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What is Communion? | The Holy Third Sacrament

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The Sacrament of Communion is the Sacrament with which the baptized receive the fullness of the Holy Spirit through laying on hands and anointing Christ. The grace proper to Communion about that of Baptism goes in the sense of strengthening, of perfection: the baptismal consecration is sealed and made definitive with a further communication of the Holy Spirit.

If we sometimes speak of Communion as the “Sacrament of Christian maturity.” This refers to the adult age of faith, which does not coincide with the adult age of natural growth. And in any case, the grace of Baptism – and also that of Communion- is a free and undeserved grace of election. Which does not need a “ratification” to become effective. 

Communion in Sacred Scripture

Communion, like Baptism, belongs to the order of God’s great works in which something of his interventions of salvation is renewed. Suppose Baptism is rooted in the mystery of Christ’s death and resurrection. In that case, the mystery of Christ’s death, resurrection, and communion is based on the mystery of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost (Acts 2: 1-11 ). This inaugurated the Church’s time and the Apostles’ mission and all believers worldwide.

Unlike Baptism, however, which in the teaching of the New Testament has a well-defined existence and consistency, Communion is more fluctuating and less precise in the Bible. Lacking, among other things, a technical term that indicates precisely the scope, aims, contents, rights, and duties that it confers within the Christian community. Christian initiation is a unitary fact in the New Testament that does not know the distinctions we are accustomed to today. 

Representation of the Sacrament of Communion

what is communion


The theological arrangement from the fourteenth century

In the fourteenth century, they wanted to classify the rites of the Church as having a real sacramental value. All considered communion a sacrament distinct from Baptism and capable of conferring a special grace on itself. The Council of Florence ( 1431 – 1445 ) officially consecrated this doctrine. By placing Communion in the number of the seven Sacraments of the New Law. Declaring it to be of apostolic time.

The same teaching was reaffirmed in the face of the denial of the Protestants of the sixteenth century. If Luther, with the doctrine of external justification, excluded any idea of ​​interior transformation of the soul through Grace, the Council of Trent defined the existence of seven Sacraments ordered to confer Grace. And among them is precisely Communion. With three particular canons then, the same Council excludes any Protestant interpretation of the Communion:

  • he does not want a superfluous ( otiose ) ceremony to be seen in the Communion received by the baptized. But rather a sacrament in the technical sense of the word; he does not want it to be seen only as a catechesis. During this, adolescents would give an account of their faith before the Church ;
  • condemns those who offend the Holy Spirit by excluding any efficacy from chrismation;
  • finally, it condemns those who believe that the ordinary minister of Communion is any simple presbyter, not just the Bishop.

The Sacrament of Communion in the Pio-Benedictine Code

The Pio-Benedictine Code then clarified the way to administer Communion. 780 expressly declares that Communion must be conferred per manus imposition cum unction charismatic in front. By the imposition of the hand with the anointing of chrism on the forehead. And by the words prescribed by the Pontificals approved by the Church. 

On the one hand, therefore, it formally approves the “form” used by the united Greek Churches. On the other hand, it expresses the intention not to depart from the traditional use of the imposition of hands. Joining it with the chrismation on the forehead. 

However, about the laying on of hands referred to in the Code, one wonders whether it refers precisely to that carried out while anointing the forehead with the thumb. It would seem so from the rubric of the Roman Pontifical of the time. In this case, the preserved form would apply to anything other than the laying on of hands to which it referred to the time of the Apostles. Although an invocation accompanied it to the Septiform Spirit, it would only be a preliminary ceremony. Nor would it be part of the strictly sacramental rite.

The reform of the Second Vatican Council

The Rite of Communion was also reformed as part of the liturgical reform following the Second Vatican Council. The Apostolic Constitution Divinae consortium nature of Pope Paul VI established the methods of celebration currently in force.

The rite of Communion

A bishop of the Latin rite administers Communion by carrying out the anointing on the forehead of the confirmands.

The consecration of the sacred Chrism can be considered part of the rite. Even if it precedes it, the Bishop consecrates the church on Holy Thursday during the Chrism Mass.

When Communion is celebrated separately from Baptism. As in the Roman Rite, the liturgy of the sacrament begins with the renewal of baptismal promises and with the profession of faith by the confirmands. This highlights the fact that Communion takes place in succession to Baptism.

The essential rite of the Communion Sacrament follows:

  • in the Latin rite, “the Sacrament of Communion is conferred through the anointing of chrism on the forehead. Which is done with the imposition of the hand, and through the words: Accipe tenaculum doni Spiritus Sancti – ‘Receive the seal of the Holy Spirit who it is given as a gift”;
  • in the Eastern Churches of the Byzantine rite, the anointing with the Myron is done after a prayer of epiclesis. On the most significant parts of the body: the forehead, eyes, nose, ears, lips, chest, back, hands, and feet; each anointing is accompanied by the formula Σφραγίς δωρεᾶς Πνεύματος Ἁγίου, Sphraghís doreâs Pneúmatos Haghíou (in LatinSignaculum doni Spiritus Sancti, “Seal of the gift of the Holy Spirit”).

The kiss of peace that concludes the sacrament rite signifies and expresses ecclesial communion with the Bishop and with all the faithful. When an adult is baptized, he receives Communion and immediately participates in the Eucharist Mass.

You might also want to know.

The Sacrament of Communion is a Catholic rite. Since the institution of Communion is not evident from Sacred Scripture alone, Protestantism does not recognize it as a Sacrament, reducing it all to a simple ceremony. The Lutheran Church effectively makes Communion consist of examining the candidate and renewing the baptismal profession of faith.

Little different is the practice observed in the Anglican Church, which leads to specific prayers upon examination by the candidate. Theory and practice vary in the various groupings into which those ecclesial communities are divided.

Communion is a solemn blessing service in which young people celebrate their Christian faith. The confirmands thereby confirm their acceptance into the Christian community, which has previously occurred with baptism, usually in infancy.

3. What is the most critical part of Communion?


From the Council of Trent onwards, the Church has had no other occasion to return to the subject of the mystery of Communion except for the proposition of the Lamentabili decree of Pope Pius X ( 1907 ). Which reaffirms the distinction between Baptism and says that it has to do with the history of early Christianity.