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were then saying; and love demands union; and union must make tlie united alike.1 Now this resemblance between God and man could not be realised, save by man's being raised to what St. Peter calls a participation of the divine nature ;2 now this is the special work of the Holy Ghost; and he effects it by grace, which is the result of his own personal indwelling3 in the soul he has sanctified; like the unction of purest oil, he penetrates the inmost recesses, and the very substance, of that happy soul. It was thus he acted in Christ; he inundated, with his divine plenitude, the human nature assumed by the Word, in the womb of the Virgin-Mother, when Eternal Wisdom united himself with that nature which, though inferior and created, was, from that moment, holy and perfect in the Holy Spirit. He, the Spirit, acts proportionately, in the same way with the Church; she is the holy City, and he prepares her for the feast of the nuptials of the Lamb; she is the Bride of Christ, and he gives her to be clothed with robes all glittering and white, which are the virtues of the Saints.1 When he has made her one by baptism, and strengthened her in holiness by the second of the Sacraments, he has but to lead her to her Spouse, saying with her that Come 5 of the Sacred Mysteries, which are to complete his work, and unite together the Bride and the Spouse. Thus the children of the Bride, being made one with Christ, one body with him, are made partakers of her own nuptials with eternal Wisdom. If, then, we have all been baptised in the one only Spirit, it was, as the Apostle teaches us, that we might all form that one body, in which Jews and Gentiles, bondsmen and free, are not individuals set off against each other by their personal differences,—they are members of Christ, and have all
'Page 206. * Apoo. xix. 7-9.
* St. Pet. i. i. 6 Apoc. xxii. 17.
* 1 Cor. iii. 16.
been made to drink, in the one same holy Spirit,1 the divine Word, whose sacred Flesh is given to us in the mystery of salvation.
St. Peter, in his first Epistle, speaks of our taking the holy Eucharist as though it were, not only food, hut milk for babes. He says, speaking to the early Christians, and, through them, to us also: A s newborn babes, desire ye the rational milk,2 he means our Lord Jesus Christ, as is evident from the context. Clement of Alexandria thus quotes the passage: As new-born babes, desire ye the Word! Yes, it is the Word, the Milk of those who are converted and become little children,3 who are born again of the Holy Ghost;4 it prepares them for the solid food of the eternal feast, that is, for the Word unveiled. It is a delicious food, sweet as grace, strengthening as life, pure as is the light. It is that heavenly dew which Jell from the bosom of the Father into the womb of the Virgin-Mother; and this same, the Word Incarnate, gives himself to the Church, for she, too, is Virgin and Mother. Pure as a virgin, and affectionate as a mother, she invites her children to come, and she feeds them on this rational milk, this Word, this most beautiful one among the sons of men; she gives her little ones the body of Christ, and strengthens them with the Word of the Father. Oh ! let us run to this blessed Mother of ours, and drink of that Word, who turns all our evils away from us, making us forget, by correcting, them.6 The mother's breast is everything to her child,—life, joy, its whole world. With what eagerness it throws itself on its treasure, as St. John Chrysostom was saying in the Office of yesterday;6 with what ardour it kisses the fount of all its blessings! And yet, a mother's milk is but an image of the One / am speaking of. That other ceases, when the first few months are gone; but the one / partake of is an exhaustless spring; it forms me into the perfect man, making me reach the age of the fulness of Christ.1
1 1 Cor. xiL 13. * St. John, iii. 5.
s 1 St. Pet. ii. 2. s Freely from Clem. Alex. Pmdag. i. 6.
* St. Matth. xviii. 3. 6 Hom. 60, ad Pop. Antiock.
