Venerable Bruno’s method: Receiving Communion

Note: Part 13 on a series on the Mass.  Read the first part here. For an overview of Venerable Bruno’s method, go here.  For a PDF of the method, click here.  For Fr. Tim Gallagher’s explanation of the steps, buy the book at his website or the Oblates’ bookstore.

Venerable Bruno Lanteri recommends these sentiments in his Spiritual Directory, “At Communion, those of one in love.”

Background: Extraordinary Form of the Mass
(Tridentine Mass)

Because Venerable Bruno wrote his preparation for the Tridentine Mass, it would be good to see what is going on at this point in the extraordinary form of the Mass.

After the sign of peace with the deacon, the priest offers a series of prayers before and after receiving Communion. He presents the host to the people and says, “Behold the Lamb of God …” The bells are rung thrice.  The response “Lord, I am not worthy …” is said thrice.  The congregation lines up at the altar rail. The priest distributes Communion and says the following prayer to each person: “May the Body and Our Lord Jesus Christ preserve your soul unto life everlasting. Amen.”  Afterward, the priest offers a series of prayers during the purification of the vessels.

Lesson: Can I give myself fully to God, who gives fully himself to me?

Missed opportunities for love. When I was dating, long before I had a single thought of seminary, two women had shared a deep, painful memory of her life. Each sought understanding and compassion.

Unfortunately, my immaturity and past wounds froze me up.  I felt powerless to say anything consoling or meaningful.  In the face of such pain, how can I say anything that would make a difference?  I remembered that I babbled something, but it wasn’t what each woman desired. Each relationship ended shortly thereafter.

Any relationship (friendship, courtship, family) need vulnerability on both sides. Each wants to share the deepest part of oneself. But that requires trust and security in being accepted.  What happens when one or both parties do not allow vulnerability.  The danger is becoming a consumer.  Pope John Paul II talked about use as the opposite of love in relationship. We use the other person to satisfy our needs (intellectual, emotional, physical or spiritual).

At Communion, a marriage between God and the soul happens. Jesus comes to give himself fully in the Holy Eucharist. But do we give ourselves over to Jesus?  Or do we mindlessly gulp down Jesus without a single thought or a thank you?  We consume Jesus without giving anything in return.

Should we expect any more from that type of relationship than my two failures in intimate conversations? Jesus remains faithful, but we, who chases the next thrill, will drop the relationship because “we didn’t get anything out of Mass.”

Venerable Bruno Lanteri offers one way to give ourselves fully to Jesus.  He recommends that at the reception of Communion, we should foster the sentiments of one in love.

Venerable Bruno wants us to harken back to all the love stories in the Bible. Husband and wife shared the gift of themselves and brought life to the world.  But the overarching love story is God’s desire to love man and man’s desire for God.  Thus, man becomes fully alive in a communion of love.  Venerable Bruno wants to stoke that love in us.  We all know how it feels to fall in love.  The world is filled with possibility and life seems to burst everywhere.  All we want is to be with the other person.

Many saints have given prayers to prepare for Communion.  Mother Teresa developed this prayer: “Mary, give me your Heart so beautiful, so pure, so immaculate, your Heart so full of love and humility that I may be able to receive Jesus in the Bread of Life and love Him as you love Him and serve Him in the distressing guise of the poor.”  I have simplified it into the following: “Mary, lend me your heart so I may receive your Son with joy.”

When we return to kneel at the pew, we can chat with Jesus, whom we love. We can share everything that is in heart: joys, sorrows, hardships and triumphs.  But also be quiet for a bit and allow Jesus to give his words and his love to you.

Linger in Jesus’ love.  Don’t let your mind dash off and grow impatient for Mass to end.  Jesus is with you now.  Stay with him.

Scripture passages for prayer:

  1. Psalm 42: A soul desires for God.
  2. Isaiah 62:4-5: God desires to be with his people.
  3. John 6: The Bread of Life discourse.
  4. Revelation 21: The marriage of heaven and earth is completed at the end of time.

Reflection questions:

  1. Have you experienced God’s love in a profound way?
  2. What do you want to say to Jesus after you receive him in Holy Communion?
  3. How often have you told Jesus that you love him from the heart?

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