On Holy Communion


The Institution of the Eucharist, at the Last Supper - by JOOS van Wassenhove -
from Galleria Nazionale delle Marche, Urbino

Take ye, and Eat: this is My Body” - Matthew 26:26.

 

"A Rich Man made a Great Supper" - Luke 14:16

 

On Holy Communion

by Saint Alphonsus Liguori

In the Gospel of this Day, we read that a Rich Man, prepared a Great Supper. He then ordered One-of his Servants to Invite-to it, all those whom he should Find-in the Highways, even though they were Poor, Blind, and Lame, and to-Compel those who should Refuse, to-Come-to the Supper. "Go-out, into the Highways and Hedges, and Compel them to Come-in, that my House may be Filled" - Luke 14:23. And he added, that of all those who had-been Invited and had-not Come, not One, should ever Partake-of his Supper. "But I say unto you, that None of those Men that were Invited, shall Taste of My Supper" - Luke 14:24. This 'Supper' is the Holy Communion: it is a Great Supper, at which all the Faithful are Invited-to-Eat, the Sacred Flesh of Jesus Christ, in the Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar. "Take ye, and Eat: this is my Body" - Matthew 26:26. Let us then consider Today, in the First Point, the Great Love which Jesus Christ has shown us, in-Giving us Himself in this Sacrament; and, in the Second Point, 'How', we Ought-to Receive Him, in-order-to 'Draw' Great Fruit, from the Holy Communion.

 

First Point
On the Great Love which Jesus Christ has shown us
in giving us Himself in this Sacrament

"Jesus, Knowing that His Hour was Come, that He should Pass out of this World, to the Father, having Loved His own that were in the World, He Loved them unto the End" - John 13:1. Knowing that the Hour-of His Death had arrived, Jesus Christ Wished, before His Departure-from this World, to Leave us the Greatest Proof which He could Give-of His Love, by Leaving us Himself, in the Holy Eucharist. "He Loved them to the End". That is, according-to Saint Chrysostom, with an Extreme Love. Saint Bernardine-of-Sienna says, that the Tokens-of Love which are Given-at Death, make a more-Lasting Impression on the Mind, and are more-Highly Esteemed. "Quae in fine in signum amicitiae celebrantur, firmius memoriæ imprimuntur et cariora tenentur". But, whilst others Leave a Ring, or a Piece-of Money, as a Mark-of their Affection, Jesus has left us Himself 'Entirely', in this Sacrament-of Love.

The Mystical Press, and Christ in Victory and Glory -
by Marco dal Pino (Marco da Siena) -
from the Vatican Museum - (Click to Enlarge)

"Why is Your Apparel Red, and Your Garments like those of the Wine-Presser? ... The Wine-Press, I have Trodden alone, and of My People, there was no one with Me ... I looked about, and there was no one to Help. So My own Arm, brought about the Victory" - Isaiah 63:2-5.

Pre-Figurement of the Eucharistic Sacrifice.

And when did Jesus Christ, Institute this Sacrament? He Instituted it, as the Apostle has Remarked, on the Night-before His Passion. "The Lord Jesus, the same Night on which He was Betrayed, took Bread, and giving Thanks, Broke and Said: Take ye and Eat: this is My Body" - 1Corinthians 11:23, 24. Thus, at the very Time that Men were Preparing-to put Him to Death, our Loving Redeemer, Resolved-to Bestow-upon us, this Gift. Jesus Christ, then, was not Content-with giving His Life for us, on a Cross: He Wished also, before His Death, to 'Pour-out', as the Council-of-Trent says, all the Riches-of His Love, by leaving Himself for our 'Food', in the Holy Communion. "He, as it were, Poured-out the Riches-of His Love towards Man". If Faith had not Taught it, who could ever Imagine, that a God would become-Man, and afterwards become the 'Food' of His own Creatures? When Jesus Christ Revealed-to His Followers, this Sacrament, which He intended-to Leave us, Saint John says, that they could not bring-themselves to-Believe it, and Departed-from Him saying: "How can this Man give us His Flesh to Eat? ... This Saying is Hard, and who can Hear it?" - Saint John 6:52, 60. But, what Men could not Imagine, the Great Love-of Jesus Christ has 'Invented' and 'Effected'. "Take ye and Eat: this is My Body". These Words, He Addressed-to His Apostles, on the Night-before He Suffered, and He now, after His Death, Addresses them to us.

