At the Last Supper, surrounded by His Apostles, Jesus gave to the world the most sublime gift of His Real Presence by instituting the Sacrament of the Eucharist – His Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity. Jesus took bread and pronounced the words: “Take and eat, this is my Body”; then He took a cup of wine and said: “Take and drink, this is my Blood. Do this in memory of me.” With these words Jesus instituted the greatest of all of the Sacraments, the Sacrament of the most Holy Eucharist.
Our eternal salvation depends on our reception of the most Holy Eucharist. In the 6th Chapter of the Gospel of John, Jesus preaches one of His most sublime discourses that we call the “Bread of Life Discourse.” In this discourse Jesus states many times that our salvation depends on our eating His Body and drinking His Blood. The fact that Jesus repeated this message time and time again accentuates the indispensable character of our reception of Him so that we will be saved for all eternity.
Indeed, the greatest action that we can carry out on earth is to receive Jesus into our hearts, minds, and souls in Holy Communion. Even the angels, including the highest choir of angels, cannot receive Jesus into themselves in Holy Communion, but we can. For this reason, the angels experience a holy envy towards us!
Therefore, the essential thrust of this article will be how we can enhance our faith, love and devotion to Jesus who is truly present in the Eucharist, in Holy Communion, in every Mass that is celebrated throughout the world until the end of time.
1. APPRECIATION. How painful it is when a man or woman takes their spouse for granted; there is no longer love and appreciation for the one who should be loved most in the world. Indeed, this could be the start of a desire to actually separate: when one does not feel loved or appreciated. Likewise, it is all too common to simply take Jesus for granted and fail to appreciate who He is, what He has done for us and where He is to be found. This nonchalant, flippant, “take for granted” type of attitude pierces the Sacred Heart of Jesus to the very core and center of His loving Heart. Let us never fail to appreciate this most sublime gift of Jesus in Mass and Holy Communion. Receive every Holy Communion as if it were your first, your last and your only Holy Communion!
2. VISIT HIM OFTEN. One characteristic of true friendship is a desire to visit each other on a frequent basis. Frequent visits and friendly conversations can truly foster a deeper friendship. Likewise, when passing by a church, we should stop, enter, and greet the Lord. We should tell Him that we love Him and sincerely desire to grow in our love for Him. A short poem can be inspirational: “Whenever I see a Church I stop to make a visit, so when I die the Lord won’t say: Who is it?” When we die and go before the Lord, He will say: “My friend who came to visit me so often, welcome to your eternal home in heaven. You have been my dear friend on earth and now you will be my eternal friend in heaven.”
3. SPIRITUAL COMMUNIONS. Get into the habit of making frequent Spiritual Communions. This can be done at any time, without expenditure of much time and in an easy manner. Simply tell the Lord that you believe in Him and love Him and that you want Him to come and visit your home, your soul, as your Best Friend. He will come and fill you with peace and joy. Saint Alphonsus Liguori strongly recommended this practice.
4. READ ABOUT MASS AND THE EUCHARIST. Spiritual reading can prove to be an invaluable tool for growing in our faith, and especially in our faith and love for Jesus present in the most Holy Eucharist. An ecclesial document that indeed is a masterpiece was written by Pope Benedict XVI with the title “The Sacrament of Love.” Even though deep in theological content, this document is a spiritual masterpiece and can truly serve as a guide and stimulus to help you to participate more fully, actively and consciously in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and receive Holy Communion with a better disposition.
5. DAILY MASS. Aim at attending daily Mass, if this is within your possibilities. As stated earlier, the greatest action that we can do in our lives is to attend Mass and receive Holy Communion. When Our Lord gave us the prayer OUR FATHER, He told us to pray: “Give us this day our daily bread”. The most obvious interpretation is physical bread. However, shrouded within these words is the spiritual interpretation—“Give us this day our daily bread” meaning Jesus, the Bread of life in Holy Mass and Holy Communion. Form the habit of daily Holy Mass and Holy Communion and you will never regret it!
