Monday, May 23, 2011

On Receiving Communion

As I walked up the line to receive Our Lord, I suddenly had the thought that I was “taking” the Eucharist. Like everyone else in line, everyone in that chapel, I had some level of feeling that this Body and Blood of Christ was mine for the taking, kind of a right I had.

But I have no such right, even if I think so, and even if the evidence, the ease at which everyone just “expects” to receive it, suggests it can be taken by anyone, the truth is that it can be “taken” by no one at all.

Our Lord, under the appearances of bread and wine, really dwells in the Eucharist. It is He who “chooses” to come to us, as a supreme gift of God, when we receive the Eucharist. Like a guest coming to our house, we can invite Him in, but we cannot “take” Him in, like some captive slave, nor can we make Him stay. And in fact it might seem by some of our actions that we are actually inviting Him to leave, like some unwanted guest. “Ahem, can I get your coat?” “Well, I’m sure you have other things to do …” “Well, the mass is over …”

And we quickly ignore, and forget, this our “guest.”

I think, perhaps, that is why I so much enjoy praying the “Prayer After Holy Communion” by Padre Pio. Instead of quickly joining in songs after Holy Communion, or thinking on what I’ll do after mass, the prayer helps me think on this Jesus Who has just entered my body. And those petitions to Him, which start with the words: “Stay with me, Lord …”

The good padre’s prayer has only about a dozen reasons for the Lord to stay with me, but there are an infinite number, and one of the key unmentioned ones is because I know He WANTS to stay with me. And in light of that, how could I ignore Him, or turn Him out?

And of the Pio petitions, which one hits home most with me? Well, it’s the one: “Stay with me, Lord, to show me Your will.” Considering how much my will dominates my life, I think I need Him for that reason most of all.

Why do you need Him to stay with you? Do you ask Him to?

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