The Eucharist has been on my mind lately. This evening at our parish, my wife and I finished a six week long reading and discussion of Brant Pitre’s, Jesus and the Jewish Roots of the Eucharist. What a delight and a treasure trove of knowledge that book is. I’ll share more on what I learned soon, as the thoughts that Dr. Pitre shared from the history of the Exodus to the Last Supper needs to be known by all Christians.
But it’s Wednesday, and late, and I’ve been too busy to post lately. As such, I’ll share a quick post on how to approach Christ in the Eucharist, courtesy of my friend Thomas à Kempis. He’s one of the fellows that helped bring me into the Church. Prior to my call to conversion, I had never even heard of the word until I met my wife. When I learned of its meaning, and who it is (or who Catholics thought it was) I was incredulous. Eighteen years later I woke up, thanks to Blaise Pascal and à Kempis.
Once I entered the Church, it wasn’t long before I started going to daily Mass. I’m a needy person, see? I’m not strong. Besides, I had been away from Communion so long that I knew I had a lifetime of catching up to do, especially now that the Real Presence was involved. From his The Imitation of Christ, I learned much from Thomas, and I continue to find help from his book as I journey along the Way.
The following brief passages are from the 6th and 7th chapters of Book Four, a book which is all about the Eucharist. I told a friend recently that the 18 chapters in Book Four are like a double-headers worth of back-to-back complete game shut-outs with Thomas on the mound. These are from the 6th and 7th innings then. A query from the Christian, and an answer from Christ. I think you will find the exchange profitable.
The Sixth Chapter
AN INQUIRY ON THE PROPER THING TO DO BEFORE COMMUNION
When I consider Your dignity, O Lord, and my own meanness, I become very much frightened and confused. For if I do not receive, I fly from Life, and if I intrude unworthily, I incur Your displeasure. What, then, shall I do, my God, my Helper and Adviser in necessity? Teach me the right way. Place before me some short exercise suitable for Holy Communion, for it is good to know in what manner I ought to make my heart ready devoutly and fervently for You, to receive Your Sacrament for the good of my soul, or even to celebrate so great and divine a sacrifice.
The Seventh Chapter
THE EXAMINATION OF CONSCIENCE AND THE RESOLUTION TO AMEND
THE VOICE OF CHRIST
Above all, God’s priest should approach the celebration and reception of this Sacrament with the deepest humility of heart and suppliant reverence, with complete faith and the pious intention of giving honor to God.
Carefully examine your conscience, then. Cleanse and purify it to the best of your power by true contrition and humble confession, that you may have no burden, know of no remorse, and thus be free to come near. Let the memory of all your sins grieve you, and especially lament and bewail your daily transgressions. Then if time permits, confess to God in the secret depths of your heart all the miseries your passions have caused.
Lament and grieve because you are still so worldly, so carnal, so passionate and unmortified, so full of roving lust, so careless in guarding the external senses, so often occupied in many vain fancies, so inclined to exterior things and so heedless of what lies within, so prone to laughter and dissipation and so indisposed to sorrow and tears, so inclined to ease and the pleasures of the flesh and so cool to austerity and zeal, so curious to hear what is new and to see the beautiful and so slow to embrace humiliation and dejection, so covetous of abundance, so niggardly in giving and so tenacious in keeping, so inconsiderate in speech, so reluctant in silence, so undisciplined in character, so disordered in action, so greedy at meals, so deaf to the Word of God, so prompt to rest and so slow to labor, so awake to empty conversation, so sleepy in keeping sacred vigils and so eager to end them, so wandering in your attention, so careless in saying the office, so lukewarm in celebrating, so heartless in receiving, so quickly distracted, so seldom fully recollected, so quickly moved to anger, so apt to take offense at others, so prone to judge, so severe in condemning, so happy in prosperity and so weak in adversity, so often making good resolutions and carrying so few of them into action.
When you have confessed and deplored these and other faults with sorrow and great displeasure because of your weakness, be firmly determined to amend your life day by day and to advance in goodness. Then, with complete resignation and with your entire will offer yourself upon the altar of your heart as an everlasting sacrifice to the honor of My name, by entrusting with faith both body and soul to My care, that thus you may be considered worthy to draw near and offer sacrifice to God and profitably receive the Sacrament of My Body. For there is no more worthy offering, no greater satisfaction for washing away sin than to offer yourself purely and entirely to God with the offering of the Body of Christ in Mass and Communion.
If a man does what he can and is truly penitent, however often he comes to Me for grace and pardon, “As I live, saith the Lord God, I desire not the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live” (Ezek. 33:11); I will no longer remember his sins, but all will be forgiven him.
Christ’s Real Presence in the Eucharist. One of the main reasons why I am Catholic.