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Teaching the Devotion to the Sacred Heart
A Heart-to-Heart Talk With Jesus After Holy Communion
Editors: Thomas Diehl, S.J. and John Hardon, S. J.
The vast majority of people seem to depend completely upon their prayer books to entertain Christ in their hearts after Holy Communion. Small wonder, then, they do not enjoy that sweet intimacy which could be theirs if they learn to listen to Him while pressing Him close to their hearts, and talk to Him in that intimate, familiar, and confident converse which they use for their closest friends, telling them their troubles, their joys, their sorrows, and asking them for advice when they dont know or are not sure what they ought to do.
This type of thanksgiving after Holy Communion implies training that ought to begin in grammar school. The Eucharistic Crusade has been wonderfully effective in giving such training to children in elementary and junior high school. Numberless occasions in later life prove that members of the Crusade have been habituated to a continual dependence on Gods inspiration and a deep realization that God will help them in their difficulties if they only place themselves completely in His hands.
In order to introduce this form of thanksgiving after Holy Communion, I like to tell the class an original story:
You have a very dear friend. She comes to see you and instead of chatting with her, you leave her in the parlor and run to get a book. Without any introduction you read something to her, explaining that it is something wonderful to read and you want to read it to her. After a short time you stop reading and ask her politely to leave, offering her an invitation to come again the next day. Thus day after day passes by and your friend has no opportunity of really speaking to you. Undoubtedly, in a short time you would lose your friend since friends do not read to one another. They can read essays or interesting stories within the quarters of their own rooms when they are alone. A friend comes to your home to have a friendly chat, to be encouraged, to be consoled, to ask you a favor, to thank you for some special favor she received from you, or even to give you a bit of news.
The story needs very little interpretation. The students see immediately how ridiculous this visit with a friend of theirs would be. Then I proceed, getting to the actual point with a paraphrase of my story:
This is similar to the way you treat our Lord if you spend the time reading a few prayers at Him instead of eagerly and lovingly speaking to Him. When you do this, you miss all the sweetness of the union with Jesus. Naturally, you should learn to speak to Him and confide in Him in a most friendly manner, much as you would in a very close friend of yours.
Tell Him you are worried, what bothers you, why you are discouraged or disappointed, and then ask Him what to do. He is able to mend everything--He is God, and He loves you. Dont be afraid to use your own language. He does not mind your grammatical errors; He even understands your slang. All He wants is that you trust Him, ask Him for help, and confide in Him. Remember, you are never sure of any human being; in a moment of weakness, a dear friend may betray you. But He never will. He will keep all your secrets; more than that He will give you courage to overcome all obstacles. He will give you the grace to do the right thing at all times. He will take care of all the details in the most perfect way.
With this introduction the students begin to see that Christ is not only God but also a person in whom they can confide, with their difficulties.
The next step follows something at a religious instruction or some other appropriate time. This time I like to bring out the idea that Christ is the all-powerful God, the Creator of all things, upon whom rests the existence of the world, and therefore that adoration is due to Him. Hence, one of the first acts after receiving Him should be an act of adoration in union with His creation (our Blessed Mother, angels, saints, all inanimate things in nature, such as flowers, stars and so forth), asking all His creatures to join in adoration of the Creator.
Since Christ is God and everything is His, all that we have and receive belongs to Him. Thus, really, nothing that we get belongs to anyone else except to God. The next step logically would be to explain thanksgiving. To introduce this I usually ask how they would feel if, after having given numerous gifts to a friend, they would never receive the least bit of thanks. I continue then:
If you receive gifts, you want to thank. If you give gifts, you expect thanks. In a short time you would stop giving presents if you would see that they are not appreciated. That would be the natural thing to do and no one with any common sense would condemn you for such an action. Now, the more you thank our Lord, the more favors you will receive, for God loves the one who shows appreciation, just as people like to give gifts to those who express their thanks each time. They see the recipient is worthy of the gift. Thus our Lord appreciates our thanks, too. He was very much disappointed with the lepers who were not grateful and was sad to think that only one leper who had been cured came to thank Him.
The next logical step is reparation. This, too, is explained from the viewpoint of what sin means to our Lord. If because of sin Christ was willing to undergo the suffering of the Passion, then sin must grieve Him. We also should be sorry for the sins we commit and the world commits. One day can be set aside for going through the commandments to show the gravity of sin.
Finally, petition is developed. Christ loves to be asked for help; therefore, at Holy Communion we should ask for blessings on ourselves and upon others. This is developed in a general way first: Who needs our prayers? Students can use the Inside-out or the outside-in method. By inside is meant their own needs, by outside the needs of others. They ask blessings on their life, school, and personal wants. Next blessings on parents, brothers, sisters, friends, benefactors, teachers, parish, city, and country. The conversion of sinners and those outside the fold should hold a special place. The poor souls in purgatory are also in need of prayers. They will help us if we help them, for they are incapable of helping themselves but they have a tremendous power with God.
Perhaps a few words about preparation for Holy Communion will not be out of place. In the missal, which most students use during holy Mass, there are the three prayers before Holy Communion and acts of faith, hope, and love using their own words and asking the Blessed Mother to help them prepare their hearts for the coming of her Son heighten their devotion for Holy Communion. They can invite their guardian angels and their patron saints to be guards of honor when Jesus comes into their hearts.
Suggestions for various seasons of the Liturgical year:Christmas Season
Public Life of Christ:
Meet All Those Whom You Love:
To make the talk with Jesus after Holy Communion a more intimate and friendly affair I like to suggest to the students that we make a bargain or promise to one another (to last all our life) to meet every First Friday in the Sacred Heart after Holy Communion; that is, to pray for one another and mention one anothers intentions in His Sacramental Presence. We make a promise either with or without ceremony that whether we remember it or not our present promise will hold good forever, because God does not forget even though we do.
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