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Mary and Martha Moment: How Do You Receive the Eucharist?

I blog about food. I’ve come to appreciate the “traditional foods” approach to eating and embrace the philosophy that says that if a food’s been around a few thousand years, it should probably be in our diets. If it’s younger than 100 years, it doesn’t belong on our tables.

Sometimes it feels like filling my kitchen with real food is the primary goal of my life, but physical food can only nourish and sustain my body on this earth. We need food for the journey, something to sustain and nourish our souls in this life and beyond. Long before I discovered Nourishing Traditions, I embraced a nourishing, traditional food that’s been around about 2,000 years. I believe it’s the ultimate REAL food.

The night before Jesus died, He took bread in His Sacred hands, blessed it, and said, “This is my body. Do this in memory of me.”  And likewise, He took the cup, gave thanks and said, “This is my blood, given for you. Do this in memory of me.”  Jesus redefined “food” that night. He changed simple bread and wine into a gift of self.

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Some people call this scene communion. Some people call it myth. Catholics call it Eucharist, the ultimate sacrifice of the God-man for all humanity. He gave His life for us. And then He humbled Himself even further, beyond the supreme humiliation of a crook’s death on a Cross, and became our food.

The Ultimate. Nourishing. Traditional. Real. Food.

Oh, how blessed I am to be able to attend daily Mass once a week! I like to make a habit of going to the school Mass, because my son likes the jazzy music. (He used to dance in the aisles when he was 18-24 mos. and became sort of a legend.)  I can think of nothing better to do with my time than offer the prayers of the church, receive Jesus into my body and teach my children proper commitment and reverence for the Eucharist.

Eucharist

Last week I told you what I believe about TRUE Real Food, and I also gave you 3 tips for sick kids. Today you get a combo deal:  3 tips for receiving the Ultimate Traditional Real Food well.

  1. Unite your prayers with those of the Church. When the gifts are brought to the altar, flex your imagination muscle and place yourself, your humble failings, and your intentions for the Mass there also. I literally imagine a smaller version of my brother, for example, being placed on the altar. I ask the Lord to bless and consecrate him and the others I’m praying for as the priest consecrates the bread and wine.When the priest lifts up the bread and the cup as an offering to God, I visualize my intentions being lifted up right along with them. There is no better time to pray than when celebrating Eucharist and in the presence of the Body of Christ. I tend to focus on souls and salvation at this time, and I rely on mental imagery to keep me focused on something that looks and sounds the same every week, but is radically new each time in its significance.
  2. Acknowledge Jesus as King. When the priest lifts up the consecrated host immediately after praying, “This is my Body…do this in memory of Me,” we are to gaze upon the Body of our Lord with all the reverence we can muster. I work to conquer my easily distracted nature more at this moment than any other in the entire week. I focus on the gazing, the reverence, and I say in my head:  “My Lord and my God!”  It’s a prayer of recognition of what I’ve just witnessed…bread becoming Jesus.When my children are near, I also discreetly whisper, “There’s Jesus!” to them. My father always used to straighten us up and say, “This is the most important part of the Mass.”  It’s important to draw children’s attention to that fact starting early.
  3. Prepare your soul to receive Jesus. It is no small responsibility to be the bearer of Christ in this world. The word “Christian”, literally translated, means “Christ-bearer.”  When we receive Jesus in the Eucharist, we literally become His hands, His feet, His mouth for our world. Are you ready for the weight of that task? Most days, I am keenly aware of how weak, how broken, how unworthy I am. None of us are worthy of the gift of Jesus’s Body and Blood, but  God grants us the grace to receive Him. It is on our shoulders, however, to prepare the best we can.Just as I tell my kids to “go potty and wash your hands” before eating a meal with our family, it should be our habit to “wash clean” our souls before consuming our Lord. Ideally, we would participate in the Sacrament of Reconciliation immediately before every Mass. Not many of us have that opportunity.A good substitute is when we bless ourselves with holy water upon entering the Church. We are not only reminded of our Baptismal promises, but we are cleansed of venial sin and prepared for Mass. I guarantee you I sin in between walking in the doors and receiving Jesus. My dad taught me a great habit that I keep to this day:  after praying, “Lord, I am not worthy to receive You, but only say the Word and I shall be healed,” with the community right before communion, I use the empty space as I wait for my turn to pray an Act of Contrition. I bring my failings before the Lord, ask for His mercy, and promise to sin no more. When I receive Him moments later, I have prepared a holy place for Him to dwell.

