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The Mass and the reception of the Eucharist is the centerpiece of the Christian life. So we better take it seriously!
Unfortunately, whether it’s out of ignorance or laziness, it seems most Catholics aren’t receiving the Eucharist correctly.
Here are 3 things it seems many Catholics get wrong:
1) Not bowing before receiving
Many Catholics go through the communion line and receive the Eucharist without any act of reverence at all. But we’re talking about receiving Jesus here, so maybe some reverence is in order!
Most people might not even know that they are supposed to do something, but it’s right there in the USCCB’s General Instruction of the Roman Missal: “When receiving Holy Communion, the communicant bows his or her head before the Sacrament as a gesture of reverence… [T]he sign of reverence is also made before receiving the Precious Blood.” (GIRM 160)
Though the norm in the United States is to receive while standing (after bowing your head), individuals are also allowed to receive while kneeling if they so choose. (GIRM 160)
2) Not saying “Amen”
This might get dropped as people feel pressure to receive quickly due to long lines, but it’s right there in the Order of Mass: after the priest presents the Eucharist saying “The Body of Christ,” the person receiving is supposed to say “Amen.”
This is important because it confirms that you really do believe that you are receiving Christ himself (it might even serve as a good reminder to yourself).
This is only one word, so slow down and say “Amen.”
3) Are you in a state of grace?
Of course, it’s impossible to know the state of people’s souls. But it’s not clear most Catholics really understand this: you are only supposed to receive the Eucharist if you are a practicing Catholic in a state of grace.
Have you committed any mortal sins since you last went to confession? If the answer is yes, then you need to go to confession before receiving the Eucharist. You should still attend Mass, but if you aren’t in a state of grace, you shouldn’t receive.
This is important for at least two reasons: (1) Receiving the Eucharist in a state of mortal sin is a sacrilege. So don’t do it! (2) Not receiving when you are not in the proper state shows your love and respect for Jesus. If you’re in a state of mortal sin, going to Mass but not receiving actually shows you’re heading back on the right track.