|The three Lenten practices|
The nature of God is absolute goodness, a goodness that constantly gives and gives and gives to the point of shedding His Precious Blood for us on the cross. Indeed Jesus shed His Precious Blood for all of humanity, but for each one of us individually. Indeed, if you were the only person in the world Jesus would have shed every drop of His Precious Blood for that salvation of your individual soul. How great is the love of God for all, but also for you and for me, for the salvation of our immortal souls.
LENTEN GIFT. Each Year, the Church which is the Mystical Body of Christ, relives the life of Christ and one of the prime-times or culminating moments is the Season of Lent. Indeed Lent leads us to HOLY WEEK and Holy Week has as its kernel and center the Easter Triduum—Holy Thursday, Good Friday, Holy Saturday and explodes into the overflowing joy the Easter Vigil Mass in which the Church celebrates the greatest event in human history: the Resurrection of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ from the dead; He is truly risen from the dead—Alleluia!
|The devil tempting Jesus|
To reap the abundant harvest and the benefits of the Easter joy of the risen Lord Jesus, it is incumbent upon all of us to live out to the fullest extent possible the season prior to Easter, the season of preparation for Easter which is the season of Lent. As the saying goes: “The success of the party depends on the prior preparation for the party." Likewise, the success and the intensity of Easter joy depends on how seriously and intensely we live out the Lenten season.
Therefore, let us live out this Lenten season with the best of dispositions, with a truly generous and giving heart, putting no resistance to the many graces that God has in store for us. In a word, let us live this Lent as if it were the last in our lives and we would be judged on the intensity and generosity of our commitment to the Lord. Only God knows; it could be our last. Indeed life is short and precarious. As the Word of God teaches us in the Psalms: our life is like the lily of the field that rises in the morning and withers and dies as the sun goes down. Our Good Lord is so loving and generous to us; let us be generous to Him.
|Jesus is the Bread of Life|
We would like to make one suggestion to live out Lent to the fullest extent possible and then five concrete ways to live out this proposal to the maximum! DAILY MASS AND HOLY COMMUNION! Yes! The greatest proposal you could possibly make is to attend the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, participate fully, actively and consciously and receive Holy Communion with faith, fervor, passion, devotion, love, trust, humility and an insatiable yearning and hunger. The Psalmist reminds us: “As the deer yearns for the running streams so my soul longs for you O Lord my God.”
DISPOSITIVE GRACE. Sacramental theology teaches us an all-important principle and it is this: one receives many graces or few graces in direct proportion to the interior disposition of the soul in the moment of the reception of the Sacrament of the Body and Blood of Jesus. In other words, with a poor reception few or no graces are received; a good reception many graces; and finally an excellent reception results in countless/ infinite graces. Let us aim high and strive in every Holy Communion this Lent to receive Jesus with greater and greater love. Consequently, this will be the best of Lent’s and the most joyful of Easter’s and our Highway to Heaven when the Lord chooses to call us.
Therefore, what are some specific ways that we can receive our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, the Bread of Life and the Bread of the angels with the best of dispositions? We will highlight five in our short exposition.
|Pope Francis gives us a good example as Shepherd|
1. GOOD CONFESSION LEADS US TO FERVENT COMMUNIONS. Saint Ignatius of Loyola makes a fine connection between the Sacrament of Confession, or if you like the Sacrament of Gods’ infinite mercy, and the Sacrament of the Eucharist. If you like this analogy can help! Spray Windex on the window and rub it firmly and totally; this results in a clean, pure, and transparent window. As such, when the sun breaks through that following morning the abundance of light will be multiplied due to the purity and transparence of the window pane. In a parallel sense our soul is like a window-pane and the purer it is the more abundant the light of God’s grace will inundate it in the moment of receive Jesus, who is the Light of the world, in Holy Communion! In sum, good confession can result in excellent Holy Communions!
