Dear Sacred Heart and St. Mary on the Lake,
Starting this weekend at Sacred Heart, we will have a slight change in the way we receive communion. Like usual the two ministers of the Precious Body will first go to those seated in the side naves. Upon returning to the center, instead of standing in the aisle, we will be standing behind the corner of the communion rail. This is to provide the option for those who would like to receive Holy communion while kneeling. (You can easily receive communion while standing over the rail). Some receive communion kneeling and I know of others who like to be given the option to do so. The communion rail and cushions in those two places will make that much easier. Small children who are in line to receive a blessing can stand on the step by the cushion.
To be very clear it is okay to receive communion while standing! Some receive standing, others receive kneeling. Both are okay. Some receive on the hand, others on the tongue. Both are okay. Some might want to kneel but for medical reasons shouldn’t - if that is the case please don’t.
This change does beg one question: is there a wrong way to receive communion? The only wrong way to receive communion is irreverently. Reverence/irreverence is expressed both externally and internally.
I think the external things are the easiest to address: often they are things we just forget about. Some examples are chewing gum at Mass or wearing gloves when we receive communion. Another is remembering the one hour fast before receiving communion as a sign of our respect for Christ who we are about to receive. Our physical hunger from that fast helps us realize our deeper need for spiritual food.
The internal realities are more important for they point to the disposition of our hearts when we receive Jesus in the Eucharist. St. Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 11:27-29 - “Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty concerning the body and blood of the Lord. Let a person examine himself, then, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment on himself.” This points most directly to the state of our souls. If we have serious sins on our hearts, then we need to go to confession first before receiving communion. That is why these two sacraments are so deeply connected. Another internal disposition is striving to not be distracted and thinking of other things while receiving communion.
Holy communion is the meeting place of Heaven and Earth at Mass. It can be so easy to receive the Lord in the Eucharist without thinking about what we are doing or being fully engaged. The more engaged we are, the more open we are to receiving grace. May this small change help all of us receive the gift Jesus makes of Himself more intentionally.