6. CONFESSION AND HOLY COMMUNION. Saint Ignatius of Loyola points out that by making a general confession of the sins of one’s whole life, one of the most positive fruits of this confession is making better Communions afterward. It stands to reason: the more pure the soul, the more the Lord of all purity desires to enter into that soul. If you like, this is an analogy: clean a dirty window with Windex and then the sunlight can pass through and illuminate the room all the more fully. In Holy Communion we receive Jesus, the Light of the world, who is able to radiate more fully His presence in the soul that has been purified by sacramental confession, washed clean by the Blood of the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.
7. MASS INTENTIONS. In Parish Masses, normally the priest-officiator has an intention that someone has requested weeks or months before the actual celebration of the Mass. This specific intention of the Mass, however, does not exclude us from offering our own personal and private intentions. In fact, the more we offer intentions for ourselves, for others and for the whole world, the more pleased Jesus is and the more powerful will be the effects of our Holy Communions. Indeed you can offer as many intentions as your heart desires and the Heart of Jesus will rejoice all the more.
8. ACTIVE PARTICIPATION. In many cases people come physically to Holy Mass but they are mentally, emotionally and spiritually absent from the Mass. In other words, their minds are in another world—thinking about events, people, past hurts, or even something as mundane as what food they are going to eat at lunchtime. Sacramental theology teaches unequivocally that the better the disposition, the preparation, and participation in the Sacraments, the more abundant will be the flow of graces. Arrive early! Ask for the help of your Guardian angel. Pray when you should; sing at the right time; listen attentively to the Word of God and the priest who represents Jesus, and you will truly grow in holiness of life.
9. ASK MARY FOR HER IMMACULATE HEART. Another very important spiritual aid is to ask for the presence of Mary in your daily walk towards heaven. However, most especially we should ask Mary to give us her Immaculate Heart to receive Jesus with great faith, devotion and love every time we receive Holy Communion. Saint Pope John Paul II made this beautiful parallel: the “Yes” of Mary to the Archangel Gabriel resulted in Mary receiving Jesus into her mind, body, heart and soul; our “Amen” when we receive Holy Communion results in our receiving Jesus into the very depths of our heart, mind and soul. Our “Amen” is our “Yes” to Jesus! So let us ask Mary to lend us her Immaculate Heart so as to make ever more fervent Holy Communions; our sanctification and salvation depends on how well we receive Jesus, the Bread of life and the Son of Mary.
10. THANKSGIVING. How very important it is that we cultivate an attitude of gratitude. Meister Eckhart once stated: “If the only prayer we ever prayed were that of thanksgiving, then that would be enough.” May we never be lacking or remiss in thanking God for all that He has given to us. In fact, all that we have is a gift from God with one exception: the sins that we have freely chosen to commit. After Mass spend some time in thanking Jesus for coming to visit the humble abode of your heart. You might even take advantage of an acronym that summarizes the four basic ends or purposes of Holy Mass: A.C.T.S. A—stands for adoration! Adore and praise the Lord whom you have as the Sweet Guest of your soul. C—stands for contrition! Tell the Lord that you are sorry for your sins, those of your family and the sins of the whole world. T—stands for thanksgiving. Abound in thanksgiving, but especially for the great gift of the Eucharist. Actually the word “Eucharist” means THANKSGIVING! “Give thanks to the Lord for He is good, eternal is His mercy.” Finally S—stands for Supplication. This simply means we ask the Lord for what we truly need. Saint Augustine comments: “We are all beggars before God.” We are all dependent on and in desperate need of God’s help at all times and in all places.
If these ten practices are carried out, or at least some of them, then your love for Jesus in the Eucharist as the Bread of Life will definitely grow and you will be on the Highway to salvation. May these words of Jesus fill you with consolation: “I am the Bread of life. Whoever eats my Body and drinks my Blood will have eternal life and I will raise Him up on the last day.”
Father Ed Broom, OMV, is Associate Pastor of St. Peter Chanel Church in Hawaiian Gardens, California. He is a member of the Oblates of the Virgin Mary and was ordained by Saint John Paul II on May 25, 1986. Fr. Ed teaches Catholic Ignatian Marian Spirituality through articles, podcasts, a radio show, retreats and spiritual direction.