On the Guilt of those Who Communicate with Hearts Full of Enmity.
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 Guilt of those Who Communicate with Hearts Full of Enmity.
Look, my soul, on the crucified Redeemer; see how when hanging upon the cross He prays in His infinite charity even for His enemies, for those who are torturing Him in so barbarous a manner; and then say to yourself: This most loving Jesus comes to my heart in Holy Communion, comes to unite Himself to me in the closest union. But how can that be if He who on the cross pardoned His enemies finds within my breast a heart animated by hatred and vindictiveness, by feelings of enmity and rancor? Would it not be a deliberate insult to invite the God whose property it is to forgive and to have mercy to take up His abode in such a dwelling-place? Let our meditation to-day be upon the means of avoiding so grievous a sin.
1st. Consider that according to the teaching of the Council of Trent our blessed Lord instituted the adorable Sacrament of the Altar and bequeathed it to His Church as a symbol of love and concord. As bread is composed of many grains of corn mingled in one mass, and likewise wine consists of the juice of many grapes mixed together, so the multitude of the faithful who eat this sacred bread and drink of this sacred chalice ought to be one body; they ought to be one heart and one soul, because they all partake in an equal measure of the body of Christ, which is one and undivided. Thus it was amongst the early Christians, of whom it is expressly stated that they, receiving every day the Most Holy Sacrament, had but one heart and one soul. And you, Christian, can it be that in direct contradiction to the object and the nature of this Holy Sacrament, you receive it with hatred and dissension in your heart? Listen to and ponder well this saying of the Venerable Bede: “Those who eat this bread must not be at variance with one another, for they are nourished with one bread, they form one body, they are one in Christ.”
2d. Consider how Holy Communion, if it be received with a heart full of enmity, recalls only too forcibly the kiss of Judas. St. Bernard, when speaking of the meeting between our Lord and the traitor on the Mount of Olives, says: “Bloodthirsty wretch! How was it, Jesus, that Thou didst not shrink, when he approached Thee, from allowing his lips to touch Thy sacred lips, actually to kiss those lips! What hadst Thou, sinless Lamb of God, in common with a ravening wolf? It was Thy infinite charity that permitted the act, the charity which would omit nothing that could possibly touch that hardened heart.” These words, employed by St. Bernard in reference to our Lord’s meeting with His miserable betrayer, may be applied to the union of that same Lord in Holy Communion with a heart that is full of malignity. Think, you who are implacable and desirous of revenge, Jesus offers you not merely His cheek to be kissed, He gives Himself to you, He, the God of charity, the God of forgiveness and of reconciliation. Yet you are not melted; you continue to cherish feelings of hatred and hostility in the heart where He is present, He the all merciful, the propitiation for the sins of the world. Does not that afford a more glaring contrast, a still more striking contradiction than that which St. Bernard laments so bitterly? And perhaps, my soul, for weeks or even months you may have been going to the Lord’s table in such dispositions!
3d. Consider what our Lord Himself says: “If therefore thou offer thy gift at the altar and there thou remember that thy brother hath anything against thee, leave there thy offering before the altar and go first to be reconciled to thy brother; and then coming thou shalt offer thy gift.” (St. Matt. v. 23, 24.) Reflect upon these words. No sacrifice, no good work, no mortification, not even a martyr’s death is pleasing to God, as long as your brother has anything against you. Even the solemn celebration of the holy sacrifice must be suspended in that case, as Christ Himself commands; for, as Tertullian says: “The peace of God cannot be attained without peace with men; the remission of sin cannot be implored if sin be retained in the heart, and the love of God is incompatible with hatred of the brethren.” Perhaps you have long deplored and wept over your coldness at the time of Holy Communion, the absence of all consolation which you experience. Examine your conscience, search and see if your heart is not sullied though it may be in a very slight degree by envy, aversion, dissension, enmity? We read in the annals of the Cistercian Order of a certain monk who whenever he went to Holy Communion experienced a sweetness to his palate as of virgin honey, and this delicious flavor generally continued for three days. One day he spoke rather angrily and harshly to one of the Brothers, and went to Holy Communion without having sought a reconciliation. That day instead of the wonted sweet flavor, he tasted nothing but bitterness, as if he had gall and wormwood in his mouth. Whence is it, my soul, that you have not more consolation and delight in Holy Communion?
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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