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Pastor's Column

Questions About the Mass

Pastor’s Column

Solemnity of the Assumption

August 15, 2021

Photo by MART PRODUCTION from Pexels

Why would Jesus hide himself under the appearance of Bread and Wine? Wouldn’t it be better if He manifested Himself more openly?

God gives us everything in this life, but He asks us to choose Him through faith. It wasn’t easy for the first Christians to believe in Jesus as the Son of God either. The Lord asks us to have faith in Him and so He comes to us under many disguises; first and foremost, in the Eucharist.

I am having trouble believing that the bread and wine become the Body and Blood of Christ.

Faith is a gift that we must pray for every day. “Lord I believe, help my unbelief!” (Mark 9:24). Read John 6 and you will see how clearly Jesus speaks of this Sacrament as His real Body and Blood. Many of the Jews were horrified and turned away from Him when He proclaimed this doctrine--but Jesus never backed down. “This is my Body.” “This is my Blood.” Besides, there have been literally hundreds of Eucharistic Miracles in the Church throughout the centuries, many fully authenticated, of the bread and wine turning into actual flesh and blood. Many books chronicle these supernatural events.

How do I prepare to receive Holy Communion?

First, we must be certain we are not in a state of serious (i.e., mortal) sin, which would require the Sacrament of Reconciliation before we receive. We must fast from food and liquids (other than water) for at least 1 hour prior to the time of RECEPTION of communion. We should arrive at church in time (if possible) to begin recollecting ourselves and placing ourselves in God’s presence. We should listen attentively to the Scriptures and keep our eyes focused on the Lord during the Eucharistic prayer. At the consecration, we might make some suitable short prayer (silently) such as, “My Lord and my God!”.

How does one receive communion properly?

One may receive in the hand (by placing the left hand over the right hand) or on the tongue. Some people bow in reverence before receiving the host. However, one NEVER grabs the host from the priest or Eucharistic Minister. We do not serve ourselves. We always RECEIVE the Eucharist from someone else because the Eucharist is a total, free gift from God. Those who are not receiving communion but would like to receive a prayer indicate this by folding their arms across their chest.

What about after communion?

It is important that we take the time to thank Almighty God for the graces that we have received in the Holy Eucharist. We can do this by singing with all our heart or by remaining silent to pray. At this moment, right after receiving the Eucharist, Christ is present physically within your body and He longs to speak to you, and you to Him (inwardly). Take advantage of this precious opportunity to talk to Him as a friend. Confide your problems to Him, thank Him for His many blessings. The Eucharist brings many benefits to us if we take the time to hold onto them. We must reach out to Him and then Jesus will come to us. Jesus will never force His way in!

What if I don’t “feel” anything as I receive communion?

Our belief in the Eucharist is not a matter of feelings but of faith. Our faith sometimes is led to a greater maturity through God’s silence and, at times, even through His apparent absence. At other times, we will experience great joy as we realize just who it is that we are receiving and how much He loves us. His divinity becomes one with our humanity as we receive Him, and this begins to transform us into the new creation we will share with Jesus forever in heaven.

When are we supposed to genuflect and why?

We genuflect when we pass in front of the tabernacle or upon entering or leaving the Church (or pew) when the Eucharist is reserved in the tabernacle. We do this as a way of reverencing Jesus Christ. We do not pray only with our lips and minds but with our bodies as well. A genuflection is a way of praying with your body--a way of saying that Jesus is the Lord and He is really present in this place. In fact, all of our physical actions in Church are prayers if we allow them to be: standing for the reading of the Gospel, kneeling at the Eucharistic prayer and sitting during the first two readings, for example.

Why is the Mass both a meal and a sacrifice?

The Mass is both a sacred meal and a sacrifice. Families gather at the table as a way of being together, and they find unity through this action. In the Eucharistic celebration, this sacred meal takes on a sacrificial character because Christ’s body was broken for our salvation and is really present on the altar after the consecration. But this sacrifice is not a “new” sacrifice--it is a way of making present for us, in this time and place, the very same unique sacrifice of Calvary from almost 2000--years ago. Therefore, at each and every Mass we assist at, we too are present at Calvary. Christ is present with us!

Father Gary


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