top of page

Catholic Etiquette (continued)

The Reception of Communion: each communicant is free to choose to receive either on the tongue or in the hand, although either is to be done with sincere reverence and appropriate care for the Real Presence. In receiving in the hand, one is to hold one palm upward in the other; one should never take the host in the fingers directly from the minister unless a disability requires this; rather, we truly receive the sacred Host as a Gift, with open hands. The Host is to be put reverently into one's mouth whole, not broken in the hand. After receiving the Host, one steps aside and immediately consumes the Host before returning to the pew. One is also free to receive under both forms (“Body” and “Blood,” never “bread” and “wine”), if they are offered. (Some persons with celiac disease must receive only the Blood or a low-gluten Host.)

In receiving the Precious Blood, one also makes a bow to the Cup as a sign of reverence, answers “Amen,” takes a small sip from the Cup, and carefully hands the Cup back to the minister of Communion. The rim of the Cup is wiped with the purificator between each communicant.

Intinction (the communicant dipping the Host into the Precious Blood in the chalice) is not permitted due to the risk of spilling the Blood that may drip from the Host in that case. Recall that one receives the whole Christ under either species or any portion thereof. In times of contagious illnesses, the common Chalice may be withdrawn for reasons of hygiene, but communicants still receive the whole Christ if only the Host is offered. The celebrant must always receive under both forms, however.

The Eucharistic Fast: as a sign of desire for the Bread of Life, individuals normally are to observe a one-hour fast before receiving Communion (note, not one hour before Mass time). This is more fruitful for those who make a conscious choice to create within themselves a genuine longing for Christ to come to fill their emptiness. The one hour fast is the minimum; one may certainly choose a longer fast.

The length of the Eucharistic fast has varied over history. I remember my parents speaking of fasting from midnight before the Sunday Mass. For a time in the 1950s, the fast was set by Pope Pius XII at three hours and permitted the taking of medicine and water. In 1964, Pope Paul VI changed it to the current discipline of one hour.

This fast requires that one take no food or drink, other than water if necessary, for one hour prior to receiving Jesus in Communion. Necessary medications are excluded from the fast, as they are not taken as regular food or drink. Chewing gum and smoking are fitting items for this fast also. At any rate, it is never appropriate to chew gum, smoke, or eat in the church.

Those who are sick and receive Communion at home, in the hospital, or in another setting away from church are not bound strictly by this one-hour fast. They are asked to fast for 15 minutes if possible; however, even this is mitigated in cases of necessity. Those visiting or ministering to the sick may also receive in this visit, even if they have not fasted, although they are also free to forego Communion at this time.

8 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page