« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »
thing in comparison with that living bread, that bread of life, which is given us in the divine mysteries ; which comes down from heaven in order to carry us thither, to the true land of promise, the land of the living; and which nourishes our souls to life eternal. O heavenly manna! O bread of angels! Thou art my true and only support during this my mortal pilgrimage. 0, let my soul always hunger after thee! Let me ever relish thy hidden sweetness !
Consider, 3dly, the mysteries which we celebrate in this thrice blessed sacrament and sacrifice. Here the whole passion and death of Christ is solemnly acted, as a most sacred tragedy, by himself in person. Here the Lamb of God presents himself as slain to his eternal Father ; and his blood most powerfully pleads in our behalf. Here the death of our Lord, the fountain of all our good, plentifully flows into our souls, and ever lives and brings forth in us the fruit of life. Here the triumphs of our crucified King, his victorious resurrection and glorious ascension, are displayed. receive an assurance of the share that we have in Christ and in his redemption. Here we partake of his body and of his Spirit. Here we drink of the fountain of life. Here all the members of Christ are happily united with one another, and with their head, in a sacrament of union and love. Here, in fine, we have a most certain pledge of everlasting life, and of the eternal enjoyment of him in our blessed country, who thus lovingly gives himself to us in this place of banishment. O my soul, reverence with awe, and embrace with love, these mysteries, so full of majesty and of love. The High Priest of the Old Testament was but once a year to enter into the inward sanctuary of the temple, called the Holy of Holies; and then not without divers purifications and sacrifices, and a solemn fast of all Israel. See, then, how pure, how holy, thou oughtest to be, who so often art admitted into the sanctuary of the New Testament,--that is, to these
divine mysteries, sanctified by the presence of Jesus Christ himself, the true Holy of Holies, of which that Jewish sanctuary was but a shadow.
Consider, therefore, 4thly, that what most especially calls for our devotion in these most holy mysteries is the real presence of Jesus Christ himself, true God and true man, under the sacramental veils. Bow thyself down, my soul, to adore this sacred truth; let no proud thoughts of opposition arise in thee against this admirable sacra. ment; captivate thy understanding to the obedience of ļ faith; build thyself upon the express words of Truth itself so often repeated in holy writ, and upon the express declaration of the Church of God, against which the gates of hell can never prevail. The glory and merit of faith is to believe what thou canst not see ; to acknowledge that the Almighty can do infinitely more than thou canst comprehend; and that no effort of mercy and love can be too great for him who has died for love. See, then, what thy devotion ought to be in consequence of this belief; what profound reverence to so great a Lord, who lies concealed in these tremendous mysteries ; what purity of conscience, in order to approach worthily to purity itself; what humility, what love, when thou art admitted to his embraces !
Consider, 5thly, how many ways thy Lord and thy God, the Sovereign Good, who delights to be with the children of men (Prov. viii. 31), communicates hinuself to thee. In his incarnation and birth he gave himself to be thy companion, and to take upon him all thy miseries. In his death he gave himself to be thy ran
In this heavenly sacrament he gives himself to be thy food, the comfort and support of thy exile; and in his kingdom above he designs to give himself for thy eternal reward. O, what can he do more to testify his love to thee! As wise as he is, he cannot contrive any thing better for thee; as powerful as he is, he cannot do more for thee than give thee himself. O, how true is
that saying of the beloved disciple, that God is love ! But what dost thou see in me, dear Lord, that can move thee to love such a poor worm, such a wretched sinner, as I am ? There can be nothing good in me but what is thy gracious gift : and, alas ! I fear I have hitherto abused all thy gifts. It is, then, thy own pure goodness alone that can make thee love ine; and thy pure love alone that can make thee communicate thyself to me. 0, let me, then, be no longer ungrateful to thy love! Let thy divine fire, which thou so much desirest to enkindle upon earth, take hold now of my heart, that I may return thee love for love! O, send it now into my soul, that it may prepare for thee a suitable lodging there! O, let me henceforward give myself wholly to thee, who so often givesť thyself to me!
