One of the highlights of my week is having the privilege as an instituted acolyte, the ordinary extraordinary minister of Holy Communion, to distribute the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of our Lord. This privilege leaves me in awe and in great gratitude. Since being assigned to the Cathedral Basilica of St. Louis, which attracts many visitors and non-Catholics, I have become more and more aware of the posture of the faithful who come forward to receive Holy Communion. While there are certainly some people whose disposition when receiving Holy Communion has been an inspiration for me, sadly what I have seen on a whole has been less than impressive and in fact outright disrespectful.
I have found that people often approach Holy Communion with the mindset that they have a right to Holly Communion. They approach the priest with a mentality that they are going to take Holy Communion. This whole mentality is backwards. Holy Communion is a gift; we do not take Holy Communion we receive Holy Communion. In either opening our mouth to receive on the tongue or extending our hands to receive Holy Communion we take the posture of a little child receiving nourishment from the heavenly Father. A little child does not take food but rather must open his mouth so his mother can feed him, likewise we too must open our mouths so we can filled by God rather than take from Him.
More appalling to me than the posture of the faithful approaching Holy Communion is the appearance of those who attend mass. Certainly there are many Catholics who dress appropriately and they should be commended but sadly many well intentioned Catholics seem to be dressed less than appropriately. While it is certainly not necessary to wear a tuxedo to Holy Mass, the cutoff jean shorts, t-shirt and flip-flops is certainly disrespectful. If the Church is God’s house and we are going to receive Him why do we get more dressed up for work or a date than to go to God’s house and receive Him?
I think our disposition towards the reception of Holy Mass shows that many of us have forgotten or at least failed to interiorize what is happening when we go to Holy Mass. I venture to think if we just paused for a moment and reminded ourselves that we are going to receive the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of our Lord our disposition towards Holy Communion would be different. So next time before you approach Holy Communion why not pause for a moment to think about what you are preparing to do and what response is proper to such a great gift?