I would like to take this opportunity to remind everyone about the proper dispositions we should have in the celebration of the Eucharist, particularly when we are in procession to receive the holy Body and Blood of Jesus Christ during Communion. I think it is wonderful that our community is so friendly and welcoming and it is beautiful to see how parishioners will sometimes go out of their way to greet their friends during Mass. When the time comes for us to greet each other with the sign of Christ’s peace, the church is always filled with the sound of cheerful greetings and sometimes even laughter from all of you. And rightly so, because we cannot really give and receive the sign of peace without joy in our hearts. But aside from the greeting of peace, our attention is and should always be directed towards the Altar as we worship our Lord both in the Word and in the Eucharist.
As I have said, our community’s friendliness is beautiful but there is a right time for everything. I have noticed that during the Communion Rite, particularly during that time when everyone is in procession to receive the Eucharist, there is a tendency for people to stop and greet each other. Shaking people’s hands, tapping the shoulders of people who are on their knees praying, and even saying “hi” and “good to see you!” are simply not proper when you are in procession to receive the Eucharist. Let us not think that that procession is an ordinary one – it is not the same as the line we form when we are at the DMV or in a supermarket waiting to pay for our groceries.
The following is a quotation from the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) regarding the reception of Holy Communion at Mass: “The Church understands the Communion Procession, in fact every procession in liturgy, as a sign of the pilgrim Church, the body of those who believe in Christ, on their way to the Heavenly Jerusalem. All our lives we who believe in Christ are moving in time toward that moment when we will be taken by death from this world and enter into the joy of the Lord in the eternal Kingdom he has prepared for us. The liturgical assembly of the baptized that comes together for the celebration of the Eucharist is a witness to, a manifestation of, the pilgrim Church. When we move in procession, particularly the procession to receive the Body and Blood of Christ in Communion, we are a sign, a symbol of that pilgrim Church “on the way.”
Finally, the fact that the Communion Procession is a profoundly religious action tells us something about the way in which we should participate in this procession. We are the Body of Christ, moving forward to receive the Christ who makes us one with himself and with one another. Our procession should move with dignity; our bearing should be that of those who know they have been redeemed by Christ and are coming to receive their God!”
The next time you are in procession to receive Jesus in the Eucharist, please be more mindful of what you are actually doing. Be more reverent and joyfully pray for Jesus to really enter your lives as you receive His Holy Body and Blood – please remember, reception of the Eucharist is “a profoundly religious action” that we all participate in as a community. Not greeting your friends when you are moving forward in procession to receive the Eucharist does not mean you are ignoring them, you are just focusing your attention to the more important presence before you – God himself.
In Christ, Fr. Maro