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No time more opportune than the present could be chosen to place before the public this little volume by the venerated PŤre Eymard. In the process for his Beatification, his writings have been declared faultless by the Sacred Congregation of Rites. Our Sovereign Pontiff, Pope Pius X, has recently issued his extraordinary Decree on Daily Communion, thus marking a notable era in the spiritual life of Holy Mother Church. To all pious souls who hearken to the paternal injunction of the Holy Father, this little book will afford food for deep and serious meditation. Its pages are studded with Eucharistic jewels just as they fell from the lips of the ardent Apostle of the Holy Eucharist.
It will, as we believe, supply a need long felt by Eucharistic Congresses, and help to disseminate such literature as those worthy bodies of the Clergy earnestly recommend.
We trust ďThe Real PresenceĒ is only an introduction to the whole series of St. Eymardís works, which we would be glad to see soon in English garb. No sentence from the writings of this sainted servant of God can fail to give strength and courage and comfort to all lovers of our Eucharistic Lord. May his words help to establish the reign of Jesus Christ in the hearts of the Faithful!
J. CARDINAL GIBBONS,
Archbishop of Baltimore.
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The works of Saint Peter Julian Eymard are recognized in the French world as classics of Eucharistic piety. In the hope they may become so in the English Catholic world, we are offering the public a new translation of them.
Possibly no one has so insistently and perseveringly written or spoken of the Eucharist as Saint Eymard has. The Eucharist worked on the faculties of his soul like a magnet. His mind and heart, as if polarized, invariably swerved back towards their star, the Eucharist. He was never at a loss to discover some hidden link between the Eucharist and the subject under study. Like the "householder who brings forth out of his treasure new things and old," he drew all things out of the Eucharist for every purpose. In fact he looked at the world only through the "Divine prism of the mystery of the Eucharist."
This Eucharistic approach to the problems of the soul is distinctive of his spirituality. Duty never came alone in its cold and austere stiffness but with something of our Eucharistic Lord in it that transformed it into a labor of love. The road that wound in and out of the shadow of the Cross was never a lonely one, for the Eucharistic Christ stood ever near with His strengthening and consoling companionship. The virtues were made lovable by being presented not in their native asperity but as actions of Jesus in the Eucharist. The result was a spirituality based on and motivated by love for Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament.
He made universal use of the Eucharist in his own life and advised others to do as much. In short, he laid down in theory and in practice that the Eucharist is the chief means of progress in spiritual life, the light which shows the way and supplies the needed strength to follow it.
Unfortunately Saint Peter Julian never wrote nor even planned a complete treatise on the spiritual life, although his long experience with souls, his deep insight into their needs, his sure sense of the supernatural, and the stem logic of his mind eminently qualified him for such a task. However, in his sermons and letters of direction he touched practically every point of ascetical theology, so that there is in them sufficient matter for a comparatively complete study on the spiritual life.
The present volume, The Real Presence, is a collection of sermons that deal almost exclusively with the wonders operated by our Lordís love in the Eucharist. From every page, Saint Peter Julian, the "Priest of the Eucharist," sends a ringing plea to all men to love our Eucharistic Lord as He deserves and to take Him as both the model and the means of their holiness. Pondering over these chapters cannot but make us know better and love more the Eucharistic Christ. And with a more practical understanding of this supereminent means of grace, the problem of salvation should be easier to solve.
May His Eucharistic Kingdom come! That was Saint Peter Julianís most ardent wish. We make it ours in publishing a new translation of The Real Presence.
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Pater tales quaerit qui adorent eum . . . in spiritu et veritate.
The Father seeks such people to adore Him Ö in spirit and truth. (John 4:23.)
The object of Eucharistic adoration is the Divine Person of our Lord Jesus Christ present in the Most Blessed Sacrament.
He is living there. He wants us to speak to Him, and He will speak to us. Anybody may speak to our Lord. Is He not there for everybody? Does He not tell us, "Come ye all to Me"?
This conversation between the soul and our Lord is the true Eucharistic meditation, i. e., adoration.
The grace of it is given to everybody. In order, however, to succeed in it and avoid routine or dryness of mind and heart, adorers must seek inspiration in the grace of their vocation, in the various mysteries of the life of our Lord and of the Blessed Virgin, or in the virtues of the Saints. In this way they will honor and glorify the God of the Eucharist through the virtues of His mortal life as through those of all the Saints, of whose holiness He was the grace and end as He is now its crown of glory.
Look upon the hour of adoration assigned to you as an hour in Paradise. Go to your adoration as one would to Heaven, to the Divine banquet. You will then long for that hour and hail it with joy. Take delight in fostering a longing for it in your heart. Tell yourself, "In four hours, in two hours, in one hour, our Lord will give me an audience of grace and love. He has invited me; He is waiting! for me; He is longing for me."
When your hour is particularly difficult, rejoice all the more; your love will be greater for its suffering more. It is a privileged hour that will count for two.
When on account of illness, infirmity, or some other reason, you cannot make your hour, let your heart be saddened for a moment. Then in spirit imagine yourself at adoration in union with those who are actually adoring. On a bed of sickness, or on a journey, or at a task that detains you, be more recollected, and you will derive the same fruit as if you had been able to kneel at the feet of the good Master. That hour will be written down to your credit and perhaps even counted for two.
Go to our Lord just as you are. Be natural in your meditation. Use up your own stock of piety and love before resorting to books. Cherish the inexhaustible book of a humble love. It is all very well to take a pious book with you to regain control of yourself in case the mind wanders or the senses grow drowsy; but remember that our good Master prefers the poverty of our heart to the most sublime thoughts and affections borrowed from others.
You can be sure that our Lord wants our bean and not that of someone else. He wants the thought and prayer of that heart as the genuine expression of its love for Him.
It may be that we do not want to go to our Lord because we are ashamed of our misery and wretchedness: that is the fruit of subtle self-love, impatience, or cowardice. Our Lord prefers our helplessness to everything else; He is pleased with it and blesses it.
You are suffering from spiritual dryness? You can at least give glory to Godís grace without which you can do nothing. Open your soul toward heaven just as a flower opens its petals at sunrise to receive the refreshing dew.
You are stricken with utter powerlessness; your mind is lost in darkness; your heart is crushed with the weight of its nothingness; your body is ailing. Offer Him the adoration He should expect from one so destitute; forget your poverty and abide in our Lord. Or again, present your poverty to Him that He may make it rich; that is a masterpiece worthy of His glory.
But you are in a state of temptation and of sadness; everything rebels in you; everything induces you to leave your adoration under the pretext that you are offending God, and that you are dishonoring rather than serving Him. Do not listen to that insidious temptation; you adore Him by resisting, by being loyal to Him against yourself. No, no, you are not displeasing Him. You are bringing joy to our Master Who is looking on and Who permitted Satan to upset you. He expects you to honor Him by remaining with Him to the last minute of the time you were to devote to Him. May confidence and simplicity and love bring you to adoration.
Do you wish to find happiness in love? Live continually under the influence of the goodness of Jesus Christ, a goodness ever renewed for you. Observe in Jesus the workings of His love on you. Contemplate the beauty of His virtues and the light of His love rather than the intensity of it. With us the fire of love soon burns out, but the truth of it remains.
Begin every one of your adoration hours with an act of love; bringing your soul under the influence of God will be a delight. If you begin with yourself, you will stop halfway; or if you begin with any virtue other than love, you are taking the wrong road. Does not a child kiss its mother before obeying her? The only door to the heart is love.
But do you want to be generous in your love? Speak to Love of itself; speak to Jesus of His Heavenly Father Whom He loves so much; speak to Him of the task He has undertaken for His Fatherís glory, and you will gladden His Heart, and He will love you all the more.
Speak to Jesus of His love for all men; that will make His Heart and yours expand with happiness and joy.
Speak to Jesus of His Blessed Mother whom He loved so much, and you will make Him experience anew the happiness of a good son. Speak to Him of His Saints in order to glorify His grace in them.
The real secret of love is, therefore, to forget oneself like Saint John Baptist in order to exalt and glorify the Lord Jesus.
True love looks not at what it gives but at what its Beloved deserves.
Jesus will thus be pleased with you and will speak to you of yourself. He will tell you His love for you, and your heart will open under the rays of this Sun just as a flower, dampened and chilled by the night air, opens under the rays of the sun. His gentle voice will penetrate your soul just as fire eats into combustible material. With the Spouse in the Canticle of Canticles you will say: "My soul melted with bliss when my Beloved spoke." Then, you will listen to Him in silence, or rather in loveís most gentle and powerful action: you will become one with Him.
For what stands in strongest opposition to the growth of the grace of love in us if not that we are no sooner at the feet of our good Master than we straightway speak to Him of ourselves, of our sins, of our defects, and of our spiritual wretchedness? In other words, we tire our mind with the sight of our misery, we sadden our heart with the thought of our ingratitude and unfaithfulness. Sadness gives rise to distress, and distress to discouragement; and it is only after much humiliation, affliction, and suffering that we finally get out of this maze and recover our freedom before God. Do not therefore go about it that way anymore. But since the first movement of the soul ordinarily determines what the whole action will be, direct this first movement to God and say to Him: "O my good Jesus, how happy and pleased I am to come to see You, to spend this hour with You and tell You my love! How kind of You to have invited me! How lovable You are to love such a poor creature as I am! Oh! yes, I really want to love You!"
Love has then opened the door to the Heart of Jesus; go in, love, and adore.
In order to adore well we must keep in mind that Jesus, present in the Eucharist, glorifies and continues therein all the mysteries and virtues of His mortal life.
We must keep in mind that the Holy Eucharist is Jesus Christ past, present, and future; that the Eucharist is the last development of the Incarnation and mortal life of our Savior; that in the Eucharist Jesus Christ gives us every grace; that all truths tend to and end in the Eucharist; and that there is nothing more to be added when we have said, "The Eucharist," since it is Jesus Christ.
Let the Most Holy Eucharist therefore be the starting point of our meditations on the mysteries, virtues, and truths of our religion. The Eucharist is the focal point; the truths of religion are the rays. Let us start from the focus to go to the rays.
It is not difficult to find a relation between the birth of Jesus in the stable and His sacramental birth on the altar and in our hearts.
Who does not see that the hidden life of Nazareth is continued in the Divine Host of the tabernacle, and that the passion of the Man-God on Calvary is renewed in the Holy Sacrifice at every moment of the day and night, and all over the world?
Is not our Lord as meek and humble in His Sacrament as during His mortal life? Is He not always the Good Shepherd, the Divine Consoler, our bosom Friend?
Happy is the soul that knows how to find Jesus in the Eucharist, and in the Eucharist all things!
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Semper vivens ad interpellandum pro nobis.
He lives forever to make intercession for them. (Hebrews 7:25.)
THE Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is the most sublime prayer. At Mass Jesus Christ offers Himself to His Father, adoring Him, thanking Him, making reparation to Him, and petitioning Him in behalf of His Church, of men His brothers, and of the poor sinners.
Jesus continues this august prayer unceasingly through His state of Victim in the Eucharist. Let us unite our prayer to that of our Lord; let us pray as He does according to the Four Ends of the Sacrifice; this form of prayer sums up religious worship and entails the practice of every virtue.
The act of Eucharistic adoration has for its Divine object the infinite perfection of Jesus Christ, which of itself is worthy of all honor and glory.
Unite your praises, therefore, to those of the heavenly court when, prostrate at the foot of the throne of the Lamb and filled with admiration, it cries out: "To Him that sits upon the throne and to the Lamb that was slain, honor, glory, thanksgiving, strength, power, and Divinity for ever and ever!"
In union with the four and twenty ancients who cast their crowns in homage at the feet of the Lamb, lay your whole being, your faculties, and all your works in homage at the foot of the Eucharistic throne and say to our Lord: "To You alone be love and glory!"
Then contemplate the greatness of the love of Jesus as He institutes, multiplies, and perpetuates His Divine Eucharist to the end of time.
Marvel at His wisdom in this Divine invention which excites the wonder of the Angels themselves. Praise His power which has triumphed over every obstacle, and exalt His goodness which has determined the gifts of that power.
On realizing that you are the very end of the greatest as of the holiest of Sacraments, break forth into a transport of joy and love; Jesus Christ would have done for you alone what He has done for all. What love!
Unable to adore your sacramental Jesus as He deserves, call upon your Guardian Angel, your faithful companion through life, to help you. He will be so happy to do with you here below what he must continue doing eternally with you in Heaven.
Holy Church intrusts this God to you that you may be her representative at His feet; offer Him her adoration.
Unite your adoration to that of the pious souls on earth, of the Angels and Saints in Heaven, but especially to that of Mary and Joseph when, as the only possessors of the Hidden God, they were His entire court and household.
Adore Jesus through Jesus Himself; that is the most perfect adoration He is both God and Man, your Savior and Brother.
Adore the Heavenly Father through His Son, the object of all His delights, and your adoration will be worth that of Jesus; it will be His.
Thanksgiving is the soulís most delightful act of love as also the most pleasing to God; it is a perfect homage to His infinite goodness. The Eucharist itself is perfect thanksgiving. The word Eucharist means thanksgiving. Jesus Eucharistic renders thanks to His Father for us; He is our own thanksgiving.
Give thanks therefore to God the Father for having given you His Divine Son not only as Brother in the Incarnation, as Teacher of truth, and as Savior on the Cross, but especially as your Eucharist, your bread of life, your Heaven already begun.
Thank the Holy Ghost for continuing, through the priests, to produce Him daily on the altar, as He did the first time in Maryís virginal womb.
Let your thanksgiving ascend to the throne of the Lamb, to the Hidden God as a sweet-smelling incense, as the most beautiful hymn of your soul, as the purest and tenderest love of your heart.
Thank Him in all humility of heart, like St. Elizabeth in the presence of Mary and the Word Incarnate; thank Him with the vibrant ardor of Saint John the Baptist when he felt the closeness of his Divine Master, hidden like himself in His motherís womb; thank Him with the joy and generosity of Zacchaeus when he received the visit of Jesus in his house; thank Him with the Holy Church and the heavenly court.
In order that your thanksgiving may never cease and go on forever increasing, do what is done in Heaven. Consider the goodness, the beauty ever old and ever new of the God of the Eucharist, Who for our sake is consumed and reborn without ceasing on the altar.
Contemplate His sacramental state, the sacrifices He has made since its institution in the Cenacle in order to reach you, and the struggle He has had to undergo against His own glory in order to lower Himself to the very edge of nothingness and sacrifice His freedom, His body, His very Self. He has done that without any condition as to time or place; and with no other protection than His love, He surrendered Himself to the love as well as to the hate of man.
In the presence of so many kindnesses of the Savior towards all men and above all towards you,-----since you possess Him, enjoy Him, and live of Him,-----open your heart and let thanksgiving leap from it like the flame of a great fire; let it envelop the Eucharistic throne; let it join, unite, and blend itself with the Divine fire, with the radiant and devouring flame of the Heart of Jesus. Let these two flames rise to Heaven, to the throne of God the Father Who has given you His Son-----in Whom you receive the Holy Trinity.
Reparation, or propitiation, must follow upon thanksgiving. From a sentiment of joy your heart must turn to sadness, to mourning, to tears, to the deepest sorrow on considering the ingratitude, indifference, and impiety of most men towards the Eucharistic Savior. So many men forget Jesus after having loved and adored Him! Is He no longer lovable? Has He ceased to love them? The ungrateful creatures! They no longer want to love Him because He is too loving; they no longer want to receive Him because He is too good; they do not want to see Him anymore; they flee from Him; they do away with the thought of His presence and even with the very remembrance of Him, which annoys them and goads them on; and all that because He has made Himself too little, too humble, too much like nothingness.
There are some who, unable to ignore Him, do not hesitate to insult, abuse, and deny such a good Father and kind Master so as to take revenge on His excessive love. In order not to see this Sun of love, they close their eyes. Among these ungrateful persons there are sacrilegious virgins, unworthy priests, apostate hearts, fallen Seraphim and Cherubim.
This is your mission, O adorers: to weep at the feet of Jesus despised by His own, crucified in so many hearts, and abandoned in so many places; to console the Heart of this tender Father Whom the devil, His enemy, has robbed of His children. A Eucharistic Prisoner, He can no longer go after His lost sheep, the prey of ravenous wolves. Your mission is to beg forgiveness for the guilty; to pay their ransom to Divine mercy, which needs suppliant hearts; to become victims of propitiation with the Savior Jesus Who, no longer able to suffer in His risen state, will suffer in you and through you.
Finally, supplication or impetration must crown your adoration and make up its glorious trophy. Impetration is the force and power of Eucharistic prayer. Not everybody can preach Jesus Christ by word of mouth, nor labor directly for the con- version of sinners and the sanctification of souls; every adorer, however, has the mission of Mary at the feet of Jesus: an apostolic mission of prayer, of Eucharistic prayer, at the foot of the throne of grace and mercy.
To pray is to glorify Godís infinite goodness, to give work to Divine mercy, to bring joy and expansion to Godís love of His creature by the fulfillment of the law of grace, which is prayer. By prayer therefore man gives God the greatest glory possible.
Prayer is manís greatest virtue. All virtues are comprised in it, for all the virtues are a preparation for it and a part of it. Faith believes, hope prays, and charity begs in order to give to others; humility of heart forms the prayer, confidence speaks it, and perseverance triumphs over God Himself.
Eucharistic prayer has an additional merit: it goes straight to the Heart of God like a flaming dart; it makes Jesus work, act, and relive in His Sacrament; it releases His power. The adorer does still more: he prays through Jesus Christ and shares our Lordís role as Intercessor with the Father and Divine Advocate for His redeemed brother.
But what should they pray for? The rallying cry, "Your Kingdom Come" (Adveniat Regnum Tuum), expresses for adorers the end and the law of prayer. They should pray that the light of the truth of Jesus Christ may enlighten all men, especially the Infidels, Jews, Heretics and Schismatics, and that they may return to true faith and charity. They should pray for our Lordís kingdom of holiness in His faithful, His religious, His priests, that He may live in them by love. They should pray above an for the Sovereign Pontiff, for all the intentions dear to his heart; for their own Bishop, for all that his zeal desires to accomplish; for all the priests of the diocese that God may bless their apostolic labors and inflame them with zeal for His glory and with love for Holy Church.
To vary their prayers, adorers may paraphrase the Our Father, or again the following beautiful prayer: "Most Holy Soul of Jesus, make me holy. Body of Jesus, save me. Most pure Heart of Jesus, make me pure, give me light, set me on fire. Blood of Jesus, inebriate me. Sacred Water from the side of Jesus, wash me. Passion of Jesus, make me strong.
Jesus, hide me in Your wounds. Do not permit sin ever to separate me from You. Defend me from the evil spirit. Bid me come to You at the hour of death that with all the saints I may praise You eternally. Amen." And again they may paraphrase the litany of the Holy Name of Jesus which lends itself so well to devotion.
Adorers should not withdraw from their Divine Masterís presence without thanking Him for His loving reception. Let them ask pardon for their distractions and irreverences. Let them offer Him as a homage of fealty a flower of virtue, a nosegay of little sacrifices. Then let them depart as they would from the Cenacle, or as the Angel who takes flight from Godís throne to carry out His Divine commands.
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The Adoration Hour is divided into four parts. During each quarter our Lord is honored through one of the four ends of the Sacrifice; namely, Adoration, Thanksgiving, Reparation, and Petition.
1. First of all, adore our Lord in His Divine Sacrament by the exterior homage of the body. Kneel down as soon as you see Jesus in the adorable Host. Prostrate yourself before Him with deep respect as a proof of your dependence and love. Adore Him in union with the Magi Kings when, falling prostrate to the ground, they adored the Infant-God lying in His lowly crib and wrapped in swaddling-clothes.
2. After this first spontaneous and silent act of homage, adore our Lord by an outward act of faith. This act of faith most advantageously disposes the senses, the heart, and the mind to Eucharistic piety. It will unlock Godís heart and His treasures of grace; you must be faithful to it and perform it in a pious and devout frame of mind.
3. Offer to Jesus Christ the homage of your whole being. Present to Him in detail the homage of each one of your soulís faculties: of your mind, to know Him better; of your heart, to love Him; of your will, to serve Him; of your body and its senses to glorify Him, each one in its own way.
Offer Him above all the homage of your thoughts, desiring the Divine Eucharist to be the dominant thought of your life; the homage of your affections, calling Jesus the King and the God of your heart; the homage of your will, desiring henceforth to have no other law, no other end than His service, His love, and His glory; the homage of your memory, in order to remember Him alone and thus to live of Him, by Him, and for Him alone.
4. Since your adoration is so imperfect, unite it to that of the Most Blessed Virgin at Bethlehem, at Nazareth, on Calvary, in the Cenacle, at the foot of the tabernacle; unite it to the adoration which is being actually offered up by Holy Church, to that of all the saintly souls who are adoring our Lord at the present moment, as well as to the entire celestial court which is glorifying Him in Heaven. Your adoration will then appropriate the holiness and merit of theirs.
1. Adore and praise the immense love Jesus has for you in this Sacrament of Himself. In order not to leave you a lonely orphan in this land of exile and misery, He comes from heaven for you personally, to offer you companionship and consolation. Thank Him therefore with all your love and all your strength; thank Him in union with all the Saints.
2. Express your wonder at the sacrifices He imposes on Himself in His sacramental state. He conceals the glory of His Divinity and humanity so as not to dazzle and blind you. He veils His majesty so that you may dare come to Him and speak to Him as friend to friend. He binds His power so as not to frighten or punish you. He does not manifest the perfection of His virtues so as not to discourage your weakness. He even checks the ardor of His Heart and of His love for you because you could not stand the strength and tenderness of it. He lets you see only His goodness, which filters through, as it were, and escapes from the Sacred Species like a ray of sunshine through a thin cloud.
How kind indeed is our sacramental Jesus! He welcomes you at any hour of the day or night. His love never knows rest. He is always most gentle toward you. When you visit Him, He forgets your sins and imperfections, and speaks only of His joy, His tenderness, and His love. By the reception He gives you, one would think He has need of you to make Him happy.
Pour out your whole soul in thanksgiving to this good Jesus! Thank the Father for having given you His Divine Son. Thank the Holy Ghost for having reincarnated Him on the altar through the ministry of the priest, and that for you personally. Call upon Heaven and earth, Angels and men, to help you thank, bless, and exalt so much love for you.
3. Contemplate the sacramental state in which Jesus has placed Himself for love of you, and draw inspiration from His sentiments and His life. He is as poor in the Eucharist as He was at Bethlehem, and poorer still; for at Bethlehem He had His Mother, but here He is without her; He brings nothing with Him from Heaven but His love and His graces.
See how obedient He is in the Divine Host: He obeys everybody, even His enemies, promptly and meekly. Marvel at His humility: He descends to the edge of nothingness, since He unites Himself sacramentally to worthless and lifeless species which have no other natural support, no other stability than that which His omnipotence gives them, sustaining them by a continual miracle. His love for us makes Him our Prisoner. He has bound Himself to the end of time in His Eucharistic prison, which is to be our Heaven on earth.
4. Unite your thanksgiving to that of the Blessed Virgin after the Incarnation; do that especially after Communion. In joy and gladness repeat with her the Magnificat of your gratitude and love, and say over and over again: "O Jesusí Host, how good, how loving, how lovable You are!"
1. Adore and visit Jesus, abandoned and forsaken by men in His Sacrament of love. Man has time for everything except for visits to his Lord and God, Who is waiting and longing for him in His tabernacle. The streets and the houses of amusement are filled with people; the House of God is deserted. Men flee from it; they are afraid of it. Ah! Poor Jesus! Could You have expected so much indifference from those whom You have redeemed, from Your friends, from Your children, from my own self?
2. Sympathize with Jesus Who is betrayed, insulted, mocked, and crucified far more ignominiously in His Sacrament of love than He was in the Garden of Olives, in Jerusalem, and on Calvary. Those whom He has the most honored, loved, and enriched with His gifts and graces are the very ones who offend Him the most and disgrace Him in His temple by their lack of respect, who crucify Him anew in their body and soul by sacrilegious Communion, thereby betraying Him to the devil, the master of their hearts and lives. Alas! Have I nothing to reproach myself with? Could You have imagined, O my Jesus, that Your too great love of man would be the object of his malice, and that he would turn even Your most precious gifts and graces against You? And I, have I not been unfaithful to You?
3. Adore Jesus and make reparation for sin; my ingratitude, profanations and sacrileges, of which the world is full. Offer up for this intention all that you have suffered during the day or week. Inflict on yourself some atoning penance for your own offenses, and for those of your relatives or of people whom you may have scandalized by your lack of respect and piety in church.
4. But since all your satisfactions and penances are too petty and deficient to atone for so many crimes, unite them to those of your Savior Jesus, lifted up on the Cross. Receive His Divine Blood as it flows from His wounds, and offer it up to appease Divine justice. Take His sufferings and His prayer on the Cross and, through them, beg the Heavenly Father for pardon and mercy for yourself and all sinners. Unite your reparation to that of the most Blessed Virgin at the foot of the Cross or of the altar, and from the love of Jesus for His Divine Mother you will obtain everything.
1. Adore our Lord in His Divine Sacrament as He prays His Father for you unceasingly, showing Him His wounds, His Heart open to you and for you, in order to move Him. Join your prayer to His; pray for what He prays.
2. Now, Jesus prays His Father to bless, defend, and exalt His Church so that she may make Him better known, loved, and served by all men. Pray earnestly for Holy Church, so sorely tried and persecuted in the person of the Vicar of Jesus Christ. Ask God to deliver him from his enemies, who are his own children, to touch and convert them and bring them back in humility and repentance to the feet of Divine mercy and justice. Jesus prays continually for all the members of His priesthood that they may be filled with His Holy Spirit and His virtues; that they may burn with zeal for His glory and be entirely devoted to the salvation of the souls He redeemed at the price of His Blood and life.
Pray for your Bishop that God may keep him, bless all the desires of his zeal, and console him. Pray for your Pastor that God may grant him all the graces he needs for the good direction and sanctification of the flock entrusted to his solicitude and conscientious care. Pray God to send His Church numerous and holy priests; a holy priest is heavenís greatest gift, for He can be the salvation of a whole country. Pray for all the religious Orders that they may be faithful to the graces of their evangelical vocation, and that everyone whom God destines to the religious life may have the courage and generosity to answer the Divine call and persevere. A Saint keeps watch over his country and obtains its salvation. His prayers and virtues are more powerful than all the armies in the world.
3. Pray God to give the grace of fervor and perseverance to the pious souls who dedicate themselves to His service in the world and are therein like the religious of His love. They are in greater need of help, for they have more dangers and sacrifices to put up with.
4. Ask for the conversion of some great sinner within a certain time. There is nothing more glorious to God than one of these master strokes of His grace. Lastly, pray for yourself that you may become better and spend the day well. Make your gifts of soul and body into a spiritual bouquet for Jesus, your King and God, and ask Him for His blessing.
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Quodcumque petieritis Pat rem in nomine meo, hoc faciam, et glorificetur Pater in Filio.
Whatsoever you shall ask the Father in my name, that will I do: that the Father may be glorified in the Son. (John xiv. 13.)
In You, O Lord Jesus, have I hoped; let me not be confounded forever. You alone are good. You alone are powerful. You alone are eternal. To You alone be honor and glory, love and thanksgiving for ever and ever.
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Cum dilexisset suos qui erant in mundo, in finem dilexit eos.
Having loved His own who were in the world, He loved them unto the end. (John xiii. 1.)
How good is the Lord Jesus! How loving! Not satisfied with having become our Brother by His Incarnation and our Savior by His Passion, not satisfied with having delivered Himself up for us, He wants to strain His love to the point of making Himself our Sacrament of life!
With what joy He prepared this great and supreme gift of His love!
With what happiness He instituted the Eucharist and bequeathed it to us as His last will!
Let us observe this Divine wisdom at work preparing the Eucharist. Let us adore His power, exhausting itself in this act of love.
JESUS revealed the Eucharist long beforehand. He was born at Bethlehem, the house of bread, domus panis. He lay on the straw which then seemed to bear an ear of the true wheat.
At Cana and in the desert, when He multiplied the loaves, He revealed the Eucharist and also promised it. It was a public and formal promise.
He promised with an oath that He would give us His flesh to eat and His blood to drink. That was the remote preparation.
The time had come for the more immediate preparation of the Eucharist. Jesus wanted to see to these preparations Himself. Love does not unburden itself of its obligations on others. Love does everything itself. That is its boast.
Jesus selected the city: Jerusalem, the city of the sacrifices of the Old Law. He selected the house: the Cenacle. He chose His attendants in this undertaking: Peter and John, Peter, the disciple of faith, and John, the disciple of love. He appointed the time: the last hour of His life He could freely dispose of.
Finally, He came from Bethany to the Cenacle; He was full of joy; He quickened His step; He could not get there soon enough. Love welcomes sacrifice.
THE time for the institution of the august Sacrament had come. What a moment! The hour of love had struck. The Mosaic Pasch was about to be consummated, the true Lamb to take the place of its figure in the Old Law, and the Bread of life, the Bread from heaven, to be substituted to the manna of the wilderness. Jesus sat down at table with a grave simplicity. They had to eat the new Pasch sitting down, in the repose of God. A deep silence came over them all; the Apostles looked on very attentively.
Jesus became meditative. He took some bread in His holy and venerable hands, raised His eyes to Heaven, gave thanks to His Father for this hour He had so desired, stretched out His hand, blessed the bread. . . .
And while the Apostles, filled with respect, dared not ask the meaning of symbols so mysterious, Jesus pronounced these beautiful words, as powerful as the creative word of God: Take ye and eat. This is My Body. . . . Drink ye all of This. This is My Blood.
The mystery of love was consummated. Jesus had fulfilled His promise. He had nothing more to give but His mortal life upon the Cross. He would give it and would rise again to be our perpetual Host of propitiation, the Host of our Communion, the Host of our adoration.
Heaven was enraptured at the sight of this mystery. The Most Holy Trinity contemplated it with: love. The Angels, struck with awe, adored it.
And with what a frantic rage were not the demons seized in Hell!
Yes, Lord Jesus, all is consummated! You have now nothing more to give man to prove him Your love. You may die now; You will not leave us, even by dying. Your love is perpetuated on earth. Go back to the Heaven of Your glory; the Eucharist will be the Heaven of Your love.
O Cenacle! Where are thou? O Holy Table which bore the consecrated Body of Jesus! O Divine fire which Jesus kindled on Mount Zion, burn, spread your flames, and set the world on fire!
Heavenly Father, You will always love men; they possess Jesus Christ forever! You will not lay waste the earth anymore with storms and floods, the Eucharist is our rainbow. You will love men since Your Son Jesus Christ loves them so much!
What a love this good Savior had for us! Did He not love us enough to deserve our gratitude? What more do we need to consecrate our affections and our lives to Him in return?
Have we other desires still unsatisfied? Do we require further proofs of our Lordís love?
Alas! If the love of Jesus in the Most Holy Sacrament does not win our hearts, Jesus is vanquished! Our ingratitude is greater than His goodness; our malice is more powerful than His charity! Oh! No, my good Savior, Your charity presses me, torments me, and binds me!
I want to devote myself to the service and glory of Your Sacrament. By dint of love I want to make You forget that up to this day I have been so ungrateful; by dint of devotedness I want to obtain forgiveness for having loved You so late! . . .
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Hic calix novum testamentum est in meo sanguine.
This chalice is the New Testament in My Blood. (1 Cor. xi. 25.)
HOLY Thursday, the eve of our Saviorís death, the day on which He instituted the adorable Sacrament of the Eucharist! That was the most beautiful day of our Lordís life. It was the greatest day of His love and tenderness.
Jesus was on the point of perpetuating His Presence in our midst. His love on the Cross was boundless, it is true, but there would be an end to His sufferings, and Good Friday was to last only one day. Holy Thursday would endure till the end of time.
Jesus made Himself the Sacrament of Himself forever.
On that day, then, our Lord remembered that He was a father, and He wanted to make His will; He was about to die. What a solemn act this is in a family! It is, so to speak, the last act of oneís life, and one that extends beyond the grave.
A father gives what he has. He cannot give himself because he does not belong to himself. He bequeaths something to each of his children as well as to his friends. He gives what he prizes the most. But our Lord would give His very Self!
He had neither riches, nor property, nor a home. He had not even where to lay His head. Those who expect temporal goods from Him will get nothing. His Cross, three nails, His crown of thorns, these are the only material things He had to bequeath.
Ah! If our Lord were to give away estates, how many would be good Christians! All would be His disciples!
But no, He has nothing to give here below, not even glory; the humiliations of the Passion disposed of that.
And, yet, our Lord wanted to make a will: But a will of what? Of His very Self!
He was God and Man. As God, He was master of His sacred humanity. He gave it to us, and with it all that He was.
He really and truly gave it to us; it was not a loan, but a gift.
He immobilized Himself, so to say, and took on the outward semblance of a thing so that we might in very truth possess Him.
He became bread; His Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity took the place of the substance of the bread which was offered up. We do not see Him, but we have Him.
Our Lord Jesus Christ is our inheritance. He wants to give Himself to everybody, but not everybody wants Him. There are some who would want Him, but they will not submit to the conditions of good and pure living which He has laid down; and their malice has the power to render Godís bequest null and void.
See how marvelously inventive is our Lordís love! He alone devised this work of His love.
Who else could have foreseen it, or even dared think of it! . . . It was beyond the Angels themselves.
Our Lord devised it all by Himself. "You need bread? I shall be your bread."
And He died happy, because He left us bread, and what bread!
His happiness was that of a father who has worked all his life with one purpose in mind: that his children might have bread after he was gone.
What more could our Lord give us?
In this testament of love our Lord included everything, all His graces and even His glory.
We can say to our Heavenly Father: "Give me the graces I need, and I will pay You with Jesus Eucharistic Who belongs to me. He is my property; I can dispose of Him. All Your graces, Your glory itself, O Heavenly Father, are not worth as much as He."
If we commit sins, we have a Victim to offer up I for them; Jesus belongs to us. "Father, I offer Him to You; You will forgive me through Jesus and for Jesus. He has certainly suffered enough and atoned enough."
No matter what grace God may grant us, He remains always our debtor. Jesus Christ, our treasure, is worth more than all the graces, more than Heaven itself.
With Saint Louis in their hands, the Saracens held the whole of France for ransom; with Jesus in our possession, we already possess Heaven.
Let us then make practical use of that thought by "investing" in Jesus Christ, as it were. Most people-----and how numerous they are-----bury Him within themselves or leave Him in His shroud. They do not make use of Him to win heaven for themselves and kingdoms for God. Let us make use of Jesus when praying and atoning. Let us pay with Jesus; His worth is greater than our debt.
BUT how has this inheritance come down to us through more than eighteen centuries?
Jesus gave it in trust to guardians who have administered it, and kept it intact in order to hand it over to us when we should come of age. These guardians were the Apostles, and among them their undying Head. The Apostles handed it over to priests, who bring it to us; they open the will for us and give us the Host which our Lord foresaw at the Last Supper would be consecrated for us. Yes, there is neither past nor present nor future for Jesus Christ. This good Father knew us all at the Last Supper. He consecrated, as it were in thought and in desire, all our Hosts; He loved us personally eighteen centuries before we were born.
Yes, we were present at the Last Supper, and Jesus stored up for us not one Host but a hundred, a thousand, one for every day of our life. Do we realize that? Jesus wanted to love us superabundantly. Our Hosts are ready; let us not lose a single one of them.
Our Lordís only purpose in coming to us is to do us good; shall we force Him into idleness? No, never! Make Him produce results through Himself. Negotiamini. Make Him yield profit. Do not allow any Hosts to be fruitless.
How good our Savior is! The Last Supper lasted about three hours; it was the Passion of His love.
That bread was so expensive! People say, "Bread is dear"; but what is that in comparison with the price of the heavenly bread, the bread of life?
Let us therefore eat this bread; it is ours. Our Lord bought it for us and paid for it Himself. He gives it to us; we have but to take it.
What an honor! What love!
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Si scires donum Dei!
If you didst know the gift of God. (John iv. 10.)
JESUS had reached the end of His mortal life. Heaven called back its King. He had battled enough; it was time for Him to triumph. Nevertheless Jesus did not want to abandon His new family, the children He had just redeemed. I go away, and I come unto you, He said to His Apostles.
"You come back to us, You both remain and go away, Lord? But by what miracle of Your power will You do this?"
That was the secret and the work of His Heart.
Jesus would have two thrones, one of glory in Heaven, the other of meekness and goodness on earth; two courts, the triumphant and heavenly court, and the court of the redeemed here below.
And, you may be sure, if Jesus could not remain simultaneously in Heaven and on earth, He would prefer to remain with us rather than return to Heaven without us. He has assuredly given abundant proof that He prefers the least of His poor ransomed creatures to all His glory, and that His "delights are to be with the children of men."
In what state was Jesus to remain with us?
In a transitory state, from time to time? No; He would remain with us in a continuous state, and always. But at this point a wonderful struggle took place in the soul of Jesus.
Divine justice protested. Was not the Redemption over and the Church founded? Was not man given possession of grace and of the Gospel, of the Divine law and of the help to keep it?
The Heart of Jesus answered that what was enough to effect the Redemption was not enough to satisfy His love; that a mother is not content with giving birth to her child but that she feeds it, brings it up, and follows it everywhere.
"I love men more than the best of mothers ever loved her child! I will stay with them . . ."
"Under what form?" "Under the veiled form of the Sacrament." Divine majesty objected to such a humiliation, greater than that of the Incarnation, and more self-abasing than the Passion itself: "The salvation of man does not call for such abasement."
"But," replied the Sacred Heart, "I want to veil Myself and My glory, lest the splendor of My Person prevent my poor brother from coming to me as the glory of Moses once did the Jews. I want to throw a veil over My virtues, lest they humiliate man and incline him to despair of ever attaining so perfect a Model.
"He will thus come to Me more easily, and, seeing Me stoop down to the very confines of nothingness, he will come down with Me. I will have the right to say to him with more authority: ĎLearn of Me, that I am meek and humble of heart.í "
What means will Jesus take to perpetuate Himself?
The Holy Ghost was the fitting author of the mystery of the Incarnation; at the Last Supper, Jesus did everything Himself. But who, in the future, would be deemed worthy to preside at such a mystery?
A man: the priest! . . . But Divine wisdom objected: "What! A mortal man will effect the Incarnation of his Savior and God? A man will co-operate with the Holy Ghost in this new incarnation of the Divine Word? A man will command the immortal King of ages and will be obeyed?"
"Yes," said the Heart of Jesus. "Yes, I will love man to the point of being subject to him in all things. I will come down from Heaven at the call of a priest. I will leave My tabernacle at the least wish of the faithful. I will go through the streets of the city to visit My children on their bed of pain. . . . Love glories in loving, in giving of its own, in sacrificing itself."
And the sanctity of God also protested: "But You will at least be present only in a temple worthy of Your glory. You will have priests worthy of Your kingship. In the New Law everything must be more beautiful than in the Old Law. Only the Christians that are pure and well prepared will receive You."
"My love," said Jesus, "is without reserve or condition. On Calvary I obeyed My executioners. If other Judases come to Me, I will still accept their diabolical kiss; I will obey them."
But what a picture then unfolded itself before the eyes of Jesus! His Heart had to struggle with its own inclinations.
The agony of the Garden of Olives was already upon Him. At Gethsemane, Jesus would be saddened unto death at the sight of the ignominies in store for Him in His Passion. He would shed tears of blood at the thought that His people would be lost in spite of His sacrifice. And He would feel cruelly the apostasy of a great number of His own.
