The Spiritual Combat

Chapter 54:

How to receive the most holy sacrament of the Eucharist

We can present ourselves to this most divine sacrament for many reasons, and to accomplish them we ought do various things in three stages: before communion, when we receive communion, and after communion.

Regardless of our reason for receiving communion, before communion we need to wash and cleanse ourselves of any stain of mortal sin with the sacrament of penance. After doing this, we need with all our heart’s affection to offer ourselves with all our heart, with all our strength, and with all our ability to Jesus Christ, however much he should like, because in this most holy sacrament he gives us his blood and his flesh with his soul, with his divinity, and with his merits. Considering that, with respect to his gift, ours amounts to so little, really almost nothing, we ought to desire to have as much as all earthly and heavenly creatures have offered to his divine Majesty, so as to offer it ourselves.

For this reason, as you are desiring to receive for the sake of conquering and destroying both your enemies and his, before communion, begin from evening or even before to consider the desire that the beloved Son of God has that you should, with this most holy sacrament, make some room for him in your heart, so as to unite himself with you, to help you expunge your every vicious passion. This desire is so great and immense in our Lord, that the created intellect cannot comprehend it. To render yourself in some way capable, there are two things that you should imprint in your mind. This hatred of God’s for sin burns so strongly that all the works of the Old and New Testament have been arranged for its destruction, particularly those works of the most holy passion of his beloved Son, who, as God’s enlightened servants tell us, would expose himself to as many as a thousand deaths if it would remove from us our every fault, however small (not that this is necessary).

From these considerations you will be able to comprehend, albeit very imperfectly, our Lord’s great desire to enter your heart, to expel and defeat any enemy, be it yours or his. In this manner will you ignite within yourself a living desire to receive him for that same end. Having thus become completely generous and animated by the hope of your Captain’s arrival within you, declare many times to the passion you desire to conquer that your aim is to conquer it. Reprimand it with repeated adversarial desires, producing acts of virtue contrary to that passion. Continue in this manner on the evening and the morning of the most holy communion.

Shortly before you receive communion, make a brief review of your all your shortcomings from the time of your previous communion until now. You have committed these as if God did not exist, and as if he had not born so much for you in the mysteries of the cross. You took more notice of vile satisfaction and of your desires than you did of God’s will and honor. With the consequent shame of yourself, and with a holy fear, you will humble yourself in your ingratitude and your unworthiness. But then think of your Lord’s immeasurable abyss of goodness: it calls to the abyss of your ingratitude and weak faith. Draw near to him with faith, giving him great space in your heart, so that he might become the absolute master. And you will only give him great space when you have sent away from this heart every affection for creatures. Afterwards, close it, so that nothing but your Lord might enter in.

Having received communion, withdraw immediately into the recesses of your heart. Having first adored him, reason in the following way with your Lord, with all humility and reverence: “You see, my only good, how easily I offend you, and how this passion prevails against me. I am not able to free myself alone. However, this battle is principally yours, and I hope for victory only from you, even though it remains to me to fight.” Then, turning yourself to the eternal Father, in order to give thanks and to ask for victory over yourself, offer him his blessed and beloved Son, whom he has given you, and whom you already hold within. Fighting generously against the aforementioned passion, wait in faith for victory from God. Even if it should take time, it will not fail to come, if for your part you do everything you can.
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