Sunday, 15 September 2013

Eternal Maxims - Tuesday

Maxims of Eternity
Meditations for Every Day in the Week.
Meditation for Tuesday
Mortal Sin.
Consider, O my soul! that having been created to love God, you have rebelled against him, and thereby been guilty of the basest ingratitude. You have treated him like an enemy; you have despised his grace and friendship. You were aware how much sin offends him, and still you have committed it. Yes, you have turned your back on God; you have insulted him; you have in a manner raised your hand to strike him; you have saddened his Holy Spirit. The man who sins says to God, if not in words, at least in effect: Begone from me: I will not serve Thee, I will not acknowledge Thee for my God: the God whom I adore is this pleasure, this interest, this revenge. Such has been the language of your heart every time that you have preferred any creature to God.
Read more . . .
St. Mary Magdalene of Pazzi could not conceive how a Christian could knowingly commit a mortal sin. O you who are reading these lines, what are your sentiments? how many mortal sins have you committed? O my God! pardon me, have mercy on me: I detest all my sins; I love Thee, and grieve sincerely for the insults that I have offered to Thee, who are deserving of infinite love.
Consider that God thus spoke to your heart at the moment you were offending him: My son, I am your God, who created you and redeemed you with the price of my blood. I forbid you, then, to commit that sin under pain of incurring my eternal displeasure. But in yielding to the temptation you have replied: Lord, I will not obey Thee; I am resolved to gratify my passions; I value not Thy friendship. Thou hast said, I will not serve.1 Ah! my God: and this I have done many, perhaps thousands of times. How couldst Thou bear with my insults? Why did I not die rather than live to offend Thee? But, O infinite goodness! I will do so no more; henceforth I will love Thee with all my heart. Give me perseverance; give me Thy holy love.
Consider, O my soul! that, when sins reach a certain number, they cause God to abandon the sinner. The Lord patiently expecteth that when the day of judgment shall come, he may punish them in the fulness of sins.2 If, therefore, you are again tempted to return to your sins, say no more within yourself, I will commit this one, and will then repent. For what if the Lord should instantly strike you dead? or what if he should forsake you forever? What has been the fate of thousands who have thus lost the grace of God? They flattered themselves with the hope of pardon; but death surprised them, and hell enveloped them in its flames. Tremble, then, lest your fate be the same. Those who abuse the goodness of God in order to offend him are undeserving of his mercy. After the multitude of crimes that he has pardoned you, you have too much reason to fear that, if you relapse into mortal sin, he will pardon you no more. Thank him, then, a thousand times for having borne patiently with you until now, and form the resolution rather to die than to offend him any more. Say frequently to him: My God! I have already offended Thee enough: the remainder of my life shall be spent in loving Thee and in bewailing my past ingratitude. O my Jesus! I wish to love Thee; grant me the grace to do so. O Blessed Virgin, my Mother! assist me by thy prayers. Amen.
1“Dixisti: Non serviam.” — Jer. ii. 20.
2“Dominus patienter exspectat, ut, cum judicii dies advenerit, in plenitudine peccatorum puniat.” — 2 Mach. vi. 14.


Saturday, 14 September 2013

Eternal Maxims - Monday

Maxims of Eternity
Meditations for Every Day in the Week.
Meditation for Monday
The Importance of our Last End.
Consider, O man! how important it is to you to save your soul. Your dearest interests are there concerned, because, if you attain salvation, you will be eternally happy in the enjoyment of every good both of soul and body; but, in losing it, you lose your soul and body; heaven and God: you will be eternally miserable, eternally damned. Your only important, your only necessary affair, therefore, is to serve your God and to save your soul. Do not, then, O Christian! think of serving your passions now, and of giving yourself to God hereafter. Oh, how many has this false and deceitful hope precipitated into hell! Thousands of sinners have flattered themselves with the hope of future repentance; but the day in which they hoped never arrived, and they are now suffering without resource the torments of the damned. And who amongst them all ever thought of falling into that place of woe? Which of them had not the intention of saving his soul? But God curses him that sins in the hope of pardon.1 You say perhaps, within yourself, I will commit this sin and then repent: but are you sure that time will be allowed you for repentance? You may die the moment you have sinned. By sinning you lose the grace of God; and what if you never more recover it? God shows mercy to those who fear him, but not to those who contemn and despise him.2 Think not, therefore, that it will cost you no more to repent of and confess three sins than to repent of and confess one sin. No: in this thought you are deceived; God might pardon you a first or a second sin, but not a third. He has patience with the sinner for a time, but not forever.3 When the measure of iniquity is filled up, his mercy ceases, and he punishes the impenitent sinner either by death, or by abandoning him to a reprobate sense, in which state he goes on from sin to sin without remorse, and at length is precipitated into hell. O Christian! attend seriously to this. It is time you should put an end to your disorders and return to God; you should fear lest this will be the last warning that he will ever send you. You have offended him long enough, and he has borne with you long enough in your sins: tremble, then, lest he should forsake you after the next mortal sin. Oh! how many souls has this striking thought of eternity caused to retire from the disorders and dangers of the world, to live in cloisters, solitudes, and deserts! Unfortunate sinner that I have been! what is the fruit of all my crimes? a conscience gnawed with despair, a troubled heart, a soul overwhelmed with grief, hell deserved, and God lost! Ah! my God, my heavenly Father! bind me to Thy love.
Read more . . .
Consider, O man! that this affair of eternity is above all others the most neglected. Mankind have time to think of everything but God and salvation. If a man of the world is advised to frequent the sacraments, or to spend a quarter of an hour daily in meditation, he will immediately say: I have a family to provide for, I have my business to attend to, I have sufficient to keep me employed. Good God! and have you not a soul to save? Will your riches and your family be able to assist you at the hour of your death, or deliver you from hell if you are condemned? No, no: flatter not yourself that you are able to reconcile God and the world, heaven and sin together. Salvation is not to be attained by a life of indolence and ease. It is necessary to use violence and to make great efforts in order to obtain the crown of immortality. How many Christians have flattered themselves with the idea of serving God and saving their souls hereafter, who are at this moment, and will forever be, in the flames of hell! How great is the folly of men in attending to what will so shortly terminate, and thinking so little of that state which will never end! Christian! put your affairs in order; reflect that your all is at stake: remember that, in a very short time, your body will be deposited in the earth, and your soul will go to dwell in the house of eternity. How dreadful, then, will be your misfortune if you are condemned to an eternity of woe! Reflect well on this; for then you can have no remedy.
Consider and say within yourself: I have a soul, and if I lose it all is lost; I have a soul, and if in losing it I were to gain the whole world, what would it profit me? I have a soul, but if I lose it, although I were to arrive at the highest pinnacle of glory, of what advantage will it be to me? If I hoard up riches, if I get forward in the world, but in the end lose my soul, what will be my consolation? Where are now the dignities, pleasures, and vanities of those great ones of the world whose bodies are mouldering in the dust and whose souls are a prey to the flames of hell? Since, then, I have a soul, and only one, to save, and if I lose it once it is lost forever, I ought to endeavor to save it. This is an affair of the highest importance to me. Eternal happiness and eternal misery are at stake. O my God! I am forced to acknowledge with shame and confusion that I have hitherto blindly wandered astray from Thee: I have scarcely ever thought seriously of saving my soul. O my Father! save me, through Jesus Christ. I am willing to part with everything here, provided I do not lose Thee. O Mary, my surest hope! save me by thy powerful intercession.
1 Maledictus homo qui peccat in spe.
2 “Et misericordia ejus ... timentibus eum.” — Luke, i. 50
3 “In plenitudine peccatorum puniat.” — 2 Mach. vi. 14.


