Category Archives: Eucharist

Do We Really Believe? How Will We Then Receive?

Do you remember that last time you held a newborn baby? Take a moment to consider the beautiful little one here with mother’s loving delicate care carefully supporting every element of the infant as if the baby is vulnerable, and sacred – because it is.

The child is vulnerable and sacred as is the Lord when He offers Himself, defenselessly, to us, in the Blessed Sacrament. Do we treat Him with the same care, or do we act as if the encounter is with a mere piece of bread or just a cup of wine?

An initial question is important for us to consider. Do we truly believe, without doubt, without reservation, without qualification, that the Lord is present Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and that we receive Him, consume Him, Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity in Holy Communion?

If our answer is a visceral joyful proclamation, “YES!” then we must consider another pressing question; “How could we ever approach Him without the same grave caution and care as we would a tiny defenseless child?” How could we ever choose to approach this encounter in a way that could cause injury, desecration, irreverence, or any other injustice to our precious Lord? Most, even those who’s belief is marginal, would at this point exclaim, “never!”

How can we honor Him? How can we give Him all the love and gentle reverent care He deserves because He is the Kings of Kings and He has given everything to us – and He is truly present, Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity. Our Church teaches that this is definitively true down the last fragment of the precious Body of our Lord.

What you see in this photo is a paten. Many Catholics don’t know what this is because the vast majority of parishes do not understand or care enough to use them. A paten is used to protect the Lord in the Eucharist from being dropped on the floor and egregiously desecrated by trampling and disregard.

Think about this for a moment. The Lord is presented to us, humble and defenseless, and He is dropped and trampled…

This paten is one that a priest is holding to reveal the fragments that fell from the hands of communicants during the reception of communion during a typical Mass. These fragments of the Lord came from the simple passing of the Eucharist from the hand of the priest to the hand of the recipient which was then handled again by the recipient (as happens whenever communion is received on the hand).

Do we really believe it is the Lord? Allow me to reveal another perspective via short video to further explore this vitally important matter of our solemn worship of the King of Kings:

Please note that the hosts used here were not consecrated.

If you watch an attentive holy priest during Mass, you will notice that he habitually rubs his forefinger and thumb together over the chalice after touching the Eucharist. If you didn’t know why I suspect you do now. You can learn a lot about a priest through this simple gesture of love and care.

Here are two more brief reflections on related aspects of our reverent reception and approach to the Lord in Holy Communion:

And now to us. We are allowed to receive the Lord two ways. Do we really believe? How should we approach the Lord and receive Him in all His love and vulnerability? Should we do so in a manner we might prefer or in one more fitting for so precious an encounter?

To be more direct and to the point, if we do really believe, how can we allow for what we have seen and heard by receiving on the hand? How can we allow the increase of the handling, possible fragmentation, possible dropping of the Lord and even worse, desecration by trampling Him underfoot?

I think the answer is simple. Please honor Him the next time you receive. The norm in Apostoli Viae will always be to encounter our Lord with sacred and appropriate reverence, kneeling (if possible) and on the tongue (always). He deserves nothing less.

If I have in intimacy with God in the Eucharist, why do I need mental prayer?

It is fairly common when speaking about mental prayer on social media that a fellow traditionalist will pop into the thread and proclaim that the Eucharist is the only means of intimacy with God that we need. This reflects a deep misunderstanding of both the sublime encounter with God in the Eucharist and the relationship between the graces received in the Eucharist and mental prayer.

The Eucharist is the Source and Summit of our faith. When we encounter Christ there, we encounter Him in the deepest intimacy possible in this life. However, the Eucharist isn’t magic. If we come with hearts laden with sin and attachments, we create barriers for the grace that the Lord desires to give us. As we see in St. Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians we can approach the Eucharist in a way that is profoundly destructive to our souls and even our temporal welfare.

So it is clear that how we approach the Lord in this great encounter determines the grace we receive. A good disposition brings more grace and poor disposition hinders grace. He is always willing to give us all we need to become saints at every encounter. However, the problem is within us – the barriers are within us. This is where mental prayer comes in.

Living the contemplative, a life of prayer and ascesis mitigates these barriers and enables us to approach the Lord in the Eucharist with open and pure hearts and to thus receive all the graces that He desires to give. Mental prayer is as essential to this great encounter as is being healthy before surgery. The great Physician is ready to heal and restore us to health and beyond, but if we are sinful and neglectful of our physical health, the benefits are outweighed or mitigated by our neglect. We nullify the work of the great Physician.

If we allow ourselves to be purified and transformed by the power of the Eucharist, we will naturally be drawn to extend that encounter in mental prayer. It will animate and elevate our ongoing conversation with the Lord and make us desire more time with Him in prayer. An encounter with God in the Eucharist that does not bear fruit – in this case, a deeper life of prayer – is sterile.

There is nothing more powerful to prepare for the Source and Summit than the contemplative life. There is nothing more fruitful and important for the contemplative life than the Eucharist. To pit them against one another, or to ignore one as if it were unnecessary is to squander the fruits of both.

PS: Thanks to Claire Dwyer for edits