Thursday, May 10, 2012

The Worthy Reception of Holy Communion

This week's bulletin article is a continuation of what I wrote last week about the Most Blessed Sacrament of the Eucharist.  This time scratching the surface of issues relating to the worthy reception of this most august sacrament.  Enjoy!  (Comments are always welcome! :))

Dearest Brothers & Sisters in Christ,
     Last week I discussed the reality of Holy Mother Church’s teaching on the Most Blessed Sacrament of the Eucharist.  We were able to recognize the biblical foundations of this teaching of Jesus Christ as well as the early Church’s indisputable understanding as shown by Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians.  This week, as promised, I want to discuss our worthy reception of this most august sacrament.
     First of all, we need to be fully aware that NO ONE is truly worthy to receive such a gift as the Lord’s own Body & Blood.  However, He gives his Flesh & Blood as a true GIFT so that we, that have shared with Him our humanity may share in his divinity. (priest’s secret prayer over the water & wine at the offertory)  He gives us this wonderful gift so that we may become worthy to enter into so close a communion with Him, and through Him – his Father, that we may share in his life both in this world as well as in the world to come.  Thus, there is a minimum preparation and sense of worthiness that must be present in order for us to receive this most precious gift profitably.  When we get to the core of this issue of worthiness it really comes down to this: “Do I really want to enter into a relationship with God and be a part of his family which in this life subsists in the Church?
     The first part of that question centers on our relationship with God.  So, how do we have a true relationship with someone?  First, it seems that we have to allow that person to reveal himself and not love them for what we can get from them. Nor can we try to re-define that person to suit our own level of comfort or sense of reality.  This is especially true when entering into a relationship with God Who, by his very nature, defines reality and sets the stage for that relationship.  And so further questions arise.  Do I love God or do I love what I expect Him to do for me?  Am I willing to put this relationship first in my life – before family & friends, work and recreation (i.e. vacations, athletic pursuits, etc.)  Will I spend time in cultivating this relationship through daily prayer, Mass on Sundays and Holy Days of Obligation?  Am I willing to recognize that when I have hurt God or his creation in some way I need to say that I am sorry and be reconciled not only to Him but to the whole of that creation which I have thrown into disorder by my sins?  If the answer to these questions is “YES!”, then so far – so good!
     The second part of that question centers on our relationship with our Holy Mother – the Church, through whom God enters into that relationship of love with us.  Our relationship with God doesn’t happen in a vacuum.  It happens within the context of a community of faith – a FAMILY!  Thus, it becomes critical that we come together AS A FAMILY in order to worship and to grow in our identity as the BODY OF CHRIST.  This also means that just as we put our relationship with God FIRST in our lives, our love for God turns us, not towards ourselves, but towards our brothers and sisters in faith and in the human family.  That is why we are told in scripture that if we say that we love God but then turn around and sin against our neighbor – we are liars. (cf. 1 John 4:20)  True love for God is shown in the love we have for our neighbor.  As Jesus said, this is how all will know that you are my disciples (followers), if you have love for one another. (John 14:35)  Thus, the sign of peace before our reception of Holy Communion becomes a beautiful demonstration of the communion which our reception of the Most Holy Eucharist brings about.
     This is discussion, of course, only begins to scratch the surface.  It does, however, get us started and covers the basics with regards to the worthy reception of Communion.  May God continue to provide for us this most awesome gift of love, and through it, perfect us in our love of God and our neighbor.
Pray Well!