Reverence for the Eucharist

| Father Michael Van Sloun | August 21, 2019 | 0 Comments

Imagine for a moment a personal audience, not with the president, the CEO of a Fortune 500 company, a Nobel laureate or a highly acclaimed author — but with Jesus himself, the Son of God. What an awesome privilege. Nothing could be better. This privilege happens every time we are in the presence of the Eucharist or receive holy Communion. As we would hold a person of high stature in great esteem, all the more should we offer our utmost respect and reverence to Jesus in the Eucharist. There are ways to express that reverence:



Predisposition expresses reverence. If we were going to see a very important person, we would be excited, find something special to wear, and be on our best behavior. Similarly, we should look forward to going to Mass or eucharistic adoration with eager anticipation, dress smartly, and be well-mannered.

Attentiveness. Imagine being with a celebrity and looking disinterested or bored, eyes wandering elsewhere, or not engaged in the conversation. We would never do this with a big-time star, and it should be unthinkable with Jesus. We respect the Eucharist when we are delighted to be in Jesus’ presence, are fully alert and focused, give him our complete and undivided attention, and engage him in personal private prayer, both listening and speaking to him from the depths of our hearts.

Posture. We honor the Eucharist with a variety of postures at Mass: genuflection upon entering and leaving; kneeling during the Eucharistic Prayer, the consecration, after the Lamb of God, and in meditation after receiving holy Communion; standing during the beginning of the Communion Rite; and hands folded anytime.

Gestures. The manner that the priest, extraordinary minister of holy Communion, or Communion recipient handles the Eucharist makes a powerful statement. The elements of the Eucharist should be raised, lowered, presented, or received slowly and gracefully and in a dignified manner, not hurriedly, haphazardly, carelessly or unthinkingly.

The reception of holy Communion. While in the Communion procession, it is wise to be fully conscious of who we are about to receive and to have a joyful spirit of expectation. Then, when before the Eucharist, a slight deferential bow offers profound respect, and to say “Amen” with sincerity and conviction is a powerful profession of faith.

Hymns. There are many traditional hymns that honor the Eucharist: “Tantum Ergo,” “O Salutaris Hostia,” “Panis Angelicus,” “Holy God We Praise Thy Name” and “O Jesus, We Adore Thee,” and contemporary hymns such as “Take and Eat,” “I Am the Bread of Life” and “One Bread, One Body.”

Prayers and rituals. The Eucharist is venerated by Benediction, the “Divine Praises,” the offering of incense, the “Anima Christi,” the “Pange Lingua,” processions such as those conducted on Holy Thursday and Corpus Christi, Forty Hours devotions, prayers before and after Mass and visits to the church.

Furnishings, vestments and vessels. Reverence for the Eucharist is expressed in the beauty and placement of the altar and tabernacle; the arrangement of candles and candelabras, sanctuary lamp and vigil lights; the use of attractive vestments, chasubles and dalmatics, copes and humeral veils, possibly decorated with eucharistic symbols such as a host and chalice, wheat and grapes, or loaves and fishes; canopies for processions; and the best possible sacred vessels, chalices and patens, ciboria, communion plates and cups, monstrance and luna, and pyxes, made with precious metals worthy of the Lord.

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Category: Faith Fundamentals