The effect of Holy Communion is divine love. This sacrament most fittingly tends to the love of man for God, because it was begun and inspired in the love of God for man. St. John points to that love when he says, “When Jesus knew that His hour had come to depart out of this world to the Father, having loved His own who were in the world, He loved them to the end.” Then the Evangelist goes on to tell that the Savior gave us the Eucharist to show this love. The love of His Sacred Heart discovered the wonderful mystery of the union that could henceforth be effected unceasingly on the altar.
Jesus once said, “I came to cast fire upon the earth; and would that it were already kindled!” Through the Holy Eucharist, Jesus casts fire into men’s hearts. He Himself is that flame of love.
The Sacred Heart of Jesus ardently longs to communicate to us His own charity. He said to St. Margaret Mary, “My Divine Heart is possessed of such a burning love for men and for you in particular that, unable to contain the flames of its burning charity, it must needs extend them through you, that it may be made known to them in order to enrich them with its priceless treasures.” He then asked the saint for her heart in order to unite it to His own and place in it a spark of His love. He does this in an ordinary way for us in Holy Communion and every time we unite our hearts to His.
Sanctifying grace, which you receive through Holy Communion and which attaches itself to the very essence of your soul, brings with it supernatural powers and faculties that enable you to perform virtuous deeds. The most important of these is the virtue of charity, by which you love God above all things for His sake, and your neighbor as yourself for the love of God. St. Thomas Aquinas says, “Primarily and essentially, the perfection of the Christian life consists in charity.”
At Holy Communion, Jesus is within you with all His most pure and holy love. So often you lament that your love is tainted with selfishness, and you long to love God intensely, as He deserves. Yet in spite of your efforts, you love Him so little. Here is the immense, inexpressible love you need — most holy, perfect, free from self. You possess Jesus, Love itself, in your heart.
Heed the advice of St. Francis de Sales: “Your principal intention in Communion should be to advance, strengthen, and console yourself in the love of God: for you ought to receive for love’s sake that which love alone causes to be given you.” Where can you more appropriately offer love for love to our Savior than in the Most Holy Sacrament, which is rightly called the Sacrament of Love?
Christ appeals for your love
St. Bernard once wrote, “What is it that God requires of us? Our heart can offer nothing more worthy than to give itself back to Him who made it, and this God demands from us when He says, ‘Son, give me thy heart.’ ”
Jesus longs for your love. Give Him your whole heart and your whole love. This love is a gift that comes from Him, and it is in Communion that He gives it.
If you yield yourself up every morning — or at least on Sunday morning — without reserve to Jesus in Holy Communion, He will be your Master in the spiritual life. He alone knows what you need, and if you place yourself at His entire disposal, He will do the rest. The spiritual life is simple, like God Himself, once Jesus is the whole life of your soul. Renew your baptismal promises each day; then take the risen life of Jesus as the model of your life, and all will go well.
It is wonderful to see how St. Thérèse yielded herself to the action of this flame of love of the Sacred Heart. Describing her First Communion she writes, “How sweet to my soul was the fond caress of Jesus. It was a caress of love. I felt that I was cherished very much and I said, ‘l love You; I give myself to You for all time and eternity.’ Jesus asked nothing of me; He claimed no sacrifice. For, long since, both He and His little Thérèse had contemplated each other and had understood each other. On that day, however, our encounter could not be called a simple look. It was a fusion of two spirits. We were no longer two. Thérèse had disappeared like a drop of water lost in the ocean; Jesus alone remained. He was Master and King. And straightway the joy of Thérèse became so great and so overpowering that it could no longer be contained. Tears silent and full of sweetness began to flow.”
The only obstacle to this complete reign of Christ in you is your selfishness. You must die to your selfish life in order to live in the divine life. The Christ-life in you is a life of self-surrender, of love. Love yields your will to Christ, and through it, your whole being and all your energies. Christ gives Himself to you according to the measure of your love. If you are detached both from yourself and creatures, if you give yourself to Him unreservedly with a pure heart, Jesus in exchange gives Himself to you as only God is able to do. St. John has said, “God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him.”
If you yield to the working of His grace, you will find your mind and will be more ready to do what Jesus inspires you to do. If you do not put obstacles in the way of God’s grace, and if your fervor in receiving Holy Communion continues, the life of Jesus will manifest itself more distinctly in you.
Pope Pius XII wrote, “Wherefore, since the Heart of Christ overflows with divine and human love, and since it is abundantly rich with treasures of all graces which our Redeemer acquired by His life and His sufferings, it is truly the unfailing fountain of that love which His Spirit pours forth into the members of His Mystical Body. It [devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus] demands the full and absolute determination of surrendering and consecrating oneself to the love of the Divine Redeemer. The wounded Heart of the Savior is the living sign and symbol of that love. It is likewise clear, even to a greater degree, that this devotion especially declares that we must repay divine love with our own love.”
Try to lose yourself in this ocean of love of the Heart of Jesus. Admire in silence His wonderful love for His Father and for all men, and cling to this limitless love that is now yours. Try to find in Him your delight, and let Him cleanse all the stains of your self-love. Let your poor cold heart, which loves so little, be subjected to the transforming influence of the tremendous love of the Sacred Heart of Jesus so that you may become one with Him.
This article is adapted from a chapter in The Basic Book of the Eucharist. It is available from Sophia Institute Press.
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