In this next section of our reflection on the Eucharist we will look at how to cultivate a living faith and deeper desire for the Eucharist.
A living faith keeps the fire of our desire burning for Jesus. This type of faith is engendered through a consistent prayer life, a temperate lifestyle, charitable actions, and an attitude of gratitude for the blessings God bestows on us each day. Another way to practice a living faith, especially in reference to the Eucharist, is by making a proper thanksgiving after receiving our Lord. As true appreciation for God’s gracious generosity wells up within us so does a holy desire to remain united to him.
I find that the use of good spiritual books and regular spiritual direction are also keys to maintaining a living faith. Those of you who regularly watch or listen to our programs are familiar with some of my favorites but in case you are not they are: In Conversations with God by St. Josemaria Escriva, Divine Intimacy by Fr. Gabriel of St. Mary Magdalen, O.C.D. and True Devotion to Mary by St. Louis De Montfort. It is difficult to express how much my faith has grown through these beautiful resources and I happily recommend them to you.
The final characteristic of a fervent communion is ardent desire. This desire is demonstrated by a consistent longing to be united to Jesus all of the time. A conscious anticipation for Eucharist, accompanied by a frequent turning of the heart and mind to God, becomes the daily rhythm of the soul imbued with ardent desire. This holy response to the Eucharistic presence is the preeminent grace of the Sacrament. And, it is a defining feature of all the great saints throughout the ages.
No contact with Jesus is greater than receiving him in the Eucharist. However, adoration of the Blessed Sacrament is another way in which we can be spiritually nourished by the Eucharistic presence. Whether the Sacred Species is exposed in the monstrance or reposed in the tabernacle, coming before our Lord is efficacious and spiritually beneficial.
Pope John Paul II, a man of deep prayer and Eucharistic adoration, has encouraged Catholics everywhere to seek the rich spiritual benefits available through Eucharistic worship. He writes:
“Indeed, since the Eucharistic mystery was instituted out of love, and makes Christ sacramentally present, it is worthy of thanksgiving and worship … The Church and the world have a great need of Eucharistic worship. Jesus waits for us in this Sacrament of love. Let us be generous with our time in going to meet him in adoration and contemplation full of faith, and open to making amends for the serious offenses and crimes of the world. May our adoration never cease” (Apostolic Letter on the Mystery and Worship of the Holy Eucharist, # 3).
Time spent before the Eucharistic presence should be a time of prayer. As with any prayer time, we must first recollect ourselves, aware of what we intend to do (pray) and of whose Presence we are in. Next, we engage in the prayer itself. We may find it helpful to structure our adoration time by dividing it into four equal parts, spending several minutes each on adoration, contrition, thanksgiving, and supplication (petition). These four parts form the acronym ACTS, and have constituted a suggested structure of prayer for centuries.
However, as we grow more comfortable in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament, our time in prayer should give over to contemplation. A time of simply gazing into the face of the One whom we love. Sitting quietly before the Radiant Splendor of Jesus Christ, allowing the rays of His love to penetrate into all areas of our heart, can do much to nourish and strengthen our life of faith. Jesus desires that each of us becomes a temple in which He dwells. As we gaze on the Lord’s glory with unveiled faces, we are transformed into the very image of our Lord (see 2 Cor 3:18). Then, filled with his life, we can carry his blessings to the world.
Another way to place ourselves consistently in the Lord’s Eucharistic presence is through the frequent offering of spiritual communions. This can be done by your own personalized version or by one of the many beautiful prayers composed by one of the Saints or the Church for this purpose. One of my favorites is the Anima Christi:
Soul of Christ, sanctify me
Body of Christ, save me
Blood of Christ, inebriate me
Water from Christ’s side, wash me
Passion of Christ, strengthen me
O good Jesus, hear me
Within Thy wounds hide me
Suffer me not to be separated from Thee
From the malicious enemy defend me
In the hour of my death call me
And bid me come unto Thee
That I may praise Thee with Thy saints
and with Thy angels
Forever and ever
Let us come to each encounter of the Eucharistic presence of our Lord with hearts opened wide, ready to receive every spiritual blessing in the heavens (Eph. 1: 3). And, vivified by him who brings us spiritual life, may we be beacons of light leading others to know Christ who is King of all.
Faith in Action:
- Find a good Catholic spiritual resource which will help you to develop a living faith. Look for the Nahil Obstat and Impramatur to ensure that they are authentically Catholic.
- Spend an hour with Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament this week.
- Make a commitment to offer Spiritual Communions on a regular basis.