4. The evening before your Communion devote some little time to recollection in order to ponder the inestimable gift that God is about to bestow upon you, and endeavor also to excite in your soul the desire and the hope of finding therein your delight.
Consider that it at least serves to keep you in a state of grace.
You give nourishment to your body every day but you do not pretend to say that it daily gains in strength.
Does food appear useless to you on that account?
Certainly not; for, though it fail to augment strength, it preserves it by repairing the constant waste.
Now, this is precisely the case with the divine Food of our souls. *Observe, moreover, that there is no real increase in virtue without a corresponding growth in humility. Consequently the more virtuous you are the less so you will esteem yourself; the worthier you are to approach your God, the more profoundly will you feel your unworthiness.
For man, no matter to what degree of virtue he attain, cannot be otherwise than weak and sinful here below, and he realizes his baseness more and more distinctly in proportion to his advancement in grace and in light.
Fénelon speaks as follows on the same subject: “Hitherto you lacked the light to discover in your soul many movements of our malicious and depraved nature, which now begin to reveal themselves to you.
In proportion as light increases we find ourselves more corrupt than we supposed: but we should be neither surprised nor discouraged, for it is not that we are in reality worse than we were,—on the contrary we are better,—but because whilst our sinfulness decreases the light which shows it to us increases.”*
6. Do not fear that you are ill-prepared for Holy Communion and abuse the Sacrament because in receiving it you are cold, indifferent, and devoid of feeling.
This is a trial sent or permitted by God to test your faith and to advance you in merit.
All that has been said in regard to dryness in prayer might be repeated here.
Try to have an abiding desire to feel for the Blessed Eucharist as ardent transports of love as were ever experienced by the saints.
A desire is equivalent before God to the thing desired, as I have already quoted for you from Saint Gregory the Great; therefore you should be satisfied with this when you can attain nothing higher. Everything over and above this is grace, not merit.
7. If you dare not receive Holy Communion often because you are not worthy, then you must never receive it, for you will never be worthy.
Nay more, to follow out this principle we should have to abandon the practice of visiting churches and of speaking to God in prayer; for a miserable, sin-stained human being is unfit to enter the House of the Lord or to converse with Him. *
“How many scrupulous Christians do we not see languishing for want of this divine Food!
They consume themselves with subtle speculations and sterile efforts, they fear, they tremble, they doubt, and they vainly seek for a certainty that cannot be found in this life. Sweetness, unction, are not for them.
They wish to live for God without living by him. They are dry, feeble, exhausted: they are close to the Fountain of Living Water and yet allow themselves to die of thirst.
They desire to fulfill all exteriorly, yet do not dare to nourish themselves interiorly: they wish to carry the burden of the law without imbibing its spirit and its consolation from prayer and frequent Communion!”—Fénelon.*
8. In regard to Holy Communion, therefore, do not confine yourself to a consideration of your own unworthiness, but temper this with the thought of God’s mercy.
The guests at the symbolic marriage-feast,—a figure of the Holy Eucharist,—were not the great and the rich, but the poor, the blind, the lame.
Whosoever is clothed in the nuptial garment, that is to say, whosoever is in a state of grace, is welcome to this banquet.
9. St. Francis de Sales says that when we cannot go to Holy Communion without giving annoyance to others, or without failing against duties of charity, justice or order, we should be satisfied with spiritual Communion.
“Believe me,” he adds, “this mortification, this deprivation, will be extremely pleasing to God and will advance you greatly in His love. One must sometimes take a step backward in order to leap the better.”
Saint Paul the Hermit received Holy Communion but twice during his long, penitential life, nevertheless he was precious in the sight of God.
A propos of this subject Saint Francis de Sales gives us this admirable advice:
“In proportion as you are hindered from doing the good you desire, do all the more ardently the good that you do not desire. You do not like to make such or such an act of resignation, you would prefer to make some other; but offer the one you do not like, for it will be of far greater value.”
Saint John the Baptist was more intimately united in spirit with our Lord than even the Apostles themselves: yet he never became one of His followers owing to the fact that his vocation required this sacrifice on his part and called him elsewhere.
This is the greatest act of spiritual mortification recorded in the lives of the saints. *
“I have often admired the extreme resignation of Saint John the Baptist, who remained so long in the desert, quite near to our Lord, without going to see, hear and follow Him.
And after baptizing Jesus, how could he have allowed Him to depart without uniting himself to Him with his bodily presence, as he was already so united to Him by the ties of affection!
Ah! the divine Precursor knew that in his case the Master was best served by deprivation of His actual presence.
Well, my dear daughter, it will be the same with you in regard to Holy Communion. I mean that for the present God will be pleased if in accordance to the wish of the superiors whom He has placed over you, you endure the privation of His actual presence.
It will be a great consolation to me to know that this advice does not disquiet your heart. Rest assured that this resignation, this renunciation will be exceedingly beneficial to you.”—St. Francis de Sales.*
11. Never refrain from receiving the Holy Eucharist because you happen to be beset by temptations; this would be to capitulate to your enemy without offering any resistance. The more combats you have to sustain, the greater the necessity of providing yourself with the means of defense, and these are to be found in the Blessed Sacrament.
Go courageously then and renew your strength with the Food of the strong and victory shall be yours.
12. Be careful not to frequent the Holy Table because such and such a person does so: an imitation common for the most part to women’s vanity and jealousy, says Saint Francis de Sales.
It is through love that our divine Savior gives Himself to us in the Blessed Sacrament: love alone should lead us to receive it.
13. Holy Communion should not be partaken of with the same frequency by all the faithful.
All, indeed, must have the same object in view, that is union with God, but the same means to attain that object are not proper for every one.
It is only by obedience to the advice of a spiritual director that each person can know what is suitable for him, as that which would be too little for one might be too much for another.
Like Finer Femininity on Facebook