Communion Rite – Part 2

June 5th, 2011  |  Published in New Roman Missal

Dear Friends,

Last week we began reviewing the Communion Rite, taking a look at The Lord’s Prayer and the Lamb of God (Agnus Dei). Today I’d like to conclude the Communion Rite by looking at the words you, the congregation, say prior to the distribution of Holy Communion.

Currently in response to the priest’s invitation to Communion, the congregation says:

Lord, I am not worthy to receive you, but only say the word and I shall be healed.

In the revised translation of the Roman Missal the response is:

Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof, but only say the word and my soul shall be healed.

The replacement of “not worthy to receive you” with “not worthy that you should enter under my roof,” is significant. The revision comes directly from the Gospel of Matthew 8:8, in which the centurion begs Jesus to heal his paralyzed servant: “Lord, I am not worthy to have you enter under my roof; only say the word and my servant will be healed.” Using this line prior to the reception of Communion recalls our unworthiness due to sin, and our need for sincere humility before receiving Jesus in the Eucharist.

Using the phrase “my roof,” may seem strange since Christ is coming to us in the form of food, not entering our homes. Obviously, then, the phrase is meant more in a figurative sense. On the other hand, it is good to remember St. Paul’s words in his first letter to the Corinthians: “your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you” (6:19).

We are being called to make our bodies fitting homes for God’s grace to dwell within our souls. The Eucharist is true food that gives us spiritual nourishment, which is the reason for the use of the phrase “my soul” in the last line. This sacramental nourishment for our souls in turn enlightens our mental and physical deeds so that our whole selves – body, soul and spirit, our entire lives – may be suitable instruments for the Lord.

At the distribution and reception of Communion the words are the same: “The Body (Blood) of Christ” with the accent “Amen,” (“it is so,” “I believe”).

Fr. John