By Michael Schmidt
Arise, Young Adult Ministry
Down in adoration falling, Lo! the sacred Host we hail, Lo! oe’r ancient forms departing. Newer rites of grace prevail; Faith for all defects supplying, Where the feeble senses fail.
This is the English translation of St. Thomas Aquinas’ Tantum Ergo, a wonderful hymn of praise for Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament which provides for our spiritual nourishment and salvation even though the mystery of the sacrament cannot be understood by our simple human senses. But how many of us approach the Sacrament at Mass without much thought and consideration for whom we receive? The ontological reality is that Jesus Christ is truly present at the moment Christ’s words of institution are said by a priest at the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and if Christ, our Savior, the second person of the Blessed Trinity is truly present, then we need to be mentally present and prepared in our mind and heart.
An alarming study by the Pew Research Center in 2019 found that two-thirds of Catholics do not believe that the bread and wine at Mass becomes the Body and Blood of Jesus through transubstantiation. Whether or not this study’s conclusions and data is correct, the truth remains that any person who intends to receive the Eucharist, needs to prepare themselves properly and in a state of life (grace) with the Church.
Here are a few reminders and suggestions. The intention is not to provide any one formula for preparing but to give an example.
First and foremost, a person who wishes to receive the Eucharist must do so without mortal sin on his or her conscience. So, if its been a while since you’ve been to confession, go seek Jesus though sacramental confession. St. Paul says so in First Corinthians, “Therefore, whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of sinning against the body and blood of the Lord. A man ought to examine himself before he eats of the bread and drinks of the cup. For anyone who eats and drinks without recognizing the body of the Lord eats and drinks judgment on himself. That is why many among you are weak and sick, and a number of you have fallen asleep. But if we judged ourselves, we would not come under judgment. When we are judged by the Lord, we are being disciplined so that we will not be condemned with the world. (1 Cor 11:27-32)”
Second, preparation should begin the day or evening before communion. In his work An Introduction to the Devout Life, St. Francis de Sales encourages us to prepare for communion the night before. He says, “Begin your preparation for Holy Communion on the preceding evening with aspirations and ejaculations of love… Rise joyfully in the morning thinking of the great happiness that awaits you.”
Thirdly, before leaving the pew to receive, say a prayer silently, reverently, and intentionally. I personally like one composed by St. Thomas Aquinas but there are many other prayers composed by saints which are wonderful. Do some research and find one that you find increases your own devotion. At a minimum say an ad lib silent prayer for the intention to receive with faith.
Lastly, It is important that after Holy Communion that a person remains in prayer with a thankful disposition; thanking God for the gift of Jesus in the Eucharist and the graces of receiving Him.
A prayerful disposition should not be about private prayer, but prayer in Communion with all of those to whom we have united with through His Communion. We do that by joining in the communion hymn with the entire community.
Thomas a Kempis in The Imitation of Christ says this, “The careful custody of yourself afterward is no less necessary than the devout preparation before, for a careful afterwatch is the best preparation for obtaining greater grace. If a person lets his mind wander to external comforts, then he becomes quite indisposed”
Jesus promises us grace when we receive with devotion. Jesus says, “He that eateth My Flesh and drinketh My Blood, hath everlasting life: and I will raise him up on the last day.”
Let us aspire to prepare for Holy Communion as the saints did with love and fear. Prepare with humility not because we are worthy of the Sacrament but because we are broken and can only approach Him in the Eucharist because of His goodness and mercy.
If you’re a young adult unsure of what the Catholic Church teaches or wanting to grow closer in your faith, join St. Raphael’s Arise Young Adult Apostolate. straphaelelpaso.com/arise
Arise Young Adult Ministry