Tuesday, 13 March 2018

The Promise Of Our Divine Saviour to give to men His very Flesh to eat and His very Blood to drink. part 20.


Who is the Angelic Doctor? St. Thomas Aquinas. He is surnamed the Angelic Doctor, or the Angel of the Schools, because in clearness and depth of learning he is more like an angel than a man. Without exaggeration it may be said that his was the grandest mind ever possessed by mortal man. All our modern intellectual giants are veriest pigmies when compared to St. Thomas Aquinas. In his works are found, as Pope Leo XIII insinuates, besides the clearest proofs and the vindication of the Christian truths, the most thorough refutation of all errors past, present and future. Although so wonderfully learned, he writes in a style so simple, so plain and clear, that there can be no mistaking of his meaning. But many complain of finding it hard to understand him. That is true; but the difficulty of understanding St. Thomas lies not in the intricacy or obscurity of his sentences, or in the ambiguity of his terms, for his sentences are very simple and his terms are well defined; the difficulty of understanding him results from the depth and sublimity of the subjects he treats, both in philosophy and theology. St. Thomas was also a very holy man and very much addicted to prayer. When ever in writing on a subject, he came across a difficult point, he had recourse to mental prayer to obtain from God the light he needed, and would continue therein till the difficult point became clear in his mind, so that he was wont to say that he learned more by prayer than by study. Luther dreaded the works and arguments of St. Thomas more than anything else, for he uttered the vain boast that, if the Catholics would give up St. Thomas, he would destroy the Catholic Church! At the great Council of Trent the two great works that were the oftenest consulted and that were placed side by side, were the Holy Bible and the great Summa of St. Thomas. St. Thomas Aquinas was born about the year 1226 in Southern Italy. At the age of nineteen years he received the Dominican habit at Naples, where he was prosecuting his studies. This greatly displeased all members of his family who, finding their entreaties useless, resolved to remove him from the convent by force. To prevent this, the Dominicans secretly sent him to Paris. But he was waylaid and captured by his brothers, and imprisoned in a castle. There every means, both fair and foul, was used to prevail on him to give up his vocation, but all in vain, for he not only remained steadfast, but even succeeded in prevailing upon his sisters, who had been sent to overcome his constancy, to leave the world and enter the religious state. With their help he escaped from his prison and succeeded in reaching Paris; and soon was sent first to Cologne to study under the renowned Blessed Albert the Great, and later on to Paris where he received the degree of Doctor with St. Bonaventure, and for a number of years taught with wonderful success theology and philosophy in its celebrated University. "The Church," says Father Bowden, " has ever venerated his numerous writings as a treasure-house of sacred doctrine; while in naming him the Angelic Doctor, she has indicated that his science is more divine than human. The rarest gifts of intellect were combined in him with the tenderest piety."

He died in 1274 on his way to the General Council of Lyons, to which Pope Gregory X had summoned him. St. Thomas is intimately connected with the history of the Blessed Eucharist in the Catholic Church. In the year 1264 Pope Urban IV ordered the celebration of the Feast of Corpus Christi, which he had just instituted, through out the whole Church. He enjoined a committee of theologians, among whom were St. Thomas and the great St. Bonaventure, surnamed the Seraphic Doc tor, on account of the ardent piety and sublimity of his writings, to prepare each the Office and the Mass of the Blessed Sacrament for that great Feast. When St. Thomas had read what he had written on the subject St. Bonaventure would not read what he himself had prepared, because, as he said, it would bear no comparison with what St. Thomas had com posed. Let us now examine some of the beautiful passages of the wonderful composition of St. Thomas on the Blessed Eucharist. The following is a passage from the Divine Office:

" The immense benefits of the divine bounty be stowed on Christians confer on them an inestimable dignity. For there is not, nor was there ever in former times, a nation that had its gods so near as our God is near to us. The only-begotten Son of God, wishing to render us partakers of His divinity, assumed our nature, in order that, after becoming man, He might make man divine. Moreover, the nature He assumed like ours, the very same He delivered up for our salvation; for He offered on the altar of the cross His body as victim for our reconciliation with His Father; He shed His blood both for our ransom and as a cleansing bath, so that we, being redeemed from a wretched slavery, might be cleansed from all sins. Now, in order that the remembrance of so great a benefit should remain constantly in us, He left His body and His blood, under the appearances of bread and wine, to be used by the faithful as (spiritual) food and drink. O feast so precious, so much to be admired, bringing salvation and filled with every sweetness! For what can be more precious than this feast, in which, not the flesh of bullocks and goats as in the Old Law, are placed before the guests, but in which Christ, the true God, is given to us as our food? What is more wonderful than this Sacrament ? For in it the bread and wine are substantially changed into the body and blood of Christ; and therefore Christ, the true God and perfect man, is contained under the appearances of a little bread and wine. He is eaten by the faithful, but not torn in pieces; for, if the Sacrament is divided, Christ (is not divided, but) remains whole under each particle. The accidents subsist without subject in this Sacrament, so as to make room for our faith, whilst we are receiving visibly that which is invisibly hidden under a foreign species."

In the above quotation we see that St. Thomas expressly declares that in Holy Communion, Christ, the true God, is given us as our food and is eaten by us; however He is not torn in pieces as bodily food. When the Sacred Host is divided, the body of Christ is not divided, but is entire in each piece, however small it may be. In the Blessed Eucharist, he tells us the accidents, that is the taste, color, smell and other properties of bread and wine are present, but the substance of bread and the substance of wine are not present, for they have been changed by consecration into the substance of the body and the substance of the blood of Jesus Christ. The receiving of Holy Communion is visible, but the body and the blood of Christ which we therein really receive, are invisible to our senses, and thus give us the opportunity of exercising our faith.

