Confession time. I am an avid Hallmark-movie watcher. Most of the movies on Hallmark are versions of the same story: boy meets girl, boy and girl hate each other but have to work together. Working together makes them realize that there is some kind of connection. They fight over something and then realize that they can’t live without the other. So, they make up with a kiss at the end of the story. Nice. Neat. Rosy.
After watching this channel for years, I have realized that, in a sense, these movies are adult “bedtime stories.” You know, the kind of story that, when you were a kid, you wanted adults to read over and over again. No matter how many times you heard the stories – if you were like me, you could recite them by heart – you wanted to hear them again. I laugh at myself because I can watch a Hallmark movie over and over again and enjoy it as much as I did the first time. I don’t think I am the only one who does this!
This interesting human characteristic reminds me of the sixth secret in the book, “7 Secrets of the Eucharist” by Vinny Flynn. The sixth chapter is rightly called, “Every reception is different.” Externally, when we receive Communion, it appears to be done the same way over and over again, week after week. Nothing changes, everything is the same.
But how wrong that perception truly is! In fact, there is something deeply profound going on within the heart and soul of the communicant. Let me explain. When we receive Communion, Christ desires us to be flooded with grace so that we can live in Him and He in us. We are sacramentally present to Trinitarian life. I utterly believe that we, as Catholics, have not owned this reality. It is my prayer that during the three-year celebration of Eucharistic revitalization, we would come to understand this profound fact!
With that being said, you might be wondering why I would say that each reception of the Eucharist is uniquely different. Flynn would agree with me: “… Each time I receive can be significantly different. My spiritual disposition before, during, and after receiving the sacrament will determine whether the sacrament will produce good fruit in me (in varying degrees), have no effect at all, or result in my condemnation.”1
In other words, the grace found in receiving the Eucharist does not change. It is the communicant’s heart that is open or closed to the grace that God is giving. I too am guilty of receiving my dearest Lord in the Eucharist without it being an act of true worship. This is due to my distractive nature or even receiving out of “duty” or “habit” or “just because.” Those are the moments in which my heart is truly cold; then again, there are moments in which it is open to the amazing grace.
I am truly a limited human! But, God knows this and showers His grace upon me all the more. This NEVER gets old, as my need for Him never ends!
1 Flynn, Vinny. 7 Secrets of the Eucharist. MercySong, Inc., 2006. Pg. 76.
By Sister Geralyn Schmidt, SCC, Special to The Witness