Friday, 30 September 2016
Thursday, 29 September 2016
Wednesday, 28 September 2016
Tuesday, 27 September 2016
Monday, 26 September 2016
So it seems that the Eucharist is placed against labour in order that It may serve as a balance to it. Do not try to escape labour, but, to enable you to bear it, have recourse to the Eucharist.
Not labour without the Eucharist; not the Eucharist without labour. This is the counsel which I venture to give you.
Not labour without the Eucharist. Our flesh is not made of bronze, nor our limbs of brass. The Eucharist will lighten your labours. Alas! each day has its evil to bear; its works to undertake; its obstacles to overcome. Make use of the Eucharist; very soon you will perceive that the communion of yesterday, or that of the morrow, will make your labour easier.
Easier, but especially more fruitful. When the apostles cast their nets into the sea far from the presence of the Saviour, they laboured all night and took nothing; but Jesus Christ appeared on the shore, He spake one word and the nets were filled. So with us, O Christian soul. If we wander from Jesus Christ, we labour in the dark and on an ever-stormy sea: we shall do nothing. But Jesus Christ comes to us: He is in the tabernacle as on the shore of time and eternity; let Him say one word and we shall work wonders.
Not labour without the Eucharist, O Christian soul, but neither the Eucharist without labour. How many Christian souls imagine that when they have communicated in the morning, their day, however idle it may be, will be pleasing to God. What a mistake! The idleness of the day will soon have faded and withered those holy flowers of the morning. The first thing which the Eucharist teaches you is that devotion to It should never cause you to neglect any duty. The Eucharist is the Bread of the strong; It cannot be the nourishment of idlers. It is the Manna of the desert, and It must be gathered before sunrise, in order that the whole day may be consecrated to the accomplishment of our duties.
Not labour without the Eucharist, not the Eucharist without labour. Unite them rather in one thought and in one love.
The Spouse of the Canticles pressed to her heart the bundle of myrrh. Myrrh signifies labour, because it is the type of the labour and Passion of the Saviour; the bundle of myrrh recalls to our minds Jesus Christ, Whose Perfume wafts to us from the Divine Eucharist. Let us act as the Spouse of the Canticles; let us press to our heart the bundle of myrrh; let us unite the Eucharist and labour. Then we shall labour courageously ; then our yoke will be easy, and our burden light; then we shall easily accomplish all our duties; then we shall be really Christians ; for—I again repeat it—labour and the Eucharist form the whole Christian life.
Saturday, 24 September 2016
He tells us. "The labourer is worthy of his hire:" measure the dignity of thy work by the price of thy hire. It is I Who will be thy reward. Do not ask of the vanities of the world a reward, which would be vain. I am of more value than all the riches of the world, I Will be thy Reward.
Oh, how can we help being moved by this offer? How not respond to this divine appeal? How, with this crown before us, not accept the combat! Jacob laboured seven years and again seven years in order to possess Rachel. Every morning, if we will, the Eucharist offers us Its divine embrace, and can we remain idle?
The Eucharist is a reward; It is also repose. See how calm it is around the tabernacle, how peace dwells there, what an atmosphere of rest one breathes there. Well, then, this calm, this peace, this rest, the Eucharist communicates to every faithful soul. And, in truth, where is the pious soul which, after the fatigues of the day, does not love to come to the feet of the tabernacle and repeat there the words of the Psalmist, — "Here is my rest," It adds with the same prophet, — "My heart and my flesh have rejoiced in the living God. For the sparrow hath found herself an house, and the turtle a nest for herself, where she may lay her young ones. Thy altars, O Lord of hosts, my King and my God." Yes, my house—it is the tabernacle, a house enclosed and sheltered, where I am sure to find a refuge. Yes, my nest—it is the tabernacle, a soft nest where doves sleep, and where my soul sleeps in Thee. On this point, O Christian soul, I appeal to you. Recall to yourself such and such a circumstance when your strength seemed to fail. You came to seek at the feet of the holy altar the repose that you needed, and, according to the expression of the Psalmist, "After having tasted the sleep which God gives to His beloved," you arose more zealous for the hard cares of labour. The Eucharist is repose.
Friday, 23 September 2016
"The Mass is the most perfect form of prayer!" (Pope Paul VI). For each Mass we hear with devotion, Our Lord sends a saint to comfort us at death (revelation of Christ to St. Gertrude the great). Padre Pio, the stigmatic priest, said, the world could exist more easily without the sun than without the Mass. The Cure d'Ars, St. Jean Vianney said, if we knew the value of the Mass we would die of joy. A great doctor of the Church, St. Anselm, declares that a single Mass offered for oneself during life may be worth more than a thousand celebrated for the same intention after death. St. Leonard of Port Maurice supports this statement by saying that one Mass before death may be more profitable than many after it. "The Holy Mass would be of greater profit if people had it offered in their lifetime, rather than having it celebrated for the relief of their souls after death." (Pope Benedict XV). Once, St. Teresa was overwhelmed with God's Goodness and asked Our Lord, "How can I thank you?" Our Lord replied, "ATTEND ONE MASS." The Blessed Virgin Mary once told Her faithful servant Alan: "My Son so loves those who assist at the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass that, if it were necessary He would die for them as many times as they've heard Masses."
(Page 107, last paragraph of "Explication Du Saint Sacrifice De La Messe" parle R.P. Martin de Cochem Friere - Mineur Capucin.)
Thursday, 22 September 2016
I have wished to speak with you of these pious exercises, because they specially belong to the Holy Eucharist. But never forget that the Eucharist offers immense resources to prayer, and in every circumstance form a habit of Eucharistic prayer.
