TRANSLATED FROM THE FRENCH OF MONSEIGNEUR DE LA BOUILLERIE, Archbishop of Perga, Coadjutor of Bordeaux.
Thus, O Christian soul, three difficulties, I told you, relative to the labour of charity. But I promised that they should be made easy at the foot of the Eucharist.
And, in fact, it is difficult to determine to do charity; but the Eucharist gives us the aptitude and the taste. It is difficult, in the second place, to do charity well; but the holy Eucharist, in giving a supernatural character to the charitable action, ennobles and perfects it. It is difficult, finally, to persevere in the exercise of charity; but the Eucharist will suffice to give us perseverance.
One word only on these three thoughts. The Eucharist inspires charity. I enter into the Last Supper; I assist at the institution of the sacrament of the altar; I first hear these creative words: "This is My Body; this is My Blood." And then I listen again, and a new language strikes my ears and penetrates to my heart. A new language! It is the Saviour Himself Who teaches it me: "A new commandment I give unto you,"-He says to us, "that you love one another, as I have loved you."
Remark well this sequence, O Christian soul! First, the words creative of the Body of Jesus Christ; immediately after, the words creative of charity: "Love one another as I have loved you." Jesus Christ has so loved me as even to give Himself for me, as even to feed me with His Flesh, as even to die in order to assure heaven for me. It is thus that we should love the poor. We should give him our prayers, our cares, our fatigues, and in exchange for the adorable Bread which we receive at the altar we should not refuse him the daily bread of which he stands in need. Do you wish, then, to be charitable ? Meditate attentively on these two words which I have cited to you: the first: "This is My Body; this is My Blood." Love the Body and the Blood of Jesus Christ- Dispose yourself to receive Them often. Oh, then you will easily understand and fulfil the second word! As Jesus Christ has loved you, you will love the poor. You will be charitable, and your charity will be well done. I told you that your fault was that you were too natural and too human. The Eucharist is the source of that which is supernatural. It is the centre of the Christian life. And, in fact, to live a supernatural life, and to be a Christian, is nothing else than to identify oneself with Jesus Christ. Now what closer identification is there than that which is brought about by the Communion? Listen to the Apostle S. Paul: "And I live,'not now I, but Christ liveth in me."
If Jesus Christ lives in me, He loves in me, He acts in me, He exercises charity in me. In fact, listen to what the Apostle adds: "The charity of Christ presses us;" no longer our charity, but the charity of Jesus Christ. O Christian soul, I may be doubtful about your own charity, but this celestial charity which is lighted at the divine torch; this charity which only touches the earth in order to kindle everywhere its beautiful fire; this charity which is no longer yours, which is the charity even of Jesus Christ, that is what I desire for you—the truly Christian charity.
And not only will this charity be perfect, it will be persevering. I know not if there be in the world a perseverance equal to that of the Eucharist. The most brilliant lights are extinguished, the firmest courage becomes weak, the purest virtues tarnish, the tenderest affections are broken. Look at the Eucharist since the Last Supper down to our days for eighteen centuries: always the same light, always the same ardour, always the same holiness, always the same love, and always the same life. Our charity, I said to you, is only a movement of the heart and a passing sacrifice. Here the Heart never fails, and the Victim sacrifices Himself every day. If you feel your courage become weak, come, draw from the tabernacle a strength all divine. If the ardour of your love becomes extinguished, come and light it again at this divine torch. Finally, if your labours frighten you; if indolence delays your steps; if you hesitate, for example, to visit a poor man, come first to the foot of the altar. From the altar to the house of the poor the road will appear shorter. The Eucharist, I repeat, will assure your perseverance.
What reason have I had, then, for associating these two words, and proposing them together for your meditation—the Eucharist and charity ? Love them both; put them both into practice. Charity will be your merit, the Eucharist will be your happiness, Heaven will be your reward.