Week after Trinity Sunday
Monday After Trinity Sunday
Taken from The Liturgical Year by Dom Prosper Guéranger  (1841-1875)

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Having, by his divine light, added fresh appreciation towards the sovereign mystery of the august Trinity, the Holy Ghost next leads the Church to contemplate that other marvel, which concentrates in itself all the works of the Incarnate Word, and leads us, even in this present life, to union with God. The mystery of the Holy Eucharist is going to be brought before us in all its magnificence; it behooves us, therefore, to prepare the eyes of our soul for the worthy reception of the light which is so soon to dawn upon us. As during the whole year, we have never lost sight of the mystery of the Holy Trinity, and all our worship has unceasingly been offered to the Three diving Persons; so, in like manner, the blessed Eucharist has uninterruptedly accompanied us throughout the whole period of the Liturgical Year, either as the means for our paying our homage to the infinite Majesty of God, or as the nourishment which sustains the supernatural life. Though we knew and loved these two ineffable mysteries before, yet the graces of Pentecost have added much to both our knowledge and our love; yesterday, the mystery of the Trinity beamed upon us with a great clearness than ever; and now we are close upon the solemnity, which is to show us the holy Eucharist with an increase of light and joy to our faith.

The blessed Trinity is, as we have already shown, the essential object of all religion; it is the center to which all our homage converges; and this, even when we do not seem to make it our direct intention. Now, the holy Eucharist is the best of all the means whereby we can give to the Three divine Persons the worship we owe Them; it is, moreover, the bond whereby earth is united with heaven. It is easy, therefore, to understand how it was that holy Church so long deferred the institution of the two festivals immediately following Whitsuntide. All the mysteries we have celebrated up to this time were contained in the august Sacrament, which is the memorial and, so to say, the compendium of the wonderful things wrought in our favor by our Redeemer. It was the reality of Christ’s presence under the sacramental species that enabled us to recognize, in the sacred Host, at Christmas, the Child that was born unto us, in Passiontide the Victim who redeemed us and at Easter the glorious conqueror of death. We could not celebrate all those admirable Mysteries without the aid of the perpetual Sacrifice; neither could that sacrifice be offered up, without its renewing and repeating them.

It was the same with the Feasts of our Blessed Lady and the Saints,—they kept us in the continual contemplation of the holy Sacrament. When we honored Mary on the solemnities of the Immaculate Conception, the Purification, or the Annunciation, we were honoring Her who had, from her own substance, given that Body and Blood which was then offered upon our altars. As to the Apostles and the Martyrs, whose memories we solemnized, whence had they the strength to suffer so much and so bravely for the faith, but from the sacred banquet which we then celebrated, and which gives courage and constancy to them that partake of it? The Confessors and Virgins, as their Feasts came round, seemed to us as so many lovely flowers in the garden of the Church, and that garden itself all fruitful with wheat and clusters of grapes, because of the fertility given by Him who is called in the Scriptures both Wheat and Wine.

Putting together all the means within our reach for honoring these blessed citizens of the heavenly court, we have chanted the grand Psalms of David, and hymns, and canticles, with all the varied formulas of the Liturgy;—but nothing that we could do towards celebrating their praise could be compared to the holy Sacrifice offered to the divine Majesty. It is in that Sacrifice that we entered into direct communication with them, according to the energetic term used by the Church in the Canon of the Mass (communicantes). The blessed in heaven are ever adoring the most holy Trinity by and in Christ Jesus our Lord; and it is by the Sacrifice of the Mass that we were united with them in the one same center, and that we mingled our homage with theirs; hence they received an increase of glory and happiness. So, then, the holy Eucharist, both as Sacrifice and Sacrament, has always been prominently before us. If we are now going to devote several days to a more attentive consideration of its magnificence and power; if we are now going to make more earnest efforts to taste more fully its heavenly sweetness; it is not a something fresh, which attracts our special notice and devotion for a season, and will then give way for something else: no; the Eucharist is that element prepared for us by the love of our Redeemer, of which we must always avail ourselves in order that we may enter into direct communication with our God, and pay him the debt not only of our worship, but also of our love.

And yet, the time would come when the Holy Ghost, who governs the Church, would inspire her with the thought of instituting a special solemnity in honour of that august mystery in which all others are included. There is a sacred element which gives a meaning to every feast that occurs during the Year, and graces it with the beauty of its own divine splendor;—that sacred element is the most holy Eucharist, and itself had a right to a solemn festival in keeping with the dignity of its divine object.

But that festive exaltation of the divine Host and those triumphant processions so deservedly dear to the present generation of Christians, were not practicable in the ages of the early Persecutions. And when those rough times had passed away, and the courageous Martyrs had won victory for the Church, those same modes of honoring the Eucharist would not have suited the spirit and form of the primitive liturgical observances, which were kept up for ages following. Neither were they needed for the maintenance of the lively faith of those times; they would have been superfluous for a period such as that was, when the solemnity of the Sacrifice itself, and the share the people at large took in the sacred Mysteries, and the uninterrupted homage of liturgical chants sustained by the crowds of Faithful adorers around the Altar, gave praise and glory to God, secured correctness of faith and fostered in the people a superabundance of supernatural life, which is not to be found nowadays. The divine Memorial produced its fruits; the intentions our Lord had in instituting the Eucharist were realised and the remembrance of that institution which used then to be solemnised as we now celebrate Mass on Maundy Thursday, was deeply impressed on the minds of the Faithful.

This state of things lasted till the beginning of the 13th Century, when, as the Church expresses it (in the Collect for the Feast of the Stigmata of St. Francis), a certain coldness took possession of the world; faith grew weak, and the vigorous piety which characterised the christians of the previous ages became exceedingly rare. There were grand exceptions, here and there, of individual saintliness; but there was an unmistakable falling off amidst people at large, and the falling off was progressive; so much so indeed that there was danger that the Mystery which, by its very nature, is the Mystery of Faith, would suffer in a special manner from that coldness, that indifference, of the new generation. Even at that period, hell had been at work stirring up sacrilegious teachers here and there who dared to throw doubts upon the dogma of the Real Presence; fortunately, the people easily took alarm, and as a general rule, were too strong in the old faith to be led astray. The Pastors, too, of the Church were alive to the danger,—for there were souls who allowed themselves to be deceived.

Scotus Erigena had formulated the sacramentarian heresy: he had taught that the Eucharist “was but a sign, a figure of spiritual union with Jesus, of which the intellect alone could be cognizant.” His teaching made little impression; it was regarded as mere pedantry and was too novel to make head against catholic tradition such as was to be found exposed in the learned writings of Paschasius Radbert, Abbot of Corbie. The sophistry of Scotus was revived in the 11th Century by Berengarius; but although its new promoter was more crafty and conceited than its originator, and did greater and more lasting mischief, yet it died with him. The time for hell to play havoc with such direct attacks as these had not yet come; they were laid aside for others of a more covert kind. That hotbed of heresies, the empire of Byzantium, fostered the almost extinct germ of Manicheism; the teaching of that sect regarding the flesh,—that it is the work of the evil principle,—was subversive of the dogma of the Eucharist. While Berengarius was trying to bring himself into notice by the noisy, but ineffectual, broachings of his errors, Thrace and Bulgaria were quietly sending their teachers into the West. Lombardy, the Marches, and Tuscany, became infected; so did Austria in several places, and almost all at one and the same time; so, too, did three cities of France—Orleans, Toulouse, and Arras. Forcible measures for repressing the evil were used; but it was one which knew how to grow strong by retreat. Taking the South of France for the basis of its operations, the foul heresy silently organized its strength during the whole of the 12th Century. So great was the progress it made thus unperceived that when it came publicly before the world at the beginning of the 13th Century, it had an army ready for the maintenance of its impious doctrines. Torrents of blood had to be shed in order to subdue it and deprive it of its strongholds; and for years after the defeat of the armed insurrection, the Inquisition had to exercise active watchfulness in the provinces that had been tainted by the Albigensian contagion.

Simon of Montfort was the avenger of the Catholic faith. But while the victorious arm of the Christian hero was dealing a death blow to heresy, God was preparing for his Son, who had been so unworthily outraged by the sectarians in the Sacrament of his love, a triumph of a more peaceful kind, and a more perfect reparation. It was in the year 1208 that a humble Religious of the Congregation of the Hospitallers, by name the Blessed Juliana of Mont-Cornillon near Liége, had a mysterious vision in which she beheld the moon at its full, but having a hollow on its disc. In spite of all her efforts to divert herself from what she was afraid was an illusion, the same vision appeared before her as often as she set herself to pray. After two years of such efforts and earnest supplications, it was revealed to her that the moon signified the Church as it then was; and that hollow she observed on its disc expressed the want of one more solemnity in the Liturgical Year;—a want which God willed should be supplied by the introduction of a feast to be kept annually in honour of the institution of the blessed Eucharist; the solemn commemoration made of the Last Supper, on Maundy Thursday, was no longer sufficient for the children of the Church, shaken as they had been by the influences of heresy; it was not sufficient even for the Church herself, who on that Thursday has her attention divided by the important functions of the day, and is wholly taken up a few hours later by the sad mysteries of the great Friday. At the same time that Juliana received this communication, she was also commanded to set to work and make known to the world what she had been told was the divine will. Twenty years, however, passed before the humble and timid virgin could bring herself to put her person thus forward. She at length mentioned the subject to a Canon of Saint Martin’s of Liége named John of Lausanne, whom she much respected for his great holiness of life; and she besought him to confer with men of theological learning on the subject of the mission confided to her. All agreed that not only there was no reason why such a Feast should not be instituted, but moreover that it would be a means for procuring much glory to God and great good to souls. Encouraged by this decision, the saintly Juliana got a proper Office composed and approved for the future Festival; it begins with the words: Animarum cibus, and a few portions are still extant.

The Church of Liége, to which the universal Church owes the yesterday’s solemnity of the Blessed Trinity, was predestined to have the honor of originating the Feast of Corpus Christi. It was a happy day when in the year 1246, after so many delays and difficulties, the then Bishop of Liége, Robert de Torôte, published a synodical decree that each year, on the Thursday after Trinity Sunday, there should be observed in all the Churches of his Diocese, with rest from servile work, and with the preparation of fasting on the eve, a solemn Feast in honour of the Blessed Sacrament.

But the mission of the Blessed Juliana was far from being at an end; she had to be punished for having so long deferred it. The Bishop died; and the decree he had issued would have long been a dead letter, had there not been one, the only one, Church of the Diocese whose Clergy were determined to carry the decree into execution: these were the Canons of Saint Martin-au-Mont. Though there was no authority during the vacancy that cared to enforce the observance, yet in the year 1247, the Feast of Corpus Christi was kept in that privileged Church. Robert’s successor, Henry de Gueldre, a warrior and grandee, took no interest in what his predecessor had had so much at heart. Hugh de Saint Cher, Cardinal of Saint Sabina, and Legate in Germany, having gone to Liége with a view to remedy the disorders to which the new episcopal government had given rise, heard mention of the decree of the late Bishop Robert, and of the new Feast. The Cardinal had formerly been Prior and Provincial in the Order of St Dominic; and was one of the theologians who, having been consulted by John de Lausanne, had favored the project. He was of the same mind when Legate; and claimed the honor of keeping the Feast himself and singing Mass with much solemnity. Not satisfied with that, he issued a Circular dated December 29, 1253, which he addressed to the Archbishops, Bishops, Abbots, and Faithful of the territory of his legation; and in that document, he confirmed the decree of the Bishop of Liége and extended it to all the country over which he was Legate, granting one hundred days’ indulgence to all who, contrite, and after confession of their sins should, on the Feast itself or during its Octave, devoutly visit a Church in which the Office of Corpus Christi was being celebrated. In the year following, the Cardinal of Saint George in Velabro, who had succeeded as Legate, confirmed and renewed the ordinances made by the Cardinal of Saint Sabina. These reiterated decrees, however, failed to remove the widespread indifference. A terrible blow had been given, by the proposed Feast, to the powers of hell, and Satan excited every possible opposition to it. As soon as the Legates had taken their departure, several local Superiors, men of note and authority, published their own ordinances in opposition to what had been already given. In 1258, the year of the Blessed Juliana’s death, there was still but the single Church of Saint Martin that would celebrate the Feast, which it was her mission to spread throughout the entire world. But she left the continuation of her work to a holy Recluse of the name of Eve, to whom she had confided her secrets.

On the 29th day of August, 1261, James Pantaléon ascended the papal throne under the name of Urban the Fourth. He owed his election to this dignity to his great personal merits, for by birth (Troyes, in France, was his native town), he had nothing to recommend him. He had been Archdeacon of Liége; and there had met with the Blessed Juliana, and had approved her work. In this his exaltation to the papacy, Eve thought she had an indication of God’s providence. She induced the Bishop, Henry de Gueldre, to send his written congratulations to the new Pontiff, and at the same time, to entreat him to confirm, by his own approbation, the Feast which had been instituted by Robert de Torôte. About that same time, several supernatural events had attracted public attention, and in particular, the prodigy at Bolsena near Orvieto, where the papal court happened to be then residing,—the prodigy of a corporal having been stained with blood by a miraculous Host. These events seemed as though providentially permitted. in order to rouse Urban’s attention, and to confirm him in the holy zeal he had formerly evinced for the glory of the Blessed Sacrament. St. Thomas of Aquin was appointed to compose according to the Roman rite, the Office for the Feast; which Office was to be substituted for the one prepared by the Blessed Juliana, and which she had adapted to the ancient liturgy of France, The Bull Transiturus was published soon after; it made known to the Church the Pope’s intentions. Urban there mentions the revelations which had come to his knowledge before his election; and declares that, in virtue of his apostolic authority, and for the confounding of heresy and for the increase of the true faith, he institutes a special Solemnity in honor of the divine Memorial left by Christ to his Church. The day there fixed for the Feast is the fifth Feria (that is, the Thursday) after the Octave of Pentecost; for the Papal document does not mention, as the decree of the Bishop of Liége had done, the Feast of the Blessed Trinity, which had not yet been received into the calendar of the Church of Rome. In imitation of what had been done by Hugh de Saint Cher, the Pontiff granted a hundred days’ indulgence to all the Faithful who, being contrite and having confessed their sins, should assist at Mass or Matins at first or second Vespers of the Feast; and for assisting at Prime, Tierce, Sext, None, and Compline, forty days for each of those Hours. He also granted a hundred days, for each day within the Octave, to those who should assist on any such day at the Mass and the entire Office. Though thus entering into all these details, there is not an allusion to the Procession, for it was not introduced till the following Century.

All now seemed settled; and yet, owing to the troubles which were then so rife in Italy and the Empire, the Bull of Urban the Fourth was forgotten, and remained a dead letter. Forty years and more elapsed before it was again promulgated and confirmed by Pope Clement the Fifth at the Council of Vienne. John the Twenty-second gave it the force of a settled law by inserting it in the Clementines, about the year 1318; and he had thus the honor of putting the finishing hand to the great work which had taken upwards of a century for its completion.

The Feast of the Blessed Sacrament, or as it is commonly called, Corpus Christi, began a new phase in the Catholic worship of the Holy Eucharist. But in order to understand this, we must go more thoroughly into the question of Eucharistic worship as practised in the previous ages of the Church: the inquiry is one of importance for the full appreciation of the great Feast, for which we must now be preparing our souls. No preparation, so it seems to us, could be more to the point than the devoting the two next days to a faithful and compendious study of the chief features in the history of the Blessed Eucharist.

It belongs to thee, O holy Spirit, to teach us the history of so great a Mystery. Scarcely has thy reign begun upon the earth when, faithful to thy divine mission of glorifying our Emmanuel, who has ascended into heaven, thou at once raisest our eyes and hearts up to that best gift of his love, whereby we still possess him under the eucharistic veil. During those long ages of the expectation of nations it was thou didst bring the Word before mankind; thou spakest of him in the Scriptures, thou proclaimedst him by the Prophets. O thou that art the Gift of the Most High! thou art also infinite Love; and it is through thee, as such, that are wrought all the manifestations which God vouchsafes to make to us his creatures. It was thou that broughtest this divine Person, the Word, into the womb of the immaculate Virgin Mary, there to clothe him with sinless flesh, and so make him our Brother and our Savior. And now that he has ascended to his Father and our Father, depriving us of the sight of his human nature, all beauteous with its perfections and charms; now that we have to go through this vale of tears deprived of his visible company;—he has sent thee unto us; and thou art come, O divine Spirit, as our Consoler. But the consolation thou bringest us, dear Paraclete! is ever the same;—it is the faithful remembrance of our Jesus; yea, more, it is his divine Presence, perpetuated by thee in the Sacrament of Love. We had been already told that this would be so that thou wouldst not speak of thyself or for thyself; but that thou wouldst come to give testimony of the Emmanuel, continue his work, and produce his divine likeness in each one of us.

How admirable is this thy fulfilment of thy sublime mission which is all for the glory of Jesus! O divine Spirit, Guardian of the Word in the Church! it is far beyond our power to describe how great is thy vigilance over the word of teaching, brought by the Savior to this earth of ours, a teaching which is the true expression of himself and which coming, as he himself does, from the mouth of the Father, is the nourishment of his Bride here below. But with what infinite respect and vigilance, O holy Spirit, dost thou not preside over the august Sacrament, wherein is present, with all the reality of his adorable Flesh, that same Incarnate Word who, from the very first of creation, was the center and object of all thy dealings with creatures! It is by the mystery which is produced by thine omnipotence that the exiled Bride recovers her Spouse; it is by thee that she traverses the long ages of time, holding and prizing her infinite treasure; it is by thee that she, with such superhuman wisdom, puts it to profit, by so arranging, so modifying, her discipline, yea, her very life, as to secure in each age of time the greatest possible faith, respect, and love towards the Divine Eucharist. If she anxiously hide It from the profane men that would only turn their knowledge into blasphemy; or if she lavish upon It all that Liturgy can give of pomp and magnificence; or if again she bring It forth from her sacred temples and triumphantly carry It in processions through the crowded streets of cities, or the green lanes of the quiet country, it is thou, O divine Spirit, that inspirest her with what is best; it is thy divine foresight that suggests to her what is the surest means for gaining, in each respective period and age, the most of honour and love for that Jesus of hers who is ever present in the Sacred Host, and who deigns to let his love be delighted with being thus among the children of men.

Vouchsafe, O Holy Ghost, to aid us in our contemplations of this sacred Mystery. Enlighten our understandings, inflame our hearts, during these hours of preparation for its Feast. Give to our souls the knowledge of that Jesus who is coming to us beneath the Sacramental veil.

May this holy Mystery be to us, during this last portion of the year and its liturgy, our Bread to support us on the journey we have still to make through the desert before we can reach the mount of God; we have yet a great way to go, and a way so different from the one we have already passed through, when we had the company of our Jesus in the Mysteries he was working for our salvation. Be thou, O holy Spirit, our guide in those paths which the Church, under thy direction, is courageously traversing, and is every day approaching nearer to the end of her pilgrimage here below. Yet, scarcely have we entered on this second portion of our Year, than thou, divine Spirit, bringest us to the banquet prepared by divine Wisdom where the pilgrim gets the strength he needs for his journey. We will walk on, then, in the strength of this heavenly food; and when our course is run, we will, with the same Bread to support us, cry out with the Spirit and the Bride that our Lord Jesus may come to us, at that last hour, and admit us into his eternal kingdom.

In honor of the adorable Sacrament, and in memory of the Blessed Juliana, to whom the Church owes the Feast she is about to celebrate, we will offer our Readers today and during the Octave the main portions which are still extant of the Office which bears her name. It will be interesting to them to hear how this Office was drawn up; we give the details as supplied to us by the Bollandists, in the Life written of her by one of her contemporaries.

Juliana, then, began to ask herself whom she should get to compose the Office of the great Feast. She knew of no clever man, nor any holy priest, who seemed to her fitted for the work; so, trusting solely to divine Wisdom, she made up her mind to select a young brother of the Hospital, named John (not the John de Lausanne, of whom we have previously spoken), whose innocent life had been revealed to her by God. John refused the work, declaring that it far exceeded his powers or learning; he begged her to excuse him as he was but an ignorant man. Juliana knew all that; but she also knew that divine Wisdom, whose work she was furthering, could speak admirable things through an unlearned man; she kept to her purpose; and John, unable to resist the entreaties and influence of Juliana, began his labours. She prayed, and he wrote; and with the efforts of the two united, the work progressed in a way that surprised the young Brother. He attributed all, and he was not far wrong, to Juliana’s prayers. When he had got any considerable portion of the composition ready, he gave it to her, saying: “This, Sister, is what heaven sends thee: read it, and examine whether I have put down anything, either in the chant or the words, which needs correction.” She would then take it; and by the wonderful infused wisdom which she possessed, would examine and, where needed, correct; but with so much prudence and judgment that not even the most expert critics could find anything to change. And thus, by the wondrous help of God, was completed the whole Office of the new Feast.

The Antiphons we here subjoin were taken, by the Bollandists, from a very ancient Directorium of the Church of Saint-Martin-au-Mont.
They are the Antiphons assigned for the Benedictus and Magnificat of each day within the Octave.

Animarum cibus Dei Sapientia nobis carnem assumptam proposuit in edulium, ut per cibum hujus pietatis invitaret ad gustum divinitatis.
The Wisdom of God, the food of souls, hath offered to us, for our nourishment, the Flesh he had assumed to himself; that, by this food of his love, he might lead us to taste of what is divine.

Discipulis competentem conscribens hereditatem, sui memoriam commendavit inquiens: Hoc facite in mei commemorationem.
Leaving to his Disciples a worthy inheritance, he urged them to be mindful of himself, saying: do this in memory of me.

