Interior Disposition for Reception of the Eucharist

by Father Michael Clawson on June 25, 2023

Being amid the Eucharistic Revival and having celebrated the Feast of Corpus Christi, this is an excellent opportunity to talk about the reception of the Eucharist during Mass. 

There are two elements of our reception of our Lord’s body, blood, soul, and divinity at Mass that we must prayerfully consider at every Mass: our exterior disposition (how we physically receive) and our interior disposition (the state of our soul, our intent, our hearts, and minds when we receive). This week’s bulletin article will focus on the proper interior disposition of the reception of the Eucharist; next week, we will discuss proper exterior disposition.

Having a proper interior disposition is necessary to receive the Eucharist well. To do this well, we need to come to the Sacrament free from mortal sin and with the desire and intention to no longer fall into sin, venial or mortal. Pope Pius X defines a right intention and disposition to receive Holy Communion;  “that he who approaches the sacred table indulges not through habit, or vanity, or human reasonings, but wishes to satisfy the pleasure of God, to be joined with Him more closely in charity and to oppose his infirmities and defects with that divine remedy.”

This is to say that a person should not come to receive Holy Communion if they do so out of mere habit or because of a prideful and vain fear of others seeing them abstaining from the Eucharist when they ought to. Documents from the 1996-2012 Synod of Bishops concluded: “The proper disposition comes from discerning that the Body of the Lord is not ordinary bread but the Bread of Life for those who are reconciled to the Father. Just as sharing an ordinary meal presupposes good relations, so the Eucharist is the Sacrament of those reconciled.” This is not only something the Church has said by her authority but is also found in sacred scripture when Paul says in 1 Corinthians 11: “27 Therefore whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord unworthily will have to answer for the body and blood of the Lord. 28 A person should examine himself, and so eat the bread and drink the cup. 29 For anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body, eats and drinks judgment on himself.” Paul says a person who consumes the Eucharist in a state of mortal sin or without proper disposition brings God’s divine judgment upon themselves; IE commits a mortal sin.  

In His apparitions to St. Faustina, Christ lamented the frequent absent-minded state of our interior dispositions when we receive Him in the Eucharist. St. Faustina recorded His words in her diary: “When I come to a human heart in Holy Communion, my hands are full of all kinds of graces which I want to give to the soul, but souls do not even pay attention to me. They leave me to myself and busy themselves with other things…They treat me as a dead object.” The Eucharistic Host we receive is not an object, and certainly not a dead object. It is a person – a person who is not dead but fully alive: risen and ascended! The late Pope Benedict XIV wrote about the importance of reverence in our minds and hearts as we receive, saying: “It is quite wrong to argue about this or that form of behavior. We should be concerned only to argue in favor of reverence in the heart, an inner submission before the mystery of God.” As you approach the living Christ in the Eucharist this weekend at Mass, be intentional: where are your mind, heart, and soul?

Next week, we will discuss (but not argue!) how we exhibit this interior reverence physically through our behavior and exterior disposition.

In Christ,

Father Clawson


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