Monday, July 4, 2011

Meditations from St. Jean Vianney on Receiving Jesus in Holy Communion

Meditation 14: Dispositions of Soul for Holy Communion

When Jesus Christ instituted the Blessed Eucharist, it was in a room well furnished, to teach us how we ought to take care to adorn our soul’; with virtues in order to receive Him in Holy Communion. Let us thank Our Lord for this instruction.

The first ornament of the soul who wishes to communicate is the state of Grace, the next is freedom from any affection for venial sin.
1. To be in a state of grace to receive Communion worthily.

(a) Let a man prove himself, says St. Paul, before coming to the Holy Table: and then let him eat and drink of this chalice. Because he who eats and drinks this chalice unworthily, eats and drinks his own condemnation not discerning the Body of the Lord.

We must, before going to the Holy Table, be sure that we have spent sufficient time in examination of conscience in order to discover our mortal sins, and that we have a great sorrow also, that our confession has thus been entire. We must have a firm determination to do, by the grace of God, all that we can, not to fall into sin again.

If we have not confessed entirely or sincerely, in receiving Holy Communion we would put Jesus Christ at the feet of the devil. What an enormity!

When we go to receive the Body of Jesus Christ in Holy Communion, we should be ready for death and ready to appear with confidence before the tribunal of Jesus Christ.

(b) Those who go to Holy Communion without having purified their hearts, ought to be afraid of incurring the chastisement of the servant who dared to sit at table without a wedding garment. The Master ordered his officials to bind his hands and feet, and to cast him into the outer darkness. Even thus Jesus Christ will say at the hour of death to those who have the misfortune of receiving Him into their hearts unworthily. “Why have you had the audacity to receive Me when you were stained with so many sins ?” No, never forget that to communicate we must be truly converted, and have a sincere determination to persevere.

(c) Sin, according to the mind of St. Bernard, is the poison of our souls.

(d) You would not embrace a King if your mouth gave out a fetid odour, and you embrace the King of heaven with a soul more fetid still! No outrage could be greater. Do you not see with what care, decency and splendour even the Sacred Vessels are kept. How much more pure and shining ought our souls to be! Because the Sacred Vessels do not share in the mysteries that they enclose, they are not conscious of them. There is no real union between them and Him who is in them. For us it is otherwise. We must, then, in order to receive the Sacred Host purify our minds and make our souls all holy.

2. To be free from affection for venial sin, in order to gather abundant fruit from Communion.

Before giving His adorable Body and precious Blood Jesus washed the feet of the Apostles to show us that we must be free from sin, even the slightest, and that we should have no affection for them. The purity of Jesus is so great that the least fault prevents us from being united to Him as completely as He would wish.

Venial sin, it is true, does not make our Communion unworthy, but it is the reason why we profit so little from
it. See, for instance, how many Communions you have made. Are you any better? No, perhaps. Why? Because you retain nearly always the same imperfections. You have a horror of big sins which would kill your soul, but for all these acts of impatience, these murmurings when some trouble or some annoyance or contradiction befalls you, for these little evasions in speech.

You wish everyone should love you, and have a good opinion of you. You do not make the least effort to correct yourself.

Set to work to destroy in yourself all that is not pleasing to Jesus Christ, to speak willingly to those who have caused you pain, to be pleased to see them, to love them sincerely, to practise the perfect renouncement of yourselves and you will see how your Communion will carry you forward with great strides towards Heaven. The more you do it, the more you will feel yourself detached from sin and carried to God.

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