Participating in Mass
The Catholic Church believes that the Risen Christ becomes truly present, but in sacramental form under the appearances of bread and wine. Many other Christian churches believe the Eucharist is only a symbol of Christ's presence or the remembering of Jesus.
While Catholics are encouraged to receive communion every time they participate in the celebration of Mass, they are to receive communion at least once a year, during the Easter time that is the first Sunday of Lent until Trinity Sunday.
Since Catholics believe that one receives the Risen Christ, truly present in his transformed body, but many of our Christian brothers and sisters in other traditions view communion as a "remembrance" of the Last Supper, the National Conference of Catholic Bishops provides the following guidelines on the reception of communion:
As Catholics, we fully participate in the celebration of the Eucharist when we receive holy communion. We are encouraged to receive communion devoutly and frequently. In order to be properly disposed to receive communion, participants should not be conscious of grave sin and normally should have fasted for one hour. A person who is conscious of grave sin is not to receive the Body and Blood of the Lord without prior sacramental confession except for a grave reason where there is no opportunity for confession. In this case, the person is to be mindful of the obligation to make an act of perfect contrition, including the intention of confessing as soon as possible. A frequent reception of the Sacrament of Penance is encouraged
We welcome our fellow Christians to this celebration of the Eucharist as our brothers and sisters. We pray that our common baptism and the action of the Holy Spirit in this Eucharist will draw us closer to one another and begin to dispel the sad divisions that separate us. We pray that these will lessen and finally disappear, in keeping with Christ's prayer for us "that they may all be one."
Because Catholics believe that the celebration of the Eucharist is a sign of the reality of the oneness of faith, life and worship, members of those churches with whom we are not yet fully united are ordinarily not admitted to holy communion. Eucharistic sharing in exceptional circumstances by other Christians requires permission according to the directives of the diocesan bishop and the provisions of canon law. Members of the Orthodox Churches, the Assyrian Church of the East and the Polish National Catholic Church are urged to respect the discipline of their own Churches. According to Roman Catholic discipline, the Code of Canon Law does not object to the reception of communion by Christians of these Churches.
All who are not receiving holy communion are encouraged to express in their hearts a prayerful desire for unity with the Lord Jesus and with one another. It is a spiritual communion.
For more information, contact:
Pastoral Assistant for Liturgy, First Reconciliation and Communion
253-564-5185 ext. 3018