" No other Sacrament," continues St. Thomas, " is more wholesome than this one, for it purifies our sins, increases our virtues and replenishes our mind with an abundance of good gifts. It is offered in the Church for the living and the dead, so that what was instituted for the salvation of all, might prove useful to all. In fine, no one can sufficiently express the sweetness of this Sacrament, by which spiritual sweetness is tasted in its very fountain, and in which the remembrance is recalled of the most excellent charity which Christ showed in His Passion. Wherefore, in order to impress the more deeply in the hearts of the faithful the immensity of His love, Christ, after celebrating the Jewish Passover with His disciples at the Last Supper, and being about to go from the world to His Father, instituted this Sacrament, as a perpetual memorial of His Passion, the fulfillment of the ancient figures and the greatest miracles wrought by Him; and He thereby left a wonderful consolation to those who grieved at His departure from this world."

In another place, speaking of the institution of the feast of Corpus Christi, he says: " It is befitting the devotion of the faithful, that they should solemnly celebrate the institution of so salutary and so wonderful a Sacrament, and that we should revere the ineffable manner in which our God is present in this visible Sacrament, and praise the power of God working so many wonders in this very Sacrament, and give due thanks to Him for so salutary and sweet a benefit. Although on Holy Thursday, the day on which this Sacrament was instituted, special mention of its institution is made during the solemn Mass, nevertheless, all the remainder of the Office of that day is devoted to the veneration of the Passion of Jesus Christ. Wherefore, in order that the Christian people should worthily celebrate the institution of so great a Sacrament, Pope Urban IV, filled with devotion towards this Sacrament, piously decreed, that the memory of its institution should be celebrated by all the faithful on the first Thursday following the octave of Pentecost, so that whilst making use of the Sacrament all the year round for our salvation, we may celebrate its institution, especially at the time when the Holy Ghost taught the hearts of the disciples to know fully the mysteries of this Sacrament. It was also at that time that the faithful began to partake of this Sacrament as their spiritual food."

Let us now turn our attention to the beautiful hymns of the Divine Office of the Blessed Sacrament composed by the Angelic Doctor, beginning with the Pange, lingua, gloriosi, the hymn for vespers. " Sing, O my tongue, the mystery of the glorious body and precious blood which the King of the nations, who was brought forth from the Virgin's fruitful womb, shed for the world's ransom. To us He was given, for us He was born of the spotless Virgin, and conversed with men, sowing the seed of the word (of God), till He closed in a wonderful manner the time He spent on earth. Whilst at table with His brethren at the Last Supper, after com plying fully with the prescriptions of the (Mosaic) law in eating of the paschal lamb, He with His own hands gave Himself as food to His twelve apostles. The Word made flesh with a word makes real bread His real flesh, and real wine His real blood; and although our senses fail to recognize this change, faith alone suffices to confirm (convince) a sincere heart. (The last two stanzas are the Tantum ergo and the Genitori, which are sung before every benediction of the Blessed Sacrament.) "Therefore let us, this so great Sacrament, profoundly revere, and let the ancient figures give way to the new rite, and our faith supply the deficiency of our senses, To the Father and to the Son let there be praise, rejoicing, greeting, honor, virtue and blessing, and equal praising to the Holy Ghost from both proceeding. Amen."

The next hymn we give here of St. Thomas is the " Sacris solemniis " for the " Matins " of the Office of the Blessed Sacrament. " Let us celebrate this holy and solemn Feast with joy, and let us sound its praises from our inmost hearts. Let us lay aside the things of old, and let all things be new, our hearts, our voices, our deeds. We now recall the Supper of that last night when Christ, as we believe, gave the lamb and the unleavened bread to His brethren, in accordance with the laws prescribed to their ancestors. After they had eaten the lamb, a figure of Christ, and finished the repast, Christ, as we should confess, gave to His disciples with His own hands His own body, whole and entire to all, whole and entire to each one likewise. To them in their weakness He gave His body as a strengthening food, and in their sadness He gave them the chalice of His blood, saying: Receive the cup I give you, drink ye all of this. Thus did the Lord institute that Sacrifice which He wished to entrust to His priests alone, for whom it is meet and fit that they should partake of it themselves and also give it to others. Thus the Angels' bread becomes the bread of men. This heavenly bread puts an end to the figures of the Old Law. O wonder of wonders, in deed, for a poor, humble servant feeds on the Lord Himself! O triune Deity, we beseech Thee, deign to visit us, as we worship Thee; through Thy paths lead us to the light to which we tend, and in which Thou dwellest. Amen."

The next hymn of St. Thomas in the Divine Office is that for Lauds beginning with the words " Verbum supernum." The fourth stanza is worthy of admiration. The great Latin poet, Santeuil, of the seventeenth century, was wont to say, that he would be willing to give up all his fame his Latin poetry had acquired for him, could he thereby possess that of being the author of those four verses, beginning " Se nascens." The fifth stanza and the sixth are those usually sung at Benediction when the Blessed Sacrament is exposed, " O salutaris" and " Uni trinoque." Here is the hymn: " The Word of God went forth from heaven without leaving the right hand of His Father; He came on earth to do His work, and reached at length the evening of His life. As He was about to be betrayed to His en emies by one of His disciples, He previously gave Himself to His disciples as the Bread of life. To them under a two-fold species He gave His flesh and blood, so that He might feed the whole of man (who is composed of flesh and blood) — (Se nascens). At His birth He gave Himself to man as a fellow-man; when at table, He made Himself man's food; when dying, He became man's ransom; and reigning in heaven, He gives Himself to man as his reward. (O salutaris) O saving Victim, which openest heaven's gate, whilst enemies wage against us a relentless war, deign to give us strength, to bring us help. (Uni trinoque) To the triune Lord be everlasting glory, that He may bestow on us in our country a life without end. Amen."

Wednesday, 28 February 2018

The Promise Of Our Divine Saviour to give to men His very Flesh to eat and His very Blood to drink. part 19.


The same apostle, St. Paul, writes thus to the Romans: " Whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord (says the prophet Joel 2:32), shall be saved. How, then, shall they call on Him, in whom they have not believed ? Or how shall they believe Him, of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher ? And how shall they preach unless they be sent? . . . Faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word (the Gospel) of Christ" (Rom. 10: 14, 15, 17). No one may therefore undertake to preach the Gospel, to teach the doctrines of Christ, unless he is sent by Christ, unless he has his mission to do so from Jesus Christ Himself. The Catholic Church alone has her mission to do so from Jesus Christ and His apostles, and therefore, the Catholic Priesthood, the mouth piece of the Church, is alone entrusted with that mission. Whence, then, had the Protestant reformers of the sixteenth century the mission to preach a gospel different from that preached by the Catholic Church, which Christ commissioned to preach to mankind? They could not have it from Christ who is ever with His Church, as He solemnly promised, and whose teaching is as unchangeable as truth itself. If not from Christ, it must be from " the gates of hell," vainly attempting to prevail against the Church Christ founded on Peter!

Therefore, let us firmly believe in the Real Presence and in the other mysteries the Catholic Church teaches, and let us thank God for the inestimable gift of faith, and especially for His personal, though invisible, Presence among us in the Blessed Eucharist. There in our churches we can visit Him, pay Him our homages, thank Him, beseech Him to forgive our sins and to assist us in our wants, temp tations, and trials, with the confidence of being heard. Protestants cannot find Jesus Christ in their churches, for they have no Real Presence; and they have no Real Presence because they have no Priest hood, no one empowered to do what Jesus did at the Last Supper, to change bread and wine into His Very Body and His Very Blood. Some of the pious among the Separated Brethren, when they wish to pay their homage to Jesus Christ and beseech His assistance, are accustomed to come to a Catholic Church to find Jesus and pour our their hearts to Him! May He deign to bestow on them the gift of the true faith!

Finally, we have had, of late years, tangible proofs of the Real Presence in the Catholic Church. Lourdes, a small town in France, not far from the Pyrenees, is a renowned place of pilgrimage in honor of the Blessed Virgin, who in 1858 several times appeared to a little peasant girl, and gave her her name, saying: " I am the Immaculate Conception "; and told her that she wished that people should henceforth come there in crowds to honor her and receive favors. Every year people afflicted with various incurable diseases beyond all medical (or magical) skill, or with spiritual and other trials, come from almost every country in the world to implore help, health, etc., through the intercession of the Blessed Virgin. Every year miraculous cures, proved beyond all shadow of doubt, more or less numerous, take place, through the intercession of the Blessed Virgin; but the majority of them at the general pilgrimages are directly performed by Jesus Christ Himself in the Holy Eucharist, thus proving the Real Presence of Jesus Christ therein. A few days before the breaking out of the terrible war now going on in Europe, that is, on the 25th of July, 1914, the International Eucharistic Congress was in session at Lourdes, listening to the great Dominican preacher, Rev. Father Janvier. The following lines are taken from his sermon: " For us," says Father Janvier, " the miracles, which take place at Lourdes, have an important bearing. They confirm and facilitate our faith in the Real Presence of Jesus Christ in the Eucharist. . . . The miracles which have taken place before the tabernacle, after a Holy Communion, during the passing by and at the Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament, confirm our faith in the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist. This faith, in fact, is for the sick, the inspiration of their supplications. They believe that Jesus Christ is truly, really, and substantially present in the Host; that He is hidden therein with His Body and with His Blood, with His Mind and His Heart, with His Humanity and with His Divinity. This is the reason why they go to Him as if they touched Him with their hands; as if they heard Him with their ears; as if they actually beheld Him in His physical body. From Him they expect consolation, their cure, health, and life, and their expectation is based on the words pronounced by the Prophet of Nazareth over the first consecrated bread and wine: 'This is My body! This is My blood'; in a word, it is based on His positive Presence in the ciborium, in the chalice, in the monstrance. And God, by choosing His intervention, for performing a miracle, the very moment when he receives Holy Communion, the very moment when the Blessed Sacrament passes near him and blesses him, God Himself, I say, by these very facts, adheres by a sensible sign, to the words of Jesus (instituting the Eucharist); He adheres indirectly, it is true, but, at the same time, He implicitly and truly approves them and holds Himself responsible for the teaching of the Church proclaiming the Real Presence of Jesus Christ, true God and true man, in our tabernacles. Is God mistaken in this? No, my brethren, for He possesses in a transcending degree the science of facts, of things and their essences. No, my brethren, for He is infallible, not only in His thoughts, but He is infallible also when He speaks; He could not betray the truth without ceasing to be God. There fore the miracles of Lourdes bring fresh security to our faith. By their means God guarantees that our faith in the Majesty of the Altar has a solid basis, that the Savior really dwells in the Sacred Host, and that we can safely offer to the Host the adorations, the prayers which the Israelite's addressed to Jesus, the Son of the heavenly Father."

Saturday, 3 February 2018

The Promise Of Our Divine Saviour to give to men His very Flesh to eat and His very Blood to drink. part 18.


The history of the Church most clearly proves that no novel doctrine opposed to, or different from, that of Jesus could be broached either in the early ages of the Church or in later times without causing great opposition and horror among the faithful and without being at once condemned. Faith was held dearer than anything else, and worthy of the sacrifice of all goods and life itself for its preservation, as is attested by millions of martyrs who died in its defence. The horror of heresy, of false and novel doctrines, can be seen from numberless examples, a few of which are given here. "If any man come to you and bring this (novel) doctrine, receive him not into the house, nor say to him, God speed you" (2 John 10). It is St. John, the apostle of charity, who says this; and what he said he also practised; for when he was told that the heretic Cerinthus had entered the house he was in, St. John at once left it, for he did not wish to remain under the same roof as a heretic. The heretic Arius was explaining his heresy in an assembly; but the hearers showed their horror by closing their ears and would not listen to the blasphemies. One day the heretic Nestorius, bishop of Constantinople, whilst preaching to his own diocesans, said that Mary was not the Mother of God, but only the mother of the man called " Christ," the people were so horrified that they all at once left the church. On another occasion a member of his clergy, by his order, was preaching the same heretical doctrine, to the horror of the people, when a certain Eusebius, a prominent lay man, could no longer stand such heretical preaching, arose and proceeded to protest and to refute him, to the delight and applause of the people.

The charge that the Church of Jesus Christ fell into errors and corrupted His doctrine, is an insult to our Lord Jesus Christ Himself, for He repeatedly asserted that His Church would never in the least swerve from the truth, and would always triumph over error. In the first place, the angel Gabriel, the messenger of God to the virgin Mary, expressly declared to her that the kingdom of the Son, who was to be born of her, would have no end: "And of His kingdom there shall be no end" (Luke 1:33). The kingdom of Jesus Christ is His Church, and had His Church fallen into error, it would no longer be His kingdom and the divine prophecy of its lasting forever would have failed of fulfilment; but what God Himself foretells must be fulfilled, for He is Truth itself, and not a liar or a deceiver, as such a charge would make Him!

In the next place Jesus Christ said to Peter: "Thou art Peter (that is, the rock), and on this rock I will build My Church and the gates of hell shall not prevail against her" (Mat. 16:18). History shows how "the gates of hell,'* that is, errors and earthly power, have fought against her, to subdue her, to enslave her, to crush her, but all in vain. Hence St. Jerome says: " As long as the world shall last, the strength of the Church shall be tested and shall abide the test. This shall be so, because the Lord God almighty, who is the Lord God of the Church, has promised that so it shall be, and His promise is an unchanging law." Had the Church ever fallen into error or into idolatrous practises, as Protestants charge, our divine Savior would have proved a false prophet! To say this is clearly a blasphemy! Moreover, did not our divine Savior also promise to be with His Church until the end of the world, saying: "Behold, I am with you all days until the consummation of ages "? (Mat. 28: 20). Did He not also make this promise to His Church (apostles) on the eve of His death, saying: " I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Paraclete, that He may abide with you forever, The Spirit of truth. . . . The Paraclete the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in My name; He will teach you all things and bring all things to your minds, whatsoever I shall have said to you" (John 14:16, 17, 26). Had the Church of Christ, the Catholic Church, which is the only Church He founded, ever fallen into error and idolatrous practises, or taught any thing different from the doctrine of Christ, He would not have kept all these promises. To assert this is nothing short of blasphemy. Christ made and destined His Church to be " the pillar and ground of truth" (i Tim. 3: 15), and surely kept His promise.

Moreover, let us remember that God does not change, cannot change, for He is infinitely perfect; only that changes and can change, which is imperfect and is liable to grow better, to improve, or to grow worse, to deteriorate. God does not change and " the gifts and the calling of God are without repentance " (that is, unchangeable) (Rom.11: 29). Therefore, the Catholic Church, once founded and established by Jesus Christ as His Church, as assisted by Him, as taught and directed by the Holy Ghost, the Spirit of truth, is always to remain so, and is therefore and shall ever be the true and infallible Church of Christ, and her teaching and doctrines shall ever be the teaching and doctrines of Jesus Christ, in which there neither is nor can be any error. To assert the contrary is to charge God with error! No other church can have the least claim to being the Church of Jesus Christ. Listen to the words of St. Paul: " But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach a gospel to you besides that which we have preached to you, let him be anathema. As we said before, so now I say again: If any one preach to you a gospel, besides that which you have received, let him be anathema. . . . For I give you to understand, brethren, that the Gospel which was preached by me is not according to man. For neither did I receive it of man, nor did I learn it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ" (Gal. i: 8, 9, 11, 12). Here St. Paul anathematises all those who preach a gospel different from that which he had preached to them and which Jesus Christ Himself had specially revealed to him. And his anathema would extend to himself and even to an angel, were he or the angel to preach a gospel differing from that which he had preached to them. This is a terrible condemnation of those pretended
reformers of the sixteenth and other centuries who dared to preach a gospel, that is, doctrines differing from that preached by St. Paul and the other apostles on the Real Presence and other doctrines which the Catholic Church received from Jesus Christ Himself!

Wednesday, 17 January 2018

The Promise Of Our Divine Saviour to give to men His very Flesh to eat and His very Blood to drink. part 17.


With the exception of a small number of obscure heretics, no one had denied the Catholic doctrines of the Real Presence until the appearance of Luther and other heretics in the sixteenth century. Not only the whole Catholic Church, but also all the ancient sects which, centuries previous to the pretended Reformation, had been cut off from the Church of Christ, such as the Greeks, the Nestorians, the Copts and the Armenians, had always believed and still believe in the Real Presence. But in the sixteenth century a novel and upstart religion, headed by the apostate monk Luther, with out either divine authority, mission, or sanction, came forward repudiating the ancient and universal belief in the Real Presence and other genuine Christian truths, charging them with being anti-Christian and idolatrous, striving in a hundred different and contradictory ways to explain and interpret the express and most plain words of Jesus Christ, constantly wrangling among themselves and splitting into numberless sects. On the other hand, the Catholic Church (and even all the aforesaid ancient sects likewise) has continued to believe and cling faithfully to the original doctrine of the Real Presence as preached to her by the apostles of Jesus Christ, maintaining that she has always been in lawful possession of this sacred doctrine taught by the apostles, who heard it from the very lips of the Savior.

That the Catholic Church received her doctrine of the Real Presence from Jesus Christ and His apostles, can be proved by arguments other than texts of Scripture and quotations from the writings of the Holy Fathers and Doctors of the Church. One of these arguments is called the argument of "Prescription." This form of proof is used both in law and in theology. In law it is equivalent to the old adage: "Possession is nine points of the law." For instance, a man who has long been in undisputed possession of some property or privilege, is deemed its lawful possessor, and can not be dispossessed, unless legally conclusive proof is given, that he never had a lawful right to the same. The burden of  impugning his right thereto; that is, he who is in possession needs not directly to prove his right.

