Bishop John, following the decision of the Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales, has established that the reception of communion under both kinds may resume in our Diocese, starting from the Evening Mass of the Lord’s Supper on Maundy Thursday this year. These notes will help us reflect on the centrality of the Eucharist in our lives, and to prepare us to receive the Precious Blood from the Chalice once again in our Diocese.

Why receive from the chalice?

The Church teaches that the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Christ is present in both the Sacred Host and Precious Blood, and so there is no obligation to receive Holy Communion from the Chalice—in receiving either or both we always receive the “whole” Jesus. Nevertheless, the Church offers us communion under both kinds to help awaken in us a deeper understanding of what we are doing. By eating and drinking we may come to a fuller sense of being among the Apostles at table to eat and drink with the Lord or standing with Mary and the beloved disciple on Calvary to witness his broken body and outpoured blood on the cross. While it is not necessary to receive under both kinds, it is helpful for our spiritual participation in this great mystery. This idea, of promoting a deeper understanding, explains the teaching of the Church in the Roman Missal, which talks of communion having ‘a fuller sign when it takes place under both kinds, for in this form the sign of the Eucharistic banquet is more clearly evident and clearer expression is given to the divine will by which the new and eternal Covenant is ratified in the Blood of the Lord’. Both at the Last Supper, and at our Mass, we hear the words of Jesus: “Take and eat … take and drink.” Our participation in the divine gift of his Body and Blood is more fully evident when we do what he said!

Receiving Holy Communion

However, we receive Holy Communion, it should always be a moment filled with reverence, respect and profound faith. We should participate fully in all the prayers of the Mass, but at the same time develop a personal longing and thirst for Jesus in our hearts. We can imagine ourselves gathered with the apostles at the Last Supper, hearing the words spoken by the Lord over bread and wine, and affirming deep inside ourselves that his words are true: “This is his body … this is the chalice of his blood.”

We process forward to the Altar, bow before the Sacred Host and say ‘Amen’ when the minister says, ‘The Body of Christ’. We receive it on the tongue, or on the palm and place it on our tongue straight away. Then we consume it immediately. If we are receiving the Precious Blood, we bow before the Chalice and say ‘Amen’ when the minister says, ‘The Blood of Christ’, We take the Chalice, consume the Precious Blood and return it to the minister. We should approach Holy Communion with a profound sense of God’s love being lavished upon us, and our “Amen” as we receive the host and/or the Precious Blood should be confident – our personal act of faith.

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