Reception of Holy Communion

By Fr. Thomas Schroer

There is a story told about an American Hunter in Africa who bagged a large animal on his Safari. He, along with his guide, was dragging the animal back to camp when he noticed a young boy on the side of the road watching intently. The guide informed the American that the young boy came from a very poor tribe. The American decided to leave the animal by the roadside as a gift to the young boy and his tribe. The hunter continued on his way but every time he looked back the young boy remained standing by the roadside, not retrieving the animal. The African guide informed the American that the young boy, although very poor and hungry would never take the animal, he would only receive the animal if given to him, as a gift.

That is precisely the attitude we need when preparing to receive Holy Communion. We receive Holy Communion as a gift, in a receptive mode. Various ways of receiving are acceptable, including standing with outstretch hands in a cupped manner to receive in your hands or opening one’s mouth to receive on one’s tongue. In either mode, we stand ‘at attention,’ like we do when we stand to hear the gospel proclaimed. When the Body of Christ is presented to us, we respond with confidence – Amen, which means “I believe.” Here we mean many things – I believe in the real presence of Jesus Christ, I believe in the good news, I believe this is important for my life. Standing with receptivity and attention and responding with confidence indicates our openness to the gift of the sacrament and our willingness to go forth and live as the Body of Christ. 

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