Totum Christus se nobis exhibet in cibum, ut sicut divinitus nos reficit quem corde gustamus, ita nos humanitus reficiat quem ore manducamus;
Christ gave his whole self to us as our food; that as he, whom we taste with out heart, divinely refreshes us, so he, whom we receive with our mouth, might refresh us by his human nature;

Et sic de visibilibus ad invisibilia, de temporalibus ad æterna, de terrenis ad cœlestia, de humanis ad divina nos transferat.
And thus it is, that he gives us to pass from things visible to invisible, from temporal to eternal, from earthly to heavenly, from human to divine.

Panem angelorum manducavit homo, ut qui secundum animum cibum divinitatis accipimus, secundum carnem cibum humanitatis sumamus: quia sicut anima rationalis et caro unus est homo, ita Deus et homo unus est Christus.
Men hath eaten of the Bread of Angels; so that we who, according to the soul, receive the food of the godhead, may take, according to the flesh, the food of Christ’s humanity: for, as the rational soul and the flesh is one man, so God and Man is one Christ.

Panis vitæ, panis angelorum, Jesu Christe vera mundi vita; qui semper nos reficis, in te nunquam deficis, nos ab omni sana languore, ut te nostro viatico in terra recreati, te ore plenissimo manducemus in æternum.
O Bread of Life! O Bread of Angels! Jesus Christ, true life of the world! who ever feedest us, and never failest in thyself! heal us of all our weakness; that being refreshed on earth by thee as our viaticum, we may feed on thee, to our fill, in eternity.

Suo Christus sanguine nos lavat quotidie, cum ejus beatæ passionis quotidie memoria renovatur.
Daily doth Christ wash us in his Blood, for daily is renewed the remembrance of his sacred Passion.

Sanguis ejus non infidelium manibus ad ipsorum perniciem funditur; sed quotidie fidelium suavi ore sumitur ad salutem.
His Blood is not shed by the hands of faithless men, which would be to their destruction; but daily is it received, and sweetly, and to their salvation, by the Faithful.

Verus Deus, verus homo semel in cruce pependit, se Patri redemptionis hostiam efficacem offerens: semper tamen invisibiliter est in mysterio, non passus sed quasi pati repræsentatus.
Once did Christ, true God and true Man, hang upon the Cross, and offer himself to the Father, as an effectual victim of redemption; yet is he ever invisibly present in the Mystery, not suffering, but represented as suffering.

Dominus Jesus Christus vulnere quotidie sacrificatus, mortalibus in terra præstitit cœlesti fungi ministerio.
The Lord Jesus Christ, who is daily sacrificed, but without a wound, grants to mortals on earth to fulfill a heavenly mystery.

Hæc igitur singularis victima Christi mortis est recordatio, scelerum nostrorum expurgatio, cunctorum fidelium devotio, et ætern&aelg; vitæ adeptio. This incomparable Victim is, then, the remembrance of Christ’s death, the cleansing away of our crimes, the devotion of all the Faithful, and the pledge of life eternal.
"So let us be confident, let us not be unprepared, let us not be outflanked, let us be wise, vigilant, fighting against those who are trying to tear the faith out of our souls and morality out of our hearts, so that we may remain Catholics, remain united to the Blessed Virgin Mary, remain united to the Roman Catholic Church, remain faithful children of the Church."- Abp. Lefebvre
Tuesday After Trinity Sunday
Taken from The Liturgical Year by Dom Prosper Guéranger  (1841-1875)

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The history of the blessed Eucharist is one with that of the Church herself: the liturgical usages, which have varied in the celebration of the most august of all the Sacraments, have followed the great social phases of the Christian world. This was a necessity; for the Eucharist is the vital center here below, whither everything in the Church converges; it is the inner bond which unites together that society of which Christ is the head, the society whereby he is to reign over the nations, which are to be his inheritance. Union with Peter, the Vicar of Christ, must always be the indispensable condition, the external mark, of the union of the members with the invisible Head; but supported, in an ineffable manner, on the Rock which bears the Church, the divine Mystery, wherein Christ gives himself to each one of his servants, must ever be the essential mystery of union; and as such, the center and the bond of the great Catholic communion. Let us, today, get a clear notion of this fundamental truth, on which was based the very formation of the Church at her commencement; and let us consider the influence it exercised on the forms of eucharistic worship during the first twelve centuries. Tomorrow, we will continue the subject by examining how subsequent loss of fervor, and heresy, and social degeneracy, induced the Church to gradually modify these forms, which, after all, are but accidental; they were admirably adapted to the favored times they had served, but would scarcely suit the changed circumstances and requirements of later generations of the Church’s children.

It was on the eve of his Passion that our Lord instituted the great Memorial which was to perpetuate, in all places, the one Sacrifice whereby are perfected, for ever, they that are sanctified. The Cross was the “Altar of the world,” as St. Leo calls it; and on that Cross, says the same holy Doctor, was made a few hours after the Last Supper, “the oblation of the whole human nature;” for the whole human race was united with this last act of infinite adoration and reparation offered by its Head to the supreme Majesty of God. The Church, issuing as she did with the Blood and Water from the side of her Savior, was then but in her infancy; and the Mystery of divine union, which Jesus had come upon the earth to produce by himself uniting to the Father, in the Holy Ghost, the members of his mystical body,—this union was not to have its immediate realization for each separate member except by its successive application to each one as his time came. This was the object of the sublime institution of the Eucharist at the Last Supper. It was a New Testament, which gave to the future Church the possession of the Mystery, whereby each generation, linked on to its predecessors by the unity of the one same Sacrifice, would find itself in union with the Word Incarnate; and in that union, would have the tie which mutually binds his members together, and the unity of his mystical body.

Immediately after instituting this new Passover, Jesus said to his Disciples: A new commandment I give unto you: that ye love one another, as I have loved you: and by this shall all men know that ye are my disciples. This was the first injunction given to his disciples, by Jesus, after giving himself to them in the Eucharist; this love of and union with each other was to be the mark of the Covenant which he then, through his Apostles, contracted with all them who were to believe in him through the word of their preaching. His very first prayer, after that first giving his Body and Blood under the eucharistic species, is for that same union,—the union of his Faithful, one with another; a union admirable as is the Mystery which produces and maintains it; a union so intimate that its model is the union existing between Jesus and his Eternal Father: May they all be one, as thou, Father, in me, and I in thee; that they may be made perfect in one,—one, as we also are one.

Under the direction of the Holy Spirit, the Church understood, from the very first, the intentions of her divine Master. The three thousand who were converted on the day of Pentecost are described in the Acts as persevering in the doctrine of the Apostles, in the communication of the breaking of bread, and in prayers. And so great is the power of union derived from their all partaking of the heavenly Bread that they were remarked by the Jews as a class of men forming a society distinct from every other, which won the esteem of all that beheld them, and drew others daily to join them.

A few years later, and the Church, led on by the same Holy Spirit, passed beyond the narrow limits of Judea and carried her treasures to the Gentiles. It was a world of corruption, where all was discord between man and man, and where the only remedy to the outrages of individual egotism was the tyranny of a Cæsar; and it was into such a world that the Christians came, and showed it, from east to west, the marvel of a new people, which by the sole influence of its virtues, recruited its members from every class of society and from every clime, and was stronger and more united than any nation that had ever appeared on earth. The Pagans were in admiration at this strange and inexplicable novelty; without knowing what they were doing, without troubling themselves with any further inquiry, they bore testimony to the perfection wherewith these Christians fulfilled the dying wishes of their Founder; they thus spoke of them: “See how they love one another!”

It was indeed a mystery; but the Faithful, the Initiated, understood it; for it had been thus explained to them by the Apostle: We, being many, are one bread, one body, all that partake of one Bread.

This text is admirably commented by St. Augustine in a sermon he preached to the Neophytes a few hours after their Baptism:
Quote: “I remember,” says he, “the promise I made of explaining to you who have been baptized, the mystery of the Lord’s Table, which you now see, and of which you were made partakers in the night just past… That Bread which you see on the Altar, that Bread which has been sanctified by the word of God, is the Body of Christ: that Chalice. or rather. what that Chalice contains. which has been sanctified by the word of God. is the Blood of Christ. By these did Christ our Lord will to give us his Body and his Blood, which he shed for us, unto the remission of our sins. If you have properly received them, you are what you have received, for the Apostle says: We, being many, are one bread, one body, Yes, it was thus that he expounded the sacrament of the Table of the Lord: We, being many, are one bread, one body. We are, by this Bread, instructed how we are to love unity. Was this Bread made out of one grain? Were there not many grains of wheat? But before they came to be bread, they were separated one from the other; they became joined by means of water and by a certain bruising: for unless the wheat be ground and be moistened with water, it could never take the form we call bread. It was the same with you, until you were, so to say, ground by the humiliation of fasting and by the sacrament of exorcism. Baptism and water came to you; you were moistened that so you might come to the state of bread. But even so, there is no bread without fire. What, then, does fire signify? It is the Chrism; for the oil which makes our fire is the sacrament of the Holy Ghost… The Holy Ghost, therefore, comes; after water comes fire; and you are made Bread, which is the Body of Christ… Christ willed that we should be his Sacrifice,—the Sacrifice of God… Great, very great, are these mysteries! … Do you so receive them as to take care that you have unity in your hearts.” “Be one, by your loving one another, by holding one faith, one hope, and undivided charity. When the heretics receive this Bread, they receive testimony against themselves; for they are seeking to make division, whereas this Bread is the sign of unity.” The Scripture, speaking of the first Christians, says that they had but one heart and one soul; and it is the unity which is signified by the Wine in the Holy Mysteries; “For,” continues St. Augustine, “the wine was once in so many bunches of grapes; but now it is all one, one in the sweetness of the chalice, for it has gone through the crushing of the winepress. So you, after those fastings, and labors, and humility, and contrition, have come in the name of Christ to the Chalice of the Lord; and you are there on that Table, and there in that Chalice. You are there together with us, for we have eaten together and drunk together, and that because we live together… Thus did Christ our Lord (by the Wine made one out of many grapes) signify us, and wished us to be one with him, and by his Table, consecrated the mystery of our peace and unity.”

These admirable expressions of St. Augustine are but the substance of the doctrine regarding the holy Eucharist, held by the Church in the 4th Century. They give us the very essence of that doctrine in all its fullness and in all the clearness of its literal truth; no other could have been given to Neophytes, who, up to that time, had been kept in complete ignorance of the august Mysteries, of which they were henceforth to partake:—as to the discipline of that secrecy, we shall have to speak of it a little further on. The doctrine of the Eucharist here laid down by the great Bishop of Hippo is identical with that given by all the Fathers. In Gaul, St. Hilary of Poitiers, and St. Cesarius of Arles; in Italy, St. Gaudentius of Brescia; at Antioch and Constantinople, St. John Chrysostom; at Alexandria, St. Cyril;—all had the same way of putting this dogma of faith before their people. Christ is not divided: the Head and the members, the Word and his Church are inseparably one in the unity of the mystery instituted for the very purpose of producing that unity. And this unanimous teaching of the Fathers, who lived in the golden age of Christian eloquence, was reproduced by Paschasius Radbert in the 9th Century, by Rupert in the 12th, and by William of Auvergne in the beginning of the 13th.

It would be too long to give the names, and still more to quote passages, in testimony of how all the Churches for the first twelve Centuries looked upon the holy Eucharist in this same way,—that is, as instituted for the purpose of union. If we follow this traditional teaching back to the apostolic source whence it originated, we shall find St. Cyprian, in the age of Persecution, speaking to his people upon the union between the divine Head and his members, which is the necessary result of the holy Sacrament; he shows this, not only by the nature of bread and wine, the essential elements for the consecration of the mysteries, but likewise by the mingling of water with the wine in the eucharistic cup: the water, he says, signifies the faithful people; the wine denotes the Blood of Christ; their union in the chalice—union necessary for the integrity of the Sacrifice—union the most complete and inseparable—expresses the indissoluble alliance between Christ and his Church, which consummates the Sacrament. The same St. Cyprian shows that the Unity of the Church by the Chair of Peter, which is the subject of one of his finest treatises, is divinely established on the sacred Mysteries; he speaks enthusiastically of the multitude of believers, the Christian unanimity being held together in the bonds of a firm and indivisible charity by the Sacrifice of our Lord Jesus Christ. Christ in his Sacrament, and Christ in his Vicar, is in reality but the one same Rock that bears the building which is erected upon it; the one sole Head, visible in his representative, his Vicar, and invisible in his own substance, in the Sacrament.

This sentiment of union, as the result of the Eucharist, was rooted in the soul of the early Church; her very mission was to bring about the union of all the children of God that were dispersed throughout the world; and when the violence of her enemies obliged her to provide her children with some secret sign, whereby they might recognize each other and not be recognized by pagans or persecutors or blasphemers, she gave them the mysterious icthus, the fish, which was the sacred symbol of the Eucharist. The letters which form the greek word for fish (icthus) are the initials of a formula in the same language, which gives this sentence: Jesus Christ, Son of God, Saviour. The Fish is shown to us in the Book of Tobias as a figure of Christ, who is the food of the wayfarer; casts out the devil by his virtues; and gives light to the world, grown old in iniquity. Again: it is not without a prophetic and mysterious purpose that the fish is mentioned in Genesis as being blessed by the Creator at the commencement of the world, just as man himself was. It goes with the bread which is miraculously multiplied in the Gospel, when our Lord prefigures the marvels of the Eucharist. It is brought again to our notice after the Resurrection; it is found lying on hot coals, and is offered by Jesus, together with bread, as a repast to seven of his disciples, on the banks of lake Tiberias. Now, what is this Fish? this Bread? The Fathers answer: Christ is the Bread of that mysterious repast; he is the Fish taken from living water, and is roasted on the altar of the Cross by the fire of his love, and feeds the Disciples on his own substance, and offers himself to the entire world as the true icthus. No wonder, then, that we find this sacred symbol on almost everything that the Christians of the first three centuries possessed; on precious stones, rings, lamps, inscriptions, paintings, there was the Fish, in some shape or other. It was the watchword, the tessera of the Christians in those days of persecution. An inscription of the 2nd Century, discovered in modern times at Autun, thus speaks of the Christians: “This divine race of the heavenly icthus, this noble-hearted race, receive from the Saviour of the Saints the nourishment which is sweet as honey, and drink long draughts of the divine fount, holding icthus in their hands.” A holy Bishop of Asia Minor, of that same early period, by name Abercius of Hierapolis, who was divinely led into various lands everywhere, recognizes the disciples of Christ by the holy Fish, which makes all however separated by distance to be one. “I have,” says he, shortly before the close of his life of travel, “I have seen Rome; I have be held the queen city in her robes and sandals of gold; I have made acquaintance with the people decked with bright rings. I have visited the country of Syria and all her cities. Passing the Euphrates, I have seen Nisibis; and all people in the East were in union with me, for we all formed but one body; everywhere, faith presented to all, and gave as nourishment to all the glorious and holy icthus, which came from the only fount, and was taken by the most pure Virgin.”

This, then, was the bond of that mighty union between Christians, which was such a puzzle to the pagan world; and the more the real cause of that unity was kept concealed from its eyes, so much the more violent was the fury wherewith it attacked the Church. Our Lord had said: Give not that which is holy to dogs; neither cast ye your pearls before swine. These words contained, in principle, the discipline of secrecy which was observed in the Church till the conversion of the Western world was completed. The holiness of the Sacraments, the sublimity of the Christian doctrines, necessitated an extreme reserve on the part of the Faithful, living as they had to do, amidst people whose moral degradation and brutal corruption rendered them what our Savior had told us men would sometimes make themselves. But there was nothing which it was so imperative to hide from the stare and sacrilege of pagans as the most holy Eucharist,—that “great pearl of the sacred Body of the Lamb,” as Venantius Fortunatus calls it. It was this that gave rise to the essential distinction, into two classes, of a Christian assembly when met for divine worship; there were the initiated and the uninitiated, the Faithful and the Catechumens. The distinction began with the apostolic age and was kept up till the 8th Century. A few weeks before the solemn administration of Baptism, there took place, as we have elsewhere explained, the giving, or, as it was termed, the Tradition of the Symbol, to the future members of the Church; but the eucharistic mystery, the arcanum by excellence, was even then kept back from the fortunate candidates for holy Baptism. This explains the varied precautional expressions, the reticence, the studied obscurity of phraseology, used by the Fathers in their discourses to their flock, and this for years after the times of Constantine and Theodosius. The Catechumens were admitted while the holy Scriptures were being read, or while the Psalms were being chanted; but as soon as the Bishop had given his discourse on the portion which had been read, either of the Gospel or other passages of the Sacred Volume, these Catechumens were dismissed by the Deacon; and this missa, or missio, gave its name to that first portion of the Liturgy; it was called “Mass of the Catechumens;” just as the second part, which was from the oblation to the final dismissal, was called the “Mass of the Faithful.”

And yet this same holy Mother Church, which kept so jealous an eye to her treasure, as not to let it be fully known, except to her true children, made such by Baptism,—with what delight did she not, at the feasts of Easter and Pentecost, reveal to her newborn children, as soon as they came from the font, the ineffable secret hitherto kept in her heart as Bride, the full mystery of the icthus! Incorporated to Christ by the saving waters, enrolled in his army and marked with the sign of his soldiers by the anointing received from the Bishop,—with what maternal fondness did she not lead them from the Baptistery first, and then from the Chrismarium to the hallowed precincts of the Mysteries instituted by the Word Incarnate! Yes, it was there that Jesus, their Head, was awaiting his new members, that he might draw all the more closely the bonds which already knit them to his mystic Body, and unite them to himself in the infinite homage of that one great Sacrifice, which himself was offering to the Eternal Father.

This wondrous unity of the Eucharistic Sacrifice, which, in its ever the same one oblation, included both Head and Members; this unity of Sacrifice which kept alive and strengthened the union of each Christian community and of the whole Church, was admirably expressed by the magnificent forms of the primitive Liturgy. After the Catechumens had been dismissed and the unworthy expelled, all the Faithful, without exception, from the Emperor and his Court down to the poorest cottager, whether man or woman, advanced towards the Altar, each one offering their share of bread and wine for the sacred Mysteries. Themselves a kingly priesthood, as St Peter calls them, a living victim figured by the gifts they brought, they assisted, standing, at the immolation of the divine Victim, whose members they truly were; then, united in the kiss of peace, the external sign of their union of heart, they received in their hands, and still standing, the sacred Body their spiritual nourishment; the Deacons offered them the Chalice, and they drank of the precious Blood. Even babes in their mothers’ arms were eager for the divine drink and received some drops, at least, into their innocent mouths. The sick who could not leave their rooms, and prisoners, were not deprived of being united with their brethren in the sacred banquet; they received the precious Gifts at the hands of ministers who were sent to them, for the purpose, by the Bishop. The Anchorets in their deserts, Christians living in the country, and all such as could not be present at the next assembly, took the Body of our Lord with them, that thus they might not, because of distance, be deprived of uniting at the coming celebration of the Mysteries of salvation. Those were ages when Christian unity was continually being attacked by persecution, schism, and heresy, all three at once; and the Church, to counteract the danger, had no hesitation in facilitating, by every lawful means, the use and application of the venerable Sacrament, which is the sign of unity, and the innermost center, and the strongest tie of the Christian community.

It was from the same principle of unity that, although in each city there were generally several churches or centers for the assemblies of the Faithful, and a greater or less number of Clergy, yet all the Faithful and Clergy came together for the collect, or synaxis, into some one place fixed upon by the Bishop. “Where the Bishop shall show himself,” says St. Ignatius of Antioch, “there let the multitude be; just as where Christ Jesus is; there is the catholic Church. It is not lawful either to baptize or to celebrate the agape (the Eucharist) without the Bishop… Do all of you assemble for prayer in the one same place; let there be unity of common prayer, unity of mind, unity of hope… Do all of you come together, as though you were one man, into the temple of God, as to one altar, as to one Christ Jesus, the great high-priest of the unborn God.… Let us enjoy the one Eucharist; for one is the Flesh of our Lord Jesus, and one his Blood which was shed for us; one also is the Bread which was broken to us all, and one the Cup which was distributed to all; one altar to the whole Church, and one Bishop, surrounded by the Presbyterium and the Deacons.”

The Presbyterium was the college of Priests of each city; they kept near the Bishop, were his council, and celebrated the sacred functions together with him. It would seem that at the beginning, they were twelve in number, the closer to represent the Apostles; but in the great cities, that number was soon doubled. We find that, towards the close of the first century, there were in Rome five and twenty Priests who were respectively set over twenty-five Titles, that is, Churches, of the metropolis. The Pontiff took first one, and then another, of these Titles for the celebration of the Mysteries. The twenty-four Priests of the other Titles united with the Pontiff in the solemnity of one and the same Sacrifice, and concelebrated at one and the same Altar. In their respective places, the seven Deacons and all the inferior clerics, each according to his rank, cooperated in the thrice holy Mysteries. We have already seen the active part taken in the same by the faithful People.

It was the very time when the Eagle of Patmos, St. John the Evangelist, was being favored with his inspiration and vision of the gorgeous ritual of heaven. He beheld the Lamb that was slain, yet standing in the midst of the four and twenty Elders who were seated on thrones encircling the throne of God,—which is also the throne of the Eternal High Priest. Clad in white garments and wearing golden crowns, these four and twenty Elders held harps in their hands and golden vials full of odors, which are the prayers of Saints. Then came the seven Spirits, who were before the throne of God like so many burning lamps; and then, thousands of thousands of Angels, who were round about the Throne, singing praise to the sacrifice and triumph of the Lamb; and then every creature which is in heaven, and on the earth, and under the earth, and such as are in the sea, all cried out, giving benediction, and honor, and glory, and power,—to him that liveth for ever and ever. This admirable vision represented the fullness and unity of the Sacrifice, which was offered once, but to last forever, and was offered by him who is the Head of all created beings. The Church on earth, the exiled Bride of that Jesus, did her best when offering that same Sacrifice, to repeat the sublime ritual of heaven. And as in heaven, the divine Lamb, the eternal High Priest, drew after him the celestial hierarchy, so likewise on earth, all the Churches came round the officiating Pontiff and united with him in the holy Sacrifice, each one according to the sacred Order he held.

