On the Union of the Soul with Christ in Holy Communion.
PRAYER BEFORE MEDITATION.
My God, I firmly believe that Thou art here present. I acknowledge that on account of my many sins I am utterly unworthy to appear before Thy sacred countenance. Yet, confiding in Thy infinite goodness and mercy, I venture to address Thee, to call upon Thy holy name, and meditate upon Thy commandments, in order that I may acquire a better knowledge of Thy holy will, and accomplish it with more fidelity. Wherefore enlighten my understanding that I may perceive what I ought to do or leave undone for the promotion of Thy glory and my own salvation; at the same time excite my will, that I may repent with my whole heart of my past sins, and resolve for the future to do all that Thou requirest of me. Grant me above all to know Jesus, my divine Teacher and Guide, more clearly, that I may love Him more dearly, and consequently labor, struggle and suffer with greater generosity and self-sacrifice in imitation of His example. Holy Mary, Mother of God and my Mother, show Jesus to me now, and let me study thy divine Son to the salvation of my soul. Holy Guardian Angel, keep far from me all distracting thoughts; my patron saint, come to my assistance. Amen.
On the Union of the Soul with Christ in Holy Communion.
If the Bread of Heaven only had the power, which we saw it to have in our meditation yesterday, to preserve the soul from death and give it eternal life, it would be an exceedingly great privilege for us mortals to be permitted to eat that Bread. But the celestial manna does yet more for those who partake of it. Think, my soul, of the moment when you receive Holy Communion. What takes place then? Oh ponder this in amazement and adoring love: In that hallowed moment the most intimate union is effected between Christ and your soul.
1st. Consider what our Lord says: “He that eateth My flesh and drinketh My blood abideth in Me and I in him.” (St. John vi. 57.) O wondrous promise! According to this, as often as the blood of Christ is received in Holy Communion, Christ Himself, whole and undivided, with His glorified body enters into the heart of the Christian and remains with him, uniting Himself to the soul of the communicant so closely that he abides in Christ and Christ in him. How inconceivable is the dignity thus conferred upon man! The only-begotten Son of God did indeed exalt the Blessed Virgin most highly by dwelling within her chaste womb as in a tabernacle of pure gold, but no less great is the honor done to you, Christian, since this same Jesus vouchsafes to take up His abode within you, not merely once, but as often as you may desire. Oh that you were a dwelling-place fit to receive so great a Guest!
2d. Consider what the Apostle says: “I live, now not I, but Christ liveth in me.” (Gal. ii. 20.) These words are literally fulfilled in the case of those who communicate worthily. After this union with Christ our soul lives another, a new life. Observe this attentively: As material food assimilates itself to the body, becomes one and the same as him who eats it, so in a certain sense he who eats the Bread of angels becomes one and the same as that celestial Bread of which he partakes, although the body of Christ is not changed into our nature, but the contrary: we are changed into Christ, our nature is transformed into His. Hence our Lord said to St. Augustine: “I am the Bread of the strong. Grow and thou shalt eat of Me, but I shalt not be transformed into thee; thou shalt be transformed into Me.” “This sacrament,” St. Thomas says, “converts man into God and makes him like unto Him. Just as fire changes into itself all on which it lays hold, so is the action of the all-consuming fire of the Godhead.” A man who is thus transformed can truly say with St. Paul: “I live, now not I, but Christ liveth in me.” Reflect upon this sublime, this ennobling truth.
3d. Consider furthermore these words of our Lord: “As I live by the Father, so he that eateth Me the same also shall live by Me.” (v. 58.) Thus Christ shall not only live in you, but you shall live by Him; that is to say, in your whole life, in your thoughts, your words, your actions, His glory, the accomplishment of His will must be the one aim you have in view. Of what profit will it be to you that, in consequence of your having received Holy Communion, Christ lives in you, if you do not live with Christ, if you do not become assimilated to Christ, if you do not resemble Christ in your life? This is what union with Christ demands from us, that we should on our part live by Him, and this the Apostle exhorts us to do when he says: “Put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ” (Rom. xiii. 14); put on His humility, His charity, His purity, His justice. O my soul, if you were thoroughly penetrated by this thought: Christ lives in me, would you not regard it as a sacred duty to resemble Him in your life, to live by Him? Should you permit the tongue whereon His most holy body rested to engage in the service of sin; should you permit your heart, now become the dwelling-place of the most high God, to be sullied by evil desires and unruly passions? See therefore that you impress deeply on your mind to-day the words spoken by Jesus Christ and by His Apostle: “Christ liveth in me”; “He that eateth Me, the same shall live by Me.”
PRAYER AFTER MEDITATION.
My God, I give Thee heartfelt thanks for all the graces and all the light Thou hast conferred on me during this meditation. Pardon me all the negligence and the distractions of which I have been guilty, and give me strength to carry out the resolutions that I have made. Fortify me, that from henceforth I may diligently practise this virtue . . . avoid this fault . . . perform this action . . . to Thy honor. Help me to do this, sweet Virgin Mary; and if I ever forget my good resolutions, I entreat my Angel Guardian to recall them to my memory. Amen.
– Meditations on the Life, Teaching, and Passion of Jesus Christ
(Nihil Obstat and Imprimatur: New York, December 31, 1900)
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