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Learned by Heart

Soul of Christ, be my sanctification,
Body of Christ, be my salvation.
Blood of Christ fill all my veins,
Water from Christ’s side, wash out my stains.
Passion of Christ, my comfort be,
O good Jesus, listen to me.
In thy wounds, I fain would hide
Never to be parted from thy side.
Guard me should the foe assail me,

Called when my life shall fail me.
Bid me come to thee above,
With thy saint to sing thy love. Amen.

This is a prayer that I learned by heart at an early age. I choose to say that prayer in thanksgiving after I receive Holy Communion. However, I have other memories that are not so poetic. For example, a very unimportant detail that I still remember from my childhood is about the morning I received my first Holy Communion. As a typical seven-year-old, I certainly did not grasp the holiness and blessing of the experience, particularly because the headband to which my little white veil was attached kept annoying me by creeping forward on my head. Now, after having received the Blessed Sacrament thousands of times, I can say I do appreciate what a blessing being fed the Bread of Life is for me.
St. Sharbel Makhlūf, whose memorial we may celebrate today, also had a devotion to the Blessed Sacrament. Born in 1828 in Beka-Kafra, Lebanon, he became a monk of the Maronite Rite, one of the Eastern Catholic Churches. Although he lived as a hermit, he was very willing to assist when needed with the celebration of the sacraments in nearby towns. He was known for his holiness, which I would assume was fed by his love of the Eucharist.
So, let us consider this idea of devotion to the Blessed Sacrament. When we can easily receive the sacrament of the Holy Eucharist, we could take the privilege for granted. During this pandemic, with churches only gradually reopening for masses, we may start to appreciate what we have been missing.
Just imagine sitting at that Last Supper table. Those gentle hands of Jesus, that would soon be bleeding from nail holes, were serving his friends. Jesus, in his deep love for all of us, kept it simple—bread and wine with which to begin. As he was once transfigured on Mt. Tabor and showed his great glory, so he generously transformed the simple bread and the wine into his glorious Body and Blood. Now, every time the Eucharistic feast is celebrated, that transformation happens through the words of consecration. Ideally, we are changed little by little every time we receive the Bread of Heaven!
Two other prayers that I have memorized and love to recite after I receive Holy Communion are these that the priest might say as he purifies the chalice.

What has passed our lips as food, O Lord, may we possess as purity of heart.
That which is given to us in time, may be our healing for eternity.

May Your Body, which I have eaten, and Your Blood, which I have drunk,
cleave to my very soul; and grant that no trace of sin may be found in me
whom Your pure and holy mysteries have renewed. Who live and reign, world
without end. Amen.

As we remind ourselves of how blessed we are to be able to receive Jesus in Holy Communion, let us also take sufficient time to be reverent, thoughtful, and thankful in this high-speed, high-tech world of ours. We might even learn some new thank-you prayers by heart!
Resources: Franciscan Media, The Roman Missal
Sharon Krause is a RENEW volunteer whose writing has appeared in several resources for small-group faith sharing. She is a wife, mother, and grandmother residing in Manchester, Connecticut. Over the years, she has served in many parish ministries

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