TUESDAY WITHIN THE OCTAVE OF CORPUS CHRISTI
ON THE DISPOSITIONS WE OUGHT TO BRING TO THE HOLY COMMUNION
Consider first, these words of St. Paul, 1 Cor. xi. 28, ‘Let a man prove himself,’ that is, let him try and examine himself; by looking well into the state of his conscience, and setting all right in his interior, ‘and so eat of that bread, &c., lest otherwise approaching to it unworthily, he makes himself guilty of the body and of the blood of our Lord,’ v. 27, ‘and receive his own judgment and condemnation, not discerning the body of the Lord,’ v. 29; so that the first and most essential disposition to a worthy Communion is purity of conscience, at least from all mortal sin. Whosoever presumes to approach to purity itself in these sacred mysteries, must be clean and pure – Sancta sanctis, holy things of them that are holy. ‘God will be sanctified in them that approach to him,’ Levit. x. 3, and will execute justice and judgment on them that defile and profane his sanctuary by entering in thither and receiving the Holy of Holies with a soul polluted by wilful sin. Good God, keep me from being ever so miserable!
Consider 2ndly, how great is the guilt of a Communion made without this disposition of purity of conscience. ‘Tis a most grievous sacrilege, by profaning the most holy of all the sacraments. ‘Tis a most heinous injury and affront offered to our Lord himself in person, by bringing him into a polluted habitation. A soul under the guilt of mortal sin is possessed by devils; the unworthy communicant therefore introduces the Lord of glory into a den of unclean spirits. He imitates the treason of Judas, by betraying him, as much as lies in him, to his enemies. He lays violent hands on our Lord, like the Jews; and, like them, is guilty of the body and blood of Christ. We should have a feeling of horror for the wretch who by wilful murder, had been guilty of innocent blood, though it were but of the meanest person living; what then ought we to think of ourselves if by an unworthy Communion, we should be guilty of the blood of the Son of God himself? Would not such a crime as this cry to heaven for vengeance? Would it not very much darken the understanding, and harden the heart? Would it not put the soul even in the broad road of final impenitence? It would be, according to the apostle, receiving judgment, that is, damnation to ourselves. Ah, what penance, what floods of tears, would be required to expiate so great a guilt!
Consider 3rdly, that a soul which approaches to the Holy of Holies in the sacred mysteries, ought not to content herself with only aiming at being pure from mortal sin, and for that end preparing herself by contrition and confession; but ought also, as much as possible, to purify herself from all affections to venial sins, and all habits of any such sins, which, when fully deliberated, do a deal of mischief to the soul, and in particular hinder her very much from being sensible of the heavenly sweetness and excellent fruits of this divine sacrament. Ah! Christians, could we but see those spots, those stains, those filthy scabs; that scurf; that leprosy, which these habits of lies, of excuse, of anger, and impatience, of vanity, of curiosity, of indulging our sensuality in eating, drinking, &c., bring upon the soul; we should be sensible, how unfit they make us for the embraces of this our heavenly spouse, ‘Beautiful above the sons of men,’ Psalm xliv. 3.
Conclude ever to look to the state of thy conscience, and to purify it from all known and deliberate sins, whenever thou art preparing thy soul for Jesus Christ. Let thy intentions also be pure, by having no other view in thy Communion but his glory and thy salvation, and thy affections pure from all inordinate love of creatures, and thou shalt not fail to be a welcome guest.