A view from my seat in my domestic oratory which also serves, following the daily private Mass, as a location for the faithful to come and make their confessions (albeit outside, duly observing the 6 ft required for proper social distancing!)
As I sit and wait, I pray and reflect on the dizzying events of recent days: the loss of life, the loss of employment, financial woes, families disrupted, normal friendships suspended, the fear of infection. And in my own sphere of godly work, the increased level of anxiety amongst the faithful, now travelling through the second half of this Lenten season in isolation, without opportunity to attend Mass, and facing the incomprehensible experience, for the first time in their lives, of Holy Week and Easter without the beauty, grandeur, and force of the ancient and sublime liturgies that signal the change in spiritual mood and tempo from Passiontide grief to Resurrection joy.
Recognising the great privilege I have in being able to offer the Holy Sacrifice in the presence of my family, I’m equally cognisant, perhaps more now than at any time in my life of priestly ministry, that what I offer to God I offer with a responsibility more intense and demanding than I’m able to recall. The hopes and fears, the hearts and minds of the faithful and their intentions, are with me more sharply, more painfully, and I feel it. Achingly so.
These domestic surroundings will now replace, for a time and season, the familiar setting of the parish church. It’s not the same, of course, but that difference has brought into sharper focus, for me at least, the great privilege of this Eucharistic banquet we so often take for granted. Perhaps, then, we can hope that this period of unforeseen Eucharistic fasting will make hearts grow fonder, rekindling a longing to return to God, their first love, and joy of their youth.
Glancing, in between words and ritual actions in the Mass, through the window into the emerging spring garden beyond, I’m reminded by George Herbert that hope is never far behind; that even as I plead the Lord’s Passion and Death, he ‘turneth all to gold’.
Teach me, my God and King,
In all things Thee to see,
And what I do in anything
To do it as for Thee.
A man that looks on glass,
On it may stay his eye;
Or if he pleaseth, through it pass,
And then the heav’n espy.
This is the famous stone
That turneth all to gold;
For that which God doth touch and own
Cannot for less be told.
from The Elixir by George Herbert, 1593-1633
V. Abide in me, and I in you;
R. For without me ye can do nothing.
Merciful Jesus, living in Mary, come and live in us thy servants: inspire us with thy purity, strengthen us with thy might, make us perfect in thy ways, guide us into thy truth, and unite us to thyself and to thy whole Church by thy holy mysteries; that we may conquer every adverse power and be wholly devoted to thy service and conformed to thy will, by thy Spirit, to the glory of God the Father. Amen.
Christ, the everlasting Son of the Father, the Catholic King: come thou thyself to rule in our hearts, that the hatred of sin, the love of thy presence, the light of thy truth, and the joy of the Holy Ghost, may be there enthroned; and then in thy mercy bring us to the Kingdom where thou reignest in the glory of the eternal Trinity, for ever and ever. Amen.
In union, dear Lord, with all the faithful at every altar of thy Church where the blessed Body and Blood are being offered to the Father, I desire to offer thee praise and thanksgiving. I believe thou art truly present in the Most Holy Sacrament. And since I cannot now receive thee sacramentally, I beseech thee to come spiritually into my heart. I unite myself unto thee, and embrace thee with all the affections of my soul. Let me never be separated from thee. Let me live and die in thy love. Amen.
I worship thee, Lord Jesus, and kneeling unto thee, as thou didst come to Mary, I pray thee come to me. O most loving Jesus, O most blessed Saviour, come to me, I beseech thee, and unite me to thyself. Thou I cannot now receive thee sacramentally, yet I believe that thou art able, even when received by faith and desire only, to heal, enrich and sanctify me. Come thou spiritually into my heart. I desire to unite myself to thee with all the affections of my soul. Possess me wholly; let the consuming fire of thy love absorb me, and thy presence abide so intimately in me, that it will be no longer I that live, but thou who livest in me. Come, Lord Jesus, and dwell in my heart. Amen.
1. Thee we adore, O hidden Saviour, thee,
Who in thy Sacrament art pleased to be;
Both flesh and spirit in thy presence fail,
Yet here thy presence we devoutly hail.
2. O blest memorial of our dying Lord,
Who living bread to men doth here afford!
O may our souls forever feed on thee,
and thou, O Christ, for ever precious be!
3. Fountain of goodness, Jesu, Lord and God,
Cleanse us, unclean, with thy most cleansing blood;
Increase our faith and love, that we may know
The hope and peace which from thy presence flow.
4. O Christ, whom now beneath a veil we see,
May what we thirst for soon our portion be,
To gaze on thee unveiled, and see thy face,
The vision of thy glory and thy grace.
