by St Alphonsus Liguori
ON PREPARATION FOR, AND THANKSGIVING AFTER, COMMUNION.
Cardinal Bona asks, wherefore it happens that so many souls, after so many Communions, make so little advance in the way of God? and he answers: 'The fault is not in the food, but in the disposition of him who eats it; that is to say, in the want of due preparation on the part of the communicant. Fire soon burns dry wood, but not that which is green, because the latter is not fit to burn. The Saints derived great profit from their Communions, because they were very careful in their preparation for it. There are two principal things which we should endeavour to obtain in order to prepare ourselves for Holy Communion. The first is, detachment from creatures, by driving from our heart every thing that is not of God and for God. Although the soul may be in a state of grace, yet if the heart is occupied by earthly affections, the more there is of earth in the soul, so much less room will there be for Divine love. St. Gertrude once asked our Lord what preparation He required of her for Holy Communion, and Jesus answered her: 'I require none other from thee, but that thou shouldst come to receive Me void of thyself.' The second thing that is necessary in order to reap great fruit from Communion is, the desire to receive Jesus Christ with the view of loving Him more. Gerson says that at this banquet none are satiated but those who feel great hunger. Hence St. Francis of Sales writes, that the principal intention of a soul in receiving Communion should be to advance in the love of God. 'He' (says the Saint) 'should be received for love, who out of pure love alone gives Himself to us.' And therefore Jesus said to St. Matilda: ' When thou art going to communicate, desire all the love that any soul ever had for Me, and I will receive it according to thy desire, as if it were thine own.'
It is also necessary to make a thanksgiving after Communion. There is no prayer more dear to God than that which is made after Communion. We must occupy this time in acts of love and prayers. The devout acts of love which we then make have greater merit in the sight of God than those which we make at other times, because they are then animated by the presence of Jesus Christ, who is united to our souls. And as to prayers, St. Teresa says that Jesus, after Communion, remains in the soul as on a throne of grace, and says to it: 'What wilt thou that I should do for thee?' Soul, I am come from heaven on purpose to bestow graces upon thee; ask Me what thou wilt, and as much as thou wilt, and thou shalt be heard. Oh, what treasures of grace do they lose who pray but a short time to God after Holy Communion!
AFFECTIONS AND PRAYERS.
O God of love, dost Thou, then, so much desire to dispense Thy favours to us, and yet are we so little anxious to obtain them? Oh, what sorrow we shall feel at the hour of death, when we think of this negligence, so pernicious to our souls! O my Lord, forget, I beseech Thee, all that is past; for the future, with Thy help, I will prepare myself better, by endeavouring to detach my affections from every thing that prevents me from receiving all those graces which Thou desirest to bestow upon me. And after
Communion I will lift up my heart to Thee as much as I can, in order to obtain Thy help, that I may advance in Thy love, - oh, grant me grace to accomplish this, O my Jesus, how negligent have I hitherto been in loving Thee! The time which Thou in Thy mercy mayest yet allot to me in this life, is the time, to prepare myself for death, and to make amends by my love for the offences I have committed against Thee. I will spend it entirely in lamenting my sins and in loving Thee. I love Thee, my Jesus, my Love; I love Thee, my only Good; have pity on me, and do not forsake me. And thou, O Mary, my hope, do not cease to help me by thy holy intercession!