By Archbishop Michael Jackels
We read in the Bible about how people reacted when they realized they were in the presence of God: fell to their knees, covered their faces, and prayed for mercy, to be purified in order to be worthy to be in the Divine Presence.
As the Mass progresses, Christ’s presence becomes gradually more intense and personal: from two or three gathered in his Name, to the person of the priest, to a voice in the proclamation of the Gospel, to the Real Presence of his Body and Blood, culminating in his offer to become part of us in Holy Communion.
And as Christ’s presence becomes more substantial and intimate, our humble pleading for mercy increases in number and intensity, reaching a fever pitch in the Communion Rite, in the actions and prayers immediately before being invited to receive the Eucharist.
You can hear the fervor when, as the priest breaks the Host into pieces, we repeat: have mercy on us, have mercy on us, and grant us peace.
It becomes even more intense as the Eucharist is held up to us and we are invited to the supper of the Lamb.
In response, we fall to our knees, saying: I am not worthy, but only say the word and my soul will be healed.