Jesus Gave Himself for Us and Continues Giving

The Last Supper that Holy Thursday night was actually the “First” Mass! On that most solemn of nights Jesus gave us a sublime example of giving.  He washed the feet of the Apostles teaching us the importance of humility and service. He bequeathed to the whole of humanity the greatest of all commandments: “Love one another as I have loved you.”    He taught us in what true love consists, a few hours later on Good Friday, by dying on the cross for love of you and me. He shed His most Precious Blood for the purification of our sins and the eternal salvation of our souls. His words were proved by His actions. “No greater love has a man than to lay down his life for his friends.”
Love knows no limits. St Francis de Sales sums it up: “The measure that we should love God is to love Him without measure.”   Still more that same Holy Thursday night at the Last Supper, Jesus left us as a memorial of Himself the greatest of all Sacraments the most HOLY EUCHARIST--- His Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity.  His words which are pronounced now every day throughout the world and thousands of times until the end of the world were: “Take and eat this is my Body…Take and drink this is my Blood. Do this in memory of me.” With these few words, Jesus left us until the end of time His “Real Presence”, made truly present in every Mass until the end of time. Jesus promised us, in these words of deep consolation: “I will be with you always even until the end of time.”
With ever-grateful hearts for these extraordinary gifts, bestowed on us from the very Sacred Heart of Jesus, especially the sublime gift of the Most Holy Eucharist, let us strive to grow in gratitude, faith, love and devotion for the Most Holy Eucharist. The following are five ways in which the fire of love in our hearts for the Eucharistic Jesus will never decline, wane, diminish, but like and enormous fire consume us and those who come in contact with us.  Jesus said with a burning heart:  “I have come to cast fire on the earth and I am not at peace until that fire be ignited.”   This burning fire Jesus desires ardently to be in your heart as well as mine!
VISIT YOUR LOVING FRIEND.  Make it a frequent practice to visit your Friend Jesus. True friends love to visit frequently and share their experiences and lives at  length.  Jesus is truly present in the Eucharist and is waiting to talk to you and listen to you as your best Friend. He called the disciples “Friends” at the Last Supper and He calls you His dear friend. What should you say to Him? ANYTHING!!!! Jesus is waiting for you patiently with love; He longs for you to come and visit Him. Anything and everything that is in your heart can be your topic of conversation. St. Peter sums it up in these short but poignant words:  “Cast your cares upon Him because He cares for you.”   If you feel burdened with the many problems in life, then he will unburden you. He will take the burden away; lighten the burden, or even carry you with the burden.  Take these Gospel words to heart and meditate upon them and then simply open up to your best of friends! “Come to me all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give your rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart; and you will find rest for yourselves. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light. (Mt. 11: 28-30)

St. Alphonsus Liguori and
Spiritual Communion
SPIRITUAL COMMUNION. One of the most simple and easy but most profound ways to grow in love with the Eucharistic Lord is to establish the habit of making frequent Spiritual Communions. They can be made as often as you like, anywhere you might be, and using any words that spring from the depths of your heart.  Pope Benedict XVI in his Apostolic Exhortation on the Mass and the Eucharist, “Sacramentum Caritatis” refers to the great Doctor of the Church, St Alphonsus Maria Liguori. This saint had an extraordinary love for the Eucharist; and one of the ways he encouraged Eucharistic devotion was the practice of the Spiritual Communion.  If you like this short prayer expresses a typical mode of making it.” Jesus I cannot receive you now sacramentally, but come at least spiritually in the depths of my heart.”  Then end by saying, Jesus I love you, I adore you, I worship you!!!!  This short but efficacious practice can maintain in our hearts the fire of love burning for the Eucharistic Jesus.

HOLY MASS AND HOLY COMMUNION.  Of course by far the greatest practice to grow in love with the Eucharistic Lord Jesus is by the practice of frequent, fervent and faith-filled Holy  Communions! One suggestion! Avoid routine, mechanical and perfunctory Holy Communions. On a human level none of us appreciates being taken for granted. Jesus has feelings and has a very sensitive heart and does not want to be taken for granted.  How can this be avoided? Preparation!  Preparation! Preparation!  Sacramental Theology teaches us the concept of “Dispositive grace”.  This means in simple terms that we receive an abundance of grace or little grace in direct proportion to the interior disposition of our heart. In other words, the better disposed the heart, a heart that is full of faith, humility, love, trust, confidence, desire and hunger for Jesus will receive countless more blessings than a dry, distracted, sensual, proud and ill-disposed heart.  The fault is not in the Sacrament of the Eucharist--- It is always the Lord Jesus Himself-- rather, the fault is in the inadequate or poor disposition of the person’s heart! Venerable Archbishop Fulton Sheen expresses it with this poetic image. The sun beat down on mud and wax. The mud became hardened and the wax melted!  How is our heart in the reception of the Most Holy Eucharist, mud or wax????  Resistant or receptive?

