This is the third and final part of the "Considerations on Holy Communion". The part starting with "Many excuse their neglect[...]" is, in my opinion, one of the more beautiful devotions and exhortations that I have ever read.
Considerations on Holy Communion
3. The Great Desire Which Jesus Christ Has of Uniting Himself to Us in Holy Communion
Our divine Redeemer called Holy Thursday "His hour," because He then instituted this Sacrament, as the means of uniting Himself intimately to our souls. He said to His disciples: "With desire I have desired to eat this pasch with you." (Luke 22. 15.) This is the language of burning love. It was out of love that Jesus gave Himself to us under the appearance of food, that all might receive Him. So greatly does He desire to be united to us, that He urges us to receive Him: "Come, eat My bread, and drink the wine which I have mingled for you." (Prov. 9. 5.) He even commands us: "Take ye and eat, this is My Body." (Mat. 26. 26.) Jesus encourages us to receive holy Communion by the promise of eternal life: "He that eateth My flesh and drinketh My blood, hath life everlasting. He that eateth this bread, shall live forever." (John 6. 55.) His desire to be united to us is so great that He even threatens to exclude from heaven all who neglect to receive Him. "Except you eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink His blood, you shall not have life in you." (John 6. 54.) These invitations, promises and threats, manifest our Savior's ardent desire to unite Himself to us in this Sacrament. This ardent desire is the effect of our Lord's immense love for us. "Union is the perfection of love," says St. Francis de Sales. Jesus desires so eagerly that we should receive Him, because in this Sacrament He unites Himself most intimately to our souls. "He that eateth my flesh," He says, "and drinketh My blood, abideth in Me and I in him." (John 6. 57.)
Oh! if we only understood the great treasures concealed in holy Communion! Jesus is infinitely rich. "The Father hath given Him all things into His hands." (John 13. 3.) When Jesus Christ comes to us in holy Communion, He brings with Him immense treasures of grace. According to St. Vincent Ferrer, we can derive greater profit from one holy Communion than from a week's fast on bread and water. "Holy Communion," as the council of Trent teaches, "is the great remedy which frees us from venial sin, and even preserves us from mortal sin." This Sacrament is, moreover, the principal means of enkindling divine love in our hearts, "God is love." (John 4. 8.) He is "a consuming fire." (Deut. 4. 24.) The Son of God says expressly: - "I am come to cast fire on the earth, and what will I but that it be kindled." (Luke 12. 49.) O what burning flames of divine love does Jesus kindle in the souls that receive Him worthily in this Sacrament! St. Catherine of Sienna once saw Jesus in the Sacred Host like a furnace of love. At the sight she wondered that the hearts of all men were not inflamed and consumed bt the flames, which issued from the Holy Eucharist. "The Eucharist," says St. John Chrysostom, "is a fire which inflames us with divine love, and renders us terrible to Satan, the enemy of souls." It is the wish of the Church that we should go to Mass and Communion every day, as the first Christians did. This we see from the decrees of the Council of Trent (Sess. 22. Cap. 6.) and also from the Roman Catechism. Our Lord calls holy Communion "our daily supernatural bread."
Many excuse their neglect of Communion by saying that they are cold in the love of God; that they are unworthy to receive so often, etc. But who is worthy? No one. Neither saint nor angel is worthy to receive our Lord. You do not receive Communion because you are worthy, but because you need it. You need strength and consolation. Will you become more worthy by neglecting Communion? Just the contrary. The longer you stay away, the more faults you commit, and the more unworthy you become. You say: "I fear I am not in the grace of God." Then go to confession. Stop sinning. Receive the absolution of the priest. Do you expect God to send you an angel to assure you that your sins are forgiven? Do you not know that you can place more reliance on the absolution of the priest than on the words of an angel? It was not to an angel, but to the priest that Jesus said: "Whatsoever sins you forgive, they are forgiven them." You say you stay away from Communion "because your heart is cold and without devotion." What an absurd excuse! You are like the man who refuses to approach the fire, because he feels cold! The greater your coldness, the greater is your need of going often to holy Communion. You say: "People will notice it, if I go to Communion so often. They will laugh at me. They will call me a devotee and a hypocrite." Who will laugh at you? Not the virtuous; they will be edified. They wicked? Well let the laugh. Father Juan de Avila says those who keep others from Communion are agents of the devil. Will you neglect Communion to please the devil? Ah, you stay away because you will not give up sin. You prefer the husks of the swine to the Food of angels! Beware! Despise not the loving invitations of Jesus. At the hour of death you may crave for the grace of Communion and not receive it.
St. Francis de Sales says that "two classes of persons should communicate often ; the perfect and the imperfect. The perfect, that they may remain perfect, and the imperfect, that they may become perfect."
"Though you feel cold in divine love," says St. Bonaventure, "approach nevertheless, trusting in the mercy of God. The more you feel sick, the more you need the physician." Our divine Savior said one day to St. Mechtilda: "When you are about to receive holy Communion, desire to possess all the love which the saints have ever had for Me, and I will accept your love in proportion to the ardor with which you desire it."
O my Jesus, so greatly enamored of souls, Thou canst not give us greater proofs of love than are found in this adorable Sacrament. What more couldst Thou invent to induce us to love Thee? Grant that I may love Thee with all my strength. Who can have greater claim to the affections of my heart than Thou, my Redeemer who, after giving Thy life for me, hast bestowed Thyself entirely on me in this Sacrament of love? Would that I had always remembered Thy love, that I might love Thee always without reserve! I love Thee, O my Jesus, above all things, I wish to love Thee alone. Banish from my heart all affections that are not for Thee. I thank Thee for giving me time to love Thee, and to bewail the offences I have committed against Thee. Mayst Thou be henceforth the only object of my affections! Assist me; save me. Let me love Thee always with my whole heart in this life and in the next. O Mary, dearest Mother, obtain for me the grace to love Jesus Christ in time and in eternity. Amen.