Thus, when the family is Christian, the Eucharist can maintain unity in it; It can also restore it if some of its members have been unhappy enough to disturb it. But what! is this all, O Christian soul, and will the family owe nothing more to the Divine Eucharist? Hitherto I have only had in view those happy days in which cruel losses have not come to distress indissoluble affections, when around the common board no vacant place is found, when the patriarchal tent gives shelter to the entire tribe, when the family is still complete.
Alas ! how quickly these days pass away!
"Bitter death separates," says Holy Scripture— It is especially bitter when it separates hearts which God Himself has united. One family is one life. Our life is torn with that of our neighbours, and we cry with S. Bernard, "Either why have we loved, or why have we lost ?"
We call. Death hears us not. We stretch forth our arms, and we embrace nothing. We weep, and our tears never console us.
O Christian soul, for the most bitter of all sorrows nothing less is needed than a God Who consoles ! The Eucharist consoles; and this is the third office which It performs in the bosom of the family.
The Eucharist consoles! It was, you know, the testament of the Saviour, and Jesus Christ only instituted It but to comfort those who were going to be made sorrowful by His death. Well, then, in like manner, when death afflicts us, It continues to be to us the testament, containing supreme consolation. It is certain that It especially suits our days of grief and mourning. It is then that It showers down upon us in more abundance Its holy riches. But not only does It console us, It also endeavours to take the place of those who are no longer with us. After they have departed It remains. Oh, how much better we feel then that the Lord, because He is All in all, can also take the place of all in all.
"When the unhappy Anna, wife of Elcana, lamented to him that she continued barren, he answered her : " Am I not better to thee than ten children ?"
It appears to me, O Christian soul, that in our most cruel griefs the Eucharist speaks to us similar words: Am I not worth more to thee than those who are no longer ? Do they love more tenderly? Had they more grace, more beauty, more holiness, more power? "A mother can forget the child she brought into the world," but I have never forgotten thee.
The most sacred feelings often sleep in the heart of man, " I sleep, but my heart watcheth."t Am I not worth more to thee than those who are no longer?
At the same time, while trying to replace them with us, the Eucharist is far from wishing to rob us of their memory.
The God of the Eucharist is not only in the tabernacle where we pray and where we weep, He is also in heaven, where are gone before the souls which are dear to us. He is, also, by His love and by His grace, in those dark regions of expiation where, perhaps, these souls are still detained. From this, between them and us a sweet correspondence is established, of which the Eucharist is the link. In the same way that the Church is one, although dwelling at the same time in three worlds, militant on earth, suffering in purgatory, and triumphant in heaven; so the family remains one, although those who compose it are no longer under the same roof; and as the unity of the Church has the Eucharist for foundation, so it is still It which recomposes and reconstructs the family in the three worlds in which it is dispersed. O you who, with eyes full of tears, seek a father, a mother, a husband, a wife, a brother, a sister, a child, in the place where they are no longer, turn to the tabernacle. There the Lord is near you, and He is at the same time near them. It is in the Eucharistic union that your souls will embrace each other.
And now, O Christian soul, what shall I say in conclusion ? Assuredly your family is dear to you, and you owe to it much happiness. Not being able better to express to it your feelings of gratitude, you pray much for it. Never ask that it may be more prosperous or richer. Ask not." that the sons, as new plants, should surround the house ; that the daughters should be adorned as the temples, that the storehouses should be full, and the sheep fruitful!" David warns you that those who possess these good things are wrongly called happy." But rather ask for the happiness of your, family, that the God of the Eucharist may always be with it; with it to maintain unity, with it to restore it if it be troubled, with it to console it in the cruel hours, when death separates it. Happy, very happy, is the family which has for Lord and for God the God of the tabernacle, and the Lord who dwells on the altar.