Friday, May 13, 2011

Cooperating with Grace: Preparing for Holy Communion

Christ the King
a detail from the Ghent Altarpice by Jan van Eyck.
Image from Wikimedia Commons.
The world is full of sources of grace.  God pours out grace in abundance, but we receive grace only to the extent to which we cooperate.  There is limitless grace to be found in Holy Communion, but one who receives it without being properly disposed, without attention, and without gratitude will gain no benefit.

The first part of being properly disposed is to be in the state of grace.  It is, of course, best to live so as to be as nearly as possible always in the state of grace.  If you become aware that you are in the state of mortal sin, hasten to receive the Sacrament of Confession.  But then, if you are interested in grace, you know all that.

The next thing is to keep the Communion fast.  This is now a fairly light requirement:  we are to abstain from food and drink for one hour before receiving Holy Communion (water and necessary medicine do not violate the fast).    But again, you know all that.

Here's where I fall short.  If I were receiving an important guest into my home, I'd want it to be clean and uncluttered.  I would spend time planning and preparing special meals to entertain my guest.  I would put away partially finished projects, pick up the baby's toys, and put everything in its place.  In short, I would put quite a lot of time and effort into preparing to welcome a human guest into my home.  How much effort to I put into preparing to welcome the King of Heaven into my soul?  Sometimes I skate into church the moment before (or after) Mass begins, having given no thought at all to Mass, Holy Communion, and Our Lord other than to get us up and dressed and out the door in time to get there.

I think for me preparation needs to happen the day before.  I'll look at the readings and prayers ahead of time in order to help me be attentive during Mass.  Then I'll recite this prayer, and those will be a couple of small steps in the right direction.

1 comment:

  1. What a fantastic reminder. I am still learning to pay attention to the spirit of the law rather than just the law.
    Thank you
    God Bless