As we observe the Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ, I offer—in two parts—a review of the proper approach to receiving Holy Communion.
The content is excerpted from a blog entitled, From the Back of the Church— authored by Catholic layman Paul Lim. Part One pertains to the proper disposition for receiving Communion. Next week, an article will address the proper manner in which to receive Holy Communion:
Perhaps this might seem rudimentary for some, but I can tell you it's something we need to talk about. I don't think it matters where you live, the problem is there- some Catholics simply don't know the right way to receive the Eucharist.
To be clear, the Church desires that everyone receive Holy Communion. (Wait, don't call me a heretic yet.) However, the Church wants everyone to receive Holy Communion the right way. (See, I'm not a heretic.) Receiving the Eucharist is a big deal. It's such a big deal, that there's all sorts of rules about it, and we don't just let anybody do it…
If you're not properly prepared, then you shouldn't receive Communion. This means being free from mortal sin and having followed the communion fast (in addition to being a practicing Catholic). Being free from mortal sin is self-explanatory: don't commit grave sin. If you happen to, then refrain from receiving Communion until you've been able to make Reconciliation (Catechism of the Catholic Church 1415).
An extra reminder of this is needed in the United States where the tendency is for everyone to automatically get up and go to Communion. It's rare for someone to stay behind in the pew- they might even get funny looks if they do. In many other parts of the world, not everyone goes to Communion and it's more common to see people remaining at their seat. Is it because there are more sinners in other countries? I doubt it; I think they are just being more mindful about being properly disposed.
Following the communion fast is also something that needs emphasis. For Latin rite Catholics, this means refraining from food and beverage for one hour before receiving the Eucharist (Canon 919). Some people say this means they can eat up to 30 minutes before Mass starts since the Communion rite is typically 30-45 minutes into the liturgy. Personally, I prefer to refrain 1 hour from the start of the Mass. It's weird to walk into a Church on a full stomach. Besides, what if a daily Mass takes only 25 minutes, then eating 30 minutes prior doesn't work!
P.S. spoken lovingly: Chewing gum, in my view, never belongs in church.