It was impossible for the universal Church, subject as she is to the conditions of place and time, to meet here below at one Altar; but the unity of the Sacrifice, which was everywhere offered, was like the unity of the Church, herself expressed by the mutual transmission between the various Bishops of the sacred species that had been consecrated by them; and these, each one put into the chalice from which they received the precious Blood. St. Irenæus, who lived in the 2nd Century, tells us that the supreme Hierarch, the Pontiff of Rome, used to send these sacred gifts not only to Churches in the West, but even into Asia, as emblems of the unity existing between the Churches there, and the Church, the Mistress and Mother of all others. So, too, when the number of the Faithful became so great as to induce the Church to allow individual Priests to celebrate alone the holy Mysteries, the Priests of the town where a Bishop resided never thought of exercising this isolated function until they had received from the Bishop a fragment of the bread he had consecrated and which they mingled with their own Sacrifice. It was the fermentum, the sacred leaven of Catholic Communion.

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As an appropriate conclusion to the above subject, we append the following beautiful liturgical formula, taken from the Apostolic Constitutions, a writing which,
 as we now have it in its entirety, has been admitted by critics as a work of the 3rd Century.

Thanksgiving for the Mysteries

Gratias agimus tibi, Pater noster, pro vita quam manifestasti nobis per Jesum Filium tuum; per quem tum omnia creasti, tum universis provides; quem et misisti, ut ad salutem nostram homo fieret; quem etiam permisisti pati et mori; quem et resuscitans glorificare voluisti, et sedere fecisti ad dexteram tuam; per quem et promisisti nobis resurrectionem mortuorum.
We give thanks unto thee, O Father, for the life thou hast manifested unto us by thy Son Jesus; by whom, thou hast both created all things, and providest for all; whom thou also sendedst, that, for our salvation, he might be made Man; whom thou also permittedst to suffer and to die; whom also, raising him up again, thou willedst to glorify, and madest him to sit at thy right hand; by whom also thou didst promise us the resurrection of the dead.

Tu, Domine omnipotens, Deus æterne: quemadmodum hoc erat dispersum, et quum fuit congregatum, factus est unus panis, ita congrega Eccelsiam tuam a finibus terræ in regnum tuum.
O almighty Lord, eternal God! as this (element), which was once disunited, being united, hath become one Bread, so do thou assemble together thy Church, from the ends of the earth, into thy kingdom.

Adhuc gratias agimus, Pater noster, pro pretioso sanguine Jesu Christi effuso nostra causa; et pro pretioso corpore: cujus et hæc antitypa celebramus, quum ipse nobis constituerit mortem illius annuntiare: per ipsum enim tibi gloria in sæcula. Amen.
We also give thanks to thee, our Father, for the precious Blood of Jesus Christ, which was shed for our sake; and for his precious Body; of which we are now celebrating the antitypes (the Mysteries); for he himself did appoint that we should announce his death; for, by him, is glory (given) to thee for ever. Amen.
"So let us be confident, let us not be unprepared, let us not be outflanked, let us be wise, vigilant, fighting against those who are trying to tear the faith out of our souls and morality out of our hearts, so that we may remain Catholics, remain united to the Blessed Virgin Mary, remain united to the Roman Catholic Church, remain faithful children of the Church."- Abp. Lefebvre
Wednesday after Trinity Sunday
Taken from The Liturgical Year by Dom Prosper Guéranger  (1841-1875)

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We have not, as yet, reached the Feast of the divine Memorial; not until the morrow shall we have it in all its splendor. But this evening at first Vespers, the Church will begin her acclamations to the Eternal Priest, and although the Sovereign Pontiffs have not ordained that a Vigil, properly so called, shall precede the Feast of Corpus Christi, yet have they granted indulgences to a voluntary fast practiced on this its eve. Let us now resume the history of the Church’s worship of the great mystery.

We have already seen how the unity of the Church is based upon the Eucharist. Our Lord Jesus Christ, in that Sacrament, is the corner stone, upon which rises, in the harmony of its several parts, the temple of living stones built to the glory of God. Jesus is the High Priest ordained for men, himself being Man, that he may present to God the homage of his Brethren, by offering to his and their Father a Sacrifice in the name of all. And although this homage of regenerate,—mankind this Sacrifice which is the highest expression of that homage,—owes its whole worth to the infinite dignity of him who is the Head of the Church,—yet the Sacrifice is only complete when there is the union of the Members with the Head. The Head must have the Body. The Church is, as the Apostle tells us, the fullness, the completion, of Him who is filled in all; the Church perfects the Sacrifice as an integral portion of the Victim who is offered upon the Altar. What is true of the Church is true likewise of each one of us, who are Members of Christ; and we are really, his Members provided we be united in the great Action of the Sacrifice, by that intimate union which makes one Body of many Members.

Herein consists the social influence of the Eucharist. The human family had been broken up by sin; it regains its lost unity by the Blood of the Lamb; and the original intention, which God had in creating the world, is fulfilled. After all other beings there came forth out of nothing the creature man; he was to give a voice of praise to the whole of creation; for, his own twofold nature, material and spiritual, made him the compendium of all other creatures. When he was restored by redemption he regained his position in the glorious choir of beings. The Eucharist,—the Thanksgiving, the praise by excellence, is the sweet produce of the human race. The Eucharist,—that grand hymn of divine Wisdom sung to the King of ages,—ascends from this earth of ours, blending the two harmonies into one; the ineffable harmony of the eternal Canticle that is the Word in the Father’s bosom,—and the harmony of the new Canticle, which is repeated by the choir of creatures, to the glory of their Creator.

The Ages of Faith lived on this grand truth; they thoroughly understood the priceless worth of the gift bestowed by the Man-God upon his Church. Appreciating the honor thence accruing to our earth, they felt themselves bound to respond to it in the name of all creatures, by giving to the celebration of the sacred Mystery everything that ritual could impart of grandeur and solemnity. The Liturgy, for the Christians of those times, was exactly what is implied by the word: it was the public function, the social act by excellence; and as such, it claimed every sort of external pomp; and the presence of the whole people round the Altar was looked upon as a matter of course. As to the lawfulness of what are called Private Masses, it would be easy to prove by most authentic facts of history, that what the Catholic Church teaches regarding them, was her teaching from the very commencement; and yet, practically and as a general rule, the richness of ceremonial the enthusiasm of sacred chant the magnificence of sacred rites were, for a long period, regarded as inseparable, from the offering up of the Holy Sacrifice.

The solemnities of divine service as celebrated in any Catholic Cathedral, on the greatest Feast in the Year, is but a feeble image of the magnificent forms of the ancient Liturgies, such as we described them yesterday. The Church herself, whose desires for what is most perfect never vary, ever evinces a marked predilection for the remnants she has been able to keep up of her ancient forms of worship; but as far as the generality of her people is concerned, there can be no doubt of the existence of a growing feeling of indifference for the external pomp wherewith the holy Sacrifice is so deservedly accompanied; whatever demonstrations of Christian piety still exist, are directed elsewhere. The cultus of the divine presence in the Eucharist as developed in these our own times, is certainly a blow to the heresy which denies that Presence; it is, too, a joy to every Catholic who loves God; but care must be taken lest a movement which is so profitable to individual souls and so redounding to the glory of the holy Sacrament, should be turned by the craft of the enemy against the Eucharist itself. Now, this might easily be the case if, in consequence of such devotion being ill regulated, the very primary object of the eucharistic dogma which is Sacrifice,—were permitted to lose its place, either in the appreciation, or in the practical religion, of the Faithful.

In the admirable connection existing throughout the whole body of Christian revelation, there can be no such thing as one dogma becoming a danger to another. Every new truth, or every truth presented under a new aspect, is a progress in the Church and an acquisition for her children. But the progress is then only a true one when in its application, the new truth, or its new aspect, is not treated with such prominence as to throw a more important truth into the shade. Surely, no family would ever count that gain of new property to be a boon which would jeopardize or lessen the rich patrimony which past ages had secured. The principle is a self-evident one; and must be borne in mind when studying the different phases of the history of any human society, and especially when the History of the Church is in question. If the Holy Spirit, who is ever urging the Church to what is highest, is incessantly adorning her for the eternal nuptials, and is decking her brow with a gradual increase of light,—yet is it but too often the case that the human element of which she partakes through her members, her children, makes its weight tell upon the Bride of Christ. When that happens, she redoubles her maternal solicitude for these her children; they are too delicate to live on the summits and bear the bracing atmosphere to which their forefathers were accustomed. She herself continues her aspirations after what is most perfect and approaches gradually nearer to heaven; but for the sake of her weakly children, she quits the mountain paths she loved to tread in better times, for those paths kept her closer to her divine Spouse; she comes lower down, she is content to lose something of her external charms, she stoops,—that she may the better reach the children she has to save. This her condescension is admirable; but it certainly gives no right to the children who live in these less healthy times, to think themselves better than their forefathers. Is a sick man better than the one who is in health, because the food, which is indispensable for keeping up the little strength he has, is given to him under new forms, and such as will suit his debilitated frame?

Because, in these our days, a certain increase of devotion towards the divine Host, who dwells in our tabernacles, has been observed in some souls, and the external demonstration of this devotion is under a new form, it has been asserted, that “no age ever equaled our own in the cultus of the Most Holy Sacrament!” And because of this holy enthusiasm, our 19th Century, which with its restless activity has opened out so many new methods of devotion, has been called, by a certain writer, “the great age of the Eucharist!” Would to God these assertions were correct! for it is quite true, and history is rich in bearing testimony to the fact that “an age is more or less glorious according to its devotion towards the adorable Eucharist.” But it is no less true that if the different Centuries be compared with each other for devotion towards the Sacrament of Love,—which, at all times, is the very life of the Church,—there can be no doubt but that that ought to be counted as the golden age, in which our Lord’s intentions in instituting the divine Mystery were the best understood and carried out, and not that wherein individual devotion was busiest.

Now, leaving aside for the present all principles connected with dogma, and which will find their place more appropriately a few days later,—we have history to bear witness to this fact that, so long as the western nations kept up their faith and fervor, the Church who is the faithful and sure interpreter of her Jesus’ intentions, maintained the discipline observed in the worship practiced towards the Eucharist during the early ages. After her twofold victory over the pagan persecutions and the obstinate dogmatism of the Emperors of Byzantium, the Church, the noble depositarian of the New Testament, was in possession of a freedom greater than she has had at any other period; her children, too, made it their perfection to follow her every wish. Thus free to act as she knew was best, and sure to be obeyed, she kept to the way of eucharistic worship which her Martyrs had followed and her Doctors had so enthusiastically developed in their writings: that is, she took the energies of the new children she had received, by the conversion of barbarian nations, and centered them in the Sacrifice, that is, in the holy fatigues of solemn Mass and the Canonical Hours, which are but a natural irradiation of the Sacrifice.

Nothing in those times was more catholic,—nothing less individual and private,—than the eucharistic worship thus based on the social character which pertains to the Sacrifice. It was the uppermost idea even in such of the faithful as, through sickness or other personal reasons, were obliged to communicate of the universal Victim separatedly from the rest of the people. It was the one leading thought, which made them turn their hearts and their adorations towards the gilded dove, or the ivory tower, in which were conserved, under the mysterious integrity of the Sacrament, the precious remnants of the Sacrifice.

Faith in the real presence, a faith quite as animated and deep as any that can be witnessed in our own times, was the soul of the whole Liturgy; it was the basis of the entire system of the Church’s rites and ceremonies, all of which are unmeaning if you take away the catholic dogma of the Eucharist. This dogma was admitted by all the children of the Church as a principle beyond discussion; it was their dearest treasure; it was a truth, which was both foundation stone and roofing of the House built amongst men by Eternal Wisdom. To a superficial observer, it might seem as though the Faithful of those early ages were less intent upon it than we now are: but is it not always the case that the rock which supports the edifice, and the timber which roofs it, call for less solicitude when the building is under no risk, either from the indifference of its inmates, or from the attacks of enemies outside?

The Church herself cannot grow decrepit; but it is a law in history that, even within her fold, and in spite of the vitality she imparts to nations, no society ever maintains itself long at its highest pitch of perfection. Men are like stars in this, that their apogee marks the period of their decline; they only seem to mount on high that they may speedily descend: and after the fullest vigor of age, we gradually approach the impotency of the old man. So was it to be with Christendom itself, with that grand confederation which had been established by the Church in the strong unity of unfeigned charity, and of faith unalloyed by error. The Crusades were, for a second time, rousing the world to holy enterprise; the preaching of St. Bernard was stirring mankind to zeal for the cause of God. The impulse was so immense that it seemed as though the event marked the culminating point of Christ’s reign upon earth and secured perpetuity to the power of the Church. And yet, that was the very period when old signs of decay returned, and with fresh intensity. The heroic Pontiff St. Gregory the Seventh had stemmed the evil for a considerable time, but at the period we speak of, a relapse set in and advanced with its work of ravage till it brought about the great revolt of the 15th Century and the general apostasy of nations.

The celebrated prophetess of the Middle Ages, St. Hildegard, was then scanning with her eagle eye the miseries of her own day, and the still more somber threatenings of the future. She that was used to write the messages of God to Pontiffs and Kings penned these words in a Letter to Werner and his brother Priests of Kircheim,—they had written to Hildegard and solicited her reply: “It was whilst lying for a long time on a bed of sickness in the year of the Lord’s Incarnation, one thousand one hundred and seventy, that I saw, wakeful both in body and mind, a most beautiful image, having a woman’s appearance: she was all perfect in her suavity, and most dear in the charms of her beauty, which was such as that the human mind could in no wise comprehend it. Her stature was so great that it reached from earth even up to heaven. Her face, too, beamed with exceeding brightness, and her eye was fixed on heaven. She was clad in a spotless garment made of white silk. The mantle which covered her was adorned with most precious stones of emerald, sapphire, and likewise of beads and pearls. The shoes on her feet were of onyx. But her face was covered with dust, and her garment was rent on the right side, and her mantle had lost its elegant beauty, and her shoes were dimmed. And she, with a loud and plaintive voice, cried out towards the high heavens: ‘Hearken, O heaven, that my face is defiled! And wail, 0 earth, that my garment is rent! And thou, 0 abyss, tremble because my shoes are dimmed. Foxes have holes, and birds of the air nests; but I have not helper or comforter, nor staff whereon to lean, and whereby to have support.’ … ‘They that should have adorned me in every way have, in all these things, abandoned me. For it is they that besmear my face, by dragging the Body and Blood of my Spouse into the great uncleanness of the impurity of their living, and the great filth of their fornications and adulteries; and by buying and selling holy things, defiling them as a child would be, were he put down in mire before swine… The wounds of Christ my Spouse are contaminated.’ … Princes and a headlong people will rush upon you, O Priests! They will cast you forth and put you to flight and will take your riches away from you … They will say: ’Let us cast out from the Church these adulterers and extortioners, and men that are full of all wickedness!’ And in doing this, they will have it that they do a service unto God, because they say that it is by you that the Church is defiled… By God’s permission, many nations will begin to rage against you in their judgments, and many people will devise vain things concerning you, for they will count as nought your priestly office and your consecration. Kings of the earth will assist these in your overthrow, and they will thirst after the earthly things (you possess); and the Princes in whose dominions you live, shall make a convention in this one plan,—that they may drive you out of their territories, because you, by your most wicked deeds, have driven away the innocent Lamb from your midst. And I heard a voice from heaven, saying: ‘This image is the Church!’”

What a fearful description of the evils brought upon the Church in the 12th Century! What a prophecy of its far off results! These miseries were in keeping with the way in which the august Mystery of the Altar was treated. It has always been so. The disorders of the sanctuary necessarily brought about relaxation in the people. They grew wearied of receiving the heavenly food from hands that were, but too often, unworthy ones. The guests at the banquet of divine Wisdom became rare, so rare indeed, that in the year 1215, a General Council, the 4th of Lateran, passed the well known law which obliges under the severest penalties the Faithful of both sexes to receive Communion at least once in the Year. The evil became so great that the legislation of Councils and the genius of Innocent the Third, the last of the great Popes of the Middle Ages, would not have sufficed to arrest it, had not God given to his Church the two Saints, Dominic and Francis: they reclaimed the Priesthood and, for a time, brought back the people to the practice of Christian piety. But the ancient forms of the Liturgy had perished during the interval of the crisis.

The oblation in common, which supposed that all communicated in the divine Victim, had given place to private foundations, and to honoraries or stipendium; in themselves, they were quite lawful, but they had been so considerably increased by the introduction of the mendicant Orders, that a change in the Liturgy was the consequence. Private Masses, for special intentions, were multiplied in order to satisfy obligations which had been contracted with individual donors; and by a necessary consequence, the imposing rite of concelebration, maintained in Rome till the 13th Century, entirely disappeared in the Western Church. The Sacrifice of the Mass was no longer brought before the Faithful with the majestic ceremonial which, in former times, had secured to it a preponderance over the whole religion and life of the Christian people. The holy Eucharist soon began to be given out of the time of Mass, and for reasons which were not always serious ones. More than one scholastic theologian encouraged the practice. If this scholastic had not true learning on his side, he had his sharp definitions and categorical divisions; and Communion seemed to become, in the minds of some men, a something distinct by itself in the institution of the Eucharist. This was a forerunner of what we so often find practiced in our own times:—Communions made isolatedly and furtively, on principle, that is, in accordance with an ideal of spirituality which has a dread of a crowd, and a repugnance to the excitement of the Church’s ceremonies.

The notion, then, of the Sacrifice, which includes the chief motive of the Presence of the Incarnate Word in the Eucharist, was no longer brought before the people with the emphatic pre-eminence of former ages. As a counter result of this, the truth of this Presence of our God under the eucharistic species gained an ascendancy over the soul in a more exclusive, and therefore, in a more impressive and direct way. It was at this period that, out of a spirit of holy fear, and from a feeling of respect, a feeling which can never be too great,—several ancient usages began to be discontinued. Usages which were established at first with a view the better to realize or express the application of the Sacrifice, were afterwards suppressed, as exposing the sacred species to involuntary irreverence. It was thus that the custom of giving the chalice to the laity and communion to infants fell into desuetude.

An immense ritual change then was brought about. The Church accepted it, although she was aware of its being, in more than one point, a degeneracy as compared with former ages. The time had come when the grand social forms of the Liturgy, requiring as they did the strong union of Christian nations for the basis, would be but unrealities. The jealous mistrust of States against the Church,—that is, against the power which was the sole bond of mutual union between the several nations,—was ever on the increase, and only waited for an occasion to break out into open hostility. Diplomacy became a system of rupture between one country and another, just as the Church had been the framer and maintainer of their union.

If the evil from within was thus great, still greater were the dangers to which the Faithful were exposed by the onslaughts of heresy. And yet, it is precisely in such a time as this that is most manifested the superhuman prudence of the Church. In defense of that which is the essential element of her existence here below,—in defense, that is, of Faith,—she formed a rampart out of the very ruins caused by the liturgical revolution she had been compelled to accept; she sanctioned with her authority what was worthy of sanction, and thereby controlled the movement. She took advantage of the increase of devotion to the Real Presence, which the movement had excited; she gave a fresh direction to her Liturgy by substituting a ceaseless expression of the dogma for the less precise, though not less complete, and far grander, forms of the earlier period. It was a reply to heresy all the stronger because of its being more direct. We have already seen how, in consequence of the covert attacks of false doctrine, there was an evident reason felt in the 13th Century for instituting a special Feast in honor of the Eucharist as the Mystery of Faith. That reason became sheer necessity at the approach, foreseen by God alone, of the bold triumph of the sacramentarian heresy. It was necessary to forestall the attack; and by so doing, to render the coming assault less hurtful to the christian world, and less injurious to that Lord who is present in the Sacrament of his love. The means for efficaciously realizing these two ends was the development of exterior devotion to the Real Presence; the Church would thus proclaim her unshaken faith in the dogma, and the adorable Sacrament would receive, by the renewed fervor of faithful souls, a compensation for the indifference and insults of others.

Established throughout the world by the authority of the Roman Pontiffs, the Feast of Corpus Christi was, therefore, both in itself and in its developments, as we were observing yesterday, the commencement of a new phase in the Catholic worship of the holy Eucharist. Once the feast was instituted, there followed Processions, Benedictions, Forty-Hours, Expositions, Watchings in adoration; each of which was an additional affirmation of the Church’s belief in the Real Presence; the piety of her children was re-enkindled; and to that Lord who, for our sakes, dwells under the sacramental species, there was offered that tribute of homage which is so justly his due.