St Thomas Aquinas, 1227-1274
translated by James Woodford, 1820-1885
‘Pius X paid considerable attention to the reform of the Liturgy and, in particular, of sacred music in order to lead the faithful to a life of more profound prayer and fuller participation in the Sacraments. In the Motu Proprio Tra le Sollecitudini (1903), the first year of his Pontificate, he said that the true Christian spirit has its first and indispensable source in active participation in the sacrosanct mysteries and in the public and solemn prayer of the Church.
For this reason he recommended that the Sacraments be received often, encouraging the daily reception of Holy Communion and appropriately lowering the age when children receive their First Communion “to about seven”, the age “when a child begins to reason”.
Faithful to the task of strengthening his brethren in the faith, in confronting certain trends that were manifest in the theological context at the end of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th centuries, Pius X intervened decisively, condemning “Modernism” to protect the faithful from erroneous concepts and to foster a scientific examination of the Revelation consonant with the Tradition of the Church.
...The last months of his life were overshadowed by the impending war. His appeal to Catholics of the world, launched on 2 August 1914 to express the bitter pain of the present hour, was the anguished plea of a father who sees his children taking sides against each other. He died shortly afterwards, on 20 August, and the fame of his holiness immediately began to spread among the Christian people.
Dear brothers and sisters, St Pius X teaches all of us that at the root of our apostolic action in the various fields in which we work there must always be close personal union with Christ, to cultivate and to develop, day after day. This is the essence of all his teaching, of all his pastoral commitment. Only if we are in love with the Lord shall we be able to bring people to God and open them to his merciful love and thereby open the world to God’s mercy’.
Pope Benedict XVI
O God, who for the defence of the Catholic faith, and the restoring of all things in Christ, didst fill thy Supreme Pontiff Saint Pius the Tenth, with heavenly wisdom and apostolic fortitude: graciously grant that, following his teaching and example, we may attain unto eternal rewards; through Jesus Christ thy Son our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end. Amen. - Divine Worship: The Missal.
‘We now desire to add a word for the French pilgrims who have come to assist at the glorification of St Peter Julian Eymard, priest, confessor, founder of two religious families consecrated to the worship of the Blessed Sacrament.
He is a saint with whom We have been familiar for many years, as We said above, when as Apostolic Nuncio to France, Providence granted Us the happy opportunity to visit his native land, La Mure d’Isère, near Grenoble.
We saw with Our own eyes the poor bed, the humble dwelling where this faithful imitator of Christ gave up his beautiful soul to God. You can surmise, beloved Sons, with what emotion We recall that memory on this day when it is given Us to confer upon him the honours of canonisation.
The body of St Peter Julian Eymard is preserved in Paris: but the saint is also somehow present at Rome, in the person of his sons, the Priests of the Blessed Sacrament; it is also a sweet memory for Us to recall visits that We used to make to their Church of St Claude-des-Bourguignons (San Claudio), to unite Ourselves for a few moments to their silent adorations.
Besides St Vincent de Paul, St John Eudes, the Curé of Ars, Peter Julian Eymard takes his place in the ranks of the incomparable glory and honour of the country that witnessed their birth, but whose beneficial influence extends far beyond, namely, to the whole Church.
His characteristic distinction, the guiding thought of all his priestly activities, one may say, was the Eucharist: eucharistic worship and apostolate. Here, We would like to stress this fact in the presence of the Priests and of the Servants of the Most Blessed Sacrament, in presence also of the members of an Association which is dear to the heart of the Pope, that of the Priest Adorers assembled at this time in Rome, who have come in great numbers to honour this great friend of the Eucharist.
Yes, dear Sons, honour and celebrate with Us him who was so perfect an adorer of the Blessed Sacrament; after his example, always place at the centre of your thoughts, of your affections, of the undertakings of your zeal this incomparable source of all grace: the Mystery of Faith, which hides under its veils the Author Himself of grace, Jesus the Incarnate Word.
Venerable Brethren and dear Sons, such are the lessons inspired by today’s triple canonisation. Our hearts are filled with joy and emotion and from Our lips praise and thanksgiving rise to the Lord who has given new splendour to the countenance of the Church in the year of the Ecumenical Council.
New Saint Confessors, Peter Julian Eymard, Anthony Mary Pucci, Francis Mary of Camporosso, stand by the altar of the confession of St Peter while Mass is being offered. Through your intercession maintain in our hearts the extraordinary fervour of this historical hour, by obtaining for mankind abundant gifts of heavenly peace which have their law and their security in Jesus Christ – gifts of peace which are the joy of the Church, the consolation of pastors, the honour of the clergy and of God’s holy people. Amen. Amen’.
from the homily of Pope St John XXIII, 1881-1963
at the Canonisation Mass of St Peter Julian Eymard, 9 December 1962
O God, who didst adorn Saint Peter Julian Eymard with a wonderful love for the sacred mysteries of the Body and Blood of thy Son: graciously grant that we, too, may be worthy to receive the delights he drew from this divine banquet; through the same Jesus Christ thy Son our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end. Amen. - Divine Worship: The Missal.