Wednesday, 11 September 2013

Eternal Maxims - Sunday

Maxims of Eternity
Meditations for Every Day in the Week.
Meditation for Sunday
The End of Man.
Consider, O my soul! that the being which you enjoy was given to you by God: he created you to his own image, without any merit on your part; he adopted you for his child by baptism; he loved you more than the most affectionate parent could have loved you; he has made you all you are, that you might know him, love him, and serve him in this life, and thereby arrive at the eternal possession of him in heaven. Hence you did not come into this world for the sake of enjoyment to grow rich and powerful, to eat, drink, and sleep like irrational animals, but solely to love your God and to work out your eternal salvation. And is this the object that I have hitherto had in view? Oh! how unfortunate have I been, in having thought of everything else rather than of my last end. O God! I beg of Thee, in the name and for the love of Jesus, to grant that I may begin a new life of perfect holiness and conformity to Thy divine will.
Read more . . .
Consider what deep remorse and bitter regret you will feel at the hour of death, if, during life, you have not devoted yourself to the service of God. How great will be your disappointment when, at the close of your days, you will perceive that nothing remains at that sorrowful moment of all your goods, of all your pleasures, and of all your earthly glory, but a shadow that flies before you, and a bitter remembrance which pursues you! What will be your consternation when you will discover that, for the sake of miserable vanities, you have lost your God, your soul, and your salvation, without the possibility of being able to repair your misfortune? O despair! O cruel torment! you will then see the value of the time that you are losing; but it will be too late. Gladly would you then purchase time at the price of all you have: but you will not be able to do so. Oh! how full of bitterness and sorrow will that day be for every soul that has not loved and served the Lord !
Consider the general disregard of men for their last end. Their ordinary thoughts are upon the accumulation of wealth, the gratification of their senses, parties of pleasure, amusement, and festivity. They think nothing of God or of his service: they do nothing for the salvation of their souls: they regard the affair of salvation as a trifle not worthy of notice. Thus, O deplorable misfortune! the greater part of Christians, by indulging in foolish pleasures and criminal gratifications, precipitate themselves into hell. O man! you take much pains to damn yourself, and will you do nothing for your salvation? Listen to the dying sentiments of a Secretary of State of one of the kings of England: “How great,” said he, “is my misfortune: I have used many sheets of paper in writing letters for my sovereign, and, alas! I have not used one to help me in the recollection of my sins, that I might make a good confession!” Listen to the death-bed sentiments of a king of Spain: “Oh that I had spent my life in a desert, occupied in serving God, and had never been a king!” But to what do these sighs and lamentations then serve, but to augment the horrors of despair? Learn, then, this day, at the expense of others, to devote yourself to the salvation of your soul: remember well that all your actions, all your words, and all your thoughts, that are not directed to God, are entirely lost. Oh! it is time then to amend your life. Do not wait, therefore, to be convinced of this till you arrive at the gates of eternity, and the jaws of hell: it will be then too late. O my God! pardon me all the errors of my life: I love Thee above all things. I am sorry, from the bottom of my heart, for all my sins. O Mary! my hope, intercede with Jesus in my behalf.


Most Holy Immaculate Virgin

Prayer to Obtain the Most Powerful Patronage of Mary
Most Holy Immaculate Virgin and my Mother Mary, * to thee, who art the Mother of my Lord, the Queen of the world, the Advocate, the Hope, and the refuge of sinners, * I have recourse to-day, I who am the most miserable of all. * I render thee my most humble homages, O great Queen, and I thank thee for all the graces thou hast conferred on me until now, * particularly for having delivered me from hell, which I have so often deserved. * I love thee, O most amiable Lady; and for the love which I bear thee, * I promise to serve thee always and to do all in my power to make others love thee also. * I place in thee all my hopes, I confide my salvation to thy care. * Accept me for thy servant, and receive me under thy mantle, O Mother of Mercy. * And since thou art so powerful with God, deliver me from all temptations, * or rather obtain for me the strength to triumph over them until death. * Of thee I ask a perfect love for Jesus Christ. * From thee I hope to die a good death. * O my Mother, by the love which thou bearest to God, * I beseech thee to help me at all times, * but especially at the last moment of my life. * Leave me not, I beseech thee, until thou seest me safe in heaven, * blessing thee and singing thy mercies for all eternity. * Amen. So I hope. So may it be.


