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Question

Hello,

my name is Umberto C., I am 26 years old from Messina, Sicily. Sunday 14 June, Corpus Domini feast, I reflected on all those people who are join  Mass through social media and no longer want to go to church on Sunday, or to those people who go to church but do not approach the Sacrament of the Eucharist because they do not want to, or are unable to. 

I suffer and I feel sorry for them, because I would like them to understand what they are missing … and then I felt inspired to write a reflection and a simile.

We could listen to Mass on the internet easily on weekdays, but we should do it on Sundays only if unable to go to church. “Spiritual communion”, the one exploited during the imposed lockdown due toCovid, is a great possibility we have to praise and desire Christ, but I believe it’s not the same as receiving Him in presence, sacramentally (in body, blood, soul, divinity) … listening to a Mass on the internet, or worse, participating in a Mass and then depriving oneself of the Sacrament of Eucharist would be like being thirsty, having water poured into a glass, not drinking it and contemplating it from a distance; like walking up the stairs of a tower to contemplate the view from the top, but blindfold yourself just before reaching the top; like holding a beautiful, fragrant gardenia flower in your hand, but not bringing it close to your nose to appreciate its scent; like walking on a cold and snowy night, seeing a burning fire and not approaching it to warm up; to receive a birthday gift and not unwrap it; like meeting the person you love and having to gaze through a glass without being able to hug each other.

I conclude with the simile.

Like a bee flying in a field approaches the flower and picks up the pollen, so that it can produce honey, similarly the Catholic who participates in Mass approaches God and receives the Eucharist, so that good and holy works can spring from it.


Priest’s answer

Dear,

1. It is right to receive Holy Communion during Mass. It is the most natural thing.

But we must not forget that the Church is a field hospital, as Pope Francis says.

And just as in a hospital, the sick cannot feed themselves like everyone else, because common foods would harm them, and so also in the Church not everyone can receive Holy Communion.

The reasons are many. The most basic: no fasting prescribed by the law of the Church has been observed.

Here are other reasons: one is late for the Mass and misses the necessary preparation for listening to the Word of God.

Sometimes people have just had an argument and they are still troubled.

Sometimes the reason is a bit more serious as one may not be in the Grace of God.

2. Just because you cannot receive Holy Communion, going to Mass is not meaningless. You can do many other important things.

First of all, the sacrifice of Christ is offered together with the priest and the community. And this is the most important thing.

Furthermore, by offering the sacrifice of Christ devoutly, we receive many current graces which have the strength to bring about repentance, change of life, conversion.

Many graces are also received for protection from many ailments of the soul and body.

Pope St. Gregory the Great said that if by virtue of the blood of an animal (the paschal lamb) the Jews were spared by the exterminating angel, from how many evils will the blood of the Lord not free us?

3. Further, by going to Mass we nourish ourselves with the Word of God.

This is a nourishing, purifying, vivifying banquet.

4. Going to Mass without being able to take Holy Communion also means gathering with the Christian community and making it visible.

We pray, sing, adore the Lord together, ask for forgiveness and ask for graces for all the living and the dead.

At the same time, communion with brothers in the faith is revived, there is mutual support and encouragement, and contribution to the material needs of the community and the universal Church.

How many graces are received from this real and effective communion with the ecclesial community!

5. As you can see, regardless of Holy Communion, things done by going to Mass are so great that the Church requires to participate to  Mass every Sunday and on religious feasts, while it does not precept Holy Communion for all Sundays.

Without diminishing the sacramental Communion, which is of supreme value, many other communions are realized at Mass that are always necessary to sustain the Christian life of all.

6. To go back to the initial example: who is sick cannot eat the common foods he usually eats, because that would be bad for him.

However, the sick are not left unsupported. Their organism is vivified in another way, for instance by injection, that is without passing through the absorption of the intestine. The nourishment is put directly into the bloodstream.

This is the case with the various communions that take place during Holy Mass, even if sacramental Communion is not possible.

7. Therefore, although the poetic and beautiful images describing participation in the Mass without Communion, they are nevertheless not perfectly true, because one approaches the source (Christ) and drinks, even without sacramental Communion.

We rise on the top of the mountain (Christ) and we do not blindfold ourselves, because our gaze is always turned to the Lord from start to finish.

You hold the fragrant flower that is Christ in your hand and breathe in its perfume which it recreates.

We approach the fire and get warm, because Communion with the sacrifice of Jesus, with his word and with the community, warms up and does not leave us in the cold.

You receive a birthday present and not only unwrap it, but share it with those who are present.

We meet Jesus and stay close to Him like the sinner or like Magdalene, with a repentant and humiliated heart.

Thank you for giving me the opportunity to say that all for the benefit of those who currently cannot receive Holy Communion, but still have the grace of being able to participate in the sacrifice of Jesus and to live their communion together with the Christian community.

I wish you well, I remind you of the Lord and bless you.

Father Angelo