Every time that you pray, first place yourself in spirit at the feet of the tabernacle. The Christian, wherever he dwells, may always say with S. Paul: " The Lord is nigh."
He makes for himself an oratory which he brings near in thought to the Eucharistic Sanctuary. There he represents to himself Jesus Christ bending down to listen to us; he represents to himself Mary watching from Heaven her son Whom she never leaves; he represents to himself the Angels and Saints raising the veils of the God of the altar, to contemplate His Divine Beauty. Then he addresses the Eucharist as if It were visible to him!—Ah! how good is it to pray thus ! Wherever you are, Christian soul, even if far from the holy place, think of the tabernacle! The remembrance of it alone will suffice to vivify all your aspirations, and to redouble the fervour of your prayer.
God teaches every soul to pray in the manner most likely in him to bring forth fruit, and I am far from wishing to alter that one which you have chosen. I will, however, show you what mine is, and tell you how I love to pray in the presence of the Eucharist.
I begin by adoration, and with my eyes fixed on the holy altar. I there contemplate the Incarnate Word under the two figures which He Himself has chosen. I represent Him to myself in the tabernacle as my Guest and as my Prisoner. There He dwells with me, near me. There He imprisons Himself for me. Divine Guest, I receive Him into my house as formerly the two sisters of Lazarus received Him at Bethany. Both of them adored Him together, one in serving Him, the other in praying at His feet; and I endeavour to adore Him myself with the zeal of Martha and with the prayer of Mary. Then I consider that in making Himself my Guest, He has willed to he my Captive. Ah ! if He wills never to leave me, is it not that I may always adore Him ? Prisoner whom love enchains, I shut myself up with Thee, and I make my heart a captive to Thy law. Adoration brings me to love. And I ask myself when did God love me most, if it was not at the end of His earthly life when He instituted the Divine Eucharist.
There in truth, in His Sacrament He unites Himself closely to me ; there in His sacrifice He offers Himself up generously for me. Love in union : Love in sacrifice ! What is there to compare with this double love ? And I would that it were mine ! I will try then to love Thee, Lord, as Thou hast loved me, in uniting myself to Thee, and in sacrificing myself. I shall unite myself to Thee, if I endeavour to conform my life to Thine, and I shall offer myself in sacrifice with Thee and for Thee, if, rejoicing, like S. Paul, in the ills I have to suffer, I fill up in my own body what is wanting of Thy Holy Passion.
The immense love which God shows me excites my gratitude; but already I understand that the most ineffable of the gifts of His grace was the Eucharist. It surpasses all the gifts of God. It sums them up and applies them to me. Ah! what should I be without the Eucharist ? Without It my soul would be empty, my heart cold, my life sorrowful. All the joys of a Christian soul, all the ardour of piety, all the holy hopes of life, it is to It that I owe them.
But how can I thank the Lord for all the good that comes to me from the Eucharist ? I consider with delight that It is in Itself a divine act of thanksgiving. I offer to God this spotless Host,—this Host Which He prefers to the sacrifices of Abel, of Abraham, and of Melchisedech. And so great in His eyes is the value of this mysterious exchange, that I thus pay Him the whole debt of my gratitude.
I do not forget, however, that in return for the good which He bestows upon me, the Lord demands that I should consecrate myself entirely to Him. Ah! how very sweet it is to me to offer myself to the Holy Eucharist !
It is the supreme offering which alone is pleasing in the sight of God. The Lord has done away with the sacrifices of the ancient law, and He will no longer accept any but the pure Host, Which is offered and sacrificed in every place.
I unite myself, then, with this Divine Host, and I offer myself to It in order to offer myself with It. I hide myself under Its Veils in order to hide my worthlessness. I annihilate myself in It, in order that It may remain the sole Victim that God beholds and that He accepts. I have addressed to the God of the Eucharist my best hymns of praise: adoration, love, thanksgiving, self-devotion, have been the objects of my prayers. But when I pray, is not my ultimate aim to obtain all the grace that is needful for me ? Ah! in order that Heaven may open to my requests, I love to knock first at the door of the tabernacle ! S. Augustine says truly that we are God's beggars. Here are the words of one of these beggars: " I stand at the door and knock." * He who begs is humble, and he dares not cross the threshold; but the knowledge of his poverty hardens him, and he knocks with confidence. Before what door should we be more humble than before that of the tabernacle? and at what door should we knock with more confidence and fervour than at that of which the Lord has said, "Knock and it shall be opened to you" ?* Happy is the soul that knows how to get the treasure of the tabernacle opened to him !
It is to the Eucharist that I apply these words of the Wise Man : "All good things come together with her;" and these other words of S. Paul: " Having delivered Him up for us all, how hath He not also with Him given us all things ? If I succeed in coming to the Eucharist, I am able to obtain all the riches of Heaven.
Wednesday, 21 September 2016
I have reminded you of those beautiful words which Jesus Christ addressed to His Father when He instituted the Holy Supper: " I in them, and Thou in Me, that they may be made perfect in one."
These words, O Christian soul, do not permit us any longer to doubt that the communion is a divine prayer.
Jesus Christ is in His Father the Word, and as the divine expression of uncreated intelligence, and here He deigns to be in us the Word, the divine expression of our own feelings. Jesus Christ is in His Father, united to Him by the sacred bonds of an eternal love, and here He fills our hearts with the spirit of His love. So in all our communions, it is the Word which speaks in us, it is the Holy Spirit which loves in us.
Can one conceive a more lovely prayer than that produced in our souls by the Word, and the love of the Holy Spirit ?
And it is for this cause, O Christian soul, that after receiving the communion you should, first of all, listen to the Celestial voices which are singing within you, and warm your heart by the divine fire which consumes you.