How Highly Honored, says Saint Francis-de-Sales, would that Man 'Feel', to-whom the King sent-from his Table, a Portion-of what he had-on his own Plate? But how should he 'Feel', if that Portion were a Part-of the King's Arm? In the Holy Communion, Jesus gives us, not a Part-of His Arm, but His entire Body, in the Sacrament-of-the-Altar. "He gave you All" says Saint Chrysostom, Reproving our Ingratitude; "He left Nothing for Himself". And Saint Thomas teaches, that in the Eucharist, God has given us 'All' that He is, and 'All' that He has. "Deus in eucharistia totum quod est et habet, dedit nobis". Justly then, has the same Saint called the Eucharist, "a Sacrament-of Love; a Pledge-of Love". "Sacramentum, charitatis, pignus charitatis". It is a Sacrament-of-Love, because it was Pure Love, that Induced Jesus Christ to Give us this Gift and Pledge-of Love: for He Wished that, should a Doubt-of His having Loved us, ever Enter-into our Minds, we should have-in this Sacrament, a Pledge-of His Love. Saint Bernard calls this Sacrament, Love-of-Loves - "Amor amorum". By His Incarnation, the Lord has given Himself to all Men in-General; but, in this Sacrament, He has given Himself to each of us in-Particular, to make us Understand the Special Love which He Entertains-for, Each of us.

Oh! how-Ardently does Jesus Christ, Desire to-come-to our Souls, in the Holy Communion! This Vehement Desire, He expressed-at the Time-of the Institution-of this Sacrament, when He said to His Apostles: "With Desire, I have Desired-to Eat this Pasch with you" - Luke 22:15. Saint Lawrence Justinian says, that these Words proceeded-from the Enamored Heart of Jesus Christ, Who, by such Tender-expressions, Wished-to show us the Ardent Love, with which He Loved us. This is the Voice-of the most-Burning Charity. "Flagrantissimae charitatis est vox haec". And, to Induce us to-Receive Him Frequently, in the Holy Communion, He Promises Eternal (∞) Life - that is, the Kingdom-of-Heaven - to those who Eat His Flesh. "He that Eateth this Bread, shall Live Forever" - John 6:58. On the other hand, He Threatens to Deprive us of-His Grace, and of-Paradise, if we Neglect Communion. "Except you Eat the Flesh of the Son of Man, and Drink His Blood, you shall 'Not' have Life in you" - John 6:53. These Promises and these Threats, all Sprung-from a Burning Desire, to-come-to us, in this Sacrament.

Faculties of the Soul
Enabling Man to be United-with God

God

Soul's Faculties
(Grace, Will, Intellect)

God is Life
(John 14:6)
Man is elevated to share God's Life via Grace in the Essence of the Soul
God is Love
(1John 4:8)
Man can Love God and share in God's Love via Acts of the Will
God is Truth
(John 14:6)
Man can Know God and share in His Knowledge/Truth via the Intellect
When we speak-of Sharing-in God’s Gift of the Eucharist, we are Referring-to a Soul in the State-of-Grace.

 

And why does Jesus Christ so-Vehemently Desire, that we Receive Him in the Holy Communion? It is because He takes Delight-in being United-with each-of us. By the Communion, Jesus is really United-to our Soul, and to our Body, and we are United-to Jesus. "He that Eateth My Flesh, and Drinketh My Blood, Abideth-in Me, and I in him" - John 6:57. Thus, after Communion, we are, says Saint Chrysostom, One (1)-Body and One (1)-Flesh with Jesus Christ. "Huic nos unimur, et facti sumus Unum Corpus ut Una Caro". Hence Saint Lawrence Justinian exclaims: "Oh I how Wonderful is Thy Love, O Lord Jesus, Who hast Wished to Incorporate us in such a manner, with Thy Body, that we should have One Heart and One Soul, Inseparably United-with Thee". Thus, to every Soul that Receives the Eucharist, the Lord says what He once said to His Beloved Servant, Margaret of-Ipres - "Behold, My Daughter, the Close Union made between Me and thee; Love Me then, and let us Remain Forever, United-in Love; let us Never more be Separated". This Union between us and Jesus Christ, is, according-to Saint Chrysostom, the Effect-of the Love which Jesus Christ bears us. "Semetipsum nobis immiscuit, ut unum quid simus . . . ardenter enim amantium hoe est". But, O Lord, such Intimate Union-with Man, is not Suited-to Thy Divine Majesty. But, Love seeks not Reason; it goes not where it ought-to go, but where it is Drawn. "Amor ratione caret, et vadit quo dicitur, non quo debeat". Saint Bernardine-of-Sienna says, that, in giving Himself for our 'Food', Jesus Christ Loved us to the Last Degree; because He United Himself entirely-to us, as Food is United to those who Eat it. "Ultimus gradus amoris est, cum se dedit nobis in cibum, quia dedit se nobis ad omnimodarn unionem, sicut cibus et cibans invicem uniuntur". The same Doctrine has been Beautifully Expressed-by Saint Francis-de-Sales. No Action-of the Savior can be more-Loving or more-Tender, than the Institution-of the Holy Eucharist, in which He, as-it-were, Annihilates Himself, and takes the Form-of Food, to Unite Himself to the Souls and Bodies of His Faithful Servants.

