#3: Seeking Jesus in Holy Communion with St. Thérèse of Lisieux

The third practical way St. Thérèse awakened her seeking heart for Jesus was in her frequent reception of Holy Communion.

In his important work, Complete Spiritual Doctrine of St. Thérèse of Lisieux, Fr. Jamart presents how important receiving Holy Communion was in the life of our great saint:

“It was through contact with the Eucharistic Christ that she received her most outstanding graces: during her first Communions she received both an attraction for suffering and great consolation; it was during her Christmas Communion in 1886 that the grace of “conversion” was given to her. However, she did not always find consolation in this Sacrament. In Carmel, her acts of thanksgiving were often made in the midst of aridity and sleepiness; but this did not grieve her, for she considered that she was receiving Jesus in order to give Him pleasure rather than for her own satisfaction… Thérèse had learned that there is no more efficacious means of transforming ourselves into Jesus than the worthy reception of Christ’s Sacred Body” (Complete Spiritual Doctrine of St. Thérèse of Lisieux by Rev. Francois Jamart, O.C.D., Translated by Rev. Walter Van De Putte, C.S.SP, St. Paul Publications, 1961, pg. 269).

Having received so many “outstanding graces” through her devout reception of Holy Communion, St. Thérèse counsels us: 

“Receive Communion often, very often. There you have the sole remedy, if you want to be cured. Jesus has not put this attraction in your heart for nothing.”

At this time in Church history, daily Communion was not a common practice. St. Thérèse’s religious order, the Carmelites, specified exact days on which St. Thérèse would have been allowed to receive Holy Communion. Knowing this, St. Thérèse desired to receive Holy Communion so much that, during her illness, she would drag herself to Mass for the opportunity to receive our Lord. 

For St. Thérèse, this desire was simply her best response to the far greater desire that our Lord had to come to St. Thérèse and to each one of us. St. Thérèse said:

 “Do you realize that Jesus is there in the tabernacle expressly for you, for you alone? He burns with the desire to come into your heart.”

Commenting on this passage, Fr. Jean C. J. d’Elbée, states:

“If you only knew how Jesus hungers for you, how He burns with desire to come into your heart, how impatient He is to come down to you, bridging all distance between you and Him! The day you miss a Communion is a great disappointment for Him. So go to Him; response to His desire. Desiderio desideravi: “I have desired with a great desire to eat this Passover with you” (Luke 22:15)… Never deprive Him of this happiness through your own fault” (I Believe in Love, 243).

“I had the indescribable happiness of going to Communion every day. How wonderful it was… what a supreme joy to be united to my Beloved every day!” (S 128)

For St. Thérèse, “the indescribable happiness… [and] supreme joy” was not so much in what she received from Jesus but rather in what she gave to Jesus. In Holy Communion, which she called “a complete fusion” (Story of a Soul, 43) with Jesus, she was able to offer herself totally to Jesus in love. She writes: 

“I cannot say that I have often received consolations during my thanksgivings [after Communion]; that is perhaps the moment when I have had the fewest. I find that completely natural, since I have offered myself to Jesus, not as a person who desires to receive His visit for my own consolation, but on the contrary, for the pleasure of Him who gives Himself to me. It is not in order to remain in the golden ciborium that He comes down each day from Heaven, but in order to find another heaven, the heaven of our souls, made in His Image, the living temple of the Adorable Trinity.” – Manuscript Autobiography 199, 117

With St. Thérèse as our little sister in faith, may we too have the desire to give our seeking hearts completely to Jesus in Holy Communion every single day!

To conclude: What is 1 thing you want to remember from this reflection?

%d bloggers like this: