In the blessed Eucharist is contained the whole spiritual
good of the Church, namely Christ Himself .
In a wonderful summary statement, the Catechism highlights
the central core of why the Mass is so important for us, why it
is the source and summit of the Christian life-because in it,
in some divinely mysterious way, is contained the very person
of Jesus Christ Himself. That being the case, it is good to review,
from time to time, just how we show our appropriate reverence
to His presence in the Mass, especially His presence in the Eucharist.
There is need for some clarity here, as there are questions in
some folks' minds in terms of what responses are indicated by
the rubrics of the Mass itself, verses personal piety or devotion.
To clarify this, what follows is a brief synopsis of some of
the rubrics governing the Mass concerning the Eucharist and our
approach to it. Note: rubrics indicate a required action, not
a devotional or pietistic approach.
--Concerning making an appropriate sign of reverence before we receive Communion:
"The communicants approach, make a suitable reverence, and
stand in front of the celebrant (or Eucharistic minister)."
(GIRM, #244, c).
--Concerning genuflecting whenever we pass in front of a Tabernacle in which the
Blessed Sacrament is reserved:
"If there is a tabernacle with the blessed sacrament in the sanctuary, a genuflection is made before and after Mass and whenever anyone passes
in front of the Blessed Sacrament." (GIRM, #233)
(The document Inaestimabile Donum, which was issued by the Sacred Congregation for the Sacraments and Divine Worship and was approved and confirmed by His Holiness Pope John Paul II on April 17, 1980, contains a worthwhile comment on how that genuflection occurs:
"The venerable practice of genuflecting before the Blessed Sacrament,
whether enclosed in the tabernacle or publicly exposed, as a sign of
adoration, is to be maintained. This act requires that it be performed
in a recollected way. In order that the heart may bow before God
in profound reverence, the genuflection must be neither hurried
--Concerning kneeling during the consecration:
"The people kneel beginning after the singing or recitation of the Sanctus
until after the Amen of the Eucharistic prayer, that is, before the Lord's prayer." (GIRM, #21 of the Special Appendix for the Dioceses of the United States.)