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Chapter 17. The Eucharist: Source and Summit of the Christian Life • 231

Guidelines for the Reception of Communion

On November 14, 1996, the National Conference of Catholic

Bishops (now the United States Conference of Catholic

Bishops) approved the following guidelines on the reception of

Communion. The guidelines seek to remind all those who may

attend Catholic liturgies of the present discipline of the Church

with regard to the sharing of Eucharistic communion.

For Catholics

As Catholics, we fully participate in the celebration of the

Eucharist when we receive Holy Communion. We are encour-

aged to receive Communion devoutly and frequently. In order

to be properly disposed to receive Communion, participants

should be conscious of no grave sin and normally should have

fasted for one hour. A person who is conscious of grave sin is

not to receive the Body and Blood of the Lord without prior

sacramental confession except for a grave reason where there is

no opportunity for confession. In this case the person is to be

mindful of the obligation to make an act of perfect contrition,

including the intention of confessing as soon as possible (CIC,

can. 916). A frequent reception of the Sacrament of Penance is

encouraged for all.

For Our Fellow Christians

We welcome our fellow Christians to this celebration of the

Eucharist as our brothers and sisters. We pray that our com-

mon baptism and the action of the Holy Spirit in this Eucharist

will draw us closer to one another and begin to dispel the sad

divisions which separate us. We pray that these will lessen and

finally disappear, in keeping with Christ’s prayer for us “that

they all may be one” (Jn 17:21).

Because Catholics believe that the celebration of the Eucharist

is a sign of the reality of the oneness of faith, life and wor-

ship, members of those churches with whom we are not yet

fully united are ordinarily not admitted to Holy Communion.

Eucharistic sharing in exceptional circumstances by other

Christians requires permission according to the directives of the

diocesan bishop and the provisions of canon law (CIC, can. 844