Infinite power dwells in our finite helplessness.
We cannot fathom the mystery of the true, real and substantial presence of Christ within us now, truly our own. The Eternal God, infinite in power dwelling in his finite helpless creature! Overwhelming thought! In every Holy Communion, we taste the supernal sweetness of the divinely communicated life as it pours itself out in tidal waves of supernatural strength and the limitless riches of Christ’s blessings. (Transforming Your Life Through the Eucharist, Kane, 97)
In preparation at Communion, we offer ourselves to Him as an oblation.
Before we ask of Christ any fresh gift, our first and most important duty at mass—and particularly before Holy Communion—is to offer ourselves with strong faith, absolute trust, and sincere love to him who offers himself for us, and who enters into us to establish the closest of all unions with our souls. Our oblation must resemble His. He is our food; we must be the food of His inconceivable desire to fashion us after Himself. (Transforming Your Life Through the Eucharist, Kane, 141)
Communion with the Church and each other is accomplished through the Eucharist.
The gift of Christ and his Spirit which we receive in Eucharistic communion superabundantly fulfills the yearning for fraternal unity deeply rooted in the human heart; at the same time it elevates the experience of fraternity already present in our common sharing at the same Eucharistic table to a degree which far surpasses that of the simple human experience of sharing a meal. Through her communion with the body of Christ the Church comes to be ever more profoundly “in Christ in the nature of a sacrament, that is, a sign and instrument of intimate unity with God and of the unity of the whole human race.” (Ecclesia Eucharistia, Pope John Paul II, 24)
In Communion, Christ comes into us and, in turn, we surrender to Him and to transformation.
[T]here is a person-to-person exchange, a coming of the one into the other. The living Lord gives himself to me, enters into me, and invites me to surrender myself to him, so that the Apostle’s words come true: “[I]t is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me” (Gal 2:20). Only thus is the reception of Holy Communion an act that elevates and transforms a man. (Collected Works, Ratzinger, 54)
Communion strengthens us in holiness.
It is indeed necessary for me, who fall and sin so often, who so quickly become lax and weak, to renew, cleanse, and inflame myself through frequent prayer, confession, and the holy reception of Your Body, lest perhaps by abstaining too long, I fall away from my holy purpose. For from the days of his youth the senses of man are prone to evil, and unless divine aid strengthens him, he quickly falls deeper. But Holy Communion removes him from evil and confirms him in good. (The Imitation of Christ, a Kempis, 221-222)
Reception reaches beyond the Eucharistic celebration to grow in adoration of Christ.
To receive Christ means: to move toward him, to adore him. For that reason, the reception can stretch out beyond the time of the Eucharistic celebration; indeed, it has to do so. The more the Church grew into the Eucharistic mystery, the more she understood that she could not consummate the celebration of Communion within the limited time available in the Mass. … The Lord is always there. …
There is always the “Church” in the church building, because the Lord is always giving himself, because the Eucharistic mystery remains present, and because we, in approaching it, are always included in the worship of the whole believing, praying, and loving Church. (Collected Works, Ratzinger, 295)
Communion unites us into one body, the Church.
[T]he religious attitude toward Communion and that toward the Church blend into one another: the one bread makes us into one body; the Church is simply that unity created by Eucharistic Communion, the unity of the many in and through the one Christ. (Collected Works, Ratzinger, 340)
We receive the life of Christ in His Body and Blood.
[The Cup of blessing which we bless, is it not a participation in the blood of Christ? (I Cor 10:16)] Here we are told that through this sacrament, we enter, as it were, into a blood relationship with Jesus Christ, whereby blood, according to the Hebrew way of thinking, stands for “life”. Thus the passage declares an interpenetration of Christ’s life with ours. (361)
The “bread”—the new manna that God gives to us—is one and the same Christ for all. It is truly the one Lord himself whom we receive in the Eucharist, or better: the Lord who receives us and makes us part of him. (Collected Works, Ratzinger, 362)
Eucharist conforms us to Christ.
