صور الصفحة
PDF
النشر الإلكتروني

Father, as an effectual victim of redemption; yet is he ever invisibly present in the Mystery, not suffering, but represented as suffering.

The Lord Jesus Christ, who is daily sacrificed, but without a wound, grants to mortals on earth to fulfil a heavenly ministry.

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.

efficacem offerens : semper tamen invisibiliter est in mysterio, non passus sed quasi pati reprsesentatus.

Dominus Jesus Christus sine vulnere quotidie sacriflcatus, mortalibus in terra prsestitit coslesti fungi minis terio.

Hsec igitur singularis victima Christi mortis est recordatio, scelerum nostrorum expurgatio, cunctorum fidelium devotio, et seternse vitse adeptio.

~

TUESDAY

AFTER TRINITY SUNDAY.

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 centre, 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.1 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 centre, and the bond, of the great Catholic communion. Let us, to-day, 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. To-morrow, we will continue the subject, by examining how subsequent loss of fervour, and heresy, and social degeneracy, induced the Church to gradually modify these forms, which, after all, are but accidental; they were admir

1 Ps. ii. 8.

ably adapted to the favoured 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.1 The Cross was "the Altar of the world," as St. Leo calfs it;2 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 ;"3 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 Saviour, 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 realisation 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.1 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.2 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.3

1 Heb. x. 14. J Serm. viii. de Pass. s Ibid. ir. de Pats.

TJnder 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.1 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.5

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 Caesar; 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!"

1 St. John, xiii. 34, 35. • Acts, ii. 42.

s Ibid. xvii. 20. 6 Ibid. 47.

» Ibid. 21-23.

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.1

This text is admirably commented by St. Augustine in a sermon he preached to the Neophytes, a few hours after their Baptism: "I remember," says he, "the promise I made, of explaining to you, who have "been baptised, 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

1 1 Cor. x. 17.

« السابقةمتابعة »