All of us were created to make it to Heaven; and all of us should have an ardent desire to arrive there safely. In this essay we would like to present the short-cut, or if you like, the easiest way to make it to Heaven.
Making frequent and heroic sacrifices, trying and finishing novenas, making long and arduous pilgrimages, fasting Fridays (and even on Wednesdays), giving up sweets, cookies and even our favorite television program—all of the above are most noble practices and are to be encouraged as steps in the right direction in our ardent pursuit of holiness and desire for Heaven.
However, despite these most noble efforts on our part, there is still something lacking that could pave our path smoothly on the highway to holiness. This is the key and the shortcut to holiness, to true happiness, and to heavenly bliss: fervently receiving Holy Communion!
By far, the greatest gesture that a person can do is to receive Jesus Christ in the Sacrament of Holy Communion. However, there are many unhelpful ways that we can receive Jesus in Holy Communion, such as poorly, distracted, with little love and fervor, without any preparation and without thanksgiving, in a mediocre and lukewarm fashion, or worse yet, sacrilegiously, which means entering in a state of mortal sin.
Every time we receive the Lord Jesus in Holy Communion we should desire to receive Him better and better until we make it to heaven.
Therefore, we will offer ten practical suggestions on how we can improve our reception of Holy Communion so as to make huge strides in our pursuit of holiness and eventually arrive at our eternal destiny: Heaven!
First and foremost, we must strengthen our faith in the reality of Jesus truly present in the most Holy Eucharist. If we do not cultivate our faith in the Real Presence of Jesus in the consecrated Host that we call the Eucharist, then it is possible to eventually lose our faith altogether.
If we do not use our faith, we will lose it. Therefore, we should make this Biblical prayer, our prayer—Lord, strengthen our faith.
2. Purity Through Confession
Our soul can be compared to a window pane. How easy it is for a window pane to become sullied from the dirt? It is even easier for our soul to become sullied due to sin.
A good confession cleanses our souls and makes us more worthy and better disposed to receive Jesus in Holy Communion. Receiving important guests is preceded by house-cleaning; likewise, before receiving Jesus—the Guest of our soul—we should apply ourselves to spiritual house cleaning, which means a good confession.
3. Arrive Early for Mass
It might appear to be obvious, but arriving late for Mass can greatly damage the efficacy of our reception of Jesus, the Eucharistic Lord. For movies, sports events, graduation ceremonies, even restaurants and dining engagements, we all make an effort to arrive at least a few minutes early. Yet, when we are dealing with the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass where we encounter Jesus, the Lord of Lords and King of Kings, we can be most flippant and nonchalant, arriving late without any qualms of conscience.
Let us be disciplined and arrive at least ten minutes early for Mass. Athletes arrive early before sports events to warm up; we should arrive early for Mass to shake the dust from our minds and hearts so as to enter into the spiritual milieu, and assume a contemplative mode.
4. Dress Modestly
It has to be said, due to an onslaught of paganism, that at all times we should dress according to the dignity of who we really are, sons and daughters of God and ambassadors of Christ. However, most especially this should be the case upon entering God’s sanctuary, drawing close to our three times holy God in the Tabernacle! Our dress is indicative of who we are, who we represent, and who we are to receive in Holy Mass.
5. Offer Your Own Intentions
In most Parish Masses there is a specific intention for whom the priest offers the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. However, this does not negate the fact that we can offer our own personal intentions and these intentions can be countless. What could be some of the intentions we might offer? We will suggest three.
6. Souls in Purgatory
We can never go wrong in offering prayers, fasting, sacrifices, alms, but most especially the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass for the souls in Purgatory, especially the abandoned souls in Purgatory. These souls are saved, but must be purified of the sins that they did not do sufficient penance, prayer, and almsgiving to expiate in this life.
In the Divine economy of salvation, God utilizes our prayers, Mass intentions and Holy Communions to help the souls in Purgatory arrive at total perfection of love and so arrive safely home in Heaven.
7. Conversion of Sinners
One of the most urgent desires of Our Lady of Fatima and Our Lady of Lourdes was that we offer up prayers and sacrifices for the conversion and salvation of sinners. By far there is no greater sacrifice that we can offer than to offer the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and our Holy Communions for the conversion of sinners and their eternal salvation!
8. Personal Conversion
The first person on our list of sinners should be ourselves! All of us are in dire need of conversion. In a certain sense, every time we receive Holy Communion—the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Jesus Christ—we can really receive a spiritual heart transplant. In every Holy Communion we receive the total Christ, and that of course includes His Most Sacred Heart. May every reception of Holy Communion transform our hearts into the Sacred Heart of Jesus!
9. Reception of Holy Communion
The way we receive Holy Communion is of paramount importance. Our exterior comportment should be of the greatest reverence: our hands should be folded and receiving Holy Communion should be preceded by some act of reverence.
However, another key secret to receiving most fervent and fruitful Holy Communions is to beg Our Lady to give us her Immaculate Heart so as to receive her Son Jesus with great faith, love, fervor and devotion. Nobody ever received Jesus with greater love than His Mother, Mary most holy!
Last but not least, a word on the importance of thanksgiving after receiving Holy Communion. The minutes after receiving Jesus in Holy Communion are the most important minutes in our lives! That is the time in which we have the Creator of the entire universe within the very depths of our heart, mind and soul! We should spend some quality time in thanksgiving after we receive the Eucharistic Lord.
We can simply close our eyes and tell Jesus that we love Him. We can pour out our hearts in thanksgiving. Or if we like, we can become like a beggar and implore the Lord for all that we need or what others might need. At times, we might even like to tell the Lord that we’re sorry for the times we have failed Him in the past. Finally, we might simply tell the Lord what is on our mind: our fears and insecurities, our plans and projects, and beg the Lord for His help and blessing. Blessed Pope Paul VI, in his Apostolic Exhortation Marialis Cultus,stated that an excellent way to express thanksgiving after Mass could be the recitation of the most Holy Rosary.
And so we conclude our humble invitation to all to pursue holiness using a shortcut by means of striving with all the energy of our heart, mind and soul to receive Jesus in Holy Communion with fervor, devotion and love through the Heart of Mary.