Guidelines for Receiving
Holy Communion in the
Old Roman Catholic Church
FOR ALL OLD ROMAN CATHOLICS
The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is the highest expression of worship that we as Catholics can offer to God. The Church encourages us to fully participate in this act of worship by receiving Holy Communion at Mass regularly, frequently and devoutly whenever we are able to do so; are free from mortal sin; and are in a state of grace. We are also encouraged to observe the Eucharistic Fast (three hours from solid foods and one hour from liquids when possible; a minimum of one hour from all food and drink at all other times) before receiving Holy Communion. Old Roman Catholics should not receive Holy Communion if they know themselves to be in a state of mortal sin and have not made a proper sacramental confession, unless some grave circumstances warrant receiving Holy Communion. In such circumstances Old Roman Catholics are reminded of their obligation to first make a sincere Act of Contrition and an accompanying firm resolution to go to confession as soon as possible and receive the Sacrament of Penance.
It is our practice to receive Holy Communion on the tongue while kneeling at the communion rail. Most of our churches distribute Holy Communion under both Species, by intinction, that is, by the priest or sacred minister dipping the Sacred Host into the Precious Blood and then placing It directly upon the tongue of the communicant. In some circumstances Holy Communion may be distributed under the Species of the Sacred Host alone. If a communicant wishes to receive just the Sacred Host, we encourage them to indicate this by placing their index finger across their lips in the “hush” position, as the priest or sacred minister approaches them. He will thus recognize their request. The Old Roman Catholic Church does not distribute Holy Communion in the hand.
FOR OUR ROMAN CATHOLIC, OLD CATHOLIC, EASTERN ORTHODOX and ANGLICAN BRETHREN
For our brothers and sisters in these Communions, we extend the same privilege of receiving Holy Communion in our churches, observing the same conditions (free from mortal sin, in a state of grace, and fasting) as we do to our own Old Roman Catholics. We do so knowing that we share the same sacramental faith in the mysteries of the Holy Eucharist and the same august veneration for the Most Sacred Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ. We acknowledge that this same privilege must be regulated by the faithful observance of the directives and guidelines of these churches for their own members, and we encourage them to observe the practice of their own churches devoutly.
FOR OUR FELLOW CHRISTIANS
We welcome all of our fellow brother and sister Christians to the celebration of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, and to worship with us in this supreme act of praise and thanksgiving to Almighty God. We acknowledge the common bonds we share in the Sacrament of Baptism and the operation of the Holy Ghost in our lives. We pray that in this Mass we may deepen our fellowship and may be lead and directed by the Holy Ghost to overcome the obstacles and sad divisions that separate us one from another. To that end we pray with Jesus, His prayer, “…that they may all be one; even as Thou, Father, art one in Me, and I in Thee…” (St John 17:21).
The Catholic Church teaches that the Holy Eucharist is a sign of our unity in Faith, Life and Worship and that members of those churches with whom we do not as yet share the same unity of Faith, Life and Worship, are not customarily admitted to Holy Communion in our churches. Under exceptional circumstances, and where a genuine spiritual advantage is to be gained and where the error of religious indifferentism can be avoided, we permit our brother and sister Christians who meet the following four criteria to receive Holy Communion at Mass with us. The four essential criteria are:
they are properly baptized with water in the Name of the Holy Trinity (Father, Son and Holy Ghost);
they share a belief with us that in receiving Holy Communion they are receiving the true Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of our Blessed Lord and not merely a sign or symbol of It;
they are free from sin and are in a state of grace (i.e. they are in love and peace with God and their neighbor);
they have observed the Eucharistic Fast.
FOR OUR NON-CHRISTIAN BROTHERS AND SISTERS
We welcome all men and women of faith to worship with us at Mass. We encourage these brothers and sisters to join their prayers with ours as we seek the guidance and enlightenment of Almighty God and pray for peace, unity and concord within both our own families of faith and in the community and world we share. While we cannot extend the invitation to receive Holy Communion to these brothers and sisters, we do pray that God will bless them and we encourage them, if they so wish, to come forward at Communion time and receive a blessing with those others who will not be receiving Holy Communion.
FOR THOSE NOT RECEIVING HOLY COMMUNION
For all of our brothers and sisters who for any reason are not receiving Holy Communion, we encourage them to make in their hearts an Act of Spiritual Communion (a suggested form is appended below) praying for a closer spiritual relationship with our Lord Jesus Christ and with their brothers and sisters.
We also encourage these brothers and sisters to come forward at Communion time and to request and receive a blessing from the priest in lieu of receiving Holy Communion. They may signify that request silently by crossing their arms over their chest, fingers touching their shoulders. The priest or sacred minister will recognize their posture and will give them a blessing at that time.
- SELECTED PRAYERS -
AN SHORT ACT OF SPIRITUAL COMMUNION
My Jesus, I believe that Thou art present in the Blessed Sacrament. I love Thee above all things and I desire to receive Thee into my soul. Since I cannot now receive Thee sacramentally, come at least spiritually into my heart. As though thou wert already there, I embrace Thee and unite myself wholly to Thee; permit not that I should ever be separated from Thee. Amen.
A LONGER ACT OF SPIRITUAL COMMUNION
My Dear Lord and Saviour! Though I am but a sinful servant, I approach Thee with confidence, for Thou hast said in Thy goodness and mercy: "Come to me all you that labor and are heavy laden, and I will refresh you." Thou wilt not despise a contrite and humble heart. I am truly sorry for having offended Thee by my sins, because Thou art infinitely good. I have wounded Thy Sacred Heart by foolishly resisting Thy holy will and transgressing Thy Commandments; but I love Thee now with my whole heart and above all things. I adore Thee truly present on the Altar. I have a great desire, dear Jesus, to receive Thee in Holy Communion, and since I cannot now approach Thy Holy Altar to be united to Thee in the Blessed Sacrament, I beseech Thee most earnestly to come to me at least spiritually and to refresh my soul with the sweetness of Thy grace.
Come, my Lord, my God and my All! Come to me, and let me never again be separated from Thee by sin. I wish to become like Thee. Teach me Thy blessed ways; help me with Thy grace to practice meekness, humility, purity, charity, and all the virtues of Thy Sacred Heart.
Oh Thou Lamb of God! Who takest away the sins of the world, take away from me whatever may hurt me and displease Thee. With St. Francis of Assisi I pray: 'May the fire of Thy love consume my soul, so that I may die to self and the world for love of Thee, Who hast vouchsafed to die on the Cross for the love of me!’
Jesus, I consecrate to Thee my heart with all its affections, my soul with all its powers, and my body with all its senses. In union with Thee I will labor and suffer to do the Heavenly Father's will. I will ever be mindful of the presence of my God and strive to be perfect. Bless me in life and in death that I may praise Thee forever in Heaven. Amen.
AN ACT OF CONTRITION
O my God, I am heartily sorry for having offended Thee; and I detest all my sins, because I dread the loss of heaven and the pains of hell; but most of all because they have offended Thee, my God, Who art all good and deserving of all my love. I firmly resolve, with the help of Thy grace, to confess my sins, to do penance and to amend my life. Amen.
Approved by the College of Bishops
North American Old Roman Catholic Church