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Browsing Fr. Joel Hastings

Chewing the Eucharist

What is the proper way to hold the Host in your mouth after receiving Communion?  You are not supposed to chew but to let it dissolve, correct?

     Right reverence and etiquette for the reception of Holy Communion has been a topic throughout the Church’s history. Piety requires that our consuming of the Body of Christ be carried out with reverence and consciousness of the holy gift of which we partake. In practice, such questions as whether such reverence means we either can or cannot chew the Host in receiving the Body of Christ needs to be approached from both the point of view of being properly reverent to that which is sacred and to carry out that act in a fitting manner aware that the physical “accidents” of the sacrament includes what begins as and appears to be as bread.

     I would venture to say that given how some hosts do not easily dissolve in our mouths because of their thickness and density, it is necessary to chew the host – so as to fully consume it in a timely and reverent manner without the Eucharistic elements remaining inside our mouths for an inordinately long amount of time.
However, such an act of chewing needs to be carried out reverently. As an illustration, the “rubrics” in the Roman Missal (that is, the directives on what “to do” for offering Mass) speak of the priest’s own reception of the Body of Christ simply by saying that he “reverently consumes” it. Such reverence means that if he needs to chew it so as to better be able to swallow, he ought to do so with “reverence.” The same approach is accordingly to be carried out by the people.

     As a related side note to how to receive the Eucharist reverently – and as a “friendly” reminder: chewing gum during Mass is neither reverent nor acceptable for receiving the Eucharist properly.



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