MONDAY WITHIN THE OCTAVE OF CORPUS CHRIST
ON THE EXCELLENT FRUITS OF THIS DIVINE BANQUET
Consider first, that in all the sacraments the worthy receiver is made partaker of divine grace, which is conveyed into the soul through those heavenly channels; but the sacrament of the Eucharist has this advantage above all the rest, that it imparts to the soul the very source itself from which all graces flow, by giving us Jesus Christ himself; the author of all graces, his own body, his blood, his soul and divinity; and therefore it is the most excellent of all the sacraments, and the most plentiful in its fruits. Among those fruits that which is most peculiar to this divine sacrament is, that it has the like qualities and properties with regard to the soul as our corporal food has with regard to the body, according to that of our Saviour, John vi., ‘the bread that I shall give, is my flesh for the life of the world;’ and again, ‘my flesh is meat indeed, and my blood is drink indeed;’ inasmuch as this bread supports our spiritual life by the abundance of graces which it furnishes for the food and nourishment of our souls; it repairs the daily decays we are liable to from our natural infirmity and corruption, and adds new strength and vigour to carry us on happily in our journey towards heaven. This is that ‘bread that strengthens the heart of man,’ Ps. ciii. 15; that gives us force against all temptations; that weakens our passions and concupiscences; that enables us to grow daily in virtue, and to run forward in the way of all the divine commandments, till we arrive at the mountain of God, that is, at the very top of the perfection of a Christian life.
Consider 2ndly, that this heavenly sacrament not only feeds, nourishes, and strengthens the soul, in order to the maintaining in us the life of grace here, and the bringing us to the life of glory hereafter; but also tends in a particular manner to unite us by a union of love with our sovereign good, and to transform us into Christ himself. ‘He that eateth my flesh,’ saith our Lord, John vi. 57 ‘and drinketh my blood, abideth in me, and I in him. As the living Father hath sent one, and I live by the Father; so he that eateth me, the same also shall live by me.’ The corporal food which we take, by the means of our natural heat and digestion, is changed into our corporal substance; but this spiritual food is not changed into us, but by its heavenly heat changes us into itself. ‘Christ is the food of them that are grown up,’ saith St. Augustine, ‘grow thou up, and thou shalt feed on him; yet thou shalt not change him into thyself, but thou shalt be changed into him.’ ‘Our God is a consuming fire,’ says the apostle, Heb. xii. 29. Fire has a power of transforming all things into itself; by communicating its nature and properties to all such things as it lays hold on; how much more shall this bright flame, which communicates itself to us by the sacred mysteries set our souls on fire with divine love, and change us into our beloved.
Consider 3rdly, that the best disposition for this happy transformation and blessed union of love is to approach to this divine sacrament with an entire resignation of ourselves and of our whole being into the hands of him whom we are going to receive. ‘As I willingly offered myself to God my Father for thy sins,’ saith the Beloved, (1. iv. c. 8, of the Following of Christ,) ‘with my hands stretched out upon the cross, and my body naked, so that nothing remained in me which was not turned into a sacrifice, to appease the divine wrath; even so must thou willingly offer thyself daily to me in the Mass (and Communion) together with all thy powers and affections, as heartily as thou art able, for a pure and holy oblation. What do I require more of thee than that thou endeavour to resign thyself entirely to me? Whatsoever thou givest besides thyself, I shall not regard, for I seek not thy gift, but thyself. As it would not suffice thee if thou hast all things but me, so neither can it please me whatever thou givest, as long as thou offerest not thyself. Offer thyself to me, and give thy whole self for God, and thy offering will be accepted. Behold, I offer my whole self to the Father for thee, and have given my whole body and blood for thy food that I might be all thine, and thou mightest be always mine but if thou wilt stand upon thyself, and wilt not offer thyself freely to my will, thy offering is not perfect, nor will there be an entire union between us. My sentence stands firm – “except a man give up all, he cannot be my disciple.” If therefore, thou desirest to be my disciple, give thyself up to me with all thy affections.’
Conclude to give all for all, if thou hopest to relish the fruits of this heavenly sacrament, that is, to give thy whole self without reserve to him that gives his whole self to thee. Let this oblation of thyself to God, ever go before, accompany, and follow thy Communion; there can be no better devotion.