CONSIDERATIONS ON THE RELIGIOUS STATE. XII.
Consider the great happiness that Religious enjoy in dwelling in the same house with Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament.
If worldlings deem it so great a favour to be invited by kings to dwell in their palaces, how much more favoured should we esteem ourselves who are admitted to dwell continually with the King of Heaven in His own house? O Lord, I thank Thee! How have I deserved this happy lot?
The Venerable Mother Mary of Jesus, Foundress of a convent in Toulouse, said that she esteemed her lot as a Religious very much, and principally for two reasons. The first, that Religious, through the Vow of Obedience, belong entirely to God; and the second, that they have the privilege of dwelling always with Jesus Christ in the Blessed Sacrament.
In the houses of Religious, Jesus Christ dwells for their sake in the church, so that they can find Him at all hours. Persons of the world can scarcely go to visit Him during the day, and in many places, only in the morning. But Religious find Him in the Tabernacle as often as they wish, in the morning, in the afternoon, and during the night. There they may continually entertain themselves with Our Lord, and there Jesus Christ rejoices to converse familiarly with His beloved servants, whom, for this end, He has called out of Egypt, that He may be their Companion during this life, hidden under the veil of the Most Holy Sacrament, and in the next, unveiled in Paradise. “O solitude,” it may be said of every Religious house, “in which God familiarly speaks and converses with His friends!”
Behold me in Thy Presence, O my Jesus! — hidden in the Sacrament, Thou art the self-same Jesus Who for me didst sacrifice Thyself on the Cross. Thou art He Who lovest me so much, and Who hast therefore confined Thyself in this prison of love. Amongst so many who have offended Thee less than I, and who have loved Thee better than I, Thou hast chosen me, in Thy goodness, to keep Thee company in this house, where, having drawn me from the midst of the world, Thou hast destined me always to live united with Thee, and afterwards to have me nigh to Thee to praise and to love Thee in Thy eternal kingdom. O Lord, I thank Thee. How have I deserved this happy lot? I have chosen to be an abject in the house of my God, than dwell in the tabernacles of sinners (Ps. lxxxiii. 11). Happy, indeed, am I, O my Jesus, to have left the world; and it is my great desire to perform the vilest office in Thy house rather than dwell in the proudest royal palaces of men.
Souls that love Jesus Christ much know not how to wish for any other paradise on this earth than to be in the presence of their Lord, Who dwells in this Sacrament for the love of those who seek and visit Him.
Her conversation hath no bitterness, nor her company any tediousness (Wis. viii. 16). He who does not love Jesus Christ finds tediousness in His company. But those who on this earth have given all their love to Jesus Christ find in the Blessed Sacrament their treasure, their rest, their paradise, and therefore the great desire of their hearts is, as often as they can, to visit their God in this Sacrament, to pay their court to Him, offering Him their affections and laying at the foot of the altar their sorrows, their desire of loving Him, of seeing Him face to face, and, in the meantime, of pleasing Him in all things.
Receive me, then, O Lord, to stay with Thee all my life long; do not drive me away, as I deserve. Be pleased to allow that, among the many good Religious who serve Thee in this house, I, though a miserable sinner, may serve Thee also. Many years already have I lived far from Thee. But now that Thou hast enlightened me to know the vanity of the world, and my own foolishness, I will not depart any more from Thy feet, O my Jesus! Thy presence shall animate me to fight when I am tempted. The nearness of Thy abode shall remind me of the obligation I am under to love Thee, and always to have recourse to Thee in my combats against hell. I will always keep near to Thee, that I may unite myself to Thee, and attach myself closer to Thee. I love Thee, O my God, hidden in this Sacrament. Thou, for the love of me, remainest always on this altar. I, for the love of Thee, will remain in Thy presence as much as I shall be able. There enclosed Thou always lovest me, and here enclosed I will always love Thee. Always then, O my Jesus, my Love, my All, shall we remain together — in time in this House, and during eternity, in Paradise. This is my hope; so may it be. Most holy Mary, obtain for me a greater love for the Most Holy Sacrament.