But the signal privilege of every reasonable being is, that the divine work operating in him does not destroy his own work. While the Word and the Holy Spirit pray together within you, you also pray with Them! There ensues then between the Three Divine Persons and you intimate and touching relations which raise you above yourself, which inspire you with heavenly feelings. O Christian soul, it is to you that I appeal; have you ever prayed better than at the moment when the Heart of the Saviour leaned tenderly on your heart, at the moment when the Spirit of God animated your own spirit ?
I would willingly call Holy Mass and Holy Communion the morning prayer of the faithful soul; and I would that its evening prayer should be the visit to the most Blessed Sacrament.
When the labours of the day are nearly finished, when your tired spirit needs rest, you will hear from the tabernacle the invitation given to Martha and Mary: "The Master is there and calleth for thee."Direct then your steps to the church, kneel down at the Feet of Jesus Christ and pray. This Eucharistic evening prayer will have great charms for your piety.
It will be the evening! It will be the hour for recollection, for solitude, and for silence !
It will be the evening! the hour when the Spouse of the Canticles said to her Beloved : " My Beloved to me and I to Him till the day break, and the shadows retire."
The hour when the Disciples at Emmaus pressed their Divine Master to remain with them: "Stay with us, because it is towards evening, and the day is now far spent."
The hour, finally, when you will say yourself: "Here am I, O my God. When the night comes my soul desires Thee, and to Thee do I watch at break of day."
It will be the hour of recollection: the sounds of the world will have ceased! — It will be the hour of solitude. Around the tabernacle, only the angels and you !—It will be the hour of silence, but of a silence more eloquent than all the words of men. For it is then that the God of the tabernacle will confide to you His most divine lessons. And when you leave the church, having received them, and meditated upon them, you will add with the same disciples whom Jesus Christ visited at eventide : " Did not my heart burn within me when the Eucharist spoke to me?"
Tuesday, 20 September 2016
The Eucharistic sanctuary is the starting-point of the Saints. It is the ever-fertile field where grows the Corn of the Elect. It is the ever-flowing press whence comes the wine which brings forth virgins.
I have tried to make you understand the supreme influence which the Eucharist has over prayer. When our prayer has become penetrated by this Eucharistic influence, as by a divine element, it acquires immense value. I distinguish it from all other by calling it especially Eucharistic Prayer.
And, firstly, 0 Christian soul, there are three admirable Eucharistic prayers which I commend to your piety: Holy Mass, Holy Communion, and the visit to the Blessed ' Sacrament.
Holy Mass. I said before that the sacrifice of the altar was itself a sublime prayer. There the Saviour prays at the same time as Victim and as Priest. As Victim, His Blood which flows cries louder than that of the altar, and the perfume of His Prayer is more penetrating, more balmy, more sweet, than that which rises from the censer. As Priest, His Voice, which intercedes, has a more touching harmony, a more sonorous vibration, than the concerted voices of angels and men.
As Victim and Priest, the double note of His Canticle pierces the clouds, and ascends even to God.
So then, 0 Christian soul, when assisting at this sacred mystery, pray as if yourself were victim and priest. Alas, our feeble nature is always a living host, and God provides in each of us a victim for the sacrifice. Endeavour to turn all your sufferings into hymns of love and praise. Then, offering yourself, endeavour to participate in some way in the Priesthood of Jesus Christ. —When it is a question of sacrificing ourselves, God has consecrated us all priests.— Take into your hands the chalice of the altar: love to pour into it your tears and your blood! Ah ! I tell you in truth, your sacrifice united with the sacrifice of a God, will become an excellent prayer—the actual prayer of the Eucharist. But if, when assisting at Holy Mass, you pray, ah! how much better still when you receive Holy Communion.
Monday, 19 September 2016
My secret, O Christian soul, is contained in one word, "the Holy Eucharist." It is It which will make your prayer easier.
Your first care, when you pray, is it not to place yourself in the presence of God? As long as this Divine Presence shines upon your spirit, It keeps away all wandering thoughts; as long as It warms your heart, you fear less that your prayer will languish.
Ah ! how easy it is to keep oneself in the presence of God when one prays before the Eucharist! It has a powerful attraction for the soul, which draws it and attaches it. I said that the Angels and the Saints beholding the face of God were so enraptured by It that nothing could distract them. Being face to face with the Eucharist is what best reminds us here below of the Beatific Vision.
Our eyes, like those of Ezechias, weary themselves and fail if they would contemplate the heights of heaven,but they repose and revive when they behold the Sacred Host. Jesus Christ, in coming near to us, and condescending to present Himself on the altar to our worship, greatly helps us to be recollected.
From our heart to the altar the distance is really too short for our prayer to wander from the road. In the presence of the Eucharist prayer becomes easier; but especially does it become of incomparable power when united with It.
Contemplate Jesus Christ present in the tabernacle and on the altar. There it appears as if He were dead, and He lives; He appears silent and He speaks, " ever living," S. Paul tells us, "to make intercession for us."
His Eucharistic life is a prayer which never ceases. From the tabernacle where He dwells, He offers up to His Father, continues the same Apostle, prayers and supplications, which never fail to be heard through the respect due to Him.
