Listers, the following lesson is taken from the Baltimore Catechism. The Baltimore Catechism was the standard catechism of teaching the faith and catechizing children from 1885 to Vatican II. Its basic question-and-answer approach is the most natural learning style for the human mind and simplifies even the most complex theological questions. SPL has also reproduced 29 Questions Explaining Indulgences, 46 Questions to Help Explain the Sacraments,and What Is Meant By the “End of Man” and 10 other Questions.
The following list is the fourth installment of questions explaining the Eucharist:
This Is My Body: 10 Questions to Help Explain the Holy Eucharist
Transubstantiation: 10 Questions on the Substance of the Holy Eucharist
Do This in Memory of Me: 7 Questions on the Eucharist.
Baltimore Catechism No. 3
On the Ends for Which the Holy Eucharist Was Instituted
Q. 895. Why did Christ institute the Holy Eucharist?
A. Christ instituted the Holy Eucharist:
To unite us to Himself and to nourish our soul with His divine life.
To increase sanctifying grace and all virtues in our soul.
To lessen our evil inclinations.
To be a pledge of everlasting life.
To fit our bodies for a glorious resurrection.
To continue the sacrifice of the Cross in His Church.
Q. 896. Has the Holy Eucharist any other effect?
A. The Holy Eucharist remits venial sins by disposing us to perform acts of love and contrition. It preserves us from mortal sin by exciting us to greater fervor and strengthening us against temptation.
Q. 897. How are we united to Jesus Christ in the Holy Eucharist?
A. We are united to Jesus Christ in the Holy Eucharist by means of Holy Communion.
Q. 898. What is Holy Communion?
A. Holy Communion is the receiving of the body and blood of Christ.
Q. 899. Is it not beneath the dignity of Our Lord to enter our bodies under the appearance of ordinary food?
A. It is not beneath the dignity of Our Lord to enter our bodies under the appearance of ordinary food any more than it was beneath His dignity to enter the body of His Blessed Mother and remain there as an ordinary child for nine months. Christ’s dignity, being infinite, can never be diminished by any act on His own or on our part.
Q. 900. Why does not the Church give Holy Communion to the people as it does to the priest under the appearance of wine also?
A. The Church does not give Holy Communion to the people as it does to the priest under the appearance of wine also, to avoid the danger of spilling the Precious Blood; to prevent the irreverence some might show if compelled to drink out of a chalice used by all, and lastly, to refute those who denied that Our Lord’s blood is present under the appearance of bread also.
Q. 901. What is necessary to make a good Communion?
A. To make a good Communion it is necessary to be in the state of sanctifying grace and to fast according to the laws of the Church.
Q. 902. What should a person do who, through forgetfulness or any other cause, has broken the fast necessary for Holy Communion?
A. A person who through forgetfulness or any other cause has broken the fast necessary for Holy Communion, should again fast and receive Holy Communion the following morning if possible, without returning to confession. It is not a sin to break one’s fast, but it would be a mortal sin to receive Holy Communion after knowingly breaking the fast necessary for it.
Q. 903. Does he who receives Communion in mortal sin receive the body and blood of Christ?
A. He who receives Communion in mortal sin receives the body and blood of Christ, but does not receive His grace, and he commits a great sacrilege.
Q. 904. Is it enough to be free from mortal sin to receive plentifully the graces of Holy Communion?
A. To receive plentifully the graces of Holy Communion it is not enough to be free from mortal sin, but we should be free from all affection to venial sin, and should make acts of lively faith, of firm hope, and ardent love.
Q. 905. What is the fast necessary for Holy Communion?
A. The fast necessary for Holy Communion is the abstaining from food, alcoholic drinks and non-alcoholic drinks for one hour before Holy Communion. Water does not break the fast.
Q. 906. Does medicine taken by necessity or food taken by accident break the fast for Holy Communion?
A. Medicine does not break the fast; food taken by accident within one hour before Communion breaks the fast.
Q. 907. Is any one ever allowed to receive Holy Communion when not fasting?
A. To protect the Blessed Sacrament from insult or injury, or when in danger of death, Holy Communion may be received without fasting.
Q. 908. Is the Holy Communion called by any other name when given to one in danger of death?
A. When the Holy Communion is given to one in danger of death, it is called Viaticum, and is given with its own form of prayer. In giving Holy Communion the priest says: “May the body of Our Lord Jesus Christ guard your soul to eternal life.” In giving Holy Viaticum he says: “Receive, brother (or sister), the Viaticum of the body of Our Lord Jesus Christ, which will guard you from the wicked enemy and lead you into eternal life.”
Q. 909. When are we bound to receive Holy Communion?
A. We are bound to receive Holy Communion, under pain of mortal sin, during the Easter time and when in danger of death.
Q. 910. Is it well to receive Holy Communion often?
A. It is well to receive Holy Communion often, as nothing is a greater aid to a holy life than often to receive the Author of all grace and the Source of all good.
Q. 911. How shall we know how often we should receive Holy Communion?
A. We shall know how often we shall receive Holy Communion only from the advice of our confessor, by whom we must be guided, and whom we must strictly obey in this as well as in all matters concerning the state of our soul.
Q. 912. What is a spiritual Communion?
A. A spiritual communion is an earnest desire to receive Communion in reality, by which desire we make all preparations and thanksgivings that we would make in case we really received the Holy Eucharist. Spiritual Communion is an act of devotion that must be pleasing to God and bring us blessings from Him.
Q. 913. What should we do after Holy Communion?
A. After Holy Communion we should spend some time in adoring Our Lord, in thanking Him for the grace we have received, and in asking Him for the blessings we need.
Q. 914. What length of time should we spend in thanksgiving after Holy Communion?
A. We should spend sufficient time in Thanksgiving after Holy Communion to show due reverence to the Blessed Sacrament; for Our Lord is personally with us as long as the appearance of bread and wine remains.
Q. 915. What should we be particular about when receiving Holy Communion?
A. When receiving Holy Communion we should be particular:
About the respectful manner in which we approach and return from the altar;
About our personal appearance, especially neatness and cleanliness;
About raising our head, opening our mouth and putting forth the tongue in the proper manner;
About swallowing the Sacred Host;
About removing it carefully with the tongue, in case it should stick to the mouth, but never with the finger under any circumstances.