Saturday, 5 March 2011

Preparation for Death - Consideration XXXVI

The Conformity to the Will of God
“And life in his good will.” – Ps. xxix. 6.
Excellence of this Virtue.
All our salvation and perfection consists in loving God. He that loveth not, abideth in death.1 Charity, which is the bond of perfection.2 But the perfection of love consists in conformity to the divine will; for, as St. Denis the Areopagite says, the principal effect of love is, to unite the will of lovers, so that they may have but one heart and one will. Hence our actions, our works of penance our Communions and alms-deeds, please God only inasmuch as they are conformable. to the divine will; for, if they are not conformable to the will of God, they are not good works, but are defective, and deserving of chastisement.
Our Saviour came down from heaven principally to teach us by example to conform ourselves to the will of God. Behold what he said, as the apostle writes, at his entrance into this world. Sacrifice and oblation Thou wouldst not: but a body Thou hast fitted to me. . . . Then, said I, behold I come, ... that I should do Thy will, O my God.3 Thou, O my Father! hast refused the victims offered by men; Thou wishest that, by my death, I should sacrifice this body which Thou hast given me; behold me ready to do Thy will. This he frequently declared, saying, that he came on earth only to do the will of his Father. I came down from heaven, not to do My will, but the will of Him that sent Me.4 And by going to die through obedience to the will of his Father, he wished to make known to us his great love for his Father. That the world may know that I love the Father; and as the Father hath given Me commandment, so do I. Arise; let us go hence.5 Hence he has said that he acknowledges for his disciples only those who fulfil the divine will. Whosoever shall do the will of My Father that is in heaven, he is my brother, and sister, and mother.6 The accomplishment of the divine will has been the only object and desire of the saints in all their works. Blessed Henry Suso used to say: “I would rather be the vilest worm on earth in conformity to the will of God, than be a seraph with my own will.” St. Teresa says: “All that he who practises prayer should seek is, to conform his will to the divine will; and let him be assured,” adds the saint, “that in this consists the highest perfection. He who practises it best, will receive the greatest gifts from God, and will make the greatest progress in spiritual life.” The blessed in heaven love God perfectly, because they are in all things conformed to the divine will. Hence Jesus Christ has taught us to do the will of God on earth as the saints do it in heaven. Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.7 He who does the will of God, will, as David says, become a man according to God’s own heart. I have found a man according to My own heart, who shall do all My wills.8 And why? Because David was always prepared to do whatever God wished. My heart is ready, O my God, my heart is ready.9 He asked nothing else from the Lord, than to teach him to do his will.10
Oh! how great is the value of an act of perfect resignation to the will of God: it is sufficient to make a saint! While St. Paul was persecuting the Church, Jesus appeared to him, enlightened, and converted him. The saint only offered himself to do the divine will. Lord, what wilt Thou have me to do?11 And behold, Jesus Christ instantly declared him a vessel of election, and apostle of the Gentiles. This man is to Me a vessel of election to carry My name before the Gentiles.12 He who fasts, gives alms, or mortifies himself for God’s sake, gives a part of himself to God; but the man who gives his will to God, gives himself entirely to him. All that God asks of us is, our heart – that is, our will. My son, give Me thy heart.13 In a word, the accomplishment of the divine will must be the object of all our desires, of our devotions, meditations, Communions, etc. The object of all our prayers must be to obtain from God the grace to do his will. And for this purpose we must implore the intercession of our holy advocates, and particularly of the Blessed Virgin Mary, that they may procure for us light and strength to conform ourselves to the will of God in all things, but particularly in embracing what is opposed to self-love. The venerable John Avila used to say: “A single ‘Blessed be God’ in adversity is better than six thousand acts of thanksgiving in prosperity.”
Affections and Prayers.
Ah, my God! all my past ruin has arisen from a want of conformity to Thy will. O God of my soul! I detest and curse a thousand times the days and moments in which I have, in order to do my own will, contradicted Thy holy will. I now give my whole will to Thee. Accept it, O my Lord! and bind it so firmly to Thy love, that it may never more be able to rebel against Thee. I love Thee, O infinite Goodness! and through the love which I bear Thee, I offer myself entirely to Thee. Dispose of me and of all I possess, as Thou pleasest: I resign myself entirely to Thy holy will. Preserve me from the misfortune of doing anything against Thy holy will, and then treat me as Thou wishest. Eternal Father, hear me for the love of Jesus Christ. My Jesus, hear me through the merits of Thy Passion. Most Holy Mary, assist me; obtain for me the grace to fulfil the divine will, in the accomplishment of which my salvation entirely consists: obtain this grace for me, and I ask nothing more.
In what we should Conform to God’s Will.
It is necessary to conform ourselves to the will of God, not only in crosses and adversity which come directly from God, such as infirmities, desolation of spirit, loss of property or relatives; but also in those which come indirectly from him, – that is, through men, – such as defamation, contempt, injuries, and all other persecutions. And let us remember that when others injure us in our property or honor, God does not will their sin, but he wills our poverty and our humiliation. It is certain that whatsoever happens takes place by the divine will. I am the Lord: I form the light, and create darkness; I make peace and create evil.14 And Ecclesiasticus says: Good things and evil, life and death, poverty and riches, are from God.15 In a word, all things, blessings as well as misfortunes, come from God.
The crosses that happen to us are called evils, because we call them so, and because we make them evils; if we accepted them as we ought, with resignation, from the hands of God, they should prove to us, not evils, but blessings. The jewels which give the greatest splendor to the crown of the saints are the tribulations which they have borne for God, as coming from his hands. What did holy Job say when he was told that the Sabeans had taken away his property? The Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away.16 He did not say: The Lord gave me these goods, and the Sabeans have taken them away; but the Lord has given them, and the Lord has taken them away. And therefore he blessed the Lord, knowing that all had happened by his will. And as it hath pleased the Lord, so it is done; blessed be the name of the Lord.17 When the holy martyrs Epictetus and Athone were tormented with iron hooks and burning torches, they only said: “Lord, Thy will be done in us.” And their dying words were: “O eternal God, be blessed for giving us the grace to accomplish in ourselves Thy holy will.” Cesarius relates18 that a certain monk wrought many miracles, though his life was not more austere than that of the other monks. Being astonished at his miracles, the abbot asked him one day what devotions he practised. In answer he said that he was more imperfect than his companions, but that he was always careful to conform himself in all things to the divine will. “And,” said the Superior, “did you feel displeasure at the injury which an enemy did to our farm some days ago?” No,” Father, “replied the monk; I, on the contrary, thanked the Lord, because I know that he does and permits all things for our welfare.” From this, the abbot perceived the sanctity of this good religious.
We ought to do the same when any cross or adversity happens to us. Let us accept them all from the divine hands, not only with patience, but also with joy, in imitation of the apostles, who rejoiced when they were maltreated for the sake of Jesus Christ. They went from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were accounted worthy to suffer reproach for the name of Jesus.19 And what greater happiness than to bear crosses, and to know that, in embracing them, we please God? If we wish to enjoy continual peace, let us endeavor, from this day forward, to embrace the divine will, always saying in all that happens to us: Yea, Father, for so hath it seemed good in Thy sight.20 Lord, this has pleased Thee, let it be done. To this end we ought to direct all our meditations, Communions, visits, and prayers. always imploring the Lord to make us conform to his will. And let us always offer ourselves to him, saying: “Behold me, O my God! do with me what thou pleasest.” St. Teresa offered herself to God at least fifty times in the day, that he might dispose of her as he wished.
Affections and Prayers.
Ah, my divine King, my beloved Redeemer! come and reign henceforth in my soul with undivided sway. Take my whole will, that it may desire and wish nothing but what Thou wishest. My Jesus, I have hitherto offended Thee so grievously by resisting Thy holy will. This gives me greater pain than if I had suffered every other evil. I repent of it, and am sorry for it with my whole heart. I deserve chastisement; I do not refuse it; I accept it. Preserve me only from the chastisement of being deprived of Thy love, and then do with me whatever Thou pleasest. I love Thee, my dear Redeemer; I love Thee, my God: and, because I love Thee, I wish to do whatever Thou wishest. O will of God! Thou art my love. O blood of my Jesus, Thou art my hope. In Thee I hope to be, from this day forward, always united to the divine will. It shall be my guide, my desire, my love, and my peace. In it I wish always to live and repose. In peace in the self-same I will sleep and I will rest.21 I shall always say, in whatever shall befall me: My God, thus Thou hast willed, thus I will; my God, I wish only what Thou wishest, may Thy will be always accomplished in me. Thy wilt be done. My Jesus, through Thy merits, grant me the grace always to repeat this beautiful dictate of love: Thy will be done! Thy will be done! O Mary, happy thou, who didst always fulfil, in all things, the divine will. Obtain for me the grace that henceforth I, too, may always fulfil it. My queen, through, thy great love for Jesus Christ, obtain for me this grace. Through thy prayers I hope for it.
Happiness Derived from Conformity to God’s Will.
He who is united with the divine will, enjoys, even in this life, a perpetual peace. Whatsoever shall befall the just man, it shall not make him sad.22 Yes, for a man cannot enjoy greater happiness than that which arises from the accomplishment of all his wishes. He who wills only what God wills, possesses all that he desires; for whatever happens to him, happens by the will of God. If, says Salvian, the soul that is resigned be humbled, it desires humiliations; if it is poor, it delights in poverty; in a word, it wishes whatever happens, and thus leads a happy life.23 Let cold, heat, wind, or rain come, and he that is united with the will of God says: I wish for this cold, this heat, this wind, and this rain, because God wills them. If loss of property, persecution, or sickness befall him, he says: I wish to be miserable, to be persecuted, to be sick, because such is the will of God. He who reposes in the divine will, and is resigned to whatever the Lord does, is like a man who stands above the clouds, and, without injury or perturbation, beholds the tempest raging below. This is the peace which, according to the Apostle, surpasseth all understanding,24 which exceeds all the delights of the world; a perpetual peace, subject to no vicissitudes. A fool is changed like the moon . . . A holy man continueth in wisdom like the sun.25 Fools – that is, sinners – are changed like the Moon, which increases to-day, grows less on to-morrow. To-day they are seen to laugh, and to-morrow to weep; to-day all joy and meekness, to-morrow, all sadness and fury, in a word, they change with prosperity and adversity. But the just man is like the sun, always the same, and uniformly tranquil in whatever happens; for his peace consists in conforming himself to the divine will. And on earth peace to men of good will.26 At the bare mention of the will of God, St. Mary Magdalene de Pazzi used to feel much consolation that she would fall into an ecstasy of love. When the will is united with the will of God, crosses may produce some pain in the inferior part, but in the superior part peace shall always reign. Your joy no man shall take from you.27 But how great the folly of those who oppose the will of God! What God wills will certainly happen; for who resisteth his will?28 They, therefore, must bear the cross, but without fruit and without peace. Who hath resisted him, and hath had peace?29
And what else but our welfare does God will? This is the will of your God, your sanctification.30 He wishes to see us saints, that we may be content in this life, and happy in the next. Let us remember that the crosses which come to us from God work together unto good.31 Even chastisements are inflicted on us in this life, not for ruin, but that we may amend, and gain eternal beatitude. Let us believe that these scourges of the lord . . . have happened for our amendment, and not for our destruction.32 God loves us so ardently, that he not only desires, but is solicitous for, the salvation of each of us. The Lord is careful for me.33 And what will he deny us after having given us his Son? He that spared not even His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how hath He not also with Him given us all things.34 Let us then always abandon ourselves into the hands of that God who is always solicitous for our welfare as long as we remain in this world. Casting all your care upon Him, for He hath care of you.35 Think of me, said our Lord to St. Catharine of Sienna, and I will always think of you. Let us often say with the spouse of the Canticles: My beloved to me, and I to him.36 My beloved thinks of my welfare, and I will think only of pleasing him, and of uniting myself to his holy will. We ought, says the holy Abbot Nilus, to pray, not that God would do what we wish, but that we may do what he wills.
He who always acts in this manner will lead a happy life, and will die a happy death. He who dies with entire resignation to the divine will, gives to others a moral certainty of his salvation. But he who is not united with the divine will during life, will not be united with it at death, and will not be saved. Let us, then, endeavor to make ourselves familiar with some sayings of the Scripture, by which we shall always keep ourselves united with the will of God. Lord, what wilt Thou have me to do?37 Lord, tell me what Thou wishest me to do; I am ready and willing to do it. Behold the handmaid of the Lord.38 Behold! my soul is Thy servant; command, and Thou shalt be obeyed. I am Thine; save me.39 Save me, O Lord! and then do what Thou pleasest with me; save Thine, I am no longer mine. When any serious cross or adversity happens to us, let us say: Yea, Father, for so it hath seemed good in Thy sight.40 My God, this has pleased Thee; let it be done. Above all, let the third petition of the Lord’s prayer be dear to us: Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Let us say it often, with fervor, and let us repeat it several times. Happy we, if we live and die saying: Thy will be done! Thy will be done!
Affections and Prayers.
O Jesus, my Redeemer! Thou hast sacrificed Thy life on the cross in order to become the cause of my salvation; have mercy on me, then, and save me; do not permit a soul that Thou hast redeemed by so many pains, and with so much love, to hate Thee for eternity in hell. Thou canst do nothing more to oblige me to love Thee. This Thou gavest me to understand, when, before Thou didst expire on Calvary, Thou didst utter these loving words: It is consummated. But how have I repaid Thy love? For the past, I can truly say that I have done all I could to displease Thee, and to oblige Thee to hate me. I thank Thee for having borne me with so much patience, and for now giving me time to repair my ingratitude, and to love Thee before I die. Yes, I wish to love Thee, and I wish to love Thee ardently, my Saviour, my God, my love, and my all; I wish to do whatever is pleasing to Thee; I give Thee my whole will, my whole liberty, and all that I possess. From this hour I sacrifice my life to Thee, accepting the death which Thou wilt send me, along with all the pains and circumstances that will accompany it. From this moment I unite this sacrifice of mine to the great sacrifice of Thy life, which Thou, my Jesus, didst offer for me on the cross. I wish to die in order to do Thy will. Ah! through the merits of Thy Passion, give me grace to be, during life, resigned to the arrangements of Thy Providence. And when death comes, grant that I may embrace, with an entire conformity, Thy holy will. I wish to die, O my Jesus! in order to please Thee. I wish to die saying: Thy will be done. Mary, my mother, it was thus thou didst die; ah! obtain for me the grace that I too may die in this manner.
Live, Jesus, our love, and Mary, our hope

