Jesus institutes the Most August Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist.
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.
Jesus institutes the Most August Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist.
“Jesus knowing that His hour was come that He should pass out of this world to the Father: having loved His own who were in the world, He loved them unto the end.”—St. John xiii. 1.
JOHN the Evangelist tells us that Jesus, knowing that the hour for His departure from this world was at hand, resolved that the same tender, ceaseless love which He had always shown towards His disciples during His missionary career should shine out most resplendently in the last sad parting hour. The Eternal Father had subjected all things to the will of His beloved Son. Jesus, therefore, lifting up His eyes to heaven, thanked His Eternal Father for having conferred this unlimited power on Him even as man. Then taking bread, He blessed, broke, and gave it to His disciples, saying: “Take ye, and eat: this is My body.” Then “taking the chalice, He gave thanks, and gave to them, saying: Drink ye all of this. For this is My blood of the New Testament which shall be shed for many unto the remission of sins.”
Such were the words of our Divine Redeemer; words few and brief, but, as we know them in the Church of God, they are full of the deepest meaning. Interpreted in the light of Catholic doctrine, these words of Jesus may thus be paraphrased: “I have instituted this august Sacrament, not only for the Church’s spiritual benefit, but also for your spiritual comfort; therefore, I grant you power to renew it every day. You have seen what I did,—do ye also the same. I will descend from heaven whenever you utter the words of consecration. I will place myself at your disposal, that you may dispense Me to the faithful as spiritual food, and that you may keep Me on your altars and have recourse to Me in your spiritual and temporal needs. I will remain with you in this most venerable Sacrament until the consummation of the world, to comfort and strengthen you in the faith, and to help you to walk on courageously and perseveringly in the rough road of the cross. I give you one commandment, however: whenever you shall make this august Sacrament, you shall do so in commemoration of Me. I require only this of you, and I require it as an attestation of your gratitude for the benefits conferred on you in this holy Sacrament.”
Could our Lord do more for our spiritual interests, and ask less from us in return? Before passing to a further consideration of this great act of our Saviour’s love, let us try to enter into the sentiments which must have animated Him on this solemn occasion. Let us imagine that we see Him, His divine countenance all radiant, and that we hear issuing from His sacred lips this touching address: “My beloved disciples, I am at the end of My days, but I have not yet exhausted the treasures of My love and mercy. I can give no greater proof of My love than to die for the salvation of mankind: that proof I will to-morrow give you by sacrificing Myself to the Eternal Father to satisfy His justice. Learn, then, how great is My love for men, and how dear to Me is their eternal salvation. But My charity does not stop here: it shall overleap the boundaries of death. Yes, on the very eve of My crucifixion, I have found a means which shall enable Me to remain among men even to the consummation of the world. In this holy Sacrament I shall dwell in their midst to hear their prayers, to console them in their sorrows, and to succor them in the trials and difficulties of their daily life. You, therefore, whom I have chosen for My disciples, announce to all men how much I have loved them; encourage them to have confidence in the merits of My passion; encourage them to have recourse to Me in their necessities, and I will hear and grant their petitions. These are the sentiments which fill my heart in these closing hours of My mortal life. But there is one thing which I demand of you in particular, and of all men in general, in return for My great love, and it is this: that you constantly remember how much I have suffered for you. If you will but keep this faithful remembrance of My sufferings, I shall consider My love sufficiently rewarded. Alas! I foresee that from the greater number of Christians I shall not receive even this poor boon of grateful remembrance. Nevertheless, I will never cease to love and benefit them; I will never ignore their tears nor reject their repentance. Sinners shall always find Me present on their altars, ready to embrace them and grant their petitions. I came down from heaven to bring, not the just, but sinners, to repentance. For the sake of sinners I became man; for their sake I have led a life of suffering and anguish; for their sake I am going to die to-morrow on the cross, and for their sake I wish to remain on earth after My death.”
These expressions are far too weak to convey any adequate idea of the love which Jesus Christ manifested for us in the institution of the Blessed Sacrament. But let us endeavor to make up for the feebleness of our expressions by the fervor and constancy of our devotion to Jesus ever present on our altars.
No holy Father, no expositor of Holy Scripture, no devout author, can find words to express adequately the grandeur, the sublimity of this most august Sacrament. The angels of heaven cover their faces in reverence before it, and humble themselves to the very ground to worship a mystery so great, so sublime. No one could have imagined the possibility of so great a mystery, had not Jesus Christ Himself revealed it. There are, therefore, no words to express the excellence of this Sacrament. Only a profound meditation can give us an idea of it—an idea so faint, however, as to be as far from the truth as the finite is from the infinite, the creature from the creator. Nevertheless, though there are not words adequate to express what should be our piety and zeal in view of the great benefits conferred on us in the Blessed Sacrament, yet we should avail ourselves of the best means at our disposal to awaken in our hearts a proper appreciation of its blessings. To this end, therefore, let us recall the words of the holy Fathers on the subject of the Blessed Eucharist.
