A Prayer Before Mass
Almighty and ever-living God, I approach the sacrament of Your only-begotten Son
Our Lord Jesus Christ, I come sick to the doctor of life, unclean to the fountain of mercy,
blind to the radiance of eternal light, and poor and needy to the Lord of heaven and earth.
Lord, in your great generosity, heal my sickness, wash away my defilement,
enlighten my blindness, enrich my poverty, and clothe my nakedness.
May I receive the bread of angels, the King of kings and Lord of lords,
with humble reverence, with the purity and faith, the repentance and love,
and the determined purpose that will help to bring me to salvation.
May I receive the sacrament of the Lord’s Body and Blood, and its reality and power.
Kind God, may I receive the Body of Your only-begotten Son, our Lord Jesus Christ,
born from the womb of the Virgin Mary, and so be received into His mystical body
and numbered among His members. Loving Father, as on my earthly pilgrimage
I now receive Your beloved Son under the veil of a sacrament,
may I one day see him face to face in glory, who lives and reigns with You for ever.
– Saint Thomas Aquinas
ACTS BEFORE COMMUNION.
Act of Faith " Behold he cometh leaping upon the mountains, skipping over the hills" (Cant. ii. 8). Ah, my most amiable Savior, over how many, what rough and craggy mountains hast Thou had to pass in order to come and unite Thyself to me by the means of this most holy sacrament! Thou, from being God, hadst to become man; from being immense, to become a babe; from being Lord, to become a servant. Thou hadst to pass from the bosom of Thy Eternal Father to the womb of a virgin: from heaven into a stable; from a throne of glory to the gibbet of a criminal. And on this very morning Thou wilt come from Thy seat in heaven to dwell in my bosom.
Behold he standeth behind our wall, looking through the windows, looking through the lattices" (Cant. ii. 9). Behold, my soul, thy loving Jesus, burning with the same love with which He loved thee when dying for thee on the cross, is now concealed in the Most Blessed Sacrament under the sacred species; and what doing? " Looking through the lattices." As an ardent lover, desirous of seeing His love corresponded with, from the host, as from within closed lattices, whence He sees without being seen, He is looking at you, who are this morning about to feed upon His divine flesh; He observes your thoughts, what it is that you love, what you desire, what you seek for, and what offerings you are about to make Him.
Awake then, my soul, and prepare to receive thy Jesus; and, in the first place, by faith, say to Him: So then, my beloved Redeemer, in a few moments Thou art coming to me? O hidden God, unknown to the greater part of men, I believe, I confess, 1 adore Thee in Thy Most Holy Sacrament as my Lord and Savior! And in acknowledgment of this truth, I would willingly lay down my life. Thou comest to enrich me with Thy graces, and to unite Thyself all to me; how great, then, should be my confidence in this Thy so loving visit!
Act of Confidence. My soul, expand thy heart. Thy Jesus can do thee every good, and, indeed, loves thee. Hope thou for great things from this thy Lord, Who, urged by love, comes all love to thee. Yes, my dear Jesus, my hope, I trust in Thy goodness, that, in giving Thyself to me this morning, Thou wilt enkindle in my poor heart the beautiful flame of Thy pure love, and a real desire to please Thee; so that, from this day forward, I may never will anything but what Thou wiliest.
Act of Love. Ah, my God, my God, true and only love of my soul, and what more couldst Thou have done to be loved by me? To die for me was not enough for Thee, my Lord; Thou wast pleased to institute this great sacrament in order to give Thyself all to me, and thus bind and unite thyself heart to heart with so loathsome and ungrateful a creature as I am. And what is more, Thou Thyself invitest me to receive Thee, and desirest so much that I should do so! O boundless love, incomprehensible love, infinite love, a God would give Himself all to me!
My soul, believest thou this? And what doest thou? what sayest thou? O God, O God, O infinite amiability, only worthy object of all loves, I love Thee with my whole heart, I love Thee above all things, I love Thee more than myself, more than my life! Oh, could I but see Thee loved by all! Oh, could I but cause Thee to be loved by all hearts as much as Thou deservest! I love Thee, O most amiable God, and I unite my miserable heart in loving Thee to the hearts of the seraphim, to the heart of the most blessed Virgin Mary, to the heart of Jesus, Thy most loving and beloved Son. So that, O Infinite Good, I love Thee with the love with which the saints, with which Mary, with which Jesus love Thee. And I love Thee only because Thou art worthy of it, and to give Thee pleasure. Depart, all earthly affections, which are not for God, depart from my heart. Mother of fair love, most holy Virgin Mary, help me to love that God Whom thou dost so ardently desire to see loved!
Act of Humility. Then, my soul, thou art even now about to feed on the most sacred flesh of Jesus! And art thou worthy? My God, who am I, and who art Thou? I indeed know and confess Who Thou art Who givest Thyself to me; but dost Thou know what I am, who am about to receive Thee?
And is it possible, O my Jesus, that Thou, Who art infinite purity, desirest to come and reside in this soul of mine, which has been so many times the dwelling of Thy enemy, and soiled with so many sins? I know, O my Lord, Thy great majesty and my misery; I am ashamed to appear before Thee. Reverence would induce me to keep at a distance from" Thee; but if I depart from Thee, O my life, whither shall I go? to whom shall I have recourse? and what will become of me? No, never will I depart from Thee; nay, even I will ever draw nearer and nearer to Thee. Thou art satisfied that I should receive Thee as food, Thou even invitest me to this. I come then, O my amiable Savior, I come to receive Thee this morning, all humbled and confused at the sight of my defects; but full of confidence in Thy tender mercy, and in the love which Thou bearest me.
Act of Contrition. I am indeed grieved, O God of my soul, for not having loved Thee during the time past; still worse, so far from loving Thee, and to gratify my own inclinations, I have greatly offended and outraged Thy infinite goodness: I have turned my back against Thee, I have despised Thy grace and friendship; in fine, O my God, I was deliberately in the will to lose Thee. Lord, I am sorry, and grieve for it with my whole heart. I detest the sins which I have committed, be they great or small, as the greatest of all my misfortunes, because I have thereby offended Thee, O Infinite Goodness. I trust that Thou hast already forgiven me; but if Thou hast not yet pardoned me, oh, do so before I receive Thee: wash with Thy blood this soul of mine, in which Thou art so soon about to dwell.
Act of Desire. And now, my soul, the blessed hour has arrived in which Jesus will come and take up His dwelling in thy poor heart. Behold the King of heaven, behold thy Redeemer and God, Who is even now coming; prepare thyself to receive Him with love, invite Him with the ardor of thy desire; come, O my Jesus, come to my soul, which desires Thee. Before Thou givest Thyself to me, I desire to give Thee, and I now give Thee, my miserable heart; do Thou accept it, and come quickly to take possession of it.
Come, my God, hasten; delay no longer. My only and infinite good, my treasure, my life, my paradise, my love, my all, my wish is to receive Thee with the love with which the most holy and loving souls have received Thee; with that with which the most blessed Virgin Mary received Thee; with their communions I unite this one of mine.
Most holy Virgin and my Mother Mary, behold, I already approach to receive thy Son. Would that I had the heart and love with which thou didst communicate! Give me this morning thy Jesus, as thou didst give Him to the shepherds and to the kings. I intend to receive Him from thy most pure hands. Tell Him that I am thy servant and thy client; for He will thus look upon me with a more loving eye, and, now that He is coming, will press me more closely to Himself.