Over the past few years, I’ve dealt with a lot of interior struggle when it comes to receiving the Eucharist. There’s been many a Mass where I’ve spent a good majority of the liturgy fighting an inner battle over whether or not I should receive when it came time for Holy Communion. The drill usually goes something like this: I start to think of all of the sins I’ve committed and then think, “Wow, maybe I shouldn’t receive; I’ve really failed in a lot of ways.” Then, that voice goes on saying, “Yeah, you shouldn’t receive, you’ve sinned and you wouldn’t want to drink judgment upon yourself” (1 Corinthians 11:29). Fear then ensues. I want to receive the Lord so badly but am sure that I can’t. Another voice in me, though, asks, “Have you actually committed a mortal sin that would exclude you from Communion? Or, are you just being too hard on yourself?” I then am reminded that Jesus’ mercy is so great (much greater than my own) and I’m wasting all of this time thinking about myself and my sin instead of simply throwing myself into His arms of mercy. If I learned anything from studying St. Thérèse, it’s that we have to run to the Lord sure of His mercy.
Last night, I fought this battle and by the grace of God chose to trust in the Lord’s mercy and not simply wallow in my sinfulness. I fervently repeated, “Lord, I’m not worthy to receive you” and then said “Yes” to the gift the Lord wanted to give me. After receiving Jesus, I found myself at peace and was blessed with an amazing insight. Although I sometimes have this experience of clarity about how sinful I truly am and struggle with my worthiness to receive the Lord, I also have days where I think I’m a pretty good person; I think, “Hey, I’m doing my best and I’m doing pretty well avoiding sin and following the Lord.” What I was blessed to realize last night, though, was that I am never worthy to receive the Lord—even when I think I’m doing a pretty good job. This doesn’t mean that the Lord isn’t pleased with me or that He doesn’t love me; He certainly does. But, even on my best day, when I’ve (by the pure grace of God) avoided a good amount of sin and have loved my brothers and sisters well, I’m still not worthy to receive the Lord. He is too great, too far above me. With that realization, I’m in total awe of the Lord’s humility at coming to us in the Eucharist. I’m thankful for the times when I feel such deep sorrow for my sins, for they remind me how unworthy I am. They also give me the opportunity to affirm my trust in God’s unchanging mercy. He loves us so much and although we’re unworthy, He stoops down to shower His love upon us! Lord Jesus, make us rich in mercy.