On the altar where He offers Himself in sacrifice He also prays. " I have gone round," He tells us by the mouth of the Psalmist, " and have offered up in His tabernacle a sacrifice of jubilation." And, finally, when He comes to us in Holy Communion, listen to the sublime prayer which He addresses to His Father, " I in them and Thou in Me, that they may be made perfect in one."O prayer of the Eucharist, what infinite power dost thou give to mine Sweet and sublime belief. When I bend my knees before the tabernacle, I do not pray alone. A.God prays with me and He transforms my prayer. I no longer fear my unworthiness, I no longer dread my infirmity. The more unworthy I esteem myself, the more earnestly I call to my help the worthiness of the Eucharist ; the more miserable is my prayer, the more that of the Eucharist reassures me. What matters it that I am only man if God is with me? What matters it if my heart languishes, if I plunge it into the ardent fire which burns in the tabernacle? What matters it, finally, if my prayer stammers, as it is united with that Prayer which expresses Itself in Divine accents ? Is it necessary that I should add that our prayer, made more powerful through its union with the Eucharist, will also be more efficacious ?
The tabernacle is the throne of grace where S. Paul says that we should present ourselves to receive mercy and to gain there the help of which we stand in need. In truth the God of the Eucharist, who prays with us and for us, is at the same time the God who answers us. Sole Mediator between His Father and us, He combines in His own Person all celestial grace. But He only receives it in its fulness in order to transmit it to us in exceeding abundance. When the mountain has received rain from heaven it gives out from its sides the river which waters the plain. The tabernacle is this mountain, the rain of grace comes down to it, and from it flows the river which purifies our souls.
Also, sweet experience proves the efficacy of the prayers which the Eucharist inspires, and which are united with It. Since the day when the Saviour of the world concealed Himself in the tabernacle, who may count the lovely virtues, the pious wishes, the noble self-devotion, the beginning of which has been a prayer in the presence of the Eucharist ? Do you wish, O Christian soul, that I should take you with me up to the source of holiness ? No one is holy unless he fulfils the divine law; no one fulfils the law without the help of grace; no one receives grace without prayer; and no one prays better than at the feet of the tabernacle.
Saturday, 17 September 2016
O Christian soul, profit yourself, and for those around you, by the relations which God has established between the Eucharist and childhood.
The God of the Tabernacle calls children unto Him, and He opens to them the kingdom of heaven: therefore love to become as a child at the feet of the Eucharist!
"I have offered up in his tabernacle a sacrifice of jubilation."— Psa. xxvi. 6.
If you wish, O Christian soul, that piety should direct and animate all your actions, what should be your first care ? The Saviour Himself tells you in these words of His Gospel, " that we ought always to pray and not to faint." What, in fact, is prayer ? It is, the holy Doctors tell us, the elevation of our soul towards God. " Prayer," adds S. Augustine, " detaches us from terrestrial things, and raises us to heaven." But while our soul rises towards God and speaks .to Him, God descends towards us and answers us. "Prayer ascends'' continues the same Doctor, "and mercy descends."
So, between God and the soul, there is established by means of prayer a sweet and perpetual intercourse. The Christian's conversation is in Heaven, as says S. Paul, and, on the other side, according to the expression of a Prophet, God condescends of His goodness to converse with man on earth, Now, in this respect the Christian life seems completely intermingled with prayer, for it is nothing else than the continual intercourse between earth and Heaven, when prayer asks for grace and Grace gives itself to prayer. It is the thought of S. Bonaventura, —" He who prays well, lives well."
Understand then, O Christian soul, that, if it is your first duty to pray, it is your dearest interest to pray well.
Divine science of prayer, thou art of more value than all human sciences: happy is he who acquires thee ! But how often have you not felt the difficulty of praying well? Precisely, because in prayer our soul should rise to God, every inclination towards earthly things retards and impedes its flight.
Our passions which debase us, our pleasures which distract us, our business which preoccupies us, our work which absorbs us; these are all so many earthly ties which hinder the elevation of our heart. Alas ! it is our nature itself which makes prayer difficult. The angels are happier; they behold the Divine Beauty, and this vision which entrances them rivets their mind and their heart. We, on the contrary, only rise towards God by the help of visible things, and on this long ladder of created objects every step delays us. Prayer is for us an effort. Hardly is our spirit raised on high than it falls to earth again, and only rests itself by vain thoughts, and by dwelling on all the vanities of this life.
Answer me, O Christian soul, is not one of your most bitter sorrows your inability to pray well? You have willingly renounced the deceitful pleasures of the world; but there is one supreme joy which you covet here below, it is that of a loving and fervent prayer. And when your heart is cold, when you come into the holy place, as to a desert land where there is no water, when you can nowhere find the God whom you seek everywhere, are you not troubled and in sorrow ? and your tears, are they not as your meat day and night ?
How should I bless the Lord if in suggesting to you my secret I should teach you to pray better.
Friday, 16 September 2016
Now it is the Eucharist which will give you at the same time the virtues of the child and those of the man. You will ask of It simplicity and purity. From It you will receive a piety, tender as that of the child, solid as that of the man. This is the first counsel which It will give you. "Be as a new-born babe to desire My Divine milk."* The child only begins to live when it receives the milk of its mother; the Christian only increases in strength when it receives the milk of the Eucharist. But like the child on its mother's breast, so should you be in the arms of God, Who deigns to unite Himself to you. Happy is the soul which at all ages, and every time it communicates, renews its first communion. Happy is the soul which, like David, renews its youth at the feet of the altar !
No doubt your duties of every day will exact of you a maturity of conduct and of judgment, a wisdom in counsel, a gravity of conduct, which are not characteristics of childhood. But if the Eucharist is the milk of the new-born child, It is also the bread of the strong; and this it is which will make you " grow and increase unto the measure of the age of the fulness of Jesus Christ.
It may be though, as I before remarked, 0 Christian soul, that Divine Providence may have elected you to exercise His most maternal office, that of forming the heart of the child, and of initiating him into the Christian life. Remember, then, that your first duty will be, according to the words of the Gospel, to suffer him to draw nigh to the Lord, that before even pronouncing your name the child may lisp the Name of Jesus; that his still trembling feet may already know the path to the Church, and that his hands may be folded in prayer as soon as they are stretched out to you.
