Second Sunday after Pentecost. – On 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.
“A certain man made a great supper.”– Luke xiv. 16.
In the gospel of this day we read that a rich man prepared a great supper. He then ordered one of his servants to invite to it all those whom he should find in the highways, even though they were poor, blind, and lame, and to compel those who should refuse, to come to the supper. “Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled” (v. 23). And he added, that of all those who had been invited and had not come, not one should ever partake of his supper. “But I say unto you, that none of those men that were invited shall taste of my supper” (v. 24). This supper is the Holy Communion; it is a great supper, at which all the faithful are invited to eat the sacred flesh of Jesus Christ in the most Holy Sacrament of the altar. “Take ye and eat: this is My body.” (Matt. xxiv. 26.) Let us then consider to-day, in the first point, the great love which Jesus Christ has shown us in giving us Himself in this Sacrament; and, in the second point, how we ought to receive Him in order to draw great fruit from the Holy Communion.
First Point. On the great love which Jesus Christ has shown us in giving us Himself in this Sacrament.
“Jesus, knowing that His hour was come that He should pass out of this world to the Father, having loved His own that were in the world, He loved them unto the end.” (John xiii. 1.) Knowing that the hour of His death had arrived, Jesus Christ wished, before His departure from this world, to leave us the greatest proof which He could give of His love, by leaving us Himself in the Holy Eucharist. “He loved them to the end.” That is, according to St. Chrysostom, “with an extreme love.” St. Bernardino of Sienna says that the tokens of love which are given at death make a more lasting impression on the mind, and are more highly esteemed. “Quæ in fine in signum amicitiæ celebrantur, firmius memoriæ imprimuntur et cariora tenentur.” But, whilst others leave a ring, or a piece of money, as a mark of their affection, Jesus has left us Himself entirely in this Sacrament of love.
And when did Jesus Christ institute this Sacrament? He instituted it, as the Apostle has remarked, on the night before His passion. “The Lord Jesus, the same night on which He was betrayed, took bread, and giving thanks, broke and said: “Take ye and eat: this is my body.’” (1 Cor. xi. 23, 24.) Thus, at the very time that men were preparing to put Him to death, our loving Redeemer resolved to bestow upon us this gift. Jesus Christ, then, was not content with giving His life for us on a cross: He wished also, before His death, to pour out, as the Council of Trent says, all the riches of His love, by leaving Himself for our food in the Holy Communion. “He, as it were, poured out the riches of His love towards man.” (Sess. 13, cap. ii.) If faith had not taught it, who could ever imagine that a God would become man, and afterwards become the food of His own creatures? When Jesus Christ revealed to His followers this Sacrament which He intended to leave us, St. John says, that they could not bring themselves to believe it, and departed from Him saying: “How can this man give us His flesh to eat?…This saying is hard, and who can hear it?” (St. John vi. 53, 61.) But what men could not imagine, the great love of Jesus Christ has invented and effected. “Take ye and eat: this is my body.” These words He addressed to His apostles on the night before He suffered, and He now, after His death, addresses them to us.
How highly honoured, says St. Francis de Sales, would that man feel to whom the king sent from His table a portion of what He had on His own plate? But how should He feel if that portion were a part of the king’s arm? In the Holy Communion Jesus gives us, not a part of His arm, but His entire body in the Sacrament of the altar. “He gave you all,” says St. Chrysostom, reproving our ingratitude, “He left nothing for Himself.” And St. Thomas teaches, that in the Eucharist God has given us all that He is and all that He has. “Deus in eucharistia totum quod est et habet, dedit nobis.” (Opuse. 63, c. ii.) Justly then has the same saint called the Eucharist “a Sacrament of love; a pledge of love.” “Sacramentum charitatis pignus charitatis.” It is a Sacrament of love, because it was pure love that induced Jesus Christ to give us this gift and pledge of love: for He wished that, should a doubt of His having loved us ever enter into our minds, we should have in this Sacrament a pledge of His love. St. Bernard calls this Sacrament “love of loves.” “Amor amorum.” By His incarnation, the Lord has given Himself to all men in general; but, in this Sacrament, He has given, Himself to each of us in particular, to make us understand the special love which He entertains for each of us.
Oh! how ardently does Jesus Christ desire to come to our souls in the Holy Communion! This vehement desire He expressed at the time of the institution of this Sacrament, when He said to the apostles: “With desire I have desired to eat this Pasch with you.” (Luke xxii. 15.) St. Laurence Justinian says that these words proceeded from the enamoured heart of Jesus Christ, who, by such tender expressions, wished to show us the ardent love with which He loved us. “This is the voice of the most burning charity.” “Flagrantissimæ charitatis est vox hæc.” And, to induce us to receive Him frequently in the Holy Communion, He promises eternal life that is, the kingdom of heaven to those who eat His flesh. “He that eateth this bread shall live for ever.” (John vi. 59.) On the other hand, it threatens to deprive us of His grace and of Paradise, if we neglect communion. “Except you eat the flesh of the Son of Man, and drink His blood, you shall not have life in you.” (John vi. 54.) These promises and these threats all sprung from a burning desire to come to us in this Sacrament.
