Friday after the Twenty-third Sunday after Pentecost.

On the Meaning Attached to the Paschal Lamb of the Old Testament in its Bearing on that of the New Testament.

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 Meaning Attached to the Paschal Lamb of the Old Testament in its Bearing on that of the New Testament.

Previously to instituting the wondrous paschal feast of the New Testament at the Last Supper, our Lord kept the feast of the Passover with His apostles after the manner ordained by the Old Dispensation. Imagine that you see the Saviour of the world when celebrating that last pasch with His holy apostles; before Him upon the table you behold the paschal lamb, of deep mystic meaning.

1st. Consider that this lamb was eaten in thankful remembrance of the lamb which the Israelites were commanded to eat when the Lord delivered them out of the bondage of Egypt; of the lamb by the consumption of which they strengthened their bodies for the toilsome and tedious journey to the promised land, and the blood of which, sprinkled upon the door-posts of their houses, protected the Israelites from the sword of the destroying angel when he killed the first-born of the Egyptians. Now since our Lord ate this lamb with His apostles immediately before the institution of the paschal feast of the New Testament, let us observe the beautiful and apt manner in which the Jewish paschal lamb typified that of the Christians. Is not this miraculous food of the New Covenant a memorial of the bitter Passion and death of Christ, which also delivers us from bondage, the cruel bondage of sin? Is not this supersubstantial food that which strengthens us for the journey through the desert of this mortal life to the promised land of eternity? And is not the blood of this Divine Lamb our defence against the infernal assaults of the devil which threaten us with everlasting death? Meditate attentively upon this, my soul, ponder the beautiful signification of the paschal lamb which was eaten previously to the Last Supper, and awaken in yourself, as the pious Israelites of old used to do, sentiments of warmest gratitude for all the benefits of the redemption of which the Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar is a memorial.

2d. Consider that the paschal lamb of the Old Testament was to be eaten with loins girded, with shoes on the feet, holding staves in the hand; moreover that it was to be eaten in haste, and with it unleavened bread and bitter herbs were to be consumed. And in that our Lord ate the paschal lamb of the Jewish law before He instituted the miraculous feast of the New Testament, He gives us a lesson which is replete with instruction. Those also who partake of the paschal lamb of the New Covenant must have their loins girded, by which is to be understood the purity that is required in them; for this same reason the priest prays before celebrating holy Mass: “Gird me with the girdle of purity. For we know that only the clean of heart shall see God.” Furthermore those who eat the paschal lamb must have shoes on their feet; this denotes that steadfastness of will is requisite, the resolution to make good progress in the path of justice. They must also approach the feast holding staves in their hands, that is to say, with a firm, childlike confidence in the staff of our salvation, the cross of Christ, and the merits He won by it on our behalf. Quickly and in haste this Bread of Life must be eaten, not with tepidity, indifference or reluctance, but with holy eagerness, with delight and gladness of heart. Finally it is to be eaten with unleavened bread and bitter herbs; that is, with a heart free from the leaven of the world and provided with the bitter condiment of works of penance and self-denial. Pass in review these several points, my soul, and ponder them well, in order to ascertain whether or not you have hitherto partaken of the sacred Paschal Lamb as “an Israelite indeed.”

3d. Consider finally that the paschal lamb was to be roasted with fire, and that nothing was to remain of it or be left over lest it should be profaned by being put to ordinary uses. Now by eating the ancient Jewish passover before instituting the feast of the New Covenant, our Lord gave us an admirable admonition, teaching us that we must before all else keep alight the glowing fire of charity for the reception of the sacred Lamb. Our hearts must be kindled and aflame with this fire so as to receive worthily this miraculous and celestial food; the fire of charity must be sufficiently powerful to consume every portion of the wondrous bread; that is to say, the spiritual nourishment whereof we have partaken ought to be so completely absorbed by the powers of the soul that the whole man, so to speak, is permeated and pervaded by that which he has eaten. Thus from thenceforth he lives only in and with and for Christ, leaving no room in his understanding or his will for the spirit of the sinful world. When Holy Scripture speaks of our God being a consuming fire (Heb. xii. 29), know that according to the teaching of St. Thomas of Aquin, Holy Communion is this all-consuming element, whereby the soul is purged from all evil passions and impure affections. Now since only one spark is needed to kindle this fire, rise up, my soul, kindle the divine flame with the spark of your charity, kindle this fire which will burn up all in you that is impure; for it is in the lack of this spark of charity, in your coldness and dryness that you ought to seek the reason wherefore you experience so little of the warm glow of the “consuming fire” when you go to 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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