Wednesday in the Octave of Corpus Christi.

On the Blessed Virgin As Our Instructress in Regard to the Devout Reception of 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 Blessed Virgin As Our Instructress in Regard to the Devout Reception of Holy Communion.

Picture to yourself to-day the most pure, the most holy Virgin, at the moment when, present in the assembly of the Christians who have met together for divine worship after her Son’s ascension, she receives Holy Communion. What a beautiful sight for those who were privileged to behold the immaculate Virgin when she received anew the body of her Son under the appearance of bread! Words cannot describe her devotion, her fervor, her love on her reunion with her divine Child. If at such seasons the countenances of the saints have been seen to glow with joy and rapture, as if they had already entered upon the glorified state, how ardent must have been the flame of devotion, how bright the fire of love that illumined the features of the Blessed Virgin at the time of Holy Communion. Contemplate her in imagination while you meditate upon her perfections.

1st. Consider the faith wherewith she received Holy Communion. Think how lively, how firm must have been the faith that animated her when the Archangel Gabriel announced to her the incomprehensible mystery of the incarnation of Jesus Christ; how that faith was increased and strengthened by the miraculous birth of our Lord; how it was heightened and intensified day by day as she watched the growth of the divine Child, until it ultimately reached its climax when she stood beneath the cross. Then the most signal proof was given of the magnitude, the force of that faith, since not even the appalling sight of the crucified Redeemer, stripped of His garments, covered with wounds, satiated with insults and reproaches, forsaken by God and man, could cause her belief in His divinity, His majesty, His sublime dignity, to waver for a single moment. By this you may form some estimate of the faith wherewith Mary approached the Most Holy Sacrament. Kindle your feeble taper, I beseech you, at the bright, clear flame of her faith, for the amount of devotion experienced at the time of Holy Communion mainly depends on the fervor of the act of faith which is previously made.

2d. Consider the hope and confidence wherewith Mary received Holy Communion. The virtue of the act of hope that we make rests principally on our desire for Him from whom we hope to receive help and grace, and in whom we put our trust. Consequently the more fully our confidence is placed in Christ, the more ardently shall we long to be united with Him. But who can depict the yearning of Mary’s heart, her loving desire once more to receive her, beloved Child, the Child who was conceived by the operation of the Holy Ghost, to whom she gave birth, whom she nurtured and brought up, whom she lost in so painful a manner by the death of the cross, to receive Him anew, not this time to be clasped in her maternal arms, but to dwell within her heart, a heart consumed with the fire of love. The longing that Mary felt was in fact the same as that wherewith on Christmas Eve she anticipated the nativity of the wondrous Infant, as that wherewith she sought the divine Child for three days in the streets of Jerusalem, as that wherewith, standing beside the sepulchre, she awaited the moment of His glorious resurrection. Oh kindle your cold heart at Mary’s glowing heart, and before every Communion awaken within your soul the warmest desire to receive your Lord, resting all your hope, all your trust on Him, for on this depends to a great extent the grace imparted in Holy Communion. This we may learn from the example of the saints, for whom it was the source of countless graces but who on their part approached the Blessed Sacrament, enkindled, burning with desire, with intense longing for the Lord they loved. To what object is your hope, the yearning of your soul directed?

3d. Consider the love wherewith Mary received Holy Communion. It may confidently be asserted that no created being ever clung to Jesus with an affection in any way equal to that of Mary. From the very outset how pure and steady was the flame of divine charity burning within the heart of that immaculate Virgin, conceived without the stain of original sin which renders man God’s enemy; how hotly the sacred fire of charity glowed within her breast, for it was with no ordinary affection, but with a mother’s tender love that she embraced the holy Child, who was at one and the same time her God and the Son of her womb.

Meditate deeply to-day, my soul, on this love that Mary felt; always think of her for a few moments before you go to Communion, in order that your cold heart may be kindled by some spark of her great charity, and pray in the words of Thomas a Kempis: “Lord my God, my Creator, and my Redeemer, I desire to receive Thee this day with such affection, reverence, praise and honor, with such gratitude, worthiness and love, with such faith, hope and purity as Thy most holy Mother, the glorious Virgin Mary received Thee and longed for Thee.” (Imit. B. iv. ch. 17.)

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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