Let Us Prepare for Union
Presence of God – O Jesus, grant that I may derive great profit from the grace of union with You, which You offer me daily in Holy Communion.
The Eucharist unites us to Christ directly; this physical union is the same for all who partake of His Body and Blood. However, it does not produce the same effects in everyone. This is so true that the Sacrament may even become a cause of damnation for those who approach it unworthily: “Whosoever shall eat this bread or drink the chalice of the Lord unworthily,” says St. Paul, “eateth and drinketh judgment to himself” (1 Corinthians 11:27-29). But even in those who receive worthily, the effects of the Eucharist are different, for they are always proportioned to the excellence and perfection of one’s interior dispositions.
Jesus penetrates me, transforming me into Himself only in the measure that I place no obstacles in His way, and insofar as I am disposed to receive the special grace of the Eucharist, the grace of “union with Christ.” Although the physical union with Jesus offered to me in Holy Communion is a tremendous gift, it is, nonetheless, directed to my spiritual union with Him and to my transformation in Him by love. The more perfect the dispositions with which I approach the Holy Table, the more complete this union and transformation will be. These dispositions consist in preparing my heart for an ever greater union with the Lord, a union which requires conformity of aspirations, tastes, sentiments, and wills. How can I enjoy the visit of a friend and spend moments of sweet intimacy with him, moments of real union, if differences of desires, affections, and will separate us? This, then, will be the best preparation for my Communion: to rid myself of everything in my life, no matter how trivial it may be, that might be in disagreement with the divine will, with the sentiments and dispositions of the heart of Jesus. “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 2:5), St. Paul tells me; this must be the program of my remote preparation for Holy Communion.
“O my soul, when you receive Holy Communion, try to reanimate your faith, do all you can to detach yourself from exterior things and retire with the Lord into the interior of your being where you know He is abiding. Collect your senses and make them understand the great good they are enjoying, or rather, try to recollect them so that they may not hinder you from understanding it. Imagine yourself at Our Lord’s feet, and weep with Magdalen exactly as if you were seeing Him with your bodily eyes in the house of the Pharisee. These moments are very precious; the Master is teaching you now; listen to Him, kiss His feet in gratitude for all He has condescended to do for you, and beg Him to remain always with you. Even should you be deprived of sensible devotion, faith will not fail to assure you that Our Lord is truly within you.
“If I do not want to act like a senseless person who shuts his eyes to the light, I can have no doubt on this point. O my Jesus, this is not a work of the imagination, as when I imagine You on the Cross or in some other mystery of Your Passion, where I picture the scene as it took place. Here, it concerns Your real presence; it is an undeniable truth. O Lord, when I receive Holy Communion, I do not have to go far to find You; as long as the accidents of bread are not consumed, You are within me! And if, during Your mortal life, You healed the sick by a mere touch of Your garments, how, if I have faith, can I doubt that You will work miracles, when You are really present within me? Oh, yes! when You are in my house You will listen to all my requests, for it is not Your custom to pay badly for the lodging given You, if I offer you good hospitality!
“O Lord, if a soul receives Communion with good dispositions, and if, wishing to drive out all coldness, it remains for some time with You, great love for You will burn within it and it will retain its warmth for many hours” (Teresa of Jesus, Way of Perfection 34-35).
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Art for this post on preparing for union with God: Partial Restoration of Christ with the Host, Paolo da San Leocadio, fourth quarter of 15th century, PD-US author’s life plus 100 years or less, Wikimedia Commons. Father Gabriel of St. Mary Magdalen, mirror from open source material.