O Holy Church, our Mother, thou Bride of the Son of God, those times are past when thou couldst produce on this earth, a likeness to the heavenly Jerusalem. Free to follow the inspirations of thy heart as Bride, our ancestors witnessed thy arranging the great Sacrifice with the gorgeous ceremonial which gave them an insight into the grandeurs of the mystery they saw thus celebrated. That royal magnificence of ritual would be too much for such times as these we live in. The nations of the earth have let themselves be misled: for the glory they once enjoyed when thou gavest them unity with each other through the unity of the sacred Mysteries, is now exchanged for the dishonor and misery of alliance with the old enemy. While thou, with nothing to fear, and strong in the consciousness of thy rights and thy influence for good, wast beautifying in peace the garden of thy Spouse; while thou wast rejoicing in the sweet fragrance of that garden, and in the fruits of the mystic vine, a strange noise was heard, the noise of the chariots of Aminadab, driven by the hands of thine own children turned traitors. It would have been but a just punishment, hadst thou then left this ungrateful earth and gone to thy divine Spouse in heaven above. But, O loving Sulamitess, with all this increase of the evils of thine exile, thou gavest ear to the cries of them who willed to be ever thy faithful children; and thou remainedst for us, dear Mother, that we might receive thy teachings and thence derive light and life.

We know it: instead of the peaceful grandeurs which thou, beautiful Queen, didst once display when thy sovereignty was undisputed; instead of choirs of exultation and triumph resounding in thy courts, we are to see thee henceforth as a warrior, and thy hymns are to be the songs of the camp: but how beautiful are thy steps in the armor of thy pilgrimage, O thou daughter of the King! Thou art terrible as an army set in array; but thou art, too, all sweet and comely when laying aside the robe of gold and all the richly varied clothing which decked thee standing at the right hand of the King’s throne, thou girdest thyself, like him, with the sword, and pierces the hearts of his enemies with the arrows of thy truth and zeal.

Turning our thoughts, for a moment, to the Greek Church, how different is the spectacle! She is motionless from the sterility that is in a branch severed from the trunk. She retains, like so many withered leaves, the ancient forms of her liturgy, which has indeed an imposing unity, but it is the unity of schism. The very Heresy which here in our own country celebrates its unmeaning Supper in the Cathedrals built by our forefathers,—is it more out of place than the lifeless Schism of the East, which so scrupulously keeps up the ancient forms, which are its condemnation, and makes a parade of Vestments which sit so awkwardly on rebels? What life can the members of such a Church derive from these dead forms of worship?

No: she alone is Mother, who knows how to meet the wants of her children, for her affection tells her not to give to delicate ones the food that suits the strong. She alone is the Bride of the Lamb, who has the instinctive talent of making in each period of time the most of the treasure of her Spouse, the priceless Pearl he has committed to her care; and to this end she hesitates not to modify, if need be, her dearest practices her most cherished schemes for good; yea, and changes the delights and grandeurs of her queenly supremacy for the hard work of battling with the enemy of her Lord and her children.

We recognize thee, O Bride of Christ, by this mark, that thou now lispest with us who are weak, thou that, heretofore didst sing so divinely with the strong; and that thou who so long enjoyedst the peace and company of thy Spouse art as ready and as powerful to meet and vanquish his enemies, now that they are filling his world. Thus struggling, thus laboring, and in both misunderstood,—misunderstood and blamed by an ever-increasing number of ungrateful children,—thou wilt not abandon them, but remainest, that thou mayst carry to the last of the elect the sacred Host, which is to unite him with the great Sacrifice. Affectionate and generous Mother! we will follow thee in thy militant career; through the laborious passes of the steep road which leads thee to thy eternal rest; we will follow thee, because thou bearest with thee the treasure of the world. The bolder the attacks of heresy and the more insulting the neglect or blasphemies of ungrateful children, the louder shall be the professions of our faith, the humbler our adorations, the warmer and truer the demonstrations of our love towards the sacred Host.

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We have, at last, reached the great Feast, which, since Monday, has kept our minds attentive. Our earth is preparing to acknowledge, by the homage of a solemn triumph, the presence of Christ, its Priest and King, in the sacred Host. Everywhere are the Faithful busy preparing the triumph, which is to be given to it tomorrow. These preparations are inspired by faith and love; and, whilst they are progressing, the Church is ushering in the great Feast by the celebration of First Vespers. Tuning her harp to the sublime antiphons of the Angelic Doctor, St. Thomas, she proclaims, in a chant which is worthy of the words, that her Jesus is the eternal Priest according to the order of Melchisedech, and that the divine banquet, he has prepared, brings the children of the Church around the table of the Lord, like so many young olive plants.

The limits we have been obliged to observe in this work, would require us to exclude all those portions of the Office for the present Feast, at which the faithful generally do not assist. But as this Office, which was composed by St. Thomas of Aquin, is one of exceptional beauty, we have resolved to give it in its entirety. The magnificence of these hymns, and psalms, and antiphons, and responsories — all of which are teeming with genuine Catholic spirit, will furnish the faithful with the best materials for contemplation, whereby to enlighten their minds and inflame their hearts, during the whole Octave. On each of the days of this week, they will be eager to adore that beautiful King of glory, who is going to hold his court in the midst of his people, with no other veil between himself and them, than the light cloud of the sacramental species. During these happy hours, which love is ingenious enough to steal from one’s ordinary occupations, let the faithful prefer to take, wherewith to give utterance to their sentiments, the formulas which the Church herself uses, when singing to her Spouse, in the sacred banquet of his love: not only will they there find the poetry, doctrine and gracefulness of diction, which the Bride ever has at her command, when she addresses her Beloved Jesus; but they will soon learn, by experience, that, like the divine food itself, those approved and sanctified formulas suit every soul; for these formulas of the Church adapt themselves to the several dispositions and degrees of spiritual advancement, and thus become, to each one of her children, the fittest and warmest expression of every want and desire.

The First Vespers of the Feast of Corpus Christi are exactly the same as the Second, with the single exception of the Magnificat Antiphon. By this Antiphon, O quam suavis, the Church declares to us, her children, how great is the sweetness of our Lord, and that it is manifested to us by the sweetness of the eucharistic Bread; but she also tells us who they are that taste this sweetness, and derive from it the fruits of salvation: they are the souls that are led to the divine banquet by the spiritual hunger of an humble and ardent desire. With such sentiments, let us, with the immaculate Mary, magnify the Lord, who exalteth the humble, and putteth down the mighty, the proud. It is to the humblest of the daughters of Adam, that we are indebted for the Bread of heaven; it was formed, in her chaste womb, by the Holy Ghost, as we shall explain further on; but, let us, thus early, rejoice in the thought, that the Feast of Corpus Christi leads us to Mary, and bids us give her the tribute of our gratitude.


O how sweet, O Lord, is thy mine Spirit; for that thou mightest show the sweetness thou  bearest for thy children, thou, with a Bread most sweet given from heaven, fillest the hungry with good things, sending away empty the haughty rich.


O God, who, under the wonderful Sacrament, hast left us a memorial of thy Passion: grant us, we beseech thee, so to reverence the sacred mysteries of thy Body and Blood, that, in our souls, we may always feel the fruit of thy Redemption. Who livest, etc.

The Octave of Corpus Christi has its privileges; the only Octaves which have greater, are the three of the Epiphany, Easter, and Pentecost. It does not admit transferred feasts: and as to the semi-double Feasts, which may occur on the calendar, during these eight days, they are deferred till after the Octave. Double Feasts are kept; hut, no matter what may he the solemnity, a commemoration of Corpus Christi is made on each at Mass, Lauds, and Vespers. Our solemnity also tells upon all the Hymns of the several Feasts which may be kept during this Octave; for, if the metre admit it, they conclude with the following doxology, which is the one used at Compline and the Little Hours of tomorrow’s Office: (Mgr. Pie, Bishop of Poitiers. Homily given at Issoudun, Sept. 8, 1869)

Glory be to thee, O Jesus, that wast born of the Virgin! and to the Father, and to the Holy Spirit, for everlasting ages. Amen.

This continually repeated mention of virginal fecundity, during the feast in honour of the Eucharist, is an affectionate homage paid to the Virgin- Mother. The Church is mindful that the “first blasphemy against the dogma of the Sacrament of the Altar, consisted in the denying, — that the Eucharistic Body of Christ was the one born of Mary.” * Seeing, too, that the later heretics, who denied the Real Presence, have constantly insulted the Mother of that Jesus who resides in the Holy Sacrament, the Church united them together in one and the same formula of confession and praise, when standing before the sacred Host. Those early and brave witnesses of the Faith, Saints Ignatius and Irenseus, did the like; for, as St. Augustine says: “Christ took flesh from Mary’s flesh; and it is that very flesh that he gave us to eat, for our salvation; and we adore it as the foot stool of his feet.” (Psalm 98:5)

At this evening hour, when holy Church is proclaiming the adorable Sacrament, let us be imbued with these same sentiments, and offer our love to the sacred Host, which, in a few hours, is to be receiving our joyous adorations. We may, for this purpose, make use of the following formula, which has been such a favorite, in so many of our Churches, ever since the 14th Century. It used, formerly, to be sung, in Germany and France, during the Elevation, as an appropriate termination to the trisagion; for, as we find in the best manuscripts, this piece concluded with the same words as the Sanctus, — in excelsis. This kind of liturgical composition went under the name of Tropes, and were much loved by the Faithful of the Middle- Ages; it is from them that were afterwards suggested our Prose or Sequence.

Hail! true Body, born of the Virgin Mary;

Which truly suffered, and was immolated on the Cross, for man.

Whose side was pierced, and streamed with Water and Blood.

Be thou our foretaste (of heaven) when we are struggling with death!

O sweet Jesus! O good Jesus! O Jesus, Son of Mary!
"So let us be confident, let us not be unprepared, let us not be outflanked, let us be wise, vigilant, fighting against those who are trying to tear the faith out of our souls and morality out of our hearts, so that we may remain Catholics, remain united to the Blessed Virgin Mary, remain united to the Roman Catholic Church, remain faithful children of the Church."- Abp. Lefebvre
The Feast of Corpus Christi
Taken from The Liturgical Year by Dom Prosper Guéranger  (1841-1875)

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A great solemnity has this day risen upon our earth: a Feast both to God and men: for it is the Feast of Christ the Mediator, who is present in the sacred Host, that God may be given to man, and man to God. Divine union,—yes, such is the dignity to which man is permitted to aspire; and, to this aspiration, God has responded, even here below, by an invention which is all of heaven. It is today that man celebrates this marvel of God’s goodness.

It is today that man celebrates this marvel of God’s goodness. And yet, against both the Feast and its divine object, there has been made the old-fashioned objection: How can these things be done? It really does seem as though reason has a right to find fault with what looks like senseless pretensions of man’s heart. Every living being thirsts after happiness; and yet, and because of that, it only aspires after the good of which it is capable; for it is the necessary condition of happiness that, in order to its existence, there must be the full contentment of the creature’s desire. Hence, in that great act of creation which the Scripture so sublimely calls his playing in the world, when, with his almighty power, he prepared the heavens and enclosed the depths, and balanced the foundations of the earth, we are told that Divine Wisdom secured the harmony of the universe by giving to each creature, according to its degree in the scale of being, an end adequate to its powers; lie thus measured the wants, the instinct, the appetite (that is, the desire) of each creature, according to its respective nature; so that it would never have cravings which its faculties were insufficient to satisfy.

In obedience, then, to this law, was not man, too, obliged to confine within the limits of his finite nature his desires for the good and the beautiful, that is, his searching after God, which is a necessity with every intelligent and free being? Otherwise, would it not be that, for certain beings, their happiness would have to be in objects which must ever be out of the reach of their natural faculties? Great as the anomaly would appear, yet does it exist; true psychology, that is, the true science of the human mind, bears testimony to this desire for the infinite. Like every living creature around him, man thirsts for happiness; and yet he is the only creature on earth that feels within itself longings for what is immensely beyond its capacity. While docile to the lord placed over them by the Creator, the irrational creatures are quite satisfied with what they find in this world; they render to man their several services, and their own desires are all fully gratified by what is within their reach: it is not so with Man; he can find nothing in this his earthly dwelling which can satiate his irresistible longings for a something which this earth cannot give and which time cannot produce;—for that something is the infinite.

God himself, when revealing himself to man through the works he has created, that is, when showing himself to man in a way which his natural powers can take in; God, when giving man to know him as the First Cause, as Last End of all creatures, as unlimited perfection, as infinite beauty, as sovereign goodness, as the object which can content both our understanding and our will,—no, not even God himself thus known and thus enjoyed could satisfy man. This being, made out of nothing, wishes to possess the Infinite in his own substance; he longs after the sight of the face, he ambitions to enjoy the life, of his Lord and God. The earth seems to him but a trackless desert, where he can find no water that can quench his thirst. From early dawn of each wearisome day, his soul is at once on the watch, pining for that God who alone can quell his desires; yea, his very flesh, too, has its thrilling expectations for that beautiful Infinite One. Let us listen to the Psalmist, who speaks for us all: As the hart panteth after the fountains of water, so my soul panteth after thee, O God! My soul hath thirsted after the strong, living God: when shall I come and appear before the face of God? My tears have been my bread, day and night, whilst it is said to me daily: “Where is thy God?” These things I remembered, and poured out my soul in me: for I shall go over into the place of the wonderful tabernacle, even to the house of God. With the voice of joy and praise, the noise of one that is feasting. Why art thou sad, O my soul? and why dost thou trouble me? Hope in God, for I will still give praise unto him: the salvation of my countenance, and my God.

If reason is to be the judge of such sentiments as these, they are but wild enthusiasm and silly pretensions. Why talk of the sight of God, of the life of God, of a banquet wherein God himself is to be the repast? Surely, these are things far too sublime for man or any created nature to reach. Between the wishes and the object longed for, there is an abyss,—the abyss of disproportion, which exists between nothingness and being. Creation, all powerful as it is, does not in itself imply the filling up of that abyss. If the disproportion could ever cease to be an obstacle to the union aspired to, it would be by God himself going that whole length and then imparting something of his own divine energies to the creature that had once been nothing. But what is there in man to induce the Infinite Being, whose magnificence is above the heavens, to stoop so low as that? This is the language of reason.

But on the other hand, who was it that made the heart of man so great and so ambitious that no creature can fill it; how comes it that, while the heavens show forth the glory of God, and the firmament declareth how full of wisdom and power is every work of his hands, how comes it, we ask, that in man alone there is no proportion, no order? Could it be that the great Creator has ordered all things, excepting man alone, with measure and number and weight? That one creature who is the masterpiece of the whole creation; that creature for whom all the rest was intended as for its king; is he to be the only one that is a failure, and to live as a perpetual proclaimer that his Maker could not, or would not, be wise when he made Man? Far from us be such a blasphemy! God is love, says St. John; and love is the knot which mere human philosophy can never loosen, and therefore must ever leave unsolved the problem of man’s desire for the Infinite.

Yes, God is charity; God is love. The wonder in all this question is not our loving and longing for God, but that he should have first loved us. God is love; and love must have union; and union makes the united like one another. Oh! the riches of the Divine Nature, wherein are infinite Power, and Wisdom, and Love! These three constitute, by their divine relations, that blessed Trinity which has been the light and joy of our souls ever since that bright Sunday’s Feast, which we kept in its honor. Oh! the depth of the divine counsels wherein that which is willed by boundless Love finds, in infinite Wisdom, how to fulfill in work what will be to the glory of Omnipotence!

Glory be to thee, O holy Spirit! Thy reign over the Church has but just begun this Year of grace, and thou art giving us light whereby to understand the divine decrees. The day of thy Pentecost brought us a new Law, a Law where all is brightness; and it was given to us in place of that Old one of shadows and types. The pedagogue, who schooled the infant world for the knowledge of truth, has been dismissed; light has shone upon us through the preaching of the Apostles; and the children of light, set free, knowing God and known by him, are daily leaving behind them the weak and needy elements of early childhood. Scarcely, O divine Spirit! was completed the triumphant Octave, wherein the Church celebrated thy Coming and her own birth, which that Coming brought when all eager for the fulfilment of thy Mission of bringing to the Bride’s mind the things taught her by her Spouse, thou showedst her the divine and radiant mystery of the Trinity, that not only her Faith might acknowledge, but that her adoration and her praise might also worship it; and she and her children find their happiness in its contemplation and love. But that first of the great mysteries of our faith, the unsearchable dogma of the Trinity, does not represent the whole richness of Christian revelation; thou, O blessed Spirit, hastenest to complete our instruction and widen the horizon of our faith.

The knowledge thou hast given us of the essence and the life of the Godhead was to be followed and completed by that of his external works, and the relations which this God has vouchsafed to establish between himself and us. In this very week when we begin, under thy direction, to contemplate the precious gifts left us by our Jesus when he ascended on high; on this first Thursday, which reminds us of that holiest of all Thursdays,—our Lord’s Supper,—thou, O divine Spirit, bringest before our delighted vision the admirable Sacrament, which is the compendium of the works of God, one in Essence and three in Persons; the adorable Eucharist, which is the divine memorial of the wonderful things achieved by the united operation of Omnipotence, Wisdom, and Love. The most holy Eucharist contains within itself the whole plan of God with reference to this world of ours; it shows how all previous ages have been gradually developing the divine intentions, which were formed by infinite love, and by that same love, carried out to the end, yea, to the furthest extremity here below, that is, to Itself; for the Eucharist is the crowning of all the antecedent acts done by God in favor of his creatures; the Eucharist implies them all; it explains all.

Man’s aspirations for union with God,—aspirations which are above his own nature, and yet so interwoven with it as to form one inseparable life,—these strange longings can have but one possible cause, and it is God himself—God who is the author of that being called Man. None but God has formed the immense capaciousness of man’s heart; and none but God is willing or able to fill it. Every act of the divine will, whether outside himself or in, is pure love, and is referred to that Person of the Blessed Trinity who is the Third; and who, by the mode of his Procession, is substantial and infinite love. Just as the Almighty Father sees all things before they exist in themselves, in his only Word, who is the term of the divine intelligence,—so, likewise, that those same things may exist in themselves, the same Almighty Father wishes them, in the Holy Ghost, who is to the divine will what the Word is to the infinite intelligence. The Spirit of Love, who is the final term to the fecundity of persons in the divine essence, is, in God, the first beginning of the exterior works produced by God. In their execution, those exterior works are common to the Three Persons, but they are attributed to the Holy Ghost, inasmuch as he, being the Spirit of Love, solicits the Godhead to act outside Itself. He is the Love who, with its divine weight and influence of love, sways the Blessed Trinity to the external act of creation; infinite Being leans, as it were, towards the deep abyss of nothingness, and out of that abyss, creates. The Holy Spirit opens the divine counsel and says: Let us make man to our image and likeness! Then God created man to his own image; he creates him to the image of God, taking his own Word as the model to which he worked; for that Word is the sovereign archetype according to which is formed the more or less perfect essence of each created being. Like him, then, to whose image he was made, Man was endowed with understanding and free will. As such, he would govern the whole inferior creation and make it serve the purposes of its Creator, that is, he would turn it into an homage of praise and glory to its God; and though that homage would be finite, yet would it be the best of which it was capable. This is what is called the natural order; it is an immense world of perfect harmonies; and, had it ever existed without any further perfection than its own natural one, it would have been a masterpiece of God’s goodness; and yet it would have been far from realizing the designs of the Spirit of Love.

With all the spontaneity of a will which was free not to act, and was as infinite as any other of the divine perfections, the Holy Spirit wills that Man should, after this present life, be a partaker of the very life of God by the face to face vision of the divine essence; nay, the present life of the children of Adam here on this earth is to put on, by anticipation, the dignity of that higher life; and this so literally that the future one in heaven is to be but the direct sequel the consequent outgrowth of the one led here below. And how is man, so poor a creature in himself, to maintain so high a standing? how is he to satisfy the cravings thus created within his heart? Fear not: the Holy Ghost has a work of his own, and he does it simultaneously with the act of creation; for the Three Persons infuse into their creature, Man, the image of their own divine attributes; and upon his finite and limited powers graft, so to say, the powers of the divine nature. This being made for an end which is above created nature; these energies superadded to man’s natural powers, transforming, yet not destroying, them and enabling the possessor to attain the end unto which God calls him;—is called the supernatural order, in contradistinction to that lower one, which would have been the order of nature had not God, in his infinite goodness, thus elevated man above his own mere state as man, and that from the very first of his coming into existence. Man will retain all those elements of the natural order, which are essentials to his human nature; and with those essential elements, the functions proper to each: but there is a principle that, in every series, that should give the specific character to the aggregate which was the end proposed by the ruling mind. Now, the last end of Man was never other in the mind of his Creator than a supernatural one; and consequently, the natural order, properly so called, never existed independently of or separately from the supernatural.

There has been a proud school of philosophy called “free and independent,” which professed to admit no truths except natural ones, and practice no other virtues than such as were merely human: but such theories cannot hold. The disciples of godless and secular education, by the errors and crimes into which their unaided nature periodically leads them, demonstrate almost as forcibly as the eminent sanctity of souls which have been faithful to grace, that mere nature or mere natural goodness never was and never can be a permanent and normal state for man to live in. And even granting that he could so live, yet man has no right to reduce himself to a less exalted position than the one intended for him by his Maker. “By assigning us a supernatural vocation, God testified the love he bore us; but at the same time, he acted as Lord and evinced his authority over us. The favor he bestowed upon us has created a duty corresponding. Men have a saying, and a true one: ‘He that hath nobility, hath obligations:’ and the principle holds with regard to the supernatural nobility, which it has pleased God to confer upon us.”

It is a nobility which surpasses every other; it makes man not only an image of God, but like unto him! Between God,—the Infinite, the Eternal,—and Man, who but a while back was nothing, and ever must be a creature,—friendship and love are henceforth to be possible:—such is the purpose of the capabilities, and powers, and the life bestowed on the human creature by the Spirit of Love. So, then, those longings for his God, those thrillings of his very flesh, of which we were just now reading the inspired description by the Psalmist—they are not the outpourings of foolish enthusiasm! That thirsting after God, the strong, the living God; that hungering for the feast of divine union;—no, they are not empty ravings. Made partaker of the divine nature, as St. Peter so strongly words the mystery, is it to be wondered at if man be conscious of it and lets himself be drawn by the uncreated flame into the very central Fire it came from to him? The Holy Spirit, too, is present in his creature, and is witness of what himself has produced there; he joins his own testimonies to that of our own conscience, and tells our spirit that we are truly what we feel ourselves to be—the sons of God.

