By far, the most important action in life is your encounter with God, with Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. How? As a practicing Catholic, every day you can receive Jesus, the Bread of Life, in Holy Communion—His Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity.
In the Our Father we pray: “Give us this day our daily bread.” Giving a Sacramental interpretation to this phrase in the Our Father, it also means to give us this day Holy Communion in the context of Holy Mass.
Speaking without exaggeration, all of eternity would not be enough to prepare sufficiently to receive even one Holy Communion. Also, all of eternity would not be sufficient to render a worthy thanksgiving for one Holy Communion. The reason for this powerful assertion is the simple fact that Holy Communion is really God; it is Jesus, the Second Person of the Most Blessed Trinity in His Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity!
Therefore, we offer ten short suggestions with the purpose of helping all of us to upgrade, improve, and perfect the disposition of our hearts when we receive our Eucharistic Lord. One Holy Communion could transform us into saints. Solid theology teaches us very clearly the concept of dispositive grace. The fault is not in the Sacrament which is God Himself, but rather in us, the human instruments and our lack of proper preparation.
1. Fervent and Humble Prayer: “Lord, Strengthen My Faith!”
Faith can be compared to a seed; it must be watered and cultivated. It can also be compared to developing muscles in weight-lifting. If not done frequently and methodically, the muscle can easily degenerate into flabby tissue. Lastly, it can be compared to language arts and skills. By neglecting the practice of a new language, the language spoken becomes broken and incomplete.
As people say: “If you don’t use it, you lose it.” So it is with our faith; if we do not practice it and exercise it, then gradually it is lost. This being said, we must constantly remind ourselves that the Eucharist, “The Real-Presence”, is truly and substantially Jesus, the Son of God. A short but fervent prayer said frequently that can attain this goal is: “Lord, strengthen my faith.”
2. Purify the Interior Window Pane of Your Soul
St. Ignatius of Loyola, as well as other saints, make the intimate and close connection between these two Sacraments—Confession and the Holy Eucharist. The Sacrament of Confession or Reconciliation cleanses and purifies the interior window pane of our soul of the ugly dirt and smut of sin. Then, after receiving absolution in which the soul is washed clean and becomes transparent through grace, the reception of Holy Communion will have a much more powerful influence and impact on the soul.
As the sun bursts forth with radiant abundance through a window made clean by Windex cleaner, likewise the light of Christ can explode with omnipotent graces in the clean soul. Jesus expressed it succinctly: “Blessed are the pure of heart; for they will see God.” (Mt. 5:8)
Of course, if one is in a state of mortal sin, one must make a sacramental Confession before receiving Holy Communion.
3. Never Take the Gift for Granted!
A very pervasive temptation for those who have easy access to daily Mass and daily Holy Communion is to simply take the Lord for granted. As posted on the plaque in many sacristies as a reminder to priests: “Celebrate this Mass as if it were your first, your last, and your only.” Good advice for lay-people also: receive every Holy Communion as if it were your first, your last, and your only!
4. Arrive on Time, or Early
Would you arrive late for a supremely important appointment—with the Pope, or President, or new boss on your new job, or in the fifth inning in a World Series game? Of course not!
Therefore, in a parallel sense, we should not arrive late at God’s House for the greatest event on planet earth—the celebration of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. If you are always late, then at least strive to come early for Holy Mass. As Saint Ignatius reminds us: “Try to order the disorder in your life.”
5. Have Your Own Intentions
Normally in Parish Masses, the priest will mention the Mass intention at the start of the Mass—often for a deceased person, an anniversary, or for the intentions of a person still living. However, this does not exclude you from offering your own private intentions. You can load the altar with as many intentions as you like. God has no limits and He loves generous souls who ask Him for much. Often we receive little from the Lord because we ask for little.
“Ask and you will receive; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened for you.” (Mt. 7:7-8)
6. Suggested Intentions
As mentioned above the intentions are limitless. You can ask or beg the Lord for whatever intentions you have in your mind and heart. Still, strongly to be recommended would be three:
- 1) pray for the souls in Purgatory;
- 2) pray for the conversion of sinners;
- 3) pray for your own conversion of heart!
As Jesus said to Saint Faustina: “Ask with bold confidence… ‘Jesus I trust in you!’”
7. Participate Fully
The Dogmatic Constitution on the Liturgy from the documents of the Second Vatican Council, Sacrosanctum Concilium (1963) exhorts the faithful in the context of the Mass to participate fully, actively, and consciously. In Mass we must not be passive participants, as if we were in a movie theater, but rather active members of the Mystical Body of Christ.
In other words, we should give responses clearly and enthusiastically, listen attentively to the Word of God, and assimilate the doctrine transmitted through the preaching of the Word of God. We are not called to be spiritual-benchwarmers, but actively engaged in Mass.
8. Receive Communion With Reverence
The most important moment of Mass is the reception of Holy Communion. Approach with humility, reverence, confidence, and beg the Immaculate Heart of Mary for the grace to receive Jesus with great love, trust, confidence, and hunger for holiness.
If you have no impending obligations, then stay after Mass to thank the Lord for coming to visit this poor sinner. All of eternity would not be sufficient to prepare our soul to receive the Lord of Lords and the King of Kings. Also, all of eternity would not be sufficient to render the Lord Jesus adequate thanksgiving. Saint Pope Paul VI suggests the Rosary after Mass as an excellent way to thank Jesus in Holy Communion, through the Heart of Mary.
10. Become a Eucharistic Missionary Like Mary
After you have received Jesus in Holy Communion, and made your thanksgiving, then imitate Mary who, after receiving Jesus into her Heart in the Annunciation, went in haste to bring Jesus to her cousin Elizabeth in her need. Therefore, bring the presence of Jesus to others! Also, strive to bring the many lost and wandering sheep back to the fold, back to the Good Shepherd, back to the Catholic Church and its Sacraments.
O Sacrament Most Holy, O Sacrament Divine, All Praise And All Thanksgiving Be Every Moment Thine!
Editor’s note: to learn how you can improve your reception of the Eucharist, check out the fantastic book by St. Peter Julian Eymard, How to Get More out of Holy Communion. A free excerpt is also available here on CE in the article “Holy Communion Prepares You for Heaven.”
For more from Fr. Broom, also check out his books,From Humdrum to Holy & Total Consecration Through the Mysteries of the Rosary. Both are available as an ebook or paperback, but Fr. Broom’s voice can be heard in his regular homilies found here.