In the past I have referenced the great resource that is the Official Baltimore Catechism No. 3 (1949) featuring notes and study aides by Father Francis J. Connell C.SS.R. Lesson 28 of the catechism specifically addresses the reception of Holy Communion at Mass. While the Church encourages the faithful to receive Communion regularly, there is an obligation only to receive once a year during the Easter season. Understanding the importance of worthily receiving Our Lord in the Eucharist, let us revisit this important lesson.
To begin, Fr. Connell notes:
“To receive Holy Communion worthily it is necessary to be free from mortal sin, to have a right intention and to obey the Church’s laws on the fast required before Holy Communion out of reverence for the body and blood of Our Divine Lord…”
In addition to being in a state of grace and fasting, it is also necessary that we prepare ourselves for this august sacrament:
“We should prepare ourselves…by thinking of Our Divine Redeemer whom we are about to receive, and by making fervent acts of faith, hope, love, and contrition.”
For example, one could choose to pray the traditional Act of Hope in preparation:
Oh my God, relying on Thy almighty power and infinite mercy and promises, I hope to obtain pardon of my sins, the help of Thy grace, and life everlasting, through the merits of Jesus Christ, my Lord and Redeemer. Amen.
The catechism further explains what the chief effects of a worthy Holy Communion are:
First, a closer union with Our Lord and a more fervent love of God and of our neighbor;
Second, an increase of sanctifying grace;
Third, preservation from mortal sin and remission of venial sin;
Fourth, the lessening of our inclinations to sin and the help to practice good works.
Sadly, far too many of the faithful choose to receive even though they are not in a state of grace. What then is the result of such behavior? The catechism instructs us that:
“He who knowingly receives Holy Communion in mortal sin receives the body and blood of Christ, but he does not receive His graces and commits a grave sin of sacrilege.”
This last point is of paramount importance to consider.
Recent studies have documented that nearly eighty percent of Catholics miss Mass on any given Sunday for no valid reason. A majority of Catholics support same-sex “marriage” and abortion “rights” to some degree. Finally, Catholics view pornography, contracept, and cohabitate at levels comparable with non-Catholics.
All of these sins, if not confessed to a priest, preclude one from receiving Holy Communion. How many today, however, still choose to receive? Unfortunately, these are the faithful who do not receive God’s grace from the sacrament due to the grave sacrilege committed.
Pray that, through the avoidance of sin, the mercy of Confession, and with proper interior preparation, more will worthily receive Our Eucharistic Lord at Holy Communion.