The other day when I was making my thanksgiving after Mass I got to reflecting on my experience of Holy Communion. It has shifted over the years.
When I was younger in the faith my day-to-day spirituality was much more agonistic than it is now, and I think I used to view Communion as a kind of conduit that would bring me the Lord's strength into me to fight the various spiritual combats of the day. It was my connection to the divine power that would contend within me, making up for my own powerlessness and concupiscence in the struggle with sin and distraction. "Blessed be the Lord, my Rock, who trains my hands for battle, my fingers for war." (Psalm 144)
It seems to me that I am now less focused on myself and more in awe of the Presence itself. At the altar I stand in wonderment before the sort of God who is willing to be "hidden under the little form of bread." (St. Francis) This is an amazing thing for me, a sublime reversal. People who don't understand the power and almighty-ness of God ask why God doesn't act in this way or that to alleviate the suffering we bring upon ourselves and each other (ignoring the fact that it is our fault and thus our responsibility anyway). Instead, the power of God is revealed in the perfect humility of the Nativity, the Cross, and the Eucharist--in the littleness of an infant away from home, a condemned criminal, a little piece of bread. This is the Almighty who "empties himself" (Philippians 2: 7) in order to make himself our servant and our nourishment, and so reveals the humble path to real power and success in human life as well.
The act of Holy Communion, to me, is similarly overwhelming. What does it mean to take this self-sacrificing God into my body? Am I ready for that? Am I ready to consent to my body and soul being united to the sacrifice of Christ? Do I will to place myself on the path toward Christ's depth of humility and self-emptying? Do I really desire to be emptied, broken, poured out and given for the nourishment and salvation of others?