It is the same Holy Spirit who, secreting himself in the innermost center of our being, that he may foster and complete his work of love,—yes, it is that same Spirit who, at one time, opens to our soul’s eye by some sudden flash of light the future glory that awaits us, and then inspires us with a sentiment of anticipated triumph; and then, at another time, he breathes into us those unspeakable moanings, those songs of the exile, whose voice is choked with the hot tears of love, for that his union with his God seems so long deferred. There are, too, certain delicious hymns which, coming from the very depths of souls wounded with divine love, make their way up to the throne of God; and the music is so sweet to him that it almost looks as though it had been victorious and had won the union! Such music of such souls does really win if not the eternal union,—for that could not be during this life of pilgrimage, and trials, and tears,—still it wins wonderful unions here below, which human language has not the power to describe.

In this mysterious song between the Divine Spirit and man’s soul, we are told by the Apostle that He who searcheth hearts, knoweth what the Spirit desireth, because he asketh for the saints according to God. What a desire must not that be, which the Holy Spirit desireth! It is as powerful as the God who desires it. It is a desire, new, indeed, inasmuch as it is in the heart of man, but eternal, inasmuch as it is the desire of the Holy Spirit, whose Procession is before all ages. In response to this desire of the Spirit, the great God, from the infinite depths of his eternity, resolved to manifest himself in time and unite himself to man while yet a wayfarer; he resolved thus to manifest and unite himself not in his own Person, but in his Son, who is the brightness of his own glory and the true figure of his own substance. God so loved the world as to give it his own Word—that divine Wisdom who, from the bosom of his Father, had devoted himself to our human nature. That bosom of the Father was imaged by what the Scripture calls Abraham’s bosom, where, under the ancient covenant, were assembled all the souls of the just, as in the place where they were to rest till the way into the Holy of Holies should be opened for the elect. Now, it was from this bosom of his eternal Father, which the Psalmist calls the bride chamber, that the Bridegroom came forth at the appointed time, leaving his heavenly abode and coming down into this poor earth to seek his Bride; that, when he had made her his own, he might lead her back with himself into his kingdom, where he would celebrate the eternal nuptials. This is the triumphant procession of the Bridegroom in all his beauty; a procession whereof the Prophet Micheas, when speaking of his passing through Bethlehem, says that his going forth is from the days of eternity. Yes, truly from the days of eternity; for as we are taught by the sublime principles of Catholic theology, the connection between the eternal procession of the divine Persons and the temporal mission is so intimate that one same eternity unites the two together in God: eternally, the Trinity has beheld the ineffable birth of the Only Begotten Son in the bosom of the Father; eternally, with the same look, it has beheld him coming, as Spouse, from that same Father’s bosom.

If we now come to compare the eternal decrees of God one with the other, it is not difficult to recognize which of them holds the chief place and, as such, comes first in the divine intention of creation. God the Father has made all things with a view to this union of human nature with his Son;—union so close that, for one individual member of that nature, it was to go so far as a personal identification with the Only Begotten of the Father. So universal, too, was the union to be that all the members were to partake of it in a greater or less degree; not one single individual of the race was to be excluded, except through his own fault, from the divine nuptials with eternal Wisdom, which was made visible in a Man, the most beautiful above all the children of men. For, as the Apostle says, God, who heretofore commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath himself shined in our hearts, giving them the light of the knowledge of the glory of God, in, and by, the face of Christ Jesus. So that the mystery of the Marriage Feast is, in all truth, the mystery of the world; and the kingdom of heaven is well likened to a King, who made a Marriage for his Son.

But where is the meeting between the King’s Son and his Betrothed to take place? Where is this mysterious union to be completed? Who is there to tell us what is the dowry of the Bride, the pledge of the alliance? Is it known who is the Master who provides the nuptial banquet and what sorts of food will be served to the guests? The answer to these questions is given this very day, throughout the earth; it is given with loud triumphant joy. There can be no mistake; it is evident from the sublime message, which earth and heaven re-echo, that He who is come is the Divine Word. He is adorable Wisdom, and is come forth from his royal abode to utter his voice in our very streets, and cry out at the head of multitudes, and speak his words in the entrance of city gates; he stands on the top of the highest places by the way, in the midst of the paths, and makes himself heard by the sons of men. He bids his servants go to the tower and the city walls with this his message: Come! eat my Bread, and drink the Wine which I have mingled for you; for Wisdom hath built herself a House; supported on seven pillars; there she hath slain her victims, mingled her wine, and set forth her table; all things are ready; come to the marriage!

O Wisdom, that camest forth from the mouth of the Most High, reaching from end to end, disposing all things with strength and sweetness! we besought thee, in the season of Advent, to come unto Bethlehem, “the house of Bread;” thou wast the long Expected of our hearts. The day of the glorious Epiphany showed us the mystery of the Nuptials, and manifested to us the Bridegroom; the Bride was got ready in the waters of the Jordan; we commemorated the Magi, who, with their gifts, hastened to the royal nuptials, where the guests were regaled with a miraculous wine. But the Water which, to make up for the deficiency of a bad tree, was changed into wine, was a prophetic figure of future mysteries. The Vine, the true Vine, of which we are the Branches, has yielded its sweet-smelling flowers, and its fruits of honor and riches. Wheat hath abounded in our valleys, and they shall sing a hymn of praise; for this strength of the earth shall cover the mountain tops, and its fruit shall go up beyond Libanus.

O Wisdom, thou noble queen, whose divine perfections enamor, from early childhood, hearts that are taken with true beauty! the day of the true Marriage-feast is come. Thou art a mother full of honor, and a young Bride in thy charms, and thou comest to nourish us with the bread of life, and give us to drink of a cup of salvation. Thy fruit is better than gold; and thy blossoms, than choicest silver. They that eat thee shall still hunger after thee; and they that drink thee shall again thirst for thee; for thy conversation hath no bitterness, nor thy company any tediousness, but joy and gladness, and riches, and glory, and virtues.

During the days of this great Solemnity, when thou art seated in a pillar of a cloud and placest thy throne in the holy assembly, we would fain take each mystery of this thy divine banquet, and ponder over its marvels, and then publish them, yea, go to choir with thee, 0 beautiful Wisdom, and sing thy praise in the presence of thy Angels, who will be there adoring the Sacred Host! Do thou vouchsafe to open our lips and fill us with thy Holy Spirit, O divine Wisdom! that so our praise may be worthy of its theme, and, as thou hast promised in thy Scriptures, may it abound, may it be full to overflowing, in the mouths of thy faithful worshippers!

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The Procession, which immediately precedes Mass on other Feasts, is, today, deferred till after the offering of the great Sacrifice. In this Procession, our Jesus is to preside in person: we must, therefore, wait until the sacred Action (so our Fathers call the Mass) has bowed down to us the heavens where he resides. He will soon be shrouded beneath the mysterious cloud. He is coming, that he may nourish his elect with the fat of wheat, of that Wheat which has fallen on our earth, and is to be multiplied by being mystically immolated on the countless Altars of this earth. He is coming today, that he may receive a triumph at the hand of his people, and hear the songs we shall so joyously sing to the God of Jacob. These are the ideas expressed by the Introit, wherewith the Church opens her chants during the holy Sacrifice; it is taken from the 80th Psalm, which is so very sublime, and forms one of those already recited in the Matins of this Feast.

Cibavit eos ex adipe frumenti, alleluia: et de petra, melle saturavit eos, alleluia, alleluia, alleluia.
He fed them with the fat of wheat, alleluia: and filled them with honey out of the rock, alleluia, alleluia, alleluia.

Ps. Exsultate Deo adjutori nostro: Jubilate Deo Jacob. ℣. Gloria Patri. Cibavit eos.
Ps. Rejoice unto God, our helper: sing joyfully unto the God of Jacob. ℣. Glory, &c. He fed them.

In the Collect, the Church reminds us of the intention our Lord had in instituting, on the eve of his Passion, the Sacrament of love;—it was to be a perpetual memorial of the Passion, which he was then going to suffer. Our Mother prays, that being thus imbued with the spirit which leads her to pay honor to the Body and Blood of Christ, we may obtain the blessings which were purchased for us by his Sacrifice.

Deus qui nobis sub Sacramento mirabili passionis tuæ memoriam reliquisti: tribue, quæsumus; ita nos Corporis et Sanguinis tui sacra mysteria venerari, ut redemptionis tuæ fructum in nobis jugiter sentiamus. Qui vivis.
O God, who, under the wonderful Sacrament, hast left us a memorial of thy Passion: grant us, we beseech thee, so to reverence the sacred mysteries of thy Body and Blood, that, in our souls, we may always feel the fruit of thy Redemption. Who livest, etc.

Lesson of the Epistle of Saint Paul to the Corinthians. I Ch. XI.

Brethren, for I have received of the Lord that which also I delivered unto you, that the Lord Jesus, the same night in which he was betrayed, took bread. And giving thanks, broke, and said: Take ye, and eat: this is my body, which shall be delivered for you: this do for the commemoration of me. In like manner also the chalice, after he had supped, saying: This chalice is the new testament in my blood: this do ye, as often as you shall drink, for the commemoration of me. For as often as you shall eat this bread, and drink the chalice, you shall shew the death of the Lord, until he come. Therefore whosoever shall eat this bread, or drink the chalice of the Lord unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and of the blood of the Lord. But let a man prove himself: and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of the chalice. For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh judgment to himself, not discerning the body of the Lord.

Quote:The holy Eucharist, both as Sacrifice and Sacrament, is the very center of the Christian religion; and therefore, our Lord would have a fourfold testimony to be given in the inspired writings to its Institution. Besides the account given by Saints Matthew, Mark, and Luke, we have also that of St. Paul, which has just been read to us and which he received from the lips of Jesus himself, who vouchsafed to appear to him after his Conversion and instruct him.

St. Paul lays particular stress on the power given by our Lord to his disciples, of renewing the act which he himself had just been doing. He tells us what the Evangelists had not explicitly mentioned, that as often as a Priest consecrates the Body and Blood of Christ he shows (he announces) the Death of the Lord: and by that expression, tells us that the Sacrifice of the Cross, and that of our Altars, is one and the same. It is likewise by the immolation of our Redeemer on the Cross that the flesh of this Lamb of God is truly meat, and his Blood truly drink, as we shall be told in a few moments by the Gospel. Let not the Christian, therefore, forget it, not even on this day of festive triumph. The Church insists on the same truth in her Collect of this Feast: it is the teaching which she keeps repeating, through this formula, throughout the entire Octave, and her object in this is to impress vividly on the minds of her children this, the last and earnest injunction of our Jesus: As often as ye shall drink of this cup of the new Testament, do it for the commemoration of me! The selection she makes of this passage of St. Paul for the Epistle should impress the Christian with this truth,—that the divine Flesh which feeds his soul was prepared on Calvary, and that, although the Lamb of God is now living and impassible, he became our food, our nourishment, by the cruel death which he endured. The sinner, who has made his peace with God, will partake of this sacred Body with deep compunction, reproaching himself for having shed its Blood by his sins: the just man will approach the holy Table with humility, remembering how he too has had but too great a share in causing the innocent Lamb to suffer; and that if he be at present in the state of grace, he owes it to the Blood of the victim, whose Flesh is about to be given to him for his nourishment.

But let us dread, and dread above all things, the sacrilegious daring spoken against in such strong language by our Apostle,—and which, by a monstrous contradiction, would attempt to put again to death Him who is the Author of Life; and this attempt to be made in the very banquet which was procured for us men by the precious Blood of this Saviour! Let a man prove himself, says the Apostle; and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of the chalice. This proving one’s self is sacramental confession, which must be made by him who feels himself guilty of a grievous sin which has never before been confessed. How sorry soever he may be for it, were he even reconciled to God by an act of perfect contrition, the injunction of the Apostle interpreted by the custom of the Church and the decisions of her Councils forbids his approaching the holy Table until he has submitted his sin to the power of the Keys.

The Gradual and Alleluia-Verse are a further instance of the parallelism between the two Testaments, which we have already noticed in the composition of the Matin Responsories. The Psalmist extols the bounty of that God to whom every living creature looks for its food; and our Jesus offers himself to us, as we have it in St. John’s Gospel, as our truest nourishment.

Oculi omnium in te sperant, Domine: et tu das illis escam in tempore opportuno.
The eyes of all hope in thee, O Lord: and thou givest them food in due season.

℣. Aperis tu manum tuam, et imples omne animal benedictione.
℣. Thou openest thy hand, and fillest with thy blessing every living creature.

Alleluia, alleluia.
Alleluia, alleluia.

℣. Caro mea vere est cibus, et sanguis meus vere est potus; qui manducat meam carnem, et bibit meum sanguinem, in me manet, et ego in eo.
℣. My flesh is truly meat, and my blood is truly drink; he that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, abideth in me, and I in him.

Then follows the Sequence,—that well-known composition of the Angelical Doctor. The Church, the true Sion, expresses her enthusiasm, and love, for the living and life-giving Bread, in words which, at first sight, would see too precise and scholastic, to comport the poetry of form and sentiment. The Eucharistic mystery is here developed with that concision and solemnity for which St. Thomas had such a wonderful talent. The words are accompanied by a chant which is worthy of them; and the two together excite in the Christian soul the sentiments of unearthly joy, which are so peculiar to this Feast of the Sacrament of Love.

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Lauda Sion Salvatorem,
Lauda ducem et pastorem
In hymnis et canticis.

Praise thy Savior, O Sion! praise thy guide and shepherd, in hymns and canticles.

Quantum potes, tantum aude:
Quia major omni laude,
Nec laudare sufficis.

As much as thou hast power, so also dare; for he is above all praise, nor canst thou praise him enough.

Laudis thema specialis,
Panis vivus et vitalis
Hodie proponitur.

This day, there is given to us a special theme of praise,—the living and life-giving Bread,

Quem in sacræ mensa cœnæ,
Turbæ fractrum duodenæ
Datum non ambigitur.

Which, as our faith assures us, was given to the Twelve brethren, as they sat at the the Table of the holy Supper.

Sit laus plena, sit sonora,
Sit jucunda, sit decora
Mentis jubilatio;

Let our praise be full, let it be sweet; let our soul’s jubilee be joyous, let it be beautiful;

Dies enim solemnis agitur,
In qua mensæ prima recolitur
Hujus institutio.

For we are celebrating that great day, whereon is commemorated the first institution of this Table.

In hac mensa novi Regis,
Novum Pascha novæ legis,
Phase vetus terminat.

In this Table of the new King, the new Pasch of the new Law puts an end to the old Passover.

Vetustatem novitas,
Umbram fugat veritas,
Noctem lux eliminat.

Newness puts the old to flight, and so does truth the shadow; the light drives night away.

Quod in cœna Christus gessit,
Faciendum hoc expressit
In sui memoriam.

What Christ did at that Supper, that he said was to be done in remembrance of him.

Docti sacris institutis,
Panem, vinum in salutis
Consecramus hostiam.

Taught by his sacred institutions, we consecrate the Bread and Wine into the victim of salvation.

Dogma datur Christianis,
Quod in carnem transit panis,
Et vinum in sanguinem.

This is the dogma given to Christians,—that bread passes into flesh, and wine into blood.

Quod non capis, quod non vides,
Animosa firmat fides,
Præter rerum ordinem.

What thou understandest not, what thou seest not,—that let a generous faith confirm thee in, beyond nature’s course.

Sub diversis speciebus,
Signis tantum et non rebus,
Latent res eximiæ.

Under the different species,—which are signs not things,—there hidden lie things of infinite worth.

Caro cibus, sanguis potus;
Manet tamen Christus totus
Sub utraque specie.

The Flesh is food, the Blood is drink; yet Christ is whole, under each species.

A sumente non concisus,
Non confractus, non divisus,
Integer acciptur.

He is not cut by the receiver, nor broken, nor divided: he is taken whole.

Simit unus, sumunt mille:
Quantum isti, tantum ille:
Nec sumptus consumitur.

He is received by one, he is received by a thousand; the one receives as much as all; nor is He consumed, who is received.

Sumunt boni, sumunt mali:
Sorte tamen inæquali,
Vitæ vel interitus.

The good receive, the bad receive,—but with the difference of life or death.

Mors est malis, vita bonis:
Vide paris sumptionis
Quam sit dispar exitus.

’Tis death to the bad, ’tis life to the good: lo! how unlike is the effect of the one like receiving.

Fracto demum Sacramento,
Ne vacilles, sed memento,
Tantum esse sub fragmento,
Quantum toto tegitur.

And when the Sacrament is broken, waver not! but remember, that there is as much under each fragment, as is hid under the whole.

Nulla rei fit scissura,
Signi tantum fit fractura:
Qua nec status, nec statura
Signati minuitur.

Of the substance that is there, there is no division; it is but the sign that is broken; and He who is the Signified, is not thereby diminished, either as to state or stature.

Ecce panis Angelorum,
Factus cibus viatorum:
Vere panis filiorum,
Non mittendus canibus.

Lo! the Bread of Angels is made the food of pilgrims; verily, it is the Bread of the children, not to be cast to dogs.

In figuris præsignatur,
Cum Isaac immolatur:
Agnus Paschæ deputatur,
Datur manna patribus.

It is foreshown in figures,—when Isaac is slain, when the Paschal Lamb is prescribed, when Manna is given to our fathers.

Bone Pastor, panis vere,
Jesu nostri miserere:
Tu nos pasce, nos tuere:
Tuo nos bona fac videre
In terra viventium.

O good Shepherd! true Bread! Jesus! have mercy upon us: feed us, defend us: give us to see good things in the land of the living.

Tu qui cuncta scis et vales,
Qui nos pascis hic mortales:
Tuos ibi commensales,
Cohæredes et sodales,
Fac sanctorum civium.
Amen. Alleluia.

O thou, who knowest and canst do all things, who feedest us mortals here below, make us to be thy companions in the banquet yonder above, and thy joint-heirs, and fellow-citizens with the Saints! Amen. Alleluia.

Sequel of the holy Gospel according to John. Ch. VI.
At that time: Jesus said to the multitude of the Jews: My flesh is meat indeed: and my blood is drink indeed. He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, abideth in me, and I in him. As the living Father hath sent me, and I live by the Father; so he that eateth me, the same also shall live by me. This is the bread that came down from heaven. Not as your fathers did eat manna, and are dead. He that eateth this bread, shall live for ever.

Quote:The beloved Disciple could not remain silent on the Mystery of Love. But at the time when he wrote his Gospel, the institution of the Eucharist had been sufficiently recorded by the three Evangelists who had preceded him, as also by the Apostle of the Gentiles. Instead, therefore, of repeating what these had written, he completed it by relating the solemn promise made by Jesus on the banks of Lake Tiberias a year before the Last Supper.

He was surrounded by the thousands, who were in admiration at his having miraculously multiplied the loaves and fishes: Jesus takes the opportunity of telling them that he himself is the true bread come down from heaven and which, unlike the manna given to their fathers by Moses, could preserve man from death. Life is the best of all gifts, as death is the worst of evils. Life exists in God as in its source; he alone can give it to whom he pleases and restore it to him who has lost it. Man, who was created in grace, lost his life when he sinned, and incurred death. But God so loved the world as to send it, lost as it was, his Son, with the mission of restoring man to life. True God of true God, Light of Light, the Only Begotten Son is, likewise, true Life of true Life by nature: and as the Father enlightens them that are in darkness by this Son, who is his Light, so likewise he gives life to them that are dead, and he gives it to them in this same Son of his who is his living Image. The Word of God, then, came amongst men, that they might have life, and abundant life. And whereas it is the property of food to increase and maintain life, therefore did he become our Food, our living and life-giving Food, which has come down from heaven; partaking of the life eternal which he has in his Father’s bosom, the Flesh of the Word communicates this same life to them that eat It. That, (as St. Cyril of Alexandria observes) which, of its own nature, is corruptible, cannot be brought to life in any other way than by its corporal union with the body of him who is life by nature: now, just as two pieces of wax melted together by the fire make but one, so are we and Christ made one by our partaking of his Body and Blood. This life, therefore, which resides in the Flesh of the Word made ours within us, shall be no more overcome by death; on the day appointed, this life will throw off the chains of the old enemy, and will triumph over corruption in these our bodies, making them immortal (In Johan, lib. x. cap. 2). Hence it is that the Church, with her delicate feelings both as Bride and Mother, selects from this same passage of St. John, her Gospel for the daily Mass of the Dead; thus drying up the tears of the living who are mourning over their departed friends, and consoling them by bringing them into the presence of the holy Host, which is the source of true life, and the center of all our hopes.

Thus was it to be that not only the soul was to be renewed by her contact with the Word, but even the body, earthly and material as it is, was to share in its way of what our Savior called the Spirit that guickeneth. “They,” as St. Gregory of Nyssa has so beautifully said, “who have been led, by an enemy’s craft, to take poison, neutralize by some other potion the power which would cause death; and as was the deadly, so likewise the curative must be taken into the very bowels of the sufferer; that so the efficacy of that which brings relief may permeate through the whole body. Thus we, having tasted that which ruined our nature, require a something which will restore and put to right that which was disordered; and that when this salutary medicine shall be within us, it may, as an antidote, drive out the mischief of the poison which had previously been taken into the body. And what is this (salutary medicine)? No other than that Body which had both been shown to be stronger than death, and was the beginning of our life. For, says the Apostle, as a little leaven makes the whole paste to be like itself, so, likewise, that Body which God had willed should be put to death, when it is within ours, transmutes and transfers it wholly to Itself … Now, the only way whereby a substance may be thus got into the body, is by its being taken as food and drink.”

