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Mark 14;22; "While they
were eating, He took
bread, said the
blessing, broke it, gave
it to them, and said,
‘Take It; this is My
Caution About
Holy Communion
[Both the wicked and the good eat of this celestial Food:
but with ends how opposite!
With this most substantial Bread, unto life or death they're fed,
in a difference infinite!]
(St. Thomas Aquinas)
For his part, St. Thomas was simply repeating the constant teaching of the Church, which
Corinthians (11:27-32), that anyone participating in the Eucharistic banquet who eats and
drinks unworthily, without discerning the Body, eats and drinks judgment on himself!

In short, there is no such thing as a “Casual Communion,” because whenever a person
receives the Body of Christ, there is a profound effect of one sort or another, leading to
either salvation or condemnation.  Truly, Christ wants to give Himself wholly to everyone,
but logically, everyone should first prepare himself wholly to welcome this Special Guest.  
That’s why going to Mass is an essential part of fulfilling the commandment to keep the
Lord’s Day holy; however, it is not the expectation that everyone receive Communion every
Sunday - in fact, there are clear cases when that should not happen.
And so, just as there are reasons not to take certain foods and medicines at certain times,
there are also reasons not to receive Communion in certain circumstances.  Dieticians and
doctors will detail the directives to follow in eating earthly food and medicine, and so priests
and preachers must likewise faithfully present the precautions to observe in partaking of
heavenly Medicine and Food.

Let us review 3 reasons (out of many) which would impede one from
receiving Holy Communion.

If we are not prepared... the number one reason to not receive communion is because it is
the "Consummation of our Divine Marriage to Christ".
It is only right to seek to be ready for our wedding to some one.
How much more so should we seek to be properly disposed for Christ our Divine Spouse? If
we are 'married' to Christ in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, as each member of The
Catholic Church is, CCC 1621, (Rev. 19:7-8), then the marriage is 'consummated' in Holy
Communion (we become one flesh - in the truest sense). It is better to wait for that
moment... to prepare for that moment with the proper mind, heart and soul, then to handle
Holy Communion in a nonchalant way. If we wait until we are one with The Catholic Church
and her teachings and we understand fully what we are participating in then we can more
fully become one with Christ.
It is never a good idea to eat something when you don’t even know what it is that you’re
eating!  One of the earliest lessons that babies need to learn is that you can’t just put
everything in your mouth.
Likewise, if you don’t yet know what the Eucharist is, if your idea of Communion is
separated in any degree from the Catholic Church’s teaching, then it would be most
appropriate for you to wait to receive Communion until the time comes when your sincere
“Amen!” would confess wholeheartedly, in communion with the whole Catholic Church, that
the Sacrament is indeed more than just a symbol - it’s what Jesus Himself declared it to be,
His Body, His Blood!  For Christ Himself is the divine authority who, through His priests, still
duly sanctifies the lowly bread and common wine and so certifies those elements after the
consecration as His Body and Blood.
[When there are Masses in which numbers of non-Catholics and/or inactive Catholics may
be present (e.g. funerals or weddings), a short catechesis on the proper dispositions for
receiving Communion is appropriate. (Those approaching Communion should be in
"visible" and in "invisible" communion with the Catholic Church, i.e. be in fact Roman
Catholics and in the state of grace). USCCB guidelines on reception of Holy Communion
could be published in liturgical aids provided to those attending the Mass.]
(Bishop Norbert Dorsey, Liturgical Rules, November 21, 2004, Solemnity of Christ the King)

There are times when we must turn down even the most wholesome food because of some
serious sickness which prevents us from digesting as long as the disease continues to
ravage our body.  In such a situation, it’s counter-productive to even dare swallowing a
morsel - in fact, we discover that everything else in our lives can be put on hold, and needs
to be put on hold, while we focus on addressing such a grave illness, turning to God and a
doctor for help in getting the awful germs cleaned out of our system.
Secondly, which will follow closely with the first reason, if you’re in a state of grave sin -
even if, and especially if, that’s not weighing much at this moment on your heart or
conscience, please, I pray, come to grips with the seriousness of your situation, and set
aside everything to address the deadly disease of sin, for until you do, the wholesomeness
of the Eucharist can only be counter-productive.  
So, for your own sake, do not compromise yourself further with a sacrilegious Communion!  
If you’ve inexcusably and deliberately missed Sunday Mass or otherwise failed in basic
respect to God and God-given authority, if you’ve willingly inflicted severe harm of any sort
on another person, if you’ve had or counseled another to have an abortion, if you’re
divorced and married outside the Church, if you’ve fallen into adultery, habitual
masturbation or pornography, if you and your spouse have embraced a contraceptive
practice and mentality, if you’ve stolen or cheated in a big way, if you’ve been living a lie, if
you’re coveting the lives and goods of others while neglecting to thank God and make the
most of the blessings He provides for you - if any such serious sins or others are yet
infecting your soul, then clearly, you’re not in the right state for intimate Communion with
Christ until you’ve repented, and been absolved and reconciled with God in sacramental

Finally, a reason for refraining from eating at a particular time simply is in recognition that
all food is less appetizing after a person has already just recently eaten, particularly if what
is already digesting might disagree with something new.  So, for instance, if a person has
just finished a full meal topped with a dessert of ice cream and cake, he’s not going to have
a good disposition to follow that with a vinegar salad.  As another example, we’re all aware
that some medicines must be taken on an empty stomach.
The Church’s practice calls those who intend to receive Holy Communion to prepare their
bodies with a modest fast of one hour, refraining from earthly food and drink (although
water or necessary medicines may be taken) for that short time in order to be better
disposed to receive the Eucharist, which St. Ignatius of Antioch rightly called the “Medicine
of Immortality.”  
Likewise, if you’re  neglecting to prepare your own body to receive the Body of Christ, if you’
re forgetting to fast for at least an hour before Communion, then the best way to sharpen
your appetite for receiving the Bread of Life is to hold back at this time from approaching
the altar, and instead, prayerfully express your whole-hearted desire to receive the
Eucharistic Lord, at least spiritually at this moment, but then sacramentally, when you have
more fully prepared.  

Indeed, there are these three and even other substantial reasons to refrain when
necessary from receiving Communion, but all of those reasons should be recognized as
ultimately temporary and provisional, for they only exist to lead us to the more eternal and
substantial reasons for always preparing ourselves as best as possible to  receive
Communion, to welcome our loving God with heart, mind, and body, as we unite ourselves
completely in Communion with the Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of our Lord and
Savior Jesus Christ!
(Adapted from, Retreat Master: Fr. Rory Pitstick, SSL, Reflections following the Daily
Liturgical cycle for the Feast of Corpus Christi, 2006 -
Immaculate Heart Retreat Center)
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