‘He is the Bread sown in the Virgin, leavened in the Flesh, moulded in His Passion, baked in the furnace of the Sepulchre, placed in the churches, and set upon the Altars, which daily supplies Heavenly Food to the faithful’.
St Peter Chrysologus, c.380-450
O God, who modest the Bishop and Confessor Saint Peter Chrysologus an illustrious preacher of thy incarnate Word: grant, through his intercession; that we may constantly ponder in our hearts the mysteries of thy salvation and faithfully manifest them in our lives; through the same Jesus Christ thy Son our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end. Amen. - Divine Worship: The Missal.
‘It is reaching to Calvary and laying hold with your hands of the Cross of Christ, with Christ on it, and you plant it down here, today. Whenever Mass is celebrated we plant it here in this city… That’s what the Mass is… the continuation of Calvary. And in order to take part in it, you have to bring little crosses. Our Blessed Lord said “take up your cross daily and follow me”. We all have crosses. And we bring them all and plant them down alongside of that great Cross and Christ and we mass them all together under Him. That is the Mass’.
Ven Fulton Sheen, 1895-1979
Almighty Father, we thank thee that we thy mortal children are allowed to feed upon the Bread of Life; that we sinners are able to hold communion with the King of Saints; and that we, who know not what any day may bring forth, are allowed to fortify our souls with his Presence, who turned the dark night of his death into the brightness of the light of his redeeming love, thy Son, Jesus Christ our Lord; who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, one God, world without end. Amen. - A prayer of Father Andrew SDC, St Gregory’s Prayer Book.
‘The outpouring of Christ’s blood is the source of the Church’s life. Saint John, as we know, sees in the water and blood which flowed from our Lord’s body the wellspring of that divine life which is bestowed by the Holy Spirit and communicated to us in the sacraments. The Letter to the Hebrews draws out, we might say, the liturgical implications of this mystery. Jesus, by his suffering and death, his self-oblation in the eternal Spirit, has become our high priest and “the mediator of a new covenant”. These words echo our Lord’s own words at the Last Supper, when he instituted the Eucharist as the sacrament of his body, given up for us, and his blood, the blood of the new and everlasting covenant shed for the forgiveness of sins.
Faithful to Christ’s command to “do this in memory of me”, the Church in every time and place celebrates the Eucharist until the Lord returns in glory, rejoicing in his sacramental presence and drawing upon the power of his saving sacrifice for the redemption of the world. The reality of the Eucharistic sacrifice has always been at the heart of Catholic faith; called into question in the sixteenth century, it was solemnly reaffirmed at the Council of Trent against the backdrop of our justification in Christ. Here in England, as we know, there were many who staunchly defended the Mass, often at great cost, giving rise to that devotion to the Most Holy Eucharist which has been a hallmark of Catholicism in these lands.
The Eucharistic sacrifice of the Body and Blood of Christ embraces in turn the mystery of our Lord’s continuing passion in the members of his Mystical Body, the Church in every age. Here the great crucifix which towers above us serves as a reminder that Christ, our eternal high priest, daily unites our own sacrifices, our own sufferings, our own needs, hopes and aspirations, to the infinite merits of his sacrifice. Through him, with him, and in him, we lift up our own bodies as a sacrifice holy and acceptable to God. In this sense we are caught up in his eternal oblation, completing, as Saint Paul says, in our flesh what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions for the sake of his body, the Church. In the life of the Church, in her trials and tribulations, Christ continues, in the stark phrase of Pascal, to be in agony until the end of the world.
We see this aspect of the mystery of Christ’s precious blood represented, most eloquently, by the martyrs of every age, who drank from the cup which Christ himself drank, and whose own blood, shed in union with his sacrifice, gives new life to the Church. It is also reflected in our brothers and sisters throughout the world who even now are suffering discrimination and persecution for their Christian faith. Yet it is also present, often hidden in the suffering of all those individual Christians who daily unite their sacrifices to those of the Lord for the sanctification of the Church and the redemption of the world’.
from a homily preached at the Cathedral of the Most Precious Blood, Westminster
18 September 2010, on the occasion of his Apostolic Journey to the United Kingdom
by Pope Benedict XVI
Precious Blood, ocean of divine mercy: flow upon us! Precious Blood, most pure offering: procure us every grace! Precious Blood, hope and refuge of sinners: atone for us! Precious Blood, delight of holy souls: draw us! Amen. – St Catherine of Siena.
‘The Eucharist is the very heart of Christian worship because it is so rich and far-reaching in its significance; because it eludes thought, eludes emotion, relies on simple contact, humble and childlike receptiveness, sense quenching soul. It mixes together the extremes of mystery and homeliness; takes our common earthly experience of suffering, love, abandonment, death; and makes them inexpressibly holy and fruitful; takes the food of our natural life and transforms that into a channel of Divine Life’.
