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of the unspeakable gift, which our Saviour vouchsafed to bestow upon us, the night before his Passion. We now see more plainly the nature and greatness of the homage which earth gives to its Creator, by the ceaseless offering of the holy Sacrifice of the Mass. We now know, so much better than formerly, what that deifying relation is, which is made to exist between God and the soul, by means of the participation of the Sacred Host. The Holy Ghost has shed his light upon all these truths; he has opened out to us the very depths of the mystery shown to us from the outset, the mystery, that is, of the Emmanuel, or God with us. Now that we are so fully initiated into the whole of God's work, we the better understand that great text of the Gospel, which says: The Word was made Flesh, and dwelt among us.1 We grasp the meaning more completely; we can give it a more literal, and equally faithful, translation, and say: the Word teas made Flesh, and took up his dwelling
All this has increased in the Christian the desire of assisting at the Holy Sacrifice. He says to himself, as did the Patriarch of old: "Truly, the Lord is in this place, and I knew it not;2 my faith was sound, but I did not perceive, as I do now, the immensity of what our Lord did at his Last Supper." In the same way, having now a clearer knowledge of the union, which is brought about, even in this present world, between God and the soul that is nourished with the living Bread, whereby that soul is transformed into its Creator,—having this clearer knowledge, the Christian longs more ardently than ever for the erjjoyment. of that Lord, who, even during this mortal life, gives us, by means of the Eucharistic Bread, not only a foretaste, but the very reality, of that which awaits us in heaven. We may truly assert, that the keeping up of that state, which we have already described in the Third Chapter, and which is the state both of the Church herself and of the faithful soul, during this period of the Liturgical Tear, is the joint work of the Holy Ghost, who abides within us, and of the Eucharistic gift, in which the Son of God ceases not to act for the preservation, increase, and development of the divine life, which he came to bring us, and of which he thus speaks: J am come, that they may have life, and may have it more abundantly.1
1 St. John i. 14. 2 Gen. xxviii 16.
We will here, as in the preceding Volumes, give Acts which may serve as preparation for holy Communion during this Season of the Year. There are souls that feel the want of some such assistance as this; and, for the same reason, we will add a form of Thanksgiving for after Communion.
ACT OF FAITH.
Now that I am about to unite myself to thee in the mystery of thy love, I must first profess that I believe it to be truly thyself, O my God, thy body, thy soul, thy divinity, that thou art going to give me. The first duty thou askest of me, now that thou art coming to me, is the act of my Faith in this deep mystery; I make it; and my understanding is happy at thus bowing itself down before thy sovereign word. Thou, O Jesus, art the Truth; and when presenting to thy disciples the bread changed into thy Body, thou saidst to them: This is my Body! I believe thy word; I adore the living Bread, come down from heaven to give life to the world. The grace of the Holy Ghost, whom thou hast sent me, enables me to relish this marvel of thy all-powerful love. This love of thine was not satisfied with uniting thee to the human nature, which thou assumedst in Mary's womb; it would, moreover, prepare for each one of us, by means of the heavenly food of thy sacred flesh, a real and mysterious
1 St. John, x. 10.
union with thee, which none but thou could have planned, none but thou could have achieved. For its accomplishment, thou first demandedst, as thou hadst all right to do, that we should have an unlimited confidence in the truth of thy word. When thou wast upon the Cross, thy divinity was veiled from view; in the sacred Host, thy very humanity is hid from our eyes; but, I believe, O my God, both thy divinity and humanity present under the cloud which shrouds them from all mortal sight. I have been taught by thine Apostle, O Light inaccessible, that it is by faith alone that we can approach thee, whilst we are in this present life. I believe, then, O Lord! but help thou mine unbelief.
ACT OF HUMILITY.
Taught, as I have been, by thy words, O my God, I know, and with a certainty which my reason and my senses could never have given me, that, in a few moments, I shall be in closest union with thine infinite Majesty. Thou hast said it: He that eateth my Flesh, abideth in me, and I in him! My whole being thrills at these words. I, a sinner, all marked with the sores of my iniquities, and still fighting with passions but half subdued, I am to abide in thee! And thou, that art infinite Being and infinite Holiness, thou art coming to abide in me, in me who am but nothingness and sin! At such a tiding as this, what else can I, than cry out, with the Centurion of thy Gospel: Lord! I am not worthy that thou shouldst enter under my roof! And yet, I hear thee saying, also, these other words: Unless ye eat the Flesh of the Son of Man, ye shall not have life in you. This life I would have, O Jesus! And didst thou not come, didst thou not work all thy mysteries, in order that we might have life, and more and more of that life? I have no desire to shun it. What, then, can I do, but take shelter in the depths of humility, think of mine own vileness, be mindful of the fuel of sin that exists within me, and acknowledge the infinite distance there is between myself and thee, O my Redeemer and my Judge? I know that then thou wilt have pity on my misery, and wilt say but one word, and my soul shall be healed. Say, I beseech thee, that word, which is to comfort my heart. Till thou sayst it, I dare not raise up mine eyes towards thine altar; I can but tremble at the approach of that moment, when a poor creature, like myself, is to be united with its Creator, from whose eyes nought is hid, and who judges even our justices.
