On the Place Where Our Lord Held the Last Supper.
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 Place Where Our Lord Held the Last Supper.
The great supper, the celestial banquet, formed the subject of your meditation yesterday. To-day, the day of the week which the Church dedicates to the veneration of the Most Holy Sacrament, we propose to cast a glance at the place where our Lord celebrated His supper for the last time on earth. Represent to yourself the scene depicted in St. Matthew’s gospel (xxvi. 17) when “the disciples came to Jesus, saying: Where wilt Thou that we prepare for Thee to eat the Pasch?”
1st. Consider the answer our Lord made to this inquiry: “Behold, as you go into the city, there shall meet you a man carrying a pitcher of water; follow him into the house where he entereth in.” (St. Luke xxii. 10.) Thus we see that our Lord selected as the place where the Last Supper was to be eaten the house belonging to the man “who was carrying a pitcher of water.” What else does this signify but that our Lord keeps the feast most willingly in that house, that soul, where the waters of true penance, of sorrow and contrition for past sins are to be found. How often you are heard to express regret that you can only give so poor, so beggarly a reception to your divine Guest, and yet you have at your command the most beautiful, the most precious pearls, fit to adorn His crown, the tears of penance, of contrition, of compunction. Wherefore see that you provide yourself with this pitcher of water, if you desire that our Lord should hold His supper within your heart, that is, a supper worthy of such a Guest, replete with consolation and grace for yourself. Soften your hard heart beforehand by holy compunction, instead of expecting all to be done by our Lord. “Give thyself to compunction of heart and thou wilt find devotion,” we are told in the Imitation. Brother Giles was wont to say: “Blessed is he who feels constant sorrow for sin, and in bitterness of heart weeps day and night on account of his transgressions.” That man is to be esteemed happy in reference to whom Jesus says: “Follow the man carrying a pitcher of water.”
2d. “And he will show you a large dining-room, furnished, and there prepare.” (v. 13.) Hence we see that it is a large, capacious room that our Lord chooses for the supper, a light, spacious place. This your heart should be, if you would have our Lord come to hold His supper there. It must be a large, a generous heart. You desire to entertain as your guest, Jesus, whose heart in its charity embraces the whole world; and how can you venture to receive that heart glowing with ardent love, a love that comprises all mankind, in your poor narrow heart wherein at best only yourself and a few relatives find a place, and where there is but little space left for your Lord? It ought rather to be so wide and comprehensive that not only your friends and benefactors but also your enemies and persecutors, those who calumniate and injure you may find room therein. The heart where Jesus comes to eat the Pasch must be large, that is, magnanimous, capable of making sacrifices, not one that is egotistic, narrow, censorious. Reflect awhile on this truth, my soul; perhaps you may discover what you have long sought in vain, the reason why your Communions are so dry and unfruitful.
3d. Consider that our Lord does not only say a large dining-room, but one that is furnished; and as the Greek word signifies, an upper room, in the upper story of the house. Hence we learn that Jesus desires for the place of supper a place that is raised above the ordinary level and well furnished; a soul, that is, which no longer “cleaves to the pavement,” no longer dwells on earth, grovelling in the lower regions of earthly cares and material interests, but which on the pinions of heavenly aspirations soars above the earth, and by holy meditation has composed itself in an attitude of elevated and heavenly contemplation. Our Lord therefore desires a room well furnished, one well prepared for His reception, not an empty, poverty-stricken, cold dining-room. Does your heart for the most part answer to this latter description? Be frank and do but confess how ill-prepared you often are when you approach the heavenly banquet. You certainly would not dare to invite an earthly monarch, nor even any distinguished personage to come to a dwelling so carelessly cleansed, so badly decorated, so poorly furnished as the one which you ask our Lord to enter. Would that the meditation of to-day might so stimulate you that at last you would resolve to obey the behest which our Lord and Saviour addresses to you in the words of the Imitation: “Make ready for Me a large room furnished in which to sup, and I will keep the passover with thee together with My disciples. If thou wilt have Me come to thee and remain with thee, purge out the old leaven and make clean the habitation of thy heart. Shut out the whole world, and all the tumult of vices; sit like a sparrow alone on the housetop and think of thy transgressions in the bitterness of thy soul. For every lover prepares the best and fairest abode for his dearly beloved.” (B. iv. ch. 12.)
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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