Evelyn Underhill, 1875-1941
Visit, we beseech thee, O Lord, thy family, and guard with watchful tenderness the hearts which have been hallowed by these sacred mysteries; that as by thy mercy they receive the healing grace of thy salvation, so by thy power and protection they may evermore retain them; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. - Leonine Sacramentary.
‘[T]he Eucharist is the perpetual sacramental presentation in the Church’s midst of the one full, perfect and sufficient sacrifice of Christ, as the means by which sin is atoned for, the Church is made, and the world is brought under the mercy of God… [T]he Eucharist is the means by which human lives are made acceptable to God by their union with the perfect life of his Son and are transformed by his acceptance… [T]he Eucharist is the means by which the material creation is presented to God by the perfect Man, in whose immaculate body matter itself has been united to Godhead, and so, in the Eucharist, not only man but the sub-human realm as well is transformed by the divine acceptance. Bread and wine becomes his formation and glorification of the created world is eschatologically anticipated. The Father’s creation is offered to him by and in his Incarnate Son, in whom he is well pleased; and, being accepted by him in the beloved, it is transformed into an eternal sacrifice by which he is for ever adored’.
from ‘Corpus Christi: Essays on the Church and the Eucharist’, 1953
by Eric Mascall OGS, 1905-1993
O God, who in a wonderful Sacrament hast left unto us a memorial of thy Passion: grant us, we beseech thee, so to venerate the sacred mysteries of thy Body and Blood; that we may ever know within ourselves the fruit of thy redemption; who livest and reignest with the Father, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end. Amen. - Divine Worship: The Missal.
‘There is in the Divine Nature a Fatherhood and a Sonship, and we may certainly think of the Holy Spirit under the figure of Motherhood. It was through the power of the Holy Spirit that our Lord was born of Mary, through His overshadowing that our Lady conceived and that of her and in her was created the Sacred Humanity.
Through His operation the Church came into being. After the Gospels come the Acts of the Apostles: those who had seen the Light were to live as children of the Light: those who had heard the Word were to preach the Word. But to do this they needed light and strength. There were many things our Lord had said they would forget, many they would not understand, many they would fear to act upon. They needed that things should be brought to their remembrance and interpreted, and they needed the courage of love to act upon them. All this the Holy Ghost brought them. He filled the apostles with power for their ministry. As He brought the world out of chaos, brooding over the waters, so He brooded over the sinful world, and brought the Church into being, and will at last bring it to perfection.
It is through the power of the Holy Ghost that the Eucharist is consecrated. Even as by His power the Divine Son became present on earth, so by His power our Lord becomes present on the Altar. We must remember that the Holy Ghost Who accomplishes this mystery is Himself always with us. It is the Holy Spirit Who mothers a soul. He bears with us patiently, checks us quietly and sometimes sternly, but, if we will go wrong, like a patient mother He goes with us where we go’.
Father Andrew SDC, 1869-1946
Most merciful God, we beseech thee: that thy Church, being gathered together in the Holy Ghost, may nevermore be disquieted by the assaults of her enemies; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the same Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end. Amen. - Divine Worship: The Missal.
‘St Norbert is usually painted holding a ciborium in his hand. He is distinguished by this symbol on account of his extraordinary devotion to the Blessed Sacrament. He inculcated in all his sermons the frequent use of this divine food, being sensible from daily experience, and from the words of truth itself, that a neglect, and much more a distaste or loathing of the Holy Communion, is a deplorable symptom of a most dangerous state in a spiritual life. A short interval in order to a better preparation is often a wholesome counsel, and sometimes a necessary duty. But “he who seldom approaches, because he is tepid and cold, is like one who should say I never approach the fire, because I am cold: I have not recourse to the physician, because I am sick”, as the devout Gerson writes. This divine sacrament is the most powerful strengthener of our weakness, the sovereign remedy of our spiritual miseries, and the source of heavenly comfort to alleviate the labours and sorrows of our mortal pilgrimage. The deeper sense we have of our spiritual indigence, with so much the greater eagerness ought we continually to cry out: If I shall but touch the hem of his garment, I shall be saved. Can we slight the most tender invitations of our divine Redeemer? Can we disobey his repeated commands, and contemn his threats? Above all, can we be insensible to that excess of infinite love by which he has wrought so many wonders, that he might here abide in us by the strongest alliance?’
from The Lives of the Fathers, Martyrs, and Other Principal Saints by Fr Alban Butler, 1710-1773
O God, who didst make blessed Norbert, thy Confessor and Bishop, an illustrious preacher of thy Word, and through him didst render thy Church fruitful with a new offspring: grant, we beseech thee; that by his intercession and merits, we may be enabled by thy help to practise what he taught, both in word and deed; through Jesus Christ thy Son our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end. Amen. - Divine Worship: The Missal.
