I have been reading 7 Secrets of the Eucharist
by Vinny Flynn
. It is a very quick and easy read. It can give you an enhanced appreciation of the great gift God has left with the Church, the Most Blessed Sacrament. In the last
chapter, Flynn explains that there are two ways to receive the Eucharist. This is based on the writings of Thomas Aquinas and other saints and doctors of the Church. We can receive Christ both Sacramentally
. What's the difference? When we go up to the priest to receive the sacred host, we can be thinking of baseball scores, mowing the lawn, or God forbid, what the parishioner in front of me is wearing. (I always have PD go up in front of me and keep my eyes low to the ground because of the desire to receive Christ not tarnished by thoughts other than what they should be. But sometimes, we may be receiving Him sacramentally but not necessarily spiritually. Going through the motions, without our hearts attentive, pliant and open. Most of us born Catholic
will admit to experiencing this.
I was once asked by an evangelical pastor why I thought so many Catholics are not transformed by the Eucharist if it is truly Christ's real presence. Firstly, we can't judge who is experiencing Christ vs those who aren't. Secondly, when our hearts are not disposed to receiving His grace, the Communion will not be efficacious. The Host is not a Magic Wafer! Like water off the ducks back, His graces can't penetrate a heart that is not open and docile to receive Him. It's that "cooperation thing" us Catholics often emphasize. So, we still actually receive Christ, His body and blood in the Eucharistic species but our hearts may not always be "in it", so to speak. However when we cooperate with Him, opening our hearts to the Holy Spirit's work, the graces can flow.
There is a whole other aspect of communing with Jesus which our non-Catholic friends understand. When they ask Jesus into their heart, they are spiritually communing with Him. The difference of course, is that Catholics believe that we receive Jesus at every Mass, not as a one time event. When we receive the Eucharist sacramentally
, we too should be focus on inviting Him in as well and uniting our hearts to Him.
There is no time or place on earth that I can be closer to Jesus than in the reception of the Eucharist. So we can thus, sacramentally and spiritually commune with Him.
Most of this is preaching to the choir here since most convert/reverts do receive Him sacramentally
and spiritually as well. We went so long without the Eucharist that every Mass is a pretty big deal to us on most days and we haven't begun to be mechanical about it by the grace of God!
My final note is that we can make a spiritual communion with Christ even when we can't receive the sacrament of the Eucharist physically. We can unite our hearts to His through our desire to receive the sacrament and the graces that flow from this act can be efficacious as well, though not as full as the actual reception of the Eucharist. St Faustina, St. Catherine of Siena
, St. Maximilian Kolbe
all understood and practiced this spiritual communion throughout the day. Permit me to make it analogous
to the sacrament of marriage. We can't always be receiving the sacrament of marriage, but we can in our hearts have fond and loving thoughts towards our spouse, spiritually so to speak of course. Here is a prayer we can pray to make a spiritual communion when not receiving Christ sacramentally
I believe that You
are present in the Most Holy Sacrament.
I love You above all things,
and I desire to receive You into my soul.
Since I cannot at this moment
receive You sacramentally,
come at least spiritually into my heart. I embrace You as if You were already there and unite myself wholly to You. Never permit me to be separated from You. Amen.
The Audio CD 7 Secrets of the Eucharist is available free here.Hope it can be a blessing to you.