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A Communion Rite

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The banquet of the Lord is ready. All present now prepare themselves to receive the Body and Blood of Christ. Holy Communion at Mass is an expression of our unity with Christ and with all of God’s people. It is the culmination of our Eucharistic celebration.

The prayers and rituals during this section of the Mass are intended to prepare us to receive Jesus, our Savior and Lord, in Holy Communion.

In the Lord’s Prayer, we, as a community, address God as Our Father (our Papa, as Jesus referred to him). Our relationship is not to be one of fear but one of love. We use Matthew’s version (6:9-13) of the Lord"s Prayer (not Luke 11:2-4), as it is richer and fuller, containing a larger number of petitions.

The Lord’s Prayer contains two petitions that make it a particularly appropriate prayer in preparation for the reception of Holly Communion, i.e. 1) "Give us our daily bread," and 2) "Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us." Daily bread is the Bread of Life we receive in Communion. As for forgiveness, we are reminded of the importance of approaching the Eucharist with a forgiving heart, or a heart that sincerely desires to forgive.

The final petition in the Lord’s Prayer is "deliver us from evil"―to which the Presider adds a beautiful invocation asking God to protect us from sin and evil, and to grant us his peace "as we wait in joyful hope for the coming of his kingdom." We Christians are involved in a spiritual warfare (Eph 6:10-17) against an enemy that is the subtlest of all creatures (Gen 3:1); hence, we often need to pray for deliverance like this great prayer said at every Mass.

The biblical concept of peace includes total well-being―a life in harmony with God, others, self and all of creation. Such peace is a pure gift of God for which we should earnestly pray. It is won for us by the saving work of Our Risen Lord present in the midst of all assembled. It is this hard-earned gift of peace that we share when we exchange the sign of peace with those around us before we receive Holy Communion. The gesture acknowledges that Christ whom we receive in the Sacrament is already present in our neighbor, and expresses our sincere desire to forgive all hurts and to be at peace with all people (Introduction to the Mass #128-129).

The priest takes the large host and breaks it into many parts. The meaning of this ritual is beautifully explained to us by St. Paul in his first letter to the Church at Corinth: "The bread that we break, is it not a participation in the body of Christ? Because the loaf of bread is one, we, though many, are one body, for we all partake of the loaf." (10:16-17). Despite its rich diversity, the Church is one as it gathers to celebrate our unity in Christ. In an ancient Church document called Didache, we find these words: "As this broken bread, scattered over the mountains, was gathered together in the same manner from the ends of the earth in your kingdom…" (Quoted in The Mystery of Faith, p. 104).

Reflecting upon the ritual of breaking the bread, Fr. Cantalamesso, a preacher to the papal household says:

To understand this ritual, "I must, first of all, ‘break’ myself… Lay before God all hardness, all rebellion towards him or towards others, crush my pride, submit and say, ‘yes,’ fully to all that God asks of me. I too must repeat the words: Lo, I have come to do thy will, O God! You don’t want many things from me; you want me and I say ‘yes.’ To be Eucharist like Jesus signifies being

totally abandoned to the Father’s will." (Quoted in

The Mass, p.226)

Commingling Rite

In the Breaking of the Bread, the priest places a small portion of the host in the chalice to "signify the unity of the Body and Blood of the Lord in the work of salvation…." (GIRM #83). This comingling of the consecrated elements is an expression of our belief that the Body of Christ is not without the Blood of Christ and the Blood of Christ is not without the Body of Christ, i.e., Christ is totally present in both the bread and wine.

The assembly sings or recites a short litany (Agnus Dei or Lamb of God): "Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world, have mercy on us." In his first letter, Peter reminds us that we are "saved, not with perishable things like silver or gold but with the precious Blood of Christ as of a spotless, unblemished lamb" (1Pet 1:18).

The priest and the people take a solemn moment to prepare themselves to receive Holy Communion. The priest quietly prays:

Lord Jesus Christ, with faith in your love and mercy, I eat your body and drink your blood. Let it not bring me condemnation, but health in mind and body.

Invitation to Holy Communion

Holding the large host above the chalice, the priest invokes:

This is the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world. Happy are those who are called to his supper.

The assembly responds:

Lord, I am not worthy to receive you but only say the Word and I shall be healed.

These were the words spoken by the Roman centurion when he asked Jesus to heal his servant (Mt 8:8). The centurion is a model of faith, humility and confidence for all of us waiting to receive Jesus, the Lamb of God, in Holy Communion.

