"Let all faithful Catholics come receive our Lord"
Mass and Adoration tonight: All are invited to join us for Holy Mass (7 pm) and Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament (from 7:25 to 8:25) in the Church tonight to honor the First Friday of the month. We'll have quiet prayer, music, and I'll give a reflection. Come for some of it or come for all of it. Please join us!!
Just before Holy Communion at every Mass that I celebrate, I say, "Let all faithful Catholics come receive our Lord". One SAA blogger wrote the following comments in response to hearing that invitation:
"When I heard the invitation to communion you offered, I was taken aback. Was I not a 'good and faithful' Catholic because I hadn't been to mass last Sunday? Did your invitation not include me, should I stay in my seat? If I did stay in my seat, would people wonder what I had done that made me not a 'good and faithful' Catholic? I had never heard such an invitation in my many years of attending Catholic masses at various parishes. Perhaps my reaction is the exact one you are looking for- that parishoners should approach communion in a contemplative state- questioning whether their actions were those of a good and faithful Catholic".
The first time I celebrated Mass at the different times here at St Andrew's, I made the following announcement before Holy Communion: "Just as a reminder about who may receive Holy Communion...reception of the Holy Eucharist is reserved for Catholics who are in a state of Grace. If you are able to receive, please come forward and receive either in the hands (with one hand on top of the other, making a throne for our King) or on the tongue. If you are not Catholic or not in a state of Grace, please still come forward and cross your arms over your chest, and you will receive a blessing".
Having given this explanation once at each of the Masses, I don't see the need to reiterate it. However, it is necessary for me to briefly remind those in the congregation at each Mass about the guidelines for reception of the Sacred Body and Blood of Christ. It is very serious business! Keep in mind the words of St. Paul: "whoever eats the bread and drinks the cup of the Lord unworthily will have to answer for the body and blood of the Lord" (1 Cor 11:27) and that he/she "eats and drinks judgment on himself" (v.29).
None of us is truly worthy to receive Jesus in the Eucharist; but, Christ himself commands us to “take this all of you and eat it”. It is the Grace of Christ that makes us worthy. Grace fills us with God and His life, and thus makes us clean and pure. Our souls need to be clean in order to receive our Lord in the Eucharist. They need to be free of the filth that mortal sin brings. If we lose the state of grace through mortal sin, we cannot receive the Lord in Holy Communion; receiving Holy Communion in a state of mortal sin is itself a mortal sin.
The soul that is in a state of Grace has life; the soul that is in a state of mortal sin (“deadly sin” – 1 Jn 5:16) does not. As one commentator has put it, the soul in mortal sin is like a “chamber of death”; if Christ enters this soul, he enters death. It is like bringing about his death… this is what St. Paul means about having to “answer for the body and blood of the Lord”.
So, Anon, thank you for your great question and giving me the opportunity to expound on my invitation at each Mass. One of the reasons I give it is because there are probably non-Catholics at every Mass (I met a Lutheran woman who had been receiving the Eucharist for 2 years; she didn’t know she wasn’t supposed to be). Another reason is what you said which echoes St. Paul that “a person should examine himself” (v.28) before receiving the Body and Blood of Christ.
One of the biggest things that each of us will be judged on is how we respected the Eucharist while here on Earth. It is also one of the greatest things Christ will judge me on as a priest and “guardian of the Eucharist”: did I treat the celebration and distribution of His Sacred Body and Blood with great reverence and care?