Joy in Holy Communion
Holy Communion is the feast of the soul — that is to say, a source of deepest joys. As bread imparts to the body strength and a feeling of contentment, so does the Bread of Life bring peace and joy to your heart because of the wonderful fruits of grace it produces in your soul.
St. Thomas Aquinas says,
“This Bread of Angels, containing in itself all delights, satisfies by an admirable virtue the taste of all those who receive it worthily and with devotion; it satisfies better than the manna of the desert and surpasses the relish of all sensual pleasures.”
The glorious Christ who comes to you hidden under the sacramental species is the same Christ who, having redeemed and sanctified us, will be our everlasting joy in Heaven.
At Holy Communion, there is opened to you a world of life, light, and love, a gracious outpouring of the treasures of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, the Fount of all grace, holiness, and Christian joyfulness. At this fount of joy you will find the strength and courage to undertake great things for God’s glory and the welfare of your neighbor.
Heaven is the possession of God in all His glory and beauty; therefore, since Holy Communion is the possession of that same God, although veiled under the sacred elements, it follows that Holy Communion is a foretaste of the joys of Heaven.
Try to form some idea of the heavenly joy that unceasingly wells up in the soul of Jesus, who is within you in Holy Communion with all His infinite bliss. Perhaps sometimes in the past you have felt spiritual consolation and peace, like a foretaste of the joys of Heaven. Multiply such happiness a thousand times more than you can imagine; it is still nothing compared with the bliss that fills the soul of Jesus.
Like the Father, Jesus is infinitely perfect, and this fills Him with infinite joy. Each of His divine perfections — His beauty, wisdom, holiness, love, mercy, and power — is for Him an object of loving contemplation that overflows into inexpressible joy. The love He has for the Father, and His Father’s love for Him, flood His Sacred Heart with indescribable happiness that will be our admiration and bliss for eternity.
Pope Pius XII begins his encyclical letter on devotion to the Sacred Heart with these words, which give the letter its title:
“ ‘You shall draw waters with joy out of the Savior’s fountains’ (Isaiah 12:3). . . . Those heavenly blessings which devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus pours into the souls of the faithful, purifying them, refreshing them with heavenly consolation and urging them to acquire all virtues, cannot be counted.”
Jesus is in the Sacred Host to share His divine perfections and happiness with you. He gives you there His limitless, most perfect love, that it may fill you with joy and destroy your self-love. He brings you His infinite bliss so that, forgetting yourself and your troubles, you may find all your happiness in Him and thus enjoy on earth a foretaste of His heavenly joys.
What more do you need than Jesus to make you perfectly happy? He is your treasure, your only good, who is all you should want to love in this world. He is and always will be perfect, and perfectly happy. You should rejoice in this ocean of joy and peace of the Sacred Heart.
But to enjoy His divine perfections more, you must love more, rise above self, and live more in Him than in yourself. Ask Jesus to help you with His grace so that you, too, may sometimes experience something of what the saints felt before the tabernacle, or when they took Him to their hearts in Holy Communion.
What joy to think that you possess within you and take to your heart all the beauty, wisdom, goodness, love, holiness, and happiness there is in Heaven and on earth! What is there in Heaven or on earth that you could wish for, that you do not possess in possessing Jesus?
But this joy is above all spiritual. Since the Eucharist is the “mystery of faith,” it may happen that God will not permit this inward joy to react upon your feelings. If you have brought all the good dispositions possible for receiving Christ, and still feel helpless, remain in peace. Christ acts in silence but surely, in the innermost depths of your soul in order to transform it into Himself. That is the most precious effect of this heavenly food. The more often you receive Christ in the sacrament of His love, the better will you understand how sweet the Lord is.
This spiritual joy brought to you by Holy Communion will make you bear the trials and sufferings of life with a peaceful, contented heart. You are enabled to imitate, in some measure, the mysterious experience in the life of Jesus — the union of intense agony and intense happiness.
His words to the Apostles are fulfilled in you through Holy Communion: “So you have sorrow now, but I will see you again and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you.” At Communion you see Him with eyes of faith and your heart rejoices. This is the true, lasting joy that neither the world nor the powers of evil can take from you.
The moments of union with Jesus in Holy Communion are the happiest of your life, for this union of love is the climax of God’s love for you. Your heart is filled with heavenly bliss, because God Himself makes it His little heaven of delights when He visits you in Holy Communion. Yearn to be with Him and to possess Him here on earth through frequent Holy Communion, and you will prepare yourself for an eternal union with Him in Heaven. At Holy Communion you enjoy a foretaste of Heaven, for you receive Christ’s glorified Body and Blood, Soul and divinity, and His Sacred Heart is the fount of joy.
This article is from a chapter in The Basic Book of the Eucharist which is available through Sophia Institute Press.
Art for this post on joy in Holy Communion: Cover of The Basic Book of the Eucharist, used with permission. Detail of The Communion of Saint Lucy by Giovanni Battista Tiepolo. Painting in chapel corner of Santi Apostoli (Venice, Italy) picture by Didier Descouens, April 13, 2016, own work, CCA-SA 4.0 International, Wikimedia Commons.