Friday, June 22, 2007

Frequent Communion

1. Even as our bodies need their daily sustenance of food to restore the energy which they have lost, so it is with our souls. The nourishment of the soul is the grace of God. There is no better way of acquiring and increasing this grace than by Holy Communion, because Communion gives us Jesus Himself, Who is the origin of grace. Spiritual perfection consists in union with God. We can achieve perfect union with God in Holy Communion, by means of which we live the life of Jesus. He who eats me, he also shall live because of me. (John 6:58)

Anyone who loves Jesus fervently receives Holy Communion every day. If a man does not do this, it is a sign that he does not love Jesus perfectly. The early Christians were continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread in their houses; (Cf. Acts 2:46) in other words they received Communion every day. It was Jesus in the Blessed Eucharist Who nourished their faith and gave them the strength to endure martyrdom. This custom prevailed in many places up to the time of St. Jerome and St. Augustine, who wrote "This is your daily bread; receive it daily in order to benefit daily from it." (De Verbo Domini, Serm. 28) To those who believed that they were unworthy to receive every day, St. Ambrose said: "A man who is unworthy to receive every day will still be unworthy in a year's time." (Bk. 5, De Sacramentis, c. 4)

We should not stay away from daily Communion because of our unworthiness nor because of our lapses into sin. "Because I am always sinning," said St. Ambrose, "I am always in need of medicine." (Ibid) Humility is the basic virtue necessary in a Christian, but it should not be a reason for abstaining from Holy Communion. St. Thomas commented that, although it may be pleasing to God to stay away from Holy Communion out of humility, He is far better pleased with the love and confidence of a soul that receives Him. (Cf. Summa Theologiae, III, q. 8, a. 10 ad. 3) The Church, like Jesus, desires us to receive Communion daily, although it only binds us under pain of sin to receive once a year during Paschaltide in accordance with the decree of Innocent III, which was confirmed by the Council of Trent. We are also required to receive the Blessed Eucharist if we are in danger of death.

2. For the practice of daily Communion, however, we should have the approval of our confessor. We should be fully determined to preserve ourselves free from every sin, especially from grave sin, for otherwise we could not approach the Eucharistic table. (If anyone receives Jesus with mortal sin on his soul, he commits a terrible sacrilege.) This practice, moreover, should help us to avoid every deliberate imperfection and venial sin, and should inspire in us a lively spirit of Christian charity. "Receive Communion everyday," said St. Augustine, "because it will help you every day ... but you must live in a manner which will entitle you to communicate daily." (De Verbo Domini, Sermon 28)

Frequent Communion, therefore, will enable us to set out upon the road to perfection without relaxing in our resolution and without any false scruples. "Two kinds of people," wrote St. Francis de Sales, "should receive Communion frequently: the perfect and the imperfect; the perfect in order to preserve their holiness, the imperfect in order to reach perfection." (Introduction to the Devout Life, c. 21) Let us ask the advice of our regular confessor. We shall be fortunate if we can approach the Sacred Banquet every day, or at least very often, for we shall be sure that we are on the path to holiness.

3. Heart of Jesus, burning with love for us, inflame our hearts with love for You.