In an effort to draw out the deep meaning of the Lord’s invitation and the symbolism of the Eucharist, catechist and teacher Marie McIntyre writes:

When the priest takes the bread and wine into his hands and elevates them for all to see, it is as if Christ is calling out to us and saying:

"Here I am present in your midst under forms of life―bread and wine―to remind you that I am your life and you will have life forever if you come to me and learn from me to love the Father as I do.

Here I am bread and wine to be shared―eaten―consumed so that I may become part of you, enter into your life and sustain you….

Here I am as a total gift―as a sign that to be like me, you have to be ready to give yourselves for others. Here I am sharing symbols of life and joy because I want you to live my life and share my joy. . .

Here I am as a sign of life freely given, freely shared so that all might come and none be turned away. Here I am for you because I love you."

GIRM #85 states: "It is most desirable that the faithful receive the Lord’s Body from hosts consecrated at the same Mass," that is, the Mass they actually attend. Should there be a shortage of consecrated hosts for a particular Mass, leftover hosts reserved in the tabernacle from a previous Mass (which are intended for the sick and dying) may be distributed to the faithful.

Proper disposition for receiving Holy Communion

When it comes to receiving Holy Communion, we should remember the words of St. Paul:

"Whoever therefore eats the bread and drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of profaning the Body and Blood of the Lord" (1Cor 11:27). With these words in mind, we can say that two extremes are to be avoided. If we suffer from an overly scrupulous conscience, we might judge ourselves as never worthy of Holy Communion―unless we have received the Sacrament of Reconciliation the day before. Such a scrupulous conscience brands God as a very demanding taskmaster who is never satisfied with us. In contrast, some people might casually approach the Table of the Lord without regard to their spiritual state as, for instance, when they carry a hardened heart that absolutely refuses to forgive a hurt or to pray for the grace of forgiveness. The United States Catholic Catechism for Adults reminds us that we should conscientiously prepare for the moment of Holy Communion. "We should be in the state of grace, and if we are conscious of a grave or serious sin, we must receive the Sacrament of Penance before receiving Holy Communion. We are also expected to fast from food and drink for at least one hour prior to the reception of Holy Communion" (p.222). Even though none of us is worthy to receive our Divine Lord in Holy Communion (Lord, I am not worthy….), all of us must make every effort to be the least unworthy that we can be.

After the priest, deacons, and extraordinary ministers of the bread and cup receive the Body and Blood of Christ and arrive at their communion stations, members of the assembly process to the stations closest to them to receive our Divine Lord. Our Church tells us that it is desirable that all who are in a state of grace receive both the Body and the Blood of Christ. By doing so, the sign of the Eucharistic banquet is more clearly evident (GIRM # 281). In ministering the host and the cup, the priest, deacon or extraordinary minister utters the words "Body of Christ" or "Blood of Christ," as appropriate. On our part, we bow slightly before we take the bread and cup (an act of reverence for our Divine Lord), then respond: "Amen" (Yes, I believe that you are fully present in the bread and cup.)

In the hand or on the tongue?

We have the option of receiving Communion in the hand or on the tongue. Many Catholics who were raised in the pre-Vatican II Church think that receiving Holy Communion in the hand was a Vatican II initiative. It is not. Though we do not know for certain, we can safely assume that the Apostles at the Last Supper received the bread in their hands from Jesus. We also know that back in the first millennium, Catholic Christians usually received Communion in their hand. St. Cyril of Jerusalem describes the fourth century procedure in this way:

When you approach, do not go stretching out your hands or having your fingers spread out, but make the left hand into a throne for the right one, which shall receive the King, and then cup your open hand and take the Body of Christ, reciting the Amen.

During the distribution of Holy Communion, an appropriate hymn is sung. Our participation in the singing of the communion hymn expresses our spiritual union with all communicants. When we return to our pew after receiving Holy Communion, we should continue to join in the singing rather than engage in our own private prayer. At the end of the communion song, there is a period of silence for interior prayer and contemplation of the gifts received.

Fruits and implications of receiving Holy Communion

The Catechism of the Catholic Church (#1391-1401) tells us of the many different fruits (below) we receive with Holy Communion.

Holy Communion augments our union with Christ (#1391). The principal fruit of receiving Holy Communion is the intimate union with Christ. In his discourse on the Bread of Life, Jesus says: "He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me and I in him" (6:56). Paul sees this abiding in terms of putting on Christ, identifying with Christ, developing within ourselves Christ’s outlook, attitudes and his commitment to the Father. Unless we abide in Christ, all our efforts are in vain (Jn 15:4). Hence, receiving Holy Communion entails a willingness to do all we can to have the same attitude that is also ours in Christ Jesus (Phi 2:5).