2. INTENTIONS! The Parish priest will usually mention for whom the Holy Mass is offered as he starts the Mass. This does not exclude you from offering your own intentions. In all truth, you can offer as many intentions as your heart desires in every Mass. Why limit the infinite power of God? This being the case, strongly to be encouraged would be to offer at least three special intentions: a) Souls in Purgatory. Many souls in Purgatory are waiting for you, your prayers, your sacrifices, but especially your Masses and Holy Communions for their purification and eventual entrance into heaven. These souls depend upon God’s mercy that is often channeled through our prayers and sacrifices. By far, the greatest sacrifice is the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and your fervent Communion. b) CONVERSION OF SINNERS. Many sinners are immersed in their sins; they are slaves of their disordered passion and desires; many also have no desire to even leave this despicable condition of living in mortal sin. Your Mass and Holy Communion can result in pricking at their conscience, knocking at the door of their hearts and moving them to conversion. c) PERSONAL HEART-TRANSPLANT AND CONVERSION. We all must go through a daily conversion of mind, heart, and life. The most efficacious means for our own purification, sanctification, conversion, perseverance in grace and ultimate salvation of our is receiving the Lord Jesus in Holy Communion with a burning love!
|Mass is the spiritual sunlight of the entire world!|
3. APPRECIATION FOR THE MOST SUBLIME OF ALL GIFTS. One of the greatest sufferings that we can experience on a human level is simply not to be appreciated or if you like, to be taken for granted. This can pierce the heart. Indeed this is a perennial danger in the married life: to take the other for granted. We can fall into the same rut with respect to the reception of Holy Communion—we can take the Lord Jesus for granted. May the saying in the sacristies in many convents be a reminder and motivation for us all: “Priest, man of God say this Mass as if it were your first Mass, your last Mass and your only Mass.” We should go to Mass and receive Holy Communion as if it were our first, last and only Holy Communion. In other words, every Communion we receive should be received with an even better disposition, with more burning love! May Our Lady of the Eucharist intercede for us!
|Our Lady is present at every Mass- Pope JPII|
4. RECEIVE HOLY COMMUNION WITH MARY. The saints were unanimous in this aspect of their spiritual lives: the quickest, easiest, and most efficacious path to the Heart of Jesus is through the Immaculate Heart of Mary. With great joy and hope let us turn to Mary at all times; she is our life, our sweetness and our hope. However, in a very special way let us beg Mary to be very close to us during the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. Let us beg our Lady to help us to concentrate and to live out the Mass to the best of our ability. Still more, let us beg Our Lady to lend us her Immaculate Heart in Mass so that we would receive Jesus with her Heart which was, is and always will be on fire with love for Jesus. Indeed she received Jesus into her Heart in the Annunciation and she formed the Sacred Heart of Jesus within her womb for nine months. Indeed Our Lady can truly be key to helping us to upgrade the efficacy of our reception of Jesus in Holy Communion.
|Our Lady and the Eucharist-- walking Eucharistic procession!|
5. LIKE MARY BE AN APOSTLE OF THE EUCHARIST. After receiving Jesus with her words: “Behold I am the handmaid of the Lord; be it done to me according to your word”, Our Lady set out in haste to bring Jesus to others, her elderly, pregnant Elizabeth in the hill country. In imitation of Our Lady, whom Blessed Mother of Teresa called the First Missionary of Charity, let us truly live out this Lent by receiving Jesus with and ardent heart filled with love but overflowing with love. Like Our Lady, let us not keep the Lord Jesus to ourselves and hide the light underneath the bushel basket. Rather, let us go after the lost sheep; let us look for the Prodigal sons and daughters; let us go into the alleys, the byroads and crossroads of humanity and invite many to return to the Eucharistic banquet that is prepared, ready and waiting for them. You have received free of charge; now it is up to you to give free of charge. Announce from the rooftops that Jesus as waiting for them in Mass, in Holy Communion and then in heaven! He invites all, but through your voice: “Come to me all of you who are weary and I will give you rest.” Let us rest in the most Sacred Heart of Jesus who is truly present in every Mass and every Holy Communion. Come! Come! Come! For the Banquet is ready and waiting for you!