But now, at the Last Supper, what a struggle went on in the Heart of Jesus! What anguish!
He wanted to give Himself in His entirety, without any reserve; but would everybody believe in so much love?
Would all those who believe in it receive Him with gratitude? Would all those who receive Him be faithful to Him?
The Heart of Jesus was certainly not wavering, nor did it hesitate; but it was tormented. He saw His Passion renewed every day in His Sacrament of love; renewed by Christian hearts, by hearts that were consecrated to Him. He saw Himself betrayed by apostasy, sold by self-interest, crucified by vice. The hearts of those who receive Him become all too often His Calvary.
What a torture for this Divine Heart! What was He to do?
He would give Himself. He would give Himself just the same.
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Ecce Agnus Dei.
Behold the Lamb of God. (John i. 36.)
JOHN THE BAPTISTíS mission on earth was to announce the coming of the promised Savior, point Him out to men, and prepare the way for Him. The Church fulfills the same mission with regard to Jesus Eucharistic, a more extensive and lasting mission, which takes in every age and country. She carries out her mission by manifesting Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament, by preaching Him by word, and also by the testimony of her faith and works,-----a silent preaching, but just as eloquent as the first.
THE Church presents herself before us with the words of Jesus on her lips; she repeats and explains them with an authority equal to that of the Savior: "This is My Body. This is My Blood."
She tells us, and we must believe that, by the Divine power of these sacramental words, taken in their direct and natural sense, Jesus Christ becomes truly, really, and substantially present in the Most Blessed Sacrament of the altar under the appearances of bread and wine.
She tells us, and we must believe that, by His omnipotence, Jesus Christ has changed the substance of bread into His Body and the substance of wine into His Blood, and that His Soul and Divinity accompany the presence of His Body and of His Blood.
She tells us, and we must believe that the Divine work of Transubstantiation is forever being wrought in the Church through the priesthood of Jesus Christ, invested by Him with His own power when He instituted it with these words: "Do this for a commemoration of Me."
And ever since the Last Supper, the Church has been proclaiming this belief down through the ages.
Her Apostles have had but one voice, her teachers but one doctrine, her children but one belief, one love for the God of the Eucharist.
How majestic is the voice of the whole Christian people! How touching and beautiful is the harmony of their praise and their love!
Every true child of the Church wants to bring to the feet of the Divine King present on the altar a tribute of homage, a token of his affection,-----one brings gold, another myrrh, and all bring incense. Everyone wants to have a place in the court and at the table of the God of the Eucharist.
The very enemies of the Church, the schismatic, and nearly all the heretics believe in the presence of Jesus in the Eucharist. . . . The truth is that one must be quite blind to deny the existence of the sun, quite ungrateful to ignore and despise the love of Jesus perpetuating His Presence in the midst of men.
As for us, we believe in the love of Jesus, and we know that nothing is impossible to the love of a God.
TO the testimony of her word the Church adds the testimony of her example and practical faith. As John the Baptist, after having pointed out the Messiah, cast himself at His feet to prove the liveliness of his faith, so the Church devotes a solemn worship, her entire worship to the adorable Person of Jesus Whom she manifests to you in the Most Blessed Sacrament.
She adores Jesus Christ as God, present and hidden in the Divine Host. She pays Him the honor due to God alone; she prostrates herself before the Most Blessed Sacrament like the heavenly court before the majesty of God. Distinctions of rank are not in order here: great and small, kings and subjects, priests and people instinctively fall to their knees before the God of the Eucharist.
It is the Good God! The Church is not content to attest her faith by adoration alone; to that she adds public and magnificent honors.
The splendid basilicas are the expression of her faith in the Most Blessed Sacrament. She did not wish to build tombs but temples, a heaven on earth in which her Savior and God might find a throne worthy of Him.
With a delicate and jealous attention the Church has regulated Eucharistic worship to its minutest details. She does not rely on anyone to take in hand the matter of honoring her Divine Bridegroom; for everything is important, significant, and Divine, when there is question of the Real Presence of Jesus Christ.
She wants to consecrate to the royal service of Jesus all the most genuine and precious things in the world.
In her liturgy everything is related to this mystery; everything takes on a spiritual and heavenly meaning; everything has a property of its own and contains some special grace.
How easy it is for the soul to recollect herself in the solitude and silence of a church! A gathering of Saints on their knees before the tabernacle causes us to exclaim: "There is more than Solomon, more than an angel here!" Jesus Christ is here before Whom every knee bends, of those that are in Heaven, on earth, and under the earth.
In the presence of Jesus Christ in the Most Blessed Sacrament, all greatness disappears, all holiness humbles itself and comes to nothing.
Jesus Christ is there!
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Videte quia Ego ipse sum.
See, . . . that it is I Myself. (Luke xxiv. 39.)
THE Church has told us: "Jesus Christ is truly present in the Sacred Host."
Jesus Himself manifests His presence in two ways: interiorly and publicly.
The interior manifestation takes place in the soul of the communicant. Jesus works a threefold miracle in the one that receives Him.
A miracle of reformation.
Jesus gives the communicant an assured mastery over his passions. In fact, it is the same Jesus Who said, "Have confidence, I have overcome the world," and Who also said to the tempest, "Peace, be still." And now to the proud man, to tire miser, to the man who is tormented by the revolt of his senses, to the man who is a slave to his evil inclinations, He says, "Loose him, and let him go."
And the communicant feels stronger. On rising from the Holy Table we can say with Saint Paul, "In all these things we overcome because of Him that hath loved us."
There has been a sudden change, the sudden flaming of a fire. But if Jesus Christ were not in the Sacred Host, no such great wonders would be wrought. It is harder to reform nature than to form it.
Man finds greater difficulty in correcting or overcoming himself than in performing some exterior good deed, be that deed heroic. Habit is second nature.
The Eucharist alone, at least according to the ordinary course of events and of facts based on experience, gives us the power to reform the bad habits that lord it over us.
A miracle of transformation.
There is only one means of changing a natural life into a supernatural one; that is the triumph of the Eucharist, in which Jesus Christ Himself sees to the education of man.
The Eucharist develops faith in us. It elevates, ennobles, and purifies love in us. It teaches us to love. Love is the gift of self. Now, in the Eucharist Jesus gives Himself in His entirety; He supplements His counsel with His example.
The Eucharist transforms even our exterior. It imparts to the body a certain charm and beauty which is a reflection of the beauty within. There is in the countenance of the communicant a certain transparency of the Divine; in his words a gentleness and in his actions a sweetness that indicate the presence of Jesus Christ. This is the good odor of Jesus.
A miracle of strength, which leads one to self-forgetfulness and self-sacrifice.
A man suffers a misfortune; he draws from the Eucharist a strength superior to his misfortune. In the midst of adversity, calumny, and worries the Christian finds peace and calm in the Eucharist. The faithful soldier of Jesus overcomes temptation and the assaults of men and of Hell through Holy Communion.
In vain will you seek this superhuman strength outside the Eucharist.
But if the Eucharist gives that strength, then Jesus, the Savior, the God of strength, is really there.
Such is the interior evidence that Jesus Christ gives of His presence in the Most Blessed Sacrament.
Sinners and profaners of this august Sacrament have been punished publicly for their temerity; Jesus was manifesting His justice.
Scarcely had Judas sacrilegiously received the Body of his God than "Satan entered into him." Before this sacrilegious Communion the devil merely tempted him; after it the devil took possession of him: Introivit in eum Satanas.-----"Satan entered into him."
Saint Paul attributed the lethargic sleep of the Corinthians and their apathy for good to their lukewarm or sacrilegious Communions. Ideo inter vos multi infirmi et imbecilles, et dormiunt multi.-----"Therefore are there many infirm and weak among you, and many sleep."
History records terrible instances of unworthy communicants, smitten without warning by the justice of our Lord Whom they were insulting in the Eucharist.
Jesus manifests also therein His power over demons. When demons, who had resisted every other form of exorcism, were confronted with the Sacred Host, they howled with rage and yielded to the presence of their God.
Once at Milan, after the Pater of the Mass, Saint Bernard placed the chalice and paten on the head of a possessed woman, and the devil left her in a fury, uttering frightful howls, "Jesus Christ, the Good God is there!"
So many sick people have been cured by the Eucharist! These facts are not all known, but, history proves it, the Blessed Sacrament is a cure for all infirmities.
Saint Gregory of Nazianzen relates this touching incident. His sister had been ill for a long time. One night she arose, went to kneel before the holy tabernacle, and in the fervor of her faith said to our Lord: "O my Lord, I will not rise from here until You have cured me." She stood up and was cured.
Lastly, our Lord has appeared so many times under divers forms! From time to time He is pleased to renew the miracle of Tabor. These manifestations are not necessary since we have the word of Truth itself as a guarantee. They merely prove that the words of Jesus Christ have indeed effected what they signified.
Yes, Lord Jesus, we believe that You are present in the Most Blessed Sacrament, truly and substantially present; increase, increase our faith . . . .
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Qui credit in Me, habet vitam aeternam.
He that believeth in Me, hath everlasting life. (John vi. 47.)
HOW happy we would be if we had a lively faith in the Most Blessed Sacrament!
For the Eucharist is the royal truth of faith; it is the virtue and sovereign act of love, the whole of religion in action. Si scires donum Dei! Oh! if we but knew the gift of God!
But belief in the Eucharist is a treasure we must seek by submissiveness, preserve by piety, and defend at any cost.
Not to believe in the Blessed Sacrament is the greatest of misfortunes.
FIRST of all, is it possible for one who formerly believed and received Communion to lose all faith in the Blessed Sacrament? No, I do not think so. A child may despise his father and insult his mother, but it is impossible for him not to recognize them. In the same way, a Christian cannot deny that he has communicated; he cannot forget that he was happy at least once.
Unbelief in the Eucharist is never a result of the evidence of the reasons advanced against this mystery.
Suppose that a man, immersed in temporal affairs, has allowed his faith to grow torpid, to lie dormant. He has forgotten; but let the grace of God arouse him, the ordinary grace of conversion, and he will instinctively come back to the Eucharist first of all.
Passions that dominate the heart are another source of unbelief. A passion that wants to have its own way knows no mercy. When fully gratified, it scorns the object of its pleasure; when attacked, it denies. "How long is it," we may ask, "since you have ceased believing in the Eucharist?" And by tracing this loss of faith to its source, we find a weakness, an evil impulse which he did not have the courage to resist.
A faith that has gone on weakening and doubting over a long period of time is another source of unbelief. The sight of so many who are indifferent and live like unbelievers scandalizes us. The crafty arguments and sophisms drummed into our ears by a false science are also an object of scandal. Why does our Lord let these things go unpunished? Why does He allow Himself to be insulted if He is there? So many unbelievers are honest people!
That is the kind of wavering faith that leads one to a loss of belief in the Eucharist.
An untold misfortune indeed! For then, like the Capharnaumites, we separate ourselves from Him Who has the words of truth and life.
WHAT are the consequences of unbelief in the Eucharist? It is a denial of the power of God. What! God is present under this mean appearance? It is impossible, and who can believe it?
The unbeliever accuses Jesus Christ of falsehood, for our Savior said: "This is My Body. This is My Blood."
He despises our Lordís goodness, like the disciples who, on hearing the Eucharistic promise, "went back and walked no more with" their Divine Master.
Moreover, his faith in the other mysteries will soon be shaken and destroyed. If he does not believe in this living Mystery, the truth of which is confirmed by an actual fact, in what mystery will he believe?
His virtue will soon become sterile; it is deprived of its natural food; it no longer associates with Jesus Christ from Whom it drew all its vigor; it loses sight of Jesus, its living Model, and forgets Him.
His piety dries up almost immediately; it has lost its center of life and affection.
Consequently, he is without consolation in the trials of life, and if his tribulations become too great, he falls into despair. A sorrow that cannot find an outlet into the heart of a friend soon becomes overwhelming.
LET us then believe in the Eucharist. "I believe, Lord," we should often say. "Help my tottering faith!" There is nothing that gives greater glory to our Lord than this act of faith in His Eucharistic presence.
It honors His Divine truthfulness in a supereminent fashion; the greatest honor that can be offered any man is to believe him on his word, just as the greatest insult would be to suspect him of lying, to doubt his word, and to demand a proof or a guarantee. Now, if a child believes his father on his word, a servant his master, a subject his king, why not believe Jesus Christ on His word when He declares with an oath that He is present in the Most Blessed Sacrament?
This simple and absolute act of faith in the word of Jesus Christ gives Him glory because it pays Him the homage of recognition and adoration in His hidden state. The honor paid to a friend in disguise, or to a king without his royal insignia, is greater than any other, because it is really the person who is then honored and not his trappings.
So it goes with Jesus in the Most Blessed Sacrament; to honor Him, to believe in His Divinity in spite of the veil of weakness thrown over Him is to honor His Divine Person and to respect the mystery which envelops Him.
Such an act of faith adds to our merit. Like Peter confessing the Divinity of the Son of man, like the Good Thief declaring the innocence of the Crucified, we proclaim Jesus Christ to be what He really is in spite of what He seems to be. Still more, we believe the opposite of what our senses tell us, relying solely on the truth of His infallible word.
Let us believe, and believe firmly in the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist! Jesus Christ is there! When we enter a church, a feeling of respect should come upon us, a respect of faith and love on meeting Jesus Christ in person; for it is indeed He Whom we are meeting.
Let that be our apostolate, our preaching; it is the most eloquent for the unbelievers and the impious.
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Memoriam fecit mirabilium suorum. . . .
He hath made a remembrance of His wonderful works. I (Psalm cx. 4.)
THE Eucharist is the work of a measureless love that had at its service an infinite power, the omnipotence of God.
Saint Thomas calls the Eucharist the wonder of wonders, the greatest of miracles, maximum miraculorum.
To be convinced of this we need but meditate on what the faith of the Church teaches us concerning this mystery.
THE first of the wonders wrought in the Eucharist is Transubstantiation. Jesus, and after Him His priests,-----by His command and institution,-----take bread and wine, pronounce the words of the consecration over them, and immediately all the substance of the bread and all the substance of the wine disappear; they are changed into the Sacred Body and the adorable Blood of Jesus Christ.
Under the appearances of the bread as also under the appearances of the wine the glorified Body of our Savior is truly, really, and substantially present.
Nothing remains of the bread and wine except the appearances: color, taste, and weight. The senses tell us it is bread and wine: faith tells us it is the Body and Blood of Jesus, concealed beneath the appearances which subsist only by a miracle. This is a miracle which the Almighty alone can perform, for it is contrary to the ordinary laws of nature for the qualities of a body to exist without the body itself which sustains them. That is the work of God. Their existence depends on His will just as our own existence does. God can do everything He wills to do. One thing is as easy for Him as another.
That is the first wonder of the Eucharist.
A SECOND wonder, included in the first, is that this miracle is renewed at the mere word of a man, the priest, and as often as he wants. For such is the power which God has imparted to him. He commands that God be on the altar, and on the instant, God is there. The priest works absolutely the same wonder that Jesus Christ worked at the Eucharistic Supper. He holds his power from Jesus Christ and acts in His name.
Our Lord has never disobeyed His priest, a miracle of the power of God! A weak, mortal creature gives birth to our sacramental Jesus!
IN THE desert Jesus took five loaves of bread. He blessed them, and the Apostles had enough to feed five thousand men. This was but a faint idea of the third wonder of the Eucharist, the miracle of its multiplication.
Jesus loves all men. He wishes to give Himself personally and in His entirety to everyone of them. Everyone will have his share of the manna of life. He must therefore multiply Himself as many times as there are communicants desirous of receiving Him, and as often as they shall so desire it. The Eucharistic Table must, so to speak, cover the world. Through His power this marvel becomes a reality. All receive Him whole and entire, with all that He is. Every consecrated Host contains Him. Divide a Sacred Host into as many fragments as you like; Jesus is present whole and entire in each fragment. Instead of dividing Him, the breaking of the Host multiplies Him.
Who can tell the number of Hosts which Jesus has placed at the disposal of His children since the Cenacle!
NOT only is Jesus multiplied with the Sacred Particles, but by a wonder that follows from that of the multiplication, He is present at one and the same time in an infinite number of places.
During the days of His mortal life Jesus was present in one place only; He dwelt in one house only. Few persons were privileged enough to enjoy His presence and listen to His words. But today in the Most Blessed Sacrament, He is, so to speak, present everywhere at one and the same time. In a way His humanity shares the prerogative of His Divine immensity which fills all things. Jesus is present in His entirety in an infinite number of temples and in each one of them; Since all the Catholics scattered throughout the world are members of His Mystical Body, it does seem necessary that He, as the soul of it, should be everywhere, present throughout the whole body, giving it life, and sustaining it in each one of His members.
Lord Jesus, we adore Your power which has multiplied "wonderful works," thereby enabling You to dwell in the midst of Your children, to come down to their level, and to be all their own.
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Dilexit me, et tradidit Semetipsum pro me.
He loved me, and delivered Himself for me. (Galatians ii. 20.)
WHAT are the proofs of a genuine love? There is only one, its sacrifices: the sacrifices it prompts us to do and. those it accepts with joy.
Love without sacrifice is but an empty name, a self-love in disguise.
If we would therefore know the greatness of the love Jesus in the Eucharist has for man, if we would estimate the value of this love, we should look into the sacrifices called for by the Eucharist.
They are the same as those of the Passion of the God-Man. Now as then, Jesus Christ sacrifices His civil life, His natural life, and His Divine life.
IN HIS Passion, to which His great love for us led Him, Jesus Christ was outlawed. His people disowned Him and calumniated Him; He did not say a word in self-defense. He was delivered into the hands of His enemies without any protection whatsoever. He did not demand for Himself what is the right of the most common defendant. Out of love for His people and for their salvation He sacrificed His rights as a citizen and an honest man.
In the Eucharist Jesus Christ accepts again this immolation of His civil life.
He is there without any rights whatsoever. The law does not give Him recognition. He, God made man, the Savior of the human race, has scarcely a word in the code of the nations He has redeemed. Although He lives in our midst, we do not know Him: Medius vestrum stetit, quem vos nescitis. "There hath stood One in the midst of you, Whom you know not."
He has no social standing. In many countries the Feast of Corpus Christi has been suppressed. Jesus Christ cannot come out or show Himself in public. He must hide Himself; men are ashamed of Him. Non no vi hominem. "I know not the man!"
But who are they that are ashamed of Jesus Christ? Mohammedans? Jews? No, they are Christians!
The Eucharist is without defense, without protection. Provided you do not publicly disturb Divine worship, you may abuse the Eucharist and commit sacrileges with impunity; that is no oneís business but your own.
Jesus Christ is then without any protection from man.
Perhaps Heaven will take up His defense? No! Jesus is delivered up by His Father to the caprice of sinners just as He was to Caiphas and Pilate. Tradidit Jesum vero voluntati eorum! "But Jesus he delivered up to their will!"
What! Jesus knew all this when He instituted the Eucharist, and He freely chose this state? Yes, in order to be our Model, our consolation in our sorrows and in the persecutions of the world.
And He will remain in this state even to the end of the world as an example and grace for everyone of His children. He loves us.
DURING His Passion, Jesus Christ added to the sacrifice of His civil rights the immolation of everything that was human in Him: the immolation of His will and of the beatitude of His soul, which He allowed to be overwhelmed with sadness unto death; the immolation of His life on the Cross.
It was not enough for His love to have done this once; in the Eucharist He perpetuates this natural death.
In order to immolate His will He, a God, obeys His creature; He, a King, obeys His subject; He, a Liberator, obeys His slave! He obeys priest and people, Saint and sinner. He obeys without making any resistance, without our having to force His obedience. He obeys even His enemies. He obeys everybody with the same promptness.
He obeys not only at Mass when the priest pronounces the words of the consecration, but at every moment of the day and night, whenever the faithful need Him. His permanent state is one of genuine and simple obedience. Is all this really possible?
Oh! If man but understood the love of the Eucharist!
During His Passion Jesus was bound; He lost His liberty. In the Eucharist He is the One that binds Himself. He has chained Himself with the unconditional and perpetual chains of His promises.
He has chained Himself to the Sacred Species to which the sacramental words bind Him inseparably. In the Eucharist as on the Cross or in the Tomb He has no movement, no action of His own, although He possesses within Himself the fullness of the risen life.
He is fully dependent on man like a Prisoner of love. He cannot break His bonds, or leave His Eucharistic prison; He is our Prisoner to the end of time. He pledged Himself to this; His contract of love goes as far as that.
As to His soulís beatitude, Jesus is no longer able, as at Gethsemane, to suspend its raptures and its joys, for He is risen and in glory. But He loses it in man, in the Christian, who is an unworthy member. How often Jesus has to suffer ingratitude and insult! How often Christians imitate the Jews! Jesus wept once over guilty Jerusalem. He loves us much more than He did the Jews, and He is much more afflicted by our sins, by our perdition than by the perdition of the Jews. If Jesus could weep in the Blessed Sacrament, what tears would He not shed!
Lastly, Jesus, Who in the Host is no longer subject to a real death, assumes at least an apparent state of death. The Sacred Species are consecrated separately in order to recall the loss of His Blood which by escaping from His Body brought about His painful death.
He gives Himself in Communion. The Sacred Species are consumed, destroyed in us.
Jesus is also exposed to the loss of His sacramental existence through the profanations of the impious who do away with the Sacred Species.
Sinners who receive Him unworthily crucify Him in their souls, bind Him to the devil, their sovereign master! Rursum crucifigentes sibimetipsis Filium Dei. "Crucifying again to themselves the Son of God."
THUS, inasmuch as it is possible for Him in His risen state, Jesus immolates His natural life in the Eucharist. In the Passion He had not spared His Divine life; neither does He spare it in the Eucharist.
In the Passion He revealed nothing of His glory, majesty, and power, but only the man of sorrows, the accursed of God and man. Isaias could not recognize Him on account of the spittle and wounds that defiled His august face!
In the Passion Jesus allowed only His love to appear. Woe to those who did not want to recognize Him! The adoration of His Divinity and the proclamation of His innocence had to come from a robber, a thief; and nature was the only one to mourn its Creator.
In the Blessed Sacrament Jesus continues with a still greater love this immolation of His Divine attributes.
Of all the power and glory of Jesus Christ we see nothing but a patience that would give cause for scandal did we not know that His love for us is infinite, that His love is a folly! Insanis! He is foolish.
This gentle Savior seems to say to us: "Well, am I not doing enough for you? Do I not deserve your love? What more can I do? Try to find what sacrifice there is still for Me to make."
Woe to those that despise so much love! One readily understands that Hell is not too much for them. . . . But let us not think of that. ...The Eucharist is the supreme proof of Jesusí love for us because it is the supreme sacrifice.
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Quotiescumque manducabitis panem hunc, et calicem bibetis; mortem Domini annuntiabitis.
As often as you shall eat this bread, and drink the chalice, you shall show the death of the Lord. (1 Cor. xi. 26.)
FROM whatever angle the Eucharist is viewed, it reminds us in a striking manner of the death of our Lord, He instituted it on the eve of His death, "the same night in which He was betrayed," Pridie quam pateretur . . . in qua nocte tradebatur.
He called it the New Testament instituted in His Blood. Novum testamentum in sanguine meo.
The state of Jesus is one of death. At Brussels and at Paris, in 1290 and in 1369 respectively, He appeared with His wounds, like a Divine Victim.
He is without power of self-motion, without a will of His own; like a corpse that has to be carried around.
The silence of death reigns around Him. His altar is a tomb; it contains the bones of Martyrs.
A Cross rises above it; a lamp sheds light on it as it might on a tomb; the corporal which enfolds the sacred Host is a new winding-sheet, novum sudarium. When the priest makes ready for the sacrifice, he wears emblems of death; all his sacred vestments are marked with a cross, which he wears before him and behind him.
The entire setting speaks of the Cross and of death; such is the state of the Eucharist considered in itself.
CONSIDERED as a Sacrifice and as Communion, the Eucharist reminds us of death still more forcefully. The priest pronounces the sacramental words separately over the bread and over the wine; so that through the direct power of these words the Body ought to be separated from the Blood, and that means death. If death does not take place in reality, the reason is that the risen and glorified state of Jesus Christ prevents it. But He puts on as much of death as He can; He is in a state of death; He is "a lamb as it were slain" for us.
Thus, through His mystical death, Jesus continues the Sacrifice of the Cross, renewed thousands of times for the sins of the world.
The Saviorís death is made complete in Communion. The heart of the communicant becomes His grave; for as soon as the Sacred Species have been dissolved in the stomach, His sacramental state ceases to be. The Body of Jesusí Host is no longer within us. That is the death of the Sacrament, the consummation of the holocaust.
The heart of a just man is a grave of glory; the heart of a sinner a grave of ignominy. On losing His sacramental being in the former, our Lord deposits therein His Divinity, His Holy Spirit, and a seed of the risen life. But in the sinful heart Jesus cannot live; the purpose of the Eucharist is thwarted. Communion becomes a profanation. Our Lord dies a violent and unjust death, crucified by new executioners.
WHY has our Lord willed to establish so close a relation between the Sacrament of the Eucharist and His death? It was, in the first place, to remind us of the price His Sacrament cost Him.
The Eucharist, in fact, is the fruit of the death of Jesus.
The Eucharist is a testament, a legacy, which becomes valid only at the death of the testator. To give His testament legal force, Jesus had then to die. Every time we come into the presence of the Eucharist we may therefore say: "This precious testament cost Jesus Christ His life; He thereby shows us His boundless love, for He Himself said there is no greater proof of love than to lay down oneís life for oneís friends."
Jesus gave me the greatest proof of His love when He went to His death in order to make the Eucharist possible and give it to me. How many think of this price paid for the Eucharist? And yet Jesus is there to remind us of it. But like unnatural children we are bent only on using and enjoying our riches without ever thinking of the One Who acquired them for us at the cost of His life.
ANOTHER reason for our Lordís linking the idea of death to the Eucharist is to tell us over and over again what ought to be in us the effects of the Eucharist.
The first effect is to make us die to sin and our vicious inclinations.
The second is to make us die to the world and to crucify us with Jesus Christ, according to the words of Saint Paul: Mihi mundus crucifixus est, et ego mundo. "The world is crucified to me, and I to the world."
The third is to make us die to ourselves, to our preferences, to our desires, to our senses so that we may put on Jesus Christ; in other words, that Jesus Christ may live in us, and that we may be His members, docile to His will.
The last is to make us share in His glorious Resurrection. Jesus Christ sows the seed of His own life in us; the Holy Ghost will quicken it and through it will give us a new life, but a life of glory that will never end.
These are some of the reasons that have induced Jesus to surround with emblems of death this Sacrament of life, the Sacrament in which He is glorious and in which His love is triumphant.
He wants to keep constantly before our eyes what we cost Him and what we ought to do to correspond with His love. "O God," we should say to Him with the Church, "Who in a wonderful Sacrament has bequeathed to us the memorial of Your Passion, grant we pray that we may so venerate the sacred mysteries of Your Body and Blood as continuously to experience within us the fruit of Your Redemption."
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Desiderio desideravi hoc Pascha manducare vobiscum.
With desire I have desired to eat this Pasch with you. (Luke xxii. 15.)
THE Eucharist is in excess of what was needed for the work of Redemption. It was not required of Jesus Christ by His Fatherís justice. The Passion and Calvary were sufficient to reconcile us with God and reopen for us the doors of our Fatherís home.
Why then did our Lord institute the Eucharist? He instituted it for Himself, to satisfy Himself, to content His Heart.
Understood in this light the Eucharist is a most divine, tender, and loving thing; goodness and overflowing tenderness are its character and nature.
Even if it had been useless to us, the Eucharist was a need for our Lord, and this for three reasons.
FIRST of all because He was our Brother. Our Lord wanted to satisfy His brotherly affection for us. There is no affection more ardent, no love more expansive than a brotherís love; friendship seeks a certain equality, which can really exist only among brothers.
The brotherly love of Jesus surpasses anything we can think of. Scripture says that the soul of David "was knit with the soul" of Jonathan so that the two formed but one. But let the union of two men be what it may, there remains in each of them a principle of selfishness: pride. In our Lord, however, there is nothing of the kind; He loved us most purely, with no self-seeking at all.
Whether we do or do not return His love, does not matter; He pursues us with still greater determination.
Now, a brother likes to see his brother and to be with him; Jonathan languished when he was not with David. The thought of having to leave us was a torment for our Lord. He wanted to remain at our side to tell us: "You are My brothers!" How full of tenderness is this word! This trait of brotherhood in Jesus is the only one that invites friendship. He is the Benefactor, the Savior; but as such He does not admit of a sweet and familiar amiability.
The Eucharist is the leveler that makes all men truly equal. Outside the church, dignities are in order; at the Table of Jesus, our First-born, we are all brothers.
It is much to be regretted, therefore, that in our Communions we dwell only on our Lordís majesty and holiness. It is well to do this when we wish to meditate on some other mystery; but when meditating on the Eucharist, let us draw closer to it so that our relations with our Lord may be tender and expansive.
ANOTHER reason why our Lord wants to dwell in our midst is that He is our Savior. He wants to remain with us not solely to apply to us the merits of the Redemption-----there are so many other means: prayer, the Sacraments, etc.-----but to enjoy His title of Savior and His victory.
A child that has been saved by its mother from a great danger is doubly loved. It was a need for our Lord, to Whom we had cost so much, to love us with a tender love in order to find compensation therein for the sufferings of Calvary.
He has done so much for us! He loves us in proportion to what we have cost Him. We do not abandon those whom we have saved. Having exposed our life for them, we love them as our own life; in doing so the heart finds untold happiness.
Assuredly, our Lord has at least the heart of a mother! He would have preferred leaving the Angels to abandoning us.
Our Lord feels the need of seeing us again and again. Soldiers who meet one another many years after they became friends on the battlefield are at a loss how to express their joy.
We undertake a long journey to see a friend, especially a childhood friend. And our Lord would not have any of these good and noble sentiments toward us? Why not?
Our Lord still carries the scars of His wounds in the Eucharist. He has kept them; they are His glory and consolation. They remind Him of all the love He has had for us.
What pleasure we give Him when we come to thank Him for His favors, for His sufferings! He instituted the Eucharist partly to have us come and console Him for His sorrows, His poverty, and His Cross. He begs for sympathy and for an answer to so much love.
Yes, our Lord has to be with those He loves; and we are His loved ones because He has redeemed us.
LASTLY, our Lord wants to remain with us and shows us so much love in the Eucharist because His Divine Father loves us infinitely. It is a need for Him to repay His Father for us.
We sometimes feel a sudden affection for someone with whom we were not acquainted and whom we had never seen before. Some feature, some recollection, some circumstance reminds us of a very dear friend. We feel kindly toward him because he is the embodiment, as it were, of a lost friend. We are also inclined to love, without knowing him, the friend of our friend, solely because he is dear to a friend of ours. It takes very little to move the heart; when we love a friend, we love instinctively all that concerns him.
The same is true of Jesus. The Father loves us, and our Lord, Who loves His Father, will love us on account of Him, if it is for no other reason. This love is a need with the Son of God; He cannot forget those whom His Father loves.
Let us then reverse our attitude toward our Lord and say to Him:
"Oh! Of course, I am grateful to You for having instituted the Eucharist for my good. But, gentle Savior, You owest the institution of it to me. I am the occasion of it. If You do enjoy therein Your titles of Savior and Brother, it is I who am the occasion of these titles. You are indebted to me for being still able to do good and save souls. You owest to me Your beautiful name of Brother."
Moreover, our Lord is begging for adorers. His grace has sought us out. He therefore longed for us; He needed us.
He must have adorers to take care of the Blessed Sacrament exposed; otherwise He will not leave His tabernacle.
Holy Mass requires at least one server to represent the people, the faithful. We give our Lord the conditions of His kingship.
Weigh well this thought; it will uplift and ennoble you; it will inspire you with an immense desire to love, and to remember always that rank imposes obligations-----noblesse oblige.
Tell our Lord frequently with a saintly daring: "Yes, Good Master, You are indebted to us!"
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Fecisti nos ad Te, Deus!
You have made us for You, O my God! (Saint Augustine.)
WHY is Jesus Christ in the Eucharist? Many answers could be given to that question. The one that sums them all runs as follows: because He loves us and because He wants us to love Him. Love, that is the motive for the institution of the Eucharist. Without the Eucharist Christís love would be nothing more for us than a lifeless love, a love of the past, which we would quickly forget and which it would be almost excusable for us to forget. Love has its laws, its requirements, which the Eucharist alone fully satisfies. On account of the Eucharist Jesus has every right to be loved because in it He gives us a proof of infinite love.
Natural love, as God has placed it in our hearts, requires three things: mutual presence or fellowship of life, joint ownership of property, and perfect union.
THE absence of a friend is friendshipís affliction, its torment. Separation weakens the strongest friendship and, if it is too prolonged, may end by destroying friendship altogether.
If our Lord is not present but keeps at a distance, our love for Him will suffer the dissolving effect of absence. It is in the nature of man and of his love to require, in order to live, the presence of the object of his love.
See what happened to the poor Apostles while our Lord was in the grave. The disciples at Emmaus admitted they had almost lost the faith; their good Master was no longer with them.
Ah! If our Lord had left us no other pledge of His love than Bethlehem and Calvary, how quickly we should have forgotten Him, the dear Savior! What indifference!
Love wants to see, to hear, to converse, to touch. Nothing can take the place of the beloved, neither memories, nor gifts, nor pictures; there is no life in these things.
Our Lord was well aware of it. Nothing could have taken the place of His Person. We must have our Lord Himself.
But His words? No! We can no longer be thrilled with them; we can no more hear the touching expression of them from the Saviorís own lips.
His Gospel? It is a testament.
Do not the Sacraments confer life? We need the Author of life to sustain it in us.
The Cross? No! Without Jesus it is a source of sadness.
But hope? Without Jesus it is an agony. Protestants have all these things, and yet how cold, how chilling is Protestantism!
Could Jesus have intended to leave us in the sad state of having to live and strive without Him?
Oh! We should be too unhappy without the presence of Jesus! Life would hardly be bearable if we had to go through it exiled and alone on earth, forced to deprive ourselves of earthly goods and of lifeís consolations, while the worldling has everything his own way.
But with the Eucharist, with Jesus in our midst, often under the same roof, always there day and night, accessible to all, expecting everybody to come to His Home-----which is never closed-----admitting the poor and calling them with a marked preference, life loses much of its bitterness. He is the good Father in the midst of His children. That is fellowship of life with Jesus.
What a fellowship! It uplifts and ennobles us! How the Eucharist facilitates our relations of fellowship with Jesus Christ, our recourse to Heaven and to Jesus Himself.
That is truly the sweet companionship of a simple, loving, familiar, and intimate friendship.
We had need of it!
LOVE wants joint ownership of property. It wants to share fortune and misfortune. It is in the nature of love-----its instinct-----to give, and to give everything with joy and happiness. Accordingly, with what prodigality and profusion Jesus in the Most Blessed Sacrament gives His merits, His graces, His very glory! How eager He is to give! Does He ever refuse anything?
And He gives Himself, to all and for always. He covers the world with consecrated Hosts. He wants all His children to possess Him. Twelve baskets were left over after the multiplication of the five loaves in the desert. Everybody had to be fed.
Jesus Eucharistic would like to envelop the world in His sacramental cloud, and quicken all nations with this life-giving water which empties into the ocean of eternity, but only after having quenched the thirst of the last of the elect and given him strength.
Jesusí Host is then ours, wholly ours.
THE tendency of love-----its final tendency-----is the union of two beings who love each other, the fusion of two into one, of two hearts into one heart, of two minds into one mind, of two souls into one soul.
Listen to a mother as she presses her child to her breast: "I could eat him!"
Jesus is subject to this law of love which He Himself laid down. After having shared our condition, our life, He gives Himself to us in Communion; He dissolves us into Himself.
A Divine union of souls, ever more perfect, ever more intimate in proportion to the greater ardor of our desires. In Me manet, et Ego in illo. We abide in Him, He abides in us. We are one with Him until the ineffable union that was begun here below by grace and perfected by the Eucharist is consummated in Heaven in an eternal and glorious union.
Love lives therefore with Jesus present in the Most Blessed Sacrament. It shares all that belongs to Jesus. It is one with Jesus.
The demands of our heart are satisfied; it cannot ask for anything else.
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Ego honorifico Patrem meum.
I honor My Father. (John viii. 49.)
OUR Lord did not want to remain on earth only through His grace, His truth or His words; He remains in person. We possess the same Lord Jesus Christ Who lived in Judea, although under a different form of life. He has put on a sacramental garment, but He does not cease being Jesus, the Son of God and the Son of Mary.
The glory of His Father which our Lord sought above all else on earth is still the object of all His desires in the Blessed Sacrament. It is safe to say that Jesus Christ has clothed Himself with the sacramental state in order to continue honoring and glorifying His Father.
BY HIS Incarnation the Divine Word repaired and restored the exterior glory of the Creator which was destroyed in the created world when man sinned through pride.
To perform this task the Word humbles Himself even to uniting Himself with our human nature: He came down into Mary and emptied Himself, taking the form of a slave.
After having paid manís ransom, given infinite glory to God by the actions of His life, and purified the world by His presence, He returned to Heaven in a glorified state; His work was done.
What a beautiful day for Heaven was the triumphant Ascension of our Savior!
But it was a sad one for earth which saw its King and Redeemer go away! Had it no reason to fear lest it might soon become a land hardly remembered by Heaven at first, then forgotten, and perhaps be the object of Divine wrath and vengeance?
It is true that Jesus left to man His Church with good and holy Apostles; but they were not the good Master. It is also true that there would be Saints who should imitate Jesus, their model; but, after all, they were only men like everybody else, weak, imperfect, and, as long as they lived, susceptible of serious sin.
Would not, therefore, the reparation of Jesus Christ and the glory He won for His Father by His sufferings and labors risk coming to nought if they were left in the hands of man?
Would not the work of the Redemption and of the glorification of God be too exposed to ruin if it were left in the hands of imperfect and inconstant man?
No, no! A kingdom conquered at the cost of unheard-of sacrifices, at the cost of the Incarnation and of the death of a God should not be abandoned thus.
The Divine law of love should not be neglected in this fashion.
WHAT was the Savior to do? He would remain on earth. He would persevere in His duties as Adorer and Glorifier of His Father. He would become the Sacrament of the glory of God.
Do you see Jesus on the altar? In the tabernacle? He is there; what does He do?
He adores His Father, gives Him thanks, and intercedes for man. He becomes a Victim of propitiation, a Victim of reparation for the outraged glory of God. He remains on His mystical Calvary, repeating His sublime prayer, "Father, forgive them! I offer You My Blood and My wounds for them!"
He multiplies His presence everywhere so as to be wherever there is anything to expiate. No matter where a Christian family takes up its residence, Jesus follows it to form with it a partnership of adoration, and to glorify His Father by adoring Him and by making Him adored in spirit and in truth.
God the Father, adequately satisfied and glorified, cries out: "My Name is great among the Gentiles, for from the rising of the sun to the going down, there is offered to Me an oblation of sweet savor!"
BUT, O wonder of the Eucharist! By His sacramental state Jesus offers to His Father a new homage, such as the Father has never received from any creature; a homage that is greater, so to speak, than anything the Word Incarnate could do on earth.
What is this extraordinary homage? It is the homage of the King of glory Who, with all the power and majesty of Heaven as His Own, nevertheless comes in His Sacrament to sacrifice to His Father not only His Divine glory, as in the Incarnation, but even His human glory, the glorified qualities of His risen humanity!
