ON HOLY COMMUNION DURING LENT
“Of all the works, whereby a Christian can sanctify the time of Lent, there is none so pleasing to God as the assisting at the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, in which is offered the Victim of man’s salvation. But now that his own unworthiness is more than ever-evident to him, ought he to abstain from partaking, by Holy Communion, of this life-giving and purifying Host? Such is not our Saviour’s will. He came down from heaven, not to judge, but to save us [St. John, iii. 17]. He knows how long and rugged is the road we have to traverse, before we reach that happy day, on which we shall rest with him, in the joy of his Resurrection. He has compassion on us; he fears lest we faint in the way [St. Matth. xv. 32]; and he, therefore, offers us the divine Food, which gives light and strength to our souls, and refreshes them in their toil. We feel that our hearts are not yet pure enough; let us, then, with an humble and contrite heart, go to him, who is come that he may restore to our souls their original beauty. Let us, at all times, remember the solemn injunction, which this Saviour so graciously deigned to give us: Except ye eat the Flesh of the Son of Man, ye shall not have life in you [St. John, vi. 54].
“If, therefore, sin has no longer dominion over us; if we have destroyed it by true sorrow and sincere confession, made efficacious by the absolution of God’s Priest;- let us not deprive ourselves of the Bread of Life [St. John, vi. 35], no matter how great soever our infirmities may seem; for it is for us that our Jesus has prepared the Feast. If we feel that the chains of sin are still upon us; if by self-examination, made with the light of the Truth that is now granted to us, we discover in our souls certain stains, which the false principles of the world and too easy a conscience had hitherto made us wink at;- let us lose no time, let us make a good Confession: and when we have made our peace with the God of mercy, let us approach the holy Table and receive the pledge of our reconciliation.
“Yes, let us go to Holy Communion, during this season of Lent, with a most heart-felt conviction of our unworthiness. It may be, that hitherto we have sometimes gone with too much familiarity, on account of our not sufficiently understanding our nothingness, our misery, and the infinite holiness of the God, who thus unites himself with his sinful creatures. Henceforth, our heart shall be more truthful; blending together the two sentiments of humility and confidence, we will say, with an honest conviction, those words of the Centurion of the Gospel, which the Church puts upon our lips, when she is distributing to us the Bread of Life: Lord, I am not worthy that thou shouldst enter under my roof; say but the word, and my soul shall be healed [St. Matth. viii. 8].”
ACT OF CONTRITION
And shall I, O my Jesus, confess thus the grievousness and multitude of my sins, without promising thee to sin no more? Thou wishest this sinner to be reconciled with thee, thou desirest to press him to thy Sacred Heart:- and could he, whilst thanking thee for this thy wonderful condescension, still love the accursed cause which made him thine enemy? – No, my infinitely merciful God, no! I will not, like my first Parent, seek to escape thy justice, but, like the Prodigal Son, I will arise and go to my Father; like Magdalene, I will take courage and enter the banquet-hall; and, though trembling at the sight of my sins, I will comply with thy loving invitation. My heart has no further attachment to sin, which I hate and detest as the enemy of thy honour and my own happiness. I am resolved to shun it from this time forward, and to spare no pains to free myself from its tyranny. There shall be no more of that easy life which chilled my love, nor of that studied indifference which dulled my conscience, nor of those dangerous habits which led me to stray from my loyalty to thee. Despise not, O God, this my humble and contrite heart.
Source: Extract from The Liturgical Year by Dom Prosper Gueranger