1“Qui non diligit, manet in morte.” – I John, iii, 14.
2“Charitatern habete, quod est vinculum perfectionis.” – Col. iii. 14.
3“Hostiam et oblationem noluisti; corpus autem aptasti mihi. . . Tunc dixi: Ecce venio, . . . ut faciam, Deus, voluntatem tuam.” – Heb. x. 5.
4“Descendi de cœlo, non ut faciam voluntatem meam, sed voluntatem ejus qui misit me.” – John, vi. 38.
5“Ut cognoscat mundus quia diligo Patrem, et sicut mandatum dedit mihi Pater, sic facio: Surgite, eamus.” – John, xiv. 31.
6“Quicumque enim fecerit voluntatem Patris mei qui in cœlis est, ipse meus frater, et soror. et mater est.” – Matt. xii. 50.
7Fiat voluntas tua, sicut in cœlo, et in terra.
8“Inveni David, filium Jesse, virum secundum cor meum. qui faciet omnes voluntates meas.” – Acts, xiii. 22.
9“Paratum cor meum, Deus, paratum cor meum.” – Ps. lvi. 8; cvii. 2.
10“Doce me facere voluntatem tuam” – Ps. cxlii. 10; “Doce me justificationes tuas” – Ps. cxviii. 12, 26, 68, 135, etc.
11“Domine, quid me vis facere?” – Acts, ix. 6.
12“Vas electionis est mihi iste, ut portet nomen meum coram gentibus.” – Acts, ix. 15.
13“Præbe, fili mi, cor tuum mihi.” – Prov. xxiii. 26.
14“Ego Dominus, et non est alter, formans lucem et creans tenebras, faciens pacem et creans malum.” – Isa. xlv. 6.
15“Bona et mala, vita et mors, paupertas et honestas, a Deo sunt.” – Ecclus. xi. 14.
16“Dominus dedit, Dominus abstulit.” – Job, i. 21.
17“Sicut Domino placuit, ita factum est; sit nomen Domini benedictum!” – Job, i. 21.
18lib. x., cap. vi.
19“Ibant gaudentes a conspectu concilii, quoniam digni habiti sunt pro nomine Jesu contumeliam pati.” – Acts, v. 41.
20“Ita, Pater! quoniam sic fuit placitum ante te.” – Matt. xi. 26.
21“In pace, in idipsum, dormiam et requiescam.” – Ps. iv. 9.
22“Non contristabit justum, quidquid ei acciderit. – Prov. xii. 21.
23“Humiles sunt, hoc volunt; pauperes sunt, pauperie delectantur; itaque beati dicendi sunt.” – De Gub. D. l. 1, n. 2.
24“Exsuperat omnem sensum.” – Phil. iv. 7.
25“Homo sanctus in sapientia manet sicut sol: nam stultus sicut luna mutatur.” – Ecclus. xxvii. 12.
26“Et in terra pax hominibus.” – Luke, ii. 14.
27“Gaudium vestrum nemo tollet a vobis.” – John, xvi. 22.
28“Voluntati enim ejus quis resistit?” – Rom. ix. 19.
29“Quis restitit ei, et pacem habuit?” – Job, ix. 4.
30“Hæc est enim voluntas Dei, sanctificatio vestra.” – I Thess. iv. 3.
31“Omnia cooperantur in bonum.” – Rom. viii. 28.
32“Ad emendationem, non ad perditionem nostram, evenisse credamus.” – Judith, viii. 27.
33“Dominus sollicitus est mei.” – Ps. xxxix. 18.
34“Qui etiam proprio Filio suo non pepercit, sed pro nobis omnibus tradidit illum, quomodo non etiam cum illo omnia nobis donavit?” – Rom. viii. 32.
35“Omnem sollicitudinem vestram projicientes in eum, quoniam ipsi cura est de vobis.” – I Peter, v. 7.
36“Dilectus meus mihi, et ego illi.” – Cant. ii. 16.
37“Domine, quid me vis facere?” – Acts, ix. 6.
38“Ecce ancilla Domini.” – Luke, i. 38.
39“Tuus sum ego. salvum me fac.” – Ps. cxviii. 94.
40“Ita, Pater, quoniam sic fuit placitum ante te.” – Matt. xi. 26.


