Can it ever be a bad thing for a Catholic to receive the Eucharist?
“Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of profaning the body and blood of the Lord.” 1 Cor 11:27
I remember talking to a group about how to prepare to receive the sacrament of the Eucharist, when someone said that surely it was never a bad thing to receive Our Lord in the Eucharist? Well St Paul disagrees! The offending Corinthians were guilty of overeating, drunkenness and discrimination against the poor. This was sufficient for them to be in a state of mortal sin and therefore the act of receiving the Body and Blood of Christ became an act of sacrilege and self-condemnation. So indeed there are circumstances when receiving the Lord in the Eucharist is a gravely immoral act.
St John Chrysostom says, in his commentary on Corinthians, that receiving the Lord unworthily is an act equivalent to the soldiers who crucified our Lord! They spilled His precious blood but did not drink it. His blood was made to pour forth but it was not for the Eucharist.
So how do we make sure we are not like the crucifiers of Jesus by receiving the Eucharist unworthily? The simple answer is that we need to take seriously our preparation for the Eucharist. And the bottom line is that if we are aware that we have committed grave sin then we should not receive the Eucharist until we have gone to confession. This is the teaching of the church.
St Paul reckoned that sinning in this sacrilegious way resulted in the Corinthians received divine judgement through their weakness, sickness and in some instances even death (1 Cor 11:30).
On this day when the Church celebrates the Mass of the Lord’s Supper, let us renew our practice of preparing ourselves to receive the Sacrament of the Eucharist. Let us examine ourselves and if our conscience convicts us of grave sin then let us refrain from receiving the Eucharist as an act of love towards our Lord, and let us hasten to the confessional to be reconciled and enter into the joy of the Lord.
Thanks be to God for His inestimable Gift.