On this Sunday, I picked up one of the favorites, The Spiritual Combat (Lorenzo Scupoli), and read his chapter 55 on preparation for the reception of Holy Communion. The chapter is rich in counsels on how to prepare for Holy Communion, but I was struck by two references in that chapter, one early and one late, about how that preparation ought to start the evening before, yes, and fill your morning as well. I'm taking the quotes from my Kindle edition:
"In order to stir up within you the love of God, by means of this most Heavenly Sacrament, let your meditation on the preceding evening be upon His Love for you. You should consider how that Great and Almighty Lord, not content with having made you after His own image and likeness, and with having sent His Only-begotten Son on earth to suffer during three and thirty years for your sins, and to endure the most bitter sorrows and the painful death of the Cross for your redemption, was, besides all this, pleased to leave Him with you for your food and support in the most holy Sacrament of the Altar." - Highlight Loc. 1642-46
"With such loving affections, you should exercise yourself in the evening and morning before Communion. Then, as the time of Communion draws near, consider what you are about to take; no less than the Son of God, of Majesty Incomprehensible, before Whom the Heavens and all the powers therein do tremble—the Holy of Holies, the Spotless Mirror, and the incomprehensible Purity, in comparison with Whom no creature is clean; the One Who, as a worm and an outcast of the people, willed for love of you to be rejected, trampled upon, mocked, spit upon, and crucified, by the malice and wickedness of the world. You are about to receive God, in Whose Hands are the life and death of the whole universe." - Highlight Loc. 1675-80
In the days of larger families many a mother might look at me askance and appeal to the hectic involved in getting everyone up and dressed to church on time. My point however is another and namely, how many of us "free agents" give Sunday Communion a thought on Saturday night? I fear we live too restlessly and without any focus. I really don't think that St. Francis de Sales would take me to task for not sufficiently distinguishing between the active and contemplative life. St. Francis was among those who always kept his copy of Scupoli close at hand.
While on the one hand, I would be among the first to urge liturgical reform: ad Orientem worship, respect for rubrics in the celebration of Mass, while striving for decorum and a recollected environment (punctuated by meaningful silences), truly sacred music, removing the hectic from the Communion procession by returning to the Communion rail (or like in Lviv's Latin Cathedral, having the priests go to the people kneeling along the aisles of church for Communion), on the other, external sublime is no substitute for inner focus, for a heart well-disposed to receive the Lord of Glory.
Maybe the start could be bedtime prayer on Saturday night, kneeling down before we climb into the feathers and recalling the love for us of the One we hope to receive next morning? Maybe a first thought in the morning on waking, before the toothbrush, to the Infinite One Who seeks to enter under our roof?
Scupoli described the quest for holiness, for oneness with God, as a struggle, as combat carried on on many fronts at once. May we each and every one play our part in winning the victory for Christ and yes in the hearts of one and all.
PROPERANTES ADVENTUM DIEI DEI