Now let us see how in theology " Prescription " is an unanswerable and conclusive proof. That the Catholic Church alone has existed from the time of Jesus Christ and His apostles and was founded by them is admitted by all who are acquainted with history. Hence it was the Catholic Church which Jesus Christ commissioned to teach all nations, and of which all nations were bound to believe and to become members under the pain of eternal condemnation : " Go ye into the whole world and preach the Gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized, shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be condemned" (Mark 16:15, 16). It is, therefore, clear that the Catholic Church was founded by Christ, and that all men were obliged to believe her teaching under the pain of forfeiting their salvation. Even Protestants admit that the Catholic Church was the Church of Christ, the true Church, during the first three centuries; " but," say they, " after the first three centuries, the Catholic Church began to corrupt the doctrines of Christ and His apostles, adding a number of doctrines and practices both false and idolatrous, which Jesus and His apostles had not taught, such as Confession, the Real Presence, prayers to the Virgin and to the saints." Here we have only to refute them by using the argument of " Prescription," saying to them: " You say that the doctrine of the Real Presence was never taught by Jesus Christ and His apostles. If so, it must have been introduced into the Church at a later date; please tell us, then, when, where and by whom such a wonderful doctrine was introduced, for it must have drawn the attention of the Christians of the time; we know the place, time, and authors of the various novel doctrines, differing from and opposed to the doctrines transmitted to His Church by Jesus Christ and His apostles; we can give the time, place, and authors of the heresies broached in all ages. If the Real Presence is not a doctrine of Christ and His apostles, as you assert so boldly, you must be able to give us the particulars of its first appearance in the Church. But this you cannot do, for there is no record of a later introduction into the Creed of the Catholic Church, as there is for the first appearance of Arianism, Nestorianism, Eutychianism, Donatism, Pelagianism and Protestantism with its various sects. Hence the conclusion is clear that the doctrine of the Real Presence was contained in the doctrines, which Christ and His apostles commissioned the Church to teach to mankind, and to be believed by all men under pain of eternal condemnation''

Thursday, 11 January 2018

The Promise Of Our Divine Saviour to give to men His very Flesh to eat and His very Blood to drink. part 16.



This great saint and Doctor of the Church received the surname of Chrysostom, a Greek word which signifies " golden mouth," on account of his wonderful eloquence. He attained celebrity as the greatest orator of his day when a simple priest at Antioch, where for twelve years he preached regularly homilies, or sermons, explaining the Holy Scriptures and doctrines of the Church, to immense crowds that flocked to hear him. His piety and learning and zeal were equal to his eloquence. It was for this reason that he was raised to the dignity of bishop of the very important See of Constantinople. As bishop he continued to preach, as before, with apostolic freedom and courage, without human respect, against error and vice. This drew upon him the envy and hatred of the great and powerful and of the Empress Eudoxia, a very vain and worldly-minded and unscrupulous woman, who prevailed upon a faction of courtier-bishops to condemn him under frivolous pretexts. In consequence of this the imperial government banished him to a wild and unhealthy region. St. John Chrysostom appealed to the Pope against his unlawful condemnation by the aforesaid bishops; the Pope took up his case and after due examination annulled the action of those unworthy bishops. But in the meantime St. John Chrysostom succumbed in exile to ill-treatment and sickness after much suffering borne with saintly patience, in 407. His appeal to the Pope against the injustice of his enemies is an unquestionable proof, that in the early ages of the Church, the Papal Supremacy in the Church was universally acknowledged, as well as in our own times.

Let us now see what St. John Chrysostom teaches about the Real Presence. In the sixtieth Homily to the people of Antioch he speaks as follows: " Since Jesus Christ, the Divine Word, says: ' This is My body' let us believe His words and give our assent to them; let us behold His body with the eyes of our mind, for Christ does not show Him self to us in a sensible way, but under sensible things He gives us all that is intelligible (in other words, that we can perceive with our mind only).

He has acted in like manner in baptism, for therein He bestows a gift through a sensible thing, that is, water; by means of the water there is effected some thing intelligible, the spiritual regeneration and renovation. For, if thou wert incorporeal (that is, hadst not a body), He would have given thee purely incorporeal gifts; but, since in thee thy soul dwells in thy body, He gives thee intelligible things in a sensible (or material) envelope. How many among you now say: Oh, if I could only behold His form, His features, His clothing, His shoes!' Behold now thou seest Him, thou touchest Him, thou eatest Him! And thou desirest indeed to see His garments; and He grants thee not only to see Him, but also to eat Him, to touch Him, to receive Him within thee."

In the above quoted passage St. John Chrysostom, after telling us to believe the words of Christ saying that the Blessed Eucharist is really His body, re minds us that God bestows His spiritual gifts, which are invisible and do not fall under our senses, on us men under a visible or material envelope, and there by adapts Himself to our nature, for our soul which is immaterial and does not fall under the senses, dwells in our material body and is acted upon through our body. In these words of St. John Chrysostom is contained the doctrine of the Church on the Sacraments. They are visible signs instituted by Christ to impart invisible grace to the soul by their application to the body, in order to sanctify the soul.

"Therefore," continues the holy Doctor, " let no one approach (the Holy Eucharist) with disgust or with indifference, but let all do so inflamed with love, fervour and eagerness. For, if the Jews ate the paschal lamb in haste, already shod and holding staves in their hands, how much more does it behoove thee to be diligent. They, indeed, were about to depart for Palestine, and were, therefore, attired as travellers; but thou must journey to heaven. Wherefore, thou shouldst in all things be watchful, for not a small punishment is inflicted on those who receive unworthily. Consider how indignant thou art against the traitor Judas and those who crucified Jesus. Beware, therefore, lest thou be guilty of the body and blood of Christ. They killed His most holy body, but thou receivest Him in a sinful soul after He has loaded thee with so many benefits. For He did not consider it enough for Him to be come man, to be scourged and crucified, but He deigns to unite Himself intimately to us, and to make us His body, not only in faith, but in reality.

