Do you have moments in your life when the reality of the Eucharist just blows you away? Recognizing the True Presence can overwhelm your senses and even bring you to tears. But then are there other times when you receive Communion without really giving it a second thought?
Too often there is a disconnect between what we know to be the reality of the Eucharist and the way that we participate and prepare for Mass. And if this is you, you’re not alone. Father Richard Simon reflected on the Letter to Hebrews during a recent episode of Father Simon Says™, including this verse:
Therefore, we who are receiving the unshakable kingdom should have gratitude, with which we should offer worship pleasing to God in reverence and awe. For our God is a consuming fire. (Hebrews 12:28)
During his reflection, Fr. Simon confessed, “I don’t prepare sufficiently for Mass. I don’t. I mean, I try to, but there’s always something going on. I’m always a little late.”
“There are prayers that are recommended,” he explained. “One should spend, Fulton Sheen said, at least 10 minutes preparing for Mass. So I confess that I don’t prepare sufficiently. I intend to, but something always comes up between the rectory and the Church. It’s a much longer commute than you think, because there’s usually a whole string of people who want something.”
Fr. Simon pointed out that as a child he actually took preparing for Mass more seriously because the customs and fasting laws were more strict. “When I received First Communion at the age of seven they had just reduced the fasting to three hours. Before that it was from midnight, and it was from food and any liquid from midnight. You could not eat or drink from midnight. That’s huge. If you haven’t eaten or drunk since midnight, you notice it.”
“The Communion fast is now one hour before receiving Holy Communion. That means if you come to Mass and I give a long sermon, you’d almost have to bring coffee and donuts into the church to break the fast. And I’m not suggesting that you do.”
We don’t have to offer just the bare minimum of preparation for Mass. In fact, we really shouldn’t! As Fr. Simon reflected, Scripture illustrates the reality of Holy Communion, and we should prepare in whatever way is necessary to receive the Lord with reverence and awe.
“We’ve gone to the other extreme,” he said, “but the letter to the Hebrews says we have come to something much more terrifying (terrifying!) than what happened on Mount Sinai with the thunder and the lightning and all that stuff.”
“This spoke to me. I am doing it wrong. I am, in a sense, blaspheming the Eucharist. Yes. To blaspheme means to say that something is nothing. So that’s gotta change in my life. And I wonder if it has to change in yours. How long do you spend preparing for Communion? Do you do more fasting than is required to prepare for Communion? Do you make sure that you’re in a state of grace before you go to Holy Communion?”
Listen to the full reflection below: