Protocols for Receiving Holy Communion
Every important occasion carries with it clear expectations about how things are to be done and how people are to conduct themselves on those occasions. There are things to be said and done in certain prescribed ways for the sake of good order and reverence and to express our unity as we receive the Sacrament of our Lord in his Sacred Body & Precious Blood.
SIGN OF REVERENCE: Each communicant is to make a sign of reverence before receiving the Host and/or Precious Blood. In the United States, that gesture is to be a bow. For the sake of keeping the communion line flowing smoothly, you should make your bow just as the person in front of you is receiving the host. Please do not genuflect here: it draws attention and slows things down.
FOR ALL COMMUNICANTS: 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.” The word “Amen” is prescribed because it expresses many layers of theological meaning contained in this brief ritual dialogue. No other response should be used (for example: “I believe” or “My Lord and my God”). It is parcularly inappropriate to respond with “Thank You” or some other form of secular or seasonal greeng (“Merry Christmas” or “Happy Easter”).
RECEIVING THE HOST ON THE TONGUE: With your head straight or tilted slightly back, open your mouth wide and extend your tongue –it should block the view of the lower lip. Many only slightly open the mouth and others do not extend the tongue; some do both. The minister needs to safely place the Host onto the tongue, so please—open wide and extend. Then, immediately step aside and turn to begin your movement back to your pew.
RECEIVING THE HOST IN THE 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. In order to indicate clearly that you intend to receive in your hands, you should have your hands in this position already when you approach the Minister of Communion and not wait until you hear “The Body of Christ”. After receiving the Host in your palm, immediately step to the side & consume it by taking it with the fingers of the lower hand and placing the Host in your mouth. Then either move towards the Cup or step aside and turn to begin your movement back to your pew.
RECEIVING FROM THE CUP: Bow as a sign of reverence as the person before you is receiving from the Cup. The Minister will say “The Blood of Christ” and you answer “Amen.” 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 any quick movements with the Cup so as not to spill any of the Precious Blood. Immediately step aside and turn, returning to your pew.