How pure, then, should not he be who partakes of so great a sacrifice? And should not the hand which touches His flesh (as was the custom in receiving Communion in the early Church), be more pure and splendid than the sun's rays? And the mouth which is filled with the spiritual fire (of Christ's love) and the tongue which is moistened with that most precious blood ? Reflect on the great honor conferred on thee, on the magnificent feast thou enjoyest. What the angels behold with awe, and venture not to gaze upon on account of its dazzling brilliancy, is what we feed upon, what we are united to; thus do we become one body, one flesh with Christ. Who will narrate the powers of God and proclaim all His praises? What shepherd feeds his sheep with his own blood ? And what do I say, a shepherd? Many mothers, after the pains of childbirth, entrust their children to others to be nursed. But Christ did not suffer this, for He feeds us with His own blood and most intimately unites us to Himself."

He who reads the foregoing passage of St. John Chrysostom would imagine he is reading the in comparable book of Visits of St. Alphonsus, instead of the writings of one who lived fourteen hundred years earlier. What a powerful argument of the unity of faith in the Catholic Church throughout all ages, especially in the doctrine of the Real Presence! This will be still more evident in reading the remainder of the saints homily: "Through the mysteries (the Blessed Eucharist), Christ mingles Himself," continues St. John Chrysostom, " with each one of the faithful, and does not entrust to others, but Himself feeds those He has begotten (spiritually) ; by this He again convinces thee that He has assumed thy flesh (that is, become man). Let us not grow indifferent towards Him, since He has considered us worthy of so great a love and so exalted an honour. Do you not see how eagerly infants take and apply their lips to the breasts of their nurses? Let us also approach this holy table with a like eagerness and take hold of the breasts of our spiritual beverage; let us, even with greater avidity than suckling infants, suck in the spiritual graces, and let our only sorrow be to be deprived of this (divine) food. It is not the works of human virtue that are here placed before us; He who performed them at the Last Supper, now also performs them. We hold the place of His ministers (or servants) ; and it is He Himself who blesses and changes these (the bread and wine). Therefore, let no Judas be here present, nor any miser; for this table does not receive such guests. Let him who is truly a disciple be present, for Christ said: I celebrate the pasch with My disciples'. This is the same table; it contains nothing less. It is Christ who set up the feast at the Last Supper, and not (a mere) man who has set up this one; no; it is the same Christ who has set up this one also. Let no one who is devoid of humanity, who is cruel and unmerciful, who is impure, venture to approach this feast. This I say to those who receive Holy Communion and also to those who minister at the altar. For I must address you also, that you may most diligently distribute these gifts. For no small punishment awaits you, if you allow any one you know to be guilty of a grievous fault (that is, a known public sinner), to be a partaker of this feast, for Christ's blood will then be demanded at your hands. Whether he who unworthily approaches be a general, or a magistrate, or even a crowned prince, you must re fuse him (Holy Communion), for your power is greater than his. It is for this reason that God has bestowed so great an honour on you, that you may discern these holy things! This is your dignity, this is your own security, this is all your crown, and not that you may go about in a white and resplendent vestment. And thou, O layman, when thou seest the priest offering (the holy Sacrifice), do not imagine that it is the priest who does this, but that thou seest Christ invisibly extending His hand. Let us, then, both priests and laymen, hear of what food we have been made worthy; let us hear it and be dumbfounded. Jesus gave us His own flesh as our food, and set Himself immolated before us. What excuse shall we bring, after being so generously nourished with such meats, if we sin, if, like wolves, we devour the meek Lamb, or after having, like peaceful sheep, been fed, we become devouring lions? This mystery requires us to be entirely free not only from robbery, but even from the slightest uncharitable feeling, for it is a mystery of peace. God bound the Jews to Himself by instituting solemn feasts in memory and as monuments of His benefits towards them; He has bound Himself to thee every day by these mysteries (the Sacrifice of the Mass). Let no Judas, no Simon (Magus) approach this table; both of them perished through avarice; let us flee this abyss of perdition." In the above passage, St. Chrysostom, after exhorting his hearers to imitate the eagerness and avidity of suckling infants, whenever they go to Holy Communion, tells them that the priests are the representatives of Jesus Christ, and only personating Jesus Christ when they say Mass and give Holy Communion to the faithful. He then insists on the necessity of being in the state of grace in order to receive worthily the body and blood of Christ.

In his sixty-first homily to the people of Antioch, the holy Doctor speaks as follows: " It behooves us, most beloved brethren, to learn the miracle of the mysteries, its character, why it was given, and its advantages. By it we are made one body, members, Jesus says, of His flesh and of His bones. Let us, who are initiated (that is, already members of the Church by baptism), follow what is said, that we may become one body, not so much through charity, but in very deed; let us mingle together in that flesh (that is, the flesh of Jesus Christ received in Holy Communion). This is done through the food which He gave us, for He wished to show His desire (good will) towards us. Wherefore He mingled Himself with us and intimately penetrated us with His body, that we might become one body, as it were, attached to Him, our Head; for such is the tendency of ardent lovers."

What does St. Chrysostom mean by the foregoing words? He recalls, and, in some manner, ex plains the saying of St. Paul that we, Christians, are one body with Jesus Christ, He being the Head and we the members of that mystical body. He calls our attention to this, that we all should be, indeed, one body, not merely by observing the commandment of the love of our neighbour, but especially through Holy Communion, in which we receive the flesh of Jesus Christ, are incorporated in His body and become, as it were, one body with Him and with one another; and being by Holy Communion one with Jesus Christ, we should be one with one another, for it is in Him, in the reception of His body, that we are incorporated together in Him. Hence the reception of the body of Jesus Christ is very properly called Communion, for by it Jesus Christ becomes for all the faithful the " common bond of union'' as the head is the common bond of union for all the members of the body.

Let us now consider the conclusions the saint draws from what he has just said: " When we leave the holy table (of Communion), we should be like lions breathing forth fire, terrible to the devil, meditating on our Head (Jesus Christ) and on the love He manifests to us. Mothers often give their infants to be nursed by others; but I, He says to us, do not act thus; I feed you with My own flesh; I give Myself to you as your nourishment, wishing you all to be generous, and to give you good hopes for the next life, for since I give Myself to you here below, I will do it still more perfectly in the future life. I wished to become your brother, and for your sakes I assumed human flesh and blood; and now again I deliver to you the very flesh and blood, by which I became your relative.''

