Reverent Reception of Holy Communion Consoles Our Lord

By Father John Gallas

One of the most fascinating events that took place at Fatima was the visit of the Angel of Peace to the children when he brought them Holy Communion. There were two key elements to this encounter. First, he taught them to adore Jesus in the Eucharist. He held in his hands the host over the chalice, and then he left them suspended in the air and showed the children how to bow down and adore Jesus. St. Augustine said famously, “No one may eat that flesh [the Eucharistic body of the Lord], if he has not first adored.” Secondly, the Angel gave Holy Communion to the children. He said to them, “Take and drink the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ, horribly outraged by ungrateful men. Repair their crimes and console your God.” He taught them to adore, and then to receive.

Jacinta and Francisco have this to teach us: After just one time receiving Jesus in Holy Communion, they did not take it for granted. They embraced fully the presence of Jesus in the Eucharist, and prepared the rest of their lives for that moment when they would be with the Hidden Jesus in Heaven, praying constantly, “My God, I believe, I adore, I hope and I love You; I beg pardon for those who do not believe, do not adore, do not hope and do not love You.”

In our time the Lord in the Blessed Sacrament receives much love and much neglect on earth. Those who love must make up for those who neglect Him, and correct these faults. One way to receive Him reverently is by receiving Holy Communion on the tongue. The beauty of this practice can be seen in a particular way in the Extraordinary Form mass, where Communion is always received kneeling and on the tongue. About this Mass, Pope Benedict observed that “young persons too have discovered this liturgical form, felt its attraction and found in it a form of encounter with the Mystery of the Most Holy Eucharist, particularly suited to them.” It was his practice always to distribute Holy Communion on the tongue. (Pope Francis has not negated this but rather refrains from distributing Communion at all, possibly to avoid the scandal of accidentally giving Holy Communion to a public sinner and creating an unfortunate photo-op.) From the time of the early Church Fathers the practice of Communion on the tongue appeared, which was motivated on the one hand by the desire to avoid as much as possible losing any fragments of the Eucharist, and on the other hand by the desire to favor growth of the devotion of the faithful toward the real presence of Christ in the sacrament. For these reasons the Church still today favors Communion on the tongue, insists upon the laity’s absolute right to it, and whenever there is “risk of profanation” she even forbids Communion on the hand (cf. Red Sac 92).

Be attentive to what is happening in your soul. How many times have we looked around the church while in the Communion line? To receive Holy Communion we enter this twofold mystery: We know and believe the Eucharist is Jesus Christ, yet we do not comprehend this mystery. We know and believe Jesus gives particular graces in this Communion but we do not know what they are. As Pope Francis said recently, the gift is always greater than the request, and so I ask God that I may cooperate fully in making this Communion fruitful.

When you leave mass, do not lose the graces you have received. In Baptism and Confirmation your body was anointed with a fragrant oil, symbolizing the sacramental character which deputes you to receive the Eucharist and to spread the faith through holiness of

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