All these sublime teachings were like household words to the early Christians; and we cannot be surprised, therefore, that one of the favourite symbols of the holy Eucharist was milk. St. Perpetua relates,2 that, on the evening before she and her companions were to suffer martyrdom, Pastor put a delicious milk into her mouth: the details she gives of that touching scene, show us that she is speaking of the Blessed Sacrament. Among the paintings in the Catacombs, we not unfrequently find this emblem, beautifully eloquent in its varied accompaniments. Sometimes, it is a vase of milk, held in Pastor's hand,3 or lying by his side ;4 sometimes, it is that same vase resting on a hillock, and the sheep are respectfully keeping guard over it;6 sometimes, it is the Lamb of God, the Pastor of pastors, who is holding it hanging on his shepherd's crook ;6 but all this means and conveys the same mystery. In one of these paintings, however, the teaching is almost palpable :' the precious vase of Milk is placed on the back of the Lamb, who is holding the palm-branch of his triumph over death, though it cost him his Blood;. the vase is thus incorporated, so to say, with him, and has a nimbus round it, as holding within it the divine Word, the food of the Angels,8 and yet, by the workings of love, adapted to suit our human weakness.
For, as St. Augustine so admirably explains this doctrine, "Man does not live on one food, and Angel "on another: truth, divine Wisdom, is the one food "of every intelligence.1 The Angels, the Powers, "the heavenly spirits, feed on it; they eat of it; they "grow upon it, and yet the mysterious food lessens "not.2 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word "was with God, and the Word was God:3 take it, if "you can; eat it; it is food. Perhaps, you will say "to me: 'Oh! yes, it is verily food; but I—I am a "'babe; what I must have is milk; else I cannot "' reach that Word you tell me of.' Well! since it "is milk you require, and yet there is no other food "for you save this of heaven (the Word), he will pass "through the flesh, that he may thus be brought "within reach of your lips,4 for food does not become "milk, except by its passing through flesh. It is "thus a mother does. What the mother eats is what "her child drinks; but the little one not being, as "yet, strong enough to take the bread as it is, the "mother eats it, and then gives it to her child under "a form that very sweetly suits the babe.5 He does "not receive the food such as it lay upon the table, "but after it has passed through the flesh, and so "made suitable to the child.6 Therefore was the "Word made Flesh, and dwelt among us ;7 and man "hath eaten, thus, the bread of Angels.* Eternal "Wisdom came down even to us, by the Flesh and *' Blood of Him that was our Saviour; he came as "milk, which was full of all blessing to us." 9 Oh! truly, the Bride may well say to the Spouse: Thy breasts are better than wine.10 He, beautiful Wisdom, has carried out his loving design. From the first outset, right up to the attainment of his purpose, there have been numberless obstacles; but he has mastered them all, and with a power to which one thing alone can be compared,—his matchless sweetness.11
1 Eph. iv. 13. b Via Appia. De Eossi, i. tav. 12.
2 Ruinart, Act. sine. p. 87. 8 Via Ardeatina, Bosio, 249. 'Via Appia.DEB.ossi,i.tav.x.l6. 7 Via Lavicana, Bosio, 363.
4 Via Nomentana, Bosio, 455. 8 Wisd. xvi. 20.
1 In Psalm, cxxxiv. 7 St. John, i. 14
2 In Psalm. xxxiii, 8 Ps. lxxvii. 25.
n St. John, i. 1. 9 In Ps. xxx. et.cxxxiv. Confess, vii. 18.
'Ps. cxix. 10 Cant. i. 1.
• In Psalm. xxxiii. "Wisd. yiii. 1.
'In P aim. xxx.
The Antiphonary of the celebrated monastery of Benchor, in Ireland, published by Muratori, and which was drawn up not later than the 7th Century, gives us the following Hymn, which is, at once, dignified and simple:
Sanctorum custos Eector quoque Dominus, Vitam perennem Largitur credentibus.
Ccelestem panem Dat esurientibus, De fonte vivo Prsebet sitientibus.
Come, ye just, take Christ's Body, and drink the sacred Blood, whereby ye -were redeemed.
By Christ's Body and Blood we were saved; by the same being fed, let us sing our praises to God.
Christ, the Son, the giver of salvation, saved the world to God his Father, by his Cross and Blood.
This Lord, who was slain for all, was himself both Priest and Victim.
It was commanded in the Law, that victims should be slain; hereby were foreshadowed our divine Mysteries.
He that gives the light, and is the Saviour of all men, has given to the just a splendid favour.
Let all the Faithful approach with pure minds, and receive the eternal pledge of salvation.
The Lord, who is keeper and ruler of the saints, grants life everlasting to them that believe.
To the hungry, he gives bread from heaven ; to the thirsty, he gives a drink from the living fount.