Unable in Heaven to honor His Father by the sacrifice of His glory, Jesus Christ comes down to earth again, is incarnated anew on the altar; and the Heavenly Father can once more contemplate Him as poor as at Bethlehem, although He remains King of Heaven and earth; as humble and obedient as at Nazareth; subject not only to the ignominy of the Cross but even to that of sacrilegious Communions; subject to His enemies, to those who profane Him; a meek Lamb that does not complain; a tender Victim that does not know how to complain; a good Savior that does not avenge Himself!
But why all this? I In order to glorify God His Father by the mystical continuation of the most sublime virtues; by the perpetual sacrifice of His freedom, of His power, and of His glory, which His love has bound in the Sacrament until the end of time.
Jesus Christ counterbalancing here below the pride of man with His humiliations, and giving infinite glory to His Father; what a pleasant sight for the love of God to look upon! Could the love of Jesus Christ for His Divine Father have a worthier motive for the Eucharistic Presence?
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Christus dilexit Ecclesiam.
Christ loved the Church. (Ephesians v. 25.)
ANOTHER motive for the institution of the Eucharist is the love of Jesus Christ for His Church.
Our Lord, after coming down from Heaven to constitute and found His Church, died for her on the Cross. She came out of His opened side with the Blood and water that escaped therefrom-----a second Eve fashioned from the body of the second Adam. The object of all the actions and sufferings of Jesus Christ was to acquire for His Church an infinite treasure of graces and merits, which she might dispose of in favor of her children.
The Church inherited this treasure. But if Jesus intended returning to Heaven after His Resurrection and contenting Himself with making His Church the trustee of His truth and graces, the Church would be here below but a bride in mourning, weeping over the loss of her Divine Bridegroom.
This could not be. It would be unworthy of the power and love of the Savior. Jesus will remain with the Church to be her life, her power, and her glory.
THE life of a bride far from her bridegroom is not a life, but an agony, a mourning. But by the side of her beloved, the bride is generous and strong; she is happy. His heart is hers, and it is a joy for her to devote herself to his service.
Such is the Church in the presence of the Eucharist.
The Eucharist is the object of her love, the center of her heart, the joy and happiness of her life.
Through her children she watches day and night at the feet of the God of the tabernacle to honor Him, love Him, and serve Him. The Eucharist is the motive and end of all her worship. It is the soul of it. Take away the Eucharist, and her worship ceases; for it has no longer any reason to be.
The Protestant sects are not blessed with the presence of the Divine Bridegroom; they accordingly give up all exterior worship as superfluous and useless.
THE Church is powerful and fruitful through the Eucharist. Her children can no longer be counted and are scattered all over the world. Missionaries give new children to her every day. She must become the mother of the human race.
But whence does her fruitfulness come? Is it from Baptism, or Penance? No doubt these Sacraments bestow life or restore it; but what will become of these children who have been born in the waters of Divine regeneration?
They must be fed and reared. They have a seed of the Divine in them. This must be developed and made to grow. The Eucharist is the means through which the Church forms Jesus Christ in her children.
The Eucharist is the living Bread with which she sustains their supernatural life. She educates them through the Eucharist; for in the Eucharist alone do souls find abundance of light and life, and the strength to practice every virtue.
Agar sorrowed in the wilderness over her being unable to quench the thirst and satisfy the hunger of her child who was on the point of dying from exhaustion. The Synagogue and the Protestant sects are that mother: they are powerless to satisfy the wants of their children, who ask for bread and find no one to give them any.
But every morning the Church receives the Bread of Heaven for each one of her children; no one need go without it. Quantum isti, tantum ille.
It is the Bread of Angels, the Bread of kings; her children are beautiful like the Bread that nourishes them. They have their fill of the Wheat of the elect. They have the right to sit down every day at the royal banquet. The Church always keeps her tables laid; she invites her children, implores them to come and draw therefrom life and strength.
THE Eucharist is the glory of the Church. Jesus Christ, her Spouse, is King. He is the King of glory. His Father has placed a dazzling crown upon His head. But the glory of the Bridegroom is the glory of the bride; the Church, like the beautiful orb of night, reflects the Divine rays of the Sun of glory.
In the presence of the God of the Eucharist, the Church is beautiful on the feast days of her Spouse; she is decked in festive vestments, chants solemn hymns, and invites all her children to gather and honor the God of her heart.
She is happy to give glory to her King and God; her words and appearance almost give us the impression of our having been transported into the heavenly Jerusalem where the angelic court glorifies the immortal King of ages in an everlasting fiesta.
She is triumphant when, on the feast of Corpus Christi, she unrolls her long processions-----the retinue of the God of the Eucharist. She advances like an army in battle array, accompanying its chief. Kings and peoples, the little and the great sing the glory of the Lord Who has made His home in the midst of His Church.
The reign of the Eucharist is the reign of the Church. Where the Eucharist is neglected, the Church has none but unfaithful children, and she will soon have to deplore fresh ruins.
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Vere tu es Deus absconditus, Deus Israel Salvator!
Truly with you God is hidden, the God of Israel, the savior! (Isaiah 45:15.)
We can understand why the Son of God loved man enough to become man Himself; the Creator must have been set on repairing the work of His hands. We can also understand how, from an excess of love, the God-Man died on the Cross.
But something we cannot understand, something that terrifies those of little faith and scandalizes unbelievers, is the fact that Jesus Christ, after having been glorified and crowned, after having completed His mission here below, wanted still to dwell with us, and in a state more lowly and self-abasing than at Bethlehem, than on Calvary itself.
With reverence let us lift the mysterious veil that covers the Holy of Holies, and let us try to understand the excess of love which our Savior has for us.
THIS veiled condition of existence is the most glorious one for the Heavenly Father; for thus Jesus renews and glorifies all the states of His mortal life. What He cannot do in the glory of Heaven, He does on the altar through His state of self-abasement. What looks of complacency must not the Heavenly Father cast upon the earth where He sees His Son, Whom He loves as Himself, in a state of poverty, humility, and obedience!
Our Lord has found the means of perpetuating and renewing unceasingly the sacrifice of Calvary. He wants His Father to have constantly before His eyes the heroic deed by which His Son gave Him infinite glory-----when He immolated Himself in order to destroy the kingdom of His enemy, Satan.
Jesus Christ continues to wage against pride the war that will vanquish it. As there is nothing so repugnant to God as pride, so there is nothing that glorifies Him so much as humility. His Fatherís glory is the first reason for the hidden state of our Lord in the Eucharist.
JESUS CHRIST is working in His hidden state at the task of my sanctification. In order to become a Saint I must conquer pride and replace it with humility. In the Eucharist, Jesus gives me the example and the grace of humility.
He is the One Who uttered these words: "Learn of Me that I am meek and humble of heart." But humility would have been little better than a name during the last eighteen centuries, if our Lord had left us only the memory of the examples of His mortal life. We could say, and with reason, "But, Lord, I have not seen You humbled!"
Well then, Jesus Christ is there to answer our excuses, our complaints. The words, "Learn of Me that I am meek and humble of heart," come to us in a special way from the tabernacle, from behind the veil of the Host. "Learn of Me to conceal your good works, your virtues, your sacrifices; come down, come down toward Me." The grace of humility is found in the humiliated state of Jesus in the Most Blessed Sacrament. What human glory can fear abasing itself since the King of glory abases Himself so much? What rich man will not prize the lovable poverty of Jesusí Host? Who will refuse to obey God and those who represent Him, when God Himself obeys man?
THE hidden state of Jesus strengthens me against my weakness.
I may draw near to Him, speak to Him, and look upon Him without fear. If His glory were resplendent, who would dare speak to Jesus Christ, when even the Apostles fell to the ground terror-stricken for having seen a ray of His glory on Tabor?
Jesus veils His power which would frighten mall. He veils His sanctity, the sublimity of which would discourage our little virtues. A mother lisps with her child and comes down to his level so as to lift him up to her own. In the same way Jesus makes Himself little with the little in order to lift them up to Himself, and through Himself to God.
Jesus veils His love and tempers it. Its ardor is such that it would consume us were we directly exposed to its flames. Ignis consumens est. "God is a consuming fire."
That is how Jesus in His hidden state strengthens us against our weakness. There is no greater proof of love than this Eucharistic veil.
THE Eucharistic veil perfects our faith. Faith is a pure act of the intellect, unhampered by the senses. In the present case, the senses are of no use; there is nothing they can do. This is the only mystery of Jesus Christ in which the senses must be reduced to absolute silence. In every other mystery, for example, in the Incarnation, in the Redemption, the senses see God as a child, they see Him as a dying God; but here, nothing save an impenetrable cloud. Faith alone must act, for it is the realm of faith.
This obscurity requires of us a very meritorious sacrifice, the sacrifice of our reason and of our intellect. We must believe even against the testimony of our senses, against the ordinary laws of nature, against our own personal experience. We must believe on the mere word of Jesus Christ. There is only one question to put: "Who is there?"-----"I." answers Jesus Christ. Let us fall to the ground and adore Him!
This faith, pure and detached from the senses and free in its action, unites us simply to the truth of Jesus Christ in the Most Blessed Sacrament. "The flesh profits nothing," says the Savior. "My words are spirit and life." The soul overcomes the obstacle of the senses and enters into the wonderful contemplation of the Divine presence under the Species, sufficiently veiled for us to stand its splendor, and sufficiently transparent to the eyes of faith.
More than this, instead of being a trial this veil becomes a spur, an encouragement to a humble and sincere faith. One likes to penetrate a veiled truth, to discover a hidden treasure, to triumph over a difficulty. In like manner the faithful soul, in the presence of the Eucharistic veil, seeks her Lord like Magdalene at the tomb. Her longing for Him grows more intense. Like the Bride in the Canticle of Canticles she calls for Him. She delights in ascribing to Him everything that is beautiful, in adorning Him with every kind of glory. The Eucharist is to her what God is to the Blessed: a truth and beauty ever old and ever new, that one never tires of fathoming and of looking into. Quaeram quem diligit anima mea! "O Lord, well-beloved of my soul, I will seek You forever. Show me Your adorable Face!"
And Jesus manifests Himself gradually to our soul according to the measure of her faith and of her love. The soul thus finds in Jesus a nourishment ever new, an inexhaustible source of life. The Divine object of its contemplation appears always Adorned with some new quality, some new and greater goodness. And just as in this world love lives on happiness and desires, so the soul, through the Eucharist, both enjoys and desires at the same time; she eats, and is still hungry.
Only the wisdom and goodness of our Lord could invent the Eucharistic veil.
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Cur faciem tuam abscondis?
Why do You hide Your face? (Job 13:24.)
WHY is our Lord veiled beneath the Sacred Species in the Most Blessed Sacrament?
It is difficult to get accustomed to this hidden state of our Lord. We must frequently insist upon this truth; for we must believe firmly and practically that although our Lord Jesus Christ is veiled, He is really and substantially present in the Holy Eucharist.
But why this silent presence, this impenetrable veil? ĎWe are often tempted to say: "Lord, show us Your face!"
Our Lord makes us feel His power; He draws us to Himself; He keeps us respectful; but we do not see Him. And it would be so sweet, so good to hear words from our Lordís lips!
What a consolation for us were He to show Himself! What an assurance of being His friend! For He would supposedly show Himself only to those He loves.
WELL, our Lord is more lovable when hidden than if He were to show Himself. He is more eloquent when silent than if He were to speak. And what we look upon as a punishment is an effect of His love and goodness.
Yes, if He were to show Himself as He is, we would be unhappy; the contrast of His virtues, of His glory would humiliate us. We would say: "What! A Father so good, with children so miserable!" We would not dare approach Him or show ourselves. Now that we know only His kindness, we come at least without fear.
And everybody comes to Him. Let us suppose that our Lord were to manifest Himself to the good only,-----for since His Resurrection He cannot reveal Himself to sinners-----who would dare rank himself among the good? Who would not dread coming to church lest Jesus Christ, on not finding him good enough, would not manifest Himself to him? People would grow envious of one another. The proud alone would dare think enough of themselves to come to our Lord.
Whereas under the present order of things everyone has equal rights and can take it for granted that he is loved.
BUT PERHAPS the sight of our Lordís glory would convert us?
No, no! We cannot convert people by dazzling them. The Jews became idolaters at the foot of a flaming Sinai; the Apostles talked nonsense on Mount Tabor.
We would be either frightened or elated by our Lordís glory, but not converted. The Jewish people were afraid to come near Moses after his face shone with Divine light. "No, Lord, please remain hidden; that is better for us. I can thus draw near to You and at least hope that You lovest me since You drivest me not away."
But would not the great power of His words convert us?
The Jews heard our Lord for three years; were they converted? A mere handful of them. The human words of our Lord, those that strike the ear, will not convert us; the words of His grace will. Now, our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament speaks to our heart, and that ought to be enough for us, for His words are real.
BUT if I could at least experience our Lordís love, some of its ardent flames, I would love Him much more; they would transform my heart and set it ablaze with love!
We mistake feeling for love. When we ask our Lord to make us love Him, we expect Him to make us feel that we love Him.
Things would come to a sorry pass were He to listen to us. No! Love means sacrifice, the gift of our will and submission to that of God.
The virtue of strength is the fruit of Eucharistic contemplation and of Communion,-----which is perfect union with Jesus. The sweetness of it is short-lived; strength alone endures. And what are we in need of against ourselves and the world if not strength? Strength brings us peace.
Do you not feel at peace in the presence of our Lord? That proves that you love Him. What more do you want?
When two friends get together, they spend their time looking at each other and in telling their love for each other. They are wasting their time; for their affection is not thereby increased. But separate them for a while; they will think of each other and recall each otherís face; they long for each other.
The same is true of our Lord. What did the Apostles do during the three years they lived with Him?
He has hidden Himself in order to have us ponder over His goodness and His virtues; in order that our love might become serious, disengaged from the senses, content with the strength and peace of God.
LET us sum up what we have said. Our Savior is really present beneath the veils of the Sacrament, but He denies us the view of His body so as to have us abide in His love, in His adorable personality. If He were to show Himself, or even a single ray of His glory, one trait of His adorable countenance, we would forget Him and abide in that manifestation of Himself. But He has told us His Body is not our end; it is but a step to help us reach first His Soul and then His Divinity through His Soul. We have His love to guide us thither.
The strength of our love will bring complete certitude to our faith. The senses having been reduced to silence, our soul will enter into communion with Jesus Christ; and since Jesus is happiness, repose, and joy, the more intimately we commune with Him, the happier we shall be.
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Hoc est opus Dei ut credatis in Eum.
This is the work of God, that you believe in Him. (John vi. 29.)
OUR Lord wants us to remember all He did for us on earth, and to honor His presence in the Most Blessed Sacrament by meditating on all the mysteries of His life.
To make the mystery of the Last Supper more vividly present to us, He was not content with giving us the Gospel narrative; He left us a living, personal reminder: His very Self, His adorable Person.
Although our Lord is in our midst, we cannot see Him, nor can we picture to ourselves the manner of His presence in the Eucharist.
Our Eucharistic Lord, however, has frequently appeared. Why did He not permit pictures of these august apparitions to be preserved?
Ah! Our Lord is well aware that pictures would I only result in drawing us away from the reality of His actual presence under the sacred veils of the Eucharist.
But if I could see, would I not have more faith? Do we not Jove better what we see?
Yes, the senses may confirm my wavering faith. But our risen Lord does not want our perverted senses to reach Him; He demands pure faith.
He has not only a body but a soul as well. He does not want to be loved as bodies are loved; He wants us to go straight to His soul with our minds and our hearts, without using our senses to discover Him.
For that matter, although our Lord is truly present in the Blessed Sacrament in body and in soul, He abides therein after the manner of spirits. Spirits cannot be analyzed or dissected; neither can they be reached with the senses.
BESIDES, why should we complain? Our Lord has arranged everything harmoniously. The Sacred Species do not touch Him, nor do they form part of Him. They are, however, inseparably united to the sacramental Christ. They are, as it were, the terms of His presence. They tell us where He is. They localize Him. Our Lord could have taken a purely spiritual manner of existence; but then, how could we find Him? Where could we look for Him?
Let us thank this good Savior! He is not hidden, but only veiled. A hidden object practically does not exist for us; we do not know where it is. But we can possess a veiled object; we are sure of it even though we do not see it.
Does it not already mean a great deal to us to know that our friend is at our side, that he is really there? Well, you can see where our Lord is. Look at the Sacred Host; you are sure He is there.
OUR Lord veils Himself for our good and our advantage, to force us to study His Soul, His intentions, and His virtues in Himself. If we saw Him, we would be satisfied to admire His appearance, we would have for Him only a sentimental love; our Lord wants us to love Him with a love of sacrifice.
It is hard for our Lord thus to veil Himself. He would prefer to show His Divine countenance, which drew so many hearts to Him in His mortal life; but He veils it for our good. Our mind is thus forced to study the Eucharist; our faith is spurred on; we acquire a deeper understanding of our Lord.
Instead of showing Himself to our eyes, He shows Himself to our soul. Through His own light He notifies us of His presence in us. He is both the light and the object we must contemplate in that light; He is the object and the means of our faith.
The clearness of oneís insight into the Eucharist is proportioned to oneís greater or lesser love and purity of life. Our Lord said so: "He that loveth Me, shall be loved of My Father: and I will love him and manifest Myself to him."
Our Lord gives to souls of prayer a deep understanding of Himself; He never deceives them.
He varies His grace of light. He directs it now to one point of His life, now to another. And since the Eucharist is the glorification of all the mysteries, Jesus Christ becomes Himself the object of our meditation, no matter what its topic may be.
HOW much easier it is, consequently, to meditate before the Blessed Sacrament than at home!
At home we are in the presence of the immensity of God; here, we are in the presence of our Lord, Who is very close to us.
And since the heart follows the mind, since affection follows knowledge, it becomes easier to love in the presence of the Most Blessed Sacrament. Love is then actual, since it has for its object Jesus living before us and renewing all His mysteries in the Eucharist.
He that meditates on the mysteries in themselves without giving them life through the Eucharist always feels that something is missing, and he harbors a regret in spite of himself. "Oh, that I had been there!" he says to himself.
But in the presence of the Most Blessed Sacrament, what is there to regret, to desire? All the mysteries live anew through the Saviorís presence. Our love actually enjoys Him. Whether you are thinking of the mortal life of Jesus or of His risen life, you know that Jesus Christ is there with His body, His soul, and His Divinity.
Let us therefore put these ideas into practice. No matter what mysteries are represented in our imagination, let us strengthen and quicken the remembrance of them through the presence of Jesus Christ. Let us then remember that our Lord is in the Host in all His different states, and in His entirety. He who does not realize that lives in darkness; his faith is always weak and fails to make him happy.
Let our faith be active and thoughtful; that is what will make us happy. Our Lord wants to bring us happiness all by Himself. No man can make us happy; even piety cannot do it of itself. We need a piety that has fed on the Eucharist; for happiness comes only from the possession of God, and in the Eucharist we own God.
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Nos credidimus caritati quam habet Deus in nobis.
We have believed the charity, which God hath to us. (1 John iv. 16.)
"WE BELIEVE in the love of God for "us."
That is a profound saying.
Belief in the truth of the words of God is required of every Christian; but there is another belief, which is more perfect and is the crown of the first: belief in Divine love.
Belief in the Divine truths will be vain if it does not lead to belief in Divine love.
What is this love in which we must believe?
It is the love of Jesus Christ; the love which He manifests to us in the Eucharist, a love that is Himself, a living and infinite love.
They who are satisfied with believing in the truth of the Eucharist, love not at all, or very little.
But what proofs of His love does our Lord give us in the Eucharist?
FIRST of all we have His word, His veracity. Jesus tells us that He loves us, that He instituted His Sacrament only out of love for us. Therefore, it is true.
We believe an honest man on his word. Why should we not trust our Lord as much?
When someone wants to give his friend a proof of his love, he tells him personally that he loves him and he gives him an affectionate handshake.
Well, our Lord sends neither Angels nor ministers to assure us of His love; He comes in person. Love will have no go-between.
And so He perpetuates Himself only to tell us over and over again: "I love you. You see that I love you!"
Our Lord was so afraid we might forget Him that He took up His abode among us. He made His home with us so that we might not be able to think of Him without thinking of His love. By giving Himself thus and insisting on this gift, He hoped not to be forgotten.
Whoever gives serious thought to the Eucharist, and especially whoever partakes of it, cannot help feeling that our Lord loves him. He feels that in Him he has a father. He feels that he is loved as a child and that he has a right to come to his Father and speak to Him. In church, at the foot of the tabernacle, he is in his Fatherís home; he feels that he is.
Ah! I understand why people like to live near a church, in the shadow of their Fatherís house!
And so, Jesus in the Most Blessed Sacrament tells us that He loves us; He tells us interiorly and makes us feel it. Let us believe in His love.
DOES He love me personally? To this there is but one answer: do we belong to the Catholic family? In a family, do not the father and the mother love each one of their children with an equal love? And if there were any preferences, would they not be for the weakest and frailest child?
Our Lordís sentiments toward us are at least those of a good father; why deny Him this quality?
Besides, see how our Lord manifests His personal love for each one of us. Every morning He comes to see each one of His children in particular, to converse with them, to visit them, to embrace them. Although He has repeated this so many times, He is as gracious and as loving at His last visit as He was at the first. He is as young as ever and is not tired of loving us and giving Himself to each one of us.
Does He not give Himself whole and entire to each one? And if a greater number come to receive Him, does He divide Himself up? Does He give less to each one?
If the church is full of adorers, can they not all pray to Jesus and converse with Him? Is not each one listened to and his prayer granted as if he were the only one in church?
Such is the personal love of Jesus for us. Each one may take it all for himself and wrong no one; the sun gives all its light to each and everyone of us; the ocean belongs whole and entire to each and every fish. Jesus is greater than us all. He is inexhaustible.
THE persistency of the love of Jesus in the Most Blessed Sacrament is another undeniable proof that He loves us.
An almost incalculable number of Masses are celebrated every day; they follow one another almost without interruption. But how distressing it is for an understanding soul to realize that very often no one is present to hear or assist at these Masses in which Jesus offers Himself up for us! While Jesus is crying for mercy on this new Calvary, sinners are insulting God and His Christ.
Why then does our Lord renew His sacrifice so often, since men do not profit by it?
Why does our Lord remain day and night on so many altars to which no one comes to receive the graces He is offering so lavishly? He loves, He hopes, and He waits! If He came down on our altars on certain days only, some sinner, on being moved to repentance, might have to look for Him and, not finding Him, have to wait. Our Lord prefers to wait Himself for the sinner for years rather than keep him waiting one instant; having to wait would perhaps discourage the sinner in his attempt to break with the slavery of sin.
Oh! How few reflect that Jesus loves them that much in the Most Blessed Sacrament! And yet all these things are true! We have no faith in the love of Jesus! Would we treat a friend, or any man at all, as we do our Lord?
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Praedicamus Christum crucifixum Judaeis quidem scandalum, gentibus autem stultitiam.
We preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews indeed a stumbling-block, and unto the Gentiles foolishness. (1 Corinthians i. 23.)
WHAT shall we say of the Eucharistic abasement of our Lord Jesus Christ?
To remain with us Jesus Christ exposes Himself to ingratitude and insult. Nothing disheartens him.
Let us contemplate this good Savior Whom we ill-treat as we would no one else, and Who nevertheless persists in remaining with us.
OUR Lord certainly deserves our gratitude for coming to us and bringing us infinite treasures of grace.
After all, He is king; He is God! What poor or sick man could receive the visit of a grandee of this world, especially of a king, without being moved to gratitude for such condescension?
Envy, and even hatred, yields to the greatness that abases itself.
Does not our Lord deserve to be thanked and loved? For He does not visit us only in passing; He remains in our midst. Whether we ask for Him or not! He is there to do us good even without our desiring it. He is the only one not to be thanked for the good He does. Through His presence in the Most Blessed Sacrament He works wonders of charity; but they are not appreciated; they are not even considered.
Men consider it a disgrace to be ungrateful; but with regard to our Lord one would think ingratitude were a commandment.
And all this did not dishearten our Lord; He knew it all when He instituted the Eucharist.
He had but one thought: Deliciae meae, "My delights are to be with the children of the wretched."
Love reaches a point where it is so strong that it wants to be with those it loves, even with no hope of return.
Is it possible for a good mother to abandon or cease loving an idiotic child? Or for a devoted wife an insane husband?
OUR Lord seems to seek outrages. He does not take care of His honor. It is frightful to think of it. Ah! How terrified we will be on the day of judgment for having lived with so much love at our side and paid no heed to it!
Our Lord, in fact, comes without pomp or majesty. Upon the altar, beneath the Eucharistic veils, our Lord looks like a nondescript that has no longer any being.
Is there need of greater self-abasement? In order to abase Himself thus, our Lord has to display all His power. He sustains the accidents by a miracle. He contradicts all the laws of nature in order to humble and abase Himself. Who could envelop the sun in a cloud thick enough to intercept its light and heat? That would be a very great miracle. Our Lord performs it in His own person; beneath the Eucharistic Species, which in themselves are so frail and common, He is glorious and luminous; He is God.
Oh! Let us not put our Lord to shame for His being so lowly and little!
His love has willed it. A king who does not condescend to his subjects may still honor them, but he does not love them. Our Lord condescends to- wards us; He therefore loves us.
OUR Lord could have a whole retinue of visible and armed Angels for His protection, but He is unwilling to have it; these angelic armies would frighten us or humiliate us with their faith and their respect. Our Lord comes alone and abandoned in order to abase Himself the more. Love never ceases condescending to the one loved.
A KING who should vest himself in poor garments in order to come down to the level of a subject he wants to console, would prove his great love for him. And yet, in spite of this disguise his speech, his noble and distinguished manners would still betray him for what he is.
Our Lord denies Himself even this personal glory in the Most Blessed Sacrament.
He veils His beautiful countenance. He imposes silence on His Divine lips, the lips of the Word, because these things would bring Him honors and would place Him too far above us. He wants to come down to our level.
Oh! Let us then respect the lowliness of Jesus Christ in the Eucharist.
A KING who out of love condescends to a poor subject of his, still retains his freedom as a man, his own power of action; if he is attacked, he can defend himself, or flee, or call for help.
Our Lord gives Himself without any defense whatever. He loses His own power of action. No longer can He either complain, or flee, or call for help. He has forbidden His Angels to help Him or to punish those who insult Him. We instinctively run to the help of one who is being attacked or is in danger; but no one will help our Lord. He is Man ,and He is God; but He retains only the power to love and to abase Himself.
BUT, Lord, why do You do this? Why this excess?-----"I love them; I see them; I am waiting for them; I am coming to them. Deliciae meae! My delights are to be with the wretched."
In the meantime people attend to their pleasures, their ambitions, their friends, their business; to everything before our Lord.
He is the last to be attended to, perhaps by way of Viaticum-----if there is time for it-----is not that enough?
Lord, why do You come to those who do not care for You? Why do You insist on remaining with those who reject You?
WHO would agree to do what our Lord does? He institutes His Sacrament to be honored therein by man, and He is more insulted than honored; the bad Christians outnumber the good. Our Lord is taking in only losses.
Why does He keep up this business? Who would want to run a business at a total loss?
Ah! The Saints who see and understand so much love and abasement must be seized with a holy anger and feel indignant at seeing us so ungrateful! And the Father says to His Son: "We must put a stop to this; You are getting nothing out of it. Your love is slighted; Your abasements are made nothing of. You are losing out on it; let us be done with it!"
But our Lord will not listen. He stays on, He hopes, He contents Himself with the adoration and love of a few good souls. Oh! We at least, let us not fail Him!
Does He not deserve by His abasements that we honor and love Him?
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Noli relinquam vas orphanos.
I will not leave you orphans. (John xiv. 18.)
THE Imitation says: "When Jesus is present, all goes well; but when Jesus is absent, everything is hard. To be without Jesus is a grievous Hell." What would have become of us if our Savior had contented Himself with living only His mortal life?
Undoubtedly, that would have already been a great mercy and would have sufficed to merit salvation and eternal glory for us; but it would not have prevented us from being the most unhappy of men. What! Unhappy with the grace, the words, and the examples of Jesus! Unhappy with the excessive proofs of His love! Yes, with all that, we would still be the most unhappy of men.
WHEN a family is of one mind and gathered around a good father, it is happy. But if it is separated from him, tears take the place of joy and happiness. It is no longer a family; it is without a father.
Now, Jesus came down to earth to establish a family. His children, says the Prophet, will be joyful like young olive plants round about His table. But let Jesus go away, and His family is scattered.
Without our Lord, we would be like the Apostles during His Passion, wandering about and not knowing what to do with ourselves. And yet they had not been long separated from our Lord. They had received everything from Him; they had witnessed His miracles; His life had just spent itself under their very eyes. All that is true; but their kind Father was gone, they were no longer a family, they were no longer brothers. They went off, each one to his own business.
What society can last without a head? The Eucharist is the link that binds the Christian family together. Take the Eucharist away, and there is no brotherliness left.
Does the Christian brotherhood exist among the Protestants since they have lost the Eucharist? They are but strangers to one another. They do not form a family even when they are gathered together in their temples; each one is free to think and speak as he wishes. Their churches are nothing but large drawing-rooms, that invite very little to prayer.
Is there a brotherly feeling among Catholics who neglect the Eucharist? We cannot say there is. Families in which the father and the sons do not communicate, soon lose the spirit of harmony; the mother becomes a Martyr and the daughters are constantly annoyed. No, no! Without the Eucharist there is no real family.
But if Jesus returns, the family is reborn. Look at the large family of the Church. It has feast days, the meaning of which we can easily understand: feast days in honor of the Father, of the Mother, and of the Saints, who are our brothers. These feast days have a purpose.
Jesus was well aware that as long as the Catholic family lasted He would have to be its Father, its center, its delight, its joy, its happiness.
And so when we meet, we can greet one another like brothers; we rise from the same table. The Apostles instinctively called the first Christians their brothers.
Oh! How well the devil knows that by keeping souls away from the Eucharist he is destroying the Christian family and fostering selfishness in us. For there are only two loves: the love of God and the love of self. We must give ourselves to the one or to the other.
WE ALSO find a protection and safeguard for ourselves in our Lordís presence. Jesus said: "You shall not resist others. If you are insulted, forgive. If your coat is sought from you, give your cloak also."
Jesus seems to grant us as Christians only one right here below: the right to be persecuted and execrated by men.
If we are deprived of the Eucharist, where shall we get the strength to follow such teachings?
Life becomes unbearable. Jesus has condemned us to an intolerably wretched life. What king abandons his people after having involved them in a murderous war?
It is true that we still can hope for Heaven. But that reward is so long in coming! What! I still have twenty, perhaps forty years to live in this land of misery, and during all that while I shall have to live on so distant a hope? But my heart needs consolation; it needs to unbosom itself in a friend.
I am not supposed to seek that consolation in the world; to whom then shall I go? He that lacks faith in the Eucharist answers: "I will give up my religion, and I will embrace another which lets me free." That is logical; we cannot stand having only sorrows and never any consolations. It is impossible to live without Jesus.
Go therefore to see Him in His Sacrament; He is the Friend, the Guide, the Father! A child is no happier for having received a kiss from its mother than is the faithful soul for having conversed with Jesus.
I cannot understand how those who suffer can do without a great devotion to the Eucharist; they will end by falling into despair. That is no surprise to me. Saint Paul, loaded with so many graces, continued to find life heavy and wearisome.
Oh! We should go mad without the presence of Him Who says to the passions: "You shall not rise any higher; you shall have no control on the head and heart of this man."
How kind then has Jesus been to perpetuate Himself in the Eucharist!
THE mere presence of Jesus lessens the power of demons and prevents them from lording it over men as they did before the Incarnation. It is a fact that since our Saviorís coming, there have been relatively few cases of possession by the devil; pagan lands have many more than Christian lands. The reign of the devil returns in proportion to the lessening of faith in the Eucharist.
Are not your temptations-----at times so terrible and frightful-----frequently quelled the moment you enter a church, or commune with Jesus in the Eucharist? He is the One Who once commanded the storms.
Jesus is then with us; and as long as there is an adorer on earth, Jesus will be with him to protect him. This is the secret of the longevity of the Church. People often fear the enemies of the Church; that comes from a lack of faith.
But we must honor and serve our Lord in His Sacrament. What would a father do if he were despised and outraged by his children? He would leave them.
Let us take good care of Jesus, and we shall have nothing to fear.
If we love Jesus in the Eucharist, if we are sorry for our faults when we have grieved Him, He will not abandon us.
The main thing is that we be not the first to abandon Him. He must always be able to say: "I have a home."
And when a strong man armed keepeth his house, his family is secure.
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Pater . . . panem nostrum quotidianum da nobis hodie.
Father . . .give us this day our daily bread. (Luke xi. 2, 3.)
WE HAVE a Father in Heaven, and we address this prayer for bread directly to Him. But our Lord Jesus Christ has begotten us to the life of grace, to the supernatural life, and has thereby merited the title of Father. Our heavenly Father lives in Heaven; Jesus lives in this church. He is our Father on earth, and He wants to fulfill all the duties of a good father towards His children.
A FATHER lives with his family. He is the center and pivot of it. All its members are under his protection and act under his orders. He is the leader, the head of the family. He has supreme authority, even over the mother, who represents what there must be of tenderness in the direction of the family.
Now, Jesus Christ, our Father, owns a home, which is the Church. You are His family, His privileged family. In a family some of the children work for strangers, and others with their father, under his eyes: you are these happy children. Ah! Without our Lord, Who is your Father, this home, which has such an atmosphere of piety and presents such a fine idea of a family, would be nothing but a prison-house, or a workshop for girls bowed down beneath a joyless labor. It would lack the center, the source of love, which is the tabernacle of this chapel.
While you are working, think often of this good Father Who is always present among you, protecting you and looking down on you with kindness; for kindness is the great quality of this Divine Father. He cannot refuse you anything. This good Father will always welcome you and always remain with you. Your parents are dead; they left you nothing but regrets and tears for the rest of your life. But Jesus does not die, and He will never abandon you.
You are most worthy of esteem, to be sure, since you received Baptism and are children of the Church. Well, see what notice the world takes of you. Does it even know that you are here? Does it trouble itself about your needs? But our Lord inspired some souls, who are devoted to Him, to gather you together in this house. He has pitched His tent in the midst of you so that you might see Him at all times. The more helpless and forgotten you are, the more He loves you. You hear His words, not indeed words that strike the ear but that touch the heart and give it peace and joy. If you have faith in these things, if you understand your happiness, hold on to it at the cost of any sacrifice; here you have, for yourself and as your own, Jesus, for Whom no substitution can be found.
A FATHER feeds his children. He works unremittingly and wears himself out providing hem with daily bread. Our Lord feeds you with he Bread of life. He earned this good Bread for it with His death: this Bread is His very Self, His adorable Flesh and Blood. A father who gives his very self to his children! In what family has such a marvel of devotedness ever been seen?
Ah! Our Lord does not want His children to owe their bread to anyone but Himself! No, no! Neither Angels nor Saints will give you the bread you need! Jesus alone sowed the wheat from which that bread is made. He baked it in the fire of suffering. He Himself offers it to you. See what a loving Father He is! On the eve of His death He had His small family with Him, the beginning of the large family He has now. At the Last Supper He gave this heavenly Bread to each one of His children and promised them that to the end of time all His children would have this Bread to eat. How delicious indeed is this Bread! It has "in it all that is delicious." It is God Himself, God, the Bread of orphans. It does not nourish the body, it is true; but it fills the soul with grace and love. It enriches the soul and gives it the strength to repel its enemies, to perform good works, and to grow up for Heaven.
And with what kind-heartedness He gives it to us! We must work much to earn the bread of the body; we must pay for it. But this Bread cannot be paid for; it exceeds all cost. Our Lord gives it. All He requires is that we have a pure heart and the life of grace in us. Prepare yourselves therefore to receive it often, and for that, be pure. The purer you are, the more fruit you will gather from it and the more delicious you will find it.
Come and eat of this good Bread. Our Lord is glad to have you come and ask Him for it, just as a father is happy to know that his children will not lack bread.
LASTLY, a father ought now and then to treat his children to days of special rejoicings and amusement. They are a necessity in a family. They tighten the bonds of affection; on such days, children get together, see one another, and unbosom themselves freely. How beautiful and sacred are those family feast days when all the children are gathered joyfully around their father! And how beneficent they are! The children prepare themselves for them long in advance. They get ready their little speech and prepare some surprise for their father, a small gift or a beautiful bouquet.
Our Lord also has family feast days. There are, in the first place, the feasts of the Church, days on which you do not work. Then there are some of a more intimate nature, for you alone, like that of today, which will last three days. The Forty Hours is the real feast of the heart. Do you not see how beautiful everything is, how everything is music and joy around your good Father, Who is seated on His throne of love? You have undoubtedly prepared your little speech, and you are given nothing other to do than to gather around your good Father. All these beautiful lights, these lovely flowers are the fruit of your labor, the gift of your hearts. And Jesus is there, happy, His hands open and filled with graces for you.
During these days, therefore, all your thoughts and all your actions must be for Him.
And when your turn comes to go to adoration, give Him your little speech. Be sure to draw it from your own heart; do not borrow it from strangers. Talk to Him in your own way; He will answer you. And listen well to what He will say to your heart.
Offer Him a few good desires as your bouquet of choice flowers. Then make some act of virtue and offer Him some little sacrifices as a present.
All this is most real. These are the relations you ought to have with our Lord. Are you not His family?
Spend these holidays well. He is all yours. Gaze at Him and listen to Him attentively. He will shower you with His graces during life and one day He will unite you to the large family of the Blessed in Heaven.
1. This is the summary of a talk to little orphan girls for the opening of the Forty Hours in their chapel.
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Quam bonus Israel Deus!
How good is God to Israel! (Psalm lxxii. 1.)
THAT was the cry of the Jewish people, of David, at the remembrance of the benefits God had not ceased lavishing upon them. What will be the cry of the Christians? And have we not many more reasons than the Israelites to cry out: Quam bonus Israel Deus! "How good is God to Israel!"
The Jews had received much less from God than we. We have received the goods of Heaven: Redemption, Grace, the Eucharist. Godís gift to us is Jesus Himself, the Eucharist.
But what commends God the most to our gratitude in the gift of the Eucharist is the special marks of goodness He gives us therein. To give is already something; but to give well is everything.
JESUS CHRIST gives Himself to us in the Eucharist without any imposing display. In the world we are made to feel more or less who is who and the value of what is given. That is necessary, it seems, to safeguard and honor social relations duly.
But in order to be more lovable and more on our level, Jesus will have nothing of that. And yet His Body is glorious as in Heaven; He reigns, and the Angels pay court to Him. He hides His glory; He conceals His Body, His Soul, His Divinity. He shows nothing but the veil of His goodness.
He lowers Himself, humbles Himself, abases Himself so that we may not be afraid of Him.
In the days of His mortal life He was so meek and humble in His manner that none lacked the courage to approach Him. The children, the women, the lepers, the poor, all came without fear.
Now that His body is glorified, He could not show Himself without dazzling us, and so He veils Himself. Nobody is afraid to enter a church. It is open to everybody. We know we are coming to a kind Father Who is waiting for us to do us good and to converse familiarly with us. Quam bonus Israel Deus! How good is God to Israel!
JESUS gives Himself to us without reserve. With wonderful patience and longanimity He waits for us to come and take Him. He gives Himself to all without snubbing anyone.
