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Where, then, shall I begin, if it be not in humbling myself profoundly before thee, and acknowledging that thou art Lord, the Only Begotten and Consubstantial Son of the Father; that thou art He by whom all things were made, the Eternal, the Infinite, and the supreme Judge of the living and the dead. Thy Seraphim, who see thee in thy unveiled majesty, and drink their fill of everlasting happiness from thy divine essence, these glorious Spirits, as thy Prophet tells us, cover their faces with their wings; they tremble before thee, as the Church tells us; and yet, whilst trembling in thy presence, their love is as ardent and as tender as though they were nothing but love. I would follow their example, O my God; I would offer thee, at this moment, the creature's first duty to its Creator,—adoration. Thou art so nigh to me, at this happy moment, that my being feels renovated and almost lost in thine; how then can I be otherwise than overwhelmed by the weight of thy glory? Yes, I do adore thee, O Eternal, Infinite, Immense, All-powerful! before whom all created beings are as though they were not. I confess, before thee, my own nothingness; I acknowledge thine absolute dominion over me, and over everything which thy power and goodness have produced in creation. King of ages! Immortal and Invisible in thine essence! Glory be to thee! Accept this first homage of a soul to which thy love has deigned to unite thee.
ACT OF THANKSGIVING.
There is another homage which I owe thee, O my God !— it is gratitude. Thou often invitest me to partake of the divine gift, wherewith thou, before leaving this earth, didst enrich us. But, wo to me, if, because I can easily and often have it, I value so much the less its greatness! "Wretched familiarity, which blunts the sentiment of gratitude, and deadens faith, and takes all ardour from love; may thy grace, O Lord, preserve me from its vile influence. For thousands of years, the human race was in expectation of the favour, which thou hast just been bestowing upon me. Abraham, the father of believers; Moses, thy much loved friend; David, the inspired chanter of thy mysteries; none of these received thee: and this Bread of Angels has come down from heaven for me! Oh! unheard of goodness of a God incorporating himself with his creature! Who is there that could measure its length and breadth, or scan its height, or fathom its depth } These expressions of thine Apostle, regarding the mystery just given to me, teach me what is the value of the wondrous gift thou hast bestowed upon mankind. With what humble and lively gratitude, then, should it not be received! Thou hast not been deterred, either by my nothingness, or the coldness of my feelings, or my infidelities; be thou blessed, then, my Lord, for that out of thy desire to give thyself to me, thou hast overstepped every limit, and removed every obstacle. I give thee thanks for this, and for every Communion thou hast hitherto so graciously given me. Deign to enlighten me more and more, as to the magnificence of thy gift; deign to cherish within me the sentiment of love; that thus my longings for thy visit may be increased; and that I may know how to honour, as I ought, thy presence within me, and that I may never dare to approach thee out of custom, or without my conscience assuring me that I am bringing with me the profound respect due to thee.
ACT OF LOVE.
Now will I rest me in thee, O my Sovereign Good, that hast come down to me, and entered into me, in order to content the desires of my heart by thy presence. A few moments ago, I was longing after thee; and now that longing has been satisfied. "What is there on this earth that I could now desire? The very happiness of heaven, is it not the possessing thee? and thou, my Lord, assurest me, that he, who eats thy sacred Flesh, abideth in thee, and thou in him. The union, then, to which love aspires, is now consummated. This happy moment of thy presence within me unites thy sovereign majesty to my lowliness; thou livest in me, and I live in thee. Divine charity has conquered every difficulty; and the life, which now circulates through my being, is not the life of time, but of eternity. I at once profit of it, to assure thee, O Lord, that thou hast my love. Thy presence within me lasts but a short time; in a few moments, there will be but the grace left by the visit thou art now paying me. At present, I can say in all truth : / have found Him, whom my .soul loveth. Accept, then, O Lord, the homage of my heart, and all its affections. Make this heart faithful and ardent in the love of thee; for love is the end of the whole Law; and when thou vouchsafest to incorporate thyself with us by means of the Bread of Life, thine aim is to strengthen and increase Charity within us. May this contact with thee, O Lord, destroy that love of myself, which, hitherto, has so often stifled, or at least, retarded, the love which is due to thee. Let my heart become more and more purified; may its affections be set free from, and raised above, created objects, and centre in the unity of thy love, which includes all, and is enough for all.
