TRANSLATED FROM THE FRENCH OF MONSEIGNEUR DE LA BOUILLERIE, Archbishop of Perga, Coadjutor of Bordeaux.
It shows us heaven, and it is It which conducts us there.
The Church so well understands that the Eucharist is the guide of souls towards a blessed eternity, that it gives It a special name when this divine sacrament is received by us on the approach of death. It calls It the Holy Viaticum, as if it said the sacrament of the journey. It is in fact a long and hard journey for the soul. The Church assists at its departure, and bids farewell to it. But it does not allow it to set off alone and isolated. It confides it to the Holy Viaticum, and it is the Lord Himself who will be the companion of its journey. He provides everything for it. He directs it, and it wants for nothing !
On leaving the earth, which is the straight path which I must follow ? for here below I knew the roads which led me to my house, those which I must take to visit my friends and my neighbours; but I am ignorant of this new road, and who will teach it me? "I will," answers the Lord. " I am the Way," Better than the Angel of Tobias, I will show you the sure paths. You will turn neither to the right nor to the left.
Now my eyes are closed to the light of the sun, and Job, speaking to me of death, calls it "a land of misery and darkness, where dwelleth an everlasting horror." Who will dissipate this darkness for me? Who will give me light during this horrible night? "I am the light of the world," says the Lord; " he that followeth Me walketh not in darkness."
But perhaps my trembling feet will stumble at every step! " Thou shalt lean on Me," continues the Lord. " I will be thy rod and thy staff, to sustain and comfort thee."
But I leave my granaries full, and my cellars rich with the vintage. I take nothing with me. Where shall I find during this long journey my food and my drink ?
"In me," says the Lord, "for I am thy Viaticum. I am the Bread which came down from heaven, and I give life to the world. Neither the grain heaped up in thy barns, nor the grapes crushed in thy presses, have been able to save thee from death, but he who feeds on Me will live for ever."