Thursday, July 15, 2010

"Consider it all joy, my brothers, when you encounter various trials, for you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance" James 2-3. Couldn't we all use a little more perseverance in this day and age? Perseverance, in theological terms, means continuance in a state of grace to the end, leading to eternal salvation. The ultimate prize, eternal life with God in Heaven. So how are you doing on the state of grace thing? The Church teaches us that to receive Communion worthily, you must be in a state of grace, have made a good confession since your last mortal sin, believe in transubstantiation, observe the Eucharistic fast, and, finally, not be under an ecclesiastical censure such as excommunication. St. Paul also weighs in on this and says, "Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of profaning the body and blood of the Lord. Let a man examine himself, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup" (1 Corinthians 11:27–28). Because Communion is an intimate encounter with Christ, in which we sacramentally receive Christ into our bodies, that we may be more completely assimilated into His, it is important that we come to the altar fully prepared. It is something we as Catholics take for granted. Each Sunday (or Saturday) we walk to the front of the Church and receive our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ's body and blood. But shouldn't we pause and think about this more carefully? Maintaining a state of grace is difficult but certainly not impossible. What it does speak to is our personal choices. Are we supporting the types of things that Jesus would support? Do we watch the types of television programs that Jesus would watch? Are we frequenting the types of places that Jesus would frequent? Are we acting in a way that is consistent with what we are proclaiming each and every Sunday when we receive Communion? I am spending more time pondering my state of grace and how to maintain my status. I want to be assimilated into Jesus' body and to do that I must be concerned about what I am putting into my body, what my body is doing and seeing, and how I am treating others. But remember, St. James tells us that the testing we go through allows our perseverance skills to grow. In the end, it all leads to a closer walk with God.