PREPARE TO RECEIVE THE MOST IMPORTANT GUEST!
Before the reception of an important guest, an intense, assiduous and meticulous preparation takes place. In a word, we call this HOSPITALITY! The lack of these details of hospitality manifests lack of finesse, lack of culture, lack of civility, and even an affront against charity.
Mary and Martha practiced hospitality towards Jesus by receiving Him into their home in Bethany. Their hospitality was double: Martha prepared the home, the cleaning and the meal; Mary, for her part, dedicated her time to entertaining Jesus by her mere loving presence. That is to say, Mary sat at the feet of Jesus in admiration and love. Mary listened to Jesus, conversed with Jesus, understood Jesus, admired Him and simply loved Him. (Lk. 10: 38-42)
HOW CAN WE PREPARE TO RECEIVE JESUS BETTER INTO OUR HOMES? By far the most important gesture that we can carry out in our lives is to receive Jesus into our minds, our hearts, and the very depths of our souls, somewhat like Mary and Martha, though in a sacramental but still very real way. What we are referring to is receiving Jesus in His Real Presence in the Sacrament of Holy Communion.
As a child, I remember having a real distaste for guests coming to visit our home for one simple reason: the work required before the guests arrived. My parents, good parents that they were and imbued with a genuine sense of hospitality, insisted that our home be at its absolute best before the guests arrived. In concrete, that meant the children, especially the two older boys, me and my brother Mike, had to work really hard so that our home would be close to spotless. Sweeping the rugs, polishing the furniture, taking out the trash, cleaning and scrubbing the bathrooms, making sure our rooms were immaculate was par for the course. So when the guests finally arrived, our home was at its best. The guests were received as if they were from the royal family entering into the palace!
How can we apply this to the reception of the greatest Guest of all, Jesus, the Lord of Lords and the King of Kings? More than anything else in the world Jesus desires to come into your interior palace and shower you with gifts. However, it is also true that Jesus wants you to come to Him like a beggar so as to shower you with a torrential downpour of graces and gifts. These are His words: “Ask and you will receive; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.” (Mt. 7: 7)
This being said let us prepare ourselves, our hearts to receive Holy Communion, by transforming ourselves into the beggar—the blind Bartimaeus, the ten lepers, the paralytic lowered from the roof, and many more who came to Jesus with faith, trust and confidence. Let us beg the Lord for the most important gifts, those that are related to the conversion of souls and their eternal salvation.
This humble writing can serve as preparation as you come early to Holy Mass to deposit these intentions into the hands and Immaculate Heart of Mary, and she in turn will deposit them on the altar. Then the priest will elevate them to the throne of Heaven. As a consequence, your reception of Holy Communion will undoubtedly be much more fruitful, much more efficacious, much more potent, and much more pleasing to God, the angels and saints, and all of the Heavenly Court!
1. CLEAN HEART. It must be said that we must cleanse our hearts. How? Make a well-prepared, well-articulated, humble and sincere Confession. The more clear the windowpane of your soul, the more pleasing you are to God. Jesus taught us in the Sermon on the Mount in one of the Beatitudes: “Blessed are the pure of heart; they will see God.” (Mt. 5: 8)
2. CONVERSION OF SINNERS. If we love God, then we should love what God loves—the conversion and the salvation of immortal souls. Saint Thomas Aquinas asserts that the salvation of one soul is worth more than the whole created universe! Place this intention on the altar to be raised on high.
3. SOULS IN PURGATORY. These poor souls are saved due to God’s infinite mercy. Nonetheless, they are in desperate need of purification so that they can finally contemplate the Beatific Vision of God, contemplate God face to face in Heaven for all eternity! Your intention that souls be released from Purgatory, placed on the altar and elevated on the paten by the priest, could be precisely what is needed to cleanse their soul of what is still imperfect so that they may have final and eternal access to Heaven.
4. DEATH-BED SINNERS. It is true that the devil works day and night. But it is equally true that the devil works especially hard when the person is about to die. The devil, who is a liar and a murderer from the beginning (e.g. Jn. 8: 44), launches his last fiery missiles to cast this soul into despair so that the soul does not trust in God’s mercy. In other words, the devil desires to steal souls from God so that they will be under his dominion for all eternity. A well-prepared and fervently received Holy Communion before someone dies can thwart the malicious intents of the devil and result in the eternal salvation of that soul for all eternity. Jesus desires ardently that we collaborate with Him in this work of the salvation of the souls of the dying. “The harvest is rich, but the laborers are few.”