It is greater and more substantial than we are. We do not assimilate it into ourselves, but rather it assimilates us into itself so that we are conformed to Christ—in Paul’s words, as members of his body, one in him. (Collected Works, Ratzinger, 362)
In communion with others.
We all “eat” the same man, not only the same thing; in this way we all are wrested from our self-enclosed individuality and drawn into a greater one. … To be in communion with Christ is to, by its very nature, to be in communion with one another as well. No more are we alongside one another, each for himself; rather, everyone else who goes to communion is for me, so to speak, “bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh” (cf. Gen 2:23). (Collected Works, Ratzinger, 362)
Authentic love sees Christ’s work in the souls of others.
In my prayers at communion, I must, on the one hand, look totally toward Christ, allowing myself to be transformed by him, and as needed, to be consumed in the fire of his love. But precisely for this reason, I must always realize also that he joins me in this way with every other communicant—with the one next to me, whom I may not like very much; but also with those who are far away, whether in Asia, Africa, America, or some other place.
By becoming one with them, I must learn to open myself toward them and to become involved in their situations. This is the test of the authenticity of my love for Christ. (Collected Works, Ratzinger, 362-363)
Christ dignifies man in Communion
If the Incarnation reveals man’s dignity because “the Son of God has united Himself in some fashion with every man,” how much more true that is by the institution of the Eucharist! For in Holy Communion we receive His very self into ourselves so that we may be assimilated into Him. (Eucharist, Feingold, 26)
The Eucharist is Presence, Sacrifice, and Communion.
[T]he Eucharist is the sacrament of all sacraments because through it Christ in the fullness of His glorious reality becomes present in our midst so that we can adore Him and receive Him in Communion. It is the sacrifice of all sacrifices because Christ, joined by His Church, sacramentally offers to the Father the price of our redemption, Jesus Himself, whom we then are given to receive as the consummation of the sacrifice. (Eucharist, Feingold, 35-36)
Communion is the most perfect way to share in the divine life. The glory we give to God ascends and His blessings descend.
As we have seen, the sacrifice of the altar represents the sacrifice of Calvary, which truly wins reconciliation between God and man such that man can enter into intimacy with God by coming to share in His life. There is no more perfect way to share in the divine life than by receiving the sacrificial victim offered for the life of the world, the Victim, who has in himself the divine life that is communicated to us in Holy Communion. In this way, the ascending and descending directions of divine worship come together in the proper order.
First, Glory is given to God in an ascending movement. And then blessings from God come to men in a descending movement which in turn makes possible a more perfect ascending movement of self-donation. (Eucharist, Feingold, 489)
The Mass applies the merits Christ won on Calvary to each soul.
[G]od willed that the merits won for us once and for all on Calvary be applied to our souls chiefly through the holy sacrifice of the Mass, for, as the liturgy proclaims, “whenever the memorial of this sacrifice is celebrated the work of our redemption is accomplished.” … (Eucharist, Feingold, 392)
Communion is the primary way to receive a share in God’s divine life.
The Fathers frequently teach that the Son of God took on a mortal human nature so that we might be brought to share in His divine nature and be made into sons and daughters of God. Holy Communion is the chief sacramental means to bring about this divine interchange. We receive his Body and Blood so as to be nourished by his divine life. (Eucharist, Feingold, 499)
Communion in mortal sin contradicts the union with Christ given in the Eucharist.
Unworthy communion is so serious because we are receiving Christ Himself crucified for our sins in a bodily union. This sacramental union presupposes that one is invisibly united to Him in charity as a bride to a bridegroom. To receive in mortal sin would be to “not discern,” or to directly contradict, the kind of total union given by sacramental reception.
It would also fail to “discern” that the Body received is that of the crucified Victim, and that reception of the Victim implies that one is interiorly configured with His sacrificial self-giving by living in accordance with His commandment of love. (Eucharist, Feingold, 535)
Communion is personal; “I” enters into the Lord.
