Aridity in the Holy Communion

by Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira

Saint of the Day, Wednesday, October 14, 1964

“A Roman and Apostolic Catholic, the author of this text submits himself with filial devotion to the traditional teaching of Holy Church. However, if by an oversight anything is found in it at variance with that teaching, he immediately and categorically rejects it.”

 The words “Revolution” and “Counter-Revolution” are employed here in the sense given to them by Prof. Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira in his book Revolution and Counter-Revolution, the first edition of which was published in the monthly Catolicismo, Nº 100, April 1959.



I will deal with a subject that I have been asked to address before that would benefit many. When I receive communion at the Immaculate Heart of Mary church, I often see a large number of our members receiving as well, and yesterday I had the pleasure of seeing them at the church of Saint Theresa.

The theme is this: Of course as to their numbers, these communions are excellent. What could I say about their quality? Of course, quality is worth more than quantity, in matters of communion more than in any other point. It does not dispense with quantity. I do not adhere to this theory: “A few but wonderful communions are worth more than many communions made in a correct but not marvelous way.” Instead, I believe the opposite: As long as they are sufficiently correct, communions are invaluable, and one should receive communion as frequently as possible.

Putting aside this problem, I often think: How many of these communions are done with much aridity and how many who receive communion with aridity are aware of what they should think about aridity in communion. What is aridity and what is consolation? Consolation is the opposite of aridity. We find consolation during communion when one feels piety, fervor, and enthusiasm, and therefore perceives the excellence of these qualities of soul as one is communing with God.

However, the Church teaches us that there are many states of mind, which are very frequent and sometimes can last years and years. Five years, ten years pass in the life of a person who receives communion every day, and he has no consolation. He will commune and feel nothing: No fervor, no pity; nothing, to the point of being afraid of having made an automatic and therefore unworthy communion. Therefore, the person drags his Eucharist life without understanding the treasures he is receiving and in a state of inner discouragement that is naturally harmful to the development of his spiritual life. So we need to say a word about this aridity.

First of all, you should not think that consolation is normal and aridity abnormal; the opposite is true. Aridity is common even among very fervent souls, and consolation is out of the ordinary. If you want to know a saint who is a model of arid piety, you have St. Therese of the Child Jesus, who went to the office and choir with so much aridity that sometimes she even fell asleep in the choir. She compared her arid soul to a bucket full of ashes on which she kept adding hay because she knew that underneath there were some embers and the straw would eventually catch fire.

This happens with an arid soul. An arid soul can be in truly saintly conditions. The fact that the person feels absolute aridity does not mean that he is doing badly or well because there is no correlation between the two. A person can be doing very bad or very well, and still have aridity. St. Francis of Sales was always excellent in making comparisons, puts it this way: Let us imagine a singer who is singing for a king. He sings very well and hears his own voice, so he knows he is singing well. He delights in his own voice and in the fact that the king is hearing him sing well. Now he says, imagine if that the singer goes deaf and is unable to hear his voice. He must continue to sing because the king is listening and is delighted. Now, there is more merit for a deaf singer to delight only the king than for a singer who hears his voice and delights both the king and himself.

This is what happens, he says, with an arid Eucharistic soul. He knows that Our Lord likes to be received, and that he will give Our Lord a true pleasure by receiving him. However, he feels none of that. Now God sees that in him even if he does not. God sees his good dispositions, his righteousness and desire to sanctify himself. Therefore, God gives more value to a Communion done with the greatest aridity than if the aridity did not exist. There are numerous cases in which a communion made with aridity may be worth much more than a communion made without aridity, and this is the first point for a person in aridity to consider in order to prepare for communion and make an act of faith.

He should say, “My God, I am in the state of grace, and if my aridity is due to a lack of fervor, I will receive Thee so Thou mayest increase my fervor. If this is not due to a lack of fervor but to a mysterious plan of Thine – very frequent in Thy guidance of souls – Give me the grace not to be disturbed and to receive Thee with confidence because this aridity comes from Thee and all things coming from Thee are always gifts and favors; therefore, O blessed aridity!”

A person in aridity should meditate or briefly recall what aridity means and receive communion with confidence and joyfully. In aridity, one cannot receive communion joyfully but does so in peace. He should remember that Our Lord has a real pleasure to be received in our souls. Because when we commune, as long as we are not in the state of mortal sin, Our Lord delights in it. And His mercy is so great, that despite our possible defects and misery, He is pleased to come to our souls. Therefore, we receive a Divine Guest Who is full of condescension and comes to us joyfully. So to speak, Our Lord joyfully awaits in the tabernacle for that moment of the day when He is received by each one of us.

Nothing is more encouraging for a soul in aridity than this idea of the true joy that Our Lord will have in receiving him in that aridity. Making this act of confidence when in aridity is very meritorious and encouraging. Now, how should we behave during the thanksgiving when in aridity? Even more, how should one prepare when in aridity?

The preparation consists in telling Our Lord some things we know do not make much impression on our souls but that cannot fail to please Him. For example, tell Him that we love Him that we understand the good that His visit will do to our souls, that we are sorry not to receive Him in better conditions, and that we ask Him to prepare our soul for receiving Him more perfectly. Ask Him all this through Our Lady, without whom no prayer is heeded, confident that by asking her, she will come to prepare us.