Last Sunday I addressed the importance of spiritual preparation for receiving the Eucharist – namely, that one must be in a state of grace in order to come forward for Communion.  I attempted to explain why our bishops insist:  “A person who is conscious of grave sin is not to receive the Body and Blood of the Lord without prior sacramental confession.”  In light of that statement, I tried to help you understand the difference between mortal (grave) and venial sin.  This Sunday I will give some overall explanations regarding our participation in the Mass.


It is easy to become casual, even slovenly, in our approach to Sunday Mass.  Preparation begins at home when we pick out our clothes.  If a young man were going for a job interview, he would select a clean shirt, a pair of pressed pants and make sure his shoes did not have scuff marks.  He might even ask his mother, “Mom, how do I look?”  Shouldn’t we do the same, or even more, to meet the One who will determine where we spend eternity?


To continue the job interview comparison, one other thing he would do is to arrive on time, perhaps even a few minutes early.  Arriving early allows a person to collect their thoughts before Mass begins.  During the prayers, the Scripture readings, and the homily, we should each do our best to concentrate.  I admit that sometimes circumstances seem to conspire against us: an inadequate sound system, children fussing, and – as sometimes even happens at Holy Family – a less than totally engaging homily.  If you notice your mind drifting, try to gently bring yourself back to the Lord and the Word that he has just for you.


During the Eucharistic Prayer, we follow our bishops’ instruction to kneel.  In the Bible and the tradition of our Church, that posture signifies gratitude and receptivity.  St. Paul says, “I kneel before the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ…” (Eph 3:14)  So do we during that central act of worship: the renewal of Christ’s Sacrifice.  In the New Testament, you will find at least thirty-four examples of kneeling in prayer, including, of course, Our Lord himself.  By no means is kneeling limited to prayer of repentance, but includes petition, gratitude, intense worship and even one example of kneeling during an emotional departure ceremony.


Immediately before receiving Communion we stand and say together the Lord’s Prayer.  As part of our preparation for Communion, we express our desire for reconciliation with each other by the Sign of Peace.  It is a simple gesture, not a time for socializing.  When the choir begins the Lamb of God, we should conclude our sign of peace.  Our focus is then more directly on Jesus, the Lamb of God.  We ask him to heal our unworthy souls so that we can receive him. As you come forward for Communion, I encourage you to pay attention to your hands so that you do not put them into your pockets.  As the person ahead of you takes Communion, bow your head in reverence.  If you receive on the tongue, respond, “Amen,” when the priest holds out the Host saying, “The Body of Christ.”  If you receive in the hands, place your left hand on top of the right in the form of a cross.  After you have responded, “Amen,” step to one side to place the Sacred Species in your mouth.  Those are the only two approved ways of receiving Communion, not, for example, to grab the host with two fingers. If you receive from the cup, the Precious Blood of Christ, you should also bow and, likewise respond, “Amen,” when the minister says, “The Blood of Christ.”


At this point we are going to be doing something a little different.  About three years ago, when the Archbishop instituted a series of changes, we initiated the practice of standing after Communion.  People have noticed that the Cathedral and other parishes have the practice of being seated or kneeling after coming back to one's place.  The Archbishop granted an exception to parishes like the Cathedral, which have large congregations.  We certainly qualify, so beginning next Sunday, I would like to ask you to be seated or to kneel when you return from Communion.  Many people have told me that they prefer to kneel or be seated as they thank Jesus for the wonder of him coming to us in that intimate way.  If the choir is singing a Communion hymn, you are welcome to remain standing to join in it.  I believe that those who are able will probably prefer to remain kneeling until the tabernacle is closed, but I want to encourage you to do what most helps your own prayer.