PREPARATION. OFFER YOURSELF AND ALL YOU ARE AND HAVE! When a Parish priest celebrates Mass, usually he has an intention that a parishioner has requested weeks or months before. Nonetheless, the priest as well as the faithful can offer their own intentions. By doing this, your Mass will have much more power in your life, the life of your family, as well as the whole world!   Always have three special intentions at Mass:

A SOUL IN PURGATORY.  Possibly your reception of Holy Communion can set the captives free from the Pains of Purgatory. St. Francis de Sales says that one of the greatest acts of charity that we can do is to pray for the holy souls in Purgatory, who depend totally on God’s mercy and our generous prayers, especially the greatest prayer: HOLY MASS!

CONVERSION OF SINNERS.  We all have some family member, relative or friend that is in desperate need of prayers. Why not offer your Mass and Holy Communion for his conversion, sanctification, perseverance in grace and eternal salvation? Our personal prayers may be powerful; however, none can be compared to the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and Holy Communion. Our prayers are our own doing; Holy Mass is OPUS DEI—the very work of God!  Why not choose the short-cut! For this reason the Cure of Ars, Saint John Vianney asserts: “All the good works in the world are not equal to the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass because they are the works of men; but the Mass is the work of God. Martyrdom is nothing in comparison for it is but the sacrifice of man to God; but the Mass is the
sacrifice of God for man.”
HEART-TRANSPLANT.  We all have to admit with the greatest of humility--- which according to St Teresa of Avila is another word for truth—that we are sinners and are struggling daily to overcome sin in our lives!   Why not apply the most efficacious means to conquer sin in our lives and that is frequent, fervent and fiery and faith-filled Holy Communions. Beg the Lord as indeed beggars we are, to give us a new heart; beg for a Spiritual Heart-Transplant! Indeed every Holy Communion is a Heart-Transplant. Jesus is the “universal donor!!!” The only condition in our heart to receive this Heart-transplant is Love for the “Donor”!  All the virtues that we are lacking--- faith, obedience, purity, meekness, humility, trust, patience, mortification, etc. --- are present to the highest degree in every Holy Communion. Why? Because Holy Communion gives us the MOST SACRED HEART OF JESUS, the  source of all virtues!!!

MARY AND THE EUCHARIST.  Nobody in the entire universe can close to Mary in loving Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Mary was transformed into a Living Tabernacle, a living Eucharistic Sanctuary, a living and moving “Eucharistic Procession” (‘A Corpus Christi”) for nine months after she conceived Jesus through the power of the Holy Spirit. When Mary appeared in Guadalupe, Mexico, Lourdes, France, and Fatima, Portugal, she insisted upon more than anything else that a church would be built. Why? The reason is clear: to bring Jesus to us every day in the Eucharist through the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and reception of Holy Communion. Mary never blocks Jesus, but draws us towards Jesus. Her last words in the Gospel in the Wedding Feast of Cana were “Do whatever He tells you!” (Jn. 2:5)

In this short life on earth , as pilgrim people that we are, there is by far no more important action that anyone of us can do in the whole universe that to receive Jesus in the most Holy Eucharist with burning hearts.  The disciples on the Road to Emmaus summed it all up with these enthusiastic words: “Were not our hearts burning within us while He spoke to us on the way and opened scriptures to us…” (Lk. 24:32) May our hearts burn within us every time we meet Jesus in prayer, in the most Blessed Sacrament, in Spiritual Communions, but especially in the time and moment reception of Holy Communion.
In the convent of the Missionaries of Charity of Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta there is a plaque on the wall in the sacristy for the priest (but for us also!)that reads as follows: “ Priest, man of God celebrate this Mass as if it were your first Mass, last Mass and only Mass.” EXCELLENT!!!!  Now the next time your receive Holy Communion ---as well as the remainder of Holy Communions that you will receive until the end of your life--- receive Jesus as if it were the first time, the last time and the only time. If done, you are definitely on the Highway to holiness and a crown of glory awaits you in heaven!