Tuesday, 8 February 2011

Preparation for Death - Consideration XXXV

Dwelling of Jesus on our Altars.
“Come to me all ye that labor and are burdened, and I will refresh you.” – Matt. xi. 28.
Jesus makes Himself Accessible to Every One.
Having to depart from this world after he had completed the work of redemption, our loving Saviour did not wish to leave us alone in this valley of tears. “No tongue,” says St. Peter of Alcantara, “can express the greatness of the love which Jesus Christ bears to our souls. Hence, that his absence from us might not be an occasion of forgetting him, this spouse, before his departure from this world, left, as a memorial of his love, this Most Holy Sacrament, in which he himself has remained. He did not wish that between him and his servants there should be any other pledge than himself, to keep alive the remembrance of him.” This effort of love on the part of Jesus Christ merits great love from us; and, according to the revelation said to have been made to his servant, Sister Margaret Mary Alacoque, he wished that in these latter times a festival should be instituted in honor of his Most Sacred Heart, in order that, by our devotions and affections, we might make some return for his loving dwelling on our altars, and thus compensate the insults which he has received in this sacrament of love, and which he receives every day from heretics and bad Catholics.
Jesus has left himself in the Most Holy Sacrament, first, that all may be able to find him; secondly, to give audience to all; thirdly, to give his graces to all. He, in the first place, remains on so many, altars, that all who wish may be able to find him. On the night on which the Redeemer took leave of his disciples to go to his death, they shed tears of sorrow at the thought of being separated from their dear Master; but Jesus consoled them, saying (and the same he then said also to us): My children, I am going to die for you, in order to show you the love which I bear you. But at my death I will not leave you alone: as long as you are on earth, I will remain with you in the Most Holy Sacrament. I leave you my body, my soul, my divinity: I leave myself entirely to you. As long as you remain on earth, I will not depart from you. Behold I am with you all days, even to the consummation of the world.1 The Saviour, says St. Peter of Alcantara, did not wish to leave his spouse alone at such a distance, and therefore he has left this sacrament, in which he himself, the best of all companions, has remained with her. The Gentiles have invented so many gods; but they could never imagine a god more loving than our God, who remains nigh to us, and assists us with so much love. Neither is there any other nation so great, that hath God so nigh them, as our God is present to all our petitions.2 The holy Church applies this passage of Deuteronomy to the festival of the Most Holy Sacrament. – Resp. ii. Noct. iii.
Behold, then, Jesus Christ remains in our tabernacles, as if confined in so many prisons of love. His priests remove him from the tabernacle to expose him on the altar, or to give Communion, and afterward put him back to be again shut up; and Jesus is content to remain there day and night. But why, my Redeemer, dost thou remain in so many churches, even during the night, when the faithful lock the doors, and leave Thee alone? It would be enough for Thee to remain during the day. No; he wished to remain also during the night, though left alone, that, in the morning, all who seek may instantly find him. The sacred spouse went in search of her beloved, saying to every one she met: Have you seen him whom my soul loveth?3 And, not finding him, she raised her voice and exclaimed; My spouse, tell me where thou art. Show me . . where thou feedest, where thou liest, in the mid-day.4 The spouse did not find him, because then the Most Holy Sacrament was not instituted; but, at present, if a soul wishes to find Jesus Christ, it has only to go to a church in which the Holy Eucharist is preserved, and there it will find its beloved expecting it. There is not a town nor a convent in which the Holy Sacrament is not kept; and in all these places the King of Heaven is content to remain shut up in a case of wood or of stone, often almost without a lamp burning before him, and without any one to keep him company. But, “O Lord!” says St. Bernard, “this is not suited to Thy Majesty.” No matter,” Jesus replies; “if it becomes not my Majesty, it well becomes my love.”
What tender devotion do pilgrims feel in visiting the holy house of Loretto – the Holy Land – the stable at Bethlehem – the hill of Calvary – or the holy sepulchre, in which Jesus Christ was born, or lived, or died, or was buried! But how much greater tenderness should we feel in a church, in presence of Jesus himself in the Blessed Sacrament? The venerable Father John D’Avila used to say that he knew no sanctuary capable of inspiring greater devotion or consolation than a church in which Jesus remains in the Holy Eucharist. Father Balthazar Alvarez would weep in seeing the palaces of princes filled with courtiers, and the churches, in which Jesus Christ dwells, solitary and abandoned. O God! if the Lord remained only in one church – for example, in St. Peter’s in Rome – and only on one day in the year, oh! how many pilgrims, how many nobles, how many princes would endeavor to have the happiness of being there on that day, to pay court and homage to the King of Heaven descended again upon the earth! Oh, what a splendid tabernacle of gold, adorned with gems, would be prepared for the occasion! Oh, with what an abundance of lights would the dwelling of Jesus Christ on the earth be celebrated on that day! But, says the Redeemer, I do not wish to remain only in a single church, or but for a single day: nor require either such riches, or such a profusion of lights. I wish to remain continually every day, and in all places in which my servants are found; that all may easily find me at all times, and at any hour they wish.
Ah! if Jesus Christ had not invented this excess of love, who could have ever thought of it? Should a Christian, after the ascension of the Redeemer into heaven, say to him, Lord, if Thou wishest to show us Thy affection, remain with us on our altars under the appearance of bread, that we may be able to find Thee whenever we wish: would not such a demand be regarded as the extreme of temerity? But, what no man could ever even imagine, our Saviour has invented and accomplished. But, alas! where is our gratitude for so great a favor? If a prince came from a distance to a village for the purpose of being visited by a peasant, how great would be the ingratitude of the peasant if he refused to visit his sovereign, or if he paid him only a passing visit!
Affections and Prayers.
O Jesus, my Redeemer, O love of my soul! how much has it cost Thee to remain with us in the sacrament? To be able to remain on our altars, Thou hadst first to suffer death; afterward, in order to aid us by Thy presence, Thou hadst to submit to so many grievous insults in this sacrament. And, after all this, we are so slothful and negligent in visiting Thee, though we know that Thou so ardently desirest our visits for the purpose of enriching us with Thy graces when Thou seest us in Thy presence. Lord, pardon me; for I too have been one of these ungrateful souls. From this day forward, O my Jesus! I wish to visit Thee often, and to remain as long as I can in Thy presence, to thank Thee, to love Thee, and to ask Thy graces; for it is for this purpose that Thou remainest on earth shut up in our tabernacles, and made our prisoner of love. I love Thee, O infinite Goodness! I love Thee, O God of love! I love Thee, O sovereign Good! amiable above every good. Grant that I may forget myself and all things, in order to remember only Thy love and to spend the remainder of my life wholly occupied in pleasing Thee. Grant that from this day forward I may relish no pleasure more than that of remaining at Thy feet. Inflame my whole soul with Thy holy love. Mary, my mother, obtain for me a great love for the Most Holy Sacrament; and whenever Thou seest that I am negligent, remind me of the promise I now make of going every day to visit the Holy Sacrament.
Jesus Gives Audience to All at all Times.
In the second place, Jesus Christ, in the Blessed Sacrament, gives audience to all. St. Teresa used to say that all cannot speak with the sovereign. The poor can scarcely hope to address him, and make known to him their necessities, even through a third person. But to speak to the King of Heaven, the intervention of a third person is not necessary: all, the poor as well as the nobles of the earth, may speak to him face to face in the Sacrament. Hence Jesus is called the flower of the fields. I am the flower of the field and the lily of the valleys.5 The flowers of gardens are enclosed and reserved; but the flowers of the fields are exposed to all. “I am the flower of the field,” says Cardinal Hugo, in his comment on this passage, “because I exhibit myself to be found by all.” With Jesus, then, in the Holy Sacrament, all may speak every hour in the day. Speaking of the birth of the Redeemer in the stable of Bethlehem, St. Peter Chrysologus says that princes do not always give audience; that when a person goes to address the king, the guards send him away, saying that the hour or day for giving audience is not yet arrived,. and telling him to come at another time. But the Redeemer wished to be born in an open cave, without a door and without guards, in order to give audience to all, at all hours: there is no attendant to say, “It is not the hour.”6 The same happens in the Holy Sacrament. The churches are always open: all can go to converse with the King of Heaven whenever they wish. Jesus desires that we speak to him with unbounded confidence: it is for this purpose that he remains under the species of bread. If Jesus appeared on our altars, as he will on the day of judgment, on a throne of glory, who among us would dare to approach him? But, says St. Teresa, because the Lord desires that we speak to him, and ask his graces with confidence and without fear, he has therefore clothed his majesty with the appearance of bread. He desires, as Thomas à Kempis says, that we converse with him as one friend does with another.7
When a soul remains at the foot of the altar, Jesus appears to address it in the words of the Canticles: Arise, make haste, my love, my beautiful one, and come.8 Arise, arise, O my soul, and fear not. Make haste, approach to me. My love, you are no longer my enemy; for you love me, and you repent of having offended me. My beautiful one, you are no longer deformed in my eyes: my grace has made you beautiful. And come, tell me what you want; I remain here on purpose to hear your prayers. What joy should you feel, dear reader, if a king called you into his cabinet and said to you: What do you wish for? what do you stand in need of? I love you, and I desire to promote your welfare. This, Jesus Christ, the King of Heaven, says to all who visit him: Come to me, all you that labor and are burdened, and I will refresh you.9 Come, all you that are poor, infirm, or afflicted; I am able and willing to enrich you, to heal you, to console you. For this purpose I remain on your altars. Thou shalt call, and he shall say: Here I am.10
Affections and Prayers.
Since then, my beloved Jesus, Thou remainest on our altars to hear the supplications of the miserable who have recourse to Thee, hear the prayer which I, a miserable sinner, present to Thee. O Lamb of God! sacrificed and lifeless on the cross, I am a soul redeemed by Thy blood; pardon me all the offences I have offered to Thee, and assist me by Thy grace, that I may never lose Thee again. Impart to me, O my Jesus! a portion of the sorrow which Thou didst feel in the garden of Gethsemane for my sins. O my God! that I had never offended Thee! My dear Lord, had I died in sin, I could never more love Thee; but Thou hast waited for me that I might love Thee. I thank Thee for the time which Thou givest me: and since I can now love Thee, I wish to love Thee. Give me the grace of Thy holy love, but of a love which will make me forget all things, to think only of pleasing Thy most loving heart. Ah, my Jesus! Thou hast spent Thy whole life for me: grant that I may spend at least the remainder of my life for Thee. Draw me entirely to Thy love; make me all Thine before I die. I hope for all graces through the merits of Thy Passion. I also hope in thy intercession, O Mary! Thou knowest that I love thee: have pity on me.
Jesus only Wishes to bestow his Graces.
Jesus, in the Holy Sacrament, gives audience to all in order to bestow his graces on all. St. Augustine says that the Lord has a greater desire of communicating his graces to us than we have of receiving them.11 The reason is, that God is infinite goodness, and goodness is naturally diffusive; therefore, it desires to impart its goods to all. God complains when souls do not come to ask his graces. Am I, he says, become a wilderness to Israel, or a lateward springing land? Why, then, have my people said, We are revolted; we will come to thee no more?12 Why, says the Lord, will you come to me no more? Have you, when you asked my graces, found me like a barren or lateward springing land? St. John saw the Lord with his breast full of milk – that is, of mercy – and girded with a band of gold – that is, with the love with which he desires to dispense his graces to us. I saw one like the Son of man . . . girt about the paps with a golden girdle.13 Jesus Christ is always ready to bestow his favors upon us; but the disciple says that, in the Holy Sacrament, he dispenses his graces in greater abundance. And, according to Blessed Henry Suso, it is in the Holy Eucharist that Jesus most willingly hears our prayers.
As a mother whose breasts are full of milk goes in search of infants to give them suck in order to be relieved of the burden, so our Lord from this sacrament of love cries out, and says to us all: You shall be carried at the breasts. . . . As one whom the mother caresses, so will I comfort you.14 Father Balthassar saw Jesus in the Most Holy Sacrament, having his hands full of graces, to dispense them to men; but found no one to ask them.
Oh! happy the soul that remains at the foot of the altar to ask graces of Jesus Christ! The Countess of Feria, afterward a religious of the Order of St. Clare, remained as long as she could before the Blessed Sacrament, and was therefore called the spouse of the sacrament. She continually received treasures of graces at the foot of the altar. Being asked one day how she was employed during so many hours before the tabernacle, she answered: “1 would remain there for all eternity. I am asked what I do before the Blessed Sacrament. And what do I not do? What does a beggar do in the presence of a rich man? What does a sick man do before his physician? What do I do? I thank my Saviour, I love him, I ask his graces.” Oh! how precious these last words are to make us draw fruit from our visits to the Holy Sacrament!
Jesus Christ complained to the servant of God, Sister Margaret Mary Alacoque, of the ingratitude of men to him in this sacrament of love. To make her understand the love with which he dwells on our altars, he showed her his heart in a throne of flames, surrounded with thorns and surmounted by a cross, and said to her: “Behold that heart, which has loved men so tenderly, which has reserved nothing, and which has been even consumed to show its love for them. But, in return, the greater part of them treat me with ingratitude by their irreverence and by their contempt of my love in this sacrament. And what is most painful to me is, that they are hearts consecrated to me.” Christians do not visit Jesus Christ because they do not love him. They spend entire hours in the society of friends; and they feel tediousness in conversing half an hour with Jesus Christ. Some will say: Why does not Jesus Christ give me his love? I answer: If you do not banish the world from your heart, how can divine love enter it? Ah! if you could say with sincerity, what St. Philip Neri said at the sight of the Holy Sacrament – Behold my love! behold my love! – you should not feel tediousness in spending hours and entire days before the Blessed Sacrament.
To souls enamoured of God, hours spent before Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament appear moments. St. Francis Xavier labored the whole day for the salvation of souls; and what was his repose at night? It consisted in remaining before the Holy Sacrament. St. John Francis Regis, that great missionary of France, after having spent the entire day in preaching and hearing confessions, went at night to the church. And having sometimes found it shut, he remained outside the door, exposed to the cold and wind, to pay homage, at least at a distance, to his beloved Lord. St. Aloysius Gonzaga wished to remain always before the Holy Sacrament; but was forbidden to do so by his Superiors. In passing by the altar, he felt himself drawn by Jesus to remain, but was compelled by obedience to depart. Hence he would lovingly say to his Saviour: “Withdraw from me, O Lord! withdraw.”15 Lord, do not draw me; allow me to depart; obedience obliges me to go away. If, my brother, you do not feel this love for Jesus, endeavor at least to visit him every day: he will certainly inflame your heart. Do you feel cold? Approach the fire, says St. Catharine of Sienna. Ah happy you, if Jesus, by his grace, inflames you with his love. Then you will certainly no longer love; on the contrary, you will despise all the goods of this world. “When,” says St. Francis de Sales, “a house is on fire, all that is within is thrown out through the windows.”
Affections and Prayers.
Ah, my Jesus! make Thyself known, make Thyself loved. Thou art so amiable, Thou canst do nothing more to induce men to love Thee; how then does it happen that so few among them love Thee? Alas! I have been among these ungrateful wretches. I have been sufficiently grateful to creatures, who have bestowed no gift or favor upon me: to Thee only, who hast given me Thyself, have I been ungrateful, so as often to offend Thee grievously, and insult Thee by my sins. But I see that, instead of abandoning me, Thou continuest to seek after me, and to ask my love. I feel that Thou continuest to propose to me this loving precept – “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with thy whole heart.” Since, then, Thou didst wish to be loved even by me after my ingratitude, I desire to love Thee. Thou wishest for my love, and at present through Thy grace, I desire only to love Thee. I love Thee, my love, my all. Through that blood which Thou hast shed for me, help me to love Thee. My beloved Redeemer! I place all my hopes in this blood, and also in the intercession of Thy most holy Mother, whom Thou wishest to assist me by her prayers in the work of my salvation. O Mary, my Mother! pray to Jesus for me. Thou inflamest all thy lovers with the divine love; I love thee tenderly; procure it also for me.