He waits for the poor man, for the sinner. The poor man comes in the morning before his work to receive a kind blessing on his day. The manna fell on the encampment of the Israelites before sunrise so they would not have to wait for the heavenly food.
Our Lord is always on His altar; He is there before His first visitor. Blessed is he that receives the Saviorís first blessing!
As to sinners, Jesus waits for them in His Sacrament for weeks, and months, and even years. He stretches out His arms for forty and sixty years to some sinner who finally gives in to His entreaties.
Venite ad Me omnes. "Come ye all to Me." Ah! If we could see our Lordís joy when we come to Him! One would think He is the one Who is interested and gains by it.
Oh! Why should they keep this good Savior waiting so long! Alas! There are some who will never come, or only when carried in a casket; but it will be too late then; they will find only an angry Judge.
JESUS gives without exterior show. We do not see His gifts; we might become attached to them and forget the Donor. He conceals His hands so as to have us think of His heart, of His love.
By making His gifts in this manner; He teaches us how to give secretly and avoid being seen when we do good, so that the thanks may ascend to God, the author of all giving.
In His kindness Jesus will even be grateful to us. Yes, He is pleased with everything we give Him; we make Him happy. One would think He needed our heart. He even begs us for it, and entreats us: "My son, I implore You, give Me your heart!"
IN THE Eucharist He is good even to the point of weakness.
Let us not be scandalized at this; for it is the triumph of Eucharistic goodness.
Look at a mother whose tenderness knows no limit jut death.
Look at the father of the prodigal son, running out to meet his son and weeping for joy at seeing again that ungrateful boy who had squandered his fortune. The world calls that weakness; it is the heroism of love.
What shall we say of the goodness of the God of the Eucharist!
Ah Lord! Yes, we must speak of the scandal of Your goodness!
Jesus surrounds Himself with weakness in the Blessed Sacrament. He allows Himself to be insulted, disgraced, despised, profaned under His very eyes, in His very presence, at the very foot of His altar! And no Angel is there to strike these Judases, these new Heliodori! None.
And the heavenly Father allows His well-beloved Son to be insulted! This is worse than on Calvary. There at least the sun veiled itself for horror, and the universe mourned its Creator; but here, nothing!
This Calvary of the Eucharist is set up everywhere. It started from the Cenacle and now covers the earth, and it will last to the last minute of the worldís existence.
O God! Why this excess? This is the conflict of goodness with ingratitude. It is Jesus Who wants to out-love manís hate, to love man in spite of himself, and to do him good for the pleasure of it. He will submit to anything rather than take revenge. He wants to wear out manís resistance with His goodness.
Such is the goodness of Jesus, without glory, without show, full of weakness, but all resplendent with love for those who want to see.
Quam bonus Israel Deus. Lord Jesus, God of the Eucharist, how good You are!
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Ego mendicus sum, et pauper.
I am a beggar, and poor. (Psalm xxxix. 18.)
JESUS wanted to be the poorest of the poor, in order to be able to stretch out His hand to the lowliest of men and say to him: "I am your brother."
Heaven looked down on Jesus during His mortal life and marveled at a God become poor for the love of man, to be his model and to teach him the worth of poverty.
No man, in fact, was ever born in more wretched conditions than the Word Incarnate, who had the litter of animals for His cradle and their shelter for His home.
As a child, He fed on barley bread, the bread of the poor, and during His apostolic life He lived on alms. He died in a state of destitution that will never be equaled. And now that He is risen and glorious, He still takes poverty for His companion. He has found the means of honoring and practicing poverty. Jesus, dwelling in our midst in His Sacrament, is still poorer than during the days of His mortal life. His home may be but a poor church, worse perhaps than the cave of Bethlehem; His tabernacle consists of four boards, which often are worm-eaten.
His priests or His faithful people must give Him everything: the matter of the Sacrifice, the bread and the wine; the linen on which to place Him or with which to cover Him; the corporals, the altar cloths. He brings nothing from except His adorable person and His love.
The poor are without honor; Jesus is without glory.
The poor are without defense; Jesus is at the mercy of all His enemies.
The poor have scarcely any friends or none at all; Jesus Eucharistic has very few. He is a stranger, unknown to the majority of men.
How beautiful and lovable is this Eucharistic poverty of our Lord!
OUR Lord asks us to honor and imitate His poverty in our lives.
We would be very far from perfection if we believed that temporal poverty is what He requires of us.
Jesus aims higher: He wants us poor in spirit. What is poverty of spirit?
It is perfect love; it is the soul of true humility. A man who is poor in spirit and is convinced that he has nothing and of himself can do nothing, makes of his very poverty a most powerful and valuable claim on the heart of God. The poorer he becomes, the more rights he has on Divine goodness and mercy.
It is well to note that the more a poor man puts himself in his poverty, the more he puts himself in his natural place-----for we are nothing; and that the more he does so, the more he honors God, his Creator, and the greater and more merciful he makes Him. For this reason the Lord says through one of His prophets: "Upon whom shall I cast a look of love, if not on the poorest of the poor, and on him whose heart is broken?"
This is where the good God finds His glory: in our poverty, which returns everything to Him and offers everything up to Him as a homage.
The good God loves the poor in spirit so much that He deprives them of everything to make them triumph by their very poverty.
He paralyzes their understanding, dries up their affections, and takes away from them the sweetness of His grace and of His peace. He delivers them up to the tempests of the passions, to the fury of the devils. He hides His sunlight from them and deprives them of all help. And He Himself withdraws, as it were, from His creatures in distress. What a woeful state!
But no! What a sublime state! The man that is poor in spirit will triumph over God Himself. The more he is despoiled by God, the more he thanks Him for it as for a great good. The more he is tried by God, the more he puts his trust in Godís inexhaustible goodness. And when he is threatened with Hell by the devil, and reproached and condemned by his sins, how noble he is as he says to God: "Yes! I justly deserve Hell. Hell is not even terrible enough, avenging enough for the sins my wickedness has committed against You, O my Creator and my Father! I deserve a million Hells, and that is why I hope in Your infinite mercy. I am deserving of Your mercy, the most deserving of all since I am the most miserable. Satisfy Your justice on me in this world, O my God! Many thanks to You for giving me the chance to pay my debts! Be still harder on me, Lord; for I deserve it."
What can the good God answer to such gratitude? God will own Himself vanquished by him. He will embrace him, open all His treasures to him. He will show him to the Angels as a wonder and say to them: "Behold the man who has really glorified Me."
LET us be fond of making our adoration and receiving Communion in the spirit of Godís poor.
We shall then find it easy to make them according to the four ends of the Sacrifice.
1. What does a poor man do when he begs an alms from a kind rich man? First of all he addresses him respectfully and cheerfully, forgetful of his wretchedness, his slovenly appearance, and his shabby clothes, and mindful only of the rich manís kindness.
Act likewise with our Lord. Forget your wretchedness and think only of His kindness. Adore Him in humility and confidence.
2. The poor man also praises the rich manís kindness. "You are very kind; everybody says so. And you have already been kind to me!" And he goes into the details of the favors received.
In the same way, praise and thank the kindness of God toward you, and your heart will find sweet and persuasive expressions and grateful tears.
3. Then the poor man makes known his wants: "Here I am again at your door with still greater miseries than in the past. I have no one else but you! I know your kindness will not grow weary; it is greater than my poverty. I know I bring you happiness by affording you an opportunity to do good."
Let us, in like manner, make known our wants to our Lord; let us appeal to His Heart, to all the good He can do, and we will make Him happy; for His love manifests itself only through the outpourings of His goodness.
When a poor man receives much more than he asked for, he melts into tears. He does not think of looking at what has been given him; he sees only the kind generosity of his benefactor, and he can say only one thing: "Ah! How good you are! I knew it well!"
But if the rich man bids the poor man come in, invites him to his table, and sits next to him, ah! the poor man has not the heart to eat, so embarrassed and touched is he by such kindness.
Is not that the way our Lord treats us?
May our misery make us appreciate His kindness all the more!
4. Lastly, the poor man takes leave of his benefactor, saying to him: "Ah I If I could only do something for you I At least I will pray hard for your family." And he goes away with a blissful prayer in his heart and the praise of his benefactor on his lips.
Let us do likewise. Let us pray for the family of our Lord, His Church. Let us praise His goodness. Let us proclaim His glory on every side and offer Him the homage of our hearts and of our lives.
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Mallete in Me.
Abide in Me. (John xv. 4.)
THE heart of man needs a center of affection and expansion. As a matter of fact, when God created the first man He said: "It is not good for man to be alone: let Us make him a help like unto himself."
And the Imitation also says: "Without a friend you cannot well live."
Well, our Lord in the Most Blessed Sacrament wants to be the center of all hearts, and He tells us: "Abide in Me. . . . Abide in My love."
What does abiding in our Lordís love mean? To abide in His love is to make His Eucharistic love the center of our life, the only source of our consolation; it is to cast ourselves into the Heart of Jesus in our afflictions, in our sorrows, in our deceptions, in the circumstances in which the heart unbosoms itself more spontaneously. He invites us to do so: "Come to Me, all you that labor and are burdened, and I will refresh you."
To abide in His love is, in time of joy, to refer our happiness to Him; for delicacy of friendship wants a friend with whom to share its joys.
To abide in His love is to make the Eucharist the center of our desires: "Lord, I desire this only if You desire it. I will do this to please You."
To abide in His love is to delight in surprising Him with some gift, or some little sacrifice.
To abide in His love is to live by the Eucharist; to guide ourselves in our actions by His thought, and to make it a point unswervingly to prefer the good service of the Eucharist to everything else. Alas! Is Jesus Eucharistic really our center? Perhaps in time of extraordinary difficulties, or of very fervent prayer, or of urgent need; but in everyday life, do we think, do we reflect, do we act in Jesus as in our center?
Why is our Lord not my center? Because He is not yet the ego of my ego, because I am not completely under His control, under the inspiration of His will; because I have desires that are vying with the desires of Jesus within me; because He does not mean everything to me. And yet a child works for his parents, an Angel for his God; I ought therefore to work for my Master, Jesus Christ.
What am I to do? I must enter into this center, abide in it, and act in it, not indeed by the sentiment of His sweetness, which does not depend on me, but by repeated attempts, by the homage of every action. Come, O my soul! Leave the world; come out of yourself; renounce yourself; and go to the God of the Eucharist. He has an abode in which to receive You; He longs for You; He wants to live with You, to live in the. Abide therefore in Jesus present in your heart; live in your heart; live in the goodness of Jesus Eucharistic.
O my soul, study our Lord in You, and do nothing but by Him.
Abide in our Lord. Abide in Him through a sense of devotedness, of holy joy, of readiness to do whatever He will ask of You. Abide in the Heart and the peace of Jesus Eucharistic.
WHAT impresses me is that this center of the Eucharist is hidden, invisible, altogether interior and, for all that, most real, living, and sustaining.
Jesus draws the soul spiritually into the wholly spiritualized state that is His in the Sacrament.
What, in fact, is the nature of the life of Jesus in the Most Blessed Sacrament? It is entirely hidden, all interior.
He conceals therein His power and kindness; He conceals His Divine Person.
And all His actions and virtues take on this simple and hidden character.
He requires silence around Him. He no longer prays to His Father "with a strong cry and tears" as in the Garden of Olives, but through His self-abasernent.
All graces come from the Host. From His Eucharist Jesus sanctifies the world, but in an invisible and spiritual manner.
He rules the world and the Church without either moving or speaking.
Such must the kingdom of Jesus be in me, all interior. I must gather myself up around Jesus: my faculties, my understanding, and my will; and my senses, as far as possible. I must live of Jesus and not of myself, in Jesus and not in myself. I must pray with Him, immolate myself with Him, and be consumed in the same love with Him. I must become in Him one flame, one heart, one life with Him.
What nourishes this center is something similar to Godís call to Abraham, egredere (Go forth out of your country): it is the renouncing and abandoning of outside things; the turning to those within and the losing of oneself in Jesus. This manner of life is more pleasing to His Heart and gives greater glory to His Father; that is why our Lord desires it ardently. He tells us: "Come out of yourself and follow Me into solitude where, alone with You, I will speak to your heart."
This life in Jesus is nothing other than the love of predilection, the gift of self, the intensifying of union with Him; through it we take root, as it were, and prepare the nourishment, the sap of the tree. Regnum Dei intra vas est. "The kingdom of God is within you."
THERE is no center other than Jesus, and Jesus Eucharistic.
He tells us: "Without Me you can do nothing." He alone gives grace. He reserves to Himself the distribution of it in order to oblige us to come to Him and ask Him for it.
He wants thus to establish and foster union with us. He reserves to Himself the right of giving consolation and peaece, so that in our sorrows and combats we may have recourse to Him. He wants to be the heartís only happiness. He has placed this center of repose in none other than Himself: Manete in Me. And lest we should ever miss Him when we come to Him, He remains always at our service, always ready, always lovable.
He is continually drawing us to Himself. The life of love is nothing other than this continual attraction of us to Him.
Alas! I am so little established in this center of love! My aspirations to Jesus are still so imperfect, so rare, and so interrupted, often for long hours at a time! And yet Jesus tells us repeatedly: "He that eats My Flesh, and drinks My Blood, abide in Me, and I in him."
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Mane nobiscum, quoniam advesperascit.
Stay with us, because it is towards evening. (Luke xxiv. 29.)
THE disciples on their way to Emmaus were inwardly warmed, enlightened, and moved by the conversation of the Divine Stranger Who joined them on their journey.
He wanted to leave them. "Oh, stay with us," they said to Him, "stay, for it is towards evening."
They could not tire listening to Him. It seemed to them that in losing Him they would lose everything.
In our own day we can well say to our Lord: "Oh, stay with us, Lord; without You, it is night, a horrible night!"
For the Eucharist is, in fact, the worldís Sovereign Good. To be deprived of the Eucharist would be the greatest of misfortunes.
YES, Jesus is the Sovereign Good! "All good things," says the Book of Wisdom, "came to me together with Him." And Saint Paul cries out: "Since God has delivered His Son up to death for us all, how hath He not also, with Him, given us all things?"
Indeed, all that He has, all that He is, He gives it to us. He cannot give more. Omne quod habet, omne quod est, dedit nobis; Plus dare non potuit. (Saint Augustine.)
With Jesus Eucharistic the light shines upon the world. With the Eucharist we have the Bread of the strong, the Viaticum of wayfarers, the Bread of Elias which helps us to walk unto the mountain of God, the manna which enables us to endure the horror of the wilderness. With Jesus, we have consolation and rest in the fatigues and troubles of the soul and the trials of the heart.
In the Eucharist we find a remedy for our ills, and a payment for the fresh debts we contract daily towards Divine justice through our sins. Our Lord offers Himself up every morning as a Victim of propitiation for all the sins of the world.
BUT are we sure of always having this; Gift, which is above all gifts?
Jesus Christ promised to remain with His Church "even to the consummation of the world." He did not make this promise to any people or individual in particular.
He will remain with us if we know how to lavish honor and love upon His sacred Person. This is a positive condition.
Jesus Christ has a right to honor; He demands it. He is our King, our Savior. We must honor Him before we honor anybody else; we must offer Him the supreme worship of adoration; we must honor Him publicly; for we are His people.
The heavenly court prostrates itself before the Lamb that was slain. Here below, Jesus received the adoration of the Angels at His birth, of the multitudes during His life. and of the Apostles after His Resurrection.
Peoples and kings came to adore Him. Has He not a right to still greater honors in His Sacrament since He multiplies His sacrifices therein and abases Himself more?
To Him the solemn honors, the magnificence, the richness, the beauty of worship! God regulated Mosaic worship in its minutest details, and it was only a symbol. The ages of faith thought they could never do enough to heighten the splendor of Eucharistic worship: witness their basilicas, their sacred vessels, their vestments, which are master pieces of are and magnificence. These marvels were the work of faith; the worship and honors paid to Jesus Christ are the measure of the faith of a people, the expression of its virtue.
Let honor therefore be given to Jesus Eucharistic. He is worthy of it; He has a right to it.
But He will not be satisfied with exterior honors. He requires the worship of our love: the service of the heart and the submission of the mind, not indeed shut up within us, but manifested in the tender and loving attentions a dutiful child would have for his parents. We must act like a child who lives with his father and mother; who feels the need of seeing them and of giving them proofs of his tender affection; who suffers and languishes when far from them; who is with them the moment they need him; who obeys at the least sign; who even anticipates their wishes as much as he can; who is ready to do anything to please his good father and mother. Such is the worship of natural love.
The worship of love that Jesus Eucharistic demands is the same. He that loves the Eucharist is always in quest of it. He frequently speaks of it. He needs Jesus; he is forever tending toward Him; he offers Him all his actions, all the pleasures of his heart, his joys, his consolations. He turns everything into a bouquet for Jesus Eucharistic.
That is the price we must pay to keep the Most Blessed Sacrament; the loss of it would be our greatest misfortune.
WHEN the sun sets, darkness sets in; when the sun is not shining, the air is cold.
If love for the Eucharist dies out in a heart, faith vanishes therein, indifference holds sway, and into this night of the soul vices come forth like wild beasts seeking their prey.
That is the greatest of misfortulJes; for what can revive the frozen heart which the Eucharist itself has not the power to thaw?
What Jesus Christ does for individuals, He does for nations.
He is no longer loved, respected, or known. He is abandoned and despised. What would a king do if he were abandoned by his subjects?
Jesus goes away; He goes to a better people. What a sad spectacle it is to see our Lord abandon a people! He had a tabernacle in the Cenacle; today the Cenacle is a mosque. Since He had no true adorers left, what would you want Him to do there?
Egypt and Africa were formerly the classic land of Saints, inhabited by legions of holy monks; but Jesus Christ has abandoned these two countries. And since the Eucharist is no longer there, desolation reigns. But you may be sure that Jesus Christ was the last to leave the place; He left when He found Himself without adorers.
This cloud of desolation has passed over Europe. Jesus has been driven out of His temples and profaned on His altars. He has never re-entered these temples.
France has seen her faith in and love for the Eucharist diminish; and as a result, how many churches, in which Jesus Christ formerly had fervent adorers, are now devoted to heresy! When their love died out, Jesus fled. And He has not returned.
It is alarming today to see Jesus Eucharistic abandoned and left alone, absolutely alone, in so many cities. And in our rural districts the churches are closed for fear of thieves and lack of worshipers. Is it possible? Do we really want to lose the Eucharist?
We may be quite sure that when Jesus goes away, the scaffold, persecution, and barbarism will come back.
Who would there be to stop these scourges?
O Lord, stay with us! We will be Your faithful adorers! We prefer exile, penury, and death to being deprived of You.
Oh! Do not punish us by forsaking the sanctuary of Your love!
Lord, stay with us; stay, for it is growing late; it is night without You. Mane nobiscum, quoniam advesperascit.
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Tota die expandi manus Meas ad populum non credentem, et contradicentem.
All the day long have I spread My hands to a people that believeth not, and contradicteth Me. (Romans x. 21.)
ALAS! It is but too true: our Lord in the Most Blessed Sacrament is not loved!
He is not loved by the millions of pagans, by the millions of Jews and infidels, by the millions of schismatics and heretics who either know nothing of the Eucharist or have wrong notions of it.
Among so many thousands of creatures in whom God has placed a heart capable of loving, how many would love the Blessed Sacrament if they knew it as I do!
Must I not at least try to love it for them, in their stead?
Even among Catholics, few, very few love Jesus in the Most Blessed Sacrament. How many think of Him frequently, speak of Him, come to adore Him and receive Him?
What is the reason for this forgetfulness and coldness? Ah! They have never tasted the Eucharist, its sweetness, the delights of its love!
They have never known the goodness of Jesus!
They have no idea of the extent of His love in the Most Blessed Sacrament!
Some of them have faith in Jesus Christ but a faith so lifeless and superficial that it does not reach the heart, that it contents itself with what is strictly required by conscience for their salvation. And besides, these last are but a handful among so many other Catholics who live like real pagans, as if they had never heard of the Eucharist.
HOW is it that our Lord is so little loved in the Eucharist?
One reason is that we do not speak enough of it and that we insist only on faith in the presence of Jesus Christ in the Most Blessed Sacrament instead of speaking about His life and His love therein, instead of calling attention to the sacrifices which His love imposes upon Him, in a word, instead of showing Jesus Eucharistic with the personal and special love He has for each one of us.
Another reason is our behavior, which denotes little love in us. From the way we pray, adore, and visit Him, no one would suspect the presence of Jesus Christ in our churches.
How many among the best Catholics never pay a visit of devotion to the Most Blessed Sacrament to speak with Him from the heart, to tell Him their love! They do not love our Lord in the Eucharist because they do not know Him well enough.
But if in spite of knowing Him and His love and the sacrifices and desires of His Heart, they still do not love Him, what an insult! Yes, an insult!
For it amounts to telling Jesus Christ that He is not beautiful enough, not good enough, not lovable enough to be preferred to what they love.
What ingratitude! After having received so many graces from this good Savior, made so many promises to love Him, and offered themselves so often to His service, such a treatment of Him is a mockery of His love.
What cowardice! For if they do not want to know Him too well, to see Him at close quarters, to receive Him, to have a heart-to-heart talk with Him, the reason is they are afraid of being caught by His love. They fear being unable to resist His kindness; they fear being obliged to give in, to sacrifice their heart unreservedly, and their mind and life unconditionally.
They are afraid of the love of Jesus Christ in the Most Blessed Sacrament, and they avoid Him.
They are disturbed in His presence; they are afraid of yielding. Like Pilate and Herod, they avoid His presence.
WE DO not love our Lord in the Most Blessed Sacrament because we ignore or do not sufficiently look into the sacrifices made by His love for our sake. They are so amazing that the mere thought of them overwhelms my heart and fills my eyes with tears.
It cost our Savior the whole Passion to institute the Eucharist. How is that? Because the Eucharist is the sacrifice of the New Law. Now, there is no sacrifice without a victim, there is no immolation without the death of the victim, and to share in the merits of the sacrifice we must share in the victim by eating of it. All this takes place in the Eucharist.
It is an un bloody sacrifice because the Victim died once and, by that one death, made sufficient reparation and merited full justification; but the Victim perpetuates itself in its state of immolation so as to apply to us the merits of the bloody Sacrifice of the Cross, which is to last and to be reoffered to God until the end of the world. We must eat our share of the Victim; but if it were not in this state of death, we would be loath to eat it. We do not eat living things.
The Eucharist cost our Lord the agony in the Garden of Olives, the humiliations He had to undergo before the tribunals of Caiphas and of Pilate, and His death on Calvary. The Victim had to pass through all these immolations in order to reach the sacramental state and come to us.
By instituting His Sacrament, Jesus perpetuated the sacrifices of His Passion. He condemned Himself to undergo desertions as heart-breaking as the one He suffered in the Garden of Olives; the treachery of His friends and disciples who would become schismatics, heretics, and renegades and who would sell the Sacred Host to the Jews and sorcerers.
He perpetuated the denials that distressed Him in the house of Annas; the sacrilegious fury of Caiphas; the scorn of Herod; the cravenness of Pilate; the shame of seeing a passion, an idol of flesh, preferred to Him, as He had seen Barabbas; the sacramental crucifixion in the body and in the soul of the sacrilegious communicant.
Well, our Lord knew all this beforehand. He was acquainted with all the new Judases; He counted them among His own, among His well-beloved children. But nothing of all this could stop Him; He wanted His love to go further than the ingratitude and malice of man; He wanted to outlive manís sacrilegious malice.
He knew beforehand the lukewarmness of His followers: He knew mine; He knew what little fruit we would derive from Holy Communion. But He wanted to love just the same, to love more than He was loved, more than man could make return for.
Is there anything else? But is it nothing to have adopted this state of death when He has the fullness of life, a glorified and supernatural life? Is it nothing to be treated and considered as one dead? In this state of death Jesus is without beauty, motion or defense; He is wrapped in the Sacred Species as in a shroud and laid in the tabernacle as in a tomb. He is there, however; He sees everything and hears everything. He submits to everything as though He were dead. His love casts a veil over His power, His glory, His hands, His feet, His beautiful face and His sacred lips; it has hidden everything. It has left Him only His Heart to love us and His state of victim to intercede in our behalf.
At the sight of so much love of Jesus Christ for man, who is so thankless for it, the devil seems triumphant; he mocks Jesus. "I give man nothing that is true, good, or beautiful," he says. "I have not suffered for his sake, and I am more loved, more obeyed, and better served than You."
Alas! It is but too true; our coldness, our ingratitude are Satanís triumph over God!
Oh! How can we forget our Lordís love, a love that cost Him so much and is so lavish of everything!
IT IS true also that the world does all in its power to prevent us from loving Jesus in the Must Blessed Sacrament with a real and practical love, to prevent us from visiting Him, and to cripple the effects of this love.
The world engrosses the attention of souls; it binds and enslaves them with external occupations and good works in order to deter them from dwelling too long on the love of Jesus.
It even fights directly against this practical love and represents it as optional, as practicable at most only in a convent. And the devil wages incessant warfare on our love for Jesus in the Most Blessed Sacrament.
He knows that Jesus is there, living and substantially present; that by Himself He is drawing souls and taking direct possession of them. The devil tries to efface the thought of the Eucharist in us, and the good impression made by it; for in his mind, that should decide the issue of the struggle.
And yet God is all love. This gentle Savior pleads with us from the Host: "Love Me as I have loved you; abide in My love! I came to cast the fire of love on the earth, and My most ardent desire is that it should set your hearts on fire." Oh! What shall we think of the Eucharist at the moment of death or after death, when we shall see and know all the goodness and love and riches of it!
O my God, my God! What must You think of me, who have known You so long, who have communicated so often! You have given me all You could give me.
You wantest me to serve You in return, and I have not yet acquired the first virtue of this service.
You are not yet the sovereign law, the center of my heart, the goal of my existence.
What then must You do to triumph over my heart?
Lord, my mind is made up; henceforth my motto shall be, "Give me the Eucharist, or let me die!"
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Christus vincit, regnat, imperat; ab omni malo plebem suam defendat.
Christ conquers, He reigns, He commands. May He defend His people from all evil.
POPE SIXTUS V had these words engraved on the obelisk which stands in the center of Saint Peterís Square at Rome. These magnificent words are in the present tense, and not in the past, to indicate that Christís triumph is always actual, and that it is brought about in the Eucharist and by the Eucharist.
CHRISTUS vincit. Christ conquers. Our Lord has fought; He has won control of the field of battle, on which He has planted His flag and pitched His tent: the Sacred Host and the Eucharistic tabernacle.
He conquered the Jew and his temple, and He has a tabernacle on Calvary where all the nations come to adore Him beneath the sacramental Species.
He conquered paganism and has chosen Rome, the city of the Caesars, for His capital. His tabernacle is now in the temple of Jupiter, the god of thunder.
He conquered the false wisdom of the sages; as the Divine Eucharist rose on the world and shed its rays over the whole earth, darkness withdrew like the shades of night at the coming of day. The idols have been knocked down and the sacrifices abolished. Jesus Eucharistic is a conqueror Who never halts but ever marches onward; He wants to subject the universe to His gentle sway.
Every time He takes possession of a country, He pitches therein His Eucharistic royal tent. The erection of a tabernacle is His official occupation of a country. In our own day He still goes out to uncivilized nations; and wherever the Eucharist is brought, the people are converted to Christianity. That is the secret of the triumph of our Catholic missionaries and of the failure of the Protestant preachers. In the latter case, man is battling alone; in the former, Jesus is battling, and He is sure to triumph.
CHRISTUS regnat. Christ reigns. Jesus does not rule over earthly territories but over souls, and He does so through the Eucharist.
A king must rule through his laws and through the love of his subjects for him.
The Eucharist is the law of the Christian: a law of charity and of love, which was promulgated in the Cenacle in the admirable discourse after the Last Supper: "This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. If you love Me keep My commandments."
This law is revealed in Communion; the eyes of the Christian are opened in Holy Communion as were those of the disciples of Emmaus, and he understands the fullness of the law.
The "breaking of bread" is what made the first Christians so brave in the face of persecution and so faithful in practicing the law of Jesus Christ. Erant perseverantes in communicatione fractionis panis. "They were persevering in the communication of the breaking of bread."
Christís law is one, holy, universal, and eternal. It will never change or be impaired in any way; Jesus Christ Himself, its Divine Author, is defending it. He engraves it on our hearts through His love; the Legislator Himself promulgates His Divine law to each of our souls.
It is a law of love. How many kings rule by love? Jesus is about the only one Whose yoke is not imposed by force; His rule is gentleness itself. His true subjects are devoted to Him in life and death; they would rather die than be disloyal to Him.
CHRISTUS imperat. Christ commands. No king has command over the whole universe; there are other kings equal to him in power. But God the Father has said to Jesus Christ: "I will give You all the nations for Your inheritance." And our Lord told His lieutenants when He sent them throughout the world: "All power is given to Me in and in earth. Go and teach ye all nations, teaching them to keep all that I have commanded you."
He issued His commands from the Cenacle. The Eucharistic tabernacle, which is a prolongation or replica of the Cenacle, is the headquarters of the King of kings. All those who fight the good fight receive their orders from there.
In the presence of Jesus Eucharistic all men are subjects, all must obey, from the Pope, the Vicar of Jesus Christ, down to the least of the faithful.
CHRISTUS ab omni malo Plebem suam defendat. May Christ defend His people from all evil! The Eucharist is the Divine lightning-rod that wards off the thunderbolts of Divine Justice. As a tender and devoted mother presses her child to her bosom, puts her arms around it, and shields it with her body to save it from the wrath of an angry father, so Jesus multiplies His presence everywhere, covers the world and envelops it with His merciful presence. Divine Justice does not know then where to strike; it dares not.
And what a protection against the devil! The blood of Jesus which purples our lips makes us a terror to Satan; we are sprinkled with the blood of the true Lamb, and the exterminating Angel will not enter.
The Eucharist protects the sinner until time for repentance is given him. Of old, when a murderer was sought by the law, he used to take refuge in a church, from which he could not be drawn to be punished; he lived under the protection of the mercy of Jesus Christ.
Ah! Were it not for the Eucharist, for this perpetual Calvary, how often would not the wrath of God have come down upon us!
And how unhappy are the nations that no longer possess the Eucharist! What darkness! What a confusion in the minds! What a chill in the hearts! Satan alone rules supreme, and with him all the evil passions.
As for us, the Eucharist delivers us from all evil.
Christus vincit, Christus regnat, Christus imperat; ab omni malo plebem suam defendat!
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Vere Dominus est in loco isto, et ego nesciebam!
Indeed the Lord is in this place, and I knew it not! (Genesis xxviii. 16.)
IN ORDER to form a fair judgment of a family, we must see whether the law of respect is observed. When you meet with a family in which the children and servants are obedient and respectful, you can say: "Here is a good and happy family."
The respect and honor given to parents is the religion of the family, just as respect for the sovereign or his representatives is the religion of societies.
We are not asked to honor the qualities of the individual but his authority, which comes from God.
We owe respect to our Lord; that is our first duty. Under pain of failing in our duties towards our Lord, we must have for Him a spontaneous respect, a respect of instinct that should require no premeditation.
It must be in the nature of an impression in us. We must honor our Lord wherever He is; His dignity as God-Man requires it. In His name every knee bows in Heaven, on earth, and in Hell.
In Heaven, the Angels prostrate themselves before His Majesty in trembling adoration; the place of our Lordís glory is also the place where He receives sovereign respect.
Every creature on earth has obeyed our Lord.
The sea adored Him by becoming solid beneath His feet. The sun and the heavenly bodies mourned Him; they honored Him while men were cursing Him.
And in Hell the damned tremble beneath the justice of the severe Judge of the living and the dead.
RESPECT for the presence of our Lord should not have to be reasoned out. When the court or the King is announced, all stand; it is instinctive. When the Sovereign goes by, everyone pays him reverence. A spontaneous movement of respect and deference greets him everywhere. He who is no longer of that sentiment or who wishes to destroy it in others is no longer a man.
Catholics have much reason to blush for their lack of respect in our Lordís presence. I am speaking only of spontaneous respect.
Enter a synagogue; if you speak or do not behave properly, you are expelled.
Before entering a mosque, you are requested to take off your shoes. All these infidels have nothing real in their temples, but we have everything. In spite of that, their respect far surpasses ours.
Our Lord might very well say the devil is honored more than He is. "I have brought up children . . . but they have despised Me."
I ask mothers whether they would be pleased to be disowned publicly by their children. Why do we do to our Lord what would offend us so much if it were done to us? Why are we less sensitive when our Lordís honor is at stake than when our own petty dignity is?
Nothing could be more false. Our dignity, in fact, comes to us from no one but God, by reflection from Him to us. When, therefore, we allow respect for our Lord to be lost, we destroy the respect due to our own selves.
Oh! If our Lord were to punish us for our lack of respect as we deserve!
God had Heliodorus scourged for profaning His temple; but there is more than the temple here.
Let us, therefore, give our Lord this first homage of a sentiment of respect as soon as we come into His presence. We are but wretches if we allow levity or carelessness to precede this homage.
Yes, our greatest sins against faith come from our lack of respect.
HE WHO believes knows where he is going when he goes to church: he is going to our Lord Jesus Christ. On entering the church, he says to all his occupations, like Saint Bernard: "Stay here at the door. I feel the need of seeking comfort and strength from God."
Act in the same manner. You know how much time you are to spend in church; forget everything else. If you come to pray, you do not come to transact business. And if you are pestered with distractions and worries, turn them all out of doors without getting troubled over them. Persevere in prayer and make acts of reparation and of respect. Take a better posture, and let our Lord see that you detest your distractions. By your respectful attitude, if not by the attention of your mind, you are still proclaiming His Divinity, His presence; were you to do only that, you would be doing a great deal.
Watch a Saint enter a church. He goes in without concerning himself with those who are already there. He concentrates on our Lord and forgets everything else. In the presence of the Pope we hardly give a thought to cardinals or bishops. And in the Saints do not idle away their time honoring one another; to God alone they give all honor and glory. Let us imitate them; our Lord is the only one in church.
Remain quiet for a moment after you have come into church; silence is the greatest mark of respect, and the first disposition for prayer is respect. Most of our dryness and lack of devotion in prayer is due to our lack of respect for our Lord on entering the church; to our disrespectful posture.
Let us therefore take the firm resolution to foster in ourselves this instinctive respect; we do not have to appeal to reason for that. Must our Lord prove His presence to us every time we enter the church? Must He always send us an Angel to tell us that He is there?
It certainly would be most unfortunate if He did, but, alas! quite necessary.
YOU owe our Lord exterior respect, which is the prayer of the body. Nothing helps so much the prayer of the soul. See with what religious care the Church has regulated the minutest details of exterior worship. It must then be that this prayer gives great glory to Jesus Christ. He gave us the example of exterior worship by praying on His knees; tradition tells us He prayed with arms outstretched in the form of a cross and lifted up to Heaven. The Apostles have handed down to us this manner of praying; the priest uses it during the Holy Sacrifice.
Since our body has received its life from God and lives on the Divine favors that are constantly", showered upon it, does it not owe God something? We must then make it pray by giving it an attitude full of respect. Careless postures of the body unnerve the soul, whereas a crucifying posture strengthens and helps her. You must not torment yourself by taking too uncomfortable a posture, but let it be stern enough. Postures that denote too much familiarity are out of place in the presence of God; they breed contempt. Love our Lord; be tender and affectionate towards Him, but never exaggeratingly familiar. Dryness and lack of devotion in prayer are nearly always the result of disrespect in posture.
When you are traveling or when you are saying extra prayers at home, You may take a less uncomfortable posture, but in the presence of our Lord you must also adore; externally with your senses. Remember how strict God was on this point in the Old Law, and what a number of preparatory details the Levites had to go through. God wanted to make them feel their dependence on Him and prepare them to pray well.
Our piety is agonizing because we lack this external respect. I know that we should not tremble with fear before God, nor be afraid to come into His presence; but, on the other hand, neither should we seem to be despising Him.
An austere posture helps us to pray better; but we refuse this help in order to satisfy our sensuality. We imagine we are tired; how often our imagination deceives us! If the Pope were passing by, our imaginary fatigue would not prevent us from remaining on our knees. And even supposing that we are really tired, why be so afraid of suffering, which gives wings to prayer? We should at least have even then a becoming and grave posture. Let the lay people sit down if they are tired, but in a becoming manner; they should not slouch in their seats. Let them not take any position that would tend to weaken the soulís energy and render it unfit for prayer. We religious, however, should remain on our knees; that is the correct posture for an adorer. If we grow too tired, we should stand up; that, too, is a respectful posture. We should never sit down. Let us be the soldiers of the God of the Eucharist. And if our heart is not burning with love, let our body at least bear witness to our faith and our desire to love and to do things properly.
Let our body therefore take the attitude of prayer, of adoration. Let us all form the court of our King Jesus! Keep the presence of the Master in your thoughts; impress your mind with the truth of it. Let all your attentions be for our Lord Jesus Christ! Vere Dominus est in loco isto. Truly, the Lord is here.
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Sentite de Domino in bonitate.
Think of the Lord in goodness. (Wisdom i. 1.)
TO THE respect of instinct and of external homage should be joined a respect of love. The first honors our Lordís dignity, the second His goodness; the first is the respect of a servant, the other that of a son.
The second of the two is the one our Lord prizes the more. To limit ourselves to a respect of exterior honor would be to stop at the entrance; our Lord desires to be honored above all for His goodness.
In the Old Law things were different; God had written over His temple: "Tremble when you draw nigh to My sanctuary." He had to make those carnal Jews tremble and lead them by fear.
But now that our Lord has become man, He wants us to serve Him through love. He has written over His tabernacle: "Come ye all to Me, and I will refresh you. Come, I am meek and humble of heart."
All that our Lord did during His mortal life was to win for Himself the title But it is now, in the Eucharist, that our Lord wishes to enjoy His title of "Good Master." Far from losing in kindness towards us, He has increased His intimacy with us. He wants us to dwell on His tenderness and find joy in His presence; He wants us to be drawn to His feet by the sheer happiness of seeing Him.
Therein is the reason why He veils Himself sacramentally. We are more attracted by what is great than by what is good. If our Lord were to manifest His glory, we would halt there without going on to His Heart. We would be like the Jews; our Lord wants us to be like children.
That is why our Lord requires exterior respect only as the first act that leads us to His Heart and makes us abide in His peace.
If we saw our Lord in His greatness, we would tremble and throw ourselves prostrate upon the ground; but we would never make an act of love. You see, we are not yet in Heaven.
Certain books speak of nothing but the majesty of God. That is all very well now and then; but it is not good for us to settle on it and think of nothing else in prayer; it makes the soul weary.
But when we consider the goodness of our Lord, we can pray for one hour, two hours without mental strain. If distractions come,-----and as often as they come,-----we beg pardon for them without ever growing tired; for we know that we shall always be pardoned. If things were otherwise, we should lose heart and cease praying.
WE HONOR our Lord when we meditate on His goodness. It prompts Him to action in our favor; for His goodness can flow only to something lower than itself. So that if we abase ourselves and take the lowest place, we will be deluged with His graces and kindnesses. For we are then like the poor and the little ones whom our Lord loved so much, and we can say to Him: "You are very good. Well, here is somebody on whom to pour out Your goodness!"
And conversation with our Lord becomes easy. If we do not go about it in that way, we behave as people do before kings: we tremble and stop shott not knowing what to say.
Through His gentleness our Eucharistic Lord renders even the tongues of little children eloquent; and we are all children.
