TRANSLATED FROM THE FRENCH OF MONSEIGNEUR DE LA BOUILLERIE, Archbishop of Perga, Coadjutor of Bordeaux.
"What I have said of our bodily infirmities will also apply equally well to our mental sufferings; they are often the most cruel; sorrow oppresses us; bitter deceptions fatigue and discourage us; tears have become our meat day and night. O Christian soul! if you are sorrowful, have recourse to the Eucharist.
The God who visits the sick upon their beds of suffering will equally come and repose Himself upon your sick heart! Ah! how fervent will sorrow make you. The more unhappy you feel, the more you will lovingly importune Him Who comes to console you. In the same way that the God of the tabernacle has secrets to ease the pain of our bodies, so He will also know how to calm all your troubles, and to soften all your grief.
If we suffer, we communicate better; and if our communions are good, how they help us to suffer well!
To suffer well is not only to endure suffering, it is to love and desire it. Now the Christian easily draws from the holy habit of communion the love and the desire of suffering. In Jesus Christ, our Divine Model, the Passion and the Eucharist had but one source —love. "Having loved His own which were in the world, He loved them unto the end."
What end, I ask you ?
Both that of the Passion and that of the Eucharist together.
"Greater love than this no man hath," says Jesus Christ, " that a man lay down his life for his friends." That is the end of the Passion.
But this life which the Saviour gives up on the cross for the salvation of the world He communicates entire to us at the altar. This is the end of the Eucharist.
The Eucharist and the Passion differ on a multitude of other points; they commingle in this one point—love. Now love calls forth love, and it is the model of love.
In order to prove to Jesus Christ our devotion and our tenderness, does it suffice that, partaking with holy ardour of the Eucharistic Feast, we give ourselves to Him in the holy communion? No, the Saviour not only loved us in the Upper Chamber, He loved us also on Calvary, and we cannot respond to this second evidence of love but by loving to suffer with Him. It is here that the words of S. Paul are recalled to our minds: " I fill up," says he, those things that are wanting of the sufferings of Christ in my flesh."
O pious and consoling thought! our sufferings are so one with those of Jesus Christ that they become, as it were, the complement of them. As in the communion, it is no longer we who live, but Jesus Christ Who lives in us; so, when we take part in the Passion of the Saviour, it is no longer we * Col. i. 24. who suffer, but Jesus Christ Who suffers in us. We have, it is true, a horror of our own sufferings, but we love those of Jesus Christ; and from loving these, in which ours participate, we finish by loving our own.
Now this Christian love of suffering even leads us to desire it. Jesus Christ not only loved the Eucharist and the Passion. Listen, what vehement desire urges Him from one to the other: "I have a baptism wherewith I am to be baptized/' He tells us, " and how am I straitened until it be accomplished ?" And elsewhere: " With desire I have desired to eat this pasch with you before I suffer."
It is, in fact, as I said above, in the thought of the Redeemer that the Eucharist and the Passion are one and the same sacrifice for the salvation of the world. Well, then, the disciple of Jesus Christ would imitate his Master. The more he longs for the Eucharist the more he endeavours to be a victim with It and like It. It is nothing that he expiates for himself; he would still suffer for the salvation of his brethren; and in proportion as he identifies himself more with the God of the altar, the more he experiences an earnest desire of sacrifice and immolation.
Such has been the feeling of all the saints; such will be yours, O Christian soul! The love and the desire of suffering are the most beautiful characteristics of sanctity. This is only explained by the Eucharist.