An extract from 'Sermons for All Sundays of the Year by St. Alphonsus Maria de Liguori'
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Two things are necessary in order to draw great fruit from communion preparation for, and thanksgiving after communion.
As to the preparation, it is certain that the saints derived great profit from their communions, only because they were careful to prepare themselves well for receiving the holy eucharist. It is easy then to understand why so many souls remain subject to the same imperfections, after all their communions. Cardinal Bona says, that the defect is not in the food, but in the want of preparation for it. "Defectus non in bibo est, sed in edentis dispositione." For frequent communion two principal dispositions are necessary. The first is detachment from creatures, and disengagement of the heart from everything that is not God. The more the heart is occupied with earthly concerns, the less room there is in it for divine love. Hence, to give full possession of the whole heart to God, it is necessary to purify it from worldly attach ments. This is the preparation which Jesus himself recommends to St. Gertrude. "I ask nothing more of thee," said he to her, "than that thou come to receive me with a heart divested of thyself." Let us, then, withdraw our affections from creatures, and our hearts shall belong entirely to the Creator.
9. The second disposition necessary to draw great fruit from communion, is a desire of receiving Jesus Christ in order to advance in his love. "He," says St. Francis de Sales, "who gives himself through pure love, ought to be received only through love." Thus, the principal end of our communions must be to advance in the love of Jesus Christ. He once said to St. Matilda: When you communicate, desire all the love that any soul has ever had for me, and I will accept your love in proportion to the fervour with which you wished for it."
10. Thanksgiving after communion is also necessary. The prayer we make after communion is the most acceptable to God, and the most profitable to us. After communion the soul should be employed in affections and petitions. The affections ought to consist not only in acts of thanksgiving, but also in acts of humility, of love, and of oblation of ourselves to God. Let us then humble ourselves as much as possible at the sight of a God made our food after we had offended him. A learned author says that, for a soul after communion, the most appropriate sentiment is one of astonishment at the thought of receiving a God. She should exclaim: "What! a God to me! a God to me!" Let us also make many acts of the love of Jesus Christ. He has come into our souls in order to be loved. Hence, he is greatly pleased with those who, after communion, say to him: "My Jesus, I love thee; I desire nothing but thee." Let us also offer ourselves and all that we have to Jesus Christ, that he may dispose of all as he pleases: and let us frequently say: "My Jesus, thou art all mine; thou hast given thyself entirely to me; I give myself entirely to thee."
11. After communion we should not only make these affections, but we ought also to present to God with great confidence many petitions for his graces. The time after communion is a time in which we can gain treasures of divine graces. St. Teresa says, that at that time Jesus Christ remains in the soul as on a throne, saying to her what he said to the blind man: "What wilt thou that I should do to thee?" (Mark x. 51.) As if he said: "But me you have not always." (John xii. 8.) Now that you possess me within you, ask me for graces: I have come down from heaven on purpose to dispense them to you; ask whatever you wish, and you shall obtain it. Oh! what great graces are lost by those who spend but little time in prayer after communion. Let us also turn to the Eternal Father, and, bearing in mind the promise of Jesus Christ "Amen, amen, I say to you, if you ask the Father anything in my name, he will give it you;" (John xvi. 23) let us say to him: My God, for the love of this thy Son, whom I have within my heart, give me thy love; make me all thine. And if we offer this prayer with confidence, the Lord will certainly hear us. He who acts thus may become a saint by a single communion.