Feast of the Most Sacred Heart of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ
After we have contemplated the Holy Eucharist – a gift crowning all the gifts of the love of Jesus for men – for eight days (the Octave of Corpus Christi ended yesterday), Holy Church now directs our consideration to the love of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, the source and cause of all His gifts. The same the Eucharistic Miracle of Lanciano, Italy directs us: Our Lord truly and really gives us His Flesh and the Flesh He gives us consists of the muscular tissue (myocardium) of His Most Sacred Heart!
The Holy Eucharist unites us to Christ directly; this physical union is the same for all who partake of His Body and Blood. However, it does not produce the same effects in everyone. This is so true that the Sacrament may even become a cause of damnation for those who approach it unworthily: Whosoever shall eat of This Bread or drink The Chalice of the Lord unworthily, says St. Paul, eateth and drinketh judgment to himself (1 Cor. 11.27-29). But even in those who receive worthily, the effects of the Holy Eucharist are different, for they are always proportioned to the excellence and perfection of one’s interior dispositions.
Our Lord and Savior penetrates us, transforming us into Himself only in the measure that we place no obstacles in His way, and insofar as we are disposed to receive the special grace of the Holy Eucharist, the grace of “union with Christ.” Although the physical union with Jesus offered us in Holy Communion is a tremendous gift, it is, nonetheless, directed to our spiritual union with Him and to our transformation in Him by love. The more perfect the dispositions with which we approach the Holy Altar, the more complete this union and transformation will be. These dispositions consist in preparing our heart for an ever greater union with the Lord, a union which requires conformity of aspirations, tastes, sentiments, and wills. How can we enjoy the visit of a friend and spend moments of sweet intimacy with him, moments of real union, if differences of desires, affections, delights, cares, sentiments, and will separate us? This, then, will be the best preparation for our Communion: to rid ourselves of everything in our life, no matte how trivial it may be, that might be in disagreement with the divine will, with the sentiments and dispositions of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus. Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus (Phil. 2.5): this must be the program of our remote preparation for Holy Communion.
In order that the Holy Eucharist may produce its full fruit in us and be the occasion of very close, intimate union with Our Beloved, it is not enough, as St. Augustine says, for us to eat His Body materially; we also need to eat It “spiritually,” that is, our spirit must be well disposed and prepared to receive the Body of Christ, to let itself be invaded and transformed by Christ. If when Our Beloved comes to us, He finds our heart, will, affections, delights, desires, cares, and sentiments entirely conformed to His own, nothing can prevent Him from giving Himself to us the most complete manner. His spirit, His life, His divinity will penetrate the innermost fibres of our being and transform us into Him. Then we shall be able to say in all truth with St. Paul: I live, now not I; but Christ liveth in me (Gal. 2.20).
When we receive Holy Communion, our heart must be enlarged by charity, so that it will be wide open for the coming of Jesus, and ready to let itself be penetrated and transformed by Him. In addition to the physical presence of Our Beloved and because of this Presence, each Communion brings us a new increase of grace and charity, but even this increase will be in proportion to our capacity for receiving it. If our heart is closed by selfishness and pride; if it is bound by attachment to creatures; or is engrossed by the material rewards, comforts, and delights the world has to offer and by secular affairs, it will be unable to make room for an increase of divine love, and the Beloved will be, so to speak, forced to lessen the outpouring of His charity and to diminish His gifts. Yes, in Holy Communion, the Beloved gives Himself completely – His entire Person as God AND Man – and He unites Himself entirely to us; but, if we do not give ourselves entirely to Him, He cannot wholly pour Himself into us, as a friend into the heart of a faithful friend.