Q: What is Holy Communion?
A: Also known as the Eucharist, Holy Communion is the “source and summit” (CCC 1324) of the Catholic faith because it is truly the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Our Lord Jesus Christ. It is not in any way a symbol but literally Christ’s most Holy body. The bread and wine at the Mass become the holiest of holies through the priest’s words by the power of God. The moment when the Bread and Wine become Jesus Christ is called transubstantiation (CCC 1376). The entire Gospel of John Chapter Six even wrote specifically on the Eucharist and how Christ’s body is truly present.
Some people that don't believe in the Eucharist say that Jesus meant for it to be symbolic. Well, then we look to the Gospel of John Chapter 6. That chapter is entirely on the Eucharist, and we see that when Our Lord tells them "Unless you eat my Body and Drink my Blood you will have no life within you" the people do one thing: they leave Him. If Jesus was speaking symbolically He would have said "No, you misunderstand" like He did before in the Gospels, but this time He just let them walk away. Thousands left Him, but He let them because what He spoke was literally true and they couldn't accept it.
“Since Christ Himself has said, ‘This is My Body’ who shall dare to doubt that it is His Body?” -- Saint Cyril of Jerusalem LECTURE XIII #5
Q: Does the Sacred Host also contain Christ's Blood?
A: Yes, the Communion Host, literally the Body of Christ, also contains the Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Our Lord. The wine also becomes not just Christ s Blood but His Body, Soul, and Divinity also. The presence of Christ only remains while the Eucharistic species (the form of bread of wine) subsist, that is to say, once the appearances of the bread and wine have been destroyed, the true presence leaves. However, the breaking of the Body of Christ or the separation of the Blood does not divide Christ, so receiving only a piece of a full Communion Host is still receiving Jesus Christ completely (CCC 1377, Council of Trent: Thirteenth Session: Canon III)
Q: What are Eucharistic Miracles?
A: These are outward signs of the majesty of Our Lord’s true presence in the Holy Eucharist. I recognize this mirroring the Transfiguration when Our Lord on Mt. Tabor appeared dazzlingly white with Elijah and Moses. This was an outward manifestation of Our Lord’s immense greatness. The Transfiguration wasn’t in and of itself the greatest part of this mystery, but what is even greater is that Christ humbled Himself and kept in His immense glory while on earth.
Eucharistic miracles are the same where the Lord’s greatness reveals itself and scientific testing has proven it to be true blood and tissue. These miracles are not required beliefs of the Catholic faith, and the Eucharist from these Mass is no less amazing then the Eucharist at other Masses because the Eucharist is always the same true presence of Jesus Christ. Read about these beautiful miracles (1)
Q: If I suspect someone is taking the Eucharist from Mass without the intentions of giving it to the sick what should I do?
A: If someone takes Communion back to the pew and doesn’t consume it PLEASE report it to the priest or another minister if the priest is unavailable immediately. Sometimes people will take Our Lord’s Body to desecrate it and this destruction of Our Lord in the Eucharist is a grave sacrilege.
Q: Can Holy Communion ever be denied?
A: It can be denied to individuals in a public act of scandal. For example, if one regularly known non-Catholic is at a Mass and wishes to receive Holy Communion it is to be denied. Holy Communion may - and should - be denied to those Catholics who promote intrinsic evils such as abortion, gay marriage, and artificial contraception. Also, if one suspects a person is going to desecrate the Eucharist it can be denied.
Q: Are there special conditions on receiving the Eucharist?
A: Yes! One must be a Catholic in good standing with the Church. You must also obey the Eucharistic fast and not be in a state of mortal sin (Ecclesia de Eucharistia, 37)
Q: How many times a day can we receive communion?
A: Holy Communion can be received twice a day although the second time must be in the context of a Mass. For example, if someone went to a Communion service and afterwards to Mass then he/she could receive Our Lord both times. But, if a person attends Mass and a Communion service they are not to receive the Eucharist again. A person may only receive Holy Communion again that day in the form of the Viaticum, which is the name of the Eucharist when given to one who is extremely ill and appears to be near death. (Canon 917 & Canon 921)
Q: What act of reverence should we show before receiving Holy Communion?
A: An act of reverence must be made before receiving Holy Communion because it is showing reverence to Our Lord truly present before us. People are also still allowed to receive the Holy Eucharist while kneeling (GIRM 160), and Pope Benedict XVI gives Holy Communion to the Faithful at Papal Liturgies, who receive kneeling.
Q: What is Intinction?
A: Intinction is only allowed to be performed by the ordinary minister of Holy Communion (i.e. the priest). It is where the Sacred Host is dipped in the Sacred Blood of Christ. In the Byzantine Rite one receives the Lord without saying “Amen” but the priest puts the Host dipped in the Sacred Blood in the person’s mouth. Those receiving this way always have their head tipped backwards. This form of receiving Holy Communion is rarely observed in the Roman Catholic Rite because of the risk of dripping the Lord's body and blood on the ground. When observed, the priest has a minister standing at his side holding the consecrated wine and he takes a particle of the consecrated bread and dips it. He then says "The body and blood of Jesus". A paten must be held under the Body and Blood to prevent any from falling to the ground. (2)
Q: What is the Eucharistic fast and how long is it?
A: The Eucharistic fast is a one hour fast before receiving Holy Communion to observe a period of reflecting and spiritual hunger for Our Lord. Only medicine and water are allowed before hand, but if one needs to eat for serious medical reason this can be circumvented. Note that a priest who celebrates the Eucharist two or three times a day can take something before the second and third Mass even if it is less than one hour before receiving the Blessed Sacrament again. Also, the elderly, ill, and those that care for them may receive the Eucharist if they have eaten something in the previous hour (Canon 919). Many Traditional Catholics will take part in the traditional fast, which was three hours long. Other Traditional Catholics will take part in an older form of the fast which mandated fasting from midnight until receiving Communion.
Q: How often is one required to receive the Eucharist?
A: A Catholic is only required to receive the Eucharist once a year and that is to be done during the Easter season (Canon 920)
1. Eucharistic Miracles
The Real Presence Association
by Colin Donovan, STL on 4/8/2004
Norms for the Distribution and Reception of Holy Communion Under Both Kinds in the Dioceses of the United States of America
Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments
USCCB Number 49
U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops Committee on the Liturgy
Code of Canon Law
Intra Text Edition
Ecclesia de Eucharistia by Pope John Paul ll
General Instruction on the Roman Missal (GIRM)
Nicene & Post Nicene Fathers of the Church
The Real Presence Association
Council of Trent
Eternal Word Television Network (EWTN)