‘[I]f the dead bodies of Christians are honourable, so doubtless are the living; because they have had their blessedness when living, therefore have they in their sleep. He who does not honour his own body as something holy unto the Lord, may indeed revere the dead, but it is then a mere superstition, not an act of piety. To reverence holy places (right as it is) will not profit a man unless he reverences himself. Consider what it is to be partaker of the Body and Blood of Christ. We pray God, in our Church’s language, that “our sinful bodies may become clean through His body”; and we are promised in Scripture, that our bodies shall be temples of the Holy Ghost. How should we study, then, to cleanse them from all sin, that they may be true members of Christ! We are told that the peril of disease and death attends the unworthy partaking of the Lord’s Supper. Is this wonderful, considering the strange sin of receiving it into a body disgraced by wilful disobedience? All that defiles it, intemperance or other vice, all that is unbecoming, all that is disrespectful to Him who has bought our bodies with a price, must be put aside Hear St Paul’s words, “Christ being raised from the dead, dieth no more… likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead unto sin… let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof”. (Rom. vi.9-12). “If the Spirit of Him who raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, He that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by His indwelling Spirit… If ye, through the Spirit, do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live”. (Rom. viii.11).
Work together with God, therefore, my brethren, in this work of your redemption. While He feeds you, prepare for the heavenly feast; “discern the Lord’s body” when it is placed before you, and suitably treasure it afterwards. Lay up year by year this seed of life within you, believing it will one day bear fruit. “Believe that ye receive it, and ye shall have it”. (Mark xi.24). Glorious, indeed, will be the spring time of the Resurrection, when all that seemed dry and withered will bud forth and blossom’.
from Sermon XXI, ‘The Resurrection of the Body’, by Blessed John Henry Newman, 1801-1890
Almighty God, who hast given thine only Son to be unto us both a sacrifice for sin, and also an example of godly life: give us grace that we may always most thankfully receive his inestimable benefit; and also daily endeavour ourselves to follow the blessed steps of his most holy life; through the same Jesus Christ thy Son our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end. Amen. - Collect for the Third Sunday of Easter, Divine Worship: The Missal.
‘The Collect was composed in 1549 and is based on the Epistle and Gospel [in the Book of Common Prayer].
In the collect today we still dwell on the accomplished work of Christ - His sacrifice and perfect example. We pray that we may thankfully receive the benefits of His great sacrifice and follow His perfect example. To endeavour ourselves is the old English way of saying bind ourselves; “devoir” is an old Norman word for duty. So then to say I endeavour myself means I make it my duty.
Our Collect today still continues the Easter message; in it we speak of how God has given to us His only Son to be unto us a sacrifice for sin. He made Himself a sacrifice for sin when He offered up Himself on the Cross on Good Friday. Our sins were borne by Him upon the Altar of the Cross, so that He might die for our sins. He rose again that we might have a new birth unto righteousness. One thing, however, we can never forget, and that is His sacrifice for sin, because we continually plead that sacrifice in the Eucharist.
Thy offering still continues new
Before the righteous Father’s view;
Thyself the Lamb for ever slain,
Thy Priesthood doth unchanged remain;
Thy years, O God, can never fail,
Nor Thy blest work within the veil. (Charles Wesley)
The Collect calls this Sacrifice. “His inestimable benefit”, because we can never really estimate the great benefit that the world throughout the ages, and in the ages to come, has and will derive from His great sacrifice. It surpasses understanding’.
from Teaching the Collects, 1965, by H.E. Sheen
‘The celebration of… Holy Thursday renews for us the hour of Christ, the hour when, by the sign of the Eucharist, He declared Himself the Champion of humanity in the combat against Satan. But the Holy Thursday observance renews that hour not only as any commemoration might revive a memory: it actually reproduces that hour so that we may all have part in it. In anticipating His Passion in this sign, Christ gave at the same time the sacrament that was to re-enact the Passion for His followers and, by this sacrament, gave the entire Christian sacramental system. All the other sacraments are in germ in the Eucharist since it embodies the Saviour’s Passion and they are only complementary aspects of the victory He won for us. On Holy Thursday, too, the blessing of the oils establishes a link between the primordial Mass and the important sacraments of baptism, confirmation, holy orders, and extreme unction. Speaking more generally, all the Christian liturgy is a perpetual renewal of the mystery of Christ, suffering, dying, and rising again to deprive the demon of his power over men and to reconcile them with His Father’.