On the First Sunday of Lent, we will have one other small change, although it will not require the congregation to do anything different.  The liturgical instructions indicate that the collection baskets should not be placed directly in front of the altar, but at a dignified place toward the side.  Here is the full text from the Instruction Redemptionis Sacramentum (“On certain matters to be observed or to be avoided regarding the Most Holy Eucharist”):


The offerings that Christ’s faithful are accustomed to present for the Liturgy of the Eucharist in Holy Mass are not necessarily limited to bread and wine for the eucharistic celebration, but may also include gifts given by the faithful in the form of money or other things for the sake of charity toward the poor. Moreover, external gifts must always be a visible expression of that true gift that God expects from us: a contrite heart, the love of God and neighbour by which we are conformed to the sacrifice of Christ, who offered himself for us. For in the Eucharist, there shines forth most brilliantly that mystery of charity that Jesus brought forth at the Last Supper by washing the feet of the disciples. In order to preserve the dignity of the Sacred Liturgy, in any event, the external offerings should be brought forward in an appropriate manner. Money, therefore, just as other contributions for the poor, should be placed in an appropriate place which should be away from the eucharistic table. Except for money and occasionally a minimal symbolic portion of other gifts, it is preferable that such offerings be made outside the celebration of Mass.


Finally, some brief notices and reminders:  This Wednesday, March 1, is Ash Wednesday.  A full schedule of service is in the bulletin.  On March 11-12, we will have a special presentation concerning the progress of our Capital Campaign and will be inviting new parishioners to come to a presentation regarding overall participation in our parish.  The reception for new parishioners will be March 19, after the 11 a.m. Mass.  Please mark March 18 to join us for the Cathedral Walk.  We leave at 6:30 a.m. and will have celebration of Mass at 11 in the Lady Chapel of the Cathedral.  On March 25 all those who participate in ministries related to the liturgy (music, servers, lectors, etc.) are invited to a Liturgy Orientation Day from 10:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.  Anyone interested in helping with sacramental celebrations is cordially invited.




El domingo pasado hablé de la importancia de preparación espiritual para recibir la Eucaristía – es decir, que un debe de estar en el estado de gracia para acercarse para la Comunión. Traté de explicar porque nuestros obispos insten que “Quien haya cometido pecado grave desde la última confesión no debe recibir el Cuerpo y Sangre del Señor sin antes haberse confesado con un sacerdote…” En vista de este requisito trate de ayudarles a entender la diferencia entre pecado mortal (grave) y venial.


Este domingo les daré unas instrucciones sobre como recibir la Comunión y que hacer después de recibir Nuestro Señor. Antes de recibir la Comunión, nos ponemos de pie juntos para decir el Padre Nuestro. E invocamos a Jesús, el Cordero de Dios, para sanar nuestras almas indignas para recibirlo. Al comenzar el Cordero debemos terminar el Signo de Paz.  Al acercarse para la Comunión, les pido poner atención a sus manos para que no las pongas en las bolsillas. Mientras la persona delante de ti comulga, inclina tu cabeza en reverencia. Si recibes en la lengua, responde “Amen,” cuando el sacerdote ofrece la Hostia diciendo “El Cuerpo de Cristo.” Si recibes en la mano, pon tu mano izquierda encima de la derecha en forma de cruz Después de responder, “Amen,” se mueve al lado para poner la Especie Sagrada en la boca. Estos son las únicas formas aprobadas de Comulgar, no, por ejemplo, agarrando la Hostia con los dedos. Si uno recibe del cáliz, la Sangre Preciosísima de Cristo, hay que inclinar la cabeza y responder “Amen,” cuando el ministro dice, “La Sangre de Cristo.”


Después de comulgar, vamos a hacer algo diferente. En vez de quedarnos parados, les voy a invitar a sentarse o hincarse, cuando hayas regresado a la banca. El arzobispo nos dio esta opción para parroquias que tienen una congregación grande. Tengo entendido que unas cuarenta parroquias de la Arquidiócesis siguen esta opción. Quisiera implementar este cambio el próximo domingo, primer domingo de la Cuaresma. A pesar de quedarnos parados durante los últimos tres años, muchas personas me han dicho que prefieren hincarse o sentarse mientras agradecen a Jesús por la maravilla de venir a nosotros en una forma tan intima.


Hay otro cambio que no requiere algo diferente de la congregación.  En vez de poner las ofrendas de dinero ante el altar, las vamos a poner al lado del altar.  En la parte inglesa he citado Redemptionis Sacramentum que da esta instrucción.  Es un cambio pequeño pero importante.