having first confessed the sin and received absolution in the Sacrament of Reconciliation.

Contemplating the mystery
We are going to receive our Lord. On this earth, when we receive an important person, we bring out the best – lights, music, formal dress. How should we prepare to receive Christ into our soul? Have we ever thought about how we would behave if we could only receive him once in a lifetime?
When I was a child, frequent Communion was still not a widespread practice. I remember how people used to prepare to go to Communion. Everything had to be just right, body and soul: the best clothes, hair well-combed – even physical cleanliness was important – maybe even a few drops of cologne... These were manifestations of love, full of finesse and refinement, on the part of manly souls who knew how to repay Love with love.
Christ is Passing By, 91

Jesus has remained in the Eucharist for love... of you.
He remained, knowing how men would receive him... and how you would receive him.
He has remained so that you could eat him, so that you could visit him and tell him about your things; and so that you could talk to him as you pray beside the Tabernacle, and as you receive the Sacrament ; and so that you could fall in love more and more each day, and make other souls, many other souls, follow the same path.
The Forge, 887

The principal fruit of receiving Holy Communion is intimate union with Christ Jesus.
2. Why is it important to receive Holy Communion?
Jesus invites us urgently to receive him in the Sacrament of the Eucharist: “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, you have no life in you” (Jn 6:53).

Holy Communion augments our union with Christ. The principal fruit of receiving Holy Communion is an intimate union with Christ Jesus. What material food produces in our bodily life, Holy Communion wonderfully achieves in our spiritual life. Communion with the flesh of the risen Christ preserves, increases, and renews the life of grace received at Baptism. This growth in Christian life needs the nourishment of Eucharistic Communion, the bread for our pilgrimage until the moment of death, when it will be given to us as viaticum.

What is more, Holy Communion separates us from sin. The Body of Christ we receive in Holy Communion is “given up for us,” and the Blood we drink is “shed for the many for the forgiveness of sins.” As bodily nourishment restores lost strength, so the Eucharist strengthens our charity, which tends to be weakened in daily life; and this living charity wipes away venial sins. By giving himself to us Christ revives our love and enables us to break our disordered attachments to creatures and root ourselves in him.

By the same charity that it enkindles in us, the Eucharist preserves us from future mortal sins. The more we share the life of Christ and progress in his friendship, the more difficult it is to break away from him by mortal sin. The Eucharist is not ordered to the forgiveness of mortal sins – that is proper to the sacrament of Reconciliation. The Eucharist is properly the sacrament of those who are in full communion with the Church, in the grace of God.
(Cf. Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1391-1395)

Contemplating the mystery
As he was giving out Holy Communion that priest felt like shouting out: “This is Happiness I am giving you!”
The Forge, 267

Your Communions were very cold: you paid little attention to the Lord: you were distracted by the smallest trifle... But ever since you began to realise during an intimate dialogue with God that the angels are present, your attitude has changed... “Let them not see me like this!”, you say to yourself... And see how, as a result of thinking, “What will they say?” – this time, for a good motive – you have advanced a little towards Love.
Furrow, 694

3. How should we prepare for Holy Communion?
To respond to our Lord’s invitation we must prepare ourselves for so great and so holy a moment. St. Paul urges us to examine our conscience: “Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of profaning the body and blood of the Lord. Let a man examine himself, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For any one who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment upon himself” (1 Cor 11: 27-29). Anyone conscious of a grave sin must receive the sacrament of Reconciliation before coming to Communion.

Before so great a sacrament, the faithful can only echo humbly and with ardent faith the words of the Centurion: “Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof, but only say the word and my soul will be healed” (Matt 8:8). To prepare for worthy reception of this sacrament, the faithful should observe the fast required by the Church: to abstain from all food and drink for one hour before receiving Holy Communion, except water and medicines.
Bodily demeanour (gestures, clothing) ought to convey the respect, solemnity, and joy of this moment when Christ becomes our guest.
(Cf. Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1384-1387)

Contemplating the mystery
We should receive Our Lord in the Eucharist as we would prepare to receive the great ones of the earth, or even better: with decorations, with lights, with new clothes...
And if you ask me what sort of cleanliness I mean, what decorations and what lights you should bring, I will answer you: cleanliness in each one of your senses, decoration in each of your powers, light in all your soul.
Forge, 834

