Encouragements to love Jesus in Holy Communion
Jul 3rd, 2021 • 9 min
The Voice of Christ
“Come to Me all you that labor and are burdened, and I will refresh you” (Matt. xi. 28).
“The bread that I will give is My flesh, for the life of the world” (John vi. 52).
“Take ye and eat; this is My body, which shall be delivered for you; this do for the commemoration of Me” (1 Cor. xi. 24).
“He that eateth My flesh, and drinketh My blood, abideth in Me, and I in Him” (John vi. 57).
“The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life” (John vi. 64).
These are Thy words, O Christ, the eternal truth, though not all delivered at one time, nor written in one place. Since, therefore, they are Thy words, and true, they are all to be received by me with thanks and with faith. They are Thine, and Thou hast spoken them; and they are also mine because Thou hast delivered them for my salvation. I willingly receive them from Thy mouth, that they may be more inseparably ingrafted in my heart.
These words of such great tenderness, full of sweetness and love, encourage me; but the multitude of my offences weighs me down. Thou commandest me to approach to Thee with confidence if I would have part with Thee; and to receive the food of immortality if I desire to obtain life and glory everlasting. “Come,” sayest Thou to me, “all you that labor and are burdened, and I will refresh you “ (Matt xi. 28). O sweet and amiable word in the ear of a sinner, that Thou, O Lord my God, shouldst invite the poor and needy to the communion of Thy most sacred body!
But who am I, O Lord, that I should presume to come to Thee? Behold the heaven of heavens cannot contain Thee (3 Kings viii. 27); and Thou sayest, “come you all to Me.” Unless Thou, O Lord, didst say it, who could believe it to be true? And unless Thou didst command it who would dare attempt to approach?
Moses Thy servant, Thy great and special friend, made an ark of incorruptible wood, which he also covered with the most pure gold, that he might deposit therein the tables of the law; and shall I, a rotten creature, presume so easily to receive Thee, the maker of the law, arid the giver of life?
Solomon, the wisest of the kings of Israel, employed seven years in building a magnificent temple for the praise of Thy name: And for eight days together celebrated the feast of the dedication thereof; he offered a thousand victims as peace offerings, and brought the ark of the covenant in a solemn manner into the place prepared for it with sound of trumpet and jubilee (3 Kings viii. 6). And I, a wretched sinner, how shall I bring Thee into my house, I, who can hardly spend one half-hour devoutly? And would I had even once spent one half-hour itself as I ought!
O my God, how much did they endeavor to do to please Thee! Alas! how little is what I do! How short a time do I spend when I prepare myself to communicate. And yet surely in the life-giving presence of Thy deity, no unbecoming thought should occur, nor anything created take up my mind; for it is not an angel, but the Lord of angels, that I am to entertain.
And yet there is a very great difference between the ark of the covenant with its relics, and Thy most pure body, with its unspeakable virtues; between those sacrifices of the law, which were figures of things to come, and the true sacrifice of Thy body, which is the accomplishing of all those ancient sacrifices.
Why, then, am I not more inflamed, considering Thy venerable presence? Why do I not prepare myself with greater care to receive Thy sacred gifts, seeing that these ancient holy patriarchs and prophets, yea kings also and princes, with the whole people, have shown so great an affection of devotion toward Thy divine worship?
The most devout King David danced before the ark of God with all his might (2 Kings vi. 14), commemorating the benefits bestowed in times past on the fathers. He made musical instruments of sundry kinds; he published psalms, and appointed them to be sung with joy; he himself likewise often sang them, playing upon his harp, inspired with the grace of the Holy Ghost. He taught the people of Israel to praise God with their whole heart, and to join their voices in blessing and magnifying Him every day.
If such great devotion was then used, and such remembrance of the praise of God before the ark of the covenant, how great ought to be the reverence and devotion which I and all Christian people should have in the presence of this sacrament, and in receiving the most excellent body of Christ!
Many run to sundry places to visit the relics of the saints; they behold the noble church buildings erected in their honor; and kiss their sacred bones, wrapt up in silk and gold. And behold I have Thee here present on the altar, my God, the Saint of saints, the Creator of men, and the Lord of angels.
Oftentimes in seeing these things men are moved with curiosity, and the novelty of the sight, and but little fruit of amendment is reaped thereby; especially when persons lightly run hither and thither, without true contrition for their sins.
But here in the Sacrament of the Altar, Thou art wholly present—my God–the man Christ Jesus; where also the fruit of salvation is plentifully reaped as often as Thou art worthily and devoutly received. And to this we are not drawn by any levity, curiosity, or sensuality, but by a firm faith, a devout hope, and a sincere charity.
O God, the invisible maker of the world, how wonderfully dost thou deal with us! How sweetly and graciously dost Thou order all things in favor of Thy elect, to whom Thou offerest Thyself to be received in this sacrament! For this exceeds all understanding of man; this, in a particular manner, engages the hearts of the devout, and enkindles their love.
Oh, the wonderful and hidden grace of this sacrament, which only the faithful of Christ know. In this sacrament is conferred spiritual grace; lost virtue is repaired in the soul; and beauty, disfigured by sin, returns again. And so great, indeed, is this grace sometimes that from the abundance of the devotion that is bestowed, not only the mind, but the frail body also feels a great increase of strength.
Yet it is much to be lamented and pitied that we should be so lukewarm and negligent as not to be drawn with greater affection to the receiving of Christ, in Whom consists all the hope and merit of those that shall be saved. For He is our sanctification and our redemption; He is our comfort in our pilgrimage, and the eternal beatitude of the saints.
It is therefore much to be lamented that many esteem so lightly this saving mystery which rejoices heaven and preserves the whole world. Oh, the blindness and hardness of the heart of man that doth not more highly prize so unspeakable a gift; and from daily use falls into a disregard of it.
For if this most holy sacrament were only celebrated in one place, and consecrated by only one priest in the world, how great a desire would men have to go to that place, and to such a priest of God; that they might see the divine mysteries celebrated?
But now there are made many priests, and Christ is offered up in many places, that the grace and love of God to man may appear the greater, the more this sacred communion is spread throughout the world.
Thanks be to Thee, O good Jesus, our eternal shepherd, Who hast vouchsafed to feed us poor exiles with Thy precious body and blood, and to invite us to the receiving of these mysteries with the very words of Thy own mouth, saying, “Come to Me all you that labor and are burdened, and I will refresh you” (Matt. xi. 28).
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