ACT OF CONTRITION.
Ever since that day whereon thy Spirit, O Lord, came down upon us, in order that he might the more deeply imprint upon our souls the divine mysteries thou wroughtest, from thy merciful Incarnation to thy glorious Ascension, thou vouchsafest to invite me more frequently to thy table. And I have learned, too, since that same coming, better than I knew before, how it behoves me to prepare myself, with all possible diligence, for each of thy visits. I have been renewing my faith, by accepting, with increased ardour, the truth of thy presence in the Sacrament of the Altar. As I see thy dread Majesty advancing towards me, I have professed, and with sincere humility, my utter nothingness, for I have acknowledged my extreme unworthiness ;—but all this does not put me at rest. There is something beyond all this :—it is, that I am a sinner; I have offended Thee; I have rebelled against thee; I have turned thy very benefits into occasions of outrage against thee; to say it in all its enormity, I have caused thy death upon the Cross! The Holy Ghost, having vouchsafed to give me light, has taught mo the malice of sin; he has given me to understand, more fully than formerly, how detestable have been my audacity and ingratitude. I have had revealed to me, by the grand Mysteries of the first portion of the Tear, how much I cost thee on that Day, whereon Justice and Mercy united in the Sacrifice which saved mankind. The more thou hast heaped thy favours on me, O Lord, the more keenly do I feel the injury of my sins; and I beseech thee to bestow on me the signal grace, the grace which will ensure every other,— of keeping up within me the spirit of compunction and penance. I offer to thee, O my God, at this hour when thou art about to give thyself to me, I offer to thee the expression of my sorrow; and from my deepest soul, I say to thee those words of the Publican: Have mercy on me, 0 God, for lam a Sinner!
ACT OF LOVE.
And now, O my Lord, permit me to turn my thoughts upon the happiness of a soul, to whom thou givest thyself in the Sacrament of thy love! As to that familiarity, into which thine ineffable goodness leads some souls, who approach thee without reflecting upon the greatness of thy majesty, oh! I shudder at such impertinence; and yet, I long to be united with thee; and, until thou art come into me, my soul panteth after thee. Thy Mysteries, which I have been celebrating with thy Church, have enkindled within me a fire which nothing can quench,—a fire to which thy divine Spirit delights to be ever adding heat. Thy delight, so thou hast told us, is to be with the children of men; and is it not true, also, that with such of the children of men as know thee, thy love is the very nourishment on which their own hearts live? In order to maintain them in this love which is their life, thou hast made thyself present in the sacred Host; thou givest them to live in thee, just as thou livest in them, as often as they eat of this Living Bread, which hath come down from heaven. This Charity, this Love, which hath been poured forth into our hearts by the Holy Ghost, is nourished at thy holy Table, O Lord! and there is it increased; for it is in the divine Sacrament, which thou institutedst the night before thy Passion, that we are united to thee. Love tends to be united with the object it loves; therefore do I, in spite of all the conviction of my unworthiness, long for the blissful moment of thy coming into me. Everything that thou hast done, my Lord, has been done to make me love thee? Thou hast loved me first; who will blame me, that my heart hungers for th ee ? Thou hadst pity, one day, on the people who had followed thee into the desert. I have compassion, thou saidst, ore this multitude; and then, straightway, thou gavest them to eat as much as they would. Ah ! Lord, my poor heart and flesh, long after thee ; and thou alone canst satisfy the hunger which gnaws me, for thou art the Sovereign Good, thou art true Life; and it was that I might enjoy that Sovereign Good, and live that heavenly Life, that thou createdst me. There was a time, when this heart of mine was dull; darkness was upon me, and I could not see the light; but now that thy Mysteries have enlightened and regenerated me, I sigh after thee with all the earnestness of my soul. Gome, then, Lord Jesus I Withhold thyself no longer from my soul, that awaits thy visit!
ACT OF ADORATION.
Thy presence within me, O Lord, is joy and sweetness to me; and yet, before indulging in the delight it brings, I feel impelled to prostrate my entire being before thy Sovereign Majesty. I must, I will, first adore thee, for thou art the great God of heaven and earth. Thou standest in no need of me, and yet thou comest down to this my nothingness.