What is given us here is not a piece of a body, not a thing, but him, the Resurrected one himself~the person who shares himself with us in his love, which runs right through the Cross. This means that receiving Communion is always a personal act. It is never merely a ritual performed in common, which we can just pass off as we do with other social routines.
In Communion, I enter into the Lord, who is communicating himself to me. Sacramental Communion must therefore always be also spiritual Communion. That is why the Liturgy changes over, before Communion, from the liturgical “we” to “I”. This makes demands on me personally. At this point I have to move out, go toward him, call to him. …
We have discovered anew the congregation, Liturgy as a communal celebration, and this is a great thing. But we also have to discover anew that fellowship requires the person. We must learn anew this quiet prayer before Communion and the silent time at one with the Lord, abandoning ourselves to him. (God is Near Us, Ratzinger, 82)
Christ’s sacrifice is fully applied and effective in Communion.
The saving efficacy of the sacrifice is fully realized when the Lord’s body and blood are received in communion. The Eucharistic Sacrifice is intrinsically directed to the inward union of the faithful with Christ through communion…. “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life within you” (Jn6:53). This is no metaphorical food: “My flesh is food indeed, and my blood is drink indeed” (Jn 6:55). (Ecclesia De Eucharistia, PJPII, #16)
Communion completes the sacrifice: the sacrifice is consumed in a meal of thanksgiving.
The reason Jesus’ identification with the lamb matters is that, as we saw earlier, in both the Old Testament and ancient Jewish tradition, the sacrifice of the Passover lamb was not completed by its death. It was completed by a meal, by eating the flesh of the lamb that had been slain. Therefore, if Jesus saw himself as the new lamb, then it makes sense that he would speak of his blood being poured out and command the disciples to eat his flesh. (Jesus and the Jewish Roots of the Eucharist, Pitre, 74)
Only prayer can give right attention to God for His gift of Communion.
The reception of Holy Communion is possible only in prayer and adoration. Prayer by its very nature is attention to God. This can consist in waiting for God or in meditation on the Word of God, in quiet prayer, in silent adoration or in vocal prayer, whether a set prayer or an entirely personal one. (My Body Given for You, Hoping, 433)
Develop a new culture of receiving: ready the soul to receive Jesus and His merciful grace.
Without this readiness to receive, the corporeal love of Christ that is given to us in the sacrament of the Eucharist cannot enter into us. To receive the consecrated Host thoughtlessly or routinely would not do justice to the extraordinary significance of the gift of the Eucharist. What we need today is a new Eucharistic culture of receiving. (My Body Given for You, Hoping, 434)
[O]ne cannot truly receive Communion unless one has previously adored… … Kneeling is the eloquent “bodily expression of adoration”, because in this posture “we remain upright, ready, available, but at the same time bow before the greatness of the living God and of his Name.” Kneeling is “the bodily expression of our positive response to the Real Presence of Jesus Christ, who as God and man, with body and soul, flesh and blood is present among us.” “Bending the knee before the presence of the living God’ is indispensable. To recover this posture of adoration and reverence before the Blessed Sacrament is one of the tasks of an ars celebrandi [faithful adherence to norms] of the Eucharistic liturgy. (My Body Given for You, Hoping, 437)
Fruits of Communion
- Holy Communion augments our union with Christ. The principal fruit of receiving the Eucharist in Holy Communion is an intimate union with Christ Jesus. (CCC1391)
- Communion with the flesh of the risen Christ, a flesh “given life and giving life through the Holy Spirit,” preserves, increases, and renews the life of grace received at Baptism. (CCC1392)
- Holy Communion separates us from sin. … [T]he Eucharist cannot unite us to Christ without at the same time cleansing us from past sins and preserving us from future sins… (CCC1393) … As bodily nourishment restores lost strength, so the Eucharist strengthens our charity, which tends to be weakened in daily life; and this living charity wipes away venial sins. (CCC1394)
- [T]he Eucharist preserves us from future mortal sins. The more we share the life of Christ and progress in his friendship, the more difficult it is to break away from him by mortal sin. (CCC1395)
- Unity of the Mystical Body: the Eucharist makes the Church. Those who receive the Eucharist are united more closely to Christ. Through it, Christ unites them to all the faithful in one body–the Church. (CCC1396)
- The Eucharist commits us to the poor. (CCC1397)
- The Eucharist and the unity of Christians. Before the greatness of this mystery, St. Augustine exclaims, “O sacrament of devotion! O sign of unity! O bond of charity!” (CCC1398)
Eucharist: Mystery of the Presence, Sacrifice, and Communion, Lawrence Feingold
Sacramental grace of the Eucharist: love of God and neighbor, and glorifying God in His offering.
