As Catholics the reception of Holy Communion is one of the most intimate encounters we have with Christ. As you approach the altar to receive the Holy Eucharist be mindful to maintain guardianship of your eyes so as not to intrude on this very personal experience. “As the people receive Holy Communion, the communion chant/song is sung. The unity of voices echoes the unity the Eucharist brings. All may spend some time in silent prayer of thanksgiving as well.“ United States Conference of Catholic Bishops - Liturgy of the Eucharist
Who can receive Holy Communion? Catholics (those who are of age and have completed the necessary Sacramental Guidelines) are welcome to receive Holy Communion. You must be in a state of grace without mortal sin. A mortal sin is any sin whose matter is grave and which has been committed willfully and with knowledge of its seriousness. .
Non Catholics / Children under age: Individuals not eligible to receive Holy Communion (i.e. small children, non-Catholics, and Catholics not in a state of grace are encouraged to come up with their arms crossed over their chest for a blessing.
Sign of Reverence: Each communicant is to make a sign of reverence before receiving the Host and or the Precious Blood. That gesture is to be a bow.
What to Say: As you are about to receive the Host or the Precious Blood, the Minister of Communion will say “The Body of Christ” or “The Blood of Christ.” The correct response is simply “Amen.”
Receiving the Host in your Hand: The proper way to receive the Host in the hand is to place one hand flat on top of the other so that the open palm is facing upward. Saint John Chrysostom described this beautiful gesture as making of your hands a throne for the King of Kings. Once the Host is placed onto your palm, consume it immediately by taking it with the fingers of the lower hand and placing the Host in your mouth.
Receiving the Host by Tongue: With head straight or tilted slightly back, open your mouth wide and extend your tongue – the tongue need not protrude far out of the mouth, but it should block the view of the lower lip. The minister will place the Sacred Host on your tongue. Wait until the Sacred Host is safely placed on the tongue and only then return your tongue and close your mouth.
Receiving from the Cup: Take the cup in your own hands; take a small sip of the Precious Blood and then slowly and carefully return the cup to the Minister. Avoid quick sudden movements with the cup so as not to spill any of the Precious Blood.
Our sharing in the Body and Blood of Christ is the sign of our unity with Christ and the Church. We express that unity in many ways during the actual reception of Communion. One of the most important ways to express that unity, in addition to the postures, gestures and spoken dialogues described above, is that we join our voices in the Communion Song. Please take your hymnal and join along in the singing while everyone is receiving communion. The proper time for your own silent, private prayer of thanksgiving is after everyone has received communion and the singing has concluded.