Nothing can be more positive and explicit than these words of the holy Doctor, to show that Jesus Christ in Holy Communion bestows on us His real flesh and His real blood, in order to unite us with Him in this life and still more perfectly in the next. This is another conclusive proof that, according to Christ's very words, he who, in Holy Communion, eats the flesh of the Son of man and drinks His blood, shall have life everlasting.

Let us now see how St. Chrysostom concludes this important subject: "Let us attend to our selves, most beloved brethren, when we enjoy these wonderful benefits; and when we are tempted to speak unbecomingly, to get irritated or to do any thing sinful, let us call to mind the wonderful things of which we have partaken. Such a thought will serve to correct (and restrain) our evil inclinations. Let us all who have the happiness of being made partakers of this body and of tasting this
blood, earnestly reflect that we are tasting Him who is seated above, whom the angels adore, whose might never fails. Oh, how many ways (helps) have we to salvation! Jesus Christ has made us (members of) His body; He has communicated to us His own body."

By these words St. John Chrysostom shows us how to draw fruit from the reception of the body and blood of our Lord in Holy Communion. The very thought, when the temptation comes, that we have received in Holy Communion the very body and blood of our divine Savior, should so strengthen us as to enable us to overcome the temptation and keep in check all our evil propensities and desires, for one of the reasons for which Jesus feeds us with His body and blood is to impart to us all the graces necessary to our salvation. Hence he who receives Holy Communion as often as the Church desires, should be able not only to avoid deadly sins, but also to become holy by faithfully practising the virtues of a true Christian, of a faithful follower of Christ. In Holy Communion we become, as it were, one with Christ, and should, then, so live, as if Jesus Christ acted through us, so that we may henceforth be able to say with St. Paul: " I live, now not I, but Christ liveth in me" (Gal. 2: 20).

Friday, 5 January 2018

The Promise Of Our Divine Saviour to give to men His very Flesh to eat and His very Blood to drink. part 15.


II. Let us now consider the testimony of St. Cyril, bishop of Jerusalem and Doctor of the
Church, on the Real Presence. Cyril was born in the year 310. After his ordination to the priest hood he was entrusted with the office of instructing converts and explaining the doctrines of our holy faith to the people. In the performance of this noble and holy task he wrote his admirable catechetical instructions, in which he clearly explains and victoriously defends the mysteries of the Christian religion against all the infidels and heretics of his time. Although he lived nearly sixteen hundred years ago, when we read his works, we would feel inclined to imagine that we are reading the works of St. Alphonsus, or of some eminent theologian of our own epoch. Shortly after he was made bishop of Jerusalem, a wonderful event took place, which lasted a whole day. A luminous cross, brighter than the sun, appeared in the heavens in the day-time from one end of Jerusalem to the other, and was seen by both Christians and pagans. The Arians had raised a furious persecution against the Church, and with the help of the Arian emperor succeeded in causing the banishment of the most holy and prominent Catholic bishops from their sees; among these was St. Cyril. He suffered much in his banishment. After the death of Constantius, Cyril returned to Jerusalem. Soon after the new emperor, Julian the Apostate, who out of hatred to the religion of Christ, which he intended to destroy, undertook to disprove the prophecy of Jesus Christ, in which He foretold the destruction of the temple of Jerusalem, saying: "They shall not leave in thee a stone upon a stone " (Luke 19: 44). Julian therefore invited the Jews all over the world to go to Jerusalem to rebuild the temple. The Jews hastened eagerly to comply with Julian's invitation. They joyfully set to work clearing the ground with silver and golden pickaxes and other tools; even the rich Jewish ladies carried away the earth in their silk aprons, and all the Jews contributed either labour or money to carry out the emperor's intentions. At last the labourers reached the lowest stones of the foundation, which had never yet been removed, and which they now re moved, fulfilling thereby Christ's prophecy to the very letter, that " not a stone would remain on a stone." When all the remains of the old foundation had been taken away, the Jews aided by the emperor's skilled workmen began to lay the proposed new foundations, but were soon unable to make any headway, for earthquakes overthrew their work, globes of fire darted forth from the ground, scattered the workmen and consumed all that was combustible on the grounds. These wonderful occurrences were repeated every time the Jews at tempted to resume the work, so that they had at last to give it up in despair, to their great distress, and to the confusion of Julian the Apostate and the other enemies of the Christian religion. St. Cyril continued to defend the Christian religion against all its enemies until his death in the year 381. Let us now consider his admirable testimony in favour of the Real Presence.

"The very doctrine of St. Paul,'' he declares, " abundantly suffices to make us believe the divine mysteries, which render us worthy to become, so to speak, relatives of Jesus Christ both in body and blood. For this apostle clearly proclaims that our Lord Jesus Christ on the night, in which He was betrayed, took bread and, giving thanks, gave to His disciples saying: Take ye and eat, this is My body. And taking the chalice and giving thanks, He said: Take ye and drink, this is My blood. Now, since He Himself declared and said: This is My body, who will henceforth dare to deny it? And since He Himself so positively said: This is My blood, who will ever doubt it and say that it is not His blood? Jesus had previously at Cana of Galilee changed water into wine, which has some relationship (or similarity) to blood; and shall we esteem Him unworthy of being believed when He changed wine into blood? Having been invited to those nuptials where bodies are united, He per formed the aforesaid miracle which no one expected; and shall not we be most firmly convinced, that He gave us His body and blood for our nourishment, and perfectly certain that we are receiving His very body and blood? For He gives us His very body in the species of bread, and His very blood in the species of wine, so that when thou tastest the body and blood of Christ, thou becomest a partaker of His very body and blood. Thus we become ' Christiferi,' that is, we are bearers of Christ in our bodies, when we receive His body and blood into our members; hence, according to St. Peter, ' we are made partakers of the divine nature ' (2 Peter 1:4). Formerly Christ, disputing with the Jews, said: Unless you eat My flesh and drink My blood, you shall not have life in you. But the Jews, not taking these things in a spiritual sense, were shocked and forsook Him, for they imagined He invited them to feast on His flesh as if it were (the) flesh (of animals). In the Old Testament there were the loaves of proposition; but these have been abolished together with it.

