I have been reading Story of a Soul by St. Therese of Lisieux. I just got to the part where she recieves her First Communion and I’ve really been enjoying it. But then I was puzzled when I read that she asked permission to receive the Eucharist again. I was even more confused when I found out she got permission to recieve on all feast days. How come she couldn’t receive Jesus as often as she wanted, like we do today? Didn’t the Church always encourage reception of the Eucharist?
[quote=KatarinaTherese]Didn’t the Church always encourage reception of the Eucharist?
Yes, but in previous centuries the spiritual discipline of the day encouraged receiving the Eucharist only when one could be absolutely certain that one was free from sin. It was believed that receiving frequently could lead to receiving unthinkingly, and thus lead to sacrilegious receptions of Communion. In order to be certain of spiritual worthiness, permission was often sought of priests and spiritual directors for more frequent reception of Communion than was considered customary. Indeed, it is partly due to St. Therese’s influence that the Church later adjusted this discipline to encourage frequent reception of Communion by those disposed to receive it. As Therese once said:
Our Lord does not come down from heaven every day to lie in a golden ciborium. He comes to find another heaven which is infinitely dearer to him – the heaven of our souls, created in his image, the living temples of the adorable Trinity.
Of course, the earlier thinking that there is a danger of unthinking eucharistic reception is not something to be jettisoned because, if unchecked, it can indeed lead to unworthy reception. However, the solution is not to deny oneself Communion; the solution is to examine one’s conscience before Communion and to avail oneself of sacramental confession on a regular basis.