The Holy Eucharist is the true body and blood of Our Lord Jesus Christ, Who is really and substantially present under the appearances of bread and wine for the nourishment of our souls.
When do we receive the Holy Eucharist as a nourishment for our souls?
At holy communion, when we actually partake of the body and blood of Jesus Christ. Communion means “union with”. We also speak of receiving the Holy Eucharist, the Lord’s supper, and the heavenly banquet.
When and where is communion given?
For those who are well communion is given in the church either during Mass after the priest has received, or it may be given when no Mass is being celebrated. Those who are sick can receive in their homes at any time.
How is communion administered in church?
- The server or acolyte repeats the Confiteor, or general confession of sin.
- Turning to the people, the priest. recites two prayers imploring the remission of sin.
- He exposes the consecrated Host with the words: “Behold the Lamb of God, Who taketh away the sins of the world.” He then repeats three times: “Lord, I am not worthy that Thou shouldst enter under my roof; say but the word and my soul shall be healed.”
- He places the consecrated Host upon the tongue of the communicant, saying: “May the body of Our Lord Jesus Christ preserve thy soul unto life everlasting. Amen.”
- Returning to the altar, the priest recites the communion prayer of the Church, and then gives the benediction.
When the attendant recites the Confiteor, he does so in the name of those who are about to receive. The following are the prayers of supplication at the end of the Confiteor:
“May the Almighty God have mercy on you, forgive you your sins, and lead you unto life everlasting. Amen.”
“May the almighty and merciful Lord grant you pardon, absolution, and full remission of all your sins. Amen.”
How is holy communion given to the sick?
A bell is first rung, then the Sacred Host is borne in procession to the house of the sick person, placed upon a table prepared for it, a prayer is said, and the place and those present are sprinkled with holy water. The priest then gives communion the same as in the church, except wheu the sick person receives it as viaticum; at such times the priest presents the cousecrated Host, saying: “Brother (or, sister), receive as a holy viaticum the body of Our Lord Jesus Christ; may it protect thee from the evil spirit, and lead thee to eternal life. Amen.”
When the communion is not given as viaticum, the priest repeats the same formula as is used in the church. The table on which the consecrated Host is placed must be covered with a clean white cloth, a cross, two lighted wax candles, and a vessel with holy water must also be provided. In this country the Blessed Sacrament is, of necessity, carried privately, with all out-door ceremonies omitted.
Why is the holy communion sometimes called Viaticum?
Because it is given to the sick person as food and sustenance for the last dangerous road to eternity.
For what other purpose besides being given in communion is the Holy Eucharist kept in the tabernacle?
In order that on appointed days and particular occasions it may be exposed to the devotion of the faithful, and bestow blessings upon them. At least six lighted candles must be used at the exposition of the Blessed Sacrament. For this ceremony the ciborium may be used; or when it is desired to give it more solemnity, an elegant receptacle called the monstrance, in which the consecrated Host may be seen. Benediction is given both with the ciborium and monstrance; when the latter is used it is called solemn benediction.
Why does the Church give this benediction of the Blessed Sacrament?
Because in the Blessed Sacrament Jesus Christ is actually present and still blesses His followers, as when on earth He blessed the people and His disciples.
How is the benediction of the Blessed Sacrament given?
A hymn in honor of the Blessed Sacrament is sung, aud the priest makes the sign of the cross over the people with the sacred Host, because every blessing comes from Christ’s death upon the cross.
During the Benediction proper, as a mark of reverence the priest covers his shoulders and hauds with a white silken cloth called the veil. During the exposition and benediction incense is offered up to the Blessed Sacrament as a sign of adoration.
Why do we have processions of the Blessed Sacrament?
That we may in a solemn manner present our adoration to the Saviour in the sacred Host, and openly profess our belief in His real presence.
On Corpus Christi we have the most solemn and imposing ceremonial for the exposition, benediction, and procession of the Blessed Sacrament.
What is the meaning of the perpetual light that is kept burning before the altar on which the Blessed Sacrament is placed?
The perpetual light which must be kept burning continuously signifies:
- The continued presence of Jesus Christ in the Blessed Sacrament.
- The reverence and worship which are constautly due to Him.
- That Jesus Christ is the light of the world.