St. Augustine says that God, all omnipotent as He is, is not able to bestow on us any greater favor, and that in the institution of this Sacrament He exhausted all the treasures of His omnipotence. For what more had God to give after He had given Himself? What greater gift than the gift of Himself?
“O admirable mystery!” exclaims Venerable John Tauler, “O sublime Sacrament! O ineffable love! O unheard-of generosity! The Donor is Himself the gift; the servant nourishes himself with the person of his Master; the domestic sits at the table of the King of Glory and partakes of His royal flesh; man eats of the bread of angels; the Eternal Father divides among His servants the body of His only-begotten Son, and gives them that Son’s most precious blood to drink! But what intellect shall ever comprehend the profound mysteries of this admirable Sacrament?”
“O wonderful supper,” says St. Bonaventure, “at which so many wondrous things were wrought by the hand of Omnipotence! This was the last supper, O my most amiable Jesus, that Thou wast to eat with Thy apostles, and Thou wast soon to depart from this world. At this last supper Thy charity inspired Thee to work many admirable wonders. But the greatest of all was the institution of the august Sacrament of the Altar, by which Thou hast left us forever a sweet and precious reminder of Thy passion and death.”
“No Sacrament,” says the Angelic Doctor St. Thomas, “is more salutary than this. By it sins are blotted out, virtues are increased, and the soul is enriched with an abundance of all spiritual graces. While in the other sacraments only grace is received, in the Eucharist the very Author of grace is received; and when God becomes one with me, what more have I to desire?”
The fruit of this consideration should be a firm resolution to approach the Eucharistic table frequently with the greatest respect and most profound veneration, acknowledging ourselves unworthy of this great and sublime Sacrament, but still reposing all our confidence in the merits of Jesus Christ. Let us, therefore, prostrate ourselves at the feet of Jesus, and say to Him more with the heart than with the lips: What is man that Thou art mindful of him? or the son of man that Thou visitest him? Thou hast made him a little less than the Angels; Thou hast crowned him with glory and honor: and hast set him over the works of Thy hands. Thou hast subjected all things under his feet, all sheep and oxen; moreover the beasts also of the field. The birds of the air, and the fishes of the sea, that pass through the paths of the sea. O Lord, our Lord, how admirable is Thy name in all the earth!” But all that Thou hadst done did not satisfy Thy love; for man Thou didst still do more. For him Thou didst take a human soul and body in the pure womb of the Blessed Virgin Mary; for him Thou didst subject Thyself to all the pains of infancy; for him Thou didst lead a life of hardship, privation, and persecution; finally, for him Thou didst shed the last drop of Thy most precious blood on the cross, and what more could remain for Thee to do? It seems that all the treasures of Thy love should have been exhausted on Mount Calvary. But no; before ascending the sacred wood of the cross Thou didst consider that Thou wast about to immolate only Thy body for the expiation of our sins, and that Thy soul and divinity still remained to Thee. Thou didst wish to bestow these also upon us, and therefore Thou didst institute the most august Sacrament of the Eucharist. Great God! Quid est homo quia magnificas eum?
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.
One of the most admirable effects of Holy Communion is to preserve souls from sin, and to help those who fall through weakness to rise again; it is much more profitable, then, to approach this Divine Sacrament often with love, respect, and confidence, than to remain away through an excess of fear and scrupulousness. – St. Ignatius of Loyola, Letter 21.
February Devotion: The Holy Trinity (also the Holy Family)
Virtue to practice: Humility
I vow and consecrate to God all that is in me: my memory and my actions to God the Father; my understanding and my words to God the Son; my will and my thoughts to God the Holy Ghost; my heart, my body, my tongue my senses and all my sorrows to the sacred Humanity of Jesus Christ, ‘who was contented to be betrayed into the hands of wicked men and to suffer the torment of the Cross.’ – St. Francis de Sales
An indulgence of 3 years.
A plenary indulgence on the usual conditions, if this act of oblation is devoutly repeated every day for a monh (S.P.Ap., Sept. 22, 1922 and May 12, 1934).
The faithful who devoutly offer any prayers in honor of the Most Holy Trinity with the intention of continuing them for nine successive days, may gain:
An indulgence of 7 years once each day:
A plenary indulgence on the usual conditions at the end of the novena (S.C. Ind., Aug. 8 1847; S.P. Ap., Mar. 18, 1932).
Novena in Honor of Our Lady of Lourdes
O ever Immaculate Virgin, Mother of Mercy, Health of the Sick, Comforter of the Afflicted, thou knowest my wants, my troubles, my sufferings; deign to cast upon me a look of mercy. By appearing in the grotto of Lourdes thou wert pleased to make it a privileged sanctuary from where thou dost dispense thy favors, and already many sufferers have obtained the cure of their infirmities, both spiritual and corporal. I come, therefore, with the most unbounded confidence, to implore thy maternal intercession. Obtain, O loving Mother, the granting of my requests. Through gratitude for thy favors, I will endeavor to imitate thy virtues, that I may one day share in thy glory. R. Amen.
V. O Mary, conceived without sin,
R. Pray for us who have recourse to thee.
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