Maid of Heaven Foundation

Learn to Love Communion
Like St. Joan of Arc


Joan of Arc Receiving Communion

Communion is one of the greatest gifts our Lord ever gave to us and a practice that every believer should learn to cherish and love as a way to be close to God. Just contemplating the whole scene of the first communion during what has become known as the last supper of Jesus is a powerful way to better understand the great love that God has for all of us and help kindle within us a deeper love for His Holy Communion. Jesus knew when He gave His disciples instructions about how to prepare to celebrate Passover that year that it would be His last meal on earth. That He desired to spend it with His closest friends shows us how personal it was to Jesus and His instituting communion at this time indicates that this is a gift He desires to share with his most intimate believers. The scene is described in Matthew 26:26: "And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and blessed it, and brake it, and gave it to the disciples, and said, Take, eat; this is my body. And He took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, Drink ye all of it; For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins. But I say unto you, I will not drink henceforth of this fruit of the vine, until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father's kingdom."

Communion during Last Supper of Jesus Christ

Try to imagine what must have been going through the minds of the disciples when all of this transpired. Jesus had already warned them that His time was drawing near and that He was going to suffer and die in Jerusalem. Now He was telling them that this would be the last time He would ever drink with them until they were reunited in Heaven. They must have realized that this was a very special moment even if they did not fully understand all that Jesus meant at the time when He said that the bread was his body and that what they were drinking was His blood shed for the remission of sins. Considering all of the climatic events that occurred at the last supper and over the next few days during the death and resurrection of Jesus it must have taken some time for everything to fully sink in to the point that the disciples could even begin to understand. But eventually they must have looked back upon this particularly intimate moment with Jesus and remembered that He had also said: "this do in remembrance of me." (Luke 22:19)

The tradition of the Lordís Supper was thus born out of the first communion that Jesus Himself led and the solemnity of the observance should therefore be just as great as it was during that first communion. The opportunity to embrace Jesus through His body and through His blood is one that every believer should welcome and cherish but unfortunately that is not always the case for whatever reason. Even in the early church there were people who had to be admonished by the Apostle Paul in his first letter to the Church in Corinth for receiving communion unworthily by not recognizing the body of Jesus. While most people are probably not quite as insincere as the people Paul rebuked in his letter there is still a great difference between just going through the motions and loving communion in a way that is indicative of great love for Jesus and longing for His Body "as a deer pants for water." (Psalm 42:1)

From my own personal experience I must admit that I did not always have the love for communion that I now possess. I have written before about how it was the example of St. Joan of Arc that helped me to obtain a much deeper love for communion. In so many of her contemporaries statements describing how devoutly she behaved during worship you will find comments like: "I have several times seen her take our Lord's Body; and when she saw the Host, she often wept plentiful tears."
"She confessed herself frequently, being often in prayer, hearing Mass every day, and constantly receiving the Sacrament of the Eucharist"
"I have seen Jeanne, at the Elevation of the Host, weeping many tears."
"I heard Joan's confession and administered our Lord's Body to her, which she received with such humility, devotion, and copious tears as I could not completely describe."

In the article below that I originally wrote to celebrate Easter several years ago you can see how St. Joanís example finally got to me:

Today is traditionally the day during Holy Week when Christians remember the "last supper" of Jesus by receiving communion so I thought I would share a personal story that helped me to better understand how important communion was to Saint Joan of Arc and how every Christian should value the "Eucharist" as she did as one of our Lordís greatest blessings. While I was writing the final part of Maid of Heaven about Joanís imprisonment and trial I was asked to help serve communion at the little church that I attended. As I helped serve the bread I began to think about Joan and how she had been denied communion during all those long months she had been alone in prison. She had repeatedly asked the priests who helped guard her for communion but they had been ordered by the chief judge at her trial Pierre Cauchon to refuse her requests probably as a way to further punish and torment her while she was in prison. As I passed out the bread I thought about how desperate Joan had been to receive what I so easily received and took for granted. I really felt like crying when I thought about how special communion was to Joan and how much it had hurt her to not be able to receive the Lordís Body. Finally, during her final hours after she had been condemned to death, she was allowed to receive communion. What joy it must have brought to Joan even though she knew she was to die just a short time later. Martin Ladvenu was the Priest who served Joan her last communion and he later described it in this way: "On the morning of Joan's death, by permission and order of the judges...I heard Joan's confession and administered our Lord's Body to her, which she received with such humility, devotion, and copious tears as I could not completely describe." (from BDK Article Joan of Arc, Easter and Communion)

If you feel that your own love for communion is lacking and you would like to possess the same kind of love for communion as someone like St. Joan of Arc then take heart because you can always ask God to help you. The prayer below is a good example of how to ask God for help and was written by Thomas Kempis and is contained in his legendary book The Imitation of Christ.

Of the fervent desire of certain devout persons to receive the Body and Blood of Christ

The Voice of the Disciple:
O how great is the abundance of Thy sweetness, O Lord, which Thou hast laid up for them that fear Thee. When I call to mind some devout persons who draw nigh to Thy Sacrament, O Lord, with the deepest devotion and affection, then very often I am confounded in myself and blush for shame, that I approach Thine altar and table of Holy Communion so carelessly and coldly, that I remain so dry and without affection, that I am not wholly kindled with love before Thee, my God, nor so vehemently drawn and affected as many devout persons have been, who out of the very earnest desire of the Communion, and tender affection of heart, could not refrain from weeping, but as it were with mouth of heart and body alike panted inwardly after Thee, O God, O Fountain of Life, having no power to appease or satiate their hunger, save by receiving Thy Body with all joyfulness and spiritual eagerness

O truly ardent faith of those, becoming a very proof of Thy Sacred Presence! For they verily know their Lord in the breaking of bread, whose heart so ardently burneth within them(Luke 24:32) when Jesus walketh with them by the way. Ah me! far from me for the most part is such love and devotion as this, such vehement love and ardour. Be merciful unto me, O Jesus, good, sweet, and kind, and grant unto Thy poor suppliant to feel sometimes, in Holy Communion, though it be but a little, the cordial affection of Thy love, that my faith may grow stronger, my hope in Thy goodness increase, and my charity, once kindled within me by the tasting of the heavenly manna, may never fail. But Thy mercy is able even to grant me the grace which I long for, and to visit me most tenderly with the spirit of fervour when the day of Thy good pleasure shall come. For, although I burn not with desire so vehement as theirs who are specially devout towards Thee, yet, through Thy grace, I have a desire after that greatly inflamed desire, praying and desiring to be made partaker with all those who so fervently love Thee, and to be numbered among their holy company.
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