The Holy Eucharist, the Blessed Sacrament of the Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ, goes by many names in the Christian Community: the Lord’s Supper, the Divine Liturgy, the Mass, the Holy Mysteries, the Holy Sacrifice, Holy Communion. Jesus instituted the Eucharist on the night before he died for us and told his followers to “do this in remembrance of me.” The Eucharist is the outward and visible sign of our redemption by the sacrifice, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ our Lord.
At Saint Thomas Church, we have the joy and privilege of celebrating the Eucharist every single day of the year (save on Good Friday), usually more than once, offering over one thousand Masses per year.
The Episcopal Church, of which Saint Thomas Church is a parish in the Diocese of New York, welcomes all baptized Christians to receive the Blessed Sacrament at its altars, if they desire the Body and Blood of Christ, and if, in the words of the Invitation, they “truly and earnestly repent of their sins and are in love and charity with their neighbors.”
We want everyone to feel welcome and able to worship the Lord with us at Saint Thomas Church, especially when we celebrate the Eucharist. This is a House of Prayer for all people. We realize that some people may not be familiar with our customs regarding Holy Communion. So, if you intend to make your Holy Communion at Saint Thomas, you might find these notes helpful:
- While we are familiar with and respect other customs, Episcopalians customarily place their right palm across the left for the priest to place the Host (the wafer of consecrated Bread) upon the open palm, and then raise the Host to their mouth to consume it.
- When the chalice minister offers the consecrated wine, it is helpful if you assist by gently touching the base of the chalice, guiding the cup to your lips, and taking a small sip.
- Sharing the common chalice is a powerful sacramental symbol and privilege enjoyed by Anglicans for nearly 500 years. But persons who do not wish to receive the consecrated wine for any reason may accept the host only; Holy Communion is fully received under either form of bread or wine. Simply cross your arms over your chest to indicate to the chalice minister that you are declining to receive the cup. Similarly, you may decline to receive the host and instead choose to receive only the consecrated wine.
- Some people prefer to receive Communion by intinction, that is, dipping the wafer into the wine. We prefer that you leave the wafer in your palm and allow the chalice minister to dip it and place it on your tongue.
- If you wish to come to the altar rail to receive a blessing from the priest (without receiving Communion), cross your arms over your chest and the priest will bless you. Remain in that posture until the person following you has finished receiving both the bread and the wine. You may receive a priest’s blessing whether you are a baptized Christian or not.
- Please remove any gloves before receiving the host. We would ask ladies to remove lipstick before drinking from the chalice.
- After the person following you has received the chalice, rise and return to your seat.
- Many people bow or genuflect when they leave their pews to approach the Blessed Sacrament. Many others make the sign of the cross when they receive Communion and at other times during the service. These acts are traditional personal devotions done out of respect for the Real Presence of Christ in the Blessed Sacrament. We welcome these signs of reverence, but we do not require them or expect them of anyone.
- The Blessed Sacrament is perpetually reserved at Saint Thomas Church for prayer and devotion as well as for the Communion of the sick and homebound. The Sacrament is kept most Sundays in the Aumbry, which is on the right side of the High Altar Sanctuary, and most weekdays in the Tabernacle on the Chantry Chapel Altar.
We celebrate the Eucharist every day of the year at Saint Thomas