Tuesday, June 11, 2024

A Shiny Penny?


Must I be a shiny penny in order to receive Holy Communion?

This question has popped into my mind since I read someone's list online of the things that I must do to prepare myself to receive Jesus. It wasn't a bad list, but I have some thoughts on this topic. (I would share the list with you, but I can no longer find it online!)

The "Catechism of the Catholic Church" simplifies what we need to do to be prepared:

"Anyone who desires to receive Christ in Eucharistic communion must be in the state of grace. Anyone aware of having sinned mortally must not receive communion without having received absolution in the sacrament of penance."(1415)

Seems pretty straightforward. For the life of me, I don't know why people have to add so much more to it.

Another way the "Catechism" puts it, is this way, in Paragraph 1355:

Because this bread and wine have been made Eucharist ("eucharisted," according to an ancient expression), "we call this food Eucharist, and no one may take part in it unless he believes that what we teach is true, has received baptism for the forgiveness of sins and new birth, and lives in keeping with what Christ taught." (St. Justin Martyr, 2nd century, St. Justin, Apol. 1,66,1-2:PG 6,428.)

That's even clearer and the quote comes from a time very close to the time of Christ, by St. Justin Martyr.

From reading scripture, it would seem that special accoutrements (veils, medals, dangling rosaries, dress codes, etc.) aren't required to approach Jesus.

In fact, on the streets, people would call out to Jesus and touch him.  Sometimes their encounter with him was totally unexpected.  They were not necessarily prepared, inwardly nor outwardly.  I'm not saying this is ideal, but Jesus did allow it and welcomed them even so.

Whenever we look away from Jesus and start obsessing about ourselves (or others), we display self-centeredness and judgmentalism.

Mass is for worshiping and adoring Jesus.  That is where the focus should be.  Naturally, we want to bring our best foot forward, but we may be overthinking things when we start fussing about things like altar cloth for rails, kneeling vs standing, communion in the hand vs on the tongue, super-piety and so forth. I mean, some people came to Jesus being carried on a mat!

Jesus called the children, and the tired, the weary, and the burdened.  He didn't say you had to be proper, clean, or even well-composed. He didn't tell people they had to recollect themselves before they approached him, although doing so is good for us.

In the Gospel of Luke (Chapter 24:39), the risen Jesus puts forward this invitation for us to touch him: 

"Look at my hands and my feet, that it is I myself.
 Touch me and see . . ."

It is perfectly fine for us to "touch" the Eucharistic Jesus.  He invites us to do so.

Naturally, having a spirit of contrition, striving to turn away from sin, and having a desire to love others and act upon that desire is essential, but let's not be afraid to come in contact with Jesus, imperfect as we are.

Worshiping and adoring Jesus.  Receiving him in the Eucharist. This is what we do at Mass.  Why would we think we shouldn't lovingly hold him in our hands?

(If you are a subscriber and were unable to open the video in my email post yesterday, please go to my youtube page (link below) and look for "On Mission/Fr. John Riccardo."

Janet Cassidy

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