Holy Communion separates us from sin (#1393). The Catechism states: "The body of Christ we receive in Holy Communion is ‘given up for us’ and the blood we drink ‘shed for the many for the forgiveness of sins.’ For this reason the Eucharist cannot unite us to Christ without at the same time cleansing us from past sins and preserving us from future sins." This teaching will come as a surprise to many Catholics who associate the forgiveness of sins solely with the Sacrament of Penance. But upon reflection, we can easily see that if the Eucharist helps to increase our love for Christ, it must also keep us from the darkness of selfishness, which is sin. This is not to say that the Eucharist replaces our need for the Sacrament of Penance. It doesn’t. Rather, it complements the work of sacramental reconciliation.

Communion renews, strengthens and deepens our incorporation into the Church, already achieved by Baptism. (CCC #1396)

During his last discourse, Jesus prayed to his Father: "May they all be one" (Jn 17:20) and he urged his disciples "to love one another as I have loved you" (Jn 13:34). Through our participation in the Eucharist, we become bound ever more closely with the Church. As an ancient axiom goes: "The Church makes the Eucharist and the Eucharist makes the Church."

The Eucharist commits us to the poor (#1397). The Catechism states: "To receive in truth the Body and Blood of Christ given up for us, we must recognize Christ in the poorest, his brethren." It then goes on to quote the challenging words from a homily of St. John Chrysostom, an Early Church Father:

You have tasted the Blood of the Lord, yet you do not recognize your brother,... You dishonor this table when you do not judge worthy of sharing your food someone judged worthy to take part in this meal... God freed you from all your sins and invited you here, but you have not become more merciful.

In his first letter to the Corinthians, St. Paul reminds them that in sharing the Body of Christ in the Eucharist, they were also called to care for the poorest members of the community (1Cor 11:17-34).

The Eucharist is our pledge of the glory to come (#1042-1405). This fruit was most recognizable at the Last Supper when Jesus said: "I tell you I shall not drink again of this fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it anew in my Father’s Kingdom" (Lk 22:18). Whenever we gather together to celebrate the Eucharist, we remember this promise of our Lord and turn our gaze towards him who is to come (CCC #1403).

When we receive Holy Communion, we are publicly stating our willingness to stand with Jesus in his ongoing battle against all forms of evil and suffering in our world. The Calvary dimension of the Eucharist becomes real when we confront with love and courage the daily crosses and persecutions of life, such as difficult family and work situations, poor health, unjust structures of society that oppress and keep the poor in bondage. A central part of being sincere Eucharistic people is our willingness to feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, clothe the naked and visit the imprisoned (Mt 25: 31-46).

After the distribution of Holy Communion, the vessels are put aside and the priest is seated. Then follows quiet meditation when we spend a few moments to contemplate on the meaning of Holy Communion and allow it to sink deep into our hearts. We may choose to either sit quietly in the presence of our Beloved or speak to him about the deepest concerns of our hearts. A medieval monk said: "While we rest in him, he works in us."

Communion is a great moment of intimacy between the Lord and the members of his body. We come forward, not as isolated individuals, but as brothers and sisters in Christ. We come forward, not in a sluggish way, but with reverence and love for him who is the life of the world. By exclaiming our Amen to the minister’s words: "The Body of Christ," we are really proclaiming:

I believe, Jesus, that you are the bread of life.

I believe, Jesus, that you are the power that can transform my life.

I believe that these people are my brothers and sisters and part of the one Body of Christ.

I accept, Jesus, the challenge to become your bread for others and to build up your body in the world.

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What is most appropriate, script wise, to say and do for  communion when you only have about 10 minutes at most with a hospice or surgical patient. 

I have a "script" but a devout catholic said that won't get them into the holy spirit or heaven.  I don't know whether this comment was because I am a woman or because I'm not a catholic.  I explained to her that a Priest was not available and that God would accept this as being Christian and helping a person.

I respect all beliefs people have and try to honor them, but it is very trying for me to understand the hate some project at me.  Do you have any suggestions on a proper wording to give in a short time frame.  (And I have been to Ken Collins web site and love it.)

Thanks.  :D

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with a catholic,there is nothing your going to say if your not a priest,period,that they will accept.

the best you can do is offer them a blessing,in the name of the father,son and holy spirit.other than that,continue to do what you believe to be right.

keep in mind this advice comes from an atheist.