The Offertory is taken from those words of Leviticus (xxi, t), wherein God commands the Priests of the ancient covenant to be holy, because of their having to offer incense and loaves of proposition to him, as figures of something to be at another time. As much as the priesthood of the New Testament is superior to this ministry of the figurative Law, so much should the hands of Aaron be surpassed in holiness by those that have to offer, to God the Father, the true Bread of heaven, which is the incense of infinite fragrance.

Sacerdotes Domini incensum et panes offerunt Deo: et ideo sancti erunt Deo suo, et non polluent nomen ejus, alleluia.
The priests of the Lord offer unto God incense and loaves: and, therefore, shall they be holy to their God, and shall not defile his name, alleluia.

In the Secret, the Priest prays that there may be, in the Church, that unity and peace, which are the special grace of the holy Sacrament, as the Fathers teach us. The very bread and wine which are offered express this: the bread is made up out of many grains and the wine out of many berries.

The Preface, both for the Feast and the Octave, is that of Christmas: we are thus reminded of the close connection which exists between the two mysteries of the Birth of Christ and the Eucharist. It was in Bethlehem, the house of Bread, that Jesus, the Bread of Life, came down from heaven through the Virgin, his ever blessed Mother.

Ecclesiæ tuæ, quæsumus Domine, unitatis et pacis propitius dona concede: quæ sub oblatis muneribus mystice designantur. Per Dominum.
Mercifully grant thy Church, O Lord, we beseech thee, the gifts of unity and peace, which are mystically represented in these offerings. Through, etc.

Vere dignum et justum est, æquum et salutare, nos tibi semper et ubique gratias agere: Domine sancte, Pater omnipotens, æterne Deus; quia per incarnati Verbi mysterium, nova mentis nostræ oculis lux tuæ claritatis infulsit: ut dum visibiliter Deum cognoscimus, per hunc in invisibilium amorem rapiamur: et ideo cum Angelis et Archangelis, cum Thronis et Dominationibus, cumque omni militia cœlestis exercitus hymnum gloriæ tuæ canimus, sine fine dicentes.

It is truly meet and just, right and available to salvation, that we should always, and in all places, give thanks to thee, O holy Lord, Father Almighty, eternal God; for that, by the mystery of the Incarnate Word, a new ray of thy glory has appeared to the eyes of our soul: so that, while we behold God visibly, we may be carried by him to the love of things invisible: and, therefore, with the Angels and Archangels, with the Thrones and Dominations, and with all the heavenly host, we sing a hymn to thy glory, saying unceasingly.

Faithful to her Lord’s injunction, which she brought before us in the Epistle, the Church reminds her children, in the Communion-Anthem, that they announce the Death of Christ, when they receive his Body; and that consequently, they should tremble at the very thought of an unworthy Communion.

Quotiescumque manducabitis panem hunc, et calicem bibetis, mortem Domini annuntiabitis, donec veniat: itaque quicumque manducaverit panem, vel biberit calicem Domini indigne, reus erit corporis et sanguinis Domini, alleluia.
As often as ye shall eat this bread, and drink the chalice, ye shall show the death of the Lord, until he come: whosoever, therefore, shall eat this bread, or drink the chalice of the Lord unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and of the blood of the Lord, alleluia.

The Church concludes the Mysteries by praying that there be granted that eternal and unveiled union with the divine Word, of which she has a pledge and figure in the partaking, here below, of the real substance of his Body and Blood, under the veil of Faith.

Fac nos, quæsumus Domine, divinitatis tuæ sempiterna fruitione repleri: quam pretiosi Corporis et Sanguinis tui temporalis perceptio præfigurat. Qui vivis.
Grant us, O Lord, we beseech thee, the everlasting possession of thyself: as a pledge of which, we have received thy Body and Blood. Who livest, etc.

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The Procession

Who is this who comes up, embalming the desert of the world with her clouds of incense and myrrh, and perfumes unnumbered? The Bride has awakened of her own accord today. Full of desire to please him, and very lovely, the Church is standing round the golden litter, wherein is throned her Spouse in his glory. Near him are drawn up the valiant ones of Israel,—the priests and levites of the Lord who are strong even with God. Go forth, ye daughters of Sion! fix your gaze on the true Solomon, so beautiful in the diadem, wherewith his mother crowned him on the day of his espousals, the day of the joy of his heart! That diadem is the Flesh received by the divine Word, from the Virgin Mother, when he took our human nature for his Bride. By this most perfect of Bodies, by this sacred Flesh, there is every day continued, in the Eucharistic banquet, the ineffable mystery of the marriage between man and eternal Wisdom. For our true Solomon, then, each day is the day of the joy of his heart, the day of nuptial rejoicing: could anything be more just than that once in the Year, holy Church should give full freedom to the transports of the love she has for her divine Spouse, who resides with her in the Sacrament of Love, although in a hidden manner? It is on this account that in today’s Mass, the Priest has consecrated two Hosts; and that, after having received one of these in communion, he has placed the other in the glittering Ostensorium, which is to be carried in his trembling hands beneath a canopy, while hymns of triumphant joy are being sung, and the Faithful, in prostrate adoration, are being blessed by their Jesus, who thus comes amongst them.

This solemn homage to the sacred Host is, as we have already said, a later institution than the Feast itself of Corpus Christi. Pope Urban the Fourth does not speak of it in his Bull of the Institution, in 1264. Twenty-two years later, Durandus of Mende wrote his Rational of Divine Offices, in which he several times mentions the Processions which were then in use; but he has not a word upon that of Corpus Christi. On the other hand, Martin the Fifth, and Eugenius the Fourth, in their Constitutions, which we have already quoted (May 26, 1429, May 26, 1433), plainly show that it was then in use, for they grant Indulgences to them that are present at it. Donatus Bossius of Milan tells us, in his Chronicle, that on Thursday the 24th of May, 1404, “there was carried, for the first time solemnly, the Body of Christ in the streets of Padua, which has since become the custom.” Some writers have concluded from these words that the Procession of Corpus Christi was not in use before that date, and that it first originated at Padua; but the words of Bossius scarcely justify such an inference, and words he uses may be understood of a local custom.

Indeed, we find mention made of this procession in a Manuscript of the Church of Chartres, in 1330; in an Act of the Chapter of Tournai, in 1325; in a Council of Paris in 1323; and in one held at Sens in 1320. Indulgences are granted by these two Councils to those who observe abstinence and fasting on the vigil of Corpus Christi, and they add these words: “As to the solemn Procession made on the Thursday’s Feast, when the holy Sacrament is carried, seeing that it appears to have been introduced in these our times by a sort of inspiration,—we prescribe nothing at present, and leave all concerning it to the devotion of the clergy and people.” So that the initiative to the institution of today’s Procession seems to have been made by the devotion of the Faithful; and that this admirable completion given to our Feast began in France, and thence was adopted in all the Churches of the West.

There is ground for supposing that at first the sacred Host was not carried in these Processions as it is now; it was veiled over or enclosed in a sort of rich shrine. Even so far back as the 11th Century, it had been the custom, in some places, to carry It in this way during the Processions of Palm Sunday and Easter Sunday morning. We have elsewhere spoken of these devotional practices which, however, were not so much for the direct purpose of honoring the Blessed Sacrament as for that of bringing more forward the mystery of those solemnities. Be this as it may, the use of ostensoria, or monstrances as they are termed in a Council held in 1452 at Cologne, soon followed the institution of the new Procession. They were made, at first, in shape like little towers. In a Manuscript Missal, dated 1374, the letter D, which is the first of the Collect for the feast of Corpus Christi, gives us a miniature illumination, representing a Bishop, accompanied by two acolytes, who is carrying the Host in a golden tower, which has four openings. But Catholic piety soon began to offer to its Lord all the exterior honor it could; to that Lord who hides himself and his glory in the Mystery of Love; and to the Sun of Justice thus shrouded, it suggested the compensation, poor though it must necessarily be, of a crystal sphere, surrounded by rays of gold or of other precious material, and of exposing the sacred Host within it. Not to mention other, and more ancient records, we find a very marked instance of the rapidity wherewith this use of the Monstrance was adopted: it occurs in a Gradual of the period of Louis the Twelfth (1498-1515); the initial letter of the Introit for Corpus Christi has within it a sun or sphere, like those in present use; it is being carried on the shoulders of two figures vested in copes, who are followed by the King, and several Cardinals and Prelates.

And yet, the Protestant heresy, which was then beginning, gave the name of novelty, superstition, and idolatry to these natural developments of Catholic worship, prompted, as they were, by faith and love. The Council of Trent pronounced anathema upon these calumnies; and in a Chapter apart, showed how rightly the Church had acted in countenancing these practices. The words of the Council are as follows: “The holy Council declares, that there has been most piously and religiously introduced into God’s Church the practice, that each year, on a certain special feast, the august and venerable Sacrament should be honored with singular veneration and solemnity, and that It should be reverently and with every honor carried in processions through the public roads and places. For it is most just that certain holidays should be appointed, whereon all Christians should, with special and unusual demonstrations, evince their gratitude and mindfulness towards their common Lord and Redeemer, for this so unspeakable and truly divine favor in which is represented his victory and triumph over death. And it was also necessary, that thus invincible truth should triumph over lying and heresy; that her enemies, seeing all that splendor, and being in the midst of such great joy of the whole Church, should either grow wearied and acknowledge their being beaten and broken, or, being ashamed and confounded, should be converted.”

But to us Catholics, faithful adorers of the Sacrament of Love, “O the joy of the immense glory the Church is sending up to God this hour: verily! as if the world was all unfallen still! We think, and as we think, the thoughts are like so many successive tide-waves filling our whole souls with the fullness of delight, of all the thousands of Masses which are being said or sung the whole world over, and all rising with one note of blissful acclamation, from grateful creatures, to the Majesty of our merciful Creator. How many glorious processions, with the sun upon their banners, are now winding their way round the squares of mighty cities, through the flower-strewn streets of Christian villages, through the antique cloisters of the glorious cathedral, or through the grounds of the devout seminary, where the various colors of the faces, and the different languages of the people are only so many fresh tokens of the unity of that faith, which they are all exultingly professing in the single voice of the magnificent ritual of Rome! Upon how many altars of various architecture, amid sweet flowers and starry lights, amid clouds of humble incense, and the tumult of thrilling song, before thousands of prostrate worshippers, is the Blessed Sacrament raised for exposition, or taken down for benediction! And how many blessed acts of faith and love, of triumph and of reparation, do not each of these things surely represent! The world over, the summer air is filled with the voice of song. The gardens are shorn of their fairest blossoms, to be flung beneath the feet of the Sacramental God. The steeples are reeling with the clang of bells; the cannon are booming in the gorges of the Andes and the Appenines; the ships of the harbors are painting the bays of the sea with their show of gaudy flags; the pomp of royal or republican armies salutes the King of kings. The Pope on his throne, and the school-girl in her village, cloistered nuns and sequestered hermits, bishops and dignitaries and preachers, emperors and kings and princes, all are engrossed today with the Blessed Sacrament. Cities are illuminated; the dwellings of men are alive with exultation. Joy so abounds that men rejoice they know not why, and their joy overflows on sad hearts, and on the poor, and the imprisoned, and the wandering, and the orphaned, and the home-sick exiles. All the millions of souls that belong to the royal family and spiritual lineage of St. Peter are today engaged more or less with the Blessed Sacrament: so that the whole Church Militant is thrilling with glad emotion, like the tremulous rocking of the mighty sea. Sin seems forgotten; tears even are of rapture rather than of penance. It is like the soul’s first day in heaven; or as if earth itself were passing into heaven, as it well might do, for sheer joy of the Blessed Sacrament.”

There are sung, during the Procession, the Hymns of today’s Office, the Lauda Sion, the Te Deum, and, if time permit, the Benedictus, Magnificat, or other liturgical pieces, which are in keeping with the spirit of the Feast, such as the Hymns for the Ascension, as specified in the Ritual. Having returned to the Church, the function concludes, as at other Benedictions, with the Tantum ergo, the Versicle and Collect of the Blessed Sacrament. But after the Blessing has been given, the Deacon does not put the Sacred Host into the Tabernacle, but on the Throne prepared for it, and around which, for eight days, the Faithful will be keeping a devout and adoring watch.
"So let us be confident, let us not be unprepared, let us not be outflanked, let us be wise, vigilant, fighting against those who are trying to tear the faith out of our souls and morality out of our hearts, so that we may remain Catholics, remain united to the Blessed Virgin Mary, remain united to the Roman Catholic Church, remain faithful children of the Church."- Abp. Lefebvre
Friday Within the Octave of Corpus Christi
Taken from The Liturgical Year by Dom Prosper Guéranger  (1841-1875)

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Christum regem adoremus dominantem gentibus, qui se manducantibus dat spiritus pingudeninem. 
Let us adore Christ, the King, who ruleth the nations; who giveth fatness of spirit to them that eat him.

God has satisfied the intense desires of man’s heart. The house of the marriage feast, built by divine Wisdom on the top of mountains, has had flowing unto it all the nations of earth! Yesterday, the whole Catholic world was animated with sentiments of love towards the adorable Sacrament; and the people said to each other in a holy transport of gratitude: Come! let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, and to the house of the God of Jacob. Yesterday, the bud of the Lord was seen by us all in magnificence and glory; this divine Bud, this rich ear of corn that has sprung up from our earth, was carried in triumph and excited the enthusiasm of the Faithful, making them rejoice before It, as they that rejoice in the harvest. It was a heavenly harvest that had been the expectation of nations. It was the precious ear of corn, despised indeed by Israel, but gleaned by Ruth the stranger in the field of the true Booz, in Bethlehem.

It was for this day of the great meeting of nations, foretold by Isaias, that the Lord had kept reserved on the mountain the feast on a victim such as had never been seen before, a feast of wine, the richest and purest. The poor have eaten at this banquet, and they have given fervent praise to their God; the rich have eaten, and have fallen down in adoration; and all the ends of the earth, prostrate in his sacred Presence, have recognized that he who thus gave them to feast, was Christ their King. This, they said, is our God, we have waited for him; we have patiently waited for him; he was the desire of our soul; we desired him in the night, and in the morning early, our first thoughts were upon him; he is the Lord, and his remembrance could not be effaced, not even through the long ages of expectation. Thou, O Lord, art my God, I will exalt thee, and give glory to thy name, for thou hast done wonderful things; thy designs of old, faithful! faithfully hast thou fulfilled thy eternal decrees.

These expressions of love on the part of the human race were but a feeble echo to the infinite love which God vouchsafed to have for his creature man. The divine Spirit, who has achieved the wonderful union between the children of Adam and eternal Wisdom, shows us, everywhere in the Scriptures, that this Wisdom was impatient of delay, that he was taking each obstacle as it came, and removing it, and was preparing in countless ways, for the Marriage Feast so much longed for.

We will devote these first two days of the Octave to the considering the leading features in the history of this eucharistic preparation; we shall be well repaid by the additional light which these truths will reflect upon the dogma itself. We are going to review the loving ways whereby eternal Wisdom sought, for so many long ages, to bring about his own Union with ourselves. As a matter of course, we clothe these truths in Scripture language, for the Scriptures are our guide in this research; it is they that tell us the workings of the divine intentions in our regard. How, then, do the Scriptures speak of these, before the mystery of the Incarnation was actually accomplished?

The second Person of the adorable Trinity is there brought before us under the name of Wisdom; until such time as her union with man being accomplished in the most perfect degree possible, that is, in our Lord Jesus Christ; this is the name under which he passes in the Scriptures, a name which gives him the appearance of a Bride. But once the mystery of perfect union achieved, another name is given him, the name of Spouse or Bridegroom. His other name of Wisdom seems almost forgotten; and yet, in the ages of lively faith, it was not so; the people of those days were too full of the Scriptures to forget it. Thus we find the first Christian Emperor dedicating, to this ruler and center of his every thought, the trophy of his victory over paganism, and that of the triumph of the Martyrs: all burning with love for the Wisdom of God, says Eusebius, Constantine consecrated the ancient Byzantium, which he called by his own name, to the God of the Martyrs; and dedicated to Eternal Wisdom the grandest structure of this new Rome, Saint Sophia, which, for many ages, was the finest Christian Church in the world. Like our forefathers in the faith, let us too honor divine Wisdom, and gratefully think upon the love which urged him, from all eternity, to unite himself to man!

It is this love that explains that mysterious joy, which, as the Scripture tells us, he had at the beginning of Time, when this world of ours was being gradually developed in all the beauty of its fresh creation; for sin had not then come in to break the harmony of this work of the Most High. At each additional manifestation of creative power, Wisdom takes delight, and by his delight, adds a new charm to this the future scene of the divine marvels, planned as those had been by his love. This Wisdom is delighted at the omnipotence which produces Creation; he plays every day, as the Creation goes on, yes, he plays in this world, for, each progress in its formation brings Man nearer,—Man, whose palace it is; and his delights are to be with the children of men.

Incomprehensible love! It precedes, though it foresees, sin; and though foreseeing it, loves not the less! It has its divine delights to be with us, and we have attractions for it, in spite of all the bitterness caused by the sight of our future black ingratitude! The Fall of man will, as one of its terrific consequences, modify, much and cruelly, the earthly existence which Wisdom is to have upon our earth. But in order that we may the more easily understand and more fully appreciate how immense must that love be which could be proof against such obstacles, let us turn our thoughts today to the course that these loving intentions would have taken, had man persevered in the state of innocence. Although the Sacred Scriptures, written as they have been for the benefit of fallen man, suppose that state, and are ever telling us of the mystery of the restoration of the sinful world,—yet do they make frequent allusions to God’s original intention; and with these to guide us, it is not difficult to mark out the leading features of the primitive plan.

Wisdom, speaking of herself, says: The Lord possessed me, in the beginning of his ways. Is she not the first of all creatures? not, of course, as to that divine form of which the Apostle speaks, and by which Wisdom is equal to God, but in that human existence, which she has selected, in preference to all other possible natures, for the one whereby to unite herself with finite being. That selection was one of an unlimited and most gratuitous love; it made the type and law of entire creation to be One who would be so closely resembling us human beings,—and what an honor! We are told in holy Writ that the most high and almighty Creator created Wisdom before all things, and created her in the Holy Ghost; and that, taking her as his type, and number, and measure, he poured her out upon all his works, and upon all flesh. When the fullness of the appointed time came, this Wisdom herself was to come, giving to all creation of which she was the head and center, its purpose and meaning: she was to blend and unite with the infinite homage, which resulted from her own divine personality, the homage of every existing creature; and thus give perfection to the external glory of the Father by her own adoration, which was to be eternal and infinite. Once this happy time is come, and there will appear that human nature, chosen by divine Wisdom from the beginning to be his created form,—to be the instrument of that homage to the Father, which as we were just saying, will be perfect and divine because of the personal union of this created nature with the Nature of God the Son. Eternal Wisdom will thus be one with the Son of the purest of Virgins; the nuptial song will be taken up by all creatures, both in earth and heaven; and through this Son of Man, who will then be called the Spouse, Wisdom will continue, to the end of time, in the soul of every individual of the human race (that is, of every soul that does not refuse the honor), the ineffable mystery of his divine marriage with our nature.

He wishes, then, to unite himself with each one of us; but what means will he adopt for this deifying union? Of all the Sacraments, which our Lord might have instituted after his Incarnation, in the supposition of man’s not forfeiting his state of innocence,—there is not one, says Suarez, which has so many probabilities on its side as the Eucharist; there is not one which, in itself, is so desirable and is more independent on sin; for the notion of expiation, which in our present state lingers about It, as the memorial of our Jesus’ Passion, may be prescinded from, without affecting the essence of the Sacrament,—that essence being, the Real Presence of our Lord, and the close union whereby he unites us to himself. It is the same with the Eucharist as a Sacrifice: the primary notion of Sacrifice, as we shall see further on, does not absolutely include the idea of sin. So that, when Christ, as the head of the human family, comes into this world to offer up a Sacrifice, in the name of us all, that Sacrifice will be one which is worthy of his Father and himself. Spouse as he is, and by virtue of the divine unction, Priest, too; it is by the Eucharist as a Sacrifice that he will act in this twofold character, for by that Sacrifice, he brings the human race into union with himself by the embrace of the sacred Mysteries; and when he has divinized it by union with himself, making it one body with himself, of which he is the Head, he offers it to his Eternal Father.