The goodness of the Eucharist makes it easier and more pleasant for us to pray. We have a tendency to pride ourselves on Godís graces and to regard them as our own. Our Lord does not like that, for He merely lends them to us that we may trade with them, as it were, for His benefit. He allows us to be overwhelmed with distractions so as to humiliate us. We should like to pray, without distractions, but we cannot. And we say: "Since I cannot pray without sinning, I will give up prayer."
That is a wrong attitude. Put yourselves under the influence of our Lordís goodness, and your sins will frighten you no longer. Divine mercy will forgive them; it is present in person before you.
IF WE thus base our worship on love, we will come into our Lordís presence with great confidence.
Let us treat His love as something personal to us, and let us say to Him: "Lord, here I am, I, whom You have loved so much and awaited so long; I, to whom You do stretch out Your arms." This thought will make you happy.
Convince yourself of our Lordís personal love for you. No one can fail to be moved by such a thought.
Besides, this personalizing of love is the secret of true and unaffected recollection. In order to be recollected in our Lord and at the same time work for Him, and to fulfill the obligations of your state of life, put yourself under the influence of our Lordís goodness. Your heart will act in Him, and that is recollection. Your mind also will be free and independent. You will be able to apply it to whatever you will; for then the head will be directed and governed by the heart, and influenced by it.
Thus the presence of God pervades everything. Whereas if your mind remains always under the impression of the majesty and grandeur of God, it becomes either lost or fatigued, and ends by losing sight either of God or of its duties. True recollection is in the heart. God has given us a mind with limited and easily overtaxed capacities, but a heart that knows no bounds.
The heart can always love more, and the heart-felt presence of God can follow us everywhere. It is a source of encouragement; when it is with us, we are sure of the goodness and mercy of God; we live in His goodness.
The hired servant answers promptly every beck and call of his master. No one thanks him for it; he is working for his salary.
There is a fragrance to filial obedience which nothing can replace, and of which no one ever grows tired; for this obedience is affectionate and free from self-seeking.
Our Lord demands it of us. He leaves a thin streamlet of it for our parents, but He wants the whole river for Himself.
Let us give Him our whole heart! When therefore we come into His presence, we owe His majesty the homage of an instinctive and profound respect.
But from His majesty let us go to His goodness and abide therein.
Manete in dilectione Mea. "Abide in My love."
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Dilexi decorem domus Tuae.
I have loved the beauty of Your house. (Psalm xxv. 8.)
ONE day a woman, a good adorer, came to Jesus to adore Him. She brought with her an alabaster box full of precious ointment which she poured upon His feet to show her love for Him and to pay honor to His Divinity and sacred humanity.
"To what purpose is this waste?" said the traitor Judas. "This ointment might have been sold for much, and given to the poor."
But Jesus vindicates His handmaid: "What this woman has wrought is a good work. And wheresoever this Gospel shall be preached, this also which she has done shall be told in praise of her."
This Gospel incident may be applied to the Eucharist.
OUR Lord is in the Blessed Sacrament to receive from men the same homage He received from those who had the happiness of coming close to Him during His mortal life. He is there to give everybody the opportunity of offering a personal homage to His sacred humanity. Were this the only reason for the Eucharist, it should make us very happy; for the Eucharist enables us as Christians to pay our respects to our Lord in person.
This presence is the justification of public worship as well as the life of it. If you take away the Real Presence, how will you be able to pay to His most sacred humanity the respect and honor which are its due?
As Man, our Lord is present only in Heaven and in the Most Blessed Sacrament. Through the Eucharist we can draw near to the living Savior in person, and see Him and converse with Him. Without this presence, Divine worship becomes an abstraction.
Through this presence we go straight to God and approach Him as during His mortal life. How unfortunate it would be if, in order to honor the humanity of Jesus Christ, we were obliged to go back eighteen centuries! That is all very well for the mind, but how pay an outward homage to so distant a past? We would content ourselves with giving thanks for the mysteries without actively participating in them.
But with the Eucharist we can actually come and adore Him like the shepherds; we can prostrate ourselves before Him like the Magi; we need no longer regret our not having been present at Bethlehem or on Calvary.
NOT only is the Eucharistic presence of Jesus the life of exterior worship, but it also affords us the opportunity of giving alms to our Lord. Yes, in this respect we are more fortunate than the elect; they receive but no longer give. It is said: "It is a more blessed thing to give than to receive." We give to Jesus. We give Him of our money, of our bread, of our time, of our work, and of our blood. Is not that the greatest of consolations?
Our Lord comes from Heaven with nothing but His goodness. He has nothing else, and He expects His followers to furnish Him with everything that is required for His existence here below: His temple, the matter for His Sacrifice, the lamps, and the sacred vessels He needs to become Sacrament; we give Him everything!
Without these lights and this little throne our Lord cannot come out of His tabernacle. We give them to Him, and we can say to Him: "You are on a beautiful throne. It is we that have erected it for You. It is we that have opened the door of Your prison and rent the cloud that hid You, O Sun of love. Dart Your rays now on every heart."
Jesus is our debtor. He is able to pay His debts, and He will pay them. He vouched for His poor and suffering members: "Whatsoever you shall do to the least of My brother, I will repay it to you a hundred fold." But if Jesus pays the debts of others, with still greater reason will He pay His own. On the day of judgment we shall have the right to say to Him: "We visited You not only in the poor but in Your august Person itself. What will You give us in return?"
Worldly people will never understand this. "Give, and give a lot to the poor," they say. "But what good is it to give to churches? All this lavish expense on altars is wasted money."
That is the way to become Protestant.
No! The Church wants to have a living worship because she possesses her living Savior on earth. How fortunate we are to secure an eternal income by giving to our Lord! Is not that worth while? But that is not all. To give to Jesus is a consolation and a joy, as it is also a need.
YES, we feel the need of seeing and feeling our Lord near us, and of honoring Him without gifts. If our Lord required of us nothing more than interior homage, He would fail to satisfy one of manís imperious needs; we cannot love without manifesting that love through outward signs of friendship and affection. That is why the strength of a peopleís faith may be easily rated from its gifts to churches.
If the altar candles are numerous, if the sacred linen is clean, if the vestments are neat and in good condition, oh! that is a sign of faith! But if a church is without the proper vestments for the service of our Lord and looks more like a prison than a church, faith is lacking.
How miserably we fail in France in this respect!
People give to every form of charity; but beg something for the Most Blessed Sacrament, and they do not know what you are talking about.
They are still willing to give for the decoration of the altar of some Saint or for some shrine where cures are wrought; but for the Most Blessed Sacrament! Not a thing!
Is the King then to go in rags while His servants are richly clothed? We have not the right kind of faith, a faith that is practical, a faith that loves; we have only a negative, speculative faith. We are Catholic in name but Protestant in practice.
Our Lord is on the altar. We are continually asking Him for favors, health, and a happy death; but we do not honor His poverty with the slightest gift. We should then hold our tongue. We are insulting Him!
Saint James says that if a poor man asks you for an alms and you send him away without giving him anything and say to him, "Go in peace," you are mocking him and you are homicidal.
Our Lord has nothing and expects everything from you. You come and say to Him: "I adore You and acknowledge You as my King. I thank You for being present in the Most Blessed Sacrament." And you do not give Him anything for the honor of His worship! You are insulting Him.
When a parish priest is obliged to wear torn and worthless vestments because he has no others, his parishioners are responsible for it. It is scandalous!
For everybody, yes, everybody can give to our Lord. And experience proves that it is not the great or the wealthy, but the poor that maintain the splendor of Eucharistic worship.
One day our Lord saw the Pharisees cast large sums of money into the treasury; their gifts did not seem to affect Him in any way. But a poor woman came and cast in a farthing, which was all she had. Our Lord stood in admiration, His heart was moved, and He could not help telling His Apostles so. This poor widow had given more than all the others because she had given of her very substance.
In the same way he who denies himself something in order to give a candle or a flower, gives more than he who can easily make a large offering. Jesus looks much less to the quantity of the gift than to the heart that gives it.
Give therefore, and give often to our Lord! Console His abandonment! Help His poverty!
BUT we are not through our subject yet. What! Jesus is present here, out of love? Well, if you believe in His presence and if you love Him, I cannot understand your not giving Him anything.
Even setting aside the question of the graces and merits you obtain through your gifts, is not the fact of giving to our Lord and glorifying our King a sufficient honor in itself?
Not everybody is allowed to pay his respects to an earthly king. This privilege is obtained only by force of patronage.
Would we even presume to offer a birthday present to a friend of higher rank than we unless we were on intimate terms with him?
Well, Jesus is indeed King since it is He Who makes kings. But He does not observe the etiquette of earthly kings; He allows us to pay Him our respects continually; He expects us to do so.
Ah! What an honor for us! Let us take advantage of this opportunity! We have but one lifetime in which to give. God is willing to accept our gifts while we are here below. Ah! May we frequently have the consolation to say: "I gave to our Lord!"
He will give Himself to us in return.
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Diliges Dominum Deum tuum ex toto corde tuo . . .
You shall love the Lord your God with your whole heart . . . (Deuteronomy vi. 5.)
"And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all things to myself."
It was from the height of His Cross that our Lord first drew all the souls to Himself by redeeming them. But when our Lord uttered these words, He certainly also had in mind His Eucharistic throne, to the foot of which He means to draw all souls so as to bind them there with the chains of His love.
Our Lord wants to instill in us a passionate love for Himself.
Any virtue or idea which does not end by becoming a passion will never produce anything great.
A childís affection is not love. A child loves by instinct and because it feels that it is loved; it loves itself in those who do it good.
A domestic servant may be devoted; his love will be real only if he is devoted out of affection for his master, without any thought of personal advantage.
Love cannot triumph unless it becomes the one passion of our life. Without such a passion we may produce isolated acts of love; but our life is not really won or consecrated to an ideal.
Unless we have a passionate love for our Lord in the Most Blessed Sacrament, we shall accomplish nothing.
Certainly, our Lord loves us passionately in the Eucharist; He loves us blindly without a thought for Himself, devoting Himself entirely for our good. We should love Him as He loves us.
In order to become a passion, our love must submit to the laws of human passions. I am speaking of honorable passions, which are naturally good; for of themselves passions are indifferent. We make them evil by directing them to an evil end. It is up to us to make good use of them.
When a man is ruled by a passion, he concentrates on it.
A man wants to attain a certain honorable and lofty position. He will work only for that; whether it takes him ten or twenty years does not matter. "Iíll get there," he says. He motivates his life; he directs everything to the realization of this one idea or desire; and he discards everything that may turn him away from his goal.
Another man wants to amass a fortune. He determines the size of it. "I will own this much wealth," he says. He exerts himself without counting the pains He uses everything as a means to his end and is indifferent to whatever is not in line with it.
Still another says: "I want to marry into this or that honorable family." To him as to Jacobís seven years of service seem as nothing. If it is necessary, he is ready to serve an extra seven years. "I will have Rachel!" And all the labors of Jacob, Scripture tells us, "seemed to him as nothing because of the greatness of his love."
This is how people succeed in the world. These passions may become bad and alas! are very often but one continual crime. But after all, they can be and still are, in themselves, honorable.
Without a passion we come to nothing; we live an aimless life and lead a useless existence.
Well, in the order of salvation, we are also in need of a passion that rules our life and makes it bring forth, for the glory of God, all the fruits our Lord expects of it.
Have a passionate love for such and such a virtue, or truth, or mystery. Devote your life, and dedicate your thoughts and labors to it. Otherwise, you will come to nothing; you will remain a day-laborer doing piece-work; but you will never be a hero.
Love the Eucharist passionately. Love our Lord in the Most Blessed Sacrament with all the ardor with which people love one another in the world, but for supernatural for supernatural motives.
To insure success in this, begin by placing your mind under the influence of this passion. Foster within you the spirit of faith. Convince your-self invincibly of the truth of the Eucharist and of the reality of the love which our Lord shows you therein.
Value highly the love and the presence of our Lord; contemplate them in an ecstasy of delight. You will thus add to your love a fuel that will feed its flames and insure its constancy.
A genius conceives a masterpiece; he pictures it in his mind; he is delighted with it; he will realize it by every possible means and at the cost of any sacrifice; he will know neither fatigue nor discouragement; he is dominated by his masterpiece; he sees it continually; he cannot turn his mind away from it.
Well, fix your mind on our Lord in the Most Blessed Sacrament and ponder on His love. Let this thought take hold of you; let it enrapture you. "What! Is it really possible that our Lord loves me to the point of always giving Himself to me without ever growing tired?"
Your mind then adheres to our Lord; all your thoughts seek and study Him; you want to fathom the reasons of His love; you are struck with amazement and are enraptured; and your heart cries out spontaneously: "How can I make answer for-so much love!"
And your love increases; for we love well only what we know well.
The heart leaps toward the Most Blessed Sacrament.
It leaps; for it has not the patience to walk.
"Jesus Christ loves me! He loves me in His Sacrament!"
The heart would burst its walls of flesh, if it could, in order to unite itself more ultimately to our Lord.
Look at the saints. Their love transports them, make them suffer, sets them on fire; it is a fire that consumes them, uses up their strength, and ends by giving them death.
A blessed death, indeed!
But if we do not all of us go that far, we can at least love our Lord passionately, and allow ourselves to be dominated by His love.
Is there not anyone in the world that you love?
Mothers, do you not love your children passionately? Wives, do you not love your husbands passionately? Children, is there room in your heart for anyone other than your parents?
Well, transfer this love to our Lord.
There are not two loves; there is only one.
Our Lord does not ask you to have two hearts, one for him and one for those you love here below.
Mothers, love our Eucharistic Lord with a motherís love. Love Him as your son. Wives, love Him as your husband. Children, love Him as your Father.
There is only one faculty of love in us, although it is drawn towards diverse objects for diverse reasons.
There are certain people who love madly their parents or friends but do not know how to love God. But what we do for a creature is what we must do for God; with the difference, however, that we must love the Good God beyond all measure, and love Him always more and more.
A soul that loves in that manner has only one power, one life: our Lord in the Most Blessed Sacrament. He is there! ... The soul lives under the influence of that thought. He is there! ... And there results an exchange of love, a fellowship of life.
Ah! Why do we not actualize our love? We go back more than eighteen centuries to seek for examples of virtue in the mortal life of our Lord.
But our Lord could say to us: "You have loved Me on Calvary because there I washed away your sins. You have loved Me in the Crib because there I was meek and lovable. Why then do you not love Me in the Blessed Sacrament where I am always with you? You have only to come. I am there, alongside of you."
Ah! Our sins are not so much what we should fear being reproached with at the Last Judgment: they are pardoned forever. But our Lord will reproach us our little love for Him.
"You loved Me less than creatures. You did not seek the happiness of your life in Me. You loved Me enough not to offend Me mortally, but not enough to live of Me!"
But we may say: "Are we then obliged to love to that extent?"
I am fully aware that there is no written precept to love that much; there is no need for one. Nothing commands it; but everything proclaims it; that law of love is written in our hearts.
Yes, what frightens me is the fact that Christians will gladly and seriously think of all other mysteries and be devoted to some saint; but they will do nothing for our Lord in the Most Blessed Sacrament.
But why this state of things? Because we cannot consider the Most Blessed Sacrament attentively without concluding: "I must love Him, and come to visit Him. I must not leave Him alone; He loves me too much."
In the case of other mysteries, every-thing is far away; it is past history and does not so easily get a hold on the heart; we do little besides admiring them. But with the Eucharist, we must give ourselves; we must abide and live in our Lord!
The Eucharist is the noblest aspiration of our heart. Let us therefore love it passionately!
Some say: "But all this is exaggeration!"
Love is nothing but exaggeration; to exaggerate is to go beyond the strict requirements of the law. Love must exaggerate.
Is not the love our Lord shows us by remaining with us without honor and without servants an exaggerated love?
He does not love who intends limiting himself to his strict duties. We love only when we feel the passion of love within us.
If you love the Eucharist passionately, you will habitually have our sacramental Lord in mind; you will find happiness at His feet; and you will be constantly seeking His good pleasure.
Come! Let us be all taken up with our Lord! Let us love Him a little for His own sake. Let us forget ourselves and give ourselves to this good Savior! Let us sacrifice ourselves a bit! Look at the candles and the sanctuary lamp, which burn without leaving any trace, without reserving anything for themselves.
Why should we not be for our Lordís sake a holocaust of which nothing would be left?
No! Let us live our own life no longer; let Jesusí Host alone live in us. He loves us so much!
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Ego sum via, et veritas, et vita.
I am the way, and the truth, and the life. (John xiv. 6.)
OUR Lord uttered these words while He was still among men, but He meant them to reach far beyond the short span of His human life. They belong to all ages; He can still repeat them in the Blessed Sacrament with as much truth as in Judea.
In the spiritual life we come upon certain artificial roads and crossroads which we are free to follow for some time and abandon later on. But our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament is the unchanging way to holiness.
He is the means as well as the model. It would avail us little to know the way if by His example He did not also teach us to follow it, We can go to Heaven only by participating in our Lordís life. Baptism infuses this life into us; the other Sacraments strengthen it. It consists specially in the practice and imitation of our Saviorís virtues.
To imitate these virtues we must see our Lord Himself practicing them. We must follow Him in all the details of His sacrifices and labors,-----which we must accept in order to establish His virtues in us. His virtues are His words translated into practical life, and His precepts translated into action. To attain perfection we must get down to the details of His virtues; for there can be no perfection without attention to detail. Non est perfectum nisi particulare.
The Eternal Word wanted to reconcile us to His Father. But since in Heaven He could not practice the human virtues, which imply struggle and sacrifice, He became Man, He took the tools of man and handled them for man to see; and since in Heaven, to which He has returned in a glorified state, He cannot exercise our virtues of patience, poverty, and, humility, He has made Himself Sacrament to continue being our model.
Our Lordís Eucharistic virtues are no longer the result of a free choice; and consequently, their acts are not meritorious. He has taken them as a form of existence, as a garment. Formerly He performed the acts of these virtues; now He has donned them as His exterior mode of being. On earth He was humble and suffered humiliations; now He reigns in glory, but in a state and under the appearances of humility in the Blessed Sacrament.
The virtues are inseparably bound to Him as His mode of being. In contemplating Him we see His virtues and we learn how to practice the acts of these same virtues. Do away with His Eucharistic humiliations, and the sacramental state ceases. Do away with His Eucharistic poverty, and let a magnificent escort accompany Him; His majesty will overwhelm us, but there will be no more love. Love proves itself by self-abasement.
In the Eucharist He practices patience and forgiveness of injuries still more than He did on Calvary. On Calvary His executioners did not know Him; but we do, and we insult Him just the same. In the Eucharist He pleads for so many deicidal cities that have outlawed Him. Were it not for this plea for pardon, the Sacrament of love would cease to exist as such, and stern justice would surround and defend His outraged Royalty.
In the Eucharist He no longer performs the acts of virtues, but He has assumed them as His form of existence. We must make the acts and thus, in a way, complete our Lord. He thereby becomes one mystical person with us. We are His acting members, His Body, of which He is the Head and the Heart; so that He can say, "I still live." We complete and perpetuate Him.
In the Blessed Sacrament therefore Jesus is the model of every virtue. We shall study a few of them in detail. There is nothing so beautiful as the Eucharist. But only the pious souls who have the habit of receiving Communion and of meditating are able to understand it. The rest can make nothing of it.
Few people think of the virtues, of the life or of the state of our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament. We treat Him like a statue; we live under the impression He is there merely to forgive our sins and listen to our prayers. That is a wrong viewpoint. Our Lord lives and acts in the Eucharist. Look at Him, study Him. and imitate Him. Those who do not find Him in the Eucharist must go back eighteen centuries, read the Gospel, and fill in its intimate details. They miss the sweetness of our Lordís words as actually spoken: "I am your Way, today; I Myself am your Way!"
Without doubt, truth never fails, and the Gospel is an immortal book. But how laborious it is for one to be always going back to the past! And that for a mere mental representation obtained at the cost of effort and fatigue. It is a more speculative way, but less of a help to virtue. Only in the Eucharist are virtues easily acquired and sustained.
Let us then remember that our Lord is in the Blessed Sacrament not merely to distribute His graces but above all to be our Way and our Model.
A mother educates her child through her presence, through a secret correspondence that exists between her heart and that of her child. The mere sound of her voice thrills the heart of her child, whereas strangers fail to make any impression at all.
We shall have the life of our Lord in us only if we live under His inspiration and receive our education from Him.
Men may show you the way of acquiring virtues, but no one other than our Lord can give them to you and see to the education of your soul. Moses and Joshua led their people, but they themselves were led by the pillar of fire. In the same way a director merely repeats our Lordís orders to you. He consults our Lord and looks for Him in you. He tries to discover the particular grace and inclinations our Lord has deposited in your soul. In order to know you, he seeks to know our Lord in you. He directs you according to the predominant grace in you, which he fosters and which he adapts to your life under the guidance of the Supreme Director of souls. He has only to repeat His orders.
Well, our Lord is in the Blessed Sacrament for everybody and not only for directors of souls. Everybody can see Him and consult Him therein. Watch Him practice virtue, and you will know what you have to do.
When you read the Gospel, transport it into the Eucharist, and from the Eucharist into yourself. Your power of understanding will then be much greater and the meaning of the Gospel much clearer; for you shall have before your very eyes the continuation of what you are reading. For our Lord, Who is our model, is likewise the Light that manifests Him as model and shows us His perfections.
Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament is His own Light, His own means of being known, just as the sun is itself its own proof. To make Himself known, He has only to show Himself. We need not resort to reasoning to understand that; a child does not have to discourse with itself to recognize its parents. Our Lord manifests Himself through the reality of His presence as parents do.
But as we grow to know His voice better, and our hearts become more detached and more in sympathy with Him, our Lord reveals Himself in a clearer light and with an intimacy known only to those who love Him. He gives the soul a Divine conviction which overshadows the light of human reason. Look at Mary Magdalene: one word from Jesus, and she recognized Him. He acts the same way in the Blessed Sacrament: He speaks only one word, but a word that rings in our very hearts: "It is I! . . ." And we sense His presence, we believe in it more firmly than if we were to see Him with our eyes.
This Eucharistic manifestation must be the starting point of all the actions of our life.. All our virtues must come from the Eucharist. For instance, you wish to practice humility: see how Jesus practices it in the Blessed Sacrament. Start with this knowledge, this Eucharistic light, and then go to the Crib if you wish, or to Calvary. Your going thither will be easier because it is natural for the mind to proceed from the known to the unknown. In the Blessed Sacrament you have our Lordís humility right before your eyes. It will be much easier for you to conclude from His actual humility to that of His birth or of any other circumstance in His life.
Follow the same process for the other virtues; it makes the Gospel less difficult to understand.
Our Lord speaks to us through His exterior mode of being. He can, better than anyone else, explain and make us understand His words and His mysteries. He moreover gives us the grace of enjoying them while understanding them. We are no longer in search of the mine; we have found it and are actually exploiting it.
Thus through the Eucharist only may we realize all the force and actuality of the Saviorís words: "I am the way." Ego sum via.
Let our sole spiritual concern be to contemplate the Eucharist and find in it the example of what we have to do in every circumstance of our Christian life.
That is what constitutes and fosters our life of union with our Eucharistic Lord; that is how we become Eucharistic in our life and attain holiness through our Eucharistic grace.
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He emptied Himself. (Philippians ii. 7.)
OUR Lord is our model in the Most Blessed Sacrament. Let us see how He teaches us the virtues out of which Saints are made. We must first look into the state of our Lord; the form of His life will be the form of our virtues.
By studying the conditions of His existence, we shall learn what He wants us to do; what is seen manifests what is unseen. We can appreciate a manís soul from his speech and his manner.
When people saw our Lord poor and associating with the poor, they knew that He was come to redeem us by poverty. When He died for our sake, He showed us what we had to do to get to Heaven.
Now, the most outstanding and striking characteristic of the state of our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament is self-abasement. In the light of this characteristic we shall understand His occupations and His virtues, each of which will, according to its own nature, take on this form, this stamp of self-abasement and humility.
Study this self-abasement, and you will learn what you have to do to resemble your model and be in the grace of Eucharistic holiness. Keep well in mind that it is the chief characteristic of Jesusí Host, and that it must be yours if you wish to be in the grace of the Eucharist.
OUR Lord is present in the Sacred Host. He assumes the state of the Sacred Species. He takes the place of their substance. He has subordinated His mode of being to the mode of being of the Species, which become the form of His life and determine its duration. He is, as it were, their subject; for He is ruled by them and is dependent on them. They do not, it is true, affect His Divine life, and the destruction of them is not detrimental to His glorified body; but, nevertheless, when they cease to exist, He withdraws. He is united to them. He is subject to their laws of motion, to the humiliations inflicted on them. He is treated like them. When we look at them, we see the state of our Lord, His exterior mode of being.
The Species are so destitute that they no longer possess their own being; the consecration has done away with the substance to which nature had bound them. They no longer own the natural property of their existence; for they exist only through a miracle. Our Lord is like the Species. In the Blessed Sacrament He has no property at all. He brings nothing from Heaven except Himself. He does not own a single stone or church. He is as poor as the Sacred Species,-----poorer therefore than at Bethlehem. There He owned at least Himself; He had a body which could move and speak and grow; He could receive visitors and accept gifts from His friends. But here, He can do nothing of all this. He is surrounded with gifts, but ail this does not change His personal condition. The altar may be of gold and a thousand lights may shine upon it; Jesus is none the less poor and hidden beneath the Sacred Species. Legally He does not exist and is incapable of receiving anything. It is as if He were dead. The glory of a religious who takes the vow of poverty is to resemble Him. Our Lord is, as it were, wrapped up and bound in a shroud. The Sacred Species are His only garment; a garment that is ever the same; a garment that is not even a substance or a natural being, and so frail that without a continual miracle, it would be destroyed and could not exist an instant. Such is our Lord in all His poverty! We need to see Him and ponder on His destitution in order to take the vow of poverty. Study His poverty, which is that of the Host, and you will learn how far you should carry the spirit of detachment and of poverty.
Moreover, these Species are most humble. Al- ways white! But white is no color. It is tedious to look at it for any length of time. And thus our Lord, so beautiful in His lifetime-----the most beautiful of the children of men-----has no visible human beauty in the Blessed Sacrament. The cloud that envelops Him prevents us from seeing anything. The most miserable of men is better off than our Lord, for he is still somebody. Our Lord has willed to be on the same level as the Species and be only something.
The Sacred Species are lifeless and motionless. Therefore He, the Word, the Life of the world, the Supreme Motor of all beings, the Life of all life, condemns Himself to remain without movement or action; He imprisons Himself. He makes Himself so little that, no matter how small a fragment of the Host may be, He is still present in it whole and entire. He has life and movement in Himself, but He makes no use of either because He has accepted the condition of the inanimate Species. Men may insult Him and spit upon Him; He will not defend Himself. If He could still suffer He would suffer more in the Host than during His life.
But you know what the Psalmist says, speaking in His name: "I am a worm and no man." The worm has nothing to cover it, whereas other animals, even caterpillars, have some kind of fur or coat. He was like a worm on the Cross when He was exposed naked to the insults of the executioners; but that lasted only a short time. In the Sacrament He does not become a worm, but He is exposed to being placed side by side with worms. So many Sacred Hosts are spoiled by accident or through negligence! They become spoiled and begin to rot. The worms set in and drive out our Lord, for He remains beneath the Species only as long as they are sound. The worms take His place. When the Host is actually undergoing decomposition and is half destroyed, Jesus Christ takes refuge in the part that is still sound. Jesus Christ and the worms contest each otherís ownership of the Host. In His exterior mode of being our Lord has taken upon Himself all the liabilities of the Sacred Species. Putredini dixit "Pater meus es: Mater mea et soror mea, vermibus." "I have said to rottenness: ĎYou are my father; to worms, my mother and my sister.í "
Lastly, the Species have no will. We may take them and carry them where we wish. No matter who commands Him, Jesus does not resist; He never says no. He allows Himself to be seized by the hands of a scoundrel; that is one of the conditions of the state He has chosen. He does not defend Himself. Society avenges assault by punishing the assaulter. But our Lord allows everything. . . . What? . . . To that extent? . . .
He abased Himself on Calvary with regard to the happiness and glory of His Divinity, and certainly also with regard to the rest of humanity. But in the Eucharist He abases Himself in His being. The lowest degree in the world of created beings is to have no substance of its own, to be a mere accident, a quality. Jesus Christ, Who cannot lose His own substance, assumes the outward state, the conditions of accidents. And He does all that to be able to say to us: "Look at Me and do as I do." Oh! We shall never succeed in imitating Him, in going down as low as He! Our eternal regret will be to have thought so little of the abasements of Jesus Christ in the Most Blessed Sacrament.
HIS abasements eclipse all that is glorious in Him. If our Lord allowed His glory to appear, He would no longer be our model of self-abasement, and we would be justified in seeking the glory and majesty of virtue. But have you seen the glory of Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament? He is a hidden Sun. He works miracles now and then; but they are rare and only serve to recall and make more impressive His habitual abasement. He wants to remain entirely hidden. He is greater when He works no miracles than when He does; for then His hands are bound by His love. If He were to show us His glory, He could no longer say to us: Discite a Me. "Look at Me. See how meek and humble of Heart I am." He would frighten us.
He conceals His Divinity much more than during His mortal life. His countenance or His bearing always betrayed something of the Divine in Him. That is why the Praetorian Guard blindfolded Him before humiliating Him. His eyes were so beautiful! But in the Host, nothing, absolutely nothing! At times, the imagination tries to picture His features; but what it sees does not answer to reality. If at least we could see Him on some day or other during the year, or during life! No! He has concealed His glory behind an impenetrable cloud.
Jesus Christ practices this self-abasement in His state of glory, and not only in a negative but also in a positive manner. A man humbles himself negatively when, being a sinner and unworthy of Godís graces, he acknowledges his misery and nothingness. It is easy for him to acknowledge that he is a good-for-nothing since he produces only fruits of death. Positive humility, however, requires a man to humble himself in the good he does or in the praise he deserves, by offering the glory of his actions to God or by spontaneously depriving himself of it as a homage to God. That is the lesson Jesus Christ teaches us by His Eucharistic self-abasement.
Humble yourself in your virtues. Certainly a Christian as such is great. He is the friend, the heir of Jesus Christ; he participates in His Divine nature. Divine grace makes him the temple and the instrument of the Holy Ghost. And what a greatness is that of the minister of the sublimest mysteries, who commands to God, Who sanctifies and saves souls, and directs them to God! Really, if we consider their sublime dignity, the Christian and the priest might well have reason to exalt themselves like the Angels in Heaven, like Lucifer in his glory.
If our Lord had contented Himself with elevating us, as He has done, we would run a great risk of losing ourselves through pride. But Jesus Christ abased His glory and greatness, and He tells us: "See how I humble Myself. I am greater than you, certainly: and yet see what I do with My greatness, and what I have become." if our Lord were not in the Host, abasing therein His glory, we priests could not say to you, "Be humble." For you could reply, "We are princes of Divine grace!" That is true, but look at your King! That thought brings bishops and the Pope himself to their knees before our Lord. On seeing them humbling themselves in His presence, we proclaim that God alone is truly great.
But take away the Eucharist, and what happens? See what happened in other religions. What has become of humility? A Protestant does not know what it means to despise greatness. He will devote himself and work hard, but for self-exaltation. There is no one so proud and haughty as your good Protestant. The Eucharist is not there, neither is humility. And as to Catholics who do not live of the Eucharist, do you not see them crown themselves with their good works? There is nothing so soothing as well deserved Christian praise. We soon pass for a Saint by multiplying our good works.
And whence comes our pride if not from our forgetfulness of the Eucharist-----that pride which finds cause for self-exaltation in the graces received, in the gifts of God, in our circle of holy and virtuous friends, or in the influence we perhaps exercise on souls? Are you affected with this pride when you communicate, when you feel within you the presence of Jesus, Who says to you, "What! You exalt yourselves with the dignities and graces I have given you, with the privileged love I bear you! But see, I annihilate Myself. Do at least as I do!"
Meditation on the self-abasement of our Lord in the Sacrament is the true road to humility. We are thus made to realize that His self-abasement is the i greatest proof of His love, and that our self-abasement ought to be the proof of ours; that we must come down to our Lord Who has placed Himself on a level with the lowest beings in creation.
That is true humility: it gives of its own and reflects back to God the honor and dignity it receives from Him. Many are of the opinion that we can humble ourselves only for our sins and our wretchedness, not for what is good and supernaturally great in us; but we certainly can. To refer to God all the good we do is the humility of homage, the most perfect kind of humility. Our Lord teaches it to us and the nearer we draw to Him, the more we humble ourselves like Him. Look at the Blessed Virgin: she was without sin, without defect, without imperfection; she was all fair, all perfect, all radiant through the grace of her Immaculate Conception and through her unceasing co-operation with Godís graces. But she humbled herself more than any other creature. Humility consists in acknowledging that without God we are nothing and in referring to Him all that we are. The more perfect we are, the more this humility increases, because we have more to give to God. We descend in proportion as we are lifted up by grace. Our graces are the stepping-stones of humility. The Eucharist teaches us then to refer to God our glory and greatness, and not merely to humble ourselves over our wretchedness. . And what a permanent lesson! Every Eucharistic soul ought therefore to become humble. A life habitually spent near Jesusí Host ought to influence us to the point of having us think and act only under the inspiration of this self-abased Divinity. It would be devilish of anyone to want to foster his pride in the presence of the Eucharist! . . . In order to feel the need of abasing ourselves, we have only to look at the Blessed Sacrament. In the presence of the Blessed Sacrament the Church puts us on our knees-----the posture of humility and of self-abasement.
Such is the humility of our Lordís state. Let us now see His humility in His actions.
OUR Lord is active in the Most Blessed Sacrament: He works, He mediates, He saves souls.
He applies the merits of His Redemption and sanctifies us. His action extends to every creature. He is the Word Who uttered the word which created all things; and He still upholds all things by His word. In the Eucharist He keeps on saying the fiat which sustains life in all creation. He is not only the Creator but also the Reformer, Restorer and King of all the earth. All nations are subjected to His rule, and the Father acts upon the world only through Him. He rules the world; and the word of command that rules it issues from the Most Blessed Sacrament. He holds the life of every being in His hand; He is Judge of the living and the dead.
Sovereigns put the stamp of royalty on everything they do or say. They have to do that; for man is governed only by love or by fear. But see our Lord! Where is the pomp of this King to Whom all power belongs in Heaven and on earth? Where is the glory, the luster in His words and His deeds? At every instant millions of Angels leave the tabernacle and return to it after having carried out His orders. The tabernacle is their center and headquarters; for there lives the Commander-in-Chief of the heavenly armies. Do you see or hear anything? All creatures obey Him, and we do not hear a sound. That is His way of concealing His action, of commanding in His state of self-abasement. And men who are in command of others think they are something! They give their orders in a loud voice, imagining they thereby command with greater effect! That is a lesson for superiors and heads of families; they should be humble in commanding others in order to imitate our Lord in the Most Blessed Sacrament.
Note this other detail about the humility of our Lord. He is invisible when He issues His orders; if He were visible, we would not want to obey anyone else but Him. He hides Himself so that we may obey our fellow men, to whom He has given a reflection of His authority. What a wonderful union of authority and humility!
Moreover, our Lord conceals the holiness of His works. Holiness is divided into two parts. The first has to do with the interior life of the soul with God. It is the more important of the two; for in it are perfection and life. It mostly always suffices and takes the place of everything. It consists in contemplation and in the interior immolation of the soul. The second part has to do with the exterior life.
Contemplation is made up of the relations of the soul with God, the Angels, and the spiritual world. It is the life of prayer which gives holiness its worth and is the source of charity and love. We must keep this life hidden. God alone must possess the secret of it; it could not be revealed to man without the soulís being exposed to pride. God has reserved this life for Himself and wants to direct it Himself. Even a Saint would not be equal to the task. It is the nuptial relation of the soul with God which takes place in the privacy of the oratory with the doors closed. Intra in cubiculum tuum, et clauso ostio, ora Patrem tuum in abscondito. "Enter into your chamber, and having shut the door, pray to your Father in secret." It is hard to "pray in secret." We are always eager to be up and doing; we are always thinking of what we will do or say in this or that circumstance. We have not the key to prayer. We cannot keep quiet. Look at our Lord in the Host: He prays; He is the Great Suppliant of the Church. By His prayer He obtains more than all creatures put together; but He prays in His state of self-abasement. Who sees His prayer? Who hears Him praying? The Apostles saw Him pray on earth; they could hear His groanings in the garden of Olives. But here, nothing! His prayer is then most hidden; but it is all the more powerful for its being more sacrificed. Press a sponge, and it gives up the liquid it contained. We must have compression to develop a great force of expansion. Well, our Lord abases Himself, reduces Himself to nothing, compresses Himself so that His love may "spring up" to His Father with, infinite force.
The contemplative soul sees in Him her model. She does not want to be known; she wants to be alone; she collects her thoughts and retires within herself. How many souls there are whom the world despises but who are most powerful because their prayer is like the humble and hidden prayer of Jesusí Host! They need the Eucharist to nourish and sustain this hidden and intense prayer. Were they to try being self-sufficient, they would go out of their minds. Jesus alone can with His gentleness temper the force of that prayer.
The interior life consists also in immolation. The senses, the body, and the faculties must be kept quiet if the soul is to be free and undisturbed in prayer. Every soul that wants to perfect herself interiorly must sustain within herself a combat which is beyond comparison.
Here again our Lordís life of self-abasement is our model. Who immolates himself more than He? Some say that He does not suffer any more. But in order to have a real immolation, it is not necessary to have actual suffering; it suffices to place oneself, in the state and will of sacrifice. It is a mistake to think that the merit of sacrifice depends entirely on our feeling pain actually and exteriorly. Many persons say: "I have no merit, for nothing is hard for me to do. I do everything easily; therefore I am doing nothing for God." That leads one to abandon the path of holiness. Piety so loves to see what it is doing, and to feel that it is doing something, that it is giving.
But, tell me, do you count for nothing the first sacrifice you had to make to begin practicing this or that virtue? Undoubtedly it cost you something. And is not the repetition of that act also something? Does it not prove the perseverance of your will? Remember that sacrifice exists in the will; and although force of habit may dull the sting of sacrifice, still the will remains steadfast and strengthens itself by habit. The agony, the death to self comes at the beginning, with the first act; then, peace returns to the soul; but the merit lasts and increases with the repetition and continuation of the sacrifice. Out of filial love we sustain heroic sacrifices with simplicity, without feeling the cost of them. Out of love of God the Saints endure great sufferings with joy. Are those sacrifices and sufferings of less value because they are accompanied by a happiness which makes them less felt?
Well, our Lord does not suffer in the Sacrament, but He has voluntarily assumed this state of immolation. The merit was acquired at the outset when Jesus, aware of the contumelies and abuses He would have to endure on the part of men, accepted everything, instituted the Sacrament, and clothed Himself in the state of victim. This merit certainly endures; it is not exhausted. Our Lordís will embrace every age and clime, and accepted everything freely. And to give a proof of His continued will to be immolated, He commanded His Church to represent His immolation at Holy Mass by the separation of the accidents of wine from those of i bread, and by the breaking of the Host into three parts. In Communion He loses His sacramental being in the body of the communicant. Do you see this continual immolation?
We do not understand the mystery which, in the Eucharist, unites life and immolation, glory and humiliation. This is a mystery which God alone knows. Here again our Lord teaches the interior soul to make her intimate sufferings known to God alone.
