Years ago, the Philippines was caught in a sort of apparition mania. Reports of purported apparitions of the Blessed Mother and the Lord Jesus filled the airwaves and dailies. I remember the times when Tatay visited me in Manila with anecdotes about sightings of the Blessed Mother's reflection on top of come coconut fronds. He was among the many who spent their evenings in the purported apparition sight to see the phenomenon. Addressing this frenzy, a priest, in a homily, told the people that they did not have to search high and low for miracles because miracles happen daily at Holy Mass. He was of course referring to the Transubstantiation, the moment when the simple host and wine becomes the Body and Blood of the Lord Jesus Christ. At Consecration, when the Priest says the word that Jesus Christ said at the Last Supper, the Lord Jesus Himself becomes present Body, Soul and Divinity among His people. What power has God bestowed upon His priests that the latter are able to bid Him come.
Photo Courtesy of Exultati Iusti in Domino
That Jesus Christ Himself is in that humble piece of wafer has great consequences. For one, no one should just simply go to the Communion rail ignorant of what he/she is receiving. For receiving that simple wafer, Catholics, in the olden days, had been called cannibals by those not disposed to it and they died for it. After all, when we go to Communion, we eat Christ Himself, right? Yet, knowing Who is being received is not enough. One who seeks to have communion should be a worthy recipient. His body should be prepared to receive the Lord, i.e., fasting for at least an hour (under the New Rules) or at least three hours (before Vatican II) before Holy Communion should have been observed. Somehow, allowing the Bread of Angels to be digested with the common burger does not seem very respectful towards Jesus Christ, doesn't it? Most importantly, the one who aspires to have communion should not be in mortal sin. Sin and the Lord Jesus just do not go together. And lest one forgets, having communion is not a right that one can demand of a priest. God, in His mercy, deigned to feed His people with His own body and blood to help them in their earthly pilgrimage. Thus, a priest, a faithful Priest, is well within his right to deny one communion when he knows that the latter is not in a state of Grace, that is, is in mortal sin. His first duty is to Jesus Christ and to make sure that the Lord Jesus is not received unworthily.
The photo was from Art in the Picture website
St. Paul said -
"Now this I ordain: not praising you, that you come together not for the better, but for the worse. For first of all I hear that when you come together in the church, there are schisms among you; and in part I believe it. For there must be also heresies: that they also, who are approved, may be made manifest among you. When you come therefore together into one place, it is not now to eat the Lord's supper. For every one taketh before his own supper to eat. And one indeed is hungry and another is drunk. What, have you not houses to eat and to drink in? Or despise ye the church of God; and put them to shame that have not ? What shall I say to you? Do I praise you? In this I praise you not. For I have received of the Lord that which also I delivered unto you, that the Lord Jesus, the same night in which he was betrayed, took bread. And giving thanks, broke, and said: Take ye, and eat: this is my body, which shall be delivered for you: this do for the commemoration of me. In like manner also the chalice, after he had supped, saying: This chalice is the new testament in my blood: this do ye, as often as you shall drink, for the commemoration of me. For as often as you shall eat this bread, and drink the chalice, you shall shew the death of the Lord, until he come. Therefore whosoever shall eat this bread, or drink the chalice of the Lord unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and of the blood of the Lord. But let a man prove himself: and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of the chalice. For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh judgment to himself, not discerning the body of the Lord." (1. Cor. 11: 17-29)
Here is a beautiful Thanksgiving Prayer by St. Thomas Aquinas:
I thank You, O holy Lord, Father Almighty, eternal God, Who hast vouchsafed, not
for any merits of mine, but solely out of the condenscension of Thy mercy, to
satisfy me a sinner, Thine unworthy servant, with the precious Body and Blood of
Thy Son, our Lord Jesus Christ.
I pray that this Holy Communion be not a
condemnation unto punishment for me, but a saving plea unto forgiveness. May it be to
me the armor of faith and the shield of good will. May it be the emptying out of
my vices, the extinction of all concupiscence and lust, the increase of charity and
patience, of humility and obedience, and of all virtues; a strong defense against the
snares of all enemies, visible and invisible; the perfect quieting of all my evil
impulses, both fleshly and ghostly; a firm cleaving unto Thee, the one true God; and a pledge of a blessed destiny.
And I beseech Thee, that Thou would vouchsafe to bring me, a sinner, to
that ineffable banquet, where Thou, with thy Son and the Holy Ghost, art to Thy saints true light, fullness of content, eternal joy, gladness without alloy, and
perfect bliss. Through the same Christ our Lord. Amen.
(Taken from the Latin-English Booklet Missal by the Coalition in Support of Ecclesia Dei, March 2003)
NOTE: The pictures in this post are not mine. I found them in St. Josaphat's Parish blog page and Art in the Picture , respectively. The Last Supper was done by Fra Angelico. I could not have done in even in my wildest dreams. By posting their pictures, I have no intent to infringe on their right whatsoever. I will delete the photos once they, the parish and Art in the Picture, hopefully not Fra Angelico, tell me to. )