Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of April 19, 1999
What do we do at the Consecration?
By SR. LOUISE ZDUNICH, NDC
Our devotion to the Holy Eucharist must be reflected in our conduct particularly during the celebration of the Mass. A few simple guidelines will help the faithful in making certain practices conform to the doctrinal teachings of the Church.
- During the Consecration, there are those who look at the host being raised by the priest and then bow their heads when the priest genuflects. There are those who bow their heads during the elevation of the host and raise their heads during the priest's genuflection. What is the appropriate thing to do?
- Also those receiving Communion by hand receive the host differently. Some raise both hands at heart level with the left on top of the right hand and use the right hand to place the host into the mouth.
Others raise their hands side by side, sometimes just slightly above the waist and close to the body. Some just extend the right or left hand and reach for the host as if picking a petal from a rose. Still some make the sign of the cross and/or genuflect before receiving the host.
What is the proper way to receive the body of Christ?
First, I see no need for absolute uniformity in either the response to the host raised at the Consecration nor to the reception of Communion. Surely, there can be room for one's faith and the movement of the Spirit in how one responds in these instances. However, I agree that a respectful response is needed.
At the Consecration, the priest raises the host for us to see. So, I presume it is appropriate to look at the host.
I suppose if we truly had faith that this was Christ, we would dance and shout with joy our praise and worship. Nothing could restrain us from expressing our deep-felt gratitude for the awesome love of a God who is present to us in such a unique way - becoming food and drink for us.
But as it is, we respond more sedately by bowing and expressing quietly our praise and adoration.
As for the reception of Communion, in the early Church the bread was placed in the hands cupped one in the other. It was placed on the tongue from about the year 1000 because it was considered too holy to be touched by the hands of the faithful.
With the renewal of Vatican II, we have gone back to the practice of the early Church. Any similar and respectful way of reception which does not cause the host to be dropped would be acceptable.
Making the sign of the cross is a completely private matter which cannot be decided upon by others.
Genuflecting is problematic because our churches generally haven't too much space around and it may interfere with the movement of communicants, perhaps even causing someone to stumble.