Consider, 6thly, wlio it is that thou art to receive in this blessed sacrament, and who thou art that presumest to approach him. He is the great King and Maker of heaven and earth, and the whole creation is as nothing in his sight. He is eternal, immense, and every way infinite in power, in majesty, in beauty, in wisdom, in gloty, and thou art but a diminutive worm, made of earth, and full of miseries. He is infinitely pure and holy, in whose siglit the very heavens are not clean, and who cannot endure iniquity; and thou art infested with the leprosy of sin. How, then, my soul, shall we dare venture to enter into this inward sanctuary, to draw near the throne of this infinite Majesty, and, unclean as we are, to touch and receive the Holy of Holies? Oza was struck dead for irreverently touching the ark of the covenant; the Bethshamites, for irreverently looking on it; Nadab and Abihu, for offering incense before it with unhallowed fire: and what was this ark (in which were only deposited the tables of the law) in comparison with the Lord and Giver of the law, whom we here approach to? When God was about to give the law, the children of Israel were commanded to be purified, and to kcer
themselves chaste ; and even then to keep at a distance from the mountain, where the Lord appeared in thunder and lightning : only Moses was permitted to ascend to the mountain-top, to converse with the divine Majesty, or rather with an angel speaking in his person. And how shall we, with so little purity, dare to approach this infinite and all-holy Deity, this consuming fire? How shall we, the most unworthy of all sinners, presume to receive this Lord of Glory ? Must we stay away till we have the presumption to think ourselves worthy ? No, certainly; for one of the most necessary dispositions for receiving worthily is to acknowledge and believe our own unworthiness. Or must we, through awe and fear of so great a Majesty, abstain for ever from partaking of these tremendous mysteries ? No; for it is no less certain death to stay away from the fountain of life than to come to it unworthily. What, then, must we do, my soul? We will not run away from our Sovereign Good. No; we will run to him, but it shall be like the humble publican, like the poor prodigal returning home, like the penitent Magdalene: such as these he never rejects. It shall be with a contrite and humble heart, which he never despises ; it shall be with an entire confidence in his infinite goodness and mercy, for no one ever hoped in him and was confounded. O, grant us, dear Lord, to approach thee with these good dispositions ! and since thou art pleased to invite thyself into so poor, so mean, so wretched a habitation as this of my breast, be pleased first to infuse those graces, those virtues, those dispositions, which may prepare the place for thee; for thou knowest that of myself I can do nothing.
Consider, 7thly, the happy fruits which this divine sacrament produces in those souls which frequent it with due preparation.
“ The bread that I will give," says our Lord (St. John vi. 52), " is my flesh, for the life of the world." And again, “ He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath everlasting life, and I will raise him up in the last day.” And again, “ He that eateth my flesh and drinketh my blood, abideth in me, and I in him." And “He that eateth me shall live by me.” And “ He that eateth this bread shall live for ever.” Wheresoever our Lord comes, he carries about with him all the treasures of life, that is, all grace, love, and holiness; and on his part is ever ready to open these treasures, and to communicate them to those souls which he comes to visit. These treasures are infinite, and so is the love which he bears to us. What gifts, then, what graces may we not expect, if we come with reverence and humility, with love and devotion, to him who is the fountain of life! Here we receive the bread of life for the food and nourishment of our souls. Here we meet with a constant supply of grace, to repair the daily decays caused by our infirmity and corruption; to give us new strength and vigour to walk on in our way through the wilderness of this world to the mountain of God; and to make us continually grow in virtue, till we come to a perfect man, to the measure of the fulness of Christ. Here devout souls taste the sweetness of heaven in its very fountain. Here, seated like Magdalene at the feet of our Lord, they learn from him heavenly lessons, and enjoy his delicious conversation. Aspire after this happiness, O Christian souls, which in some measure makes you enjoy heaven upon earth. If you love Jesus Christ, run to his embraces ; if you love yourself