Saturday – Ember Day
THE DESIRE OF JESUS CHRIST TO BE UNITED WITH US IN HOLY COMMUNION.
Oh, with what desire does Jesus Christ pant to come into our hearts in Holy Communion! With desire have I desired to eat this pasch with you before I suffer (Luke xxii. I5). “This is the voice of most ardent charity”-(St. Laurence Justinian).
Jesus knowing that his hour was come-(Jo . xiii. I}. This hour which Jesus called his hour, was the hour of that night on which He was to begin His Passion. But why did He call so dreadful an hour his hour? Because this was the hour for which He had sighed during His whole life; because He had resolved to bequeath to us in this hour the Holy Communion, by which He desired to become united with us whom He loved, and for whom He was soon to shed His Brood and lay down His life. Hear how He spoke that night to His disciples: With desire have I desired to eat this pasch with you: by which words He would signify His great wish and anxiety to unite Himself with us in the Holy Sacrament of love. With desire have I desired. “This,” says St. Laurence Justinian, “is the voice of most ardent charity.” Now, the same love which then burned in the Heart of Jesus burns there still: and He gives the same invitation now to all which He gave then to His disciples to receive Him: Take ye and eat, this is my body-(Matt. xxvi. 26}.
My adorable Jesus, Thou canst give no greater proof of love, to teach us how much Thou lovest us. Thou hast given Thy life for us: Thou hast bequeathed Thyself to us in the Holy Sacrament, that we may nourish ourselves. with Thy sacred Flesh, and Thou art most desirous that we should receive Thee. How can we be sensible of all these efforts of Thy love and not burn with love of Thee? Begone, all ye earthly affections from my heart; it is you who hinder me from burning with love for Jesus, as He burns with love for me. And what other pledges of Thy love can I expect, 0 my Redeemer, than those which Thou hast already given me? Thou hast sacrificed Thy whole life for the love of me; Thou hast embraced for my sake the most bitter and ignominious death; Thou hast reduced Thyself for me almost to annihilation by becoming my Food in the Holy Eucharist, in order to give me Thy whole Self. Ah, Lord, grant that I may never more live ungrateful for such great goodness.
To allure us to receive Him with affection and love, He promises Heaven to us: If any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever-(Jo. vi. 52). And if we refuse to receive Him He threatens us with death: Except you eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood you shall not have life in you-(Jo. vi. 54}. These invitations, promises, and threats, all arise from the desire of Jesus Christ to be united with us in the Holy Communion through His love for us. Our Lord said to St. Mechtilde that the bee does not take the honey with more eagerness of delight, than He enters the souls that desire Him. Jesus because He loves us, desires that we should love Him; and because He desires us He would have us desire Him: “God thirsts to be thirsted after,” says St. Gregory. Happy the soul that approaches the Holy Communion with a great desire of being united to Jesus Christ.
I thank Thee, O God, for having given me time to bewail my past offences against Thee, and to love Thee during the remainder of my days. I am sorry, O my sovereign Good, for having hitherto so much despised Thy love. I love Thee, O infinite Goodness, I love Thee, O infinite Treasure. I love Thee, O infinite Love, Who art worthy to be loved with an infinite love. Help me, O Jesus, to cast out from my heart all affections which tend not to Thee, that from this day forward, I may neither desire, nor seek, nor love any other but Thee. My beloved Lord, grant that I may ever find Thee, grant that I may ever love Thee. Take Thou possession of my whole will, in order that I may never desire anything but what is pleasing to Thee. My God, my God, whom shall I love if I love not Thee, Who art all goodness! O Mary, my Mother, take me under thy protection, and obtain for me the purest love for Jesus.
And my delights are to be with the children of men -(Prov. viii. 31). Behold, our Jesus, Who, not satisfied with dying on earth for our love, is pleased even after His death to dwell with us in the Holy Sacrament, declaring that He finds His delights among men. “0 men,” exclaims St. Teresa, “bow can you offend a God Who declares that it is with you that He finds His delights!” Jesus finds His delights with us, and shall we not find ours with Jesus? And we especially who have had the honour to dwell in His palace? How greatly do those vassals esteem themselves honoured to whom the king assigns an abode in his own residence! Behold the palace of the King! It is this house in which we dwell with Jesus Christ. Let us, then, learn to thank Him for it, and to avail ourselves of it to converse with Jesus Christ.