But for the coming of the Spouse, the Bridegroom, there must be a numerous retinue to do him honor and tell his praises, when the day arrives for his entrance into the banquet hall; and from now till the time, when earth, being peopled enough, shall have ready for her King-Priest a court that is worthy of him, so many ages are to intervene! What will he,—that is, what will Wisdom be doing in the interval? We have already seen how, in the early days of creation, he played before his Father, and was all transported with delight. But when the work was done, the Creator withdrew into the repose and rest of the seventh day. Seated on his Father’s right hand, in the splendors of the Saints, will Wisdom wait inactive for that day to come, when he who has begotten him before the day-star, and has betrothed him to human nature, shall send him down to this earth, there to consummate the alliance for which he has been eternally longing? The sacred Scriptures give a very different description of him during the time preceding his actual coming. They tell us that Wisdom is so active, though so gentle, that He is more active than all active things, and was everywhere, and put himself in every place, and in the Prophets, so that he was easily found by them that wanted to find him; he even anticipated their research, and was more ready to show himself than they could possibly be to find him. If any soul was intent, like some early riser, to find him, he soon met such a seeker; nay, himself went about seeking for such as were worthy of him, and when he met them in the ways here or there in this wide world, this beautiful Wisdom would show himself to them, with all the cheerfulness of earnestness. Thus do the Scriptures describe Wisdom as engaged during the ages preceding his Incarnation; he does not, as yet, quit the throne of glory on which he sitteth, lighting up all heaven with his beauty,—but he is preparing the day of his Marriage, and that by impressing it on man’s mind and notice in every possible way; he meets him at every turn, to speak of it, to tell him of how he, Wisdom, loves him; he selects certain symbols whereby to show the generations then living a picture of the wondrous mysteries he intended to achieve when the time came. Let us take one of these symbols for our lesson today, that we too may lose not a particle of what our Jesus has ever done to make himself known. But before we go further, let us listen to the Scripture character drawn of this beautiful Wisdom: He is the brightness of eternal light, and the unspotted mirror of God’s majesty, and the image of his goodness; holy, one, manifold, subtle, eloquent, active, undefiled, sure, sweet, loving that which is good, quick, which nothing hindereth, beneficent, gentle, kind, steadfast, assured, secure, having all power, overseeing all things, and containing all spirits, intelligible, pure, subtile! And now to a choice symbol, chosen by our Jesus, whereby he spoke of himself before he came to the Nuptials.

The Lord God, says Scripture, had planted a paradise of pleasure from the beginning, wherein he intended to place Man, whom he was not to create till the sixth day. In the midst of this paradise, there grew a tree of singular beauty; it was a tree to which God had attached a great mystery, and its name was the Tree of Life. A river with four streams watered this garden of delights, and this river was shown later on to St. John as a river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding from the throne of God and the Lamb. This twofold symbol of the Tree and the River bear no allusion to future sin; they had been put in Paradise, the abode of innocence, before man himself; and therefore are portions of the primitive plan of God; and therefore, in themselves, signify nothing and symbolize nothing, but what has reference first and foremost to the state of innocence. Now, an ancient writer, published under the name of St. Ambrose, says, “the Tree of Life in the midst of Paradise is Christ in the midst of his Church.” “So then,” says St. Augustine, “Christ was the Tree of Life; neither would God have man to live in Paradise, without his having mysteries of things spiritual presented to him under corporal forms. In the other trees, therefore, he had food; but in that one (of Life) he had a sacred symbol (sacramentum). And what was it that is symbolized but Wisdom? of which it is said, She is a Tree of Life to them that lay hold on her … For it is right to give to Christ, the name of a thing which had been previously made, that it should signify him.” St. Hilary, too, bears testimony to this same traditional interpretation. After quoting the same text from Proverbs, he says: “Wisdom, which is Christ, is called the Tree of Life, because, as we are taught by the authority of the Prophets, on account of its being a symbol (sacramentum) of his future Incarnation and Passion … Our Lord compared himself to a Tree, when he said … A Tree is known by its fruit … This Tree, then, is living; yea, not living only, but rational also, for it gives its fruit when it wills (and as the Psalm says), in its own time … And what is that time? That of which the Apostle speaks, when he says, that God might make known unto us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure which he had purposed in him, in the dispensation of the fullness of times: … the dispensation of the fruit, then, is reserved for the fullness of times.” But what is to be the Fruit of this Tree,—the leaves of which fall not off, and are for the healing of the nations,—what is to be the Fruit but divine Wisdom, in his own very self and substance? In his divine form, he is the food of the Angels too; but he is to be that of man in his two Natures, that thus, by his Flesh, reaching man’s soul, he may fill that soul with his divinity, as it was beautifully expressed in the Office composed by Blessed Juliana.

Thus, therefore, divine Wisdom, our Jesus, had preceded man in Paradise: Adam was not yet there, but Wisdom was; for his love made him hasten thither and take up his abode there, ready to receive man on his arrival,—receive him in that Tree of Life which, together with the Most High, he, as the Wisdom wherein the Creator formed all his works, had planted in the garden of delights. Speaking of this Tree, the Bride of the Canticle said: As the apple-tree among the barren trees of the woods, so is my Beloved among the sons of the rest of men; I sat down under his shadow whom I desired, and his fruit was sweet to my palate. This sweet Fruit of the Tree of Life was a figure of the Eucharist.

But how is this? we were yesterday invited by Wisdom to eat Bread in his house, and not Fruit in his garden. What means this change of language? It is because man has brought about an immense change of purpose: in his pride, he has eaten of a fruit which was not good; a fruit which was forbidden, and has ruined him for his taking it; he has been driven from the garden of delights; Cherubim and a flaming sword have been placed, to keep the way of the Tree of Life. Instead of fruits of Paradise, the food of man is henceforth to be bread, bread which costs toil and sweat, bread which means grinding under a millstone and burning in fire. Such is the sentence passed on man by a justly angered God. But, alas! this most just condemnation is to go far beyond the guilty one; it will strike man, but it will strike divine Wisdom, too,—Wisdom who has given himself to man to be his food and companion. In the immensity of his love, Wisdom will not abandon this fallen nature of man; he will, that he may save it, take upon himself all the consequences of the Fall, and, like fallen man, become passible and mortal. The marriage-feast is not to be in Eden, as was first intended. Poor Eden! she had been so exquisitely prepared for that feast; she had her fragrant fields of loveliest emerald, and her fruit which was so fair to behold, and so pleasant to eat of, and so immortalizing with a youth that was to last forever! To reach man, now that he is fallen, eternal Wisdom must make his way through the briars and thickets of his new abode. The Marriage Feast will be kept in a house, which it has cost him infinite pains to build to himself, as a cover against the miseries of the land of exile. And as to the food served for the banquet, it is not to be the fruit spontaneously yielded by the Tree of Life; it is to be the divine Wheat, ground by suffering, and baked on the altar of the Cross.

All history culminates in the Sacrifice of our Lord, and all creation converges to it, as to its center. The reason of this is that, in the creation and government of the world, God seeks his own glory, as the last end for which he does all his works. Now, the Sacrifice offered by the Incarnate Word alone gives to God the infinite glory due to his sovereign majesty. The Christians of the first ages of the Church thoroughly understood all this. It was the idea on which was composed the fine Preface given in the Liturgy under the name of St. James’, in the 8th Book of the Apostolic Constitutions. We wish we could give our readers the whole of this Liturgy: we intend, however, to quote, during the days of this Octave, some of the most striking passages.

Constitutio Jacobi

Vere dignum et justum est ante omnia laudare te verum Deum, ex quo omnis paternitas in cœlo et in terra nominatur, solum ingenitum, omnis boni largitorem. Tu enim es primus natura, et lex existendi, ac omnem numerum superans.
It is truly right and just, that, before all things, we should give praise to thee, who art true God, from whom all paternity and heaven and earth is named, who art the only unbegotten, the giver of every good thing. For thou art first by nature, and the law of existence, and surpassing all number.

Qui omnia ex nihilo in rerum naturam protulisti per unigenitum Filium tuum: ipsum vero ante omnia sæcula genuisti absque intermedio Verbum Deum, Sapientiam viventem, primogenitum omnis creaturæ, Angelum magni consilii tui, pontificem tuum, regem autem et dominum omnis naturæ quæ intelligi ac sentiri potest. Tu namque, Deus æterne, cuncta per ipsum condidisti, et per ipsum cuncta dignaris convenienti providentia; per quem enim ut essent donasti, per eumdem etiam ut bene essent dedisti.
Thou it was that broughtest all things, out of nothing, into the nature of things, by thine Only Begotten Son: but Him thou begottest before all ages, without an instrument, God the Word, living Wisdom, the first-born of every creature, the Angel of thy great counsel, thy Priest, the King, also, and Lord of every nature that can be understood or felt. For thou, eternal God! createdst all things by him, and, by him, thou vouchsafest a suitable providence to all things; for, by whom thou gavest things to be, by the same thou gavest them well-being.

Deus et Pater unigeniti Filii tui, per eum ante omnia fecisti cherubinos et seraphinos, exercitus, virtutes et potestates, principatus et thronos, archangelos et angelos.
O God and Father of thy Only Begotten Son! by Him, thou madest, before all things, the cherubim and seraphim, the hosts, the virtues and powers, the principalities and thrones, the archangels and angels.

Atque post hæc omnia, per eum fabricasti hunc qui apparet mundum, cunctaque quæ in eo sunt. Nam tu es qui cœlum ut pellem extendisti, et terram supra nihilum collocasti sola voluntate; qui noctem ac diem fabricatus es; qui in cœlo solem posuisti ad dominium diei, et lunam ad dominium noctis, atque chorum stellarum in cœlo delieasti in laudem magnificentiæ tuæ; qui mare magnum a terra separasti, et illud quidem animalibus parvis ac magnis refersisti, hanc autem cicuribus ac indomitis replevisti, herbis coronasti, floribus decorasti, seminibus ditasti.
And, after all these, thou madest, by him, this visible world, and all that is in it. For thou art He that stretchedst out the heavens as a tent, and settedst the earth upon nothing, by thine only will; that madest night and day; that, in the heavens, placedst the sun to rule the day, and the moon to rule the night, and inscribedst a choir of stars in heaven unto the praise of thy magnificence; thou dividest the great sea from the land, replenishing the one with animals little and great, and filling the other with creatures, both tame and wild, crowning it with herbs, beautifying it with flowers, enriching it with seeds.

Neque solum per Christum condidisti mundum, sed et in ipso mundi civem hominem effecisti, ac eum mundi mundum, seu ornatus ornatum constituisti. Dixisti enim Sapientiæ tuæ: “Faciamus hominem ad imaginem nostram, et ad similitudinem: et dominentur piscibus maris et volatilibus cœli.” Ideoque fecisti eum ex anima imortali et corpore dissipabili; et dedisti ei, in anima quidem rationalem dijudicationem, justi ac injusti discretionem; in corpore autem donasti quinquertium sensuum atque motum progressivum.
Neither only createdst thou the world by Christ, but in him, also, thou madest man citizen of the world, appointing him the world of the world, or the ornament of the ornament. For thou saidst unto thy Wisdom: “Let us make man to our image and likeness; and let them have dominion over the fishes of the sea, and the fowls of the air.” Wherefore, also, thou madest him of an immortal soul and a body liable to dissolution; and thou gavest him, in his soul, rational judgment, and discernment between right and wrong; and in his body, five senses, and progressive motion.

Tu namque, Deus omnipotens, per Christum in Edene ad Orientem plantasti paradisum omni genere esculentarum plantarum ornatum, et in eum tanquam in opiparam domum induxisti hominem; quem, cum efficeres, lege naturali ac insita donasti, quo intus ac ex se haberet cognitionis Dei semina. Introducens autem eum in paradisum deliciarum, potestatem quidem omnium ad participandum concessisti, unius vero solius gustatum in spem meliorum rerum interdixisti, ut si mandatum custodiret, illius servati mercedem ferret immortalitatem.
For thou, O almighty God, plantedst, by Christ, in Eden, at the East, a paradise, adorned with every sort of plant fit for food, and, into it, as a well provisioned house, thou didst lead man, to whom, when thou createdst him, thou gavest a natural and innate law, to the end that he might have within and of himself the seeds of the knowledge of God. And when introducing him into the paradise of delights, thou grantedst him leave to partake of all things save one, whereof, to give him the hope of better things, thou forbadest him to taste, that, if he kept that commandment, he might receive immortality, as the recompense of his observance.

Cum autem mandatum neglexit, et, fraude serpentis mulierisque consilio, gustavit prohibitum fructum; ex paradiso quidem juste illum expulisti, bonitate vero tua funditus pereuntem non despexisti; sed qui ei subjeceras creaturam, dedisti ut suis sudoribus ac laboribus sibi pararet victum, te omnia producente, augente ac maturante: atque eum brevi somno affectum, per jusjurandum ad regenerationem vocasti; decreto mortis soluto, vitam ex resurrectione promisisti.
But when he neglected the commandment, and, by the serpent’s guile, and the woman’s counsel, tasted the forbidden fruit, thou drovest him from paradise, justly indeed, yet, in thy goodness, thou despisedst him not, though utterly ruined; but, having previously subjected creation unto him, thou grantedst him to procure food by his own sweat and labor, though it was thou by whom all things are produced, increase and ripen. And when he had slept the short sleep (of death), thou by an oath, calledst him to a new birth; and, loosening the decree of death, thou promisedst him life, after the resurrection.

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We will close this day with the several Hymns, composed under the direction of Blessed Juliana; they were used for each of the Little Hours of the Office, which preceded that of St. Thomas. It was a custom of the Church of Liège to vary the Hymns, at these Hours, according to the different Seasons and Feasts.

At Prime

Summe Deus clementiæ,
Qui ob salutem mentium
Cœlestis alimoniæ
Nobis præstas remedium;

Great God of mercy! who, for the salvation of souls, grantedst us the remedy of a food that comes from heaven.

Mores, vitam et opera
Rege momentis omnibus,
Et beatis accelera
Vitam dare cum civibus.

Direct thou our manners, and life, and works; and give us speedily to spend our life with the blessed citizens of heaven.

At Tierce

Sacro tecta velamine
Pietatis mysteria
Mentes pascunt dulcedine,
Qua satiant cœlestia.

Shrouded with a sacred veil, the mystery of love feeds our souls with a sweetness, which contents even them that are in heaven.

Sit ergo cum cœlestibus,
Nobis commune gaudium,
Illis quod sese præstitit,
Nobis quod se non abstulit.

With the blessed in heaven, then let us have one same joy,—for, to them he gave himself, and us he did not leave.

At Sext

Splendor superni luminis,
Laudisque Sacrificium,
Cœnam tui da numinis
Tuæ carnis post prandium.

O brightness of supernal light. O Sacrifice of praise! grant us the banquet of thy divinity, after this of thy Flesh.

Saturatus opprobriis
Ad hoc cruci configeris,
Et irrisus ludibriis
Crudeli morte plecteris.

It was for this, that, filled with reproach, thou wast nailed to the cross, and derided with scoffs, wast made to suffer a cruel death.

At None

Æterna cœli gloria,
Lux beata credentium,
Redemptionis hostia,
Tuarum pastus ovium;

O thou, that art the eternal glory of heaven, the blessed light of believers, the victim of redemption, and the pasture of thy sheep!

Hujus cultu memoriæ
Diræ mortis supplicio
Nos de lacu miseriæ
Educ, qui clamas: Sitio.

By our worship of this memorial of thy cruel death, lead us from the abyss of misery, O thou that criest: I thirst.

Præsta, Pater, per Filium,
Præsta, per almum Spiritum:
Quibus hoc das edulium
Prosperum serves exitum. Amen.

Grant, O Father, through thy Son, grant through the Spirit of love, that we, to whom thou givest such nourishment as this, may be brought by thee to a prosperous end. Amen.
"So let us be confident, let us not be unprepared, let us not be outflanked, let us be wise, vigilant, fighting against those who are trying to tear the faith out of our souls and morality out of our hearts, so that we may remain Catholics, remain united to the Blessed Virgin Mary, remain united to the Roman Catholic Church, remain faithful children of the Church."- Abp. Lefebvre
Saturday Within the Octave of Corpus Christi
Taken from The Liturgical Year by Dom Prosper Guéranger  (1841-1875)

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Christum regem adoremus dominantem gentibus, qui se manducantibus dat spiritus pingudeninem. 
Let us adore Christ, the King, who ruleth the nations; who giveth fatness of spirit to them that eat him.

Man has been cast forth from Eden, and is gone into the dreary land of his exile. He has nothing left him of the Tree of Life, but the recollection that it was once his. It remains in the happy land where it was first planted; how could it go after the sinner man, now that he is banished into the vale of tears? No! it remains in Paradise; far from the abode of suffering, and out of mortals’ sight, it continues in all its loveliness, bearing testimony to the primitive intentions of God, which were peace, innocence, and love. The day will come when we shall see it again, for it is to be one of the charms of the new earth, into which our Lord will lead his chosen people on the day of the great Pasch, and the restoration of all things. Happy day! after which, as the Apostle tells us, every creature longeth, bowed down as it now is, and made subject, by reason of a fault which was not its own, to the inconstancy of ceaseless change. Man, who, against the creature’s will, subjected it to the servitude of corruption, that same man keeps up within it the hope that the time of deliverance being come, it too will partake, in its own way, of the glorious liberty of the children of God. The glory of the new Paradise will be greater than that of the one of old; for it is not under the veil of symbols, or in a passing way, that the deifying union is to be fulfilled, but divine Wisdom will give himself, and forever, and without veil, to man and in an eternal embrace.

And yet, this union, whose permanent enjoyment is to make the eternal bliss of heaven, is to be contracted even now, and on this very earth of ours; for it is the economy of the divine plan that in all things, the future life should have its roots in the present one, and should be but the revelation, in the light of glory, of the ineffable realities formed here by grace. What, then, after the Fall, will be the conditions of the alliance, from which eternal Wisdom has not been turned by the sin committed by his creature Man

O the depth of the riches of this Wisdom of God! His love is strong as death, and even after man’s disloyalty, will be infinitely admirable in its delicate ways of gaining its object. There is to be nothing unbecoming in the alliance he is bent on! He will admit no compromise with the depravity which has befallen our now sinful race! His mercy is infinite; and through that, he has pardoned the offense the moment the offender expressed his sorrow; but the pardon is not one which was to mean no compensation, no expiation, on man’s side; that would have ill-suited the dignity of such a Spouse as he. And since sinful man cannot offer an adequate expiation, he, Wisdom, undertakes to pay the culprit’s whole debt, and give him back the holiness he has forfeited; this done, he will take our human nature, and espouse her to himself as his much loved Bride. I will espouse thee unto me, in justice and judgment, says this God to man, by his prophet Osee.

And he adds: I will espouse thee unto me in faith. For just as the entrance of divine Wisdom into this world, which he comes to save from pride by humility, is to be without exterior parade or glory, so, likewise, the divine union is to be accomplished in the mystery of the sacred species of the nuptial banquet, and these species will offer nought to view but the appearance of bread and wine, such as one could find on any table. But Faith will see through that veil; and the unspeakable dignity conferred on the children of men, by this heavenly food, will reflect its brightness on the whole creation.

The whole world of creatures, each in its own way, was in expectation of this marvelous manifestation, which was to be made upon the sons of God, by the union to be contracted between Wisdom and Man. The Prophet thus speaks of this universal expectation: And it shall come to pass in that day, I will hear, saith the Lord, I will hear the heavens; and they shall hear the earth; and the earth shall hear the corn, and the wine, and the oil; and these shall hear Jezrahel. Jezrahel means “the seed, or race, of God.” God will give to man, through corn and wine, the substance to be offered in the mysteries; and through oil, the priesthood, which is to transform them into the marriage-dowry, in the very action of the Sacrifice. It is to be by the Sacrifice, and by Blood, that this alliance of justice and love is to be contracted.

We read in Scripture that Moses was one day traversing the desert; he had on him a legal transgression; the Angel of the Lord met him, and was about to slay him when Sephora, the wife of this future leader of Israel, averted the divine vengeance by the rough and speedy circumcision of her son, Eliezer: then marking with his blood the feet of the guilty one, she said to him: A Spouse of blood art thou to me! Thus, and with far greater truth, could divine Wisdom say to the human race; for he is not to save, he is not to be united with man, except by the Blood of this Son of Man, who is one in person with that same Wisdom.

Nay, far from lessening, this very sight of man’s misery has increased the ardor of his love. Later on, this Man-God will say: I have a baptism, wherewith I am to be baptized: and how am I straitened until it be accomplished! It was the same from the very first: no sooner has expiation been shown as the royal way whereby humanity is to be restored to him, and again made worthy of him, by the shedding of divine Blood,—Wisdom has ever had that thought before Him. He is impatient for the great immolation of Calvary; and until its time is come, he will suggest to his people rites and sacrifices figurative of that one Sacrifice, and of the banquet of the adorable Victim, the Marriage-Feast.

His garden, the place of his delight, is no longer Paradise; it is this parched earth of ours, where man has now, more than ever, need of being loved of God. Ye Cherubim, whom God has stationed to guard the Tree of Life, ’tis well that sinful man be kept from approaching it; But the flaming sword ye hold in your hands will not prevent divine Wisdom from leaving Paradise and joining our human race here in its banishment. He was not only the Tree, but he is likewise the River of Life. Speaking of himself, he says, in the Book of Ecclesiasticus: I, like a brook out of a River of a mighty water, as though I were but a mere channel of a River, I came out of Paradise. I said: “I will water my garden of plants, and I will water abundantly the fruits of my meadow.” And behold! my brook became a great River, and my River became like a sea; for I make doctrine to shine forth unto all, as the morning light, and I will declare it afar off, yea, even to the most distant ages. I will penetrate to all the lower parts of the earth, and will visit all that sleep, and will enlighten all that hope in the Lord.

