For Both Parishes: In the next week or so, you will notice a little change in our opening greeting and welcome.  The following wording will be in place:

Welcome to St. Jude Parish/Sacred Heart of Jesus Parish! As we prepare for our Sacred Liturgy, we ask that all cell phones be silenced. 

We acknowledge the presence of visitors and non-Catholics at our liturgy. During the reception of Holy Communion, when we come forward, be reminded that this is ONLY for baptized and practicing Catholics who are prepared for it. If you are either not Catholic or otherwise not prepared for Communion, you may still come forward with your arms crossed over your chest for a blessing.  

Please take a moment to greet those around you.

You may ask what our reasoning is for the change, and so a bit of explanation as well as catechesis regarding the reception of Holy Communion at Mass.  We also often have guests at both parishes and among them are those who are not Catholic, or those in an irregular marriage or maybe someone who is not prepared (in their heart) to receive Communion worthily.  In any of these examples, that individual may (though optional) choose to come forward to receive a blessing, making a “spiritual Communion” with the assembly who are receiving.  They indicate this desire by crossing their arms over their chest, as an indication to the minister of Communion that they are not taking Communion, but do want words of blessing instead.  [As much as I can recall, this is something that began with some of the ecumenical considerations that came with post-Vatican II changes in the liturgy.  It was thought that, since the non-Catholic is not invited to take Communion (since not in full Communion with the Catholic Church) that at least they would be able to receive a blessing. It is a curious consideration since there is another time when they/all present receive a blessing and that is at the time of the final blessing.  To some, it may seem redundant, but still an option that has become in many places custom.]  It was Fr. Julius’ recommendation that we make this announcement as a courtesy to guests or those who may need the reminder (who are, for whatever reason, not prepared to receive Communion).  It is something that they do at the Basilica before all Masses, since they have so many guests on any given weekend.  We also do the same at many major Diocesan celebrations of Holy Mass, such as Confirmations or the Chrism Mass, or Ordinations.  

Another reminder (primarily for Catholics) is that as you come forward in procession to Communion, it is our Diocesan recommendation that, given the nature of a procession and in order that the one behind you may not accidentally trip over your feet, that you make a simple bow just BEFORE approaching the Minister of Communion rather than kneel.  At the same time, with all due respect for the person who prefers to kneel to receive, one may choose to do so and they are not to be denied the privilege.
If one is receiving on the tongue, as Ministers, we would ask that you extend your tongue, holding very still, so that the Minister may place the Host on your tongue without touching your tongue with their fingers.  The reason I make that comment is that some people tend to move forward at the moment the Minister is placing the Host on the tongue and if the Minister’s fingers get moistened by the person’s tongue, the next Host in their fingers may want to stick to their fingers.  It can become awkward, and little more needs to be explained.  Or worse, I’ve had it happen that some make that little lunge forward and I’ve ended up with their lipstick on my fingers.  Again, awkward, to say the least.  Other Ministers have commented similarly.

If you are choosing to receive in your hand, which is every bit as respectful and even more ancient in practice, your hands should be free of gloves, free of other things (Rosaries, prayer books, dangling coin purses, etc.) and you should put one hand into the other, to create a cradle for the Host, putting the hand you are going to use to place the Host in your mouth BELOW the other, so you can bring it up to take the Host from your other hand. 

Remember, unless kneeling to receive, you make a reasonable bow just before approaching the minister and after the person ahead of you has moved away.  When the Minister says to you, “The Body of Christ” or “The Blood of Christ”, you MUST respond with a simple “Amen!”  It is not a “Thank you, Jesus” or some other creation of your own, but simply the response of the universal Church.  “Amen” is so much as to say, “I believe!”  I remember when Bishop Crowley was still alive, if you forgot to say “Amen”, he would not give you the Host until you did, reminding the individual while in line of their proper response.  A bit more than some may find acceptable, but so particular was he about the proper response to one being given the very Body or Blood of Christ!  

If you are a parent, you may want to go over these directives with your son or daughter, just to help them know how to properly receive Communion.  They are taught at the time of their First Communion, but it is something that young children may forget, or out of nervousness at times, appreciate a parent’s guidance and reminder.  

In the ideal, according to the guidelines for the Eucharistic liturgy, the song being used at Communion time (when the procession is underway) should be one with a simple refrain that the person in procession can easily join in singing as they come forward to receive.  

I trust this will be helpful for other guest priests when here, but also for any of our own members or guests.  I don’t mean to sound petty in any way or disrespectful of some of the personal pieties that some have developed, but apparently there have been enough times where Ministers of Communion have noticed irregularities to where they have asked me to offer pastoral guidance and so I have done so.  

This is a good time to also include a reminder of the Church’s, still firm, requirement to FAST before receiving Communion.  We are asked to fast for one hour prior to receiving and that means nothing other than water; very simply.  Medication would be the only exception, but breath mints and chewing gum are not medication.  No one should be chewing gum in church; not the place or the time.

- Fr. John