from The Paschal Mystery: Meditations on the Last Three Days of Holy Week
by Fr Louis Bouyer, Cong. Orat., 1913-2004
‘There could be only one thing perfectly worthy of being offered to perfect Love, and that would be something that embodied perfect love perfectly in our human nature, if human nature is to offer it. The divine Person of the Son of God in perfect love assumed a human nature. His love achieved this triumph, that He turned the climax of hate into the climax of love, making a masterpiece of spiritual beauty out of His murder by men. After his Ascension the Holy Spirit came, and one of His ceaseless energies is to make effective in the Eucharistic rite the very presence and reality of the perfect Sacrifice once offered on Mount Calvary, uniting the Eucharist celebrated this morning with that past of Calvary and with the everlasting present of the heavenly worship. Here are we, with the power to offer God the perfect Sacrifice; that which we offer is one in reality of love and identity of intention with the Sacrifice on Mount Calvary; and it is also one with the heavenly worship wherein the angels and archangels join with us as we join with them. So it is the perfect offering of perfect love to the all-perfect God Whom we worship, Who is Love, that we human beings are able to offer. What makes the Catholic Church altogether different from, and superior to, every other body is this: that we are able to offer and present unto God not only our selves, our souls and bodies, but the self, the soul, and the body of the perfect Man, tested to the uttermost, proved to the uttermost, triumphant in the uttermost - the perfect, everlasting Sacrifice’.
Father Andrew SDC, 1869-1946
‘The body we receive in this sacrament is a body that died, and having died was buried. The body was done to death and laid in a tomb, to wait for a divine miracle. Christ lies in his sepulchre the image of Christian hope; nothing lies there but the bare hope of resurrection. Hope stretches between sacrifice and life renewed. Vision can often see no further than the sacrifice which God’s commandments impose; it cannot descry the enrichment of life which God’s grace intends. Hope holds the gap. “Must I rule the appetite of sex within the law of Christ, must I persevere in practices of prayer which are dry and seemingly infertile? It is death to my spirits. What life will ever come of it for the Christian people or for me?” If this is death, I ought to embrace it for Christ’s sake, and be willing not only to die, but to lie dead in sure and certain hope. Where the burial of Christ is, there the resurrection of Christ will be”’.
from The Crown of the Year: Weekly Paragraphs for the Holy Sacrament, 1952
by Austin Farrer, 1904-1968
We beseech thee, Almighty God, mercifully to look upon thy people: that by thy great goodness they may be governed and preserved evermore, both in body and in soul; through Jesus Christ thy Son our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end. Amen. - Collect for Passion Sunday, Divine Worship: The Missal.
‘After this the Priest says, Holy things to holy men. Holy are the gifts presented, having received the visitation of the Holy Ghost; holy are you also, having been deemed worthy of the Holy Ghost; the holy things therefore correspond to the holy persons. Then ye say, One is Holy, One is the Lord, Jesus Christ. For One is truly holy, by nature holy; we too are holy, but not by nature, only by participation, and discipline, and prayer.
After this ye hear the chanter inviting you with a sacred melody to the communion of the Holy Mysteries, and saying, O taste and see that the Lord is good. Trust not the judgment to your bodily palate no, but to faith unfaltering; for they who taste are bidden to taste, not bread and wine, but the anti-typical Body and Blood of Christ.
In approaching therefore, come not with your wrists extended, or your fingers spread; but make your left hand a throne for the right, as for that which is to receive a King. And having hollowed your palm, receive the Body of Christ, saying over it, Amen. So then after having carefully hallowed your eyes by the touch of the Holy Body, partake of it; giving heed lest you lose any portion thereof; for whatever you lose, is evidently a loss to you as it were from one of your own members. For tell me, if any one gave you grains of gold, would you not hold them with all carefulness, being on your guard against losing any of them, and suffering loss? Will you not then much more carefully keep watch, that not a crumb fall from you of what is more precious than gold and precious stones?
Then after you have partaken of the Body of Christ, draw near also to the Cup of His Blood; not stretching forth your hands, but bending , and saying with an air of worship and reverence, Amen, hallow yourself by partaking also of the Blood of Christ. And while the moisture is still upon your lips, touch it with your hands, and hallow your eyes and brow and the other organs of sense. Then wait for the prayer, and give thanks unto God, who has accounted you worthy of so great mysteries.
Hold fast these traditions undefiled and, keep yourselves free from offence. Sever not yourselves from the Communion; deprive not yourselves, through the pollution of sins, of these Holy and Spiritual Mysteries. And the God of peace sanctify you wholly; and may your spirit, and soul, and body be preserved entire without blame at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ (1 Thessalonians 5:23): To whom be glory and honour and might, with the Father and the Holy Spirit, now and ever, and world without end. Amen’.
On the Sacred Liturgy and Communion from Catechetical Lecture 23
by St Cyril of Jerusalem, c.313-386
Grant, we beseech thee, Almighty God: that at the intercession of thy blessed Bishop Saint Cyril, we may learn to know thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent; that we may be found worthy to be numbered for ever among the sheep that hear his voice; through the same Jesus Christ thy Son our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end. Amen. - Divine Worship: The Missal.