Let us not reveal our sufferings to men! They would pity us or praise us, but to our detriment. Look at your model in the Blessed Sacrament. Oh! How many of those who pray and who communicate know nothing of our Lordís hidden action! They do not even suspect it.
Our Lord also teaches us to conceal the external acts of the Christian life and not to receive even deserved praise for them. To imitate Him, we allow others to see only the wretched side of our good works; the other side will shine all the more in Heaven. We ought to act thus every time we are free to give our actions the outward form we want. When we must perform good works in public, let us do our best for the sake of edification. But if they are personal good works, let us conceal them and we shall be acting according to our Eucharistic grace. Who sees our Lordís virtues?
By way of a conclusion to all this, recall the self-abasement of Jesus Christ in the Blessed Sacrament. Abase yourself like Him. Destroy yourself, as it were; He must increase, and you must decrease. Let self-abasement be the characteristic of your virtue and of your whole life. Become like the Species that have nothing left of their own and subsist only by a miracle. Have no longer any consideration for yourself; expect nothing from yourself; and do nothing for yourself; practice self-abasement.
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Discite a Me, quia mitis sum et humilis corde.
Learn of Me, because I am meek and humble of heart. (Matthew xi. 29.)
JESUS teaches us by His Eucharistic mode of existence to abase ourselves in order to resemble Him. Friendship wants equality of life and of condition. To live of the Eucharist we must abase ourselves with Jesus Who abases Himself therein. Let us penetrate into the Heart, into the soul of Jesus. Let us see what sentiments animated Him and still animate Him in the Sacrament.
We belong to Jesusí Host; does He not give Himself to us in order to absorb us in Himself? We must live of His spirit and listen to His teachings, for Jesus is our Teacher in the Eucharist. He Himself wants to show us how to serve Him according to His taste and His will. This is quite right since He is our Lord and we are only His servants.
Jesus reveals His spirit to me in these words: "Learn of Me that I am meek and humble of heart." When the sons of Zebedee wanted to call down fire from Heaven to consume a city that refused to receive their Master, Jesus said to them: "You know not of what spirit you are." Nescitis cujus spiritus estis. The spirit of Jesus, therefore, is humility and meekness; that is to say, a humility and meekness of heart that is loved and accepted out of love in order to resemble Jesus Christ. Our Lord wants to form these virtues in us; that is why He remains in the Sacrament and comes into us. He wants to be our Master in the acquisition of these virtues; we can learn them and receive the grace of them from Him alone.
HUMILITY of heart is the tree which yields the flower and the fruit of meekness. Discite a Me, quia humilis corde. "Learn of Me that I am humble of heart." Jesus says humble of heart; but was He not also humble of mind? Jesus was not subject to the negative humility of the mind, which is based on the sinfulness and nothingness of our corrupt nature. He nevertheless acted as if He was, in order to set us an example. Thus, although He was without sin, He humbled Himself like a sinner. He had nothing to be ashamed of. As the good thief put it: Hic nihil mali gessit. "This man hath done no evil." But we have everything to be ashamed of. We have done a great deal of evil and do not even know all the evil we are guilty of.
Jesus was not subjected to the ignorance of our fallen nature. But we know nothing; we know only what is evil. We distort the notion of justice and goodness. In spite of His knowing everything, Jesus had the humility of one who knows nothing; He lived in retirement for thirty years, learning all the while.
He was endowed with all the natural gifts. He knew and could do everything to perfection, but He did not show it. He did His work with no special skill, after the fashion of an apprentice. Nonne hic est jabri filius? "Is not this the carpenterís son?" people said, "a carpenter like His father?"
Jesus never displayed that He knew everything. Even in His teachings, He declared that He was merely repeating the words of His Father. He limited Himself to His mission and fulfilled it in the simplest and humblest manner. He behaved like a man who is really humble of mind. He never boasted of anything, never sought to shine, or pass for a wit, or seem better informed than others.
Even in the Temple when He stood in the midst of the doctors, He listened to them and asked them questions to improve His knowledge. Audientem illos, et interrogantem eos.
Jesus had the positive humility of the mind which consists not in humiliating oneself in oneís misery, but in referring to God what is good and in humiliating oneself in oneís good deeds. He was dependent for all things on His Father. He consulted Him, and obeyed those who took His place on earth. He referred to His Father the glory of everything that was good. The positive humility of His mind was magnificent, wonderful, Divine. Ego autem non quaero gloriam meam. "But I seek not Mv own glory." But it does give Him glory; it is a humility born of love and good will.
We ought to have the negative humility of the mind because we are sinners and ignorant; it is an obligation of justice. The fact that we are the followers and servants of Jesus adds another reason why we should practice that kind of humility. In His commandment to be humble, however, Jesus spoke to us only of humility of the heart. It seemed to Him in His love for us that to mention humility of the mind would humiliate us too much. It would recall too much wretchedness, too many sins, and too many reasons to be despised for. The love of Jesus threw a veil over this distressing aspect of the problem and invited us to be like Him, to have humility of heart: humiles corde.
But what is humility of the heart? It consists in receiving humiliations from God with a submissive love, as if they were something that is good or that glorifies Him exceedingly; in accepting oneís state of life and oneís duties whatever they are, and in not being ashamed of oneís condition; in acting simply and naturally when favored with extraordinary graces from God. If I love Jesus, I ought to resemble Him; if I love Jesus, I ought to love what He loves, what He does, what He prefers to all else: humility.
Humility of the heart is easier than humility of the mind, since it is merely concerned with a very high and noble ideal; namely, to resemble Jesus Christ, to love and glorify Him in the sublime circumstances in which He practiced this type of humility.
Have we this humility of heart, or rather this love of the humility of Jesus? Perhaps we have the humility that goes with devotedness, glory, and success, and that gives itself purely and without any motive of human glory; but we have not the humility which descends with John the Baptist, who abased and concealed himself and was happy to be set aside for our Lord; we have not the humility of Jesus in the Sacrament, hidden and humiliated to glorify His Father.
Our love of the humility of Jesus is His glory and victory in us; around it must be fought the real battle which is to mark our triumph over the natural man in us.
There is the humility that is practiced in the days of prosperity and plenty, in the hour of success and glory, and in time of power. This sort of humility ought to be quite easy; for we find a certain joy in humbling ourselves, that is, in giving God the glory of our actions. But there is the positive humility of the heart which is called for when exterior and interior humiliations assail the mind, the heart, the body, and our undertakings: a real storm that overwhelms us. That is the humility of our Lord and of all the Saints. To love God in such circumstances and to thank Him for our condition, that is to he truly humble of heart.
How may we acquire this virtue? Neither logic nor reflection will help us any; thinking nice thoughts about it or taking heroic resolutions would lead us to believe we had already acquired it, and we would content ourselves with that. We must simply enter into the mind of our Lord; we must observe and consult Him, and act under His Divine influence, in partnership with Him, out of love for Him. We must concentrate our thoughts on His Divine humility of heart and offer our actions to Him, humiliated out of love in His Sacrament and preferring this obscure condition to any glory; we must examine our actions to see whether we have not sought our own interest in them. Let us repeat often: "Jesus, so humble of heart, make our hearts like unto Thine."
MEEKNESS is the fruit of humility of heart; that is why Jesus is meek. This virtue forms, as it were, the true characteristic of His life; it is the soul of it.
"Learn of Me that I am meek!" He does not say: "Learn of Me that I am penitent, poor, wise, silent; but that I am meek." Why? Because fallen man is naturally and fundamentally irascible, full of hatred, irritable, revengeful, homicidal in his heart, fierce of eye, malicious in his speech, and violent in his members. Wrath is natural to him because he is proud, ambitious, and sensual; because he is unhappy and humiliated in his fallen state. He is of a sour disposition, as we say of a man who has suffered unjustly.
Interior meekness. Our Lord is meek in His heart. He loves His neighbor, seeks his welfare, and thinks only of the good He can do him. He judges His neighbor according to His mercy only and not His justice; the hour of justice has not yet come. Jesus is a tender mother, the Good Samaritan. The weak child, the sinner, the just man, everyone shares in the tender affection of His Heart.
This Heart is not indignant in the least against those who despise Him, who insult Him, who wish or do Him harm, or who are making ready to do so. He knows them all and has nothing but compassion for them. He feels sorry for their unhappy state. Videns civitatem, flevit super illam. "Seeing the city, He wept over it."
Jesus is meek by nature; He is the Lamb of God. He is meek out of virtue, in order to glorify His Father by this state. He is meek out of obedience to His Father; meekness was to be His characteristic so that He might attract sinners, encourage them to come to Him, attach them to Him, and establish them in the law of God.
We are greatly in need of this meekness of heart. We are without it; very often we are quite irritable in our thoughts and judgments. We judge persons and things too much from our own standpoint or from that of success, and we crush those who oppose us. We ought to judge them like our Lord, either with His holiness or with His mercy; we would then be always charitable, and we would not lose our peace of heart. Jugis pax cum humili. "Lasting peace is the lot of the humble."
If we foresee that we are to meet with contradiction, how our imagination boils over with arguments, proofs, and convincing replies! But how unlike this is to the meekness of the Lamb! It is self-love which sees only its own self and its interests. If we are in authority, we see only ourselves, the duties of our inferiors, the virtues they ought to have, the heroism of obedience, the strong hand in commanding, the obligation of humiliating and crushing others, the example to be made; all that is not worth a single act of meekness. "Let him that commands become the most humble," says our Savior. We are and ought to be only the disciples of the Master Who is meek and humble of heart,-----Servus servorum Dei. "Servant of the servants of God," and not army generals.
Why do we make a show of so much power, and this so frequently, against what opposes us? Why this anger, which is certainly not holy, against what is evil, against the unbelievers and the impious? Alas! At bottom it is our vanity urging us on. We imagine we are giving evidence of energy, when we are merely being impatient and cowardly. Our Lord would have pity on those poor people. He would pray for them and, in His relations with them, would try to honor His Father by meekness and humility.
Besides, this vehemence and sharpness of manner gives bad example. O my God! Make my heart meek like Thine!
Meekness of mind. Jesus is meek in His mind. In all things He sees only God His Father; and in men, the creatures of God, He is a father, weeping over his wayward children and trying to bring them back home; dressing their wounds no matter what may have caused them; and eager to restore Divine life to them. His mind is all taken up with the thought of His fatherhood and with grief over the unhappy condition of His children. He is worried over their well-being and is working for it. He does this in a spirit of peace and not of anger, indignation, or revenge. Thus David wept over his guilty son, Absalom, and ordered his life to be spared. Thus Mary, the Mother of sorrows, wept over the executioners of her Son and obtained their forgiveness.
True charity thrives, in the mind as well as in the heart, on the restoration of what was good, and not on the sight of evil and the means of avenging it. It never divorces man from his present or future supernatural state. It looks at him in God so as not to see in him an enemy; charity is meek and patient.
The evil tendencies we have unearthed in our heart are likewise to be found in our mind and in our imagination, which stir up so many storms within us and would have us use violence right and left. We must stop these revolts; one pleading look to Jesus, and calm will be restored.
MEEK in His heart and in His mind, Jesus was quite naturally so in His exterior demeanor.
The meekness of Jesus was like the sweet fragrance of His charity and holiness. It controlled all the movements of His body. There was nothing violent about His gestures; they were dignified like His thoughts and feelings, of which they were the expression. He walked slowly, without precipitation; wisdom regulated everyone of His movements. His body, His bearing, His dress, everything about Him spoke of order, poise, and peace. It was the reign in Him of a meek modesty; for modesty is the meekness of the body as well as its glory. Our Savior held His head in a modest attitude, that had nothing haughty, arrogant, or domineering about it; nor, on the other hand, was it too mean or too timid. Its attitude was that of a simple and unassuming modesty.
His eyes expressed no feeling of anger or indignation. They had a look of respect for superiors, of love for His Mother and Saint Joseph at Nazareth, of kindness for His disciples, of tender compassion for sinners, and of merciful forgiveness for His enemies.
Meekness enthroned on His sacred lips. He opened them with modesty and gentle gravity. Our Savior spoke little. No buffoonery, no word of raillery or of curiosity ever crossed His lips. All His words, like His thoughts, were the fruit of wisdom. He made use ofí expressions that were simple, always becoming and within the reach of His hearers, who for the most part were poor and ordinary folk.
Our Lord avoided any offensive personal remarks when He preached. He attacked only the vices of a school, of a caste, also the bad examples and scandals. He did not reveal hidden crimes or secret defects.
He did not shun those who hated Him. He left no duty undone, no truth unsaid out of fear, or to avoid being contradicted, or to please some personage or other. He was never hasty in making reproaches, nor did He utter any prophecy concerning Himself before the time set by His Father. He lived in unvarying simplicity and meekness with those who were to desert Him, although He knew who they were; since the time to speak had not yet come, the future was to Him as if He knew it not.
Our Lord was wonderfully patient with all the crowds that harassed Him. He was delightfully calm in the midst of all the agitations, requests, and unreasonable demands of an uncouth and earthly-minded people.
What is still more admirable is the great calm, gentleness, and kindness of our Lordís life with disciples that were rude, unintelligent, touchy, selfish, and vain over their association with the Master. Our Lord showed the same love to all. He did not play favorites, nor was He especially familiar with anyone. Jesus was sweetness, meekness, and love.
If we compare our life to that of Jesus Christ, what a condemnation! Our self-love becomes edged like a sword when it deals with certain persons whose lives and characters are particularly offensive to our pride. These fits of impatience, these reproaches, and these trenchant airs all spring from our laziness, which wants promptly to get rid of or be freed from some obstacle, sacrifice or duty, and which makes us avoid them or finish them with precipitation.
Alas! That posing, those airs, and those words are, in truth, quite ridiculous. I hope the Good Master has pity on us for it all; it comes from childishness or stupidity.
It is to be noted that meekness with the great or with those who can cater to our vanity is weakness, adulation, cowardice, and that the use of force on the weak is inhuman; the humiliating of others is often but a secret revenge. a My God! . . .
THE meekness of Jesus scored its greatest triumph in His virtue of silence.
Jesus, Who was come to regenerate the world, began by keeping silence in public for thirty years. And yet, there were so many vices to reform in the world, so many wandering souls to bring back, so many imperfections in Divine worship, so many transgressions among the Levites and the rulers of the nation! Our Lord reproves no one. He is content with praying, with doing penance, and with resisting evil and asking Godís pardon for it.
What beautiful things our Lord could have said during those thirty years for our instruction and consolation! He did not say them. He listened to the ancients and attended the instructions given in the synagogue by the scribes and the doctors of the Law, just like a simple Israelite from the lowest rank of the people. He could have reprimanded and reformed delinquents; but He did not. It was not yet the time.
He was Uncreated Wisdom, the Word of God, the Creator of speech, and the Source of truth, but He did not speak. He honored His Father by His meek and humble silence. His silence tells us more eloquently than words, "Learn that I am meek and humble of heart."
Oh! What a condemnation of our life! We talk nonsense, often speaking of what we do not know, solving doubtful matters by declaring them certain, asserting and imposing our own opinion. How often we say things we ought not to say, and reveal what the most elementary humility should hush! And so our Lord treats us like loquacious or impertinent persons. He lets us do all the talking, but to our own confusion. His thought is not one with ours, and His grace is not in our words to make them effective.
The silence of Jesus was patient. He listened to everything others had to say to Him without ever interrupting them, although He knew beforehand what they were going to say; He answered them Himself. He reproved and corrected people with kindness like the best of masters would a young pupil, without humiliating anyone or hurting anyoneís feelings. He listened to things unpleasant to hear and irrelevant to the topic of conversation. He always managed to find an opportunity to instruct and do good.
With us, things are altogether different. We cannot withhold an answer on matters we are well acquainted with. We are bored to have to listen to what delays or crosses us. We show it in our face and manner. That is not the spirit of our Lord, not even of a well-bred man, of a good and honest pagan. There are a host of circumstances in life when patience, meekness, and a humble silence become the virtue of the moment and must be, in Godís sight, the only fruit of a time we think lost. His grace tells us so. Let us hearken to His voice and obey Him simply and faithfully.
What shall we say of the meekness of our Lordís silence in the time of suffering?
Jesus was habitually silent when confronted with the incredulity of several of His disciples, or with the wickedness and ingratitude of the heart of Judas, whose perfidious thoughts and infamous machinations He well knew. Jesus was self-possessed, calm, and affectionate with everyone as if He knew nothing. He carried on His usual relations with them and respected His Fatherís secret concerning them.
Oh! What a lesson against rash judgments, suspicions, and secret antipathies!. Jesus gave precedence to the law of charity and social duties over" His knowledge of the secret of hearts, because such was the order of Divine Providence. Before His judges Jesus declared with simplicity the truth of His mission and of His Divinity. Before the High Priests He declared that He is the Son of God, and before the Roman governor, that He is King. He remained silent in the presence of the curious and lascivious Herod. He kept the silence of a convict while the Praetorian Guard made sacrilegious and mocking sport of Him. He accepted without complaint the stripes of the scourging, the affront of the Ecce Homo. He did not appeal at the reading of His unjust condemnation. He accepted His Cross with love and ascended Calvary in the midst of the curses, the insults, and the ill-treatment of all the people. When the malice of men had spent itself and the executioners had done their work, then He opened His mouth and spoke: "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do!"
Ah! How can such a sight fail to break our heart with sorrow and move it with love!
What shall we say about the Eucharistic meekness of Jesus? How express in words His kindness in receiving everybody; His affability in stooping to the level of everybody, the poor and the ignorant; His patience in listening to what everybody has to say and in lending ear to the tale of all our troubles; His kindness in Communion in which He gives Himself according to the disposition of each one, and comes to all with joy, provided He finds in them the life of grace and some little feeling of devotion, or a few good desires, and at least a minimum of respect! How express His generosity in giving every communicant the amount of grace he can carry and in paying for the soulís hospitality with His peace and love.
And what patient and merciful meekness towards those who forget Him! He waits for them.
He prays for those who spurn and offend Him, but He does not complain, nor does He threaten them. He does not punish at once those who outrage Him sacrilegiously, but tries to win them over to repentance by His meekness and kindness. The Eucharist is the triumph of the meekness of Jesus Christ.
WHAT are the means for acquiring the meekness of Jesus? It is easy to see the beauty, the good, and even the necessity of a virtue, especially of meekness but to go no further is to act like the patient who has at hand the remedy that will cure him but does not take it; or like a traveler who is content to sit down comfortably and look at the road on which he has to journey.
The best means for acquiring the meekness of the Heart of Jesus is the love of our Lord. Love always tends to effect identity of life between those who love each other. Love will make use of three means to achieve this result. Love will first put out the flaming fires of anger, impatience: and violence by warring against self-love, which is manifested in the three concupiscences of the heart. We feel provoked because some obstacle checks our sensuality, our pride, and our desire to cut a figure or to receive honors. To fight against these three ruling passions is to attack the enemies of meekness. We must next learn to have more zeal for what is to be done in the order of Divine Providence than for what we are actually doing. For if we are vexed, we are so because we are taken away from an occupation which we prefer to the one God would have us do. If we are much like Jesus, we will leave everything to obey Godís will. Whatever we are asked to do will be, in our estimation, the best and most pleasant thing for us. Such a transformation can be brought about in us only if, out of love, we give our preference to what the will of God has decreed for every moment of our life; for God constantly varies our graces and our duties for His glory and our greater good. We are like a servant who gives up the service of an ordinary master for that of the sovereign himself. How encouraging is this thought and how well able to keep us in a state of meekness and peace in the midst of the vicissitudes of life! But of all the means the best is to keep constantly before our eyes our Lordís example, His desire and His good pleasure. The power of this means lies in its appeal to our natural sense of the beautiful, the good, and the true. To acquire meekness let us contemplate the Eucharist. To be well stocked with sweetness and meekness, let us eat the Divine manna which contains all sweetness. At Holy Communion let us gather our provision of meekness for the day; we need it so much.
To be meek like our Lord and for love of Him, such is the aim of a soul that wants to live of the spirit of Jesus.
O my soul, be meek toward your trying neighbor as God, our Lord, and the Blessed Virgin are meek toward You. Be meek toward him so that your Judge may be meek toward You; for, as our Lord told the Jews, "with what measure you mete, it shall be measured to you again." If you reflect on your sins, on what you have deserved and still deserve, you should become all meekness and humility towards your neighbor since you yourself have been treated by our Lord with so much kindness and meekness and patience and honor.
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Beati pauperes spiritu.
Blessed are the poor in spirit. (Matthew v. 3.)
THE spirit, virtue, and life of Jesus are a spirit, virtue, and life of poverty, and of an absolute and perpetual poverty. The Eternal Word adopted it at Bethlehem. On His becoming man, He took what was most humiliating about poverty, the abode of beasts, and what was most difficult about it, the stable, the manger, the straw, the cold, the night. He was born far from the homes of men, who offered Him no assistance in His need. In order to be poorer still, the Word made flesh willed to be born during a journey and be refused hospitality on account of the poverty of His parents.
He then spent a part of His childhood in Egypt, a foreign land hostile to the Jews, so that His parents might be still poorer and more forsaken, if that could be. At Nazareth He spent thirty years in the practice of poverty. His home was poor; to be convinced of this, it is enough to see the poverty of that home at Loreto. His furniture was poor; He had only what was strictly necessary, and even that was very plain, the kind poor people use; our Ladyís wooden dish, still preserved at Loreto, is a good proof of it. His clothes were poor; His tunic, which we may see at Argenteuil, was of common wool; His swaddling-clothes were of coarse cloth. His food was that of the poor; it was the fruit of the labor of a poor carpenter, who could earn only the necessaries of life.
Jesus wanted to appear poor in all He did. He considered Himself the poorest of all and always took the last place. He honored and respected everybody just as the poor do. He was silent and listened humbly to the instructions in the synagogue. He never made a show of wisdom or of extraordinary knowledge, but lived the life common to those of His rank. He lived like a poor man and went along unnoticed and forgotten like one.
In everything He did and procured for Himself, He sought what was poorest. See Him during His apostolic life. He kept on wearing working clothes and continued living like the poor. He knelt on the bare ground for prayer. He ate barley bread, the bread of the poor. He lived on charity. He traveled like the poor and, like them, experienced hunger and thirst without being able to satisfy it as He pleased. His poverty made Him contemptible in the eyes of the rich and the great; in spite of that He did not hesitate to tell them: Vae vobis divitibus! "Woe to you, O ye rich men of the earth!"
He chose disciples poor like Himself, and for bade them to have two coats, or provisions for the future, or money, or a staff wherewith to defend themselves.
He died forsaken and stripped even of His poor garments. He was buried in a borrowed shroud and laid in a sepulcher offered by the charity of friends.
Even after His Resurrection He appeared to His Apostles in the trappings of poverty.
Lastly, in the Most Blessed Sacrament His love of poverty leads Him to veil the glory of His Divinity and the splendor of His glorified humanity. He deprives Himself therein of all freedom and of exterior action as well as of all ownership in order to be all the poorer and have nothing He can call His Own. In a way, He is in the Eucharist as in His holy Motherís womb, wrapped up in the Sacred Species and hidden beneath them, awaiting from the charity of man the matter of His Sacrament and the articles required for worship. Such is the poverty of Jesus: He has loved it and made it His inseparable companion.
WHY did Jesus Christ choose this constant state of poverty?
In the first place, because as a child of Adam He had adopted the state of our exiled nature, which had been stripped of its rights over inferior creatures; in the second place, because He wanted to sanctify by His poverty all the acts of poverty to be performed in His Church. He became poor in order that through His not caring about earthly possessions He might detach us from them and impart to us the riches of Heaven. He became poor so that poverty, which is our condition, our penance, and our means of reparation, might through Him become honorable, desirable, and lovable. He became poor to show us and prove us His love. He remains poor in the Sacrament, in spite of: His glorified state, in order always to be our living and visible model.
And thus poverty, which in itself is not likable since it is a punishment and a privation, becomes noble and full of charm through Jesus Christ, Who adopted it as His form of life, based His Gospel upon it, and made it the first of the Beatitudes and His Divine heiress.
It is holy through Jesus since it was His great virtue, and since it repairs Godís glory, destroyed by Original Sin and our own personal sins. It gives rise to the virtue of penance by the privations which it entails. It furnishes a natural occasion for the practice of patience, which is quite indispensable for the completing and perfecting of our undertakings. It sustains humility which it feeds with the humiliations that are its unfailing companions. It supposes that one has enough meekness and strength of character to face a long siege of suffering; for suffering without consolation or friendly assistance usually follows upon it. It must be meek, for one does not give anything to an insolent beggar. It must be full of deference and respect towards all those who give it help. It must be grateful, for that is its power. It must pray, for that is its life. And what glory poverty gives to God!
No matter what happens, poverty is content with its condition because it comes from God. It offers as homage to God everything that makes up its condition. It is grateful for trials as well as for good fortune. It adores God in all things and prefers Him to any condition. Its wealth is in the holy will of God. It places itself in the hands of His paternal providence whether this be manifested through mercy, or kindness, or even justice. Jacta super Dominum curam tuam, et ipse te enutriet. "Cast your care upon the Lord, and He shall sustain You." Those that are poor supernaturally are Godís property.
Oh! How enrapturing is the poverty which makes us love God above all else! Christian poverty is beautiful, but more beautiful still is religious poverty which honors God by giving up everything and abandoning itself in all things to His goodness. The love of pleasure ruined man; poverty rehabilitates him and restores him to happiness. But above all how admirable is the poverty of Jesus in the Most Blessed Sacrament where He deprives Himself of all glory, of all freedom, of every kind of natural good, and where He depends on the charity of man and is at his mercy! That is real love!
Accordingly, all those who wish to be Saints must love poverty; and to become a great Saint, one must both love poverty and live in the state of poverty. Perfection or sanctity consists in our always preferring to have less than more, in simplifying our life by cutting down the number of its pleasures, in pauperizing ourselves for the love of our Lord, in imitating His poverty and in making it the law of our interior and exterior life, the form of the life of Jesus in us.
LET us consider the spiritual poverty of Jesus Christ; it is the crown and the life of the virtue of poverty. We are ignorant; consequently we ought to keep quiet and listen. Our Lord, Who knew all things since He was the Word or Intellect of the Father, was silent the greater part of His life, as if He had been totally uninformed. How difficult it is to persuade ourselves we should have that kind of poverty! We are full of spiritual vanity!
Jesus was endowed with all the virtues to the highest degree, and He declared that of Himself He had nothing. We have really nothing worthwhile in our heart. In the presence of God we are dry and barren like a stone or a beast of burden. Our heart does not know what to say to God; it can produce nothing but thorns and thistles. Is that anything to be proud of? It is a poor soil that can grow only weeds.
Our Lordís power for good was limitless; He nevertheless relied for everything on the power of His Father.
We are powerless for good. Our poverty is still more destitute in that than in anything else; for we have done a great deal of evil and very little good, and to make matters worse, we have spoiled with imperfections what little good we have done.
Such is the poverty of our soul. We must make a virtue of it. But to do this, we must go to our Lord through this state of poverty and perform acts of it like the child that is weak, ignorant, clumsy, and spoils everything but is nevertheless at peace with itself and happy near its mother. Its mother takes the place of everything; in like manner, let the poverty of Jesus be all our riches! A poor man is usually without resources, without learning, without power; nevertheless, he lives at peace in his condition. He is fond of his rags, since they entitle him to a share in the charities of the rich. If he has any sores, he takes pleasure in showing them; he earns his bread with them.
But is not our Lord more kind and tender than a mother? Is He not our sweet providence, our light, our all? Let us then serve Him in a spirit of poverty and in true humility of heart. Let us remain in the world without any protection; Jesus in the Sacrament has none, and neither have the poor. Who would not wonder at the interior and exterior poverty of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph?
A poor man has nothing, clings to nothing, can do nothing by himself, and knows he means nothing to others. If the opposite were the truth, he would be very rich; for the goods of the mind are much more valuable than the goods of the body, and there is more glory in our being able to give advice than to give a few pieces of silver.
Interior poverty, understood in this sense, becomes a remedy for the three concupiscences within us. It attacks vanity, the desire to know always more, and the sensuality of the mind. If we are convinced that we are lacking in mind, in heart, in energy, in constancy, and in strength, we shall practice poverty quite naturally and make it our condition. We shall want to depend on God for everything: on His light for our mind, on His grace for our will, on His love for our heart, on His Cross for our body.
But if we are to love this poverty, we must see it and love it in our Lord, Who is so poor in the Sacrament and is forever repeating to us: Sine Me nihil pot est is facere. "Without Me, you can do nothing, you have nothing. I am your only wealth. Do not seek any other either in yourself or around you."
IF WE are bound to be poor by our state of life, what is the source of our sins against it?
And if we are not in the religious life, what is the source of the antipathy we experience against being poor out of love?
The first source of it is vanity. We want to have beautiful things among our personal belongings. We pick out what is best and precious and dazzling, under the pretext that such things last longer. It would be better to consult our Lord and the spirit of poverty; one act of this virtue would be more profitable to us than all that would-be economy.
Sensuality also leads us to transgress poverty by the extreme care we take of ourselves. What expensive measures we resort to against the slightest indisposition! Ah! Many of us are more afraid of poverty than of humility or modesty or any other virtue.
We must therefore take to poverty resolutely if we want to resemble our Lord. Let each one of us, according to his condition, aim at having fewer and less expensive things. Let everything that we buy or receive be a tribute to the holy poverty of our Master Jesus Christ.
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A child is born to us. (Isaias ix. 6.)
Christmas is a lovely feast. We always greet it with joy. Our love gives it a new life, and the Eucharist is Its continuation. Bethlehem and the Cenacle are inseparably linked together; they complete each other. Let us study the relations that exist between the two.
The Eucharist was sown at Bethlehem. What is the Eucharist but ďthe wheat of the electĒ and ďthe living bread?Ē Now, wheat must be sown. It must fall into the soil, and spring up, and ripen, and be harvested, and be ground before it can be made into good bread.
When He was born on the straw of the stable, the Word was preparing His Eucharist, which He considered the complement of all His other mysteries. He was coming to be united to man. During His life He would establish with man a union of grace, a union of example and of merit; but only in the Eucharist would He consummate the most perfect union of which man is capable here below. If we want to understand the Divine plan, we must not lose sight of the Divine idea, of that purpose our Lord had in mind: a union of grace through the mysteries of His life and death; a physical and personal union through the Eucharist. Both unions were to prepare the consummation of union in glory.
Just as a traveler never loses sight of the goal of his journey and directs every step towards it, so throughout His whole life our Lord secretly prepared the Eucharist and brought it ever nearer.
This heavenly wheat was as it were sown at Bethlehem, the ďHouse of bread.Ē See the wheat on the straw. Trodden down and crushed, this straw represents poor humanity. Of itself it is barren. But Jesus will lift it into position in Himself, will restore it to life, and will make it fruitful. ďUnless the grain of wheat falling into the ground . . .Ē
This Divine grain has been sown. The tears of Jesus are the moisture that will make it grow into beautiful wheat. Bethlehem is built on a hill facing Jerusalem. When this ear of wheat has ripened, it shall lean towards Calvary where it shall be ground and shall be set on the fire of suffering to become a living bread.
Kings will come to eat of it and find it delicious: ďIt shall yield dainties to kings.Ē It is fit for the royal-nuptials of the Lamb: ďThe Wise Men hasten . . . to the marriage supper of the King.Ē The Wise Men at that supper represented the kingly and self-possessed souls who today feed on this Bread of the Sacrament.
The relations between our Saviorís birth at Bethlehem and the Eucharist considered as Sacrament exist also between our Saviorís birth and the Eucharist considered as Sacrifice.
It was truly a lambkin that was born at Bethlehem. Jesus was born like a lamb in a stable, and like a lamb knew no one but His mother. He was already offering Himself for the sacrifice; it was His first cry: ďFather, You no longer desires the sacrifices and oblations of the Law, but a body You have given Me. Here I am.Ē Jesus needed that body in order to be immolated; He offered it to His Father. This little Lamb was to grow up close to its Mother; in forty days she would learn the secret of its immolation. She would feed it with her pure and virginal milk, and would preserve it, for the day of sacrifice. This characteristic of victim was so evident in our Lord that when St. John the Baptist saw Him in the early days of His public life, he had no other name for Him than that of ďLamb of God.Ē ďBehold the Lamb of God, behold Him Who takes away the sin of the world.Ē
The sacrifice begun at Bethlehem is consummated on the altar at Holy Mass. Oh! How touching is the Midnight Mass in the Christian world!
We greet it long beforehand and are always glad to see it come around again. What is it that gives to our feast of Christmas its charm and that pours joy into our carols and rapture into our hearts, is not that on the altar Jesus is really born again, although in a different state? Do not our carols and our homages go straight to His very person? The object of our festive celebration as of our love is present. We really go to Bethlehem and we find there not a memory, not a picture, but the Divine Infant Himself.
And see how the Eucharist began at Bethlehem. He was even then the Emmanuel, ďGod with us,Ē Who was come to dwell among His people. On the first Christmas Day He began to live in our midst; the Eucharist perpetuates His presence. At Bethlehem, the Word was made flesh; in the Sacrament He is made bread in order to give us His flesh without stirring any feeling of repugnance in us.
At Bethlehem He also began practicing the virtues of His sacramental state.
He concealed His Divinity in order to familiarize man with God. He veiled His Divine glory as a first step to the veiling of His humanity. He bound His power in the weakness of a childís body; later He would bind it beneath the Sacred Species. He was poor; He stripped Himself of every possession, He, the Creator and Sovereign Master of all things. The stable was not His own; charity let Him have the use of it. He lived with His Mother on the offerings of the shepherds and the gifts of the Magi; later in the Eucharist, He would ask man for a shelter for Himself, the matter for His Sacrament, vestments for His priest and His altar. This is how Bethlehem heralds the Eucharist.
We even find there the inauguration of Eucharistic worship in its chief form, adoration.
Mary and Joseph were the first adorers of the Word Incarnate. They believed firmly; their faith was their virtue: ďBlessed are you that has believed.Ē They adored Him by the virtue of their faith.
The shepherds and the Magi also adored Him in union with Mary and Joseph.
Mary was entirely devoted to the service of her Son. She was all intent on His service, anticipating His least wishes to satisfy them. The shepherds offered their plain and simple presents, and the Magi their magnificent gifts. They adored Him by the homage of their gifts.
The Eucharist also is the meeting place for persons of all conditions; it is the center of the Catholic world. It is the object of that twofold worship of adoration: the interior adoration of faith and love; the exterior adoration through the magnificence of gifts, of churches, and of the thrones on which the Divine Host will be exposed.
THE birth of our Lord suggests another thought to me. The Angels announced the Savior to the shepherds in these words: ďThis day is born to you a Savior.Ē A new era was beginning. Adamís work was about to be overthrown and replaced by a work of Divine restoration. There are two Adams, each one the father of a great people: the first Adam, ďof the earth, earthly,Ē father of the degenerated world; and the second Adam, "from Heaven, heavenly," father of the regenerated world. The second was come to rebuild what the first had destroyed. Note that this restoration is well carried out here below only through the Eucharist.
The capital point about Adamís fault, as also the main argument of the diabolical temptation, was contained in these words, ďYou shall be as gods,Ē and in the feeling of pride they aroused in Adam.
ďYou shall become like to God!Ē Alas! They became like to the beasts! Well, our Lord came not only to take up Satanís promises and repeat them to us, but to fulfill them. Satan has caught in his own snares. Yes, we shall become like to God by eating of His Flesh and Blood.
ďYou shall not die.Ē In Communion we receive an unfailing pledge of immortality. ďHe that eats My flesh, and drinks My blood, has everlastingĒ eternal life. We lose our temporal life. But it is not a life worthy of the name; it is only a halt on the journey to true life.
ďYou shall become like to God.Ē Marrying into a family of higher social rank changes oneís condition; by marrying a king, a commoner becomes queen. Our Lord shares His Divinity with us by communicating Himself to us. We become His Flesh and His Blood. We receive something of the Creatorís Divine and heavenly kingship. Human nature was intimately united to the Godhead through the hypostatic union; so does Communion elevate us to union with God and make us partakers of His nature. A less perfect food is transformed into us, but we are transformed into our Lord, Who absorbs us. We become members of God. And in heaven our glory shall be in proportion to our transformation into Jesus Christ through a frequent partaking of His adorable Body.
ďYou shall know all things.Ē All that is evil, yes; all that is good, by no means. Where can we learn this Divine science of good if not in Communion? Listen to what our Lord said to His Apostles after having given them Communion: ďI will not now call you servants; Ö but My friends: because all things whatsoever I have heard of My Father, I have made known to you.Ē Knowledge is imparted to us in the Eucharist by God Himself, Who constitutes Himself our special and personal teacher. ďAnd they shall all be taught of God.Ē He no longer sends us prophets; He is Himself Ė our teacher. ďYou shall know all things,Ē for He is Divine Knowledge itself, uncreated and infinite.
That is how the Eucharist completes the restoration begun in the Crib. Make merry therefore on this beautiful day on which the sun of the Eucharist is rising. Let your gratitude never separate the Crib from the altar, the Word made flesh from the God-Man made bread of life in the Most Blessed Sacrament.
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Adveniat regnum tuum.
Your kingdom come. (Luke xi. 2.)
MAY Your kingdom come! May it spread far and wide: may it gain prestige; may it progress in every way! That is what we must wish our Lord on this New Yearís Day. May He be known and loved by those who neither know nor love Him! May everyone complete in himself the work of the Incarnation and of the Redemption! And where is our Lord known and loved? Ah! How very small is the kingdom of Jesus Christ! So many of His rights and those of His Church have either been taken away or curtailed during the last three centuries! They drive out our Lord and deprive Him of His people and His churches. How numerous are these Eucharistic ruins!
So many nations have never had the Faith! How will our Lord establish His kingdom among them? One Saint could do it. Wish our Lord some good priests, some real apostles. That ought to be the constant object of our prayer. These poor infidels know neither their Heavenly Father, nor their tender Mother, nor their Savior Jesus; and we leave them in that sad plight! Oh! How inhuman of us! By our prayers let us help to spread our Lordís kingdom far and wide. Let us pray that the heathens may receive faith and may know their Savior; that the heretics and the schismatics may return to the fold and listen once more to the Good Shepherdís voice.
What is the state of Jesus Christís kingdom among Catholics? Pray ceaselessly for the conversion of bad Catholics, who have hardly any faith left. Pray that those who have the faith may keep it. And you who have a family of your own, pray that all its members may remain steadfast in their faith; as long as they retain this remnant of union with our Lord, there is hope. While Judas remained with the Savior, he had at hand the opportunity and the means of salvation; one word from him would have been enough. But when he left our Lord, he was done for, and he rolled down to the very bottom of the abyss. Pray, therefore, earnestly for the preservation of their faith in at least one of the mysteries of Jesus Christ. I know that people often say: "It is better to be a good Protestant than a bad Catholic." That is not true. That would mean, at bottom, that one could be saved without the true faith. No! A bad Catholic remains a child of the family although he is a prodigal, and, however great a sinner he may be, he still has right to mercy. Through his faith a bad Catholic is nearer to God than a Protestant is; for he is a member of the household whereas the heretic is not; and how hard it is to make him become one!
