Sunday in the Octave of Corpus Christi.
On Unworthy Communion.
PRAYER BEFORE MEDITATION.
My God, I firmly believe that Thou art here present. I acknowledge that on account of my many sins I am utterly unworthy to appear before Thy sacred countenance. Yet, confiding in Thy infinite goodness and mercy, I venture to address Thee, to call upon Thy holy name, and meditate upon Thy commandments, in order that I may acquire a better knowledge of Thy holy will, and accomplish it with more fidelity. Wherefore enlighten my understanding that I may perceive what I ought to do or leave undone for the promotion of Thy glory and my own salvation; at the same time excite my will, that I may repent with my whole heart of my past sins, and resolve for the future to do all that Thou requirest of me. Grant me above all to know Jesus, my divine Teacher and Guide, more clearly, that I may love Him more dearly, and consequently labor, struggle and suffer with greater generosity and self-sacrifice in imitation of His example. Holy Mary, Mother of God and my Mother, show Jesus to me now, and let me study thy divine Son to the salvation of my soul. Holy Guardian Angel, keep far from me all distracting thoughts; my patron saint, come to my assistance. Amen.
Sunday in the Octave of Corpus Christi.
On Unworthy Communion.
Look, my soul, in imagination at the terrible scene in the Garden of Olives, when our Lord received the traitor’s kiss from the apostle Judas. See in what a shameful manner that wretched hypocrite abuses that mark of tender affection, that sign of intimate friendship. It is a revolting sight. There stands Jesus, the impersonification of charity, of mercy, and the unhappy apostle, concealing his vile treachery and base ingratitude, dares to press his lips to His cheeks. Sketch for yourself that sad picture, and then remind yourself that the same scene is reenacted as often as a Christian approaches the table of the Lord, like the miserable guest in to-day’s Gospel, without a wedding garment, that is to say, communicates unworthily. In order to awaken within your breast a salutary fear and horror of so fatal an act proceed to consider the following saying of the Seraphic Father, St. Francis:
1st. “He who communicates unworthily treats the Lamb of God with contumely and tramples Him under foot.” Think for a moment, my soul, of the infinite greatness, the unspeakable sanctity, the boundless charity of the Lamb of God; think how, weary and footsore, He sought you; think how He submitted to be cruelly slain for your redemption; nay more, think how He gives Himself under the form of food for your spiritual sustenance. Then, touched to the heart by the charity of Christ towards you, ponder the words of St. Francis quoted above, and assuredly you will conceive a salutary dread of receiving Holy Communion unworthily. John the Baptist trembled and shrank from pouring the sacred waters of the Jordan upon the head of the Lamb of God, and shall you not recoil in horror from the thought of trampling under foot that same Lamb of God?
2d. Consider the words of the Apostle Paul: “He that eateth and drinketh unworthily eateth and drinketh judgment unto himself.” (I. Cor. xi. 29.) It belongs to the nature of divine things (and the divine food of which we are speaking is no exception to this rule) to be highly beneficial when used aright, and equally prejudicial when used wrongfully. Thus the consequences of unworthy Communion are no less fatal than the fruits of a worthy reception of this life-giving Sacrament are blissful. The disdain for the Blessed Sacrament displayed by the sacrilegious communicant, who does not distinguish the Lord’s body from ordinary food, brings death upon the soul and judgment upon the head of the sinner. This judgment is not unfrequently carried into execution even in this life, before its full accomplishment in eternal damnation hereafter, for we see such sacrilegious persons overtaken by sudden death, grave misfortunes, grievous sickness and other calamities, most of all by that most terrible spiritual malady which is known as obduracy or hardness of heart. Alas! to how many does that disease prove fatal! To how many may these words of St. Jerome be applied: “Woe betide thee, because for so many years thou hast eaten thy bread to no purpose. For in nothing hast thou overcome thyself, in nothing hast thou mortified thyself, no single fault hast thou corrected. Thou must indeed be seriously sick, since the food thou eatest fails to nourish thee.” O my soul, take pity on those who suffer from this sickness; pray for them that they may come to a better mind; say a Pater after every Communion, every time you go to adoration, for those who perhaps daily eat and drink their own judgment; and beware lest any of your penitents, if you are a Confessor, approach the holy table with so terrible a result. But if you are anxious yourself to avoid incurring this judgment, consider what the Apostle enjoins on the Corinthians.
3d. “For let a man prove himself” (I. Cor. xi. 28) “before he eat of that Bread.” According to St. Augustine the means of escaping the divine judgment is this: Self-accusation in examination of one’s conscience and in Confession, besides an act of penance, which will impart the consoling assurance that no mortal sin weighs upon the soul; this self-judgment will avert the divine judgment with its strict severity, and only leave the mercy and compassion of which we stand in need. Thus a clean conscience, gained by stern self-judgment in the Sacrament of Penance, is the wedding garment, the absence of which would be our damnation. Wherefore, my soul, be assiduous in your daily general and particular examination of conscience, and thus you will each time prepare yourself duly for a worthy Communion. For although you would not be so impious as wittingly to approach the holy table in a state of mortal sin, yet it might perchance so happen that through some negligence on your part you were unconscious of your perilous state. Let the resolution to guard against this ignorance by a careful self-scrutiny be the chief fruit of to-day’s meditation; thus you will be preserved from communicating unworthily.
PRAYER AFTER MEDITATION.
My God, I give Thee heartfelt thanks for all the graces and all the light Thou hast conferred on me during this meditation. Pardon me all the negligence and the distractions of which I have been guilty, and give me strength to carry out the resolutions that I have made. Fortify me, that from henceforth I may diligently practise this virtue . . . avoid this fault . . . perform this action . . . to Thy honor. Help me to do this, sweet Virgin Mary; and if I ever forget my good resolutions, I entreat my Angel Guardian to recall them to my memory. Amen.
June Devotion: The Blessed Sacrament and the Sacred Heart of Jesus
Virtue to practice: Obedience, piety, dutifulness
O Sacred Heart of Jesus,
I place all my trust in Thee!
Jesus meek and humble of heart,
make my heart like unto Thine!
O Jesu! Creator of the world,
Of all mankind Redeemer blest,
True God of God, in Whom we see
Thy Father’s image clear expressed!
Thee, Saviour, love alone constrained
To make our mortal flesh Thine own,
And, as a second Adam, come
For the first Adam to atone.
That selfsame love which made the sky,
Which made the sea and stars, and earth,
Took pity on our misery,
And broke the bondage of our birth.
O Jesus! in Thy Heart divine
May that same love for ever glow!
Forever mercy to mankind
From that exhaustless fountain flow!
For this the Sacred Heart was pierced,
And both with blood and water ran –
To cleanse us from the stains of guilt,
And be the hope and strength of man.
Jesu, to Thee be glory given,
Who from Thy Heart dost grace outpour,
To Father and to Paraclete
Be endless praise for evermore. Amen.
An indulgence of 5 years. A plenary indulgence on the usual conditions, If this hymn is devoutly recited every day for a month (S.P.Ap., March 12, 1936). (taken from The Raccolta (c)1957)
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