How to receive Holy Communion well

July 2, 2021 • 5 min

From Introduction to the Devout Life, page 87
By St. Francis de Sales

Chapter XXI.

How we ought to communicate.

Prepare yourself for the holy Communion the evening before, by many ejaculations of love, retiring earlier, that you may rise sooner in the morning.

Should you awake in the night, sanctify your heart and mouth with some devout aspirations, in order to prepare your soul for the reception of her spouse, who being awake whilst you were asleep, prepares a thousand graces and favours for you, if on your part you are disposed to receive them.

In the morning, rise up with alacrity to enjoy the happiness you hope for; and go with a great but humble confidence, to receive this heavenly meat, which nourishes your soul to immortality; and after repeating thrice, “Lord, I am not worthy,” &c., cease to move your head or lips, either to pray or to sigh, but opening your mouth gently and moderately, and lifting up your head as much as is necessary, so that the priest may see what he is about, full of faith, hope, and charity, receive Him in whom, by whom, and for whom you believe, hope, and love.

Represent to yourself, Philothea, that as the bee, after gathering from the flowers the dew of heaven, and their choicest juices, and reducing them into honey, carries them into her hive, so the priest, having taken from the altar the Saviour of the world, the true Son of God, who, as the dew descended from heaven, and the true Son of the Virgin, who, as a flower sprung from the earth of our humanity, he puts Him as delicious food into your mouth.

Having received Him into your breast, excite your heart to do homage to the King of your salvation, treat with Him concerning your internal affairs; consider that He has taken up his abode within you for your happiness: make Him, then, as welcome as you possibly can, and conduct yourself in such a manner as to make it appear by all your actions that God is with you.

But when you cannot enjoy the benefit of communicating really at the holy Mass, communicate at least spiritually, uniting yourself by an ardent desire to this life-giving flesh of your Saviour.

Your principal intention in communicating should be to advance, comfort, and strengthen yourself in the love of God; for you must receive through love that which love alone caused to be given to you.

You cannot consider your Saviour in an action either more full of love, or more tender than this, in which He annihilates, or, as we may more properly say, changes Himself into meat, that so He may penetrate our souls, and unite Himself most intimately to the heart and to the body of his faithful.

If worldlings ask you why you communicate so often, tell them it is to learn to love God, to purify yourself from your imperfections, to be delivered from your miseries, to be comforted in your afilictions, and supported in your weakness.

Tell them that two sorts of persons ought to communicate frequently: the perfect, because, being well disposed, they would be greatly to blame not to approach to the source and fountain of perfection; and the imperfect, to the end that they may be able to aspire to perfection; the strong, lest they should become weak; and the weak, that they may become strong; the sick, that they may be restored to health; and the healthy, lest they should fall into sickness; that, for your part, being imperfect, weak, and sick, you have need to communicate frequently with Him who is your perfection, your strength, and your physician.

Tell them that such as have not many worldly affairs to look after ought to communicate often, because they have leisure; that such as have much business on hand should also communicate often; and that he who labours much, and is loaded with pains, ought to eat solid meats, and that frequently.

Tell them that you receive the holy sacrament, to learn to receive it well; because one hardly performs an action well which he does not often practise.

Communicate frequently, then, Philothea, and as often as you can, with the advice of your spiritual father; and believe me, as hares in our mountains become white in winter, because they neither see nor eat anything but snow; so, by approaching to, and eating beauty, purity, and goodness itself, in this divine sacrament, you will become altogether fair, pure, and virtuous.

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