ACT OF OBLATION.
When I thus assure thee of my love, O my God, I hear within me a voice telling me, that, henceforth, the rule of my conduct must be—thy good-pleasure. Then only shall I know that my protestations are sincere, when I give up mine own will, to follow thine in all things. Thou wilt not only require me to keep from all sin, but thou wouldst have me resolutely walk in the path of humility,—humility which repels pride, thy chief enemy. Thou commandest me to keep my senses under restraint, lest the weakness of the flesn should get the mastery over my spirit, which is prompt, but fickle. In order to make surer of a soul that is dear to thee, thou often sendest it trials; for thou hast said, that whosoever ambitious to follow thee, must make up his mind to carry the Cross. Thou hast warned thy disciples, that they must be on their guard against the world and its maxims, or that they would perish together with the world. These are the conditions which thou layest on them that would enlist under thy banner, dear Jesus! Eenovated as I have been by thy precious visit, I offer myself to thee as one quite resolved to fulfil every duty of thy service. Give me thine aid, O my Lord, and King! Thy sacramental presence, which is soon to quit me, will leave me an increase of thy grace. Increase my faith, and my docility to the teachings of thy holy Church, from whose hands I have just received thee. Give me to use this world, as though I did not use it; give me to live, at once, by desire, in that abode where I hope to enjoy thee, and without shadow or veil, for all eternity.
O Mary, Queen of heaven! watch over me thy humble servant, whom the blessed Son of thy chaste womb has vouchsafed to nourish with his adorable Flesh, and which he received from thee. Present him the oblation I now make him of myself, in return for the unspeakable gift he has just been bestowing upon me.—Holy Angels! bless and protect this poor child of earth, who has been feasting on that very Bread, whereon you feed in heaven.—All ye Saints of God! who, when in this world, did eat of the heavenly Bread of the Christian pilgrim, pray and obtain for me, that It may keep with me to the end of my journey through this life, and may lead me to Him, who ceases not to be the nourishment of his elect, when in glory. Amen.
CHAPTER THE SEVENTH.
ON THE OFFICES OF TIERCE, SEXT, AND NONE,
The limits we have been obliged to observe in this work, do not allow us to give the text of all the Offices of the Church; we have confined ourselves to those at which the Faithful generally assist, and which, for that reason, are celebrated with more solemnity. To Vespers and Complin, which it was impossible to omit, we have added, for this Volume, the Hours of Tierce, Sext, and None, that the Faithful may be able to follow them, in those Churches where they are said or sung.
The liturgical form of these Hours is the same for all three. After the invocation of the divine aid, there are sung a Hymn and three divisions of the 118th Psalm. These are followed by a short Lesson called the Capitulum; by a Responsory, called the Brief Response, to distinguish it from the ordinary ones, which are longer; and, finally, by a Collect, which is the summary of the desires and petitions of the Church, for the special Feast she is keeping.
The 118th Psalm, which, as we have just said, is used for these Hours, and is every day recited by the Church, is regarded as the canticle of prayer by excellence. The Prophet addresses himself, all through it, to the Incarnate Word, who is, at once, both divine Law and Lawgiver. It is not difficult to appreciate the special beauty of this Psalm, and adapt it to the Mysteries of each day of the Church's celebrations. It lends itself to every phase of every Feast, and seems as though it were just made to express the sentiment that is uppermost in the heart. Liturgical prayer is the manna of our desert, which suits itself to the taste of each one eating it.