In the New Testament the bread is heavenly, and the chalice is salutary, for they sanctify our body and soul. Therefore I do not wish thee to consider them as merely simple bread and merely simple wine, because they are the body and blood of Christ. For although thy senses tell thee that they are mere bread and wine, nevertheless let faith confirm thee (in the belief that they are really the body and blood of Christ). Do not judge of the thing by its taste; but let faith make thee certain beyond even the shadow of a doubt, that thou art made worthy to become a partaker of the body and blood of Christ."
These clear, beautiful and strong words of St. Cyril, the great catechist of the fourth century, are an unanswerable proof that the faith of the Church of his time in the Real Presence is identical with that of the Church of the twentieth century.

Friday, 15 December 2017

The Promise Of Our Divine Saviour to give to men His very Flesh to eat and His very Blood to drink. part 14.


I. St. Hilary was born in the beginning -of the fourth century and owing to his great merits was made bishop of Poitiers. He was one of the most prominent bishops of his time in Gaul on account of his holiness, learning and zeal for the defense of the Catholic faith against Arianism, a heresy which denied the divinity of Jesus Christ. On ac count of his masterly defense of the divinity of our Savior, the Arian emperor Constantius banished him to Asia and left nothing undone to induce him to embrace Arianism. But St. Hilary so well championed the cause of the true faith, that the Arians, seeing themselves overcome by Hilary in their councils, and fearing his continued success in bringing so many Arians back to the Church, prevailed on the emperor to send him back to Gaul. His return was hailed with demonstrations of joy all over Gaul, and he soon turned his attention to restoring religious peace in that country by refuting and converting the Arians. He died in 368. His able writings and his defense of the faith won for him the title of Doctor of the Church. He is a powerful witness of the faith of the Church in the Real Presence, as we shall see by two passages of his writings. The first passage, though short, is very conclusive.

1. "The word was truly made flesh, and we truly receive the Word made flesh in the Lord's food " (that is, in Holy Communion).

These words clearly denote that St. Hilary holds the Real Presence to be just as true as the Incarnation of the Son of God. Of course, those who do not believe in the mystery of the Incarnation, that is, that Jesus Christ is truly and really the Son of God made man, will not admit the Real Presence, such persons can have no genuine claim to be or to be called Christians. We will now proceed to the second extract from the writings of St. Hilary.

2. "We should not speak of things divine in a merely human or worldly manner. Let us read the things that are written and endeavour to grasp their real meaning, and then we shall discharge the office of a perfect faith. In speaking of the natural truth of Christ in us, we speak foolishly or without reverence, unless we learn the truth from Him (that is, unless we understand His words in the sense He Himself attached to them). For He said: 'My flesh is meat indeed, and My blood is drink indeed; he that eateth My flesh and drinketh My blood, dwelleth in Me and I in him.' There is no room left to doubt of the reality of His flesh and blood (in the Eucharist). For now by the Lord's own declaration and by our own faith, it (the Eucharist) is His true flesh and His true blood, and the receiving of these has the effect that we are in Christ and Christ is in us, and is not this really true? Those, indeed, who deny the divinity of Jesus Christ, do not hold this as true. Therefore, He Himself is in us through His flesh, and we are in Him, whilst that which we are with Him is in God. That we are really in Him through the communion of His flesh and blood, He Himself testifies in these words: And this world does not see Me, but you shall see Me, because I live and you shall live, since I am in My Father, and you are in Me and I in you. That this natural union exists in us, He Himself thus testified: He that eateth My flesh and drinketh My blood dwelleth in Me and I in him. No one can be in Jesus, unless Jesus be in him; Jesus will take up the flesh of him
only who shall have received His. He had already previously taught the sacrament (or mystery) of this union in these words: As the living Father hath sent Me, and I live by the Father; and he that eateth My flesh, the same shall live by Me. Jesus, therefore, lives by the Father, and in the same manner in which He lives by the Father, in like manner also do we live by His flesh."

The words of St. Hilary are very remarkable. In the first place, he calls our attention to the fact that, in order to understand the meaning of the words of our divine Savior, we must not consider our own views, or notions, or theories, but we must seek to understand them in the sense which Jesus Christ attached to them. He that insists on under standing them in his own way without regard to Christ's real meaning, is both foolish and impious. This is conclusive against those who pretend to interpret Holy Scripture in accordance with their private judgment. What we should especially consider in the words of St. Hilary is the assertion that we cannot live by Christ, as Christ declares we should, in order to be saved (John 6: 58), unless we receive this life by partaking of His real flesh and blood. St. Hilary, moreover, shows that our divine Savior compares the union between those who receive His true flesh and blood, to the union existing between Jesus and His heavenly Father. How beautiful, how grand must such a union be! Without the Real Presence such an intimate union could not be effected by Holy Communion. In the next place, St. Hilary calls our attention to the fact that only those deny the Real Presence, who deny the Divinity of Jesus Christ. This is perfectly true, although some who deny the Real Presence, declare that they believe in Christ's Divinity; but notwithstanding their claim, they have a false conception of the mystery of the Incarnation, and consequently do not believe it in its full meaning. By the Incarnation the Son of God united Himself to our human nature; by Holy Communion He unites Himself to each individual recipient, and makes him an individual partaker of the benefits, which the Incarnation and Redemption bestowed on human nature, and gives a pledge to each individual recipent of a glorious resurrection and of eternal life in heaven, as He Himself declares: " He that eateth My flesh and drinketh My blood, hath ever lasting life, and I will raise him up on the last day " (John 6:55).