WEDNESDAY WITHIN THE OCTAVE OF CORPUS CHRISTI
ON DEVOTION BEFORE COMMUNION
Consider first, that the soul which desires to prepare a fit lodging for Jesus Christ, whom she is to receive in the blessed sacrament, must not only drive out Satan from her, and rid her inward house of the dirt and filth of sin; but must also procure the proper ornaments and furniture of virtue and devotion to deck out herself and her lodging, that it may be agreeable to the great king that comes to visit her. ‘The work is great,’ said David, 1 Paralip. xxix. 1, ‘For a house is preparing not for man but for God;’ yea rather, in our case, for him that is both God and man. The groundwork of this preparation must be a lively faith and a serious consideration of the work we are about; who it is that we are to receive, how great and glorious, how pure and holy, &c. And also who we are that are going to receive him – how wretched and unworthy! This consideration must be accompanied or followed by earnest prayer; to beg of his infinite majesty, that since he knows our great poverty and inability to prepare him a fit lodging, he himself would prepare one for himself; by sending beforehand those graces and virtues, and that fervour of devotion, which may fit our souls for him.
Consider 2ndly, that the devotion which we ought to bring with us to this blessed sacrament, consists in the first place in a most profound humility and awful reverence for these tremendous mysteries, sanctified by the real presence of Jesus Christ himself; the Lord of glory, and the fountain of all sanctity. O! how ought we to annihilate ourselves in the sight of this great Lord and maker of heaven and earth! How ought we to fear and tremble, in consideration of our manifold treasons against him, and our base unworthiness! With what profound reverence ought we to approach to the Holy of Holies, who lies here concealed under these sacramental veils! But then, lest this fear and reverence shall go so far as to drive us away from this fountain of life, it must be qualified with an humble confidence in the infinite goodness and mercy of him who invites us to come, and who is ever ready to receive with open arms his prodigal children, when they leave the husks of the swine, and return to him with a true sense of their unworthiness. O! blessed be his holy name for evermore!
Consider 3rdly, that as nothing but pure love brings our Lord to us in this divine sacrament, so the devotion he principally expects of us, when we approach to him, is a return of love. Whichever way we consider these sacred mysteries we shall find that all things here call for our love, and indispensably oblige us to consecrate our whole heart with all its affections to this most lovely and most loving Lord. His death and passion, endured for the love of us, which we here commemorate, an incomprehensible mystery of love, which will astonish men and angels to all eternity; the wonders he has wrought in this heavenly sacrament, that he might make himself our food, and unite us to himself; the inestimable treasure he here imparts to us; the pledge he here gives us of our redemption and of our everlasting salvation: all concur to show forth his love for us, and to claim a return of our whole heart. O my soul, can we see so much love on his part and not be inflamed with a desire of loving him with all our power? Can we remain cold when we approach to so great a fire? Remember thou art going to thy sovereign good, to the source of all grace, to the fountain of life; go then with a hunger and thirst, with an ardent desire to this great banquet of love, where thou art to feed upon thy lover himself; and he will not fail to fill thee with all that is good.
Conclude to exercise thyself always before communion in acts of faith, reverence, and humility; in acts of hope and confidence in thy Saviour; in acts of divine love, and in ardent desires after him, accompanied with a grateful remembrance of the love he has shown thee in dying for thee, and in here giving himself to thee; and the more thou bringest with thee of this preparation and devotion, which enlarges as it were the vessels of thy heart, the more plentifully wilt thou draw of the waters of divine grace from this fountain of life.