Should we bless ourselves before/after receiving Holy Communion?

 

Father Chris, are we supposed to bless ourselves before or after receiving Holy Communion?

No, we are not supposed to bless ourselves.  When we approach the chalice, we place our arms crossed over our chest—right over left.  This is actually making the sign of the cross as we come forward, so there is no need to bless ourselves in any other way.  The reason for this is to prevent any motion that might endanger spilling the chalice.  Spilling the chalice is also why there is a canon that states we are not to kiss the chalice when receiving Holy Communion—we certainly do not want to spill the Holy Body and Blood of Christ.  As we already have Our Lord in our mouths, there is no reason to venerate the utensil, as we are becoming His very Body.

Also, as we come up for the Holy Eucharist, we are not supposed to venerate the holy icons at that time.  Our focus, should be singular—on receiving our Lord and Savior.  The Saints most certainly understand and expect that our focus is on the Savior.   This is also not the time to talk to our neighbors, whether waiting in line or in the pews.  If possible, we should be standing as long as the chalice is present.  The Eucharist is the culmination and climax of the Liturgy.  (It is still ok to sit if medically necessary at any time).