And why does Jesus Christ so vehemently desire that we receive Him in the Holy Communion? It is because He takes delight in being united with each of us. By the Communion, Jesus is really united to our soul and to our body, and we are united to Jesus. “He that eateth My flesh and drinketh My blood, abideth in Me and I in him.” (John vi. 57.) Thus, after Communion, we are, says St. Chrysostom, one body and one flesh with Jesus Christ. “Huic nos unimur, et facti summus unum corpus ut una caro.” (Hom. lxviii. ad Pop. Ant.) Hence St. Laurence Justinian exclaims: “Oh! how wonderful is Thy love, O Lord Jesus, who hast wished to incorporate us in such a manner with Thy body, that we should have one heart and one soul inseparably united with Thee.” Thus, to every soul that receives the Eucharist, the Lord says what He once said to His beloved servant Margaret of Ipres–“Behold, my daughter, the close union made between Me and thee; love Me, then, and let us remain for ever united in love: let us never more be separated.” This union between us and Jesus Christ is, according to St. Chrysostom, the effect of the love which Jesus Christ bears us. “Semetipsum nobis immiscuit, ut unum quid simus . . . ardentur enim amantium hoc est.” (Hom. lxi.) But, O Lord, such intimate union with man is not suited to Thy divine majesty. But love seeks not reason; it goes not where it ought to go, but where it is drawn. “Amor ratione caret, et vadit quo dicitur, non quo debeat.” (Serm. cxliii.) St. Bernardino of Sienna says that, in giving Himself for our food, Jesus Christ loved us to the last degree; because He united Himself entirely to us, as food is united to those who eat it. “Ultimus gradus amoris est, cum se dedit nobis in cibum quia dedit se nobis ad omnimodam unionem, sicut cibus et cibans, invicem uniuntur.” (Tom. 2, Serm. liv.) The same doctrine has been beautifully expressed by St. Francis de Sales. “No action of the Saviour can be more loving or more tender than the institution of the Holy Eucharist, in which He, as it were, annihilates Himself, and takes the form of food, to unite Himself to the souls and bodies of His faithful servants.”
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.
Of Obedience and Subjection.
II. It is true, everyone is desirous of acting according to his own liking, and is more inclined to such as are of his own mind,
But if God be amongst us, we must sometimes give up our own opinion for the sake of peace.
Who is so wise as to be able fully to know all things?
Therefore trust not too much to thine own thoughts; but be willing also to hear the sentiments of others.
Although thy opinion be good, yet if for God’s sake thou leavest it to follow that of another, it will be more profitable to thee.–Thomas à Kempis–Imitation of Christ Bk I, Ch IX pt II.
June Devotion: The Blessed Sacrament and the Sacred Heart of Jesus
Virtues to practice: Obedience, Piety, Dutifulness
Prayers to the Wound of the Heart of Jesus.
Blessed be the holy Wound of Thy Heart, my most sweet Jesus! Accept, O Lord, my heart and all the powers of my soul. Detach them from earthly affections. Let me lose even the remembrance of the things of this world. Cast my soul into the adorable Wound of Thy Side, into the ocean of Thy love, into the source of true life. Unite my heart for ever to Thy tender Heart, so truly that it will be impossible for me to desire what is not in conformity with Thy will. May I in all things entirely renounce my own will, and unite myself by faith, hope and charity to Thee, my Lord, my God and my Creator. Amen.
O most sweet Jesus, through the Wound of Thy Heart, pardon, I beseech Thee, all my offences against Thee by acting without sufficient purity of intention, or by following my own perverse will. I offer Thee my heart, that Thou mayest unite it to Thy Heart. Then I shall neither seek nor see anything but Thee in all things. I shall have no other will than Thine. Amen.
Jesu! Creator of the world,
Of all mankind Redeemer blest,
True God of God, in Whom we see
Thy Father’s image clear expressed!
Thee, Saviour, love alone constrained
To make our mortal flesh Thine own,
And, as a second Adam, come
For the first Adam to atone.
That selfsame love which made the sky,
Which made the sea and stars, and earth,
Took pity on our misery,
And broke the bondage of our birth.
O Jesus! in Thy Heart divine
May that same love for ever glow!
Forever mercy to mankind
From that exhaustless fountain flow!
For this the Sacred Heart was pierced,
And both with blood and water ran –
To cleanse us from the stains of guilt,
And be the hope and strength of man.
Jesu, to Thee be glory given,
Who from Thy Heart dost grace outpour,
To Father and to Paraclete
Be endless praise for evermore. Amen.
An indulgence of 5 years. A plenary indulgence on the usual conditions, If this hymn is devoutly recited every day for a month (S.P.Ap., March 12, 1936). (Raccolta)
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