Develop the spirit of Communion
The love of Jesus Christ reaches its highest perfection and produces the richest harvest of graces in the ineffable union He contracts with the soul in Holy Communion. Therefore, by every desire for goodness, holiness, and perfection that piety, the virtues, and love can inspire in us, we are bound to direct our course toward this union, toward frequent and even daily Communion.
Since we have in Holy Communion the grace, the model, and the practice of all the virtues, all of them finding their exercise in this divine action, we shall profit more by Communion than by all other means of sanctification. But to that end, Holy Communion must become the thought that dominates mind and heart. It must be the aim of all study, of piety, of the virtues. The receiving of Jesus must be the goal as well as the law of life. All our works must converge toward Communion as toward their end and flow from it as from their source.
Let us so live that we may be admitted with profit to frequent and even daily Communion. In a word, let us perfect ourselves in order to receive Communion worthily, and let us live with a constant view to Communion.
But perhaps you will say that your nothingness is overwhelmed by the majesty of God. Ah, but no! That majesty, the celestial and divine majesty which reigns in Heaven, is not present in Holy Communion. Do you not see that Jesus has veiled Himself in order not to frighten you, in order to embolden you to look upon Him and come near to Him?
Or perhaps the sense of your unworthiness keeps you away from this God of all sanctity. It is true that the greatest saint or even the purest of the Cherubim is unworthy to receive the divine Host. But do you not see that Jesus is hiding His virtues, is hiding His very sanctity, to show you His goodness simply and solely? Do you not hear that sweet voice inviting you: “Come unto me”? Do you not feel the nearness of that divine love like a magnet drawing you? After all, it is not your merits that give you your rights, nor is it your virtues that open to you the doors of the Cenacle; it is the love of Jesus.
“But I have so little piety, so little love; how can my soul receive our Lord when it is so lukewarm and therefore so repulsive and so undeserving of His notice?”
Lukewarm? That is but one more reason why you should plunge again and again into this burning furnace. Repulsive? Oh, never, to this good Shepherd, this tender Father, fatherly above all fathers, motherly above all mothers! The more weak and ill you are, the more you need His help. Is not bread the sustenance of both strong and weak?
“But if I have sins on my conscience?” If, after examination, you are not morally certain or positively conscious of any mortal sin, you may go to Holy Communion. If you forgive all who have offended you, already your own offenses are forgiven you. And as for your daily negligences, your distractions during prayer, your first movements of impatience, of vanity, of self-love, as likewise for your failure, in your sloth, to put away from you immediately the fire of temptation — bind together all these shoots of Adam’s sin and cast them into the furnace of divine love. What love forgives is forgiven indeed.
Ah, do not let yourself be turned away from the Holy Table by vain pretexts! If you will not communicate for your own sake, then communicate instead for Jesus Christ. To communicate for Jesus Christ is to console Him for the neglect to which the majority of men have abandoned Him. It is to confirm His wisdom in instituting this Sacrament of spiritual sustenance. It is to open the riches of the treasures of grace that Jesus Christ has stored up in the Eucharist, only so that He may bestow them upon mankind. Nay, more, it is to give to His sacramental love the overflowing life it desires, to His goodness the happiness of doing good, and to His majesty the glory of bestowing His gifts. By receiving Communion, therefore, you fulfill the glorious purpose of the Holy Eucharist, for if there were no communicants, this fountain would flow in vain, this furnace of love would inflame no hearts, and this King would reign without subjects.
Holy Communion not only gives to the sacramental Jesus the opportunity to satisfy His love; it gives Him a new life that He will consecrate to the glory of His Father. In His state of glory, He can no longer honor the Father with a love free and meritorious. But in Communion, He will enter into man, associate with him, and unite with him. In return, by this wonderful union, the Christian will give members, living and sentient faculties, to the glorified Jesus; he will give Him the liberty that constitutes the merit of virtue. Thus, through Communion, the Christian will be transformed into Jesus Himself, and Jesus will live again in him.
Something divine will then come to pass in the one who communicates; man will labor, and Jesus will give the grace of labor; man will keep the merit, but to Jesus will be the glory. Jesus will be able to say to His Father: “I love Thee, I adore Thee, and I still suffer, living anew in my members.”
This is what gives Communion its highest power: it is a second and perpetual incarnation of Jesus Christ. Between Jesus Christ and man, it forms a union of life and love. In a word, it is a second life for Jesus Christ.
Editor’s note: This article is adapted from a chapter in St. Peter Julian Eymard’s How to Get More out of Holy Communion. It is available from your local Catholic bookstore or online through Sophia Institute Press.
image: St. Peter Julian Eymard in the Basilica of the Most Blessed Sacrament, São Paulo / Photo by Murilo Santos on Unsplash