Some years ago one of the outstanding parishioners of St. Matthew Church, Washington, D. C., was Admiral Franklin of the United States Navy. A convert who had never lost his first fervor, the Admiral was an imposing figure as he took part in many parish functions and services.
One day a young lady met him in the vestibule of the well-known church just as the venerable sea-dog had made a visit to the Blessed Sacrament. Taken aback, the young lady remarked: "Why, Admiral, I did not know that you too came here for a visit." Quickly came his reply: "Certainly. Every day I must report to my Commander-in-Chief; you know we are in His service."
A visit to the Blessed Sacrament is just that, a conference with our Commander-in-Chief. We are all in the service of Jesus Christ. His headquarters are here in the Eucharist. We have the privilege and duty of calling upon Him at any time.
Too few avail themselves of this privilege. Is it lack of faith? Is it lack of love? Lest it be lack of method, allow me to suggest a way to make a daily visit:
You are going to talk to Jesus. No two people have the same things to talk about.
Prayerbooks are a help, but often a hindrance. Talk to your best Friend - from your heart.
Don't let the devil delay your visit. On entering church realize that you are in the presence of One who knows you better than you know yourself, One who loves you more than you love yourself. Make your genuflection thoughtfully and lovingly. You might say: "I adore Thee, 0 Jesus, and I love Thee."
Tell Him that He is above everyone and above everything. Tell Him that He means more to you than the whole world. Tell Him your needs of soul and body, your sorrows and joys, your temptations and consolations, your trials and triumphs. Present your problems to Him.
Thank Him for the Holy Eucharist and the privilege of speaking to Him. Thank Him for the thousand favors of every day.
Be sure to ask for favors. We ask for too little rather than too much. Of course, always leave it up to Him. I know one priest who uses this prayer:
"Eucharistic Heart of Jesus, I implore, that I may ever love Thee more and more."Then for the word "I" he substitutes the name of father, mother, brothers and sisters, relatives, friends, co-workers, the parish, the sick, and so forth, repeating his prayer for each one. Try it.
Be sure to beg pardon for the neglect of our Eucharistic Lord, for your failure to visit Him often, for the neglect of the world.
Your visit should include a Spiritual Communion. Express the desire to receive our Lord. Then say some prayer like this:
"O Jesus, I turn toward the holy tabernacle where You live hidden for love of me. I love You, O my God, I cannot receive you in Holy Communion. Come, nevertheless, and visit me with Your grace. Come spiritually into my heart. Purify it. Sanctify it. Render it like unto Your own."You can make such a Spiritual Communion in your home or away from home, or while driving. Simply turn your heart to the nearest tabernacle. A Catholic engineer once revealed that as he sat at the throttle roaring through village and town, he made a short act of adoration and a Spiritual Communion wherever there was a Catholic Church. Often let your thoughts wing their way to the closest altar.
Give these little proofs of love during life and you can be sure of Christ's love at the end of life. When a Catholic is in danger of death, he receives Holy Communion as Viaticum. It is food for the most important journey, the journey from this life to the next. Though you have already received that day, and are not fasting, you should receive Viaticum, your last Holy Communion. In your prayerbook or catechism you will find the arrangements to be made when the priest brings Holy Communion to the home, and especially when he brings your last Holy Communion.
Then as now, in that hour as in this, you will see the bread, taste and feel only bread, yet you will know it is the body and blood of our Lord. You will not be like St. Thomas as we read in Sundays's gospel. He refused to believe unless he saw and felt. What Christ said to St. Thomas He says to us: "Blessed are they who have not seen, and yet have believed."
Nowhere is this more true than in regard to the Blessed Sacrament. The Eucharist is the test and center of faith. Fan that faith. Feed that faith with frequent, fervent visits to our Eucharistic Lord, by loving spiritual Communions, and by thinking of the moment when you will receive Him for the last time, knowing that death will introduce you to the loving, happy presence of Him whom you loved and served and visited and received on this earth. Now we see not. Then we shall see. We shall see our Commander-in-Chief face to face forever!
Adapted from Talks on the Sacraments
by Fr. Arthur Tonne,OFM (© 1947)