1“Ecce ego vobiscum sum omnibus diebus, usque ad consummationem sæculi.” – Matt. xxviii. 20.
2“Non est alia natio tam grandis, quæ habeat deos appropinquantes sibi, sicut Deus noster adest nobis.” – Deut. iv. 7.
3“Num, quem diligit anima mea, vidistis?” – Cant. iii. 3.
4“Indica mihi . . . ubi pascas, ubi cubes in meridie.” – Cant. i. 6.
5“Ego flos campi, et lilium convallium.” – Cant. ii. 1.
6“Non est satelles qui dicat: Non est hora.” – In Ps. iv.
7Sicut solet dilectus ad dilectum. – l. 4, c. 13.
8“Surge, propera, amica mea, columba mea, formosa mea, et veni.” – Cant. ii. 10.
9“Venite ad me, omnes qui laboratis et onerati estis, et ego reficiam vos.” – Matt. xi. 28.
10“Ego ipse qui loquebar. Ecce adsum.” – Isa. lii. 6.
11“Plus vult ille dare, quam nos accipere.” – Serm. 105, E. B.
12“Numquid solitudo factus sum Israeli, ant terra serotina? Quare ergo dixit populus meus:. Recessimus, non veniemus ultra ad te?” – Jer. ii. 31.
13“Vidi præcinctum ad mamillas zona aurea.” – Apoc. i. 13.
14“Ad ubera portabimini. . . . Quomodo si cui mater blandiatur, ita ego consolabor vos.” – Isa. lxvi. 12.
15Recede a me, Domine, recede.