Serving Eucharist

I am fortunate to be able to serve as a Eucharistic Minister in my parish, which means I have the great responsibility of carrying Jesus to my community. I help the priest serve the Body and Blood of Christ to the people in the pews, much like a server in a fancy restaurant takes the work of the chef out to the customers. Here are some of the great lessons I’ve learned while holding Jesus in my hands and sharing Him with others:

  • Jesus is truly present. When we serve Jesus to our parish, we say, “The Body of Christ. The Blood of Christ.”  Far from being a repetitive phrase, I am reminded with every word that I am holding Jesus’s Body. I am sharing my Lord with another person.
  • Jesus knows everyone’s name. He loves everyone equally. That is why, although it seems kind and personal to say someone’s name when serving them Eucharist, extraordinary ministers of the Eucharist are not supposed to.
  • We are what we eat. We say it when we’re talking table food, and it is as true if not more so when it comes to the Eucharist. When we consume our Lord’s Body, we become members of the Body of Christ. When we carry Jesus within us, we are expected to act as Jesus would on the outside. This is the reason, not exclusivity or pride, that non-Catholics are not invited to receive the Eucharist. How can you become part of the Body of Christ when you aren’t a member of His Church? How can you receive when you don’t believe? It is not to keep people out that we do this, but to make it mean something for those who are “in”.
  • We are called to carry Jesus to the world. When we walk away from the communion line, we carry Jesus within us. We are His hands in the world, His feet, His mouth to minister to a godless culture. We become the Body of Christ when we consume the Body of Christ. We must – must! – remember this and live it as we leave our parishes and go out into the world. We carry Jesus. Let us behave as if we are worthy of His presence.

The following are some habits I have when I serve Eucharist. They’re not anything I’ve been taught, not Church teachings by any means, but they show how important I think the Eucharist is and how I try to share that with others:

  • I value touch. I make sure that my hand touches the other person as I lay Jesus’s Body in their hand. When I was a server in a restaurant, I tried not to touch anyone’s food but often utilized a quick touch on the arm to connect as humans with my customers. How much more so does touch make a difference when serving the Body of our Lord?
  • I use eye contact. I make it a point to look every person in the eye, deeply. I see so many different emotions there, from joy to sorrow to indifference. I try to communicate the magnitude of what we’re doing with my eyes. I’m serious to match my tone of voice saying, “The Body of Christ,” yet I often purposely put a smile in my eyes to communicate the joy we ought to feel, that we are chosen to receive Christ in the Eucharist. Since I don’t say the names of people I know personally, I can tell them, “Hello!” with my eyes.
  • I pray for the communicants. Not so much in words, even in-the-head words, but more in a groaning of the spirit as St. Paul teaches in Romans, I pray for the people receiving Jesus in my line. I ask God to change their lives by this Eucharist. I ask Him to enter into them and make them holy. I beg Him that they would believe they are truly receiving a miracle, the Body and Blood of Christ.
  • In my weakness, sometimes I judge. I notice the low-cut shirts or the funny-shaped nose, or I silently condemn the jeans-clad teenager or the screaming toddler before I can even censor my thoughts. My mind drifts to how cute those earrings are or how many kids that family has. *sigh*  I thank the Lord that He forgives me in my weakness, and I yank my thoughts back to the task at hand:  serving Jesus, literally.

 

How do you enter into the Mystery of the Eucharist at Mass?

My friend Jenny at Heart of a Mother has an incredible reflection on our attitudes for Mass on Sundays.

 
Unless otherwise credited, photos are owned by the author or used with a license from Canva or Deposit Photos.

16 thoughts on “Mary and Martha Moment: How Do You Receive the Eucharist?”

  1. Can life get any better than this? My 2 ways of living, Catholic and Real Food! I’m sending a link to your site to all my wonderful Catholic mom friends who are homeschoolers. They are always looking for good, truthful information.

  2. Katie,

    I wanted to let you know how much I appreciate a great blog about my 2 favorite topics Catholic stuff and Real food! Thank you so much for all your work. It is wonderful to run across a blog by a young mother who loves her faith and proclaims it on her site.
    God Bless you and your Family,
    Terry

  3. Hi there, just found your website and love it! You are so right about drawing our kids attention when “this is the most important part of Mass”. Your comment prompted me to ask if you have any tips for managing littlies at Mass?

    My DH is not Catholic so I go to Mass alone with the kids. I can not manage the two on my own (4 & 1/2 y/o and 18months) they are both soooo active! So I usually only take my oldest, but feel so guilty about not taking the younger. I had thought about taking him to a weekday Mass instead, but know I should be taking him on Sunday. Any thoughts?

    Cheers!