Have you ever thought how you would prepare yourself to receive Our Lord if you could go to Communion only once in your life?
We must be thankful to God that he makes it so easy for us to come to him: but we should show our gratitude by preparing ourselves very well to receive him.
Have you ever thought how you would prepare yourself to receive Our Lord if you could go to Communion only once in your life?
Forge, 828

4. When should we go to Holy Communion?
The Church warmly recommends the faithful to receive Holy Communion when they go to Mass, and requires them to receive it at least once a year.
The Church obliges the faithful to take part in the Divine Liturgy on Sundays and feast days and, prepared by the sacrament of Reconciliation, to receive the Eucharist at least once a year, if possible during the Easter season. But the Church strongly encourages the faithful to receive the holy Eucharist on Sundays and feast days, or more often still, even daily.
(Cf. Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1388-1389)

Contemplating the mystery
Go to Communion. It doesn’t show lack of respect. Go this very day when you have just got over that “spot of trouble”.
Have you forgotten that Jesus said: “It is not by those who are well, but by those who are sick, that the physician is needed?”
The Way, 536

Build up a gigantic faith in the Holy Eucharist. Be filled with wonder before this ineffable reality! We have God with us; we can receive him every day and, if we want to, we can speak intimately with him, just as we talk with a friend, as we talk with a brother, as we talk with a father, as we talk with Love itself.
Giotto, <i>The Last Supper</i>
Giotto, The Last Supper
The Forge, 268

5. What should we do when we have received Holy Communion?
After receiving Holy Communion we are advised to spend some minutes thanking Jesus for his real presence in our souls. This shows our respect and love. Each of us can find a way of thanking God personally for enabling us to receive him.

Contemplating the mystery
The Holy Spirit does not guide souls collectively, but inspires each one with resolutions, inspirations and affections that will help it to recognize and fulfil the will of the Father. Still, I feel that, on many occasions, the central theme of our conversation with Christ, in our thanksgiving after holy Mass, can be the consideration that our Lord is our king, physician, teacher and friend.
Christ is Passing By, 92

He is our king. He desires ardently to rule our hearts, because we are children of God. But we should not try to imagine a human sort of rule – Christ does not dominate or seek to impose himself, because he “has not come to be served but to serve.”

His kingdom is one of peace, of joy, of justice. Christ our king does not expect us to spend our time in abstract reasoning; he expects deeds, because “not everyone who says to me, Lord, Lord! shall enter the kingdom of heaven; but he who does the will of my Father in heaven shall enter the kingdom of heaven.”

He is our physician, and he heals our selfishness, if we let his grace penetrate to the depths of our soul. Jesus has taught us that the worst sickness is hypocrisy, the pride that leads us to hide our own sins. We have to be totally sincere with him. We have to tell the whole truth, and then we have to say: “Lord, if you will” – and you are always willing – “you can make me clean.” You know my weaknesses; I feel these symptoms; I suffer from these failings. We show him the wound, with simplicity, and if the wound is festering, we show the pus too. Lord, you have cured so many souls; help me to recognize you as the divine physician, when I have you in my heart or when I contemplate your presence in the tabernacle.

He is a teacher, with knowledge that only he possesses – the knowledge of unlimited love for God, and, in God, for all men. In Christ’s teaching we learn that our existence does not belong to us. He gave up his life for all men and, if we follow him, we must understand that we cannot take possession of our own lives in a selfish way, without sharing the sorrows of others. Our life belongs to God. We are here to spend it in his service, concerning ourselves generously with souls, showing, through our words and our example, the extent of the Christian dedication that is expected of us.

Jesus expects us to nourish the desire to acquire this knowledge, so that he can repeat to us: “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink.” And we answer: teach us to forget ourselves, so that we may concern ourselves with you and with all souls. In this way, our Lord will lead us forward with his grace, just as when we were learning to write. Do you remember that childish scrawl, guided by the teacher’s hand? And we will begin to taste the joy of showing our faith, which is yet another gift from God, and showing it with clear strokes of Christian conduct, in which all will be able to read the wonders of God.

He is our friend, the Friend: “I have called you friends,” he says. He calls us his friends; and he is the one who took the first step, because he loved us first. Still, he does not impose his love – he offers it. He shows it with the clearest possible sign: “Greater love than this no one has, that one lay down his life for his friends.” He was Lazarus’ friend. He wept for him when he saw him dead, and he raised him from the dead. If he sees us cold, unwilling, rigid perhaps with the stiffness of a dying interior life, his tears will be our life – “I say to you, my friend, arise and walk,” leave that narrow life which is no life at all.
Christ is Passing By, 93