To work for the preservation of the Faith, speak the language of a Christian, the language of faith. Transform the speech of the world. Through a sinful tolerance, we have allowed our Lord to be banished from customs, laws, and good manners; in a mixed social gathering one would not dare speak of Jesus Christ. Even among practical Christians we should seem peculiar if we spoke of Jesus Christ in the Blessed Sacrament. There are so many, so the excuse goes, who do not fulfill their Easter duty or do not go to Mass that we are afraid to hurt the feelings of some guest, or even of the host, who may be one of them. There may be talk about religious are, moral truths, the beauties of religion; but about Jesus Christ, about the Eucharist, never. Well, change all that. Profess your faith openly. Be bold enough to say, "Our Lord Jesus Christ," never just "Christ"! We must prove our Lordís right to live and to rule in the language of society. It is a disgrace for Catholics to keep our Lord under a bushel the way they do. We must manifest Him everywhere. The one who professes his faith boldly and dares speak out the name of Jesus Christ, places himself in the power of his grace. In public, everybody must know what we believe.
The atheists broadcast their godless principles; they boast of their not believing in anything; and shall we be afraid to declare our faith and pronounce the name of our Divine Master? You must speak of Him in public; for these poor impious men are possessed by the devil, or at least obsessed. Well, against these devils use the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. If all the faithful took the resolution to speak fearlessly of our Lord, they would soon transform the world; they would get the people to think of Him naturally. The great day is dawning when the two armies will face each other. Eclecticism is gone, thank God! We must be good or bad; we must be for Jesus Christ or for Satan. Well, proclaim Jesus Christ and speak His name. His name is your standard; bear it nobly aloft. Lord come Iwithin you, in your soul. Our Lord is in you, but He has much to do before He can reign completely therein. You have been barely vanquished; our Lordís kingdom of peace and love is not yet estab- lished in you; the boundary lines are not yet all His; and what sovereign can rule supreme if he does not control all the frontiers of his state?
Get to know our Lord better. Study His life, His sacrifices, and His virtues in the Most Blessed Sacrament. Study His love. Instead of always remaining within ourselves, let us go up to Him; it is all very well to see ourselves in Him, but to see Him in us is better. Instead of attending to yourself, attend to our Lord and make Him grow in you. Think of Him; study Him in Himself; penetrate into Him. You will find the food of your life in Him; for He is great and infinite That is the broad and royal road to holiness and the way to the ennobling of our lives.
MOREOVER, you must console our Lord. He expects consolation from you and will receive it with pleasure. Ask Him to prepare good priests for Himself; priests who are apostolic and zealous for the salvation of souls: priests who are the glory of their age and who present God with kingdoms. Beg Him to take ownership of everything, and to be not only a Savior, -----that supposes nothing but sacrifice,-----but a King, and a King of peace with absolute power. Console Him for His being so little treated as a King in His Own kingdom. Alas Lour Lord is vanquished! In Heaven He is an all-powerful Ruler Who commands Saints and Angels and is faithfully obeyed. Not so here below. Men,-----the children He ransomed,-----have got the best of Him. He no longer rules over Catholic peoples. Let us establish His kingdom in us at least, and work at restoring it everywhere.
Fine monuments mean much less to our Lord than do our hearts; He wants our hearts. And since the nations have driven Him out, let us raise Him a throne on the altar of our hearts. Certain barbarians conferred royalty on a man by lifting him up on their shields; let us proclaim Jesus Eucharistic our King by lifting Him up on our hearts and by serving Him with fidelity and devotedness.
Ah! How fond our Lord is of our hearts! How He longs for them! He pleads for them like a beggar! He begs, He implores, He insists. He has already been refused a hundred times; it does not matter; He keeps holding out His hand. But really, to persist in begging after so many rebuffs is to disgrace oneself! We ought to die for shame at the thought our Lord is reduced to beg thus without receiving from anyone the alms He asks for. What outrages He submits to in His quest of our hearts! He seeks in a special way the Catholics, the devout souls, the religious who do not want to give Him their whole heart. Our Lord wants the whole of it. His love for us is the only reason for this ardent quest and the only interest He has in it. Out of two hundred million Catholics, how many love Him with the affection of a friend? How many live of His love, of a love that springs from the heart? If at least those who dedicate themselves to a life of piety, His children, His religious, His virgins, belonged to Him unreservedly! . . . But after letting Him take one step into their hearts they set an obstacle across His path; they give Him this and refuse Him that. Our Lord wants everything and demands everything. He keeps on waiting without ever giving way to discouragement.
Let us then love Him for our own sakes. Let us love Him for those who do not love Him, for our relatives and our friends. Let us pay our familyís debt and our countryís. That is what all the Saints do; they thus imitate our Lord Who loves His Father for all men and becomes surety for the whole world.
May our Lord, the gentle Savior Who loves us so much, become at long last the King, the Master, and the Spouse of our soul! Is it really possible that we do not love our Lord so much as we do our relatives, our friends, our own selves? But we must be bewitched!
No doubt, if we could do it all at once, if we could pay off the whole debt of love by a single act, we would be willing to do so; but we must be constantly giving ourselves and we lack the needed courage for that. This proves to a certainty and beyond doubt that we do not truly love Him. How we grieve our Lord thereby! Mothers have been known to die of the grief caused them by unworthy sons. Were it not for the fact that our Lord is now immortal by nature, He would have died of grief a thousand times since He has been confined in the Most Blessed Sacrament. Had He not been sustained by a miracle in the Garden of Olives, He would have died at the sight of the sins He had to expiate. Here He is in a glorified state; but in His works and in His love, He is very much humiliated. Tactus dolore cordis intrinsecus! "Touched inwardly with sorrow of heart."
Console then our Lordís love. Man always finds someone who responds to his love; but what about our Lord?
Console Him for the ingrC1.titude of all sinners and, above all, for your own ingratitude. Sympathize with Him over the desertions of His unfaithful ministers and of His corrupt spouses. This is something so hideous that it should be kept hidden.
Think about it at His feet and console Him for it. The treason of Judas alone must have made our Lord shed tears of blood. We could never be happy if we knew everything that grieves our Lord, and no priest would ever want to consecrate Him if He were still in His human state and accessible to sorrow. Fortunately His love alone bears the weight of all these outrages, and He can die now no more!
What distresses me is the fact that devout souls, the spouses Jesus Christ reserves for Himself in the world, always leave perfection to religious; "I am not bound to that. I have not taken the vows of perfection." The truth is that they have not the courage to love. Love is the same everywhere, and you can love more in your state of life than a religious in his. His state is more perfect in itself, but your love can surpass his.
Come, let the kingdom of Jesus Christ be established in you! Public Exposition of the Most Blessed Sacrament is Godís last grace to man. After Exposition, there is only Heaven or Hell. Man is attracted to what glitters. Our Lord has ascended a throne; He can be seen and is radiant. We no longer have any excuse. If we forsake our Lord, if we pass by Him without amending our lives, our Lord will go away, and we shall be done for forever.
Serve our Lord, therefore, and console Him; light the fire of His love wherever it is not yet burning; work at the establishment of His reign of love. Adveniat regnum tuum, regnum amoris. "May Your kingdom come, Your kingdom of love!"
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Et procidentes adoraverunt Eum.
And falling down they adored Him. (Matthew ii. 11.)
CALLED to continue before the Most Blessed Sacrament the Magiís adoration at the Crib of Bethlehem, we ought to make ours the thought and love which guided and sustained them. They began at Bethlehem what we are doing in the presence of the Sacred Host. Let us study the characteristics of their adoration and learn a lesson therefrom.
The adoration of the Magi was a homage of faith and a tribute of love to the Incarnate Word; such ought to be our Eucharistic adoration.
THE faith of the Magi shone forth in all its splendor in the two severe tests to which they were subjected and over which they triumphed: the silence of Jerusalem and the humiliations of Bethlehem.
The royal travelers acted wisely in making straight for the capital of Judea; they expected to find the whole city of Jerusalem in gala attire, its citizens in festive painful surprise! Jerusalem was silent; there was nothing indicative of the wonderful event. Had they by chance been mistaken? If the great King were born, would not all things publish the news of His birth? Would they not be an object of derision, and perhaps be insulted, if they proclaimed the purpose of their journey?
Such doubts and words would have been prudent in the eyes of human wisdom, but unworthy of the faith of the Magi. They believed and they came. "Where is He that is born King of the Jews?" they ask boldly in the midst of an astonished Jerusalem, in front of Herodís palace, before the crowd of people attracted no doubt by the unwonted spectacle of the entrance of three kings into the city.
"We have seen the star of the newborn King. We have come to adore Him. Where is He? You ought to know, you, who are His people; you, who have so long awaited His coming."
A gloomy silence was the only answer. When Herod was questioned, he consulted the ancients and the priests, who replied by quoting the prophecy of Micheas. Thereupon Herod dismissed the foreign princes, promising them he would also go to adore the newborn King after them. And so, relying on the kingís word, they departed. They departed alone; the city remained indifferent; the levitical priesthood itself waited like Herod in doubt and unbelief.
The silence of the world! That is the great test of faith in the Eucharist.
Suppose some eminent strangers learn that Jesus Christ dwells personally among Catholics in His Sacrament, and that these fortunate mortals enjoy thus the unique and ineffable happiness of possessing the very person of the King of heaven and earth, of the Creator and the Savior of the world, in a word, of our Lord Jesus Christ. Impelled by the desire to see Him and to pay Him homage, these strangers come from the most distant lands to seek Him in our midst, in one of our dazzling European capitals. Would they not be subjected to the same test as the Magi? What is there in our Catholic cities that manifests the presence of Jesus Christ? Our churches? But the Protestants and the Jews have their temples. What then? Nothing. A few years ago the Persian and Japanese ambassadors came to visit Paris. There was certainly nothing there to suggest to them that we possessed Jesus Christ, that He lived among us and wished to rule over us. That is the stumbling-block to those who do not share our beliefs.
This silence is also a stumbling-block to faint-hearted Christians. They notice that many scientists do not believe in the presence of Jesus Christ in the Eucharist, that the great of this world do not adore Him, that the mighty do not pay Him homage; and they draw their conclusions: "Consequently, He is not there; He is not living among Catholics, nor does He reign over them." There are so many who reason thus! The number of idiots and apes, who do nothing but what they see others do, is so great!
And yet, in the Catholic world as at Jerusalem, there are the words of the Prophets, of the Apostles, of the Evangelists to manifest the sacramental presence of Jesus. Upon the mountain of God within sight of all, there is the Church who has taken the place of the Angel, of the shepherds, and of the star of the Magi; who is a sun to anyone who wants the light; who speaks as it were from Sinai to anyone who wants to listen to her law. Her hand points to the holy Temple, to the august tabernacle, and she cries out to us: "Behold the Lamb of God, the Emmanuel! Behold Jesus Christ!"
When she speaks, simple and upright souls hasten to the tabernacle as the Magi kings to Bethlehem. These souls love the truth and follow it ardently. Such is your faith, you who are here present. You have sought Jesus Christ and have found Him. You adore Him; God bless you for it!
The Gospel tells us moreover that at the words of the Magi Herod was troubled and all Jerusalem with him.
That Herod should be troubled is not surprising; he was a stranger and usurper; he saw in the One about Whom He had been informed, the true King of Israel Who would dethrone him. But that Jerusalem should be troubled at the glad tidings of the birth of Him she had so long awaited and hailed as her great Patriarch since Abraham, as her great Prophet since Moses, and as her great King since David, that is quite incomprehensible! Did not the people know of Jacobís prophecy which pointed out the tribe of His origin; or of Davidís, which mentioned His family; or of Micheasí, which named the city of His birth; or of Isaiasí, which proclaimed His glory? With all this evidence, so clear and enlightening, the Jews had to wait for the despised Gentiles to come and tell them: "Your Messiah is born! We come to adore Him after you and to I share your happiness. Show us His royal home and I allow us to pay Him homage."
Alas! This horrible scandal of the Jews, who were troubled at the news of the Messiahís birth, perpetuates itself among Christians. So many are afraid of a church in which Jesus Christ dwells! So many are against our building Him a new tabernacle or sanctuary! So many tremble with fear when they meet a priest carrying the Holy Viaticum! So many cannot stand the sight of the adorable Host! But why? What has this hidden God done to them? They are afraid of Him because they want to serve Herod, and perhaps the infamous Herodias; that is the answer to this Herodian scandal, which will sooner or later be followed by hatred .and bloody persecution.
The second test which the Magi had to face is the humiliations of the Infant God at Bethlehem.
Quite naturally they expected to find all the splendors of Heaven and earth surrounding the cradle of the newborn Babe. Their imagination, pictured the magnificence of it. At Jerusalem they had heard the prophecy of Isaias concerning His glory. They had certainly visited the wonder of the world, the Temple which was destined to receive Him, and as they walked they said to one another: "Who is like to this king?" Quis ut Deus? "Who is like to God?"
But what a surprise! What a deception! What a scandal for a faith less strong than theirs! Guided by the star they came to the stable, and what did they see? A poor Child with His young mother. The Child was laid on the straw like the poorest of the poor, nay more, like a little lamb just born; He slept in the midst of animals; He had only wretched swaddling clothes to protect Him against the bitter cold. His mother must then have been very poor to give Him birth in such a hovel?
The shepherds were no longer there to tell of the wonders they had seen in the sky, and Bethlehem was indifferent. My God, what a disappointment! Kings are not born in such surroundings, and much less should a King of Heaven be! How many folk of Bethlehem had come to the grotto on hearing the shepherdsí story and had returned home unbelieving!
What would the Magi do? See them on their knees, their heads bowed to the ground, adoring with the most profound humility this little Child. They weep for joy as they contemplate Him. They are delighted with His poverty to the point of rapture. Et procidentes adoraverunt Eum! "And falling down they adored Him!" Great God! What a puzzling mystery! Never do kings lower themselves In this way, even before other sovereigns!
The shepherds looked with wonder on the Savior Whom the Angels had announced; but the Evangelist does not say they fell down before Him to adore Him. The Magi were the first to worship Him and offer Him the homage of public adoration at Bethlehem just as they had been His first apostles at Jerusalem. What is it they saw in the stable, in the Crib, in the Child? What did they see? Love! An unspeakable love; the true love of God for man; God impelled by His love to become poor so as to be the friend and brother of the poor; God becoming weak so as to comfort the weak and the forsaken; God suffering so as to prove His love. That is what the Magi saw. That was the reward of their faith, its triumph over this second trial.
The sacramental humiliation of Jesus Christ is also the second test of Christian faith. Jesus in His Sacrament receives for the most part nothing but the indifference of His own, and very often their unbelief and contempt. Understand well this sad truth; it is easy to learn: Mundus cum non cognovit. "The world knew Him not."
The worldly-minded might believe the truth of the Eucharist if they heard the singing of the Angels at the Consecration as the shepherds did at His birth; if they saw "the heavens opened over Him" as at the Jordan; if they saw the brightness of His glory as on Tabor; or if they witnessed with their own eyes one of the miracles wrought by the God of the Eucharist in the course of the centuries.
But they see nothing, less than nothing. It is the nothingness of all glory, of all power, of the whole divine and human being of Jesus Christ. They do not even see His human face; nor do they hear His voice; His actions are no longer perceptible to the senses.
But, as the saying goes, life is action; love, at least, manifests itself through some exterior sign. Here, however, there is only the coldness and silence of death.
You are right, you rationalists, you worldly great, you philosophers of the senses! You are a hundred times right. The Eucharist is death, or rather it is the love of death.
It is a love of death that moves Jesus to chain His power and causes Him to abase His majesty and glory, both human and Divine, so as not to frighten man; it is a love of death that induces Him to veil His infinite perfections and unspeakable sanctity so as not to discourage man; it is a love of death that leads Him to reveal Himself to man beneath the light cloud of the Sacred Species, which are more or less transparent to our faith according to the strength or weakness of our virtue.
To a real Christian, that is not a scandal or a test of faith, but the life and perfection of our Lordís love. His lively faith pierces through the poverty and weakness of Jesus, through this appearance of death, and goes straight to the Soul of Jesus to study His awe-inspiring thoughts and feelings. And finding our Lordís Divinity united to His Sacred Body and hidden beneath the Sacred Species, the Christian, like the Magi, falls down, contemplates, and adores; he is transported with the most enrapturing love; he has found Jesus Christ! Et procidentes adoraverunt Eum.
Such are the trials and the triumphs of the faith of the Magi and of that of a Christian. Let us now examine the Magiís homage of love to the Infant-God and the homage our heart also must pay to the Eucharistic God.
FAITH leads to Jesus Christ; love finds and adores Him. What is the love of the Magiís adoration? It is a perfect love. Now, love manifests itself in three ways; these manifestations are its life.
1. Love manifests itself by sympathy. Sympathy between souls is the bond and the law of two lives; through it we become like the one we love. Amor pares facie. "Love makes men equal."
The action of natural sympathy and, for a still greater reason, of supernatural sympathy with our Lord consists in a strong attraction and a uniform transformation of two souls into one, of two bodies into one; as fire absorbs and changes sympathetic matter into itself, so love transforms the Christian into Jesus Christ, into God. Similes Ei erimus. "We shall be like to Him."
But how could the Magi be immediately in sympathy with this little Child, Who could not yet talk or reveal His thoughts to them? Love saw and love joined itself to love.
Do you not see these kings kneeling among the animals in front of the Crib? Do you not see them in that lowly condition-----so humiliating for kings-----adoring this feeble Child, Who looks at them wonderingly?
What friendship expresses in words, love alone expresses here. Do you not see they are imitating as much as they can the state of this divine Child? Love tends to copy the beloved out of sympathy to him. They would like to humble themselves, to abase themselves to the very center of the earth in order to adore better and be more like unto Him Who stepped from a throne of heavenly glory down to the Crib, under the form of a slave.
They adopt the humility which the Incarnate Word had espoused, the poverty which He had deified, and the suffering which He had divinized. Love, as you see, is transformative: it produces identity of life; it makes kings simple, the learned humble, and the rich lovers of poverty. It effected all this in the Magi.
Sympathy is a necessity in a life of love; it makes the sacrifices of love easier and more enduring. Sympathy, in a word, is the real proof of love and a pledge of its duration. Until love becomes a sympathy it is a laborious virtue, occasionally sublime, but deprived of the joys and charms of friendship.
The Christian who is called to live of the love of God needs this sympathy of love. Now, it is in the Holy Eucharist that our Lord gives us the consoling assurance that He loves us personally as His friends; He allows us to rest our heart a while on His own, like His beloved Disciple; He gives us a taste, at least for a moment, of the sweetness of the heavenly manna; He fills our heart with the joy of possessing its God like Zaccheus, of possessing its Savior like Magdalene, of possessing its supreme happiness and its all like the Bride in the Canticle of Canticles. And we can hardly contain our love: "O Jesus, how gentle You are! How kind and affectionate toward him who receives You with love!"
But the sympathy of love goes further than enjoyment. It is a burning fire which our Savior has kindled in a heart sympathetic to His. Carbo est Eucharistia, quae nos inflammat. "The Eucharist is a burning coal, which sets us on fire." Fire is active by nature and tends to spread. When the soul is under the action of the Eucharist, it is forced to cry out: "O my God, what shall I do in return for so much love?" And Jesus answers: "You have to resemble Me, to live for Me, and to live of Me." The transformation will be easy; when it is a matter of love, says the Imitation of Christ, one does not walk; one runs and flies. A mans valat, currit et laetatur.
2. In the second place, love manifests itself by its imperativeness as a sentiment; it wants to dominate everything and to be the sole and absolute master of the heart. Love is one; it tends to oneness; oneness is its essence; it either absorbs or is absorbed.
The evidence of this truth stands out most clear in the adoration of the Magi. As soon as they found the royal Infant they knelt down and adored Him profoundly, without paying any attention to the vileness of the place or to the animals that lived there and made it repulsive, without asking heaven for miracles or the Mother for any explanations, and without curiously examining the Child.
They adored only Him; they saw only Him; they had come only for Him. The Gospel does not even mention the honors they surely paid to His holy Mother; in the presence of the sun, all the stars disappear. Adoration is one, like the love that inspires it.
The Eucharist is the perfect expression of the love of Jesus Christ for man, since it is the quintessence of all the mysteries of His life as Savior. In all He did from the Incarnation to the Cross, the end Jesus Christ had in mind was the gift of the Eucharist, His personal and corporal union with each Christian through Communion. He saw in Communion the means of communicating to us all the treasures of His Passion, all the virtues of His sacred humanity, and all the merits of His life. Qui manducat M earn carnem . . . in Me manet, et Ego in illo. "He that eats My flesh . . . abides in Me, and I in him."
The Eucharist ought also to be the perfect expression of our love for Jesus Christ if we, on our side, wish to attain the end He had in view in Communion, namely, the transformation of ourselves into Him through union. The Eucharist must therefore be the law of our virtues, the soul of our piety, the supreme desire of our lives, the royal and rilling thought of our hearts, the glorious standard of our combats and sacrifices.
Without this unity of action we will never attain the perfection of love. But with it, everything will be pleasant and easy; for the whole power of man and of God will work together to bring about the reign of love. Dilectus meus mihi, et ego illi. "My Beloved to me, and I to Him."
3. Lastly, love manifests itself with gifts. The perfection of the gift expresses the perfection of the love. The inspired writer goes into the most explicit details in his description of the manner and circumstances of the gift of the Magi. "And opening their treasures," he says, "they offered Him gifts; gold, frankincense, and myrrh."
Gold is a tribute meant for kings; myrrh is reserved for the burial of the great; and frankincense symbolizes the homage we pay to God. Or rather, these three gifts represent all mankind at the feet of the Infant God: the gold represents power and riches; myrrh represents suffering; and frankincense represents prayer.
The law of Eucharistic worship began at Bethlehem to find its continuation in the cenacle of the Eucharist. The kings began; we must continue.
Our sacramental Jesus must have gold, for He is the King of kings; He must have gold, for He has a right to a throne more splendid than that of Solomon; He must have gold for the sacred vessels and for His altar. Is the Eucharist to receive less consideration than the Ark of the Covenant, which was made of the purest gold, donated by a faithful people?
Jesusí Host must have myrrh, though not for Himself since He consummated His Sacrifice by dying on the Cross and glorified His divine Body and sacred tomb by rising from the dead. Since, however, He has constituted Himself our undying Victim on the altar, He must needs suffer, but in us and through us. He recovers in us, who are His members, sensibility to pain and the life and merit of His sufferings. We complete Him and give Him His present status as an immolated Victim. Incense also is due Him. Priests offer it to Him every day. But over and above that He demands the incense of our adorations so as to bestow upon us in return His blessings and graces. How fortunate we are to be able to share, through the Eucharist, the happiness of Mary, of the Magi, and of the first disciples who offered gifts to Jesus Christ! In the Eucharist we still have the poverty of Bethlehem to relieve. Oh! Yes! All the good things of grace and of glory come to us through the Divine Eucharist. Their fountainhead is at Bethlehem, which became a heaven of love; they gathered volume all through the life of the Savior; and all these rivers of grace, virtue, and merit empty into the ocean of this adorable Sacrament, in which we possess them in all their fullness.
But the Eucharist is also the source of our obligations; the love of the Eucharist obliges us to reciprocate generously. The Magi are our models, the first adorers. Let us be worthy of their royal faith in Jesus Christ. Let us be heirs to their love, and one day we will be heirs to their glory. Amen.
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Haec est dies quam fecit Dominus.
This is the day which the Lord has made. (Psalm cxvii. 24.)
EVERY day comes from God. They unfailingly succeed one another through His loving kindness. God allows man six days of the week for his labor and his needs, but the seventh He reserves for Himself. Sunday is therefore more particularly the day of the Lord. But of all the days there is one which is, in a more excellent manner, the day of God and is called the day of God: FÍte-Dieu, as the French put it, which, done literally into English, would read Godís Feast Day. That is truly the day which the Lord has made for Himself, for His own glory, and for the manifestation of His love. Corpus Christi! Godís Feast Day! What a beautiful name! Godís Feast Day and ours also! Let us see in what way.
THIS feast day of God, which the Church calls Festum sacratissimi Corporis Christi, "Feast of the most sacred Body of Christ," is the only day dedicated exclusively to the honor of His adorable Person, of His living presence in our midst. The other feasts commemorate some mystery of His past life; they are beautiful; they glorify God; and they are a rich source of graces for us. But after all they are only reminders, anniversaries of an already distant past, which relives only in our piety and devotion. Our Savior is no longer personally present in those mysteries; He accomplished them once for all and left only His grace in them. But Corpus Christi is an actual mystery; the object of this feast is our Lordís Person, living and present in our midst. That is why the celebration of it has a character all its own. No relics or symbols of the past are exposed, but the very object of the feast, which is living. In the countries where God is free, see how all the people proclaim His presence, how they prostrate themselves before Him! The impious themselves tremble and bow the head; God is there! How glorious for our Lordís presence is this feast, on which all men acknowledge His presence and adore Him!
Corpus Christi is also the most lovable of feast days. We were not present at all the mysteries of our Saviorís life and death which we celebrate in the course of the year. We find joy in them because they are sources of grace. But on the feast of Corpus Christi we participate in the mystery itself, which takes place under our eyes. This mystery is for us.
There is a relation of life between Jesus living in the Sacrament and ourselves living in the midst of the world: a relation of body to body. For that reason this feast is not called simply the feast of our Lord, but the Feast of the Body of our Lord: Corpus Christi. Through this Body we touch Him; through it He is our Food, our Brother and our Guest. Feast of the Body of Jesus Christ: a name as full of love as it is unpretentious and well adapted to our misery! Our Lord asked for this Feast so as to draw still closer to us, just as a father is desirous of being wished a happy birthday by his child in order to have a reason for giving him a more ardent proof of his paternal affection, and or granting him some special favor.
Let this Feast therefore be one of joy, and let us expect from it the most abundant blessings. All the hymns and canticles of this solemnity express the thought that on this day our Lord will show Himself more gracious than ever. The Church, it seems, should have celebrated Corpus Christi on Holy Thursday, since the Eucharist was instituted on that day. But she could not have duly expressed her joy on that day of mourning; the Passion begins in Holy Thursday, and it is impossible to rejoice at the thought of death which predominates during the solemn days of Holy Week.
Corpus Christi was also postponed until after the Ascension because sad farewells had still to be bidden and a painful separation effected. It was put off until after Pentecost so that, filled with the graces and joys of the Holy Ghost, we might be able to celebrate with all possible splendor the Feast of the Divine Bridegroom Who dwells among us.
CORPUS CHRISTI is the most solemn Feast of the Church. The Church is the Bride of our Lord in all His risen glory, not of Jesus Christ at His birth or His death; when these last two mysteries took place the Church was not yet in existence. Of course she follows her Divine Bridegroom to the Crib and accompanies Him in His sufferings, but of these mysteries she has only the remembrance and grace. But Jesus Christ lives with His Church in His Sacrament.
People who have never set foot inside one of her churches think she is widowed. They look upon her as a corpse, and upon her temples as places where only death and suffering are spoken of. But today the very ones who never attend her solemn festivals will see her in all her wealth and beauty, in a natural attractiveness which God, her Bridegroom, will enhance with His presence. What magnificence in the processions as they pass by! What reverence in the faithful as they kneel down! The Church shows to everyone her Bridegroom in the radiant monstrance. Ah! Who today will presume to say she is widowed? Her friends are in adoration and her enemies tremble. Jesus shows Himself to all men; He gives His blessing to the good; He looks on sinners with compassion; He calls them and draws them to Himself. The Council of Trent calls this Feast the triumph of faith, and rightly so. It is also the triumph of the Church through her Divine Bridegroom.
LASTLY, Corpus Christi is our Feast, we who are adorers of the Blessed Sacrament. The Congregation of the Most Blessed Sacrament together with its affiliated societies exists for the sole purpose of honoring Jesus Christ with a continual Feast of Corpus Christi. To prolong this Feast throughout the entire year is the object of our life and happiness. We leave to other children of the Church the care of the poor, the healing of the physical and moral ills of afflicted humanity, and the administration of the Sacraments. We are called only to perpetuate the Feast of Corpus Christi. It is therefore the special feast of us religious. It is also your Feast, my dear brother. Have you not consecrated yourselves entirely to the service of the Most Blessed Sacrament? [An act of consecration is recited by persons who join the Eucharistic societies founded by Blessed Peter Julian.] At night you withdraw and leave us to watch with our Lord. The proprieties demand it. But you leave your hearts at the feet of the Divine King, and we can say that you spend your life here. Besides, when you receive Communion, do you not really celebrate Corpus Christi in your hearts? Oh! You know the joy and happiness Jesus brings with Him! I will go further and say that for souls who know how to receive Communion, there is only one feast day, that is, Communion day. They find therein the object of all the mysteries, the Being Who makes these mysteries and in Whose honor they are celebrated, whereas most Christians recall them only in a vague manner.
More than that! I say that if our Lord were not living in His Sacrament, all our Catholic feast days would be nothing but a series of funeral services. The Eucharist is the sun that gives light, life, and joy to the feasts of the Church.
Someone has rightly called the soul that communicates well and often a perpetual banquet, juge convivium. To live with Jesus in us, to live of Jesus and through Jesus is to be a tabernacle and a precious ciborium. Oh! What a joy is that of these souls, a pure and unchanging joy!
Come! Learn how to single out these days from all the others. Our Lord has His royal feast days; today is one of them. A king is a bounteous giver. Pay homage to our Lord, and He, in return, will give you everything; He will give you His very Self with a greater abundance of His graces. He discriminates among His friends; He knows those who are more deserving of His favors. My desires and wishes for you on this beautiful day are not that you become Saints weighted down with magnificent and extraordinary virtues-----when would that ever be?-----but that you be very happy in the service of God, and also that our Lord give Himself to you with more of His kindness and love. If you feel that He loves you more, you will give yourself to Him more entirely; and the result of these two loves will be perfect union. Therein lie holiness and perfection. Pray with confidence to attain it. Give Him your whole heart. Jesus is a tender Father; act towards Him as loving children. He is a tender Friend; delight in His love. Ah! I fear for the salvation of the one who has never tasted the goodness of God! Penetrate into that infinite goodness! Sentite de Domino in bonitate. "Think of the Lord in goodness."
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Cor meum ibi cunctis diebus.
My heart shall be there always. (3 Kings ix. 3.)
SAINT PAUL expressed a wish to the Ephesians that, through the grace of the Father from Whom proceeds every gift, they should know the charity of Jesus Christ for men, "which surpasseth all knowledge." He could not wish them anything holier, or better, or more important. To know the charity of Jesus Christ, to be filled with the fullness of it, that is the reign of God in man. And that reign is the fruit of devotion to the Heart of Jesus, living-----and loving us-----in the Most Blessed Sacrament. This devotion is the sovereign worship of love. It is the soul and center of all religion; for religion is merely the law, the virtue, and the perfection of love; and the Sacred Heart is the grace, the model, and the life of it. Let us study this love close to the fire where it consumes itself for us.
Devotion to the Sacred Heart has a twofold object: it honors first with adoration and public worship the Heart of flesh of Jesus Christ, and secondly the infinite love with which this Heart has burned for us since its creation, and with which it is still consumed in the Sacrament of our altars.
OF ALL the noble faculties of the human body, the noblest is the heart. It is placed in the center of the body like a king in the center of his dominions. Immediately surrounding it are its most important members, which are, so to speak, its ministers. It sets them in motion and makes them function by imparting to them the vital warmth of which it is the reservoir. It is the fountainhead from which there gushes forth with impetuosity the blood that flows into all the parts of the body, and bathes and refreshes them. Weakened by this function, the blood returns from the extremities of the body to the heart to rekindle its ardor and receive a new supply of life-giving energy. What is true of the human heart in general is also true of the adorable Heart of Jesus Christ. It is the noblest part of the body of the Man-God, united hypostatically to the Word and deserving thereby the supreme worship of adoration which is due God alone. It is important that in our veneration we should not separate the Heart of Jesus from the divinity of the Man-God; for it is united to the Divinity with indissoluble bonds, and the worship we pay to the Heart has not its final end in that Heart, but in the adorable Person Who possesses it and Who has united it to Himself forever.
Whence it follows that we may direct to this Divine Heart the prayers, praises, and adorations we offer to God Himself. And it also follows that they are mistaken who, on hearing the words "The Heart of Jesus," think only of the material organ and look on this Heart only as a lifeless and loveless member, much as they would on a holy relic. They again are mistaken who imagine that this devotion divides Jesus Christ and restricts to His Heart alone a worship that ought to be offered to His whole Person. They overlook the fact that to honor the Heart of Jesus is not to ignore the rest of the divine body of the God-Man; for when we honor His Heart, we mean to praise all the actions and the whole life of Jesus Christ, which are but an outpouring of His Heart. Just as it is in the sun that are formed and from it that issue forth the warm rays which fertilize the earth and give life to everything that lives, so it is from the heart that come forth the strong and gentle impulses which carry vital warmth and vigor into all the members. If the heart weakens, the whole body weakens with it. If the heart suffers, all the members suffer with it; nothing functions well, and the organic system soon stops working. The function of the Heart of Jesus was then to quicken, to strengthen, and to sustain all His members, all His organs, and all His senses by its constant action; so that it was the principle of the actions, affections, virtues and of the whole life of the Word made flesh.
For the heart, according to the opinion of ancient philosophers, is the seat of love; and since the prime motive of the whole life of Jesus was love, we must look upon His Heart as the source of all His mysteries and virtues. "Just as it is natural for fire to burn," says Saint Thomas, "so it is natural for the heart to love; and because the heart is the primary organ of feeling in man, it is fitting that the act which is commanded by the first of all the commandments should be felt by the heart." Just as the eyes see and the ears hear, so the heart loves. It is the organ of the soul in the production of affection and love. In the vernacular, heart and love are interchangeable terms; heart means love, and vice versa. The Heart of Jesus was, therefore, the organ of His love. It co-operated with His love; it was the principle and seat of it. It experienced all the impressions of love that can touch a human heart, with this difference, however, that since the soul of Jesus Christ loved with an unparalleled and infinite love, His Heart is a real furnace of love for God and for us. From it are constantly darting forth the most ardent and purest flames of Divine love. This love inflamed His Heart from the first moment of His conception until His last breath and, since His Resurrection, has not ceased nor will ever cease doing so. His Heart made and is daily making countless acts of love, a single one of which gives more glory to God than all the acts of love of the Angels and Saints. Of all material creatures, His Heart is then the one that contributes the most to the glory of the Creator and that is the most deserving of the love and worship of Angels and men.
Everything that pertains to the Person of the Son of God is infinitely worthy of veneration. The least portion of His body, the tiniest drop of His Blood is deserving of the adoration of Heaven and earth. The most worthless things become worthy of veneration by mere contact with His flesh, as was the case with the Cross, the nails, the thorns, the sponge, the lance and all the instruments of His death. How much greater veneration, therefore, ought we to offer to His Heart, the excellence of which is founded on the nobleness of the functions it performs, on the perfection of the sentiments it gives rise to, and of the actions it inspires! For if Jesus was born in a stable, lived as a poor man at Nazareth, and died for our sake, we owe it to His Heart; it is in the sanctuary of His Heart that were formed all the heroic resolutions and all the plans which inspired His life. His Heart must therefore be honored as the Crib in which the faithful soul sees Jesus being born into the world, poor and forsaken; as the pulpit from which the Lord Jesus preaches His commandment to her: "Learn of Me that I am meek and humble of heart"; as the Cross on which she sees Him die; as the tomb from which she sees Him rise glorious and immortal; and as the everlasting Gospel by which she is taught to imitate all the virtues of which this Heart is the accomplished model. A soul devoted to the Sacred Heart will, however, apply herself in a special manner to the practice of Divine love, because this Heart is above all the seat and the symbol of this love. And since the Most Blessed Sacrament is the sensible and permanent token of Divine love, it is there the soul will find the Heart of Jesus; from His Eucharistic Heart she will learn to love.
SINCE Jesus Christ desires to be loved unceasingly by man, He must show him an unceasing love; and as God, in order to overcome and conquer our hearts, had to become a man whom we could feel and touch, so in order to make His conquest secure, He must continue to make man feel a sensible and humanized love. The law of love is perpetual, and so also must be the grace of it. This sun of love must never set on the heart of man; if it does, a chill will settle on manís heart, and the coldness of death and of neglect will kill it. The human heart gives itself only to life and unites itself only to an actual love which is felt and which furnishes actual proofs of its reality. Well, all the love of the Savior in His mortal life, His love as a child in the Crib, His zealous love as an apostle of His Father in His preaching, His love as a Victim on the Cross, all these loves are gathered together and are triumphant in His Heart, glorious and living in the Blessed Sacrament. That is where we should seek this Heart and nourish ourselves with its love. It is also in Heaven, but for the angels and saints. It is in the Eucharist for us. Our devotion to the Sacred Heart must therefore be Eucharistic; it must concentrate in the Divine Eucharist as in the only personal and living center of the love and graces of the Sacred Heart for men.
Why separate the Heart of Jesus from His body and Divinity? Is it not through His Heart that He lives in the Blessed Sacrament, and that His body is alive and animated? Having risen from the dead, Jesus dies no more; why separate His Heart from His Person and try to make Him die, so to speak, in our mind? No, no! This Divine Heart is living and palpitating in the Eucharist, no longer of a passible and mortal life, subject to sadness, agony, and pain, but of a life risen and consummated in blessedness. This impossibility to suffer and die diminishes in no way the reality of His life; on the contrary, it makes that life more perfect. God has never known death, and still He is the source of perfect and eternal life. The Heart of Jesus therefore lives in the Eucharist, since His body is alive there. It is true that we can neither feel nor see that Divine Heart, but things are pretty much the same for all men. This principle of life must be mysterious and veiled; to uncover it would kill it. We can conclude to its existence only from the effects it produces. A man does not ask to see the heart of a friend; one word is enough to tell him of its love. But how will the Divine Heart of Jesus make itself known? It manifests itself to us by the sentiments with which it inspires us; that should suffice. Besides, who could contemplate the beauty and the goodness of this Divine Heart? Who could stand the brightness of its glory, the consuming and devouring flames of his fire of love? Who would dare look at this Divine ark, on which is written its gospel of love in letters of fire; in which all its virtues are glorified; in which its love has its throne, and its goodness all its treasures? Who would want to penetrate into the very sanctuary of the Godhead? The Heart of Jesus! Why, it is the heaven of heavens, in which God Himself dwells and finds His delights!
No! We do not see the Eucharistic Heart of Jesus! But we possess it; it is ours!
Do you want to know what is its life? It is divided between His Father and us. This Heart watches over us; while our Savior, enclosed in the frail Host, seems wrapped in impotent sleep, His Heart remains awake. Ego dormio, et Cor meum vigilat. "I sleep, and My Heart watches." It watches over us whether we think of it or not; it knows no rest; it pleads with the Father to forgive us. Jesus shields us with His Heart and wards off the blows of Divine wrath provoked by our repeated offenses. His Heart is there, as on the Cross, opened and letting flow upon our heads torrents of grace and love. It is there to defend us against our enemies, just is a mother to save her child from danger presses it to her heart so that one cannot strike the child unless he strikes the mother first. "And even if a mother could forget her child," Jesus tells us, "I will never forsake you." The other concern of the Heart of Jesus is for His Father. He adores His Father through His unspeakable humiliations, through His adoration of self-abasement; He praises Him and thanks Him for the blessings He bestows upon men, His brothers; He offers Himself as a Victim to the justice of His Father; He prays incessantly for the Church, for sinners, and for all the souls He has redeemed.
O God the Father, look down with complacency on the Heart of Your Son, Jesus! See His love, listen to His prayers, and may the Eucharistic Heart of Jesus be our salvation!
