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Thursday Within the Octave of Ascension

Going frequently to holy communion - 1

From book "Spiritual Readings for all days of the year from texts of Saint Alphonsus of Liguori"... Which of the two, asks Cassian, is the more humbl...

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Spiritual Readings

Saint Alphonsus

Which of the two, asks Cassian, is the more humble the man that communicates often or he that communicates but seldom? He answers that the person that frequently receives Jesus Christ is the more humble, because he knows his infirmities, and therefore seeks more frequently the remedy of his disease. The angelic Doctor says that though to abstain from Communion through humility and fear is pleasing to God, still the love and confidence that induce a soul to receive Him are more acceptable in His sight. Love and hope, to which the Scriptures constantly exhort us, are preferable to fear.

You will say: I do not know whether I am in the state of grace. But I ask, do you expect that an Angel will come from Heaven to assure you that you are in the state of grace? Is it not enough for you to have the assurance of your confessor? You ought to place more confidence in the testimony of the minister of God than in the revelations of all the Angels of Paradise; for in receiving a communication from Angels, there might be an illusion, but in listening to the confessor who, in your regard, holds the place of God, there is no danger of deception. Whenever, then, your spiritual Father allows you to communicate, take care not to obey the suggestions of the devil by abstaining from Communion through fear and scruples.

I cannot, you will say, bring myself to communicate often, because I constantly commit faults and never amend. The greater you perceive your infirmities to be, the more frequently you ought to seek a remedy for them in Holy Communion. “Because,” says St. Ambrose, “I always sin, I should always use a remedy.” We buttress walls that are leaning, not to make them erect but to prevent them from falling. You say that you peceive in yourself no amendment. Will you improve without the aid of Holy Communion? No; you will, on the contrary, grow worse every day. Father Granada says that “he that desires to be cured of his infirmities should not abstain from this great remedy.” The bare remembrance of having communicated in the morning, and the thought of having to communicate the next day, makes a person more watchful and more attentive to the correction of his faults. Besides, the Sacrament Itself infuses an increase of light and strength into the soul. Theologians generally assert that the Holy Eucharist produces more grace than all the other Sacraments, because it contains Jesus Christ Himself who is the Author of grace. A present that a prince makes with his own hand is more valuable than the gifts that he dispenses through the hands of others.

You will say: I feel myself distracted, cold, and without devotion. What, I ask, do you understand by devotion? If you mean sensible fervour, I say that it is not necessary: it is enough to have fervour in the will, or a determination to do what you know to be pleasing to God.

This is the true devotion and fervour that God demands of you; and though you do not feel this fervour of the will, you should, notwithstanding, communicate in order to obtain it by means of the Holy Sacrament. For if you abstain from Communion because you have not sensible fervour, you will, as Gerson says, imitate the folly of those who, when cold, refuse to approach the fire because they do not feel warm. According to St. Lawrence Justinian, this Sacrament sometimes produces its effect, though we do not perceive it. St. Bonaventure says: “Although you feel tepid, approach with confidence; for the greater your infirmity the more you stand in need of a physician.” Do not be deterred from frequent Communion because you experience more devotion when you communicate seldom than when you communicate often. He that eats but seldom eats with great eagerness but with less profit; and, if you communicate but seldom you may, perhaps, feel a little more of sensible fervour, but you will also receive less fruit; because your soul will want the food that gives strength to avoid sins and imperfections. Seek not, then, sensible devotion in your Communions. Communicate only for the purpose of uniting your soul more closely to God, and be assured that, as often as you communicate with that view, your Communions will be productive of great fruit.

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Going to holy communion

Wednesday Within the Octave of Ascension