Love seeks not Reason;
it goes not where it ought, but where it is 'Drawn'.

Hence, there is Nothing, from-which we can Draw so-much Fruit, as from the Holy Communion. Saint Denis teaches, that the Most Holy Sacrament has Greater Efficacy to- Sanctify Souls, than All other Spiritual Means. "Eucharistia maximam vim habet perficiendæ sanctitatis". Saint Vincent Ferrer says, that a Soul Derives more Profit from-One (1) Communion, than from- Fasting for a Week, on Bread and Water. The Eucharist is, according-to the Holy-Council-of-Trent, a Medicine which Delivers-us from Venial, and Preserves-us from Mortal Sins. "Antidotum quo a culpis quotidianis liberemur, et a mortalibus præservemur". Jesus Himself has said that, they who Eat Him, Who is the Fountain-of-Life, shall Receive Permanently, the Life-of-Grace. "He that Eateth Me, the same shall also Live-by Me" - John 6:57. Innocent-the-Third, teaches-that by His Passion, Jesus Christ Delivers-us from the Sins we have Committed, and by the Eucharist, from the Sins we may Commit. According-to Saint Chrysostom, the Holy Communion Inflames us with the Fire-of Divine Love, and makes us Objects-of Terror, to the Devil. The Eucharist is a Fire which Inflames us, that, like Lions breathing-Fire, we may Retire-from the Altar, being made Terrible-to the Devil. In explaining the Words-of the Spouse-of the Canticles (Songs), "He brought me into the Cellar-of-Wine; He set in order, Charity in me" - Songs 2:4, Saint Gregory says, that the Communion is this Cellar-of-Wine, in which the Soul is so Inebriated-with Divine Love, that She Forgets and Loses, Sight-of all Earthly Things.

Some will say: I do not Communicate often, because I am Cold in Divine Love. In answer to them, Gerson asks, will you then, because you feel Cold, Remove-from the Fire? When you are Tepid, you should more-frequently Approach this Sacrament. Saint Bonaventure says: "Trusting in the Mercy of God, though you feel Tepid, Approach: let him who thinks himself Unworthy, Reflect, that the more-Infirm he feels himself, the more he Requires a Physician". And, in 'The-Devout-Life', Saint Francis-de-Sales writes: "Two sorts of persons ought to Communicate often: the Perfect, to Preserve Perfection; and the Imperfect, to arrive-at Perfection". It cannot be Doubted, that he who Wishes-to Communicate, should Prepare-himself with Great Diligence, that he may Communicate 'Well'. Let us pass-to the Second Point.

 

Second Point
On the Preparation we ought to Make in Order to
Derive Great Fruit from the Holy Communion

Two (2) Things are Necessary, in-order-to Draw Great Fruit from Communion: Preparation-for, and Thanksgiving-after Communion. As to the Preparation, it is certain that the Saints Derived Great Profit from their Communions, only because they were Careful-to Prepare themselves Well, for Receiving the Holy Eucharist. It is easy then to Understand why so-many Souls remain Subject-to the same Imperfections, after all their Communions. Cardinal Bona says, that the Defect is not in the Food, but in the Want-of Preparation-for it. "Defectus non in bibo est, sed in edentis dispositione".

For Frequent Communion, Two (2) Principal Dispositions are Necessary. The First (1st) is Detachment-from Creatures, and Disengagement-of the Heart, from everything that is not God. The more the Heart is Occupied-with Earthly Concerns, the less-Room there is in it, for Divine Love. Hence, to give Full Possession-of the Whole Heart to God, it is Necessary to Purify it, from Worldly Attachments. This is the Preparation, which Jesus Himself recommended-to Saint Gertrude. "I ask Nothing-more of thee", said He to her, "than that thou Come to Receive Me, with a Heart Divested-of thyself". Let us then, Withdraw our Affections-from Creatures, and our Hearts shall Belong Entirely-to the Creator.

