Fruitful reception of the Holy Eucharist.
“The only real sadness, the only real failure, the only great tragedy in life, is not to become a saint.” Leon Bloy: French poet, and Catholic convert.
One more year went by, since we last observed Lent and celebrated Easter. We are definitely one more year closer to our death. We too will resurrect and stand before the Lord, for an account of our lives. Will we be among the sheep put on His right? What good are all our treasures in this life, if we are not worthy of heaven, in that final moment!
In today’s culture, everybody routinely receives Holy Communion. But there are very few people at the confessional. Are we all really in a state of grace each time we receive Communion, or are we recklessly endangering our soul, to resurrect among the goats on His left? When was the last time you did an honest examination of conscience? Living in an increasingly secular and liberal society, do we even care enough to know what the Church teaches on moral and ethical issues and the essential aspects of our faith, to be able to correctly choose between right and wrong?
The consequences of receiving Holy Eucharist without faith or in a state of mortal sin, of receiving in vain, are not merely that nothing happens and that therefore we just “don’t get the good stuff.” On the contrary, we can terribly hurt ourselves by receiving in vain. It is wrong to assume that frequent reception of the Communion in itself would somehow produce the desired spiritual results in us. The Church clearly teaches that, “To attribute the efficacy – power to produce the desired effects – of prayers or of sacramental signs to their mere external performance, apart from the interior dispositions that they demand, is to fall into superstition.” (CCC 2111)
Fruitful reception of the Holy Eucharist needs two levels of interior readiness. We should first believe firmly in the sacramental sign – that it is truly the flesh and blood of Christ in the appearance of bread and wine. Secondly, we should believe in the inward reality of the sacrament – that by its reception we are applying the saving gifts of Christ (redemption) to our individual lives. We must embrace both the sacramental sign and the inward reality. “Positive disposition” means our readiness to receive the Lord into our body, and our preparedness to change towards holiness and to seek the grace of God in order to do so. It is in our preparedness to receive the Lord that we should tremble in fear if we are approaching the sacrament without unconfessed mortal sins or without observing one hour abstinence.
We know the parable of the wedding feast, and the terrible fate of the guest found without a wedding robe. Wedding robe, in Jewish culture in those days, was something freely handed out at the entrance of the banquet hall. The robe was indeed a free mark of honor of friendship with the host. All that the foolish guest had to do was be mindful of the generosity of the King and humbly embrace his hospitality.