THE reasons for which the feast of the Sacred Heart was instituted and the manner in which Jesus manifested His Heart teach us that we ought to honor it in the Eucharist, and that we shall find it therein with all its love. Saint Margaret Mary received the revelation of the Sacred Heart before the Blessed Sacrament exposed. Jesus manifested Himself to her in the Host, showing her His Heart and saying to her these adorable words, the most eloquent commentary on His presence in the Sacrament: "Behold this Heart which has so loved men!"
And our Lord, appearing to Venerable Mother Mechtilda (1614-1698), foundress of a society of women-adorers (The Benedictines of Perpetual Adoration), commanded her to love ardently and honor as much as she could His Sacred Heart in the Blessed Sacrament. And He gave it to her as a pledge of His love, to be her refuge in life and her consolation at the hour of death. The purpose of the feast of the Sacred Heart is to honor with more fervor and devotion the suffering love of Jesus Christ as He instituted the Sacrament of His Body and Blood. To enter into the spirit of the devotion to the Heart of Jesus, we must therefore honor the past sufferings of the Savior and make reparation for the ingratitude with which He is daily overwhelmed in the Eucharist.
Great indeed were the afflictions of the Heart of Jesus! Every kind of trial fell upon Jesus. He was weighted down with humiliations; He was assailed with the most revolting calumnies and disgraced in every possible way; He was loaded down with opprobrium and crushed with every form of contempt. But, in spite of everything, "He was offered because it was His own will, and He opened not His mouth." His love was stronger than death, and torrents of desolation could not quench its flame. His sufferings are now over; but since Jesus bore them for our sake, our gratitude must have no end. Our love must honor them as if they were taking place before our eyes. The Heart which endured them with so much love is here in the Blessed Sacrament; it is not dead, but living and active; not insensible, but still more affectionate. Jesus can no longer suffer, it is true; but alas! man can still be guilty towards Him of monstrous ingratitudes. These ingratitudes toward a God Who is present and living among us to win our love, are the greatest offense to the Heart of Jesus in the Most Blessed Sacrament. Man is indifferent to this supreme gift of the love of Jesus for him. He does not take account of it; or if he must occasionally think of it,-----when, for instance, Jesus tries to shake him out of his torpor-----he does so only to drive out such a troublesome thought. He does not care for the love of Jesus Christ.
More than that! When urged on by his faith, by the remembrance of his Christian education, and by the God-sent impulse in his heart to adore Jesus Christ as his Lord in the Eucharist and to return to His service, impious man rebels against this dogma, the most lovable of all. He will even deny the truth of it and apostatize so as to be freed from the obligation of adoring it, of sacrificing to it some idol or passion, of breaking shameful bonds. His malice goes still further. A mere denial does not satisfy him; he does not shrink before the crime of renewing the horrors of our Saviorís Passion. We see Christians despise Jesus in the Most Blessed Sacrament and show contempt for the Heart which has so loved them and which consumes itself with love for them. To spurn Him freely they take advantage of the veil that hides Him. They insult Him with their irreverences, their sinful thoughts, and their criminal glances in His presence. To express their disdain for Him they avail themselves of His patience, of the kindness that suffers everything in silence as it did with the impious soldiery of Caiphas, Herod, and Pilate. They blaspheme sacrilegiously against the God of the Eucharist. They know that His love renders Him speechless. They crucify Him even in their guilty souls. They receive Him. They dare take this living Heart and bind it to a foul corpse. They dare deliver it to the devil who is their lord! No! Never even in the days of His Passion has Jesus received so many humiliations as in His Sacrament! Earth for Him is a Calvary of ignominy. In His agony He sought a consoler; on the Cross He asked for someone to sympathize with His afflictions. Today, more than ever, we must make amends, a reparation of honor, to the adorable Heart of Jesus. Let us lavish our adorations and our love on the Eucharist. To the Heart of Jesus living in the Most Blessed Sacrament be honor, praise, adoration, and kingly power for ever and ever!
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Ecce . . . ego creo coelos novos . . . gaudebilis et exultabitis usque in sempiternum in his quae ego creo.
Behold! I create new heavens . . .you shall be glad and rejoice forever in these things which I create. (Isaias lxv. 17, 18.)
WHEN Jesus Christ went up to Heaven on the day of His Ascension, He went to take possession of His throne of glory and prepare a place for us. Redeemed humanity entered into Heaven with Jesus Christ. We know that Heaven is no longer closed to us, and we live in expectation of the day when its gates will open before us. This hope sustains and encourages us. Strictly speaking, it could suffice as the motive of a good Christian life; we would put up with all the sorrows of life rather than lose it.
However, in order to keep the hope of Heaven in us and make it more efficacious, in order to have us wait patiently for the Heaven of glory and lead us there, our Lord has created the beautiful Heaven of the Eucharist. For the Eucharist is a beautiful Heaven; it is Heaven begun. Is it not Jesus glorified coming from Heaven to earth, and bringing Heaven with Him? Is not Heaven wherever our Lord is? His state there, although hidden from our senses, is one of glory, triumph, and blessedness. He has done away with the miseries of this life; when we go to Communion, we receive Heaven, since we receive Jesus Who is the whole joy and glory of Paradise.
What an honor it is for a subject to receive his king! We receive the King of Heaven; let us appreciate the honor done to us. Jesus comes into us lest we forget our true fatherland or, if we are mindful of it, lest we die of longing for it and of homesickness.
He comes and remains bodily in our hearts as long as the Sacrament lasts; when the Species are destroyed, He returns to Heaven but remains in us by His grace and His presence of love. Why does He not stay longer with us? Because the natural state of the Sacred Species is the condition of His bodily presence.
When Jesus comes into us, He brings with Him all the fruits and flowers of Paradise. What are they? I do not know; we do not see them, but we smell their fragrance. He brings us His glorified merits and the sword that vanquished Satan; His weapons that we may use them, and His merits that we may add our own to them by making them fructify. The Eucharist is the ladder not of Jacob but of Jesus, Who continually ascends to Heaven and descends therefrom for our sake. He is unceasingly coming towards us.
BUT let us see what are in a special way the good things of Heaven that Jesus brings to us when we receive Him.
First of all, glory. It is true that the glory of the Saints and of the blessed is a flower that blooms only in the sunshine of Paradise and in the presence of God. This dazzling glory cannot be ours on this earth; people would offer us adoration. But we receive the hidden seed of it which contains it in its entirety as the seed contains the ear of wheat. The Eucharist deposits in us the leaven of resurrection, the source of a special and brighter glory, which, after having been sown in our corruptible flesh will shine in our risen and immortal body.
Secondly, happiness. On entering Heaven our soul shall acquire possession of the very happiness of God without any fear of losing it or of seeing it diminish. But in Communion, do you not receive some particles of that true happiness? We are not given the whole of it for fear we may no longer think of Heaven; but with what peace and sweet joy is not the soul flooded after Communion? The more disengaged a soul is from all earthly affections, the more she enjoys this happiness. Some souls are so happy after Communion that their body itself feels the effects of it.
Lastly, the blessed participate in the power of God. Now, the one who communicates with a great desire for union with Jesus experiences henceforth only supreme contempt for all that is unworthy of his divinized affections. He rises above everything earthly; that is real power. Through Communion his soul ascends to God. Prayer is defined an ascension of the soul to God. But what is prayer compared to Communion? What a difference between the ascension of our thoughts and desires in prayer and the sacramental ascension wherein Jesus raises us Himself to the very bosom of God!
When the eagle wants to accustom its young to fly at great altitudes, it offers them their food while flying high above them and, rising higher and higher as they draw nearer, makes them gradually reach the very top of the sky.
Thus Jesus, the Divine Eagle, comes toward us, bringing us the food we need. Then He rises above us and invites us to follow Him. He fills us with sweetness so as to make us long for the happiness of Heaven; He familiarizes us with the thought of Heaven.
Do you not notice that when you possess Jesus in your heart you long for Paradise and despise everything else? You would want to die on the spot so as to be the sooner united to God forever. He who communicates but rarely cannot experience a very strong longing for God; he fears death. At bottom, this fear is not evil; but if you could be sure of going straight to Heaven, you would not want to remain a quarter of an hour longer on earth. In a quarter of an hour in Heaven you would show more love for God and would glorify Him more than during the longest life on earth.
Communion prepares us then for Heaven. What a great grace it is to die after having received Holy Viaticum! I know that perfect contrition purifies us and entitles us to Heaven; but how much better must it be to depart this life in the company of Jesus, and to be judged by His love while still united, as it were, to His Sacrament of love!
Let us frequently pray for the grace of receiving Holy Viaticum before dying; it will be the pledge of our eternal happiness. Saint John Chrysostom assures us in his book on the Priesthood that on leaving their bodies the souls of those who die after having received Communion are met by Angels; out of regard for this Divine Sacrament the Angels, like satellites, surround and accompany these souls to the very throne of God.
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Et transfiguratus est ante eos.
And He was transfigured before them. (Matthew xvii. 2.)
THE feast of the Transfiguration of our Lord on Tabor is a beautiful feast. Let us say a few words about its relations to the Eucharistic transfiguration. All the mysteries have some relation to the Eucharist, for the Eucharist completes them all. They all tend toward the Eucharist; with the help of grace we must discover what is Eucharistic in the mysteries in order to nourish our devotion toward the Most Blessed Sacrament.
Our Lord took three disciples with Him and led them to a high mountain to show them His glory, which He kept hidden in the lowliness of His flesh. He was going to arm them against the scandal of His Passion, and to show them Who He really was.
Notice how the Eucharist was instituted also on a mountain, that of Zion, far more famous than that of Tabor. Jesus loved the mountains; He performed on them several of the great deeds of His life. The lowlands do not agree with Him; they are the breeding places of malaria and other diseases. The earth is for those who crawl. He therefore elevates and draws to Himself the souls He wants to love with a special love.
The second transfiguration is more lovable than the first, and much more lasting. It happened in the presence of all the Apostles. The first took place in the open air, for glory needs room for expansion. But the Eucharistic transfiguration, which is one all of love, He effected in secret; He concentrated it to make it more powerful. When we want to prove our affection to a friend, we clasp him in our arms. A zealous charity reaches far and wide to give of itself and do good to a greater number of souls. We concentrate the love of the heart on one point. We restrain it to make it stronger. We gather its rays together to focus them, just as an optician so grinds his glass as to fix on a single point all the solar rays of light and heat. Our Lord then compresses Himself in the very small space of the Host. And just as we can start a great conflagration by applying the hot focus of a lens to inflammable material, so the Eucharist enkindles those who partake of it and inflames them with its Divine fire.
On Tabor Jesus was transfigured while He prayed. His garments became white as snow, and His face shone like the sun. The Apostles could not stand the splendor of it. Jesus was transfigured in a blaze of glory to show that His body, for all its weakness, was nevertheless the body of a God. This transfiguration proceeded from the inside to the outside
One ray of the glory which Jesus held: in check by a constant miracle was allowed to appear: But Jesus was not come to teach us lessons of glory. That is why the vision of Tabor swiftly passed away; it hardly lasted more than a moment.
The sacramental transfiguration proceeds from the outside to the inside. Whereas on Tabor Jesus had rent the veil that covered His Divinity, here He conceals even His humanity and transfigures it into the appearances of bread, to the point that He no longer seems to be either God or Man, and does not act outwardly anymore. He buries Himself in the Species, which become the tomb of His faculties. Out of humility He veils His humanity which is so kind and beautiful. He is so united to the accidents that He seems to be their substance. The bread and wine have been changed into the Body and Blood of the Son of God. Do you see Him in this transfiguration of love and humility? We know that the sun exists even though a cloud hides it from us. Jesus never ceases being God and perfect Man, although hidden behind the cloud of bread and wine. Just as everything was glorious in the first transfiguration, so in the second everything is lovable. We see Him no longer, nor do we touch Him; but He is there with all His gifts. Love, grace, and faith pierce the veils and can recognize His face. Faith is the eye of the soul; to believe is really to see.
We should very much like to see Jesus in the Sacrament with our bodily eyes; but if the Apostles could not stand the brightness of a single ray of His glory, what would we do? Love knows only how to transfigure itself into a state of kindness by humbling itself, by making itself little, and by abasing itself.
Where is the greater love, on Calvary, or on Tabor? Compare the two, and tell me whether it was Tabor or Calvary that converted the world. Love rejects or conceals its glory; it prefers to humble itself. That is what the Word did at His Incarnation, what He did on Calvary, and what He does still more profoundly in the Eucharist. Instead of complaining we ought to thank our Lord for not repeating what happened on Mount Tabor. The trembling Apostles lay prostrate on the ground. Every word that came out of the mouth of God was capable of consuming them. The Apostles hardly dared speak to our Lord! But here we can speak to Him. We are not afraid; for we can place our heart next to His and feel His love.
Then again, the sight of His glory would, to say the least, make us lose our head. Remember how Saint Peter raved; he was out of his mind. He spoke of rest and happiness while our Lord talked about His sufferings and His death. He had quite forgotten about his obligations. If our Lord were to manifest His glory to us, we should refuse ever to be separated from Him. We should be so happy with Him. The Heavenly Father had to teach Saint Peter a lesson and remind him that our Lord was His Son, Whom he must follow everywhere until death. Keep in mind that an education based only on happiness is neither serious nor solid and that the child upon whom too much tenderness is lavished will never be very generous. That is why the Eucharistic transfiguration did not take place in joy or in glory, but in secret and in a state of humiliation; glory will come as a result of it.
We do not see Moses or Elias at that transfiguration; they had nothing to do with it; the Eucharist was not for them. But the twelve Apostles who were to be the lawgivers and prophets of the new people of God took part in it. The Holy Trinity was present, working invisibly. Legions of angels adored this Word of God reduced to a state that is next to nothingness. We also were present, all of us. In His intention and foreknowledge Jesus consecrated our Hosts. He counted them; and in obedience to His command we give them to you.
But see how the prayer of a simple and upright heart is always answered, although not always in the manner expected. Peter had asked to remain on the mountain, and Jesus had refused him. . . . But no! The grace implored had merely been deferred. In His Eucharist Jesus has again pitched His tent among us forever, and He allows us to dwell with Him on His Eucharistic Tabor. Oh! It is not a tent that can be folded up and carried away over night; it is a house which He has built and in which we dwell night and day. We have much more than what Saint Peter asked for. As for you, my dear brother, you see our Lord only in passing; but you can do so every day, and then you have taken up residence near the church of the Blessed Sacrament, and you experience the gentle influence of its nearness.
Domine, bonum est nos hic esse! "Oh! Yes, Lord! It is indeed good for us to be here!" You know very well what to do, brother, when you are under some sorrow or difficulty! You come to Him and always find in Him a Good Samaritan. He pours the goodness of His Heart upon yours. He is waiting for you and treats you not as strangers, but as friends, as children of the family.
Did not the Heavenly Father say: "This is My beloved Son"? And out of an incomprehensible love the Father gave Him to us. He gave Him to us at Bethlehem, on Calvary, and, above all and for always, in the Cenacle at the very time Jesus was also giving Himself to us. The Father begets Him and gives Him every day to each one of us. Oh! Let us listen to Him!
Let us love this feast of the Transfiguration. It is entirely Eucharistic. Come to this hallowed mountain on which Jesus is transfigured. Do not come looking for glory or for sentimental bliss, but rather for the lessons of holiness He teaches you by His self-abasement. Come, and by your love and self-denial, be transfigured into Jesus Christ in His Sacrament while waiting to be transfigured into Jesus Christ in His heavenly glory.
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Illum oportet crescere, me autem minui.
He must increase, but I must decrease. (John iii. 30.)
WE SHOULD honor Saint John as a perfect model of adorers. The following beautiful words are the motto of Eucharistic devotedness and service: May the Most Blessed Sacrament increase; may it be known and loved; and may we become as nothing at the feet of our Eucharistic Lord! See how Saint John in the principal actions of his life is a model of adorers. His life seems to have been but one uninterrupted adoration, in which we find the characteristics of the best method of adoration: adoration according to the four ends of the Sacrifice.
ADORATION.-----We begin our adoration by bowing the head and prostrating ourselves to the ground. Through this first act we give recognition to the infinite majesty of the God Who is hidden beneath the Eucharistic veils. We follow this up with the exaltation of His greatness and love.
Saint Johnís first grace was one of adoration. The Word was in Maryís womb. He inspired His Mother to visit Elizabeth; Mary carried to John his Master and King. John could not come, for his mother was too old to undertake that journey; Jesus Christ went to him. He did the same for us: we could not go to God; God came to us.
When Mary "saluted" Elizabeth, she loosened the power of her Divine Son. Today Jesus is still bound and will do nothing without Mary. The Word Incarnate spoke through the voice of Mary. At the sound of that voice John leaped in the womb of his mother and revealed to her the mystery of Godís presence in Mary. It is John who made Elizabeth understand this mystery, as she herself confessed to Mary: Exsultavit in gaudio infans in utero mea. "The infant in my womb leaped for joy."
At that moment John became the precursor of Christ. He saw his God and adored Him by leaping for joy. He adored Him, and the joy of finding himself in His presence reacted on his mother.
How good our Lord was to John! He wanted to bless him and make Himself known to him from His motherís womb. How pleasing to Him the adoration of His precursor must have been! It was so spontaneous!
Jesus stayed with him three months. They were both hidden within the maternal tabernacle. John constantly adored his God; he felt His hidden presence. Join in Saint Johnís adoration, which was so real and heartfelt in spite of the veils and barriers that separated him from his Lord. Senseras Regem thalamo manentem. "You didst sense the King abiding in His nuptial chamber."
THANKSGIVING.-----Thanksgiving is based on the love and goodness of Jesus Christ. It sees only His gifts and blessings. The grateful soul humbles herself in order to exalt her Benefactor. She rejoices for herself as also for the blessings and favors granted to others, to the whole Church.
This feeling gladdens the heart. John manifested this twofold feeling of joy and of gratitude at the Jordan. Notice first of all the grace with which our Lord favored him; for thanksgiving is always born of a favor received and is based on humility. Now, John was on the point of Baptizing our Lord. He had not as yet ever seen Him. The Heavenly Father had given him a sign by which to recognize Him. Jesus presented Himself in the crowd of sinners who were waiting for Johnís Baptism and were listening to his austere exhortations to penance. Jesus waited for His turn along with publicans and soldiers, He, a King, the Son of God! He claimed no privileges or exceptions. Understand that well, O adorers, and have no protector other than our Lord. Saint John cast himself at the feet of Jesus Christ. "What is this? I ought to be baptized by You, and You come to me?" Ego a Te debeo baptizari et Tu venis ad me? That is humility and truth! The Saints never think themselves perfect. And John does not speak of his ministry. Venis ad me? "You come to me?" He does not say: "You come to my Baptism?"
What delicacy of feeling! Mentioning his ministry would have set up a little throne for himself; but there must be nothing of that in the presence of our Lord.
And Jesus Christ said to him: "Proceed. Carry out My Fatherís orders." Like a truly humble man, John obeyed and baptized Him. A lesser humility would have advanced fifty reasons not to, but John obeyed. And when our Lord withdrew, he did not follow Him; he remained at his post of duty. What humility!
See how he returned to our Lord all the honor and glory of the sublime function he had just performed. His disciples, the worst kind of flatterers, who sought their own glory in that of their master, pointed out to him that everybody was following Jesus. "Oh! How happy you make me!" replied Saint John. The friend of the Bridegroom remains close to Him and stands in front of Him, but the bride is for the Bridegroom only. The souls are for Jesus Christ only. The friend is there only to wait on the Bridegroom. John was happy to see the Divine Bridegroom find so many loving souls. "This my joy is fulfilled on seeing Him increase. He must increase, but I must decrease!"
Nothing for himself, everything for Jesus! To make our Lord increase should be the object of our endeavors. What a pity we cannot erect a throne for Him in every heart! We bow down before our Lord, we decrease, and we raise our Lord up on His throne. Oportet Illum crescere. "He must increase." In practice this is far-reaching. Today we are insignificant, but some day there may be remarkable men among us adorers. Oh! It is then they will have to be told: "Be very careful! Do not stand on the tip of your toes! Do not pride yourself on your talents! Lower yourself so that the Master alone may appear!" Our vocation is so beautiful and its aim so exalted I People will suppose we have all the virtues, as indeed we should to be worthy of our vocation. Woe to him that wants to remain standing in the presence of our Lord! No! Down on your knees! Down to the ground! Oportet Ilum crescere, me aut em minui. "He must increase, but I must decrease!"
Oh! What a good thanksgiving is that of a soul who accepts the gifts of God, but acknowledges she had no hand in them and refers all the glory to God!
PROPITIATION OR REPARATION.-----Propitiation consists in making amends to our Lord and in consoling Him. That is what our mission as adorers largely consists in. We ought to make reparation; we ought to be mediators and penitents for the sins of men. The world is so wicked that there is almost greater need of reparation than of thanksgiving.
John made reparation when he said: Ecce Agnus Dei, ecce qui tollit peccatum mundi. "Behold the Lamb of God, behold Him Who taketh away the sin of the world." He preached and showed the atoning Victim. He wept and sorrowed over the indifference of men toward the Savior. Listen to his complaint: Medius vestrum stetit, quem vas nescitis. "There hath stood One in the midst of you, Whom you know not." He grieved to see that the great and learned refused to follow Jesus Christ, Who was surrounded only by a few poverty-stricken people. He made public amends to Him and adored Him as Victim. He exalted Him for those who despised Him: "But I am not even worthy to loose the latchet of His shoe!" How well he makes up for manís disdain!
SUPPLICATION OR PRAYER.-----John had been thrown into prison for his courage in rebuking a guilty king. We hardly dare tell the plain truth to kings; we are afraid. What a sorry plight. It is for one to live with kings! Some disciples who did not yet believe in Jesus Christ came to see John in prison. John did his utmost to affect their conversion. That is the true apostolate: bringing back souls to Jesus Christ and binding them to Him alone without any thought of self-interest. John asked our Lord to receive them. He sent them to Him that the sight of His kindness and power might convert them. Jesus Christ showed them the greatest miracles; but they did not adore Him. Oh!
How stupid is the human heart when it is infected with prejudice! Their envy suggests to them that if Jesus increases, John will lose prestige. They do not want to decrease with him. Theirs is a pride of caste, pride of clique; they thrive on the glory that surrounds their master.
However, this visit to our Savior sowed the grace of faith in their hearts, and after Saint Johnís death they came to our Lord. Their conversion was due to Saint Johnís prayers.
Saint John was a good adorer. You should love him since our Lord loved him so much. Our Lord mourned his death; for John was His cousin, His friend, His first apostle. Adore and make reparation like Saint John. Be ready to sacrifice yourself like him for our Lordís glory. John died martyred by the crimes which stir up Godís anger the most: the crimes of a king. And never forget these words which are the motto of Eucharistic service and holiness: Illum oportet crescere, me autem minui. May Jesusí Host be exalted, and may I be humiliated!
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Diligebat Jesus . . . Mariam.
Jesus loved . . . Mary. (John xi. 5.)
SAINT MARY MAGDALEN was the privileged friend of Jesus. She served Him with her wealth and accompanied Him everywhere. She honored His humanity magnificently with her gifts. She loved to pray at His feet in the silence of contemplation. For all these reasons she is the patroness and model of a life spent in the adoration and service of Jesus in the Sacrament of His love. Let us study Saint Mary Magdalene; her life is full of the very best lessons.
I JESUS loved Martha, her sister Mary, and Lazarus; but especially Mary. Certainly He loved the three of them, but He loved Magdalene with a preferential love.
Although our Lord loves us all, He nevertheless has His favorite friends, and He allows us also to have special friends in God. Friends are a natural and even supernatural need. All the Saints had bosom friends, and they themselves were the most affectionate and devoted of friends.
Before her conversion Magdalene was a public sinner. She possessed all the qualities of mind and body and all the gifts of fortune that can lead one to the worst excesses. And she fell into them. The Gospel lowers her to the rank of a public sinner. She was so degraded that Simon the Pharisee felt disgraced when she entered his home. And he even doubted the prophetic power of Jesus because the Master allowed her to remain at His feet.
But after having been forgiven, this poor sinful woman was to take her place among the greatest Saints. See her at work.
HUMAN respect is, more than anything else, what holds back great sinners and prevents them from being converted. "I will not be able to persevere," they say. "I dare not start what I cannot finish." And disheartened, they go no further.
But Magdalene learned that Jesus was in Simonís house. She did not hesitate, but went straight to Jesus and made her confession in public. She dared enter a house from which she would have been shamefully expelled had she been recognized at the door. While at the feet of Jesus, she said not a word; her love spoke audibly enough. Artists have painted her with dishevelled hair and disorderly dress; that is all imagination; it would not have been worthy either of Jesus or of her contrition.
She went straight to Jesus without mistaking anyone else for Him. But where had she known Him? Ah! An ailing heart knows well where to find the One that will comfort and cure it!
Mary dared not look upon Jesus. She said nothing: true contrition acts that way. Look at the Prodigal Son and at the Publican. The sinner who looks God full in the face after having offended Him insults Him. But Mary wept: she "washed the feet of Jesus with her tears and wiped them with the hairs of her head." Her place is at the feet of Jesus. These feet trod the earth, and she knew she was but the dust of a corpse. The world is extremely fond of beautiful hair; she used hers as a rag. She remained prostrate on the ground, awaiting her sentence. She heard the remarks made by the envious Apostles and Jews, who honored only triumphant and crowned virtue. They did not like Magdalene who was teaching everyone of them a lesson; for everyone of them had sinned, but not one had the courage to ask pardon publicly. Simon himself, bloated with pride and hypocrisy, grew indignant. But Jesus avenged Magdalene. What beautiful words of rehabilitation: "More has been forgiven her because she has loved more. . . . Your faith hath made You safe," said the Savior to her. "Go in peace." He did not add: "Sin no more." Jesus had said this to the adulteress, who was more humiliated for having been caught in the act than repentant for having offended God. But Magdalene had no need of that advice; her love assured Jesus of her firm purpose of amendment. What a beautiful and touching absolution! Magdalene must have had a very perfect contrition! When you go to confession, unite yourself to Magdalene and let your contrition, like hers, proceed more from love than from fear.
Magdalene withdrew after having received this baptism of love. By her humility she became more perfect than the Apostles. Ah! Despise sinners now if you dare! One moment is enough to turn them into great Saints. How many among the greatest has not Jesus Christ drawn from the mire of sin: Saint Paul, Saint Augustine, and many others! Magdalene opens the way for them; she ascended to the very Heart of God because she started very low and knew how to humble herself. Who then has a right to despair?
MAGDALENíS love became active after her conversion. That is an important lesson.
Many converted sinners do nothing else beyond being converted. They want to remain in the peace of a good conscience through fidelity to the Commandments. They dare not follow Jesus, and they end by relapsing into sin. Man cannot live on tears and regrets. You have destroyed the objects to which your heart was so attached and of which you lived; you must substitute something else and live of the life of God. You want to remain at the feet of Jesus? He rises to go; follow Him and walk with Him. And so Magdalene began to follow Jesus; she was never to leave Him. We find her again at His feet, listening to His words and pondering them in her heart. That is the grace of her life. She had no language other than meditation, prayer, and love. She followed Jesus and practiced the virtues proper to His varying conditions of life. A conversion that does not go beyond sentiment is not lasting; Mary shared the different states of Jesus.
During His journeys she procured for Him what He required for His Own subsistence and that of His Apostles. Jesus was frequently to come to the home of His hosts in Bethany; by way of exchange He gave them a food of grace and love. On each occasion Mary sat at His feet and remained there in prayer. Martha became envious of her once, as do all those who think there is only one good state of life, one good way of living. Every state of life is good. The one you have is good; persevere in it, but do not despise the others. When Martha waited on Jesus, she was doing something good; but she was wrong in being envious of her sister.
You know how Jesus answered her and defended Magdalene. It is better to listen to His voice than to wait on Him. It still happens that people engaged in active callings complain of contemplative souls: "You are useless! Come along and work for the salvation of your brother in charitable undertakings." But Jesus defends them. Must not one also practice charity towards Jesus Christ, Who is so poor and abandoned in His Sacrament?
Magdalene heard that dialogue and her sisterís complaints; but she did not answer them. She was at the Saviorís feet, and she remained there. Another characteristic trait of Magdaleneís active love is suffering; she suffered with Jesus Christ. No doubt she knew beforehand of her Masterís death; friends have no secrets for each other. And if Jesus revealed His Passion to His Apostles who were so rude, why would He have concealed it from Magdalene?
See Magdalene in her suffering love. She went where men were afraid to go; she ascended Calvary; she forsook her dearly loved family; she followed the suffering Lord to the very end. And we find her with Mary at the foot of the Cross. The Gospel mentions her by name, and she certainly deserves it. What was she doing there?
She loved and sympathized. A friend wants to share the condition of his friend. Love fuses two lives, two existences into one. Magdalene did not stand; she remembered she had been a sinner, and she remained on her knees. Mary alone stood, immolating her dearly beloved Son, her Isaac.
Magdalene stayed there until after the death of Jesus. She returned on the morning of the first day of the week. She knew very well that Jesus was buried; but she wanted still to suffer and to weep. The Gospel praises the zeal of the other women and the magnificence of their gifts; it speaks only of the tears of Magdalene. She is the Christian heroine. More than all the Saints Magdalene shows us the immensity of Divine mercy.
HOLY WRIT speaks no more of Magdalene after the Ascension. According to a venerable and long-standing tradition the Jews placed Martha, Mary, and Lazarus on a dismasted ship and launched it out upon the high seas to have them meet with certain death. But the Friend of former days still loved them. Jesus became their Pilot and Helmsman. He led them to Marseilles and gave them to the French, His friends and the eldest of His family.
Lazarus died a Martyr. The beautiful land of Provence had to be watered with his blood before the faith could blossom there. Martha went up as far as Tarascon and, gathering a community of virgins about her, performed spiritual and corporal works of charity throughout the surrounding country.
Magdalene withdrew upon a mountain as though to draw nearer to God. There she found a grotto, which without doubt had been prepared by angelic hands. But she soon had too many visitors; and not having enough time to converse with her good Master, she went up higher to a rugged peak and there communed with God alone. There she spent the last days of her life. She prayed, and she continued in her own life the mysteries of Jesus Christ. Jesus was constantly visiting her. Priests brought her Holy Communion. And when she was at the point of death, Saint Maximinus, one of the seventy-two disciples of our Savior, gave her Communion with his own hand. She had accompanied Jesus at His death; this good Savior rendered her the same service and the same honor.
She died in France and we are proud of it. We possess her holy relics. That is one of the strongest proofs of the love Jesus Christ has for France. He sent us His friends; they are in our midst. Let us hope Magdaleneís prayers and merits will entitle France to Godís mercy, provided it imitates her repentance and her love of Jesus Christ, Who lives in France and dwells in its towns and most obscure hamlets. Yes, Jesus Christ loves France as He loved Magdalene and the family of Bethany, with a love of predilection.
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Mensis iste, vobis principium mensium.
This month shall be to you the beginning of months. (Exodus xii. 2.)
A GREAT number of devout persons consecrate the month of June in honor of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. For this reason it is called the month of the Sacred Heart.
We wish to consecrate it to the Most Blessed Sacrament, and I think that the name of month of the Blessed Sacrament is more justified than the other.
Both feasts, that of the Sacred Heart and that of the Blessed Sacrament, usually fall during this month; but the latter is the more solemn and of a superior rite. It is also much more ancient in the Church and should be dearer to us.
It is a very good thing to honor the Sacred Heart as the seat of the infinite love of Jesus Christ; but Eucharistic souls should honor it in the Most Blessed Sacrament. For where is the Heart of Jesus truly and substantially living if not in the Eucharist and in Heaven?
Many persons honor the Sacred Heart on pictures and make these representations the object of their devotion. This kind of worship is good; but it is only relative. We ought to go beyond the image to the reality. In the Blessed Sacrament this Heart is living and beating for us. Let then this living and pulsating Heart be the center of our life. Let us learn to honor the Sacred Heart in the Eucharist. Let us never separate the Sacred Heart from the Eucharist.
In the course of the year the entire thirty days of several months are consecrated to special devotions. For example, there is the month of Mary which is nothing other than a feast of thirty days in honor of the Most Blessed Virgin. During that month we honor all her virtues and all the mysteries of her life; and we never fail to receive some new favor or other. There is also the month of Saint Joseph. A special month will soon be dedicated to the fostering of every important devotion. So much the better! It is an excellent thing of great consequence to Catholic piety.
For we have the time in a month to cover the entire object of the devotion, to consider it from every angle. and to acquire a correct and thorough knowledge of it. By making daily and appropriate meditations and by centering our acts, virtues, and prayers on the same object for a whole month, we soon get a true and solid devotion to the mystery we are honoring. When everything is focused on one thought, such a thought is powerful and exhaustive.
Our devotion must be strong and solid, and must tend to a single object. Why do not a greater number of devout persons attain noteworthy sanctity? Because they have no unity in their piety. They have not enough food to provide for the nourishment and growth of their spirit of piety. They do not know how to draw up for themselves a set of truths to live by.
You are aware what excellent results a mission produces in a parish which had hitherto remained deaf to the pressing exhortations and the heroic example of its pastor. The reason is that a mission is nothing other than an uninterrupted succession of exercises. It makes use of all the means capable of touching the heart, striking the imagination and forcing one to serious reflection. A mission is a torrent of grace formed by a gathering together of all the means of salvation. Is it surprising that it triumphs over the most hardened hearts?
When all our thoughts and exercises of piety are J brought together and concentrated on a single object, they lead us to the highest virtue and overthrow every obstacle.
Let us then have a devotion that is concentrated and continuous. It is said that to correct a bad habit or an ingrained vice, we must first be vigilant and fight against ourselves for some time before starting a movement of progress toward the opposite virtue. Once this initial start is given, we move ahead with giant strides.
The same holds good for the subject in which we are presently interested. It will take us some time before we succeed in loving with a strong and enlightened love the Most Blessed Sacrament, the mother and queen of all other devotions and the sunlight of piety. Devotion to Mary is good and excellent, but it must tend and be related to devotion to the Eucharist, just as Mary herself tends and is wholly related to Jesus Christ. Scripture fittingly compares her to the moon which receives all its light from the sun and reflects it back to the sun.
Well, since the month of Mary effects so many conversions, produces so much good in souls, and obtains so many graces of every kind, what will not the month of the Most Blessed Sacrament do, since you are asked to honor the virtues, the sacrifices. and the very Person of Jesus Eucharistic? If you know how to direct your readings, aspirations, and virtues to the Eucharist, you shall have won some great victory over yourself by the end of the month. Your love shall have grown; and your grace will be more powerful.
Our Lord has said that he who eats His Flesh and drinks His Blood shall have life in him. What will it be if you supplement your sacramental Communion by a continuous communion of thirty days to His love, His virtues, His holiness, and His life in the Most Blessed Sacrament?
That is what we mean by unity in piety. Without it you can have good thoughts, but you will not have a real principle of life. A passing rain- storm merely skims over the soil. But a fine, persistent rain soaks into the earth and makes it fertile. The thought of the Eucharist, fostered consistently for a whole month, will become a rich fountainhead that will make your virtues thrive, a Divine force that will make you advance rapidly on the road to holiness. Basing our stand on pure reason and natural philosophy, we can assure you that if you train your mind for one month on the same subject, you will have acquired the habit of it.
Do not fear lest concentration on a single thought narrow your outlook. The Eucharist contains all the mysteries and all the virtues; it offers you the means of making them live anew and of considering them in action in their living exponent, present before you. This greatly facilitates meditation. For you see Jesus Christ in the Eucharist; you see His sacramental garment; you know through your very senses that He is there. The Host speaks to you; it rivets your attention; it presents our Lord to your senses.
May this month then be a month of happiness for you, during which you can live in close intimacy with Jesus! You know His conversation is never boresome. Non habet amaritudinem conversatio Illius. "His conversation hath no bitterness." May He make you take a giant stride toward sanctity!
How should you spend this month in order to derive real profit from it?
You must in the first place have some book on the Blessed Sacrament and read a little of it every day. Do not be afraid of exhausting the subject matter; the depths of the love of Jesus are unfathomable.
Jesus is the same in the Eucharist as in Heaven; He is ever beautiful, ever new, ever infinite. You need not fear lest this infinite source should run dry; Jesus has so many graces, so much glory to give us!
Take a book, therefore, that treats of the Eucharist. I am fully aware that books do not make saints, and that on the contrary it is Saints that make good books. For this reason I recommend books only as a means to instruct you and awaken thoughts in you, which you are to develop and use as food for meditation.
Take for example the fourth book of the Imitation of Christ. It is so beautiful! It must certainly have been an Angel that composed it! Take the Visits to the Blessed Sacrament, by Saint Alphonsus de Liguori. When this book was first published, it revolutionized piety. It has produced and continues every day to produce the most abundant fruits of salvation.
There are so many others to choose from. Pick one out that pleases you. Drop your other devotions during this month; you will lose nothing by plunging wholly into the sun.
Pay more frequent and longer visits to the Blessed Sacrament.
Receive Communion with greater fervor.
Practice some virtue that is related to the state of Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament: His silence, or His meekness, especially His life of prayer in His Father, and His self-abasement.
Make some special sacrifice for the Blessed Sacrament. Have some fresh flower to offer Him every day. He deigns to let us draw near His adorable Person to present our offering to Him. Indeed, the great ones of the earth are not so easy to approach. Let us not reject this favor of His love and our right as children of the family.
I sum up what I said: To spend this month well, you must practice a Eucharistic virtue and do some reading on the Blessed Sacrament. That is more necessary than you think. With a book, you will have new ideas. Without a book, you will fall into spiritual dryness, saying the same things over and over again . . . ut jumemtum. ("I am become as a beast before You.") The book alone is nothing; but if you draw it close to your heart, you will give it life. Holy Writ itself must be read with the heart; if it is read without faith or love, it will be a source of ruin for us just as it hardens the heart of certain unbelievers who read it every day.
Perhaps you will say: "I do not like books because I do not find in them everything my soul is seeking for. They do not satisfy me." It is fortunate they do not. It would be a great pity if books were to constitute our whole prayer and be exhaustive of all we have to say; we would become mere talking machines. Our Savior will not let books satisfy us altogether in prayer. We must earn His grace by our own labor, at the sweat of our brow. Never will the life of a Saint, be he the greatest in the Church, entirely suit you. And why? Because you are not that Saint; because you have a personal grace adapted to your nature; because you possess a personality of your own which you cannot completely ignore.
Read, therefore, but expect the full fruit of your reading only from your own meditation.
"I would indeed make my adoration, or a visit, but I cannot come to the church during the day." Do not let that stop you. Our Lord sees as far as your home; He listens to you from His tabernacle. He can see us from Heaven; why could He not see us from the Sacred Host? Adore Him from where you are; you will make a good adoration of love, and our Lord will understand your desire.
It would indeed be unfortunate if we could be in touch with Jesus Eucharistic only in His churches. The light of the sun envelops and illumines us even when we do not stand directly beneath its rays. In the same way, from His Host our Lord will find the means to send some rays of His love into your home to bring you warmth and strength. There are currents in the supernatural order as in the natural. Do you not at times feel unexpectedly recollected and transported with love? The reason is you have come upon a beneficent ray, a current of grace. Have confidence in these currents, in these relations that can be had with Jesus, even from a distance. It would be a sad thing were Jesus to receive adorations from us only when we come to visit Him in church. No, no! He sees everywhere, He blesses everywhere, He unites Himself everywhere to those who want to communicate with Him. Adore Him therefore from everywhere; turn in spirit toward His tabernacle.
Let your thoughts, therefore, be for Him during this month! Let your virtues and your love remain in this Divine center, and this month will be one of blessings and graces.
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