But I have already said that the day of the first communion is especially the day when the Lord demands that little children shall be suffered to come to Him. Therefore it is this great day that you will have constantly in your mind. The early education of the' child, in my opinion, is, and can only be, an assiduous preparation for the great act of the first communion. Sweet teaching is that which takes for its rule that the first communion is to be made well. Such a virtue must be practised, because Jesus Christ expects it of the child who prepares to receive Him rightly. Such a fault must be corrected, because it would defile the sanctuary to which the Lord will come ere long. Thus you will calculate by the disposition and progress of the child the time when he should communicate. If the faults he commits oblige you to keep him longer away from the Holy Table, let him feel that this delay is a grief to you, and a severe punishment to him. But if he is pious, good, and docile, hasten the happy moment when this pure soul will approach his God. You can never too early obey the command of the Divine Master, " Suffer the little children to come to Me." But if the first communion has served as the foundation of the education of the child, forget not that this cannot be continued and finished, but by the communions which will follow. Cause your son to communicate devoutly during his youth, and you will have saved him.
Thursday, 15 September 2016
VI. But thanks be to the Eucharist! In allowing children to approach, It draws them to a Christian life and makes perseverance easier.
In truth the first communion extends over the whole life its supreme and beneficent influence; and, provided that pious and skilful hands know how to keep up in the soul of the child the sacred fire with which it then burns, this holy fire will never be extinguished in it. When God gives Himself for the first time to the child, He is prodigal of His gifts, but He does not exhaust them. Shall I tell you, O Christian soul, what makes me love the first communion ? It is because it is the first, and that other communions will follow it. Each one adds more light to the mind, more piety to the heart, more energy to the will. The child sees, it is true, a path long and difficult open out before his feet, but if the simple desire of making his first communion well, protected him in his early years, will not the communions which follow the first guard his youth ?
The author of the Book of Proverbs has said: "A young man according to his way, even when he is old he will not depart from it." The way of a young Christian is that into which the God of the Eucharist has led him on the day of his first communion. Happy way, where one runs because the Eucharist draws us on by the sweetness of Its perfumes! The young man will follow it all his life, and, arrived at the end, he will exclaim, "How could I have thought of leaving it? The Lord has led me, and I have lacked nothing." O how easy has seemed to me the path from the first communion to Heaven!
In reminding you, O Christian soul, that Jesus Christ loves the child, that He especially loves him on the day of his first communion, and that this latter is the most certain 'guarantee of a holy perseverance, I have recalled to you memories which are always precious to you. But you are no longer a child : why then should I nevertheless treat with you of the relations which God has established between the Eucharist and childhood? For two reasons, O Christian soul. Firstly, because at every age we should, according to the expression of the Saviour, become little children, if we would enter into the kingdom of God. Secondly, because that perhaps Providence may confide to you the duty of watching over the first years of childhood.
We must all become little children! Notice, O Christian soul, that if the child, after his first communion, retains the feelings which inspired him on that great day, if he perseveres to the end, it is because that, on becoming a man, he has united with the attributes of manhood some of the virtues of childhood. Between these and the Christian virtues—as I said before—there is a wonderful analogy.
But why ? Is it because the Christian religion, enfeebling the powers of man, hinders them from taking their flight and binds them in swaddling-clothes? No, on the contrary, it perfects them, it increases them, it raises them, and facilitates their full development. I wish to make you understand how the Christian can unite in the practice of virtue both the qualities of childhood and those of manhood.
The pious author of the Imitation says well that man raises himself from earth on two wings, simplicity and purity. Simplicity keeps us near to God, and purity makes us take delight in Him. Now both these virtues, are they not at the same time those of children and those of the Saints? The child is simple, and he is pure. Open the lives of the Saints. O how one is struck in reading them by those sayings of Holy Scripture; "God's communication is with the simple;" and, "He that loveth cleanness of heart, for the grace of his lips shall have the king for his friend."t However, the Saints have been men; and what men ! What courage in adversity ! what universal self-devotion! what activity for good! what an assemblage of heroic virtues ! Admirable combination: children and men at once ! accomplishing with manly energy the grandest, as well as the hardest, mission in life, and taking care always to guard their wings,—the wings of simplicity and purity, the wings of the child, the wings of the dove, the wings which raise us above the world and carry us towards God!
Wednesday, 14 September 2016
IV. Apply then, O Christian soul, this teaching to childhood. Jesus Christ during His earthly life loved it especially. He continues to love it in the Holy Eucharist. He shows His tabernacle, and He says, " Suffer the little children to come to Me." He says it to all Christian mothers; He says it to all His priests. He says to mothers: "Your heart, which I created, cannot be more maternal than Mine. Your watchfulness cannot protect your sons as can the shadow of My altar. Your caresses, however loving they may be, are not of as much value to them as one Communion. " Suffer the little children to come to Me." He says to Priests: " The soul of the child is a fertile soil, where everything Divine takes root and blossoms easily. If at a future time you would gather much, cultivate first these young flowers. And if you would one day see the Eucharistic Table surrounded by a whole nation of fervent Christians, collect first around My tabernacle these little angels.'' " Suffer the little children to come to Me." He says to the child itself: " I have given thee a pure heart, in order that thou mayest love Me better. I have given thee a guileless soul, in order the better to converse with thee. I have given thee a lisping tongue, and I have made it eloquent, because thy praises please Me. I will now touch thy lips with the milk and the honey of the Eucharist, in order that thou mayest taste how sweet I am. I ask thee to come to Me. O fly not from Me !"