Monday, 24 January 2011

Preparation for Death - Consideration XXXIV

Holy Communion.
“Take ye, and eat: this is my body.” – Matt. xxvi. 26.
The Eucharist is a Precious Gift.
Let us consider the great gift which Jesus Christ has bestowed on us in the institution of the Most Holy Sacrament; the great love he has shown to us in this gift; and his great desire that we should receive this gift. Let us, in the first place, consider the great gift which Jesus Christ has bestowed upon us in giving us himself entirely for our food in the Holy Communion. St. Augustine says that Jesus Christ, though an omnipotent God, has nothing more to give us.1 And what greater treasure, adds St. Bernardine of Sienna, can a soul receive or desire, than the sacred body of Jesus Christ?2 The prophet Isaias exclaims: Make His works known among the people.3 O men! proclaim aloud the loving inventions of our good God. And if our Redeemer had not bestowed this gift upon us, who among us could have asked it? Who could have dared to say to him: Lord, if Thou wishest to make us understand Thy love, remain under the species of bread, and permit us to make Thee our food? Even to think of it would be considered folly. “Does it not,” says St. Augustine, “appear foolishness to say, eat my flesh – drink my blood?”4 When Jesus Christ made known to his disciples this great gift of the Most Holy Sacrament which he wished to leave us, they could not bring themselves to believe it; and, therefore, they departed from him, saying: How can this man give us his flesh to eat? . . . This saying is hard, and who can hear it?5 But, what men could never imagine, the great love of Jesus Christ has invented and executed.
St. Bernard me says that the Lord has left us this sacrament as a memorial of the love he has shown us in his Passion.6 And this accords with what Jesus Christ himself has said: Do this for a commemoration of Me.7 The love of our Saviour, adds St. Bernardine, was not content with sacrificing his life for our salvation: before his death this love constrained him to bequeath to us the greatest gift which he had ever bestowed upon us, by giving us himself for our food.8 The Abbot Guerric says that, in this sacrament, Jesus made the last effort of love.9 This was better expressed by the Council of Trent, which declared that, in the Eucharist, Jesus poured out all the riches of his love for men.10
How great, says St. Francis de Sales, the tenderness of love which a prince would show to a beggar by sending him a part of what he had on his own plate! How much greater would it be if he sent him the entire of his own dinner! But what would it be, if he sent him, for his food, a part of his own arm! In Holy Communion, Jesus gives us not only a portion of his own dinner, not only a part, but the entire of his body. Take ye, and eat: this is My body.11 And with his body he gives us his soul and his divinity. In a word, St. Chrysostom says that in giving you himself in Holy Communion, he gives you all that he has, and reserves nothing for himself.12 And the angelic Doctor says that, “in the Eucharist, God has given us all that he is and has.”13 Behold! exclaims St. Bonaventure, that God whom the world cannot contain makes himself our prisoner in the Most Holy Sacrament.14 And since the Lord gives himself entirely to us in the Eucharist, how can we fear that he will refuse us any grace which we ask of him? How, says St. Paul, hath He not also, with Him, given us all things.15
Affections and Prayers.
O my Jesus! what has induced Thee to give Thyself entirely to us for our food? After this gift, what more remains for Thee to give us in order to oblige us to love Thee? Ah, Lord! give us light, make us understand the excess of Thy love in becoming food in order to unite Thyself to poor sinners! But, if Thou givest Thyself entirely to us, it is just that we too give our whole being to Thee. O my Redeemer! how have I been able to offend Thee, who hast loved me so tenderly, and who hast done so much to gain my love? Thou hast become man for my sake, Thou hast died for me, Thou hast become my food; tell me, what more couldst Thou have done? I love Thee, O infinite Goodness! I love Thee, O infinite Love! Lord, come often to my soul; inflame my whole heart with Thy holy love; grant that I may forget all things in order to think only of Thee, and to love nothing but Thee. Most Holy Mary, pray for me, and, by thy intercession, make me worthy to receive thy Son frequently in the Holy Sacrament.
The Eucharist is a Gift of Love.
Let us consider, in the second place, the great love which Jesus Christ has shown us in giving us himself in the Holy Eucharist. The Most Holy Sacrament is a gift which has proceeded from pure love. For our salvation it was necessary, according to the decree of God, that the Redeemer should die, and, by the sacrifice of his life, satisfy the divine justice for our sins; but what necessity was there that Jesus Christ, after having died for our redemption, should leave himself to us for our food? But this his love wished to do. He, says St. Laurence Justinian, instituted the Eucharist for no other purpose than to show his great charity, for no other purpose than to make us understand the immense love which he bears us.16 This is precisely what St. John has written: Jesus, knowing that His hour was come that He should pass out of this world to the Father: having loved His own, He loved them to the end.17 Knowing that the time of his departure from this earth had arrived, he wished to give us the greatest proof of his love, by bequeathing to us this gift of the Most Holy Sacrament. This is the precise meaning of the words, He loved them to the end; that is, according to Theophilactus and St. Chrysostom, “he loved them with an extreme love.”18
And mark what the apostle has observed – that the time at which Jesus Christ wished to bequeath this gift was the time of his death. The Lord Jesus, the same night on which He was betrayed, took bread, and, giving thanks, broke, and said “Take ye, and eat: this is My body.”19 At the very time that men prepared for him scourges, thorns, and a cross to crucify him, the loving Saviour wished to leave us this the last proof of his love. And why at death, and not before that time, did he institute this sacrament? Because, says St. Bernardine, the marks of love given by friends at death make a greater impression on the memory, and are preserved with greater affection.20 Jesus Christ, says the saint, had already given himself to us in many ways: he had given himself to us for a companion, a master, a father; for our light and our victim. The last degree of love remained; and this was, to give himself to us for our food in order to unite himself entirely to us, as food is united with him who eats it.21 This he has done by giving himself to us in the Most Holy Sacrament. Thus, our Redeemer was not content with uniting himself only to our human nature: he wished by this sacrament to find a means of also uniting himself to each of us in particular.
St. Francis de Sales says “that in no other action can the Saviour be considered more tender or more loving than in the institution of the Holy Eucharist; in which he, as it were, annihilates himself, and becomes food, in order to penetrate our souls, and to unite himself to the hearts of his faithful servants.” Thus, says St. Chrysostom, with that Lord on whom the angels dare not fix their eyes, we are united, and are made one body and one flesh.22 What shepherd, adds the saint, has ever fed his sheep with his own blood? Even mothers intrust their children to the care of nurses. But Jesus, in the sacrament, nourishes us with his own blood, and unites us to himself.23 And why become our food? Because, says the saint, he loved us ardently, and by making himself our food, he wished to unite himself entirely to us, and to make himself one thing with us.24 Then Jesus Christ wished to perform the greatest of his miracles (He hath made a remembrance of His wonderful works; He hath given food to them that fear Him25) in order to satisfy his desire of remaining with us, and of uniting in one, our heart and his own most holy heart. “O wonderful is Thy love, O Lord Jesus!” exclaims St. Laurence Justinian, “who wished to incorporate us in such a manner with Thyself, that we should have one heart and one soul inseparably united with Thee.”26
That great servant of God, Father de la Colombière, used to say: If anything could shake my faith in the mystery of the Eucharist, I would not doubt of the power, but rather of the love, which God displays in this sacrament. If you ask me how bread becomes the body of Jesus – how Jesus is found in many places, I answer that God can do all things. But if you ask me how it is that God loves men so as to make himself their food, I can only say that I do not understand it, and that the love of Jesus cannot be comprehended. But, O Lord! to reduce Thyself to the condition of food, appears to be an excess of love not suited to Thy majesty. But St. Bernard’s answer is, that love makes lovers forget their own dignity.27 St. Chrysostom also answers that love seeks not what is convenient when there is question of making itself known to the beloved; it goes not where it ought, but where it is carried by the ardor of its desire.28 Justly, then, has the angelic Doctor called this sacrament “a sacrament of love – a pledge of love.”29 And St. Bernard calls it love of loves. St. Mary Magdalene de Pazzi used to call Holy Thursday, the day on which this sacrament was instituted, the day of love.
Affections and Prayers.
O infinite love of Jesus, worthy of infinite love! Ah! my Jesus, when shall I love Thee as Thou hast loved me? Thou couldst do nothing more to make me love Thee; and I have forsaken Thee, O infinite Good! for the sake of vile and miserable goods! Ah! enlighten me, O my God! discover to me always more and more the greatness of Thy goodness, that my whole soul may be enamoured of Thee, and that I may labor to please Thee. I love Thee, O my Jesus! my love, my all; and I wish to unite myself frequently to Thee in this sacrament, in order to detach myself from all things, and to love Thee alone, who art my life. Through the merits of Thy Passion, assist me, O my Redeemer! O Mother of Jesus, and my Mother! do thou, too, assist me; beg of him to inflame my whole heart with his holy love.
How much Jesus Christ desires to Unite Himself to us.
Let us, in the third place, consider the great ardor with which Jesus Christ desires that we should receive him in Holy Communion. Jesus knowing that His hour was come.30 But how could Jesus call the night on which his bitter Passion should commence, His hour? He calls it His hour, because on that night he was to institute this divine sacrament in order to unite himself entirely to his beloved souls. This desire made him say: With desire I have desired to eat this pasch with you.31 Words by which the Redeemer wished to show us the great ardor with which he desired to unite himself to each of us in this sacrament. With desire I have desired. Words which, according to St. Laurence Justinian, proceeded from his immense love for us. This is the language of the most burning love.32 The Redeemer wished to give himself to us under the appearance of bread, that all might be able to receive him. Had he given himself to us under the appearance of costly food, the poor would not be able to receive him, and had he instituted the Holy Sacrament under the appearance of any other cheap food, this perhaps would not be found in all parts of the world. Jesus wished to leave himself under the species of bread, because it costs but little, and is found in every country: so that all persons in all places may find him and receive him.
Through his great desire that we should receive him, the Redeemer not only presses us to receive him by so many invitations: Come, eat My bread, and drink the wine which I have mingled for you.33 Eat, O friends, and drink, and be inebriated, My dearly beloved,34 but he also commands us to receive him. Take ye, and eat: this is My body.35 Moreover, he endeavors to allure us to the holy table by promises of eternal life. He that eateth My flesh and drinketh My blood, hath life everlasting. He that eateth this bread shall live forever.36 He also threatens to exclude from paradise all who neglect to receive him in the holy sacrament. Except you eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink His blood, you shall not have life in you.37 These invitations, promises, and threats all proceed from the ardent desire of Jesus Christ to unite himself to us in this sacrament. And this desire springs from the great love which he bears us: for, as St. Francis de Sales says, the end of love is nothing else than to be united with the object of love. And because in this sacrament Jesus unites himself entirely to the soul – He that eateth My flesh and drinketh My blood, abideth in Me and I in him.38 Therefore he desires so ardently that we should receive him. Our Lord said one day to St. Mechtilde: “The bee does not cast itself on the flower from which it sucks the honey, with as much ardor as I come to the soul that desires to receive me.”
Oh! If the faithful understood the great blessing which Holy Communion brings to the soul! Jesus is the Lord of all riches; for his Father has made him master of all things. Knowing that the Father had given Him all things into His hands.39 Hence, when Jesus Christ comes to a soul in Holy Communion, he brings with him immense treasures of graces. Now all good things, says Solomon, speaking of the eternal wisdom, came to me together with her.40
St. Denis says that the Most Holy Sacrament has the greatest efficacy in sanctifying the soul.41 And St. Vincent Ferrer asserts that the soul derives greater profit from one Communion, than from fasting for a week on bread and water. The Communion, as the Council of Trent teaches, is that great remedy which delivers us from venial, and preserves us from mortal sins.42 Hence St. Ignatius, martyr, has called the Most Holy Sacrament the medicine of immortality.43 Innocent III has said that, by his Passion, Jesus Christ has delivered us from the punishment of sin; but, by the Eucharist, he preserves us from the commission of sin.44
Moreover, this sacrament kindles the fire of divine love. He brought me into the cellar of wine; he set in order charity in me. Stay me up with flowers, compass me about with apples; because I languish with love.45 St. Gregory of Nyssa says that Holy Communion is this cellar of wine, in which the soul is so inebriated with divine love, that she forgets the earth and all creatures: it is thus the soul languishes with holy charity. The Venerable Father Francis Olimpio, of the Order of Theatines, used to say that there is nothing that so powerfully inflames the soul with divine love, as Holy Communion. God is love and a fire of love. God is charity.46 My God is a consuming fire.47 And this fire of love the Eternal Word came to light upon the earth. I am come to cast fire on the earth; and what will I but that it be kindled?48 Oh! what burning flames of holy love does Jesus kindle in the souls who receive him in this sacrament with a desire of being inflamed with his love. St. Catharine of Sienna saw, one day, in the hands of a priest, Jesus, in the Holy Sacrament, like a furnace of love; and wondered that the hearts of all men were not set on fire and reduced to ashes by the flames which issued from the Holy Eucharist. St. Rose of Lima used to say that, in receiving Jesus Christ, she felt as if she received the sun. Hence she sent forth from her countenance rays which dazzled the sight, and the heat emitted from her mouth after Communion was so intense, that the person who reached her a drink felt her hand scorched as if she approached a furnace. In visiting the Most Holy Sacrament, St. Wenceslaus, king and martyr, was inflamed, even externally, with such a degree of heat that the servant who accompanied him, when obliged to walk on the snow, trod in the footsteps of the saint, and thus felt no cold. “The Eucharist,” says St. John Chrysostom, “is a fire which inflames us, that, like lions breathing fire, we may retire from the altar being made terrible to the devil.”49 The Holy Sacrament is a fire which inflames the soul to such a degree, that we ought to depart from the altar breathing such flames of love that the devil will no longer dare to tempt us.
But some will say: I do not communicate often because I am cold in divine love. But, says Gerson, he who acts in this manner is like the man who refuses to approach the fire because he feels cold. The greater, then, our tepidity, the more frequently we ought to receive the Most Holy Sacrament, provided we have a desire to love God. “If,” says St. Francis de Sales (in his Devout Life, chap. xxi.), “you are asked why you communicate so frequently, say that two sorts of persons ought to communicate often – the perfect and the imperfect: the perfect to preserve perfection, and the imperfect to acquire perfection.” St. Bonaventure says: “Though you feel tepid, approach, trusting in the mercy of God. The more a person feels sick, the more he stands in need of a physician.”50 And Jesus Christ says to St. Mechtilde: “When you are to communicate, desire to have all the love which any soul has ever had for me, and I will accept your love in proportion to the ardor with which you wish for it.51
Affections and Prayers.
O enamoured of souls, O my Jesus! it is not in Thy power to give us greater proofs of love in order to show us that Thou lovest us. And what more couldst Thou invent to induce us to love Thee? Ah! grant, O infinite Goodness! that I may love Thee tenderly and with all my strength! And who is there that has greater claims on the affections of my heart, than Thou, my Redeemer, who, after having given Thy life for my salvation, hast given me Thyself entirely in this sacrament? Ah! Lord, that I always remembered Thy love in order to forget all things, and to love Thee alone without interruption and without reserve! I love Thee, O my Jesus above all things, and I wish to love Thee alone. Banish from my heart, I entreat Thee, all affections which are not for Thee. I thank Thee for giving me time to love Thee and to weep over the offences I have offered to Thee. My Jesus, I desire that Thou mayst be the only object of my affections. Assist me, save me, and let my salvation consist in loving Thee with my whole heart, and in loving Thee always in this life and in the next. Mary, my Mother, obtain for me the grace to love Jesus Christ; pray to him for me.

