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A pilgrimage together towards life in Christ

The Communion Procession: just as we are baptized one by one, to be made one Body, so we come to Christ in the Eucharist one by one, also to be united “through Him, with Him, and in Him.” The procession is to be an orderly movement with respect for one another, waiting one’s proper turn, not crowding or rushing or diverting the extraordinary ministers of the Eucharist as they bring Communion to other areas of the Church.

The procession is more than just a group of individuals “lining up” for something. It is symbolic of the whole purpose of our Christian life, a pilgrimage together towards life in Christ, already symbolized and made real in part through Eucharistic Communion until that unity is perfected in the Communion of Saints.

After receiving Communion, it is appropriate to return to one’s place in a continuous line back into the pew so there is a smooth flow of movement for others – even if you have joined another line, please follow the path of those ahead of you to return to your side around the back pews. Customarily, one kneels in personal prayer and thanksgiving after Communion as able (eyes closed helps concentration), for never are we as close to Christ as at that moment. The Reverence before Communion: one of the most important signs of reverence is the “Amen” when receiving Communion. Spoken in response to the words,

“The Body [Blood] of Christ,” this “Amen” is a personal profession of faith and love in the Real Presence. It should be spoken clearly, audibly, humbly, and with sincere conviction. The “Amen” is also an expression of gratitude that the Eucharist is given to us in love as the greatest of God’s gifts. In addition, the norm in the dioceses of the United States is for each communicant to make a reverent bow of the head (distinct from a profound bow at the waist) at the words, “The Body [Blood] of Christ” before receiving the Eucharist.

Some individuals choose to genuflect or kneel as their sign of reverence. While this may be for some a more profound exterior display of reverence, these persons should be conscious of those behind them in the procession and make it a genuine gesture of personal humility before the Lord in the midst of his people. The genuflection or kneeling for Communion is a matter of personal choice; it is certainly permitted but not mandated in the United States.

The sign of reverence is intended to manifest symbolically the love for Christ that is in one’s heart, as well as our oneness in the Body of Christ, the Church. This is the advantage of all sharing a common gesture of reverence, as the GIRM teaches: “They [the faithful] are to shun any form of individualism or division, keeping before their eyes that they have only one Father in heaven and accordingly are all brothers and sisters. Indeed, they form one body …. This unity is beautifully apparent from the gestures and postures observed in common by the faithful” (GIRM, 95-96; see also 42-43). Common liturgical prayer is not the same as personal devotion, and both take their own kind of discipline for the sake of the whole Body of Christ.

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