There is for every child one day more holy, more delightful, more blessed of God than all others : a day when he in very truth responds to this call of the Saviour, " Suffer the little children to come to Me." It is the day when, for the first time, he approaches the sacrament of the altar.
The child has come to the age when all that is good and noble in his nature begins to develop itself in him; when all that is corrupt and bad still hesitates to invade him ; when he is already man in mind and heart ; while he still resembles the angels in innocence and piety. Already his young intelligence accepts the truth with joy, as his eye opens to the light of day, and the first longings of his heart draw him towards wiiat is good; he loves God, and he loves his mother. But especially the grace of the Lord, which has rested upon him since the day of his baptism, and which already worked within him while he still slept in the obscurity of his cradle; this grace gives to his nature a quiet celestial beauty, this grace it is which prepares and opens the sacred refuge to which the Saviour will come.
He comes—with what transport, with what generous effusion ! The golden vessels of our altars are too cold, too poor, too narrow, to contain the sacrament of love; the Saviour stays in them only in order to come to us. But, alas! our own souls, disfigured by sin, worn by contact with the world, grown old in the practice of evil, are they worth more than the gold of our ciboriums ? Jesus Christ prefers the child, beautiful and living tabernacle, whose ornament is purity, and who opens to receive Him with a love unequalled. Who may tell the discourses between the child and the God of the Eucharist ! O Christian soul, you have often communicated —is it not true that this first colloquy between Jesus Christ and you had more delight than all the others? What did the Saviour say to you, and what did you answer Him ? This is your secret and the secret of the King! But remember that your last words were a promise. The first communion of the child is only so sweet and so important because it makes promise for his future.
Tuesday, 13 September 2016
TRANSLATED FROM THE FRENCH OF MONSEIGNEUR DE LA BOUILLERIE,Archbishop of Perga, Coadjutor of Bordeaux.
But remark especially the connection which God has been pleased to establish between the Christian religion and childhood. Modesty and simplicity, simple faith and docile submission, pure love and lively hope,—these are the attributes of childhood, and also the virtues of the Christian. For the renovated earth there was needed the freshness of childhood. God willed that Christians should be children, but the humility of these children lias raised them above the princes of the world.
Their ignorance has given more light than all the science of the Areopagus, and Jesus Christ has fulfilled in His own Person the prophetic words : " Wisdom has made the tongues of infants eloquent.'' Wisdom x. 21.
How then ! Is not this first call of Jesus Christ to children repeated to them every day ? And if now, after the lapse of eighteen hundred years, we find them gathering ground the Saviour in such large numbers and with such simple-hearted joy, is it not because they have heard the distant echo of the Divine words?—Yes, Jesus Christ calls children. But if they come to Him so easily, it is because He comes to them in the sacrament of His love! Blessed in truth is the Holy Eucharist, which, since the evening of the Last Supper, always living amongst us, ceases not to represent Jesus Christ before our eyes and near our heart; and, renewing amongst us every circumstance of His life on earth, perpetuates through the ages the gospel history.
We are blind, and the Eucharist makes us see; paralytic, It makes us walk; troubled and restless, like Martha, It reminds us of the one thing needful; kneeling fervently at Its feet, as Mary, It receives us and makes us understand in the rapture of Communion that we have chosen the better part.* The God of the Eucharist responds always, and in every case, to the present need of our soul; and He speaks to us the words that we love best to hear from His mouth.
Monday, 12 September 2016
TRANSLATED FROM THE FRENCH OF MONSEIGNEUR DE LA BOUILLERIE, Archbishop of Perga, Coadjutor of Bordeaux.
THE EUCHARIST AND CHILDHOOD.
Suffer the little children to come unto Me. Sweet and beautiful saying, which I confide to you, O Christian soul!
The Saviour had descended to earth to instruct all men : He was the Light which was to lighten the whole world. Every word which proceeded from His mouth announced some sublime truth which neither the schools of India nor those of Greece had heard ; His accents persuaded all hearts: His language was one day to captivate the greatest minds, and yet, when the astonished multitude pressed round Him, he cried to His Apostles: "Suffer the little children to come to Me."
What was the cause, O Christian soul, of this predilection of the Saviour for childhood? In the first place, childhood is the future. And as, in spring, the husbandman looks with love on the rising wheat and on the opening bud, so the Saviour, Who only came to earth to sow the good seed, had loving looks for these sweet fruits of the future—little children.
Again, remember the words of the Prophet Jeremias : " It is good for a man when he hath borne the yoke from his youth."* What yoke, if not that of which the Saviour was to say one day: "Learn that my yoke is sweet and my burden light."t If as children we have accepted the gentle yoke of doctrine, we shall as men bear without distress the noble burden of duty. Ah ! let us give thanks to the Saviour for having so early called children unto Him.
Saturday, 10 September 2016
TRANSLATED FROM THE FRENCH OF MONSEIGNEUR DE LA BOUILLERIE,Archbishop of Perga, Coadjutor of Bordeaux.
So, then, the heart which falls into sin gives up at once both this religion and this tenderness ; it shrinks within itself, it is hardened. I do not wish to dwell upon this. Experience, alas! proves it better than my words, and Holy Scripture itself expresses my thought, "as a dove that is decoyed, not having a heart."
