How to Receive the Eucharist, or Catholic Holy Communion
Holy Communion is sometimes called the Eucharist, the Sacrament of the Alter, the Lord's Supper or the Blessed Sacrament. Holy Communion is a Christian Sacrament that the Catholic Church, especially, views as important. Learning how to receive Catholic Holy Communion can allow you to gain many spiritual graces.
Most people brought up in the Catholic religion usually begin to receive the Eucharist at an early age. However, if you are not already a Catholic, you must first join the Catholic Church in order to receive Catholic Holy Communion.
The next step is to take First Reconciliation classes. Your priest, and the local Catholic Church that you attend, will help you through this. Then you must make a first confession. Again, your priest can guide you in how to do this.
You should receive the Eucharist while in a state of grace and with a right intention. You must not have committed a mortal sin for you to be in a state of grace. Again, talk to your priest if you are not sure if you are in a state of grace. Otherwise ensure that you make a full confession prior to your receiving Holy Communion. Catholic law also dictates that you fast for an hour before receiving the Eucharist, although sometimes exceptions are made (if someone is at risk of dying, for example). The fast does not include the drinking of water.
You should prepare mentally for receiving Holy Communion during the Consecration. This is when the bread and wine used for the Eucharist are consecrated by a priest who does this by speaking the Words of Institution. The Words of Institution (or Words of Consecration) echo the words that Jesus himself spoke at the Last Supper when he consecrated the bread and wine. This act of Consecration transforms the bread and wine so that they become the Body and Blood of Christ respectively. When preparing yourself at this time to receive Holy Communion you should give thanks for the gift you are going to receive.
When you are in front of the priest and about to receive the Eucharist, bend your right knee. At the same time make the sign of the cross in front of you using the forefinger and middle-finger of your right hand.
In the Catholic Church the consecrated bread (Body of Christ) is soaked in the consecrated wine (Blood of Christ). This is then called the 'Host.'
You can receive the Host on your tongue or by hand. To receive it on your tongue, tilt back your head a little and extend your tongue. You should extend it far enough so that there is no risk of the Host falling. To receive the Host by hand, lay one of your hands on top the other with the palms facing upward. Receive the Host in the top hand. Then put the Host in your mouth using the other hand. If you do accidentally drop the Host on the ground, either retrieve it quickly and consume it, or inform the priest.
After you have received the Eucharist, again make the sign of the cross. Then go back to your seat. You should kneel in meditation or prayer in order to show respect to Christ.
It is considered an obligation to receive Catholic Holy Communion at Easter every year and also when you are known to be at risk of death. However, receiving the Eucharist intimately unites you with Christ and, as an important aid to leading a holy life, it is best to receive Holy Communion quite often, perhaps even daily. However, ideally you should not receive the Eucharist more than once a day and certainly no more than twice daily.