The Second (2nd) Disposition, Necessary-to Draw Great Fruit from Communion, is a Desire-of Receiving Jesus Christ, in-order-to Advance-in His Love. "He", says Saint Francis-de-Sales, "who gives himself through Pure Love, ought to be Received only through Love". Thus, the Principal End-of our Communions, must be to Advance-in the Love-of Jesus Christ. He once said to Saint Matilda: "When you Communicate, Desire all the Love that any Soul has ever had for Me, and I will Accept your Love in Proportion-to the Fervor with which you Wished-for it".

'Thanksgiving', after Communion, is also Necessary. The Prayer we make after Communion, is the most Acceptable-to God, and the most Profitable-to us. After Communion, the Soul should be Employed-in Affections and Petitions. The Affections ought-to consist not only in Acts-of Thanksgiving, but also in Acts-of Humility, of Love, and of Oblation of-ourselves to-God. Let us then Humble ourselves as-much-as possible, at the Sight-of a God, made our Food, after we had Offended Him. A Learned Author says that, for a Soul after Communion, the most Appropriate Sentiment is one of Astonishment-at the Thought-of Receiving a God. She should exclaim: What! a God to me! a God to me! Let us also make many Acts-of the Love of Jesus Christ. He has come-into our Souls in-order-to be Loved. Hence, He is Greatly Pleased with those who, after Communion, say to Him: My Jesus, I Love Thee; I Desire-nothing but Thee. Let us also Offer ourselves, and all that we have, to Jesus Christ, that He may Dispose-of All, as He Pleases; and let us Frequently-say: My Jesus, Thou art all mine; Thou hast given Thyself entirely to me; I Give-myself entirely-to Thee.

After Communion, we should not only make these Affections, but we ought also to Present-to God with Great Confidence, many Petitions-for His Graces. The Time after Communion, is a Time in which we can Gain Treasures-of Divine Graces. Saint Teresa says, that-at-that Time, Jesus Christ Remains-in the Soul, as on a Throne, saying to Her, what He said to the Blind Man - "What wilt thou, that I should do to thee?" - Mark 10:51. As if He said: "But Me you have not always"- John 12:8. Now that you Possess Me within you, ask Me for Graces; I have Come-down-from Heaven, on Purpose-to Dispense them to you; ask Whatever you Wish, and you shall Obtain it. Oh what Great Graces are Lost, by those who spend but little-Time in Prayer after Communion. Let us also Turn-to the Eternal Father, and, Bearing-in-Mind the Promise-of Jesus Christ - "Amen, Amen, I say to you, if you Ask the Father anything in My Name, He will Give it you" - John 16:16. Let us say to Him:

My God, for the Love of this Thy Son,
Whom I have Within my Heart,
Give me Thy Love; make me all Thine.

And if we Offer this Prayer with-Confidence, the Lord will certainly Hear us. He who Acts-thus may, become a Saint, by a Single (1) Communion.

 

- End of Liguori Sermon -

 

Prayer to Our Lord
in the Blessed Sacrament

eucharist_heem_300.jpg (14094 bytes)

My Lord Jesus Christ, because You Love us so much, You remain Night and Day in this Sacrament, full-of Pity and Love, Awaiting, Calling, and Welcoming, all who come-to Visit You. I Believe that You are Present-in the Sacrament-of the Altar. I Adore You from the Depths of my Heart. I Thank You for the many Graces You have given me, and especially for having given me Yourself in this Sacrament, for having given me Mary Your Mother as my Advocate, and for having Called me to Visit You here. I Speak-to Your most Amiable and Loving Heart for Three Reasons: to Thank You for this Great Gift; to Atone-for all the Insults which You have Received; and to Compensate by my Adoration, the lack of it in all those places where the Blessed Sacrament is the Least Reverenced and Most Abandoned. My Jesus, I Love You with my Whole Heart. I am Sorry that I have so often Offended Your Infinite Goodness. With the Help of Your Grace, I Resolve to Offend You no more. I now Consecrate myself entirely to You. I give You my Will, my Affections, my Desires, and all that is mine; do with me and with all that belongs to me, whatever You Wish. I ask for Nothing, but Your Holy Love, Final Perseverance, and the Perfect Fulfillment of Your Will. I Recommend to You the Souls in Purgatory, especially those who were most Devoted to this Sacrament and to Mary. I also Recommend to You all Poor Sinners. And Lastly, my Beloved Savior, I Unite all my Affections with those of Your most Loving Heart, and thus United, I offer them to Your Eternal Father, and in Your Name, I beg Him to Accept and Grant them.

Amen

 

Father Robert Spitzer, S.J., Ph.D., President of Gonzaga University, amplifies the subject of the Holy Eucharist, in the following Audio Clips.