« السابقةمتابعة »
WITHIN THE OCTAVE OF COKPUS CHRISTI.
L«t us adore Christ, the Christum regem adore
King, who ruleth the nations: mus dominantem gentibus,
who giveth fatness of spirit to qui se manducantibus dat
them that eat him. spiritus pinguedinem.
The Desired of all nations,1 the Angel of the testament whom Israel longs for,2 has come down from heaven. Wisdom is come among us. Who, asks the Prophet, shall go up into heaven, to take Wisdom, and bring him down from the clouds? Who shall pass over the sea, and bring him from distant lands, him, the treasure more precious than the purest gold? Israel has forsaken the fountain of Wisdom. He has not even been heard of in the land of Chanaan; he has not been seen in Idumea. The children of Agar, the princes of the nations, the philosophers of earthly wisdom, the ingenious inventors, the searchers after science, the hoarders of riches, and makers of strength and beauty, which do but cheat the beholder,—all these have not known the ways of Wisdom, they have not understood his paths.3 But, lo! the Son promised to David has sate upon his throne of glory ; he is the source of Wisdom ; the four rivers of paradise have derived all their waters from Him. His thoughts are more vast than the sea, and his counsels more deep than the great ocean.4 He is come to fulfil the mysterious design of the divine and sovereign will,—that is, to re-establish, by uniting all things in himself, all that are in heaven and on earth.1 He is truly Mediator, for he is, himself, both God and Man; and being also High Priest, he is the bond of that holy religion, which fastens on all things to the Creator, in the unity of one same homage. His Sacrifice is the master-piece of the divine Wisdom: it is by that Sacrifice, that, embracing all created beings in the immensity of the love, whose impatient ardour has been the subject of our past considerations, he makes the whole world become one sublime holocaust to his Father's glory. Let us, then, proceed to consider him in this immolation of his victim; let us reverently watch him setting forth his table.2 The Eucharist has been instituted for the very purpose of ceaselessly applying, here on earth, the reality of Christ's Sacrifice. To-day, therefore, we will turn our thoughts upon this Sacrifice, as it is in its own self; this will enable us the better to understand how it is continued in the Church.
'Agg. ii. 8. » Baruch, iii. 12-38.
2 Malach. iii. 1. * Ecclus. xxiv. 34-39.
God has a right to his creature's homage. If earthly kings and lords may claim from their vassals this recognition of their sovereignty,—the sovereign dominion of the great and first Being, the first cause and last end of all things, demands it, on an infinitely just title, from beings called forth from nothing by his almighty goodness. And, just as by the rent or service which accompanies it, the homage of vassals implies, together with the avowal of their submission, the real, the effective declaration that it is from their liege-lord that they hold their property and rights; so the act, whereby the creature, as such, subjects himself to his Creator, should adequately manifest, by and of itself, that he acknowledges him as the Lord of all things, and the author of life. Moreover, if, by the infringement of his commands, he has deserved
1 Eph. i. 10. « Prov. ix. 2.
death, and only lives because of the infinite mercy of this his sovereign Lord,—then, his act of homage or fealty will not be complete, unless it also express an avowal of his guilt, and the justice of the punishment. Such is the true notion of Sacrifice, so called, because it sets apart from the rest of similar beings, and makes sacred, the offering whereby it is expressed: for spirits purely immaterial, the offering or oblation will be interior and exclusively spiritual; but, as regards man, this oblation must be spiritual, and, at the same time, material, for, being composed of a soul and a body, he owes homage to his God for both.
Sacrifice may not be offered but to the one true God, for it is the effective acknowledgment of the Creator's sovereign dominion, and of that glory which belongs to him, and which he will not make over to another.1 It is essential to religion, be the state that of innocence or of fall; for religion, the queen of moral virtues, whose object is the worship due to God, necessarily demands Sacrifice, as its own adequate exercise and expression. Eden would have witnessed this Sacrifice offered by unfallen man; it would have been one of adoration and thanksgiving; its material portion would have been that garden's richest fruits, those symbols of the divine fruit, promised by the tree of life; sin would not have put its own sad stamp on such Sacrifice, and blood would not have been required. But man fell; and, then, Sacrifice became the only means of propitiation, and the necessary centre of religion, in this land of exile. Until Luther's time, all the nations of the earth held and lived up to this truth; and when the so-called Reformers excluded Sacrifice from religion, they took away its very basis. Nor is the duty of Sacrifice limited to man's earthly existence; no: the creature when in heaven, and in the state of glory, must still offer Sacrifice to his Creator; for he has as much, and even more, obligation, when he is in the brightness of the Vision, as when he lived amid the shadows of Faith, to offer to the God who has crowned him, the homage of those gifts received.
1 Is. xlviii. 11.
It is by Sacrifice that God attains the end he had in view by creation, that is, his own glory.1 But, in order that there should go up from this universe a homage in keeping with the magnificence of its Maker, there was needed some one leader or head, who should represent all creation in his one person; and then, using it as his own property, should offer it, in all its integrity, together with himself, to the Lord God. There was something better than this; and it is just what God has done: by giving his own Son, clad in our nature, to be the Head of creation, he obtains an infinite return of glory; for the homage of this inferior nature assumes the dignity of the Person offering it; and the honour thus paid becomes truly worthy of the supreme Majesty. And, as a banker knows how to draw golden interest from even the least sum intrusted to his keeping, so our God has, from a world made out of nothing, produced a fruit of infinite worth.
Yes, truly marvellous finish to his work of creation! The immense glory rendered to the Father by the Word Incarnate, has brought God and the creature nearer to each other; it tells upon the world, by fining up its hateful depths of misery with grace, grace abundant and rich; and, thereby, the distance between God and us does not exclude the union for which he first made us. The Sacrifice of the Son of Man becomes the basis and cause of the supernatural order, both in heaven and on earth. Christ was the first and chief object of the decree of creation; and, therefore, it was for him, and upon him as type, and in harmony with the qualities of the nature, that he was, at a given future time, to assume to himself,— that, at the Father's bidding, there came forth, out of nothing, the various grades of being, spiritual and material, all of which were intended to form the palace and court of the future God-Man. It was the same, also, in the order of grace,—this God-Man, who is to be the most Beautiful among the children of men, is, in all truth, the Well-beloved. The Spirit of love, as a precious and fragrant ointment, will flow from this one Well-Beloved, from this dear Head, upon all his Members, yea, and even to the lowest skirt of his garment,1 generously communicating true life, supernatural being, to those whom Christ shall have graciously called to a participation of his own divine substance, in the banquet of love. For, the Head will lead on his Members; these will unite to his, their own homage, which, being in itself too poor to be offered to God's infinite Majesty, will,—by their incorporation with the Incarnate Word, in the act of his Sacrifice,—put on the dignity of Christ himself.
1 Prov. xvi. 4.
It is on this account, as we have already noticed, and cannot too strongly urge, that one should inveigh against the narrow-minded individualism which is now so much the fashion, of attaching more importance to the practices of private devotion, than to the solemnity of those great acts of the Liturgy, which form the very essence of religion. Thus, as we were just saying, it is by the sacrifice of the God-Man, that the entire creation is consummated in unity, and that true social life is founded upon God. God is one in his essence ; the ineffable harmony of the Three Divine Persons does but bring out more clearly, by its sublime fecundity, this infinite Unity. The creature, on the contrary, is multiplicity; and the division, resulting
1 Ps. cxxxii. 2.