Most Blessed Sacrament
FR. STEPHANO MANELLI
Imprimatur: 1973, Naples, Italy
Every Day With Him, Part 1
Jesus is in the tabernacle for my sake. He is the Food of my soul. "My Flesh is food indeed and My Blood is drink indeed" (John 6:56). If I want to nourish myself spiritually and be fully supplied with life, I must receive Him, "Amen, amen I say to you, unless you eat the Flesh of the Son of Man and drink His Blood, you shall not have life in you" (John 6:54). St. Augustine informs us that the Catholic people in his diocese in Africa called the Eucharist by the word "Life." When they were to go to Holy Communion, they would say, "We are going to the Life." What a wonderful way of expressing it!
To keep my supernatural powers and energies --- my supernatural life --- in good health, I must nourish them. The Holy Eucharist is exactly what is needed for this, for It is the "Bread of Life" (John 6:35), the "Bread that has come down from Heaven" (John 6:59), which bestows, replenishes, preserves and increases the spiritual energies of the soul. St. Peter J. Eymard ventured to say, "Communion is as necessary for us to sustain our Christian vitality, as the vision of God is necessary to the Angels, to maintain their fife of glory."
Every day I ought to nourish my soul, just as every day I feed my body in order to give it physical vitality. St. Augustine teaches, "The Eucharist is a daily Bread that we take as a remedy for the frailty we suffer from daily." And St. Peter J. Eymard adds, "Jesus has prepared not just one Host, but One for every day of our life. The Hosts for us are ready. Let us not forfeit even One of Them."
Jesus is that Host, that Victim of love, Who is so sweet and so healthful to the soul, as to move St. Gemma Galgani to say, "I feel a great need to be strengthened anew by that Food so sweet, which Jesus offers me; This affectionate therapy that Jesus gives me every morning unstiffens me and draws to Him every affection of my heart."
For the Saints, daily Communion fulfills an imperative need for Life and Love, corresponding to Jesus' Divine desire to give Himself to be every soul's Life and Love. We should not forget that Holy Thursday was the day for which Jesus had "longed" (cf. Luke 22:15). Hence, the holy Cure of Ars said emphatically, "Every Consecrated Host is made to burn Itself up with love in a human heart." And St. Therese of Lisieux wrote to another Sister, "It is not in order to occupy a golden ciborium that Jesus every day comes down from Heaven, but it is to find another heaven, namely, our soul, in which He takes His delight; and when a soul well able to do so does not want to receive Jesus into its heart, Jesus weeps." "Therefore, continues St. Therese, "when the devil cannot enter with sin into a soul's sanctuary, he wants the soul to be at least unoccupied, with no Master, and well removed from Holy Communion." It should surely be evident that we are here concerned with a snare of the devil; for only the devil can be interested in keeping us away from Jesus. May we be on our guard, then. We should try not to fall victim to the devil's deceptions. "Endeavor not to miss any Holy Communion," St. Margaret Mary Alacoque advises; "We can scarcely give our enemy, the devil, greater joy than when we withdraw from Jesus, Who takes away the power the enemy has over us."
Daily Communion is a daily wellspring of love, of strength, of light, of joy, of courage, of every virtue and every good. "If anyone thirst, let him come toMe and drink,"' Jesus said (John 7 :37). He alone is the "Fountain of water springing up unto life everlasting" (John 4:14). How can there be anyone who is in the state of Sanctifying Grace not want, or who finds it hard, to go to this Divine "table of the Lord" (1 Cor. 10:21)?
The great Lord Chancellor of England, St. Thomas More, who died a Martyr because of his resistance to schism, used to hear Mass every morning and receive Holy Communion. Some friends tried to persuade him that this care was not suitable for a layman heavily engaged in so many affairs of state. "You present all your reasons, and they rather convince me the more that I should receive Holy Communion every day,"' he said. "My distractions are numerous, and with Jesus I learn to recollect myself. The occasions of offending God are frequent, and I receive strength every day from Him to flee from them. I need light and prudence to manage very difficult affairs, and every day I can consult Jesus in Holy Communion. He is my great Teacher."
Someone once asked the celebrated biologist, Banting, why he cared so much about daily Communion. "Have you ever reflected," he answered, "what would happen if the dew did not fall every night? No plant could develop. The grass and flowers could not survive the evaporations and the dryness that the day's heat brings in one way or another. Their cycle of energies, their natural renewal, the balance of their lymphatic fluids, the very life of plants requires this dew."' After a pause, he continued: "Now my soul is like a little plant. It is something rather frail that the winds and heat do battle with every day. So it is necessary that every morning I go get my fresh stock of spiritual dew, by going to Holy Communion."
St. Joseph Cottolengo recommended to the physicians of his House of Divine Providence that they hear Mass and go to Communion before undertaking their difficult surgeries. This was because, as he said, "Medicine is a great science, but God is the great Physician." Blessed Joseph Moscati, the celebrated physician of Naples, used to be very regular about this, and go to unbelievable lengths (at the cost of enormous inconvenience, especially in view of the frequent trips he had to make) to avoid missing daily Communion. If on any day it was quite impossible to receive Communion, he had not the courage that day to make his doctor's calls; for he said, "Without Jesus I do not have enough light to save my poor patients."
Oh, the ardent love the Saints have for daily Holy Communion! And who can properly describe it? St. Joseph Cupertino, who did not fail to receive his beloved Lord every day, once ventured to say to his brothers in religious life, "Be sure that I will depart into the next life on the day that I cannot receive the Pecoriello (the Great Lamb)" as he affectionately and devotedly called the Divine Lamb. And, in fact, it took a severe illness to prevent him from receiving Our Lord in the Eucharist one day; and that was the day of his death!
When St. Gemma Galgani's father was worried about his daughter's health, he criticized her for setting out too early every morning to go to Mass. His criticism drew this answer from the Saint: "But Father, as for me, I become ill if I don't receive Jesus in the Holy Eucharist."
When St. Catherine of Genoa learned of the interdict put on her city, carrying a prohibition against Mass and Holy Communion, she went on foot every day to a remote Sanctuary outside Genoa in order to go to Communion. When she was told that she was overdoing things, the Saint replied, "If I had to go miles and miles over burning coals in order to receive Jesus, I would say dIe way was easy, as if I were walking on a carpet of roses."
This should teach a lesson to us who may have a Church within a short walk, where we can go at our convenience to receive Jesus into our hearts. And even if this should cost us some sacrifice, would it not be worth it?
But there is yet more to this, if we reflect that the Saints would have wanted to receive Communion not just once, but several times a day.
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