On Our Lord As the True Paschal Lamb.
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 Our Lord As the True Paschal Lamb.
To-day imagine yourself present in the dining-room at Jerusalem. Jesus and His apostles are already assembled around the table; the paschal lamb is placed before our Lord. Absorbed by the thoughts which the sight of that paschal lamb, with its mystic meaning, suggests to Him, He at length breaks the solemn silence, and says:
1st. “With desire have I desired to eat this Pasch with you, before I suffer.” (St. Luke xxii. 15.) Our Lord desired, with a twofold desire, as God and as man, to keep this paschal feast. At this feast the greatest miracle of the divine omnipotence and love was to be wrought: the institution of the Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar, wherein the glory of our bounteous and merciful God is revealed in the highest degree, and for this reason as God He earnestly desired this Passover. And the sacred humanity of Christ desired it no less earnestly; the Godman had nothing more nearly at heart than complete surrender to the will of His heavenly Father, the accomplishment of whose will was His meat and drink; and now precisely in this sacrament He would be able to offer Himself to His heavenly Father to the fullest extent as a spotless, sacred Victim. In your meditation enter into this deeper cause of our Lord’s longing to eat this pasch, and then ask yourself: Do I thus long from the bottom of my heart for the eucharistic feast? Is the hour in which I am to draw near to the Lord’s table a joyful, a welcome one for me? It is the very absence of a burning desire, a holy longing for that supersubstantial bread which is the reason why your Communions are so unfruitful. St. Augustine says that this bread must be eaten with the hunger of the soul, of the inner man; if you feel no such hunger, if you only approach the Lord’s table out of habit or from compulsion, that heavenly food will no more nourish your soul than earthly food which is forced upon you against your will does any good to your body.
2d. Consider what were the thoughts and feelings that may be supposed to have crowded in upon our Lord at the sight of the paschal lamb. Must not the thought have suggested itself to Him: This lamb is typical of Myself. In the same way that it was slaughtered, prepared and roasted at the fire, so to-morrow I must be slain, pitiably mangled and lacerated and tortured in the fire of terrible sufferings. This lamb was divided into pieces without a single bone being broken, and the same will be done to-morrow to My body; not a bone of it shall be broken, but it shall be torn with rods and scourges, pierced with nails and lance, and body and soul shall be forcibly torn asunder. With haste, as we are commanded to eat this lamb, My enemies will destroy Me; and as bitter herbs are eaten together with the lamb that is roasted, a bitter beverage, vinegar and gall, will be offered to Me. Whilst imagining these thoughts to have passed through the mind of the Saviour while He gazed on the paschal lamb, consider whether at the sight of the Lamb of God which you have either given yourself, or you have received from the Priest’s hand, whether hearing at the same time the words: “Behold the Lamb of God!” thoughts of a painful nature have not arisen in your mind. Lamb of God, you have been ready to exclaim, I commiserate Thee! As once upon the cross, so now how cruelly Thou wilt be tortured and grieved in my heart by my relapses into sin! The Ven. Father Rodriguez relates how an eminent servant of God, happening one day to be present at the Mass of a Priest who led a sinful life, saw upon the paten in the place of the consecrated Host, a sweet and amiable Child, who, when the time came for the Priest’s Communion, turned away His face and resisted with hands and feet, to prevent the Priest from receiving Him in Communion. Upon the servant of God informing the Priest of what he had seen, it was the means of his conversion and amendment. May this meditation stimulate you to fresh efforts, that you may never have reason to look upon the Lamb of God again with sorrowful but rather with joyous sentiments.
3d. Consider the striking contrast between God and man at the moment of the institution of the Lord’s Supper. Our Lord is seated in the guest-chamber at Jerusalem, burning with charity towards man; and in the excess of that charity He works a stupendous miracle at which the angels gaze in awe and amazement; He gives His whole self to man, and in order to unite Himself to him in the closest union, He constitutes Himself the spiritual nourishment of man. Immerse yourself in thought in the depths of this mystery, this miracle of miracles, and when your heart has caught some measure of warmth from the furnace of divine love, then turn your attention to man, for whose sake our Lord has done such great things. See how those very men have already hired assassins to arrest Him; see how they burn, not like Him with charity, but with hate; see how even at the Lord’s table the wolf is lurking, lying in wait to rend the divine Lamb; look at all this, and your wonder at Jesus love for man, for such individuals as those, will grow ever more intense. Yet if you feel holy indignation against these degenerate Pharisees, do not overlook the fact that this race still lives on amongst us. As in the chamber at Jerusalem, so our Lord is present in the tabernacle, He abides there continually with the self-same charity and loving kindness; and look at the men around Him, look at those who even sit with Him at the eucharistic feast, who dwell under the same roof with Him! Do this, and then perhaps your wrath against the Pharisees will evaporate, and grief and contrition will fill your heart at the thought of your own thanklessness, your own coldness, your own want of love, standing out in such striking contrast to the infinite, inconceivable charity of Him who was the true Paschal Lamb.
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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