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How Do I Stay Focused When I’m Waiting to Receive Communion?


Father Dave and Brett get a quick question from a Twitter follower: “I always get distracted in the Communion line. Any tips or prayers to help me stay focused on the Eucharist?”

Father Dave relays a similar struggle he had growing up: “I would be distracted, not so much in the Communion line, but [my family] would typically sit somewhat near the front … so that means you receive Communion kinda near the front, and then you go back to your pew and you’re sitting there kneeling [and] ideally praying. That’s when I would be distracted. I’d be watching all the other people. I [wanted] to see who else was in the [Communion] line there. I didn’t wave, but there was eye contact if there was someone I knew. So, I remember that — I remember being distracted during Communion time.”

Since Father Dave’s become a priest, though, that problem’s solved itself, as he’s often distributing the Eucharist: “Certainly I still notice the people, [and] that’s one of the gifts of actually doing that ministry of distributing Communion: noticing the great diversity of the Body of Christ. Each person’s face is different, the way they dress is different, their height is different. And here they all come, with all of who they are, they all line up in the same line, and the person right behind you in line might make three times what you make in salary, or they may have just lost a loved one. We don’t know. We all line up together.”

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But for a layperson in the pews, he or she might feel a desire to concentrate on prayer and not the other congregants during this especially holy part of the Mass, even if that person struggles to focus. For someone in that situation, like the person who tweeted the question, Father Dave has some advice:

“Maybe if you find yourself [in the Communion line], instead of wondering to yourself about whether you like that person or know that person, think of how you could pray for that person. If what we’re supposed to be doing at that point is praying in a huge room full of lots of people, well then use that — don’t try to fight against it. Say to yourself, ‘That person that I just looked at and was distracted by … I wonder what their prayer needs are … Lord, [since you know what their prayer needs are], I offer [my prayers] up to you; [so that you might] give them what they need this week.”

Father Dave offers another suggestion: “Almost always — I’d say a good 90% of the time when we’re in line for Communion — there is music going on. So, [singing the hymn that’s being played ] is a way that you could enter into prayer and be participating with the community without having to worry about [other distractions].” (Original Air 05-02-17)

Photo credit: Father Mauro Sanchez distributes Communion to his mother, Gloria Gonzalez Salinas, at the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico City. (CNS photo/Jerry L. Mennenga, The Catholic Globe)