This Sunday we celebrate the Feast of Corpus Christi. The National Catholic Register jogged my memory of the important teaching document published by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops after their meeting this past November. Based on this document, the Register came up with this short quiz about the Eucharist. Take the Register quiz and see how well you understand the Sacrament of the Eucharist, the Source and Summit of our Faith. (Answers are at the Register link above)
1. What do we believe about Holy Communion?
2. In what three ways are we united to Christ in Communion?
3. Who may receive Holy Communion?
4. Should we ever refrain from receiving Holy Communion?
5. How can we prepare to receive Holy Communion more worthily?
6. May those who are not Catholic receive Holy Communion in the Catholic Church?
7. May Catholics receive Holy Communion in other Christian Churches?
Question #5 is interesting. The Register provides the following answer:
The bishops suggest practices for our day-to-day life, before Mass and at Mass. Day to day: regular prayer and Scripture reading, fulfillment of the duties of your state in life, daily repentance of sin and regular confession. Before Mass: prayerful recollection, one-hour Eucharistic fast, appropriate dress. At Mass: active participation.
Getting to Mass on a bit early so we can mentally put ourselves in the presence of Our Lord is so helpful. Planning and preparation allows us to arrive at Mass in a peaceful rather than harried state of mind.
But then what do we do after we receive Communion? Do we return to our pews and prayerfully reflect on the awesome gift we have just received? Or do we return to our pews and watch the communion line to see who is present and what they are wearing? Or perhaps we are busy mentally planning the rest of our day’s activities? I have found that learning the Anima Christi prayer and reciting it as soon as I return to my pew helps me focus on prayer after Communion and keeps me from being distracted by the activities around me. This prayer is from the 14th century and is a traditional prayer for after Communion.
Soul of Christ, sanctify me Body of Christ, save me Blood of Christ, inebriate me Water from Christ's side, wash me Passion of Christ, strengthen me O good Jesus, hear me Within Thy wounds hide me Suffer me not to be separated from Thee From the malicious enemy defend me In the hour of my death call me And bid me come unto Thee That I may praise Thee with Thy saints and with Thy angels Forever and ever Amen
I really like it when the choir provides only an instrumental accompaniment or a simple chant during Communion. I can focus on my own personal prayer much better when I do not have the words of a hymn in the background. I also find silence broken only by the rhythmic responses of “Amen” as communicants receive the Blessed Sacrament very conducive to prayer after Communion. While the Mass is a communal event, the time after Communion is a time for individual prayer and reflection within the Mass.
I challenge each of you to take the time to reflect on the Mystery of the Eucharist in preparation for this Sunday’s feast. Read the USCCB teaching document. Focus on the miracle that occurs at each and every Mass. Let us truly be happy we are called to His supper.