Friday – Ember Day
THE UNION OF THE SOUL WITH JESUS IN HOLY COMMUNION
Jesus was not satisfied with uniting Himself to our human nature, He would, by means of the Most Blessed Sacrament, find a way of uniting Himself also to each one of us, so as to become wholly his who would receive Him. He that eateth my flesh abideth in me and I in him -(Jo. vi. 57).
St. Dionysius says, that the principal effect of love is to tend to union. For this end did Jesus institute the Holy Communion,-to unite Himself entirely with our souls. He had given Himself to us as our Teacher, our Model, and Victim; it remained to Him to give Himself to us as our Food-to become one with us, as food becomes the same with the person who eats it; and this He did by instituting the Holy Sacrament of love. “The last degree of His love,” says St. Bernardine of Sienna, “was His giving uniting Himself to each one of us individually, so as to become wholly his who should receive Him. Hence St. Francis of Sales says: “In no one action can our Blessed Saviour be considered more tender or more loving than in this, in which He, as it were, annihilates Himself, and reduces Food; because He gave Himself to be completely united with us, as food is united with him who takes it.” Thus Jesus Christ was not satisfied with uniting Himself to our human nature, He was desirous by this Sacrament to devise a means of Himself to Food to penetrate to the hearts of all the faithful.”
O my Jesus, this is what I desire and seek from Thee in the Holy Communion-to hear from Thee: “We will consider ourselves as united for ever, never more to be separated.” I know that Thou wilt not separate Thyself from me if I do not separate myself from Thee. But this is my fear Iest I should ever again separate myself from Thee as I have done before. Permit it not, my beloved Redeemer. “Suffer me not to be separated from Thee.”
Because Jesus Christ ardently loved us, He was desirous of being united with us in the Holy Eucharist, that we might become the same thing with Him; thus speaks St. Chrysostom: “He mingled Himself with us, that He might become one with us; for this belongs to ardent affection.” Thou wast desirous, O God of love, that our hearts and Thine should form but one heart, says St. Laurence Justinian. And Jesus Himself meant this when He said: He that eateth my flesh and drinketh my blood abideth in me and I in him–(Jo. vi. 57). He, therefore, who communicates, abides in Jesus, and Jesus abides in him; and this union is not a mere union of affections, but a true and real union. As two pieces of wax, says St. Cyril of Alexandria, are melted together, and united together, so he who communicates and Jesus Christ, Whom he receives, become one and the same thing. Let us therefore imagine, when we communicate, that Jesus Christ says to us, as He did to His beloved servant, Margaret of Ypres: “Behold, daughter, the beautiful union that exists between us: love Me, and we will consider ourselves as united for ever, and will never separate.”
Through the merits of Thy death, O my Jesus, let me die now rather than ever be separated again from Thee. I repeat, and give me grace ever to repeat: Suffer me not to be separated from Thee! Suffer me not to be separated from Thee! O God of my soul, I love Thee, I love Thee, and desire always to love Thee. I protest before Heaven and earth that I desire nothing but Thee.
O my Jesus hear me; I desire only Thee. O Mary, Mother of mercy, pray for me, and obtain for me never to separate myself from Jesus, and to love only Jesus.
The devout Father Nieremberg says, that bread being a food which is consumed by eating, and which keeps when preserved for use, Jesus was pleased to dwell on earth under its species, that He might thus not only be consumed by uniting Himself to the souls of His lovers, by means of the Holy Communion, but also that He might be preserved in the Tabernacle, and be present with us, and thus remind u.s of the love He bears us. St. Paul says: He emptied himself, taking the form of a servant-(Philipp. ii. 7). But what must we say when we see Him taking the form of bread? ” No tongue can suffice,” says St. Peter of Alcantara, “to proclaim the greatness of the love Jesus bears to souls in the state of grace. In order, therefore, that His absence might not be to them an occasion· of forgetting Him, this most sweet Spouse, when He was pleased to quit this life, left as a memorial this Most Blessed Sacrament, in which He Himself remains. He did not wish that between these souls and Himself any other pledge but Himself should remain, whereby to keep alive their remembrance of Him.”
Since, then, my Jesus, Thou art enclosed in this Tabernacle to receive the supplications of miserable creatures who come to seek an audience of Thee, listen this day to the petition addressed to Thee by the most ungrateful sinner on earth. I come repentant to Thy feet, for I know the evil which I have committed in giving Thee displeasure. My first prayer and desire, then, is that Thou wilt be pleased to pardon me all the sins I have committed against Thee. Ah, my God, would that I had never offended Thee! After this I must tell Thee my next desire. N ow that I have found out Thy sovereign goodness, I have become enamoured of Thee; I feel an ardent desire to love Thee and to please Thee; but I have not the strength to do this unless Thou helpest me. Manifest, O great Lord, Thy supreme power and Thine immense goodness to the whole court of Heaven; change me from a great rebel, such as I have hitherto been to Thee, into a great lover of Thee. Thou canst do it, and I know that such is Thy will; supply all that is wanting in me, that thus I may be enabled to love Thee much-at least that I may love Thee as much as I have offended Thee. I love Thee, my Jesus; I love Thee above all things; I love Thee more than my life-my God, my Love, my All!
