17th Sunday of the Year

Dear Friends in Christ,

Who should receive Holy Communion at Mass? Only Catholics who have made their first Confession and received their first Holy Communion may receive Communion at Mass. Communicants should be living according to the Gospel by the obedience of faith and going to Confession whenever needed, and if they are married, they must be married in the Church. Anyone conscious of grave sin must first be reconciled to God in the Sacrament of Penance before receiving Holy Communion. And any Catholic who is married outside of the Church cannot go to Confession or receive Holy Communion until and unless he or she can be married in the Church. Finally, non-Catholics who feel drawn to receive Holy Communion are invited to explore joining the Catholic Church in order to be able to receive the sacraments. Our course called “An Introduction to Catholicism” begins in September and is designed to help those who are curious make an informed decision.

How should Holy Communion be received? During the Communion Procession, those who are properly prepared to receive Holy Communion come forward, and before receiving Communion, each communicant should make a brief  act of reverence which can be a sign of the Cross, a bow from the waste, or a genuflection. When the Communion Minister elevates the host and proclaims “The Body of Christ,” the communicant should say “Amen” in a firm voice and then allow the Communion Minister to place the sacred host on the tongue. Holy Communion on the tongue remains the normative discipline of the Church, but by special dispensation, those who prefer to receive the host in the hand are permitted to do so, on the condition that the host is immediately and reverently consumed. To receive in this way, place one open palm on top of the other, and allow the Communion Minister to place the host on your palm. Never reach for the host, and do not place your hands side by side. After you receive the host, it will dissolve quickly or can be lightly chewed if necessary to facilitate ease of swallowing the Bread of Life.

What about those who cannot consume gluten? The bread we use at Mass is made of only two ingredients: wheat flour and water. For the sake of convenience, this flat bread is cut into small circles, each of which is called a host. Normal hosts contain only a small amount of gluten from the wheat flour, but for a very few people, even a small amount is too much. Anyone who has been diagnosed by a medical doctor with gluten intolerance is welcome to receive low gluten hosts that are carefully prepared to meet the Church’s requirements for valid matter and to contain the absolute minimum amount of gluten necessary for the sacrament. We keep our low gluten hosts in special vessels so that they do not come into contact with the ordinary hosts; so to receive a low gluten host, please come to the front section of the church at the very end of the Communion Procession and indicate that you need a low gluten host. Please note that these are provided only for those with medical necessity, so please request a low gluten host only if you have been clinically diagnosed by a medical doctor.

Father Newman