The Eucharist…gives actual graces…which are the enkindling of greater charity for God and neighbor, and the glorification of God through offering the sacrifice of the Christian life in union with Christ’s Paschal mystery. (495)
Communion is the primary way to receive a share in God’s divine life.
The Fathers frequently teach that the Son of God took on a mortal human nature so that we might be brought to share in His divine nature and be made into sons and daughters of God. Holy Communion is the chief sacramental means to bring about this divine interchange. We receive his Body and Blood so as to be nourished by his divine life. (499)
Eucharist applies justification and grace to each soul in Communion.
[T]he Eucharist sanctifies by applying the effects of Christ’s Passion, the cause of all justification and grace, to those who receive him. By receiving His immolated Flesh and Blood, we have the effects of Christ’s Passion applied to us, for we receive Christ in solidarity with His sacrifice that has just been offered. Communion is a union not only with the Person of Christ but also with His sacrifice. (500)
Christ nourishes us with Himself and brings us into His divine life.
In the Eucharist,…He gives us a share in His divine life in the most perfect way by giving us nothing other than Himself, who is “the way, the truth and the life” (John 14:6). And, because the Eucharist contains the “desire of the everlasting hills” (Genesis 49:26), it refreshes and consoles the soul in a preeminent manner. (501)
We receive sanctifying grace in Communion according to our disposition.
Each person receives a different degree of sanctifying grace through Holy Communion, for each one receives according to one’s dispositions of desire and thirst for union with Christ in the sacrament. We can apply Jesus’ saying: “For to him who has, will more be given” (Mark 4:25). (503)
Christ in the Eucharist blesses us with every grace we need.
What does Jesus Christ do in the Eucharist? It is God who, as our Savior, offers himself each day for us to his Father’s justice. If you are in difficulties and sorrows, he will comfort and relive you. If you are sick, he will either cure you or give you strength to suffer so as to merit Heaven. If the devil, the world, and the flesh are making war upon you, he will give you the weapons with which to fight, to resist, and to win the victory. If you are poor, he will enrich you with all sorts of riches for time and for eternity.
Let us open the door of his sacred and adorable Heart and be wrapped about for an instant by the flames of his love, and we shall see what a God who loves us can do. O my God, who shall be able to comprehend? (St. John Vianney, Sermon for Holy Thursday, Eucharistic Mediations; Adoration, Guernsey, 93)
He gives us every grace to be holy.
He dwells with us full of grace and truth. He restores morality, nourished the virtues, consoles the afflicted, strengthens the weak. He promises his own example to those who come to him that all may learn to be like himself, meek and humble of heart, and who seek not their own interests, but the things of God.
Anyone, therefore, who approaches this august Sacrament with special devotion and endeavors to return generous love for Christ’s own infinite love, experiences and fully understands, not without great spiritual joy and profit, how precious is the life hidden with Christ in God and how great is the converse with Christ, for there is nothing more consoling on earth, nothing more efficacious for advancing along the road to holiness. (Pope Paul VI, Mysterium Fidei; Adoration, Guernsey, 108)
Communion with Jesus needs our humility.
Without humility, it is not possible to believe. To say Yes to the Mystery in the midst of a world that does not acknowledge it, to say Yes to the limits of our reason, to the unfathomableness of a God who kneels down before us, is not possible without humility. And just as there is not faith without humility, so too there is no love. (On Love, Ratzinger, 65)