Behold me, then, 0 my Lord and God, before this altar, on which Thou dost reside night and day for my sake. Thou art the Source of every good; Thou art the Healer of every ill; Thou art the Treasure of every poor creature. Behold now at Thy feet a sinner, who is of all others the poorest and most infirm, and who asks Thy mercy; have pity upon me! Now that I see Thee in this Sacrament, come down from Heaven upon earth only to do me good, I will not be disheartened at the sight of my misery. I praise Thee, I thank Thee, I love Thee; and if Thou willest that I should ask Thee for an alms, I will ask for this, O listen to me: I desire never more to offend Thee and I desire that. Thou shouldst give me light and grace to love Thee with all my strength. Lord I love Thee with all my soul; I love Thee with all my affections. Do Thou grant that I may thus speak with truth; and that I may speak in the same way during life and for all eternity. Most Holy Virgin Mary, my holy Patron Saints, ye Angels, and all ye Blessed Saints of Paradise, help me to love my most amiable God.
Ejac. O Good Shepherd, true Bread, Jesus, have mercy on us! Do Thou show us good things in the land of the living!
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
Her bands are a healthful binding-(Ecclus. vi. 31). The devout Pelbart says that devotion to Mary is a chain of predestination. Let us beseech our sovereign Lady to bind us always more closely by the chains of love to confidence in her protection.
Ejac. O clement, O pious, O sweet Virgin Mary!
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
XVI.-THE MEANS OF AVOIDING LUKEWARMNESS AND ATTAINING PERFECTION
And let us have great faith in prayer. God has promised to hear him that prays: Ask, and you shall receive. How can we doubt, says St. Augustine, since God has bound Himself by express promise, and cannot fail to grant us the favours we ask of Him? “By promising He has made Himself our debtor.” … In recommending ourselves to God, we must have a sure confidence that God hears us, and then we shall obtain whatever we want. Behold what Jesus Christ says: All things, whatsoever you ask when ye pray, believe that you shall receive, and they shall come unto you –(Mark xi. 24).
“But,” some one may say, “I am a sinner, and do not deserve to be heard.” But Jesus Christ says: Everyone that asketh, receiveth-(Luke xi. 10). Every one, be he just or be he a sinner. St. Thomas teaches us that the efficacy of prayer to obtain grace does not depend on our merits, but on the mercy of God, Who has promised to hear everyone who prays to Him.
And our Redeemer, in order to remove from us all fear when we pray, said: Amen, amen, I say to you, if you shall ask the Father anything in my name he win give it you-(Jo. xvi. 23). As though He would say: Sinners, you have no merits of your own to obtain graces, wherefore act in this manner; when you would obtain graces, ask them of My Father in My Name; that is, through My merits and through My love; and then ask as many as you choose, and they shall be granted to you. But let us mark well these words, “In my Name,” which signify (as St. Thomas explains it), “in the Name of the Saviour”; or, in other words, thai the graces which we ask must be graces which regard our eternal salvation; and consequently we must remark that the promise does not regard temporal favours; these our Lord grants when they are profitable for our eternal welfare; if they would prove otherwise, He refuses them. So that we should always ask for temporal favours on condition that they win benefit our soul. But should they be spiritual graces, then they require no condition; but with confidence, and a sure confidimce, we should say: “Eternal Father, in the Name of Jesus Christ, deliver me from this temptation: grant me perseverance, grant me Thy love, grant me Heaven.” We can likewise ask these graces of Jesus Christ in His own Name; that is, by His merits, since we have His promise also to this effect: If you shall ask me anything in my name, that I will do–(Jo. xiv. 14). And whilst we pray to God, let us not forget to recommend ourselves at the same time to Mary, the dispenser of graces. St. Bernard says that it is Almighty God Who bestows the graces; but He bestows them through the hands of Mary: “Let us seek grace, and let us seek it through Mary; because what she seeks she finds, and cannot be refused.” If Mary prays for us, we are safe; for every petition of Mary is heard, and she can never meet with a repulse.