Worship, Mass & Holy Communion

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1. Do I need to go to confession before I go to communion?

The Sacrament of Penance is still an integral part of the Catholic faith, although there are some Catholics who do not participate as often as they could. The Sacrament of Penance is about God’s love for us and his desire to heal us and set us free. This he does when we turn to him and tell him of our sins.

As a Sacrament of healing, Penance is for the good of the person participating, and brings many graces.

“Christ instituted the sacrament of Penance for all sinful members of his Church: above all for those who, since Baptism, have fallen into grave sin, and have thus lost their baptismal grace and wounded ecclesial communion. It is to them that the sacrament of Penance offers a new possibility to convert and to recover the grace of justification. The Fathers of the Church present this sacrament as "the second plank [of salvation] after the shipwreck which is the loss of grace.” (CCC, 1446)

The Catechism of the Catholic Church provides helpful instruction on the place of the Sacrament of Penance in relation to Communion: “Anyone who desires to receive Christ in the Eucharistic Communion must be in a state of grace. Anyone aware of having sinned mortally must not receive Communion without having received absolution in the Sacrament of Penance.”(CCC, 1415)

We have a little pamphlet on the Sacrament of Reconciliation, with prayers etc that you might find useful in your preparation. Please contact us if you’d like a copy.

2. What are the rules about fasting before receiving Holy Communion?

Canon 919 states:

1: "One who is to receive the Most Holy Eucharist is to abstain from any food or drink, with the exception of only water or medicine, for at least the period of one hour before Holy Communion."

3: "Those who are advanced in age or who suffer from any infirmity, as well as those who take care of them, can receive the Most Hoy Eucharist even if they have taken something during the previous hour."

3. Can non-catholics take communion in the Catholic Church?

People of all faiths are welcome to attend Mass in a Catholic Church. Non-Catholics are welcome to be present for the celebration but only Catholics in a state of grace are able to receive Holy Communion during Mass. The Eucharist is not merely bread but the True Presence of Jesus; his real body, blood, soul and divinity and as such, it is appropriate that this is only distributed to those who have professed such a belief.  Although some Protestant communities have the 'breaking of the bread', unlike Catholic and Orthodox Traditions, the bread is not Jesus' True Presence.

There could be a number of people present at Mass who do not participate in receiving the Eucharist for a variety of reasons, being that they are not Catholic or that they are not in a position to receive communion. But all are welcome to share in the prayer and celebration.

4. What options for receiving communion are there for people with gluten intolerance?

I am a practicing Catholic but have gluten intolerance. What are the options available to me for receiving communion?

The following advice has been provided by the Bishops' Commission for Liturgy. The St Vincent de Paul Society at Lewisham in Sydney now produce very low gluten hosts. These have been assessed by the Coeliac Society's scientific officer and have found to be so low that coeliacs are not affected when they are received as Holy Communion.

If, however the condition is so severe that would preclude even low gluten hosts, then they should make arrangements with the parish priest to receive Holy Communion from the chalice. This is a practice that is widespread both here in Australia and overseas.

5. Why do I pray?

Prayer is natural to man

We are here only because God made us, and we depend completely on Him. It is natural that man should acknowledge this fact. "What have you that you did not receive?" (1 Cor. 4,7) Prayer is common courtesy.

It is courteous to return thanks for a gift. God's gifts to us deserve our gratitude. "What shall I render to the Lord for all his bounty to me?" (Ps.116,12)

Prayer is simple

It is the raising of the mind and heart to God, that is, we turn our mind, our attention to God, we think about Him; and then our heart goes out to Him in adoration, love, praise, thanksgiving, sorrow for sin, requests for what we need. "Thou, O Lord, art good and forgiving, abounding in steadfast love to all who call on thee." (Ps.86,5)

6. What are the main types of prayer?

1. The Practice of the Presence of God

Our Lord on one occasion told His Apostles that they should pray always (Luke 18,1). What did He mean? How is it possible to pray always?

Our Lord meant by those words that we should first of all realise that we are always in the presence of God. He is with us all the time.

Once we realise this, constant prayer becomes a very simple thing. It does not need many words. Indeed it doesn't need any.

The better we know a person the less need we have of words in talking to him. The practice of the presence of God means sharing our life, our interest, our activities, our thoughts with Him. This is called the state of prayer. It is a state which can last all our waking hours. Moreover, in this way we learn little by little to look at things in God's way, to judge things from His point of view. Prayer becomes, as it were, the very air we breathe. Our whole life becomes an offering, a prayer to God. This is what Christ meant when He said that we should pray always. Of course we should also try to have some special time each day for verbal prayer. Even if we do not use many words, a few minutes each night to think back on the day and talk to God about it will mean a great deal. Next day we will be better able to put ourselves in the presence of God. For daily prayer online, visit http://www.pray.com.au/daily-gospel-reflections.html

2. Prayer in Words

We can form the habit of prayer without words - simply by raising our mind and heart to God. There are times, however, when we feel the need to put our thoughts and feelings into words. In that case we should talk to God as simply as we talk to anybody. If you read the lives of the Saints, you will find an extraordinary simplicity in their conversations with Almighty God. Sometimes they just say the same thing over and over again. "My God I love you. My God I trust You. My God I believe in You". So a person in love says the same things over and over again to the one he loves. We can talk as much or as little as we please, in any way we please, so long as it is sincere. This is all that God wants. What about using prayer books? Some people find them useful, others don't. We can use them or not, just as we wish. In general, it is true to say that most people can learn a great deal from using a prayer book. There are times when we can't find words to express what is in our heart. The prayers that have been used by friends of God for centuries can then help us to say what we want to say. It is like appreciating poetry. The poet has a gift of saying with insight and penetration the kind of thing that we have vaguely felt but never been able to express. So also formal prayers can nourish the spirit of prayer in us when we use them. After a while phrases and sentences from them become part of ourselves. What began as a borrowed prayer is now a very personal one of our own.

7. Are my prayers heard?

God guarantees that every prayer is answered. (See Matt 7, 7-11). This does not mean, however, that He will necessarily give us just what we are asking for. Sometimes the things we ask for are not for our good, even though they seem to us most desirable. Because He is our Father, with a father's loving concern for our welfare, God does not grant such requests. Our first prayer then should be for the great grace of resignation to His will. The story is told of a child who wanted a bicycle for Christmas. The child's father did not believe in God, and thought that he would discourage his child's belief by telling him: "You want a bicycle for Christmas. You believe God can do everything; ask Him for it." Christmas Day arrived, and no bicycle. The father was delighted. "There you are," he said, "God did not give you your bicycle. He did not answer your prayer." "Oh, yes He did!" replied the child, "He said `No'."


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