Where, then, shall we recover true tenderness of heart, if not at the tabernacle ? This is the torch by which all holy fires are lighted; this is the common centre where all souls are united : the hardest hearts are softened in its presence. Remember these prophetic words, which the Lord formerly spake by Ezechiel: " I will take away the stony heart out of their flesh, and will give them a heart of flesh." It is the God of the Eucharist who fulfils this comforting prophecy. Sin, in fact, had given us a hard stone in place of a heart; and if one cast one's eyes upon the history of the Pagan world, one sees that it had only a heart of stone. But Jesus Christ appears. He institutes the Eucharist; and hardly had the faithful partaken of the celestial Food, than everywhere it is said, on beholding them, " See how they love one another." In place of the hard stone, the Eucharist has given us a heart of flesh. And—we must not deny it—again, a third defect of the heart, and unfortunately the most common of all, is weakness. Alas! to fall, the heart need only be weak; to rise, it must be strong. The Christian life necessitates strength. Virtues to practise; trials to endure; temptations to overcome; painful duties which must be performed every day; sacrifices to be made every moment—these are the proofs which God requires of us, and there is not one of them which does not need much courage. O Christian soul, fear nothing! The God of the Eucharist can impart to you this strength and this courage. Listen how He speaks to one of the souls who loved Him best, to the Spouse of the Canticles: " Put me as a seal upon thy heart, as a seal upon thine arm."
On thine heart, that it may be tender; on thine arm, that it may be strong. " Put me as a seal." Remark these words, I pray you. "Put me as a seal," so that I may be attached to Thee, may be filled with Thee, may be identified with Thee. O wonderful seal of the Eucharist, which is not only the impression, not only the device, not only the image of the Prince of our souls, but it is this well-beloved Prince Himself! When He has put His impression on our heart and on our arm, our heart and our arm no longer belong to ourselves. It is no longer our heart that loves, it is Jesus Christ that loves in us. It is no longer our arm that acts, it is Jesus Christ that acts in us. He places Himself upon our heart, and we love; He leans upon our arm, and we are strong. But He only strengthens our arm because He has warmed our heart. It is our love that is our strength, that drives away all our fears, that conquers in all our trials, that triumphs over all our sufferings, that makes us strong even against death,—A sweet thought this, O Christian soul, that it is the Holy Eucharist which creates the Christian heart! Perhaps it is an entirely new heart that It will have to create in you ; but It fears not this labour. Your heart will be docile, and the Eucharist will fashion it; and so you will have learnt by your own experience the sweet secret that I have tried to reveal to you in these pages. It is this : that God has of His goodness made the Eucharist for our heart, and our heart for the Eucharist.
Friday, 9 September 2016
TRANSLATED FROM THE FRENCH OF MONSEIGNEUR DE LA BOUILLERIE, Archbishop of Perga, Coadjutor of Bordeaux.
The Gospel places before us a valuable and faithful witness of the institution of the sacrament of love: S. John. When the Apostles were seated at the Last Supper S. John placed himself beside his Master, he bends his head over the Sacred Heart, he leans upon It, and he listens. He listens, O Christian soul, and he hears these beautiful words, which came less from the lips of Jesus Christ than from His Heart: "Having so loved my own which were in the world, I would love them more at the end."* These words are the revelation of the Eucharist. Yes, It comes from the Heart of Jesus. Ah ! doubtless the whole life of the Saviour manifests His love to us. The Manger is love; the Cross is love. But before ascending the cross to die, He wished to give His love an eternal life. He would Himself die, but His love should live — should live in the sacred Host, should live in the Tabernacle, should live everywhere in the bosom of the Church. The love of Jesus, always living, always present,—this is the Holy Eucharist.
It comes from the Heart of the Saviour. Is it surprising, then, that it should appeal chiefly to our hearts ? In truth, I repeat it, the chief work of the sacrament of the altar is to form a Christian heart in us.
How is it formed ? One would say that the Eucharist wished to imitate what God did in creating the first man. God took a little clay, He breathed into this clay an immortal soul, and reproduced His Divine Image. In a similar manner the God of the Eucharist comes to the clay of our hearts. He touches this clay no longer only with His Breath, but with His own Heart. The clay of our heart united with the Heart of Jesus, this is the Christian heart. And behold how excellent is the effect produced in us by this ineffable union!
In considering our nature and our fallen nature, one sees in the heart of man three great defects—three great miseries : debasement, hardness, weakness. The Eucharist corrects these defects, and is' a remedy for these miseries.
Debasement. —I liked to define the heart as the power we have of going to God. And, in truth, God is the centre of the heart of man. He is his end; He is his chief good; and sin, I remarked, is nothing else than the reverse movement which takes us away from God. Is it nothing, then, for our heart, O Christian soul, to stray away from its centre, to pursue a path contrary to its end, to prefer perishable good to Him who is the Chief Good ? Ah, it is nothing less than great disorder; and for the heart, the sting of this disorder is the depth to which it falls. Suppose for a moment one of the planets circling round the sun and borrowing from him its light, kept in its place by him—suppose, I say, one of these planets straying away from its centre:—there is no more light for it; and from the height of heaven it falls into the bottomless abyss. So it is with our poor heart. Who will be able to rescue it from the abyss? Repentance, certainly, but especially in the repentant heart the presence of the Eucharist. " How art thou fallen, O heart of man, thou who didst arise in the morning so brilliantly ?"Thou art fallen to the earth : and thou canst no longer find thy Sun! But He Himself will come to thee, and concealing Himself, the better to wait for thee, under the Eucharistic veil, He embraces, He warms, He illuminates, He raises thee ! Arise, O heart of man, and take again thy place in heaven.
The Eucharist is a remedy for the debasement of the heart. It also corrects its hardness. The Christian heart should not only love God above all, but it should also love everything in reference to God. And this it is which gives it its incomparable goodness, its incomparable tenderness, and its incomparable attraction. Look at the heart of the Saints. It is true the Saints are entirely devoted to God, but at the same time they are loving to all, and it is for this reason that they merit the praise of the sacred writer of being "approved before God and men,"— Oh! how large and tender is the heart of the Saints. The entire human race does not suffice for their tenderness, and it suffuses itself upon the whole of nature. The Saints see God in the twinkling star, in the verdant grass, in the rippling brook* They love the star, the grass, the brook. Like S. Francis of Assisi, they call each created thing my brother or my sister; and think not that this simple tenderness of theirs is only the poetry of the heart. No, it is rather the religion of the heart, which has its source in God Himself.
