It is one of the happy features of worship in the wake of the Second Vatican Council that more and more people participate fully in the Eucharist by receiving the body of the Lord, communicating with him and, in him, with the whole Church of God. Yet do we not feel a slight uneasiness at times in the face of an entire congregation coming to communion? Paul urgently insisted that the Corinthians should “discern” the Lord’s body (1 Cor 11:29): Is this still the happening? Occasionally one has the feeling that “communion” is regarded as part of the ritual – that it goes on automatically and is simply an expression of the community’s identity. We need to regain a much stronger awareness that the Eucharist does not lose all its meaning where people do not communicate. By going to Communion without “discernment”, we fail to reach the heights of what is taking place in Communion: we reduce the Lord’s gift to the level of everyday ordinariness and manipulation. The Eucharist is not a ritual meal; it is the shared prayer of the Church, in which the Lord prays together with us and gives us himself. Therefore it remains something great and preciouus, it remains a true gift, even when we cannot communicate. If we understood this better and hence had a more correct view of the Eucharist itself, many pastoral problems – the position of the divorced and remarried int he Church, for instance – would cease to be a burden.
From: The Feast of Faith, pp.151-52