‘In His great spiritual conflict in the wilderness our Lord came in His human nature to that great conclusion, that “man doth not live by bread only, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God doth man live”. That which He had known to proceed from the mouth of God was the great commandment of love, to love God above all things and His neighbour and Himself, and to go on loving God whatever the circumstances of His life might be, and His neighbour however evilly that neighbour might behave. It was in His own darkest hour that He gave to us the mystery of the Blessed Sacrament. We have all of us one day to meet our darkest hour, whatever it may be, and we know that we can meet it in the power of that Heavenly Bread which the Word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God made to be His Body and His Blood and the communication of His sacrificial love. In the Mass we bring our own difficulties and darknesses and present them to God in union with the everlasting Sacrifice of Christ. They enable us to understand That, and That enables us to consecrate them’.
from The Way of Victory: Meditations for Lent and After, by Father Andrew SDC, 1869-1946
O Lord, who for our sake didst fast forty days and forty nights: give us grace to use such abstinence, that, our flesh being subdued to the Spirit, we may ever obey thy godly motions in righteousness and true holiness, to thy honour and glory; who livest and reignest with the Father, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end. Amen. - Divine Worship: The Missal.
‘I am a Catholic because the Church Christ founded and gave us is our literal, historical, temporal connector to Him. Without the connector, the wire that plugs into the infinite divine electricity, our souls die. We receive His life, His literal blood, through the umbilical cord of the Church’s Eucharist. It literally incorporates us into His corpus, His body.
We also receive His mind through the Church’s teachings. Infallible dogmas can come only from the only infallible mind in existence, the divine mind. But they do not save us; they are only the road map. Unlike Plato and Buddha, Jesus saved us by saying not “This is my mind” but “This is my body”. And not just by saying it but by doing it, by giving us His body, on the Cross and in the Eucharist and in the Church.
…He comes to us in His body today just as He came to us in His body two thousand years ago. And the Church is His body; it is “the extension of the Incarnation”.
The body we receive in Holy Communion is the very same body that He saved us with by offering it on the Cross. He has only one body, but it is in three places: on the Cross, in the Eucharist, and in the Church. And He is in the Church in two ways, or two dimensions, because we exist in two dimensions and so does He in His humanity: He is in the public, external, objective, visible institution that teaches and sanctifies His people, and He is also in the private, internal, subjective, invisible souls and bodies of His people who are baptised into His body and who receive His body into their bodies in the Eucharist and who thus become the cells in His Mystical Body, the Church.
When He said, “Unless you eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, you have no life in you” (John 6:53), did He mean by His “flesh” His mortal body on the Cross, His sacramental body in the Eucharist, or His Mystical Body in the Church? Wrong question. It’s not an either-or. Remember, He has only one body, not three.
To break with His body the Church is to break with Christ, just as to kiss or hit or heal or kill your body is to kiss or hit or heal or kill you. That’s why St Thomas More gave up his life over his king’s break with Rome’.
Dr Peter Kreeft
‘On August 26, 1861, at 7.00 in the evening while I was at prayer in the church of the Rosary at La Granja, the Lord granted me the great grace of keeping the sacramental species intact within me and of having the Blessed Sacrament always present, day and night, in my breast. Because of this I must always be very recollected and inwardly devout. Furthermore I must pray and confront all the evils of Spain, as the Lord has told me. To help me do this, I have engraved in my memory a number of things, such as that without any merit, talent, or personal recommendation, He has lifted me up from the lowest of the low to the highest post, at the side of the kings of this earth. And now He has put me at the side of the King of Heaven. “Glorify God and bear him about in your body”. (1 Cor. 6:20)
…When I am before the Blessed Sacrament, I feel such a lively faith that I can’t describe it. Christ in the Eucharist is almost tangible to me; I kiss his wounds continually and embrace Him. When it’s time for me to leave, I have to tear myself away from his sacred presence’.
St Anthony Mary Claret, 1807-1870
O God, who for the evangelisation of peoples didst strengthen the Bishop Saint Anthony Mary Claret with admirable charity and long-suffering: grant, through his intercession; that, seeking the things that are thine, we may earnestly devote ourselves to winning our brethren for Christ; who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end. Amen. - Divine Worship: The Missal.
‘[N]ever forget that the principal form of Eucharistic prayer is contained in the holy Sacrifice of the Altar. It is Our opinion that this point ought to be considered more carefully, Venerable Brethren, for it touches on a particularly important aspect of priestly life.
…We… hope to say something worthwhile in this matter by showing the principal reason why the holy Cure of Ars, who, as befits a hero, was most careful in fulfilling his priestly duties, really deserves to be proposed to those who have the care of souls as a model of outstanding virtue and to be honoured by them as their heavenly patron. If it is obviously true that a priest receives his priesthood so as to serve at the altar and that he enters upon this office by offering the Eucharistic Sacrifice, then it is equally true that for as long as he lives as God’s minister, the Eucharistic Sacrifice will be the source and origin of the holiness that he attains and of the apostolic activity to which he devotes himself. All of these things came to pass in the fullest possible way in the case of St John Vianney.
