THE LITURGY OF THE EUCHARIST: The Communion Rite – Communion (3)


 “What has passed our lips as food, O Lord, may we possess in purity of heart,…”

Depending on local practice the purification of the sacred vessels (chalices, ciboria, patens) after distributing Communion is either done by a priest, by a deacon or acolyte, or by someone else deputed for that purpose. For priests the Roman Missal proscribes a prayer to say quietly during the purifications that summarizes well the hopes and aspirations of those who have just received Holy Communion.

We have just consumed Our Lord, who has become food and drink for us. However, that food and drink are useless if we do not receive them worthily. The Church teaches us the things that are a guarantee of unworthy reception and require the sacrament of Reconciliation, but even when that doesn’t occur, the purity of intention we have determines how fruitful reception of Holy Communion truly is. We strive for purity of intention, but no one is a perfect judge of it in their own case. Therefore in hope we cast ourselves upon the mercy of God, the just Judge, who at times will be even more fair to us than we are to ourselves.

“…that what has been given to us in time may be our healing for eternity.”

The Eucharist for us is viaticum. It is food for the journey, a pause for refreshment on the way to our true home in Heaven. We’re born wounded; Baptism heals us, but scars remain, and every sin we commit wounds us as much as it wounds others. Through prayer, sacramental life, and a life of holiness we are restored and healed, and one day that healing will remain for eternity. The Eucharist is the nourishment that helps us to achieve that goal, if we receive it with all the purity of heart we can muster.

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