THE PRACTICE OF THE LOVE OF JESUS CHRIST.
XII.-HOW MUCH JESUS CHRIST DESERVES TO BE LOVED BY US ON ACCOUNT OF THE LOVE HE HAS SHOWN US IN INSTITUTING THE MOST HOLY SACRAMENT OF THE ALTAR.
This Sacrament of the Eucharist, above all others, inflames our souls with Divine love. God is love (l John iv. 8). And He is a fire which consumes all earthly affections in our hearts. He is a consuming fire (Heb. xii. 29). It was for this very purpose, namely, to enkindle this fire, the Son of God came upon earth. I am come to cast fire on the earth; and He added that He desired nothing but to see this fire enkindled in our souls: And what will I but that it be kindled-(Luke xii. 49}. And oh, what flames of love does not Jesus Christ light up in the heart of everyone who receives Him devoutly in this Sacrament! St. Catherine of Sienna once saw the Host in a priest’s hand as a globe of fire; and the Saint was astonished that the hearts of all men were not burned up and, as it were, reduced to ashes by such a flame. Such brilliant rays issued from the face of St. Rose of Lima, after Communion, as to dazzle the eyes of those who saw her; and the heat from her mouth was so intense that a hand held near it was scorched. It is related of St. Wenceslaus that by merely visiting the churches where the Blessed Sacrament was kept, he was inflamed by such an ardour that his servant, who accompanied him, did not feel the cold if, when walking on the snow, he trod in the footsteps of the Saint. And St. John Chrysostom says that the most Holy Sacrament is a burning fire; so that when we leave the altar we breathe forth flames of love which make us objects of terror to hell.
O God of love, O infinite Lover, worthy of infinite love, tell me what more canst Thou do to make men love Thee? It was not sufficient for Thee to become Man, and to subject Thyself to all our miseries; not sufficient to shed all Thy Blood for us in torments, and then to die overwhelmed with sorrow, upon a Cross, destined for the roost shameful malefactors. Thou didst, at last, oblige Thyself to be hidden under the species of bread and wine. to become our food, and be united with each one of us. Tell me, I repeat, what more canst Thou do to make Thyself loved by us? Ah, wretched shall we be if we do not love Thee in this life! And when we shall have entered into eternity what remorse shall we not feel for not having loved Thee! My Jesus, I will not die without loving Thee, and loving Thee exceedingly!
The spouse of the Canticles said: He brought me into the cellar of wine, he set in order charity in me-(Cant. ii. 4}. St. Gregory of Nyssa says that Communion is precisely this cellar of wine in which the soul becomes so inebriated with Divine love that she forgets and loses sight of creatures; and this is that languishing with love of which the spouse again speaks: Stay me up with flowers: compass me about with apples, because I languish with love-(Cant. ii. 5). Some one will say: ” But this is the very reason why I do not communicate frequently, because I see that I am so cold in the love of God.” Gerson answers such a one by saying: “Do you, therefore, because you are cold, willingly keep away from the fire? Rather, because you feel yourself cold, should you so much the more frequently approach this Sacrament, if you really desire to love Jesus Christ.” “Although it be with lukewarmness,” wrote St. Bonaventure, “still approach, trusting in the mercy of God. The more one feels himself sick, the greater need has he of a physician.”
In like manner, St. Francis de Sales: “Two sorts of persons ought to go frequently to Communion: the perfect in order to remain so; and the imperfect, in order to become perfect.” But for frequent Communion it is at least necessary to have a great desire to become a Saint and to grow in the love of Jesus Christ. Our Lord said once to St. Matilda: “When you go to Communion desire all the love which a soul has ever had for Me, and I will receive your love according to your desire.”
My Jesus, I am sorry and am pained for having so greatly offended Thee. But now I love Thee above all things. I love Thee more than myself, and I consecrate to Thee all my affections. Do Thou, who inspirest me with this desire, give me also grace to accomplish it. My Jesus, my Jesus, I desire nothing of Thee but Thyself. Now that Thou hatit drawn me to Thy love, I leave all, I renounce all; and I bind myself to Thee: Thou alone art sufficient for me. 0 Mary, Mother of God, pray to Jesus for me, and make me a Saint! Add this also to the many wonders you have done in changing sinners into Saints.