For, if you give careful consideration to all of the activity of a priest, what is the main point of his apostolate if not seeing to it that wherever the Church lives, a people who are joined by the bonds of faith, regenerated by holy Baptism and cleansed of their faults will be gathered together around the sacred altar? It is then that the priest, using the sacred power he has received, offers the divine Sacrifice in which Jesus Christ renews the unique immolation which He completed on Calvary for the redemption of mankind and for the glory of His heavenly Father. It is then that the Christians who have gathered together, acting through the ministry of the priest, present the divine Victim and offer themselves to the supreme and eternal God as a “sacrifice, living, holy, pleasing to God”. There it is that the people of God are taught the doctrines and precepts of faith and are nourished with the Body of Christ, and there it is that they find a means to gain supernatural life, to grow in it, and if need be to regain unity. And there besides, the Mystical Body of Christ, which is the Church, grows with spiritual increase throughout the world down to the end of time.
It is only right and fitting to call the life of St John Vianney a priestly and pastoral one in an outstanding way, because he spent more and more time in preaching the truths of religion and cleansing souls of the stain of sin as the years went by, and because he was mindful of the altar of God in each and every act of his sacred ministry!
It is true of course that the holy Cure’s fame made great crowds of sinners flock to Ars, while many priests experience great difficulty in getting the people committed to their care to come to them at all, and then find that they have to teach them the most elementary truths of Christian doctrine just as if they were working in a missionary land. But as important and sometimes as trying as these apostolic labours may be, they should never be permitted to make men of God forget the great importance of the goal which they must always keep in view and which St John Vianney attained through dedicating himself completely to the main works of the apostolic life in a tiny country church.
This should be kept in mind, in particular: whatever a priest may plan, resolve, or do to become holy, he will have to draw, for example and for heavenly strength, upon the Eucharistic Sacrifice which he offers, just as the Roman Pontifical urges: “Be aware of what you are doing; imitate what you hold in your hands”’.
from his encyclical Sacerdotii Nostri Primordia, 1 August 1959, by Pope St John XXIII, 1881-1963
‘As son, husband, father, ruler and Crusader, Saint Louis strove, in everything, to embody his holding on to God by faith. If we read the account of his daily life, written by Jean de Joinville, who knew the King most personally and fought alongside the King in the Crusades, beginning in 1248, we discover the source of the faith and good works by which Saint Louis held on to God, steadfastly remaining in the company of our Lord. Jean de Joinville writes:
“He so arranged the business of governing his country that every day he heard the hours of the Office sung, and a Requiem Mass without chant, and then a sung Mass of the day or the feast, if there was one. Every day after dinner he rested on his bed, and when he had slept and rested he said the Office of the Dead privately in his room with one of his chaplains, before hearing Vespers. In the evening he heard Compline (The Life of St. Louis, p. 36, n. 54)”.
Clearly, every day of the life of Saint Louis was centred in the Sacred Liturgy, above all, the Holy Eucharist.
When we consider the richness of virtue in the life of Saint Louis, for example, his daily and generous provision for the poor, his establishment of institutions to educate the young and to care for the sick and those in need, and his devotion to the sacred places of our Lord unto the giving of his last energies, we ask how it is possible that so many Christ-like qualities could be embodied in one man, in one lifetime.
The answer to our wonderment is the Eucharistic Sacrifice in which Saint Louis participated daily and which transformed him more and more into Christ’s own likeness. When we consider the complexity of his life as father of a large family and as ruler of a nation, we marvel at his wisdom, truly wisdom from God, by which he formed his every activity in daily Mass and praying of the Liturgy of the Hours.
Recalling the memory of Saint Louis, let us ask him to intercede for us, so that we may become men and women of the Eucharist. May we imitate Saint Louis, finding in the Holy Eucharist the grace to live every moment of our lives in and with Christ for the glory of God the Father and for the good of our neighbour, especially our neighbour who is in most need.
Imitating our beloved patron, Saint Louis, let us, each day, lift up our poor, sinful and doubting hearts to the Lord, placing them into His glorious pierced Heart. May we live every moment of our lives in the communion with the Lord, which is ours in the Holy Eucharist’.
from a homily, 2007, by Raymond, Cardinal Burke (Archbishop of St Louis, 2004-2008)
O God, who didst exalt blessed Louis from the cares of earthly rule to the glory of thy heavenly kingdom: grant, we pray thee, through his intercession; that, by fulfilling our duties on earth, we made be made heirs of the King of kings, even Jesus Christ thy Son our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end. Amen. - Divine Worship: The Missal.
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