Preparing Our Hearts For Jesus

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When we go up to receive Holy Communion, the priest holds the Host before us and says: "The Body of Christ", to which we respond: "Amen."  We are expressing our belief in the Real Presence of Jesus before us under the appearance of bread and remembering that we have been called to unite ourselves with him in this most Holy Sacrament.

All of us are aware of our need for Jesus in our daily lives.  Usually we feel this need most when we are suffering or struggling with a difficult problem.  Jesus wants us to have confidence in him and not to worry: I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you shall eat, nor about your body, what you shall put on.  For life is more than food and the body more than clothing . . . Instead, seek his Kingdom; and these things shall be yours as well (Lk 12:22-23, 31).

Receiving Jesus in Holy Communion should be a special occasion for us every time.  Like all special occasions, we have to prepare for it.  Before you take a big test you put in extra time studying.  When a special friend comes to visit, you make sure everything is straight or perhaps even make some sort of gift to give that friend.  We must also prepare to receive Jesus in Communion. 

Jesus once told a parable about a king who gave a wedding banquet for his son.  He invited everyone, rich and poor alike, until his hall was filled.  When the king came in to meet his guests, he found one man who had not dressed properly for the wedding feast.  When questioned, the man had nothing to say.  The king's orders were: "Bind him hand and foot and throw him out into the night to wail and grind his teeth" (Mt 22:13).

We will displease Jesus also if we go to Holy Communion without first being properly prepared.  We should always look to the example of Jesus to show us what is necessary.  Remember how, at the Last Supper, Jesus washed the feet of his apostles?  This was a sign that we are to receive him with purity and innocence of soul.  We are all aware of our unworthiness to receive such a gift, but like the Roman Centurion we have confidence that Jesus will make us pleasing in his sight.

So how do we prepare our hearts to receive Jesus?  It isn't something we do quickly just before we go to Mass.  We should always be ready to meet Jesus.  This means that we try to live according to Jesus' teaching.  As followers of Jesus, our lives should be filled with prayer and good works.  We should be unselfish and always ready to share with anyone in need.  And most importantly, we must preserve that special life of grace in us which we first received in Baptism.  If we lose that supernatural life through serious (mortal) sin, we should immediately ask God for forgiveness and renew his life in us by going to Confession.

The more we know about Jesus, the more we will love him and try to please him and want to be with him.  We should receive him in Holy Communion often, with a sincere and humble heart, trusting in his great love and desire to be united with us.

Anima Christi Prayer

Soul of Christ, sanctify me.
Body of Christ, save me.
Blood of Christ, inebriate me.
Water from the side of Christ, wash me.
Passion of Christ, strengthen me.
O good Jesus, hear me.
Within thy wounds hide me.
Suffer me not to be separated from thee.
From the malicious enemy defend me.
In the hour of my death call me
And bid me come unto thee,
That with thy saints I may praise thee
For ever and ever.  Amen.

 Used with the permission of The Ignatius Press 800-799-5534

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