I don’t feel any holier after I receive communion. Is that normal?
July 19, 2020, 12:00 PM
The movement of God’s grace in our souls is not necessarily accompanied by emotional responses, immediately noticeable interior conversion or deep insights. And it is rare for the movement of God’s grace to be perceived by the physical senses. (In fact, this would be an extraordinary phenomenon that should be discussed with a priest or spiritual director to test its legitimacy.)

When God does work in our souls in a way that is noticeable to us, this is a gift called consolation, a fitting word since it is such a wonderful experience. For instance, we might feel great peace or joy after receiving communion, our hearts may overflow with the love of God, or something that was deeply troubling us may become instantly clear, bringing us a deep sense of calm. Besides bringing consolations from God, Mass may also make us feel different simply because we respond emotionally to our knowledge of what we have just received, but this can also be considered a grace.

Such experiences and feelings come and go. This is especially true with regard to emotions. Our emotions are not fully under the control of our intellects. A husband might know the beauty of his wife and the great gift she is to him. Over the course of a long marriage, this knowledge sometimes leads to intense emotion while at other times it does not.

Just as it would be extremely short-sighted to seek a marriage built primarily on emotional feelings and fun experiences, it is dangerous to base our relationship with God on how it “feels” in the moment. We doubt that St. Peter “felt good” when he was dying, hung upside down on a cross. Yet, at that moment, he was following Christ in the closest and most profound way possible. Many saints experienced intense spiritual “dryness.” Some knew this desolate condition for many years. They felt nothing at all when they were praying. Was something wrong with them? No.

God might let us experience dryness for one of two reasons: Either there is something He wants us to change (perhaps a complacent relationship with Him), or we’re right on target and He wants to test our love for Him. It’s easy to love God when it “feels good.” But God wants to be more than our spiritual drug, there to give us a “God high.” He wants us to love Him, even when we do not feel such love emotionally. (Love is not a feeling but a choice.) Consolation is a little gift, a reminder of God’s love for us, which He sometimes gives us when we need it. Pressing on in our devotion when we feel nothing is a sign of our love for Him.