5. THE SANCTIFICATION OF BISHOPS, PRIESTS AND RELIGIOUS. How important really for the sake of the Church and the salvation of countless souls is the purification, conversion and sanctification of Bishops, priests and Religious. If you like, they are called to be the Generals in the army with the lay people working at their side. The Pope asked Saint John Leonardi (1541-1609) what would be the best way to transform the Church at large and the saint replied start with the top members and work at their sanctification—Cardinals, Bishops, priests—once they are transformed into saints, the Church will be renewed and sanctified. Offer your Communion for these members in the Hierarchy that have the most responsibility—Cardinals, Bishops, priests and Religious. The Church will be renewed and present the resplendent Face of Christ to the world!
6. PRAYERS AND INTENTIONS FOR PREACHERS OF THE WORD. Saint Paul states that faith comes through hearing, and hearing from preaching, and then he says: “Woe to me if I do not preach the word of God” (1 Cor 9:16), in season and out of season. The Prophet Isaiah had a burning fire within his chest, an almost uncontrollable passion to preach the Word of God. Place on the altar your intention that preachers will truly be enlightened by the Holy Spirit and become anointed preachers of the Word of God.
7. PERSONAL PURIFICATION, SANCTIFICATION, AND POWER OF PERSEVERANCE. Saint Thomas Aquinas asserts that the first person that we should actually pray for on our list of prayers is ourselves. Far from an egotistic movement of the heart, prayer for our own purification, sanctification and perseverance in grace until the end is very pleasing to God. What better time, place and context to beg for this grace then by placing it on the altar before Mass and receiving Holy Communion for this most noble of intentions!
8. THE HUGE MASS OF LOST AND WANDERING CATHOLICS. By far the largest number of any religious group in the USA is non-practicing Catholics. These stats may not be perfect, but 50-60 years ago close to 80% of Catholics attended Mass regularly every Sunday. Now it is the reverse, the exact opposite: 80% do not attend Sunday Mass and 20% do attend. This loss of practicing Catholics in two generations is mind-boggling! Why not place these millions and millions of lost and wandering sheep on the altar and receive your Holy Communion for their return and salvation?
9. HOLY VOCATIONS TO THE PRIESTHOOD. “The harvest is rich, but the laborers are few. Beg the Lord of the harvest to send more laborers to work in the vineyard.” (Mt. 9: 37-38) The Cure of Ars, Saint John Marie Vianney, basically stated that if there is no priest, then there is no Consecration; no Consecration, then no Holy Communion; no Holy Communion, then no JESUS truly present in His Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity, and we are transformed into spiritual orphans! Therefore, deposit on the altar all the men that God is truly calling to the very noble vocation of the priesthood so that they will open their ears and heart and say YES to the Call which will result in the salvation of multitudes.
10. IN REPARATION THROUGH THE SORROWFUL AND IMMACULATE HEART OF MARY. If we are truly followers and lovers of Jesus, Mary and the Church then we cannot exclude our call to offer up fervent Holy Communions of Reparation for the many sins of the world. Just to mention a few: the millions of abortions; marital unfaithfulness; the coldness and indifference of so many Catholics to Jesus in the Tabernacle and the Mass, as well as the unworthy reception of Holy Communion; the failure of Bishops, priests and Religious to live up to their lofty call and vocation; the proliferation of impurity and licentiousness in the social-media; the robbing of children of their innocence at such a young age; the despair of so many who fail to place their trust in the love and mercy of the Sacred Heart of Jesus; and our own lack of faith, hope, love and trust in the love and mercy that the Sacred Heart of Jesus has for each one of us! All of these intentions and countless others can be what you deposit on the altar before Mass; these will be raised up at the Consecration and become part of your Holy Communion upon the your reception of the Eucharistic Lord.
In conclusion, the graces that we can receive in Holy Communion are infinite, limitless, a vast ocean or reservoir of graces. However, the unleashing, the detonating of this infinite spiritual nuclear bomb of graces is in direct proportion to our disposition and preparation before Mass. So let us make a concerted effort at all times to prepare and receive Holy Communion with the best of dispositions. May it be our goal to receive every Holy Communion through the Immaculate Heart of Mary as if it were our first, our last, and our only Holy Communion!