REFLECTION: Appetite for communion PDF Print E-mail
Thursday, 18 December 2014 13:23



One prayer that holds great meaning to me and that I learned soon after a dramatic personal conversion many, many years ago is what is called Spiritual Communion.

This can be said, of course, in different ways, but the one I learned was the one used by St. Josemaria Escriva, Opus Dei founder. It goes this way: “I wish, Lord, to receive you with the purity, humility and devotion with which your Most Holy Mother received you, with the spirit and fervor of the saints.”

As explained to me by the priest who was my spiritual director at that time, it’s a prayer that I should try to say as often as possible during the day, and especially as an immediate preparation for Holy Mass, since it expresses the proper attitude we ought to have with respect to Christ.

He went on to say that Christ is everything to us. He is our savior, the one who fixes things for us, who shows us the way we have to go through in our earthly life toward our definitive eternal life without getting lost.

I was made to realize that our life would not be complete, as it should be, without Christ. Our true happiness and perfection is in him. Somehow, I knew all this in theory and I fully agreed to it, but how to put it in practice was the big problem.

The priest continued to tell me that it was important that I manage to keep this need and hunger for Christ all throughout the day, and to avoid getting swallowed up by merely earthly affairs and concerns. He said that I should learn how to make my involvement in mundane activities sharpen rather than dull my desire for Christ.

The advice had great and lasting impact on me. I remember I had to process it slowly in my personal reflections, figuring out how to put it in place in my mind and heart, making it a fundamental and functioning principle in life.

I remember I had to revisit the many theological foundations of this counsel, and to relish them so as to make them alive and keenly felt, rather than keeping them merely as abstract and cold ideas.

I was quite aware of my predicament. I was doing very well in my studies. And wherever I focused my interest into, somehow I managed to get good results. But I was also aware of the motives behind them. And they were not all good! Worse, they can look good to others who appreciated what I did, but I know there were not all good.

Some kind of pack of wolves always hounded me as I believe they do with everybody else. Pride, vanity, envy, greed can subtly attach themselves to otherwise good intentions and initiatives. And, of course, lust would not be far behind. All these somehow would manage to enter into the equation.

Repeating the Spiritual Communion somehow helped and continues to help in putting the mind and heart in the right track. If prayed earnestly, it surely would assure us of a certain sense of security and immunity from dangers coming from our weakness and from other external sources.

We would be strongly reminded that Christ is always with us, showing us the way, and ever ready to help us in our every need, and quick to understand and forgive us. He is not a Christ who is indifferent to us, who enjoys in our difficulties and suffering.

If he allows us to fall, in spite of our best efforts, it’s because there is always something good and better that can be derived from these bad experiences. He will teach us how to suffer and bear all things. He will show us how we can develop a virtue that is still lacking in us.

We need to cultivate this appetite for communion with Christ. We have to develop a holy fear of simply being by ourselves, relying solely on our human powers and resources. This is a dangerous situation to be in.

We need to enter into communion with Christ, which is actually what is proper to us, since our life is not meant only to be ours alone, but rather to be vitally united with God through Christ in the Holy Spirit. We are made in his image and likeness. We cannot be without him in our mind and heart, and in our life as a whole.

The spiritual communion should lead us to Holy Communion, the living bread that Christ himself commanded us to eat to have life, the real life, in abundance!