Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Today is the Feast of St John Berchmans SJ, illustrious spiritual son of St Ignatius, well remembered for the purity of heart and devotion to the Blessed Sacrament. The meditation below describes well pious disposition and preparation of the Saints to receive the Holy Communion. Good point to meditate upon in these days when Communion is commonly received in the hand while 'walking'.

Qui manet in charitate, in Deo manet, et Deus in eo - Who abideth in charity, abideth in God, and God in him. (1 John 4:16)

See why we never arrive at sanctification after so many Communions as we make! It is because we do not suffer the Lord to reign in us as He would desire. He enters our breasts and finds our hearts full of desires, affections and trifling vanities. This is not what He seeks. He would wish to find them quite empty, in order to render Himself absolute master and governor of them. (St. Francis de Sales)

The Saint himself possessed a heart of this latter kind. His confessor testifies of him that he would permit no affection to remain in it that was not of God and for God. And so, if he saw anything alien to this springing up, he was ready to extirpate it, as it were, with steel and fire. The Lord once said to a good soul that the best disposition for receiving abundant graces in Holy Communion is to empty the heart of everything. For if a great noble goes to the house of one of his retainers with the intention of filling all his boxes and chests, but finds them full of chaff and earth and sand, he is forced to retire with regret. This is the reason why holy souls have been so earnest in making good Communions. The Empress Leonora, who received three times a week, spent two hours in previous meditation.... After receiving, she remained for a quarter of an hour prostrate with her face upon the ground, conversing with her Divine Guest in sweet and tender welcome. Then, to retain the warmth of devotion through the day, she remained in silence and solitude in her room. St. Aloysius Gonzaga gave the whole week to his Communion. He offered the actions of the three days preceding it as a preparation, and so endeavored to do them well; and those of the three following days he intended for a thanksgiving.

The venerable Monseigneur de Palafox, after his conversion and while still a secular, communicated often, that is, once a week. He took up the practice of asking God for one virtue at each Communion, and resolving to extirpate some particular fault, occupying in this sometimes days, sometimes whole weeks. He thus endeavored, by the aid of Divine grace, to conquer his evil inclinations and to change his long-established habits, with a success that could be noticed from day to day. St. John Berchmans was unwilling to receive Communion on holidays, because, as he said, he could not preserve the necessary quiet and devotion on such days; and if he was to Communicate, he asked permission to remain in the house. He said on one occasion that each time he received Holy Communion he felt his soul perceptibly revived and invigorated.

Credits: Catholic Tradition website - "Catholic Virtues - a Year with the Saints". The painting depicting St John of the Cross in anticipation of Christ coming is by Nicolo Lorenese.