This living Light, which from early morning enlightens the whole earth with divine Wisdom, is the varied teaching of prophecies and figures, which were given by God through the course of ages, and from the very moment of man’s creation, put the shadow of the Messias upon the whole universe. By means of this manifold teaching, Wisdom conveyeth himself, through nations, into holy souls; rouses man up when discouragement makes him slumber; cherishes his hopes, and bids him hope, by looking at the future. Those bloody sacrifices, which were prescribed immediately after man’s departure from Eden as the ritual expression of his early worship of God, will be offered up by all after generations; and even when idolatry shall have led mankind into the abyss of every crime, those sacrifices will raise up their voice and keep up the prophecy which they are intended to proclaim,—the prophecy of a victim who will be one of infinite worth. The stream of primitive traditions will, as it flows through time and space, get impregnated with foreign elements, and transmit many a worthless or even dangerous material; still, it is through the rite of Sacrifice, observed as it is by the whole world, that the desire and expectation of Christ will be maintained among all nations. Satan, that old serpent thief, may succeed in inducing men to build altars to himself, and on those altars offer him sacrifice which is due to God alone; but he cannot stifle the voice of truth which accompanies every sacrifice, the voice which teaches that an innocent and pure victim may be substituted in place of guilty man, and work his expiation. This will arouse the notion of the promised Mediator in many a soul that had got bewildered amidst the orgies of this satanic worship; and here again, the very sight of the serpent was made to be the cure of them he had stung, and became the sign and ensign of the son of Jesse. O root of Jesse! root of the Wisdom of the Most High! who is there that can understand the depth of his counsels, or penetrate the devices of his immense love? Verily, thou art more beautiful than any light of day; for that light yields when night comes; on whereas thou, O Wisdom, art overcome by no evil, be it as black as sin!

All those ancient Sacrifices were powerless to produce grace; their very multiplicity proved their inability to do so; but what they could and did effect was the keeping alive in mankind the remembrance of the Fall, and the expectation of a Redeemer; they were, likewise, the basis of those supernatural acts which are requisite for man’s justification and salvation. But besides their representing the redemptive element, which the Fall of man has introduced into the plan of God, these bloody sacrifices express, also, the union of that God with his creature, which was the primary and chief object of creation. That union was to be effected in the banquet prepared by Wisdom, the Eucharistic banquet, wherein he, Wisdom, the Son of God, was to be received by man and thus united with him. Yes, this sublime mystery was also expressed by those figurative Sacrifices wherein the people partook of the victims offered: for in the Eucharist, the Victim is Man-God, offered to God and eaten of by man; the Deity is appeased by the Blood of the divine Lamb, and mankind is restored because nourished by his Flesh, which thus feeds him to a new and a divine life. Such was the general law observed by all nations when offering Sacrifice: the portion intended for God was consumed by fire, and this was a transmitting it to heaven; but another portion of the same victim was taken and eaten by the people: and all this signified that there was communion between Heaven and Earth, and that the receivers were all made one, because they all partook of the same sacred food. How admirably are thus grouped together all the mysteries of God’s goodness towards his creature man! And what a prophecy this was! It was unceasing, for it was proclaimed each time a sacrifice was offered up, and there were thousands every day. It was in these that the divine Lamb, whom they foretold was slain from the very beginning of the world; his Blood, in all those early ages, was applied, through hope and faith, upon the souls of men, and cleansed them from their sins; and the mysterious ritual, with its inspired code of prescriptions, was keeping man on the alert and preparing him for the banquet of the Nuptials of the Lamb. Then, let Wisdom extol his own triumph! It is He that made, that in the heavens there should rise a light which never fails, and covers the whole earth as with a cloud; he alone has compassed the circuit of heaven, has penetrated into the bottom of the deep, has traversed the waves of the sea, and has stood in all the earth, and in every people, as the King of all, holding the chief rule, and vanquishing, strongly and sweetly, the hearts of all, both high and low.

Meanwhile, the time of banishment is running on; the long period of expectation is more than half over. The nearer the realization of the promised Alliance comes, the more ardent are the longings of chosen souls. As to our Jesus himself, that is, Wisdom, he seems to desire a preparation of a more telling kind than any of these others that have preceded. He will turn his attention to the very spot where he is to dwell on this earth. And where is that? His Father, the Creator of all things,—that Father whose every word is fulfilled by his Son,—has a chosen people; and among these he would have his Son be nationalized, if we may reverently use such a word. He said to him: Let thy dwelling be in Jacob! and thine inheritance be in Israel! In obedience to this his Father’s will, he establishes himself in Sion, he takes his rest in the holy City, and fixes his power in Jerusalem. Jerusalem! it is the City of Peace, and is to be the scene of such stupendous mysteries! It was here that Isaac, the child of promise, had come carrying on his shoulders the wood for his self-sacrifice; here his father is about to slay him, when a ram is mysteriously substituted; and the Mount of the one true sacrifice is thus selected. It was here, also, that there then lived a King-Priest who bore the likeness of the Son of God; it was Melchisedech; and when Abraham, the father of believers, came to him, this Melchisedech offered what was to be the sacrifice of the Alliance to come; he offered a sacrifice of bread and wine; and thereby showed to Abraham, who saw into the future, the day of Christ, his Son.

It is at the very period when the world at large has fallen into idolatry, and offered to false gods the homage of its sacrifices, that divine Wisdom leads into this chosen dwelling place the people of whom he is to be born as Man; it is the fulfillment of the command: Let thy dwelling be in Jacob! let thine inheritance be in Israel! In this one people, Wisdom will maintain his Father’s claims, and keep alive and pure the light of the expectation of nations. He delivers it, at the cost of countless prodigies, from the Egyptian bondage. The feast of the Paschal Lamb, slain the same day on which, at a future time, is to be celebrated the true Supper of the Lord and the immolation of the Lamb,—the feast of the Paschal Lamb is the signal of the deliverance, and the triumphant march, through the waters of a sea, to the Mount, where is to be contracted, through the blood of victims, the union between God and the house of Jacob: the chosen people becomes the Bride of God, the priestly kingdom, and the holy nation. Figure, in all things, of God’s true people traversing the desert of this world, Israel drinks of the waters which come from the Rock, and the Rock is Christ; a bread, rained down daily from heaven, strengthens him amidst the fatigues of journey and battle; and this bread of Angels, as the Scripture terms it, took the taste of anything the eater wished it to have. God himself dwells with Israel, under his tents. He has had a tabernacle made for him, on the plan of one shown by God on the mount; and in front of this tabernacle, there is an altar on which a chosen family, consecrated by oil of unction, may alone offer, under the direction of a high-priest, the manifold legal sacrifices, each of which points to some excellency or other of the one great Sacrifice of the future. From this altar on which burns a fire that is never quenched, there goes up to heaven, without interruption, the smoke of the flesh and blood of the victims slain. They are a supplication for the coming of that saving Host, which is to put an end to these hecatombs. There are also offerings of flour and wine; they are the necessary accompaniment of holocausts and peace offerings; they prefigure the august Memorial which is to keep up and perfect the divine Sacrifice of the Cross, by an unbloody application of it. There is, in these early days, a sacrifice which goes under the name of a memorial; it is an offering by itself, consisting of fine flour and unleavened loaves and wafers. Then there are the proposition loaves; they are kept within the veil, as the most holy of the sacrifices, as being a perpetual memorial of sacrifice and covenant; and what a mysterious, yet unmistakeable, figure is all this of the future Eucharistic Presence, kept up in the Church under the sacred species, even when the celebration of the mysteries is over?

As there is but one altar in Jacob, which by its oneness points towards Him who, at a future time, is to be both victim and altar; so there is but one place, the tabernacle and its surroundings, and later on, the temple and holy city, where it is lawful to celebrate those sacred banquets of communion, which, according to universal custom, close the sacrifice in which they are offered. The last time that Moses had his people assembled around him in the plains of the Jordan, he thus spoke to them: Beware lest thou offer thy holocaust in every place that thou shalt see. In the place which the Lord your God shall choose, that his name may be therein, thither shall ye bring your holocausts, and victims, and tithes, and the first-fruits of your hands. There shall ye feast before the Lord your God, ye and your sons and your daughters, your men-servants and maid-servants, and the Levite that dwelleth in your cities; and thou shalt rejoice, and be refreshed, before the Lord thy God, in all things, whereunto thou shalt put thy hand.

The material prosperity promised to the Jewish people, as a reward of his faithfully observing the numerous figurative prescriptions of the law of Sinai, was itself but a figure of the spiritual blessings which were to transform the soul, and prepare it for the coming of Divine Wisdom in the flesh. But Israel is slow to raise himself above material things. He easily falls a prey to all the scandals he witnesses among the Gentiles. Severe punishments teach him that he is not safe, except in his keeping the law given to him; he keeps it, that is, he keeps the letter of the ritual precepts with scrupulous exactitude, but sees nothing of their chief meaning, which is the Redeemer to come, and the spiritual dispositions which those outward observances were intended to prompt. God is continually warning him by the Prophets, and seeking to reclaim him to the spirit of his divine institutions. Thus, in the Psalms, he remonstrates with him, but with such paternal affection that one can scarcely suspect a complaint, though there is a most bitter one: Hear, O my people! and I will speak: O Israel! and I will testify unto thee. I am God, thy God. I will not reprove thee for thy sacrifices; and thy burnt-offerings are always in my sight. I will not take calves out of thy house, nor he-goats out of thy flocks; for all the beasts of the wood are mine, the cattle on the hills, and the oxen. I know all the fowls of the air, and with me is the beauty of the field. If I should be hungry, I would not tell thee; for the world is mine, and the fullness thereof. Shall I eat the flesh of bullocks? or shall I drink the blood of goats? Offer unto God the sacrifice of praise, and pay thy vows unto the Most High! … The sacrifice of praise shall glorify me; and there is the way by which I will show him the salvation of God,—show him, that is, my Christ, who is the Savior signified by all these sacrifices! Later on, however, to this people, stiff-necked as it is, and uncircumcised in heart and ears, which has gone deeper and deeper into outward formalism and knows no other virtue or perfection, God speaks in strong language, expressing his disgust for sacrifices, which they have robbed of the only worth they possessed in his sight, that is, their prophetic sense. To what purpose do ye offer me the multitude of your victims, says he by the Prophet Isaias, I am full; I desire not holocausts of rams, and fat of fatlings, and blood of calves, and lambs, and buck-goats. When ye came to appear before me, who required these things at your hands, that ye should walk (defiling) my courts? Offer sacrifice no more in vain: your incense is an abomination unto me! But these warnings are not heeded; pride increases in the carnal Jew, in proportion to his narrow heart and views. He dreams of a Messias who is to be an earthly conqueror. As to the true Messias, whose divine characteristics are foretold by the victims offered in sacrifice, this Jew will deny him, for he finds Jesus too closely resembling those poor victims by his sufferings and meekness.

Then comes the last of the Prophets, Malachias. He turns to the Gentiles: they have been less favored than Israel, but they have kept up the expectation of a Savior, and when he comes, will lovingly receive him. Malachias announces the final abrogation of a worship which had been so perverted, and the substitution of a divine memorial which shall be the same in all places, and shall make all people one by their all partaking of the great Sacrifice to come: I have no pleasure in you, saith the Lord of hosts, to the priests of Israel; I will not receive a gift of your hand; for, from the rising of the sun even to the going down, my name is great among the Gentiles, and in every place there is sacrifice, and there is offered unto my name a clean oblation.

The fullness of time is come; then, bless God, O ye Gentiles! Make the voice of his praise to be heard! Too long, life has been to you but the empty dream of night. You hungered after the fruit of life; you thirsted for living water. But like the hungry man who dreams of a sumptuous repast, yet never satisfies the hunger which gnaws him; like the thirsty man who dreams that he drinks, yet on waking, is tormented with the same burning thirst, and finds his soul still empty;—so was the multitude of your erring people. Yet now, behold! The standard of Jesse appears on the mountain, and rallies them around it. Ye Gentiles, that once were strangers, feed now to your heart’s content, in the deserts turned into fruitfulness! The Water from the rock flows plentifully through your once parched lands. The glory of Libanus, the beauty of Carmel and Saron, adorn your hills, and refresh your lonely plains; your wilderness shall rejoice and flourish like the lily. Rain shall be given to your seed; and the bread of the corn of your land shall be delicious. ’Tis just it should be so; for, shall the laborer plough all day long? Shall he be ever opening and harrowing his ground? No; the time comes when, having made smooth the surface of his field, he sows and scatters his seeds, and puts wheat in the rows he has marked. Such is the providence shown to the Gentiles by the Lord God of hosts; and thereby, he evinces both the sureness of his divine counsels and the magnificence of his justice.

No: eternal Wisdom had not given up the mysterious designs of his love. He kept close to the fallen human race, even when he severely chastised it. He owed it to himself to put guilty man to the test, so to make him feel, before raising him up, how deep had been his fall. It was on this account that he permitted him to be overtaken by night, and fear, and anguish; he himself sends him sufferings, in order that, having thus brought him to sound the frightful depth of his misery, he might trust Himself to the safe welcome and keeping of his creature’s humility. This done, he would raise him up by repentance, and strengthen him with hope, and, joyously meeting him, disclose to him again his divine charms, and enrich him with the treasures which are in the keeping of his love.

This is Saturday; let us turn to Mary, who was made, for us Gentiles, the Seat of Wisdom. It was in her chaste womb that was wrought the mystery of mercy, which had been the expectation of all the long ages past. It was her most pure blood which provided the substance of that spotless Body, wherewith the most beautiful of the sons of men contracted the indissoluble alliance of our nature with eternal Wisdom. Mary’s soul is enraptured at seeing the ineffable mystery of these divine nuptials effected in her chaste womb. She is that enclosed Garden, where more delightedly than in the early days of the universe, Wisdom enjoys light and love; the flowery couch of the Canticle, perfumed by the Holy Spirit with the sweetest fragrance; the glorious tabernacle, incomparably more holy than that of Moses. It is within her, under the immaculate veil of her flesh, that, by the unspeakable embrace of the two natures in the unity of God’s Only Begotten Son, the Holy Ghost pours forth the unction which makes him Spouse, and at the same time, Priest forever according to the order of Melchisedech.

Let man, then, be of good courage; the Bread of heaven, the Bread of the covenant, is at last come down upon our earth; and although nine months must pass before the great night comes, when he is to be made visible to us all in Bethlehem, yet even now, the High Priest is at his work in this his holy temple. Sacrifice and oblation thou wouldest not, says he to his eternal Father; but a Body thou hast fitted unto me. Holocausts for sin did not please thee. Then said I: “Behold I come; in the head of the book it is written of me,—that I should do thy will, O God!”

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We will close, today, our selections from the Office of the Blessed Juliana, by the following Hymn; it is assigned to Compline in the ancient books of the Church of St. Martin-au-Mont.

Hymn for Compline

Christus noster vere cibus,
Christus noster vere potus,
Caro Christi vere cibus,
Sanguis Christi vere potus. 

Christ is truly our meat, Christ is truly our drink; the Flesh of Christ is truly our meat, the Blood of Christ is truly our drink

Vera caro quam sumimus,
Quam assumpsit de Virgine:
Verus sanguis quem bibimus,
Quem effudit pro homine. 

The true Flesh, which he took from the Virgin, is what we eat; the true Blood, which he shed for man, is what we drink.

Vere tali convivio,
Verbum caro comeditur;
Per quod viget Religio,
Per quod cœlum ingredimur. 

In this banquet, the Word made Flesh is truly eaten; it is on him that our worship rests, and by him that we enter heaven.

Panis iste dulcedinis
Totus plenus, et gratiæ
Alvo gestatus Virginis,
Rex est æternæ gloriæ. 

This Bread, which is all full of sweetness and grace, is the King of eternal glory, that was carried in the Virgin’s womb.

Hujus panis angelici
Saginemur pinguedine;
Ut tam pii viatici
Delectemur dulcedine. 

Let us feed on the richness of Angels’ Bread; that we may find delight in the sweetness of a viaticum so full of mercy.

O cœleste convivium!
O redemptorum gloria!
O requies humilium!
Æterna confer gaudia. 

O thou heavenly banquet! O glory of the redeemed! O repose of the humble! grant us eternal joys.

Præsta Pater per Filium,
Præsta per almum Spiritum;
Quibus hoc das edulium,
Prosperum serves exitum. Amen.

Grant, O Father, through thy Son, grant, through the Spirit of love, that we, to whom thou givest such nourishment as this, may be brought by thee to a prosperous end. Amen.

We will continue our selections from the magnificent Preface given in the Liturgy of the 8th Book of the Apostolic Constitutions.

Constitutio Jacobi

Neque hoc solum; verum etiam et posteris ejus, a te in multitudinem innumerabilem effusis, eos qui tibi adhæserunt glorificasti, eos vero qui a te defecerunt punivisti; admisso quidem Abelis sacrificio ut innocentis, fratricidi autem Caini munere ut detestandi fastidito. 
And not this only; but, when thou hadst increased the posterity of man to an innumerable multitude, thou glorifiedst them that kept faithful to thee, but punishedst them that fell off; accepting the sacrifice of Abel, because he was innocent, rejecting the gifts of the fratricide Cain, because he was abominable.

Tu enim es opifex hominum, vitæ largitor, indigentiæ expletor; legum dator, easque servantium remunerator, transgredientium vindex. Qui diluvium mundo propter impie viventium multitudinem intulisti, et eo ex diluvio in arca eripuisti cum octo animabus justum Noam, finem quidem eorum qui præterierant, originem vero successurorum. Qui horrendum ignem adversus Sodomitanam pentapolim concitasti, ac sanctum Lotum ex incendio eruisti. 
For thou art the maker of mankind, the giver of life, the supplier of indigence; the giver of laws, and the rewarder of such as keep them, the avenger of them that transgress. ’Twas thou didst bring a deluge upon the world, because of the multitude of the ungodly; from which deluge, thou, by the ark deliveredst the just Noe, with eight souls, Noe who was the end of the foregoing generations, but the source of them that were to follow. ’Twas thou that kindledst a fearful fire against the five cities of Sodom, and snatchedst holy Lot from the burning.

Tu es qui Abrahamum liberasti avita impietate, et mundi hæredem constituisti, ipsique Christum tuum apparere fecisti. Qui Melchisedecum pontificem divini cultus designasti. Qui Isaacum effecisti filium promissionis. Qui Jacobum ad Ægyptum introduxisti. 
’Twas thou deliveredst Abraham from the impiety of his forefathers, and madest him the heir of the world, and showedst him thy Christ. ’Twas thou appointedst Melchisedech to be high-priest of thy divine worship; thou that madest Isaac the son of the promise; thou that broughtest Jacob into Egypt.

Tu, Domine, Hebræos ab Ægyptiis oppressos, ob promissa patribus eorum facta, non neglexisti. Cumque homines legem naturalem corrupissent, et creaturam modo fortuitam arbitrarentur, modo plusquam oportet honorarent; non sivisti errore duci; quin potius edito sancto famulo tuo Moyse, per eum legem scriptam in adjutorium naturalis tribuisti; et creaturas ostendisti opus tuum esse, errorem vero de multitudine deorum exterminasti. 
Thou, Lord, didst not abandon the Hebrews, when they were oppressed by the Egyptians, on account of the promises made to their fathers. And when men had corrupted the natural law, and had, at one time, looked on creation as the effect of chance, and, at another, had honored it more than it deserved, thou permittedst them not to be led astray by error, yea, thou raisedst up thy holy servant Moses, giving, through him, the written law, as an aid to the natural; thou showedst that creatures are thy work, and tookest away the error of plurality of gods.

Aarom et posteros ejus honore sacerdotali decorasti. Hebræos, cum peccarent, castigasti; cum reverterentur, suscepisti. Ægyptios decem plagis ultus es; mari diviso trajecisti Israelitas; insecutos Ægyptios delevisti submersione. Ligno amaram aquam dulcescere fecisti; ex petra dura aquam profudisti; e cœlo mannam depluisti; præbuisti ex aere escam, ortygometram: constituisti nocte columnam ignis ad illustrationem, et die columnam nubis ad umbraculum in æstu. Per Jesum ducem a te declaratum septem gentes evertisti, Jordanem dirupisti, fluvios Ethan siccasti, muros prostravisti absque machinis. 
’Twas thou didst adorn Aaron and his posterity with the priestly honor; that punishedst the Hebrews, when they sinned, receiving them, when they repented; that inflictedst the ten plagues on the Egyptians; that carriedst the Israelites across the divided sea; that drownedst the Egyptians, who pursued them. ’Twas thou madest the bitter water become sweet, by the wood; that broughtest water out of the hard rock; that rainedst manna from heaven; that grantedst quails to come from the air, as food; that appointedst a pillar of fire, by night, to give light, and a pillar of a cloud, by day, to overshadow them from heat. By Josue, proclaimed by thee as leader, thou didst overthrow the seven nations; thou dividedst the Jordan, driedst up the rivers of Ethan, and overturnedst the walls, without instruments.

Pro omnibus tibi gloria, Domine omnipotens. 
Glory be to thee, O almighty Lord, for all these things!

Te adorant innumerabiles copiæ angelorum, archangelorum, thronorum, dominationum, principatuum, potestatum, virtutum et cherubini, item seraphini, senis alis, binis quidem velantes pedes suos, binis vero capita, et duabus aliis volantes, ac dicentes una cum mille millibus archangelorum et denis millibus denum millium angelorum, indesinenter ac sine vocis intermissione clamantibus: 
Thee do adore the innumerable hosts of angels, archangels, thrones, dominations, principalities, powers, virtues, and cherubim; the seraphim, also, with their six wings, with two covering their feet, with two their heads, and with two flying, and saying, with thousand thousands of archangels, and ten thousand times ten thousand angels, incessantly, and, with uninterrupted voices, crying out:

Sanctus, Sanctus, Sanctus Dominus Sabaoth: pleni sunt cœli et terra gloria ejus: Benedictus in sæcula. 
Holy, Holy, Holy, the Lord of hosts: heaven and earth are full of his glory: be he blessed for ever!
Amen. Amen.
"So let us be confident, let us not be unprepared, let us not be outflanked, let us be wise, vigilant, fighting against those who are trying to tear the faith out of our souls and morality out of our hearts, so that we may remain Catholics, remain united to the Blessed Virgin Mary, remain united to the Roman Catholic Church, remain faithful children of the Church."- Abp. Lefebvre

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