Georgia Bulletin

The Newspaper of the Catholic Archdiocese of Atlanta

Resolving to love Christ totally

By DANIEL WEST | Published February 8, 2024

“I just don’t feel anything when I receive the Eucharist. How do I know if it is improving my life?” 

In our fallen world, feelings are king. People often depend on their feelings, or lack of them, to guide them in their decisions. Even extremely important life decisions such as—Should I marry this person? What is my identity? Should I go to Mass?—often fall prey to being determined by feelings apart from reasoning. 

Created by God, feelings and passions are not bad, since he gave them to us to help us act. If we experience an unjust situation, the anger we feel as a result of it is designed to help us act to correct it. St. Thomas Aquinas said that is actually immoral not to be angry when there is just cause for anger. Jesus illustrated this, in an act so significant that all four Evangelists record it in their Gospels, when he expelled the moneychangers from the Temple area. The injustice against God roused righteous anger in him, and he channeled it correctly to rectify it.  

Therefore, our feelings should be shaped by our reason and will. Yet, because of the fall, we have a hard time keeping our feelings and passions in this proper order. When they are not subdued and guided by reason, feelings lead us to bad conclusions and harmful actions. Confusion is also a sign of this improper order because one day we can feel very sure about something that in a week’s time we feel completely opposite about.   

The bishops in the United States have asked us to nurture a eucharistic revival in our land. We may not feel like doing so. Or we may feel like indulging in our doubts about the Eucharist. In spite of those possible feelings, we can see this invitation by our bishops as a spiritual opportunity to grow in mastering our feelings.  

Utilizing St. Thomas’ logic, an exercise I’ve found helpful toward that end is a meditation from the Novena to the Divine Mercy, which is taken from St. Faustina’s visions and writings. On the Ninth Day of the Novena, it states:  

“Today bring to Me souls that have become lukewarm, and immerse them in the abyss of My mercy. These souls wound My Heart most painfully. My soul suffered the most dreadful loathing in the Garden of Olives because of lukewarm souls. They were the reason I cried out: ‘Father, take this cup away from Me, if it be Your will.’ For them, the last hope of salvation is to run to My mercy.”  

Pondering Christ’s gift to humanity during his Passion, what is an adequate response? If he gave everything, then anything less than everything of myself is an injustice toward his love. I should do all I can so that even my feelings help me to love Christ more, especially in his eucharistic form. Further, in this meditation the worst pain he felt, more than the physical torture, was when he pondered the souls who know about his immense gift to them, but then reject him through a half-hearted response. What an immense injustice! 

We must fight for justice toward Christ in his eucharistic form, beginning with resolving within ourselves to love Christ totally. By God’s grace may we persevere in this effort, regardless of where our feelings take us at times. Over time, we will make progress in the spiritual life and find our feelings falling in line more with our will. If we commit to this, a eucharistic revival is sure to come, if at the very least within our own heart. 

Daniel West of the Office of Evangelization and Discipleship, Marriage and Family Life, is a member of the archdiocesan Eucharistic Revival Task Force.