1“Cum esset omnipotens, plus dare non potuit.” – Lohner Bibli. tit. 52, § 3.
2“Quis melior thesaurus in corde hominis esse potest, quam corpus Christi?” – T. iv. s. 12, a. 1. c. 4.
3“Notas facite adinventiones ejus.” – Isa. xii. 4.
4“Nonne videtur insania: Manducate meam carnem, bibite meum sanguinem?” – In Ps. xxxiii. en. 1.
5“Durus est hic sermo, et quis potest eum audire?” – John. vi. 61.
6Hoc sacramentum est memoriale suæ dilectionis.
7“Hoc facite in meam commemorationem.” – Luke, xxii. 19.
8“In illo fervoris excessu, quando paratus erat pro nobis mori, ab excessu amoris majus opus agere coactus est, quam unquam operatus fuit: dare nobis corpus in cibum.” – T. II. s. 54, a. 1, c. 1.
9“Omnem vim amoris effudit amicis.” – Serm. de Ascen. Dom.
10“Divitias divini sui erga homines amoris velut effudit.” – Sess. 13, c. 2.
11“Accipite et comedite; hoc,est corpus meum.” – Matt. xxvi. 26.
12Totum tibi dedit, nihil sibi reliquit.
13“Deus in Eucharistia totum quod ipse est et habet in summo dedit.” – De Beat. c. 3.
14“Ecce, quem mundus capere non potest, captivus noster est.” – Exp. Miss. c. 4.
15“Quomodo non etiam cum illo omnia nobis donavit?” – Rom. viii. 32.
16“Hoc ardentissimæ charitatis indicium.” – De Tr. Chr. Ag. c. 2.
17“Sciens Jesus quia venit hora ejus, ut transeat ex hoc mundo ad Patrem, cum dilexisset suos. . . . in finem dilexit eos,” – John, xiii. 1.
18Extremo amore, summe dilexit eos.
19“In qua nocte tradebatur, accepit panem, et gratias agens fregit, et dixit: Accipite et manducate; hoc est corpus meum.” – I Cor. xi. 23.
20Quæ in fine in signum amicitiæ celebrantur, firmius memoriæ imprimuntur et chariora tenentur.
21“Ultimus gradus amoris est, cum se dedit nobis in cibum; quia dedit se nobis ad omnimodam unionem, sicut cibus et cibans invicem uniuntur.” – T. II. s. 54, a. 1, c. 1; a. 4, c. 1.
22Huic nos unimur, et facti sumus unum corpus et una caro.
23“Quis pastor oves proprio pascit cruore? Et quid dico, pastor? Matres multæ sunt, quæ filios aliis tradunt nutricibus; hoc autem ipse non est passus, sed nos proprio sanguine pascit.” – Ad pop. Ant. hom. 60.
24“Semetipsum nobis immiscuit, ut unum quid simus; ardenter enim amantium hoc est.” – Ad op. Ant. hom. 61.
25“Memoriam fecit mirabilium suorum misericors et miserator Dominus, escam dedit timentibus se.” – Ps. cx. 4.
26“O quam mirabilis est dilectio tua, Domine Jesu, qui tuo corpori taliter nos incorporari voluisti, ut tecum unum cor et animam haberemus inseparabiliter colligatam.” – De Inc. div. am. c. 5.
27“Amor dignitatis nescius.” – In Cant. s. 64.
28“Amor ratione caret, et vadit quo ducitur, non quo debeat.” – Serm. 147.
29Sacramentum charitatis, charitatis pignus.
30“Sciens Jesus quia venit hora ejus.” – John, xiii. 1.
31“Desiderio desideravi hoc pascha manducare vobiscum.” – Luke, xxii. 15.
32“Flagrantissimæ charitatis est vox hæc.” – De Tr. Chr. Ag. c. 2.
33“Venite, comedite panem meum, et bibite vinum quod miscui vobis.” – Prov. ix. 5.
34“Comedite, amid, et bibite, et inebriamini, charissimi.” – Cant. v. 1.
35“Accipite et comedite; hoc est corpus meum.” – Mati. xxvi. 26.
36“Qui manducat meam carnem, et bibit meum sanguinem, habet vitam æternam. . . . Qui manducat hunc panem, vivet in æternum.” – John, vi. 55.
37“Nisi manducaveritis carnem Filii hominis, et biberitis ejus sanguinem, non habebitis vitam in vobis.” – John, vi. 54.
38“Qui manducat meam carnem, et bibit meum sanguinem, in me manet et ego in illo.” – John, vi. 57.
39“Omnia dedit ei Pater in manus.” – John, xiii. 3.
40“Venerunt autem mihi omnia bona pariter cum illa.” – Wis. vii. 11.
41Eucharistia maximam vim habet perficiendæ sanctitatis.
42“Antidotum, quo liberemur a culpis quotidianis, et a peccatis mortalibus præservemur.” – Sess. 13, cap. 2.
43“Pharmacum immortalitatis.” – Ep. ad Eph. c. 20.
44“Per crucis mysterium, eripuit nos a potestate peccati; per Eucharistiæ sacramentum, liberat nos a voluntate peccandi.” – De Alt. Myst. l. 4, c. 44.
45“Introduxit me in cellam vinariam, ordinavit in me charitatem. Fulcite me floribus, stipate me malis; quia amore langueo.” – Cant. ii. 4.
46“Deus charitas est.” – John, iv. 8.
47“Ignis consumens est.” – Deut. iv. 24.
48“Ignem veni mittere in terram; et quid volo, nisi ut accendatur?” – Luke, xii. 49.
49“Carbo est Eucharistia, quæ nos inflammat, ut tamquam leones ignem spirantes ab illa mensa recedamus, facti diabolo terribiles.” – Ad pop. Ant. hom. 61.
50“Licet tepide, tamen confidens de misericordia Dei accedat; tanto magis æger necesse habet requirere medicum, quanto magis senserit se ægrotum.” – De Prof. re1. l. 2, c. 77.
51Spir. grat. l. 3, c. 22.


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