“When you sit down to eat, prayerfully reflect that you have in your midst the Divine Master and his holy apostles at the last meal he had with them when he instituted the sacrament of the altar.”
—letter to Raffaelina Cerase, December 17, 1914
For most of us, the image we most associate with Holy Thursday is the one painted by Leonardo da Vinci of Christ and his disciples breaking bread on the evening before Jesus was betrayed and turned over to be put to death. At some point, all of us have taken part in large meals, either with friends or family. From them we receive not only physical nourishment, but also the spiritual nourishment that comes from being together. That combination of community and sustenance is what we find when we receive Holy Communion.
Though he himself did not eat very much, partly due to his illnesses, Padre Pio found great nourishment in receiving the Holy Eucharist, just as we should.
In Padre Pio’s Own Words
In a word, let us try to make our meals be a preparation for the divine meal of the most holy Eucharist. Do not eat more food than you need, and try to have moderation in all things. Most of all, determine in your heart to be disposed toward less rather than more at meals. I do not mean, however, that you should leave the table fasting. No, that is not what I mean. Let everything be done prudently, which is the rule for all human actions.
Do not go to bed without having first examined your conscience about what happened during the day and directing all your thoughts to God.
Then offer and consecrate yourself and all Christians to him—especially me, a lowly brother who does the same for you. In addition, offer your sleep to the glory of God’s divine majesty, and do not forget the guardian angel who is always with you and never leaves you, no matter what wrong thing you might do.
(To Raffaelina Cerase, December 17, 1914)
St. Pio, let your love of the Holy Communion be a shining example for us and inspire in us a willingness to partake in the sacrament as often as possible and fully embrace its meaning.