WASHINGTON (October 19, 2006) — The U.S. bishops will vote on a statement designed to help Catholics properly prepare to receive Holy Communion during their annual November meeting in Baltimore, Nov. 13-16.
The proposed document, "Happy Are Those Who Are Called To His Supper": On Preparing To Receive Christ Worthily in the Eucharist, is not intended to be a technical document for bishops, pastors, or ministers, but is addressed to all the faithful and suitable for individual reading, parish study groups, and other education programs. Organized as a series of questions and answers, the statement explores topics such as what the Catholic Church believes about the Eucharist, who may receive Holy Communion, and how Catholics can prepare to receive the sacrament more worthily.
According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, the Eucharist is the "source and summit of the Christian life" that brings the faithful into communion with Christ and also together as a community of believers. Catholics should prepare to receive Holy Communion, the statement says, by regular prayer and scripture reading, participation in the Sacrament of Penance, fasting, wearing modest and tasteful dress during the liturgy and coming to Mass in a prayerful state of mind.
The statement reiterates Church teaching that with "few exceptions, only those who are members of the Catholic Church may receive Holy Communion at a Catholic Eucharist." Catholics should strive "to receive Holy Communion regularly, gratefully, and worthily," but should refrain from the sacrament when they find themselves no longer in a state of grace because of mortal sin, which is an act violating God's law that involves grave matter and that is performed with both full knowledge and complete consent of the will. Catholics who are conscious of committing any mortal sin must receive the Sacrament of Penance before receiving Holy Communion. Catholics should also refrain from Holy Communion, according to the statement, when they lack adherence to what the Church authoritatively teaches on matters of faith and morals or when a person is publicly known to have committed serious sin.
More information about the November meeting can be found at www.usccb.org/