ON THE SUBJECTS OF:
THE BODY AND BLOOD OF CHRIST,
The Body and Blood.
The Church does not attempt to describe or theorize about the specifics concerning how or when the bread and wine become or are imbued with the Presence of Christ. This is a personal matter of faith. Regardless of how this takes place, after the blessing, the bread and wine are the Body and Blood of Christ.
While saying this, we have a very deep respect and reverence for the Bread and Wine after it has become what it is upon the altar. In giving honour to the presence of Christ, it is not our practice to place the bread in a person’s hands, rather the bread is placed on the tongue of the individual receiving the Body. It is recommended that the individual kneel (if physically possible) when receiving the Body of Christ. The priest says, “Corpus Dómini nostri Jesu Christi custódiat ánimam tuam in vitam æternam. Amen” (“May the Body of Our Lord Jesus Christ preserve your soul unto life everlasting. Amen.”) There are always circumstances where these traditions would need to be modified. For example, a person who is bedridden or in a wheelchair would not be able to kneel. It is permitted that the laity receive both the bread and wine, but the bread alone is sufficient. Minor children should never receive wine. The priest(s) celebrating Mass must receive both. There are cases where individuals may have medical reasons for not consuming wine. There are also situations where an individual has allergies to wheat/gluten. In the latter case, provisions should be made for these individuals.
Distribution of Bread and Wine.
Only a priest may distribute the bread and wine to members of the Church. In rare cases, a consecrated male deacon or monk may be appointed to take consecrated communion bread to a person suffering from an illness that prevents him/her from attending Mass. A deacon does not consecrate the bread and wine.
Receiving Communion via Proxy.
(also referred to as “Spiritual Communion”).
When a member of the Church is not able to attend Mass or partake of the bread and wine under normal circumstances (due to infirmity, being homebound, or distance from the Mass), he/she may receive communion via proxy. This means that being in good standing (having repented and not continuing in sin) he/she will recite the appropriate prayers. The person receives communion in a spiritual way (sacramentally) in the heart. If possible, a member can make arrangements for a priest to bring the Body of Christ to him/her. Otherwise, the sacramental receiving of the Body is most acceptable since we believe that in the moment of calling down the Holy Spirit upon the altar, the Presence of Christ is with us. No one can put a limit on where His Presence may go, whether it is on the altar or in a person’s heart.
When to Receive Communion.
Members in good standing should attend Mass and receive communion as often as possible. If Mass is offered daily in travelling distance, a member should attend daily (if possible). Otherwise, receiving Holy Communion on all Holy Days of the Church is considered obligatory, including Spiritual Communion. A person should receive Communion before death.
Communion for Members.
The Church does not practice “open communion.” In other words, the bread and wine are not given to those who are not members. Those who do receive must be members in good standing with the Church. A person who is in good standing is a person who has repented of previous wrongdoing and is not currently active in gross sin. A priest has the right to refuse communion to anyone if he knows the individual has not been genuinely repentant of previous sins or knows of some other mortal sin committed by the individual.
Confession of Sin.
We believe in the practice of regular confession. If a priest is not available, one should talk to another member of the Church who is in good standing, and confess to him/her and most certainly to God. (James 5:16) Various acts of reparation and an act of perfect contrition are required of the penitent. If there is no other member of the Church to speak with about one’s confession, he/she may make the appropriate reparations and an act of perfect contrition.
On a similar note, we do not believe that a priest or any human being has the ability to forgive sins, but rather, the priest has been given the responsibility to affirm the fact that God has forgiven the penitent. After a person has confessed and vowed not to sin in the same manner again, he/she should give some type of alms as a sign or token of commitment to live righteously.