Thursday, 8 September 2016
WHAT a sweet and powerful influence the Eucharist exercises over our heart!
Can one imagine the Christian heart without associating with it the Eucharist ? Can one mention the Eucharist without thinking of what it is to the heart ? To speak at the same time of the Eucharist and the heart, this is not separating what God has joined together; and to meditate on the mysteries of the heart and on the mysteries of the Eucharist helps us to understand better both the former and the latter.
Our heart is the blessed soil where the Christian life germinates and grows. It is through the heart that we are Christians.
But what is the seed which enriches the soil of our hearts ? It is the holy Eucharist. This it is which, dwelling in us, teaches and fashions our heart to become more thoroughly Christian.
O Christian soul! in developing these two thoughts, I would speak to you of the connection, so full of delight, which God has been pleased to establish between the Eucharist and the heart. Before entering upon the details of the Christian life, it is necessary that I should speak of the two principal elements of it—the heart and the Eucharist.
If we would turn our thoughts from our talents to our deeds; these latter are, in truth, so insignificant, that they are not worth dwelling on. Our greatest works soon pass away from the memory of man; and which of our acts of everyday do we think likely to attract the eye and notice of God ? Happily, O Christian soul! what God looks at in us is the heart. (1 Kings xvi. 7.) I love to have it so.
I know not if I deceive myself, but it appears to me that, generally speaking, one has some heart, and that, always supposing one has a fairly good disposition, one shows it in a thousand ways. One loves a mother, a father, a brother, a sister, a benefactor, a friend. It is then easy to love God. Thus, one of the Fathers says: "I do not desire you to run to the East to look for charity, to return to the West to find love. Charity and love have their dwelling within our heart."
What, in reality, is the heart ? The heart is that wonderful power in each of us which, by a kind of irresistible motion, forces us towards what seems right. No doubt, we may deceive ourselves as to what is good, but the heart itself tells us the chief good is God. The heart, then, is nothing else than that within us which inclines us towards God. It is true that our heart owes love also to all that surrounds us which deserves our affection, but subject to this condition only, that all that surrounds us, and all that we love, should lead us to God. Our heart may go here and there, may turn to the right hand or to the left. It matters not, if it go always in the same direction, if it follow always the same road—that which leads to God. The heart is the power we have of going to God.
This being the case, can we be surprised that God confides chiefly to the heart all that refers to religion ?
1. Religion has two great precepts, which comprise all the others, and which, according to the words of the Saviour, contain all the Law and the Prophets. They are two precepts of the heart: " Thou shalt love God above all things, and thy neighbour as thyself." (Luke x. 27.)
2. The right state of the Christian sour,, that without which it is impossible to please God, the state of habitual and sanctifying; grace which, according to the saying of the-Angelical Doctor, is already the commencement of glory, this state is essentially a state of love, for it is nothing else than " the charity of God poured forth in our hearts by the Holy Ghost who is given us." (Romans v. 5.)
3. The whole Christian life maybe summed up in these two things : to believe with sincere faith the truths which God reveals to us, and to show the sincerity of our faith by our actions. But to believe and to act is to love. Faith reveals to us, it is true, inscrutable mysteries r but love comes instantly, and with gentle force inclines us to accept them. The Christian soul so loves her God that she hardly thinks that she does not see Him, and her burning love dissipates part of the darkness which surrounds her faith. To believe is to love; to act is also to love. The heart gives value to the action. Love begins the work, accompanies it, and completes it, for love is the fulfilling of the law, (Romans xiii. 10.) It is love that facilitates the action; she it is which makes the yoke easy and the burden light; and on this earth which was cursed, and where sin sowed only briars and thorns, Christian love makes flowers to spring up by all the paths which we tread. I have spoken of sin. What then is sin, O Christian soul ? A movement of our heart away from God; and the measure of the sin is no other than the extent of this departure from God. But the heart itself heals the wound which it has made. If it has the sad power of departing from God, it has also the power of returning to Him. One act of repentance, one act of love united with the Blood of Jesus Christ, is sufficient to make our heart Christian again.
Finally, not only does the heart make us Christian ourselves, but it also propagates Christianity around us. The heart is a great apostle, especially in family life. Mind and talent convert very few; the heart, on the contrary, makes splendid conversions. There, where argument fails, the heart persists and triumphs. See then, O Christian soul, how above all things it is necessary that your heart should be entirely devoted to God. It is true that all the powers of our being belong to Him, and according to the saying of David, our soul and all that is in us should bless His Holy Name; (Psalm cii. i.) but there is nothing in us more than our heart under the obligation of belonging to God. If you had the intelligence of the Holy Angels, and could you speak their language, if you did not love God, you would be nothing. The Christian soul is the Christian heart.
The Christian heart! Sublimest and most beautiful of all the works of the Most High. The Christian heart! A heart so elevated that, according to the expression of S. Paul, it can only delight in those things which are above. The Christian heart! A tender heart that willingly descends from the heights where it soars to the level of our miseries, in order to succour them. The Christian heart! A heart strong to endure all trials and all sufferings. Ah ! to form this beautiful thing it needed a Divine Hand! I mistake, it needed rather the heart of a God, the Heart of Jesus Christ in the Holy Eucharist; this it is, O Christian soul, which creates the Christian heart.