The Spiritual Combat

Chapter 55:

How to prepare ourselves for communion, in order to rouse up our love

To stimulate yourself to a love for God with this superheavenly sacrament, you will turn yourself in thought to his love for you. From the evening before, begin thinking on this point: how this great and omnipotent Lord, not content with having created you in his image and likeness (Genesis 1⋅26), not content with having sent his only-begotten son on earth to suffer thirty-three years for your iniquities, to bear the harshest travails and the shameful death on the cross in order to redeem you, should desire even to leave him for your food and for your benefit in the most holy sacrament of the altar.

Consider well, beloved daughter, the incomprehensible superiorities of this love: they make it singular and most perfect in all its parts: Thinking well on this, you will say to yourself, “How is it possible that a creature so vile should touch the heart of a Lord so sublime? My God, in the light of your burning charity I see well that you have only one design capable of making clear to me the purity of your love for me, so that you might give yourself to me completely as food, for no other reason than to transform me completly into you. And you do this not because you need me, but because, living in me and I in you, I might through a loving union become you, and from the baseness of of my earthly heart you might make with you just one divine heart.”

Full of joyous marvel, and seeing yourself so esteemed and loved by God, and knowing that that he, with his omnipotent love, neither intends nor desires anything else for you than to draw all your love to himself, you should distance from yourself first all creatures and then even yourself, as you are yourself a creature. Offer yourself to your Lord as a holocaust: from this moment on, let only his divine love and good will move your intellect and your memory. Let them alone rule your senses.

Seeing then that nothing else can produce in you such divine effects as when you seek them worthily in the most holy sacrament of the altar, open your heart to the Lord for this purpose. Use the following ejaculatory prayers and loving aspirations: In such loving affections you can carry on throughout the evening and the morning to prepare yourself for communion.

As you draw near to the time for communion, think then on what you are about to receive: the beloved Son of God, of incomprehensible majesty, before whom the heavens and all powers tremble! The Holy of holies, the spotless mirror and incomprehensible purity, before whom no creature is clean. He who as a worm despised by the people (see Psalms 22⋅7) desired out of love for your to be refused, trampled, derided, spat upon, and crucified by the world’s malice and iniquity.

I say again that you are about to receive God, in whose hands are the life and the death of all the universe, that to the contrary you in yourself are nothing, and that by your sin and your malice you have made yourself inferior to every irrational creature, no matter how vile or unclean. You deserve to be mocked and derided by all the demons of hell. And I say that instead of having gratitude for such immense and uncountable benefits, in your whims and desires you have despised such a great, high, loving Lord, and you have offended his precious blood. I say that with all that, in his perpetual charity and in his unchangeable goodness, he calls you to his divine table, and all the same he compels you to go with warnings of death. Nor does he close the door of his pity to you, nor even does he turn his divine shoulders to you, even though by nature you are unclean, lame, unhealthy, blind, possessed, and adulterous.

This alone does the Lord desire from you. Comforted by this ineffable love of God, you will then draw near to receive communion with a holy and loving fear, saying, “Lord, I am not worthy to receive you on account of the many, many times that I have offended you deeply, nor have I yet wept as I should at this offense against you. Lord, I am not worthy to receive you, because I am not in fact cleansed from affections to venial sins. Lord, I am not worthy to receive you, because I have not yet given myself sincerely to your love, to your will, and to obedience to you. O my love, my all-powerful and infinitely good Lord, in virtue of your goodness and of your word, make me worthy to receive you with this faith.”

Having then received communion, close yourself quickly within the recesses of your heart, and forgetful of any created thing, reason with your Lord in this or some similar manner: “O king most high of heaven! Who is it that has brought you into me, who am miserable, poor, blind, and naked?” He will reply, “Love.” And you, answering, will say, “O uncreated Love! O sweet Love! What do you want from me?” He will tell you: “Nothing but love. I want no other fire to burn on the altar of your heart, in your sacrifices and in all your works than the fire of my love. Consuming every other love and all your will, let it raise to me a sweet aroma. It is this that I have asked and that I always ask, because I long to be completely yours, and that you be completely mine. This will not happen as long as you delay in abandoning yourself to me in the way I delight, as long as you remain attached to self-love, to your own opinion and to your own will and reputation. I ask you to hate yourself, so as to give me your love; I ask for your heart, that it might unite itself with mine: for this reason was it opened up on the cross (see John 19⋅33-34). I ask for your complete self, so that I might be completely yours. You see that I am of incomparable price and nevertheless I value myself at your price out of my own goodness. And so, my beloved soul, purchase me by giving yourself to me. I desire from you, my sweet, beloved daughter, that you desire nothing, that you think nothing, that you intend nothing, that you see nothing, outside of me and my will, just as I in you should want, think, intend, and see everything, so that your nothing, absorbed in the abyss of my infinity, might be converted into it. Thus will you be fully happy and blessed in me, and I will be completely content in you.”

Finally, you will offer the Father his beloved Son in thanksgiving, and then for your needs, for the needs of all the Church, for your family’s needs, for the needs of those to whom you are obliged, and for the souls in purgatory. You will make this offering in memory and in union with that which he made of himself when, hanging bloodily from the cross, he offered himself to the Father. And in this way you can also offer him all the sacrifices, that are made in that day in the holy Roman Church.
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“unclean, lame, unhealthy, blind, possessed, and adulterous”: I have translated this a little loosely. It literally states, “leprous, lame, dropsical, blind, possessed, and you have given yourself to many fornicators.” Even then, “possessed” seems a bit weak for indemoniata.