Ejac. My God and my All!
AN ACT OF SPIRITUAL COMMUNION
My Jesus, I believe that Thou art truly present in the Most Holy Sacrament. I love Thee above all things, and I desire to possess Thee within my soul. Since I am unable now to receive Thee sacramentally, come at least spiritually into my heart. I embrace Thee as already there, and unite myself wholly to Thee; never permit me to be separated from Thee.
VISIT TO MARY
Let us go with confidence to the throne of grace; that we may obtain mercy, and find grace in seasonable aid -(Heb. iv. 16). St. Antoninus says, that Mary is this throne, from which God dispenses all graces.
O most amiable Queen, since thou hast so great a desire to help sinners, behold a great sinner who has recourse to thee; help me much, and help me without delay.
Ejac. Sole refuge of sinners, have mercy on me.
Most holy Immaculate Virgin and my Mother Mary, to thee, who art the Mother of my Lord, and Queen of the world, the advocate, the hope, the refuge of sinners, I have recourse today-I, who am the most miserable of all. I render thee my most humble homage, O great Queen, and I thank thee for all the graces thou hast conferred on me until now, particularly for having delivered me from hell, which I have so often deserved. I love thee, O most amiable Lady; and for the love which I bear thee, I promise to serve thee always, and to do all in my power to make others love thee also. I place in thee all my hopes; I confide my salvation to thy care. Accept me for thy servant, and receive me under thy mantle, O Mother of Mercy. And since thou art so powerful with God, deliver me from all temptations, or rather obtain for me the strength to triumph over them until death. Of thee I ask a perfect love of Jesus Christ. From thee I hope to die a good death.
O my Mother, for the love which thou bearest to God, I beseech thee to help me at all times, but especially at the last moment of my life. Leave me not, I beseech thee, until thou seest me safe in Heaven, blessing thee, and singing thy mercies for all eternity. Amen. So I hope. So may it be.
THE PRACTICE OF THE LOVE OF JESUS CHRIST
XV.-THE MEANS OF AVOIDING LUKEWARMNESS AND ATTAINING PERFECTION
The holy Fathers say, that prayer is necessary for us, not merely as a necessity of precept (so that divines say, that he who neglects for a month to recommend to God the affair of his salvation is not exempt from mortal sin), but also as a necessity of means, which is as much as to say, that whoever does not pray cannot possibly be saved. And the reason of it is, in short, because we cannot obtain eternal salvation without the help of Divine grace, and this grace Almighty God only accords to those who pray. And because temptations, and the dangers of falling into God’s displeasure, continually beset us, so ought our prayers to be continual. Hence St. Thomas declares that continual prayer is necessary for a man to save himself: “Unceasing prayer is necessary to man that he may enter Heaven.” And Jesus Christ Himself had already said the same thing: We ought always to pray, and not to faint–(Luke xviii. 1). And afterwards the Apostle: Pray without ceasing-(Thess. v. 17). During the interval in which we shall cease to pray, the devil will conquer us. And though the grace of perseverance can in no wise be merited by us, as the Council of Trent teaches us, nevertheless St. Augustine says, “that in a certain sense we can merit it by prayer.” The Lord wishes to dispense His grace to us, but He will be entreated first; nay more, as St. Gregory remarks, He wills to be importuned, and in a manner constrained by our prayers: ” God wishes to be prayed to, He wishes to be compelled, He wishes to be, as it were, vanquished by our importunity.”
Saint Mary Magdalen de Pazzi said: “When we ask graces of God, He not only hears us, but in a certain sense thanks us.” Yes, because God, as the infinite Goodness, in, wishing to pour out Himself upon others, has, so to speak, an infinite longing to distribute His gifts; but He wishes to be besought; hence it follows, that when He sees Himself entreated by a soul, He receives so much pleasure that in a certain sense He thanks the soul for it. Well, then, if we wish to preserve ourselves in the grace of God till death, we must act the mendicant, and keep our lips ever open to beg for God’s help, always repeating, “My Jesus, mercy! Never let me be separated from Thee! O Lord, come to my aid! My God, assist me!” This was the unceasing prayer of the ancient Fathers of the desert: “Incline unto my aid, O God! O Lord, make haste to help me! O Lord, help me, and help me soon; for if Thou delayest Thy assistance, I shall fall and perish!” And this above all must be practised in the moment of temptation; he who acts otherwise is lost.