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On 6/4/2016 at 9:39 AM, ReverendBrosnan said:


What is most appropriate, script wise, to say and do for  communion when you only have about 10 minutes at most with a hospice or surgical patient. 

I have a "script" but a devout catholic said that won't get them into the holy spirit or heaven.  I don't know whether this comment was because I am a woman or because I'm not a catholic.  I explained to her that a Priest was not available and that God would accept this as being Christian and helping a person.

I respect all beliefs people have and try to honor them, but it is very trying for me to understand the hate some project at me.  Do you have any suggestions on a proper wording to give in a short time frame.  (And I have been to Ken Collins web site and love it.)

Thanks.  :D

hi, I'm not an expert but i picked up a few things. 

1. it is true that only a catholic priest can consecrate a host ( turning a host into the body of christ in catholic belief)

2. it is NOT true that only a priest can administer a host. The catholic church allows lay ministers and chaplains to take a consecrated host from a church to a sick person if that person cannot get to the church. These people are called Eucharistic ministers. They can be men or women, usually catholic, but non denominational chaplains can have dispensation to administer communion. check with your local catholic parish to see what arrangements can be made. 

3. As for helping someone get into heaven- In Catholicism this is done not through communion but through confession also called reconciliation. Now it's kind of tricky, see breaking from god is a choice made by a person who sins, under the church teachings, God is always waiting for the person to ask forgivness. a Priest can hear a confession and grant absolution, the forgivness of sins, but that is only valid if the person is giving a sincere confession and intends to live a sin free life to the best of their ability, so if no sincerity, the absolution has no value. Only a Priest can grant absolution. There is a tradition of lay confession in the catholic church that goes back to the middle ages, but is not used in modern day but it is sometimes referenced in cases where a person is dying and no priest is available. a lay person cannot absolve sins. but the lay person can pray that god will absolve sins. all that is required is for the person to truly seek forgiveness and resolve to sin no more. the person may confess outloud, but it's not necessary. probably not even recommended, but if it helps the person there is no rule against it. and again the lay minister prays that god will absolve the sins. 

4. you could also find a catholic blessing of the sick to administer that may give her some comfort. 

side note - in extreme circumstances any person can catholic baptism, even non catholics.

Military chaplains have dispensation from the church to perform almost any catholic rite regardless of the  chaplains religion. 

again not an expert, you should check with the local church or archdioses for all the information. 

hope this helps.


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On ‎6‎/‎4‎/‎2016 at 0:39 PM, ReverendBrosnan said:


What is most appropriate, script wise, to say and do for  communion when you only have about 10 minutes at most with a hospice or surgical patient. 

I have a "script" but a devout catholic said that won't get them into the holy spirit or heaven.  I don't know whether this comment was because I am a woman or because I'm not a catholic.  I explained to her that a Priest was not available and that God would accept this as being Christian and helping a person.

I respect all beliefs people have and try to honor them, but it is very trying for me to understand the hate some project at me.  Do you have any suggestions on a proper wording to give in a short time frame.  (And I have been to Ken Collins web site and love it.)

Thanks.  :D

Hello ~ I found this an interesting question, having been a devout Catholic for my first 50 years. Then, a closer reading of the Matthew chapters 5-7, I became a ULC minister live more authentically, serving as a chaplain at the hospital. I wear the clergy shirt and collar, and am a woman. Many of the patients are Catholic. Most of the patients say they would like a prayer, however one day one of the Jehovah's Witness patients said no, simply because I was first a woman, and second, the "wrong" religion.

I usually greet them with a handshake, since touch is soothing to some patients. I smile and tell them I am trying to bring them some cheer and let them know someone is thinking of them. I usually make up my own prayer, but I like the suggestion of BpCorey, who suggests to say the Our Father. I think I will incorporate this.

Not everyone is Catholic, and everyone has free will. Some of the people you meet would want to receive communion after reciting the Our Father, and a short concluding prayer like:

"Thank you heavenly Father for sending your Son, Jesus Christ to be our Savior. We receive Jesus in our heart, mind and soul in this communion. You tell us where two or more are present, You are there. We ask you for your gift of the Holy Spirit, so that we can heal, get back to our life, friends and family at home, and praise You in the good health You intend for (patient's Name)________________. We also say a special prayer for the doctors and nurses here. They are the hands you work through to bring  (patient's name)_________ back to health. We pray in Jesus name. Amen."

If you are not offering communion, you can also offer Catholics and others a blessing, with whatever words resonate, like:

"I bless you in the Name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit" ... or

"I bless you in the Name of the One" ...

I have found most Catholics will allow these prayers.

God Bless,

Rev. Linda

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