    1. Karen,
      Thank you for the great question. I am blessed in that my oldest is an angel – truly – at Mass. I’m not sure if I did anything to promote that or not. Here are my best tips:
      1. Get them into the music – we go to the kids’ school Mass specifically for that reason. He used to dance in the aisles!
      2. Let them participate whenever possible – the sign of peace is a big one, genuflecting towards “Jesus’s Little House” (i.e. the Tabernacle), waving to Jesus on the Cross, holding hands during the Our Father if your church does that, anything you can think of.
      3. Bring soft books that don’t make noise, crayons, etc.
      4. Get a little kids’ missal (Magnificat has one, or check your Catholic bookstore) for the older one and help him/her follow along with the Mass.
      5. My FAVorite Mass bag item is a book of puzzles we have that are all saints or feast days. That book lasted through the “take the pieces out and put them everywhere” phase to the “I can put it back together by myself” phase.
      6. Remember to let them have a little room to roam (in the pew) but not too much. The toddler can make a bit of a mess and still not detract from your Mass experience or others around you.
      7. Tell Daddy about Mass when you get home (w/their help) just like you’d tell him about a trip to the park. Not to convert him, but to teach your little ones about telling the story of their day and the importance of what they did.

      I wonder what other people have to say? This might be a great “asking for information” post someday soon!

      blessings,
      Katie

  4. Amazing post Katie! I also have heard new translations for different parts of the Mass are coming soon. We had a snippet in our bulletin a few weeks back. It’s going to take FOREVER for the people to get on board with this, as people still struggle on when to stand “may the Lord accept the sacrifice at your hands….”

    I find myself really riveted at the moment of Consecration. I too say “My Lord and my God” when the Host is raised and “Jesus, have mercy on us” when the Precious Blood is raised. I also pray “May our Lord Jesus Christ grant our souls eternal life. Amen” after Communion. I just find after Communion so busy, with all the singing and shuffling and cute babies passing by. It’s difficult to stay focused, the most important time of the Mass and the week.
    .-= Paula´s last blog .. =-.

  5. Thank you so much for your post! It opened my eyes more to this wonderful mystery that is the Church and how I can bring my intentions to the Lord during Mass.

  6. OOooh, this is a Real Food that I get very excited about because my day is just not the same with out it, and it costs nothing!

    I usually pray the Prayer of St. Ambrose before the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and, like you, at the Consecration say interiorly “My Lord and My God!” (for which there is a partial indulgence, btw.) And if I’m not wrestling with a little one after Holy Communion, I pray the prayer of St. Bonaventure (http://www.ewtn.com/devotionals/prayers/Bonaventure.htm). Sometimes, however, no words are necessary or adequate.

    Lenetta, you are right- the Latin translated to English here means “Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof. . .” (Domine non sum dignus ut intres sub tectum meum. . . .) I look forward to the new translation, though it will take a while.

    Thanks again, Katie, for including the most important topic of all!

    1. Lindsay,
      I just LOVE hearing from people who know more than me! Thank you so much for enhancing this post with those prayer links and, of course, the Latin. What’s a Catholic blog without a little Latin?! 😉 Love it.
      🙂 Katie

      PS – for direction!

      1. Thanks, Katie, though I’m not sure I know more, just different things. I just reread the part about cleaning our souls and remembered that the last part of this is translated in some missals as “but only say the word, and my soul shall be made clean” (sed tantum dic verbo, et sanabitur anima mea).

        Prayer for direction, it is!

        Pax Domini,
        LP

  7. Lenetta @ Nettacow

    Looking forward to the next installments!! When I coordinated a mission in Mexico, I learned that the Spanish translation is a bit different – Lord, I am not worthy that you come into my house, but only say the word . . . ” Goose and I watched one of the Animated Stories of the New Testament on EWTN that really brought that to life. I’d read quite a while ago that the Church in the US was supposed to be shifting some of those phrases to be more in line with the actual translations, but haven’t seen anything since.
    .-= Lenetta @ Nettacow´s last blog ..Organizing Pot Lids =-.

  8. Katie, we are Presbyterians, so communion looks a little different for us. :o) But coming into the Presbyterian church from a different denomination has made communion much more meaningful to me. Growing up, we only took communion quarterly. I think the intent was to keep it from becoming meaningless ritual and being taken for granted. But now that we take it every week, it affects me so much more. I have a better understanding of it now, and I have come to have a real need for that weekly communal confession of our sins and partaking of the body and blood of Christ–as a church. It is such a beautiful thing, and I am so glad the Lord left us with this!
    .-= April´s last blog ..A little rant, and some sad news =-.

    1. April,
